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How To Make Your CRM Big Data Small

Small and midsized (SMB) businesses love to think big, and there’s no better way to do that than with the right customer relationship management (CRM) technology. The operative words here, of course, are the right.

As the sheer volume of customer information captured through CRM continues to increase, businesses must evaluate whether they can truly capitalize on the valuable data their CRM software delivers. And so, it’s important to ensure that your CRM is designed with an SMB business needs in mind, since the tools and data that large corporations use might be of minimal use, irrelevant or even holding your SMB business back.

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Instead, find a CRM that can scale to your business’s customer data needs by following a few guiding principles.

Start with the basics

There’s a wealth of invaluable data that can be gleaned from today’s CRM technology. Businesses can aggregate information about customer demographics, pain points, organizational objectives, timelines, contact preferences and much, much more. But the truth is, SMBs are often best served by taking a more minimalistic approach to their CRM strategy.

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It’s important for new CRM users to begin with the essentials before working their way up to more complicated features and data points. Otherwise, they may find themselves drowning in a sea of customer data they are not prepared to interpret or make actionable.

Commence your CRM journey by establishing what your business’s basic needs are. Are you looking to track sales? Is customer feedback a top priority? What are your customers’ needs? Sticking to the essentials will help ensure your CRM implementation’s efficiency, ease of adoption and therefore effectiveness.

After you’ve mastered the basics, you can drill down further.

Focus on areas that benefit you most

Many CRM programs offer a daunting and seemingly endless assortment of complicated data input screens. But for SMBs, this data overload can be both overwhelming and superfluous. Such businesses are often better off focusing on the areas that offer them the greatest benefits.

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According to SoftwareAdvice.com, managing contact info, tracking interactions, scheduling and email marketing are among the other top priorities for SMB. If you do these basics well, you’ll be well-served through CRM and it will help you strengthen customer interactions. Nearly 75 percent of small and midsized businesses using CRM have reported improved customer relationships.

Take advantage of new technologies

Today’s CRM technology includes features such as voice interaction, predictive analytics and various other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) functionality. The right recommendation engine, tailored specifically for the SMB market, can provide a significant value to your business.

These technologies serve an important role in helping boil down the big data captured by CRMs to what is most relevant and actionable for your business. Though the majority of small businesses have been slow to embrace AI-capable CRMs, those taking advantage of these features are reporting significant benefits.

There’s no one size-fits-all CRM strategy for capitalizing on the big data available for today’s companies. SMBs have a unique set of needs that differ greatly from those of your large enterprise size competitors. The CRM an SMB chooses to serve those needs should reflect this reality; after all, if their needs aren’t the same, the strategy shouldn’t be either.

About The Author

Lorcan Malone

Lorcan Malone is president and COO at Swiftpage (www.act.com). He has over 20 years of industry experience working with companies around the world, delivering major IT solutions for Fortune 100 organizations, implementing high-profile eGovernment initiatives, and selling and delivering large scale outsourcing and IT transformation projects. Lorcan was previously VP for Infor CRM and, prior to that, served as SVP and GM for Swiftpage’s Saleslogix software and GM at Sage CRM. Prior to joining Sage, Lorcan held a number of senior level positions at IT services company Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Ireland and the Middle East, including Managing Director EDS Ireland and regional manager for EDS Middle East and North Africa. Lorcan was also the Chief Operating Officer of Injazat Data Systems based in Abu Dhabi. Lorcan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from University College Dublin.

Engage With Your Niche

To succeed in the mortgage market, your first step is identifying your niche. Once you’ve decided on the best demographic target for your success, effective communication will take your message from blah to bingo. Here, we’ll cover 5 important guidelines that will make sure your niche listens and engages with you, effectively driving your mortgage business.

In my view, the five keys to effectively communicating with your niche include:

1.) Tailor your materials according to their needs

When it’s time to communicate with your niche, you have to think about what matters to them. If you don’t consider their priorities and challenges, you will definitely miss your target. When you’re writing your email messages, postcard, articles or other marketing materials, think about a few of these examples:

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Is your niche first time homebuyers? This niche will likely ignore retirement savings advice, vacation home or reverse mortgage products or construction financing tips. Instead, bring them “preparing for your mortgage loan” checklists, credit tips and down payment savings plans.

Is your niche single women-led families? This niche likely won’t care about lawn care advice or DIY remodeling projects. To become a valued voice for this niche, send them lists of “kids eat free” restaurants in your area, tips for paying down loan principles, and recommendations for ideal family neighborhoods.

You have to focus on solutions to your niche market’s real problems. This is what borrowers are really looking for, so you have to position yourself as a problem solver. If you have solutions that will truly help them, let them know and your message will get notices.

2.) Create a crystal-clear message.

Your niche is extremely busy and they are bombarded with marketing messages every second of every day. That may be an exaggeration, but only a slight one. Marketing is everywhere, and if you want your niche to take notice of you, the message has to be absolutely clear and very simple. Your marketing messages are not only competing with other mortgage lenders, but they are also competing for space in your niche’s brain against all the other advertisements your niche sees every day – whether it’s McDonalds or Beyoncé or American Express. Be clear, concise and to the point.

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Graphics can grab attention, but don’t let them overwhelm your marketing to the point where you message isn’t being communicated. Make sure your graphics are relevant to your message and will be noticed by your niche. Simple, clean design should enhance your message, not compete with it.

Again, people are busy. When you do get a few seconds of their attention, don’t squander it with unclear messages or irrelevant graphics.

3.) Deliver something valuable to your niche

When you communicate with your niche, always offer something of value and include a hook that will entice them to contact you. Simply put, offer additional (valuable!) information as an incentive to reach out and start a conversation with you or exchange contact info so you can more target them even more effectively in the future.  This extra value “hooks” a prospect, setting the stage for further communication.

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Here are a few examples of hooks:

>>Download a free step-by-step loan process guide

>>Download a neighborhood resources guide

>>Download a checklist for getting started buying a home

>>Call us today for access to your free mortgage loan calculator

>>Click here for warning signs of fraud

>>Call me for details

>>Call us for a free readiness assessment

All of these hooks offer something of value to an interested prospect. They will increase not only the attention your pieces get but boost your response rates and position you as the go-to expert for mortgages.

4.) Include a clear and concise call to action

You have to motivate your prospects with a strong “Call to Action”. Calls to Action (CTAs) are often the difference between prospects just eyeballing your content versus prospects that are converting into actual leads.  In today’s highly competitive mortgage market it is critical to convert potential borrowers into leads, which convert into actual borrowers.

You can create great content, new websites and professional marketing materials but if all a potential borrower does is read your materials you still have nothing to show for it.  Your CTAs must motivate the potential borrower to take action.   To get pre-qualified, to start the application process, to speak with a loan officer, because once they take that first step at contact, most borrowers stop shopping around.

So, what is the difference between a CTA that drives leads and action compared to the typical CTA that people just read but don’t act on?  There are a number of factors that impact the effectiveness of your CTA. They include:

Wording is critical: Use words that demonstrate an understanding of your prospect’s pain and what motivates them. Put yourself in your prospects shoes.  What would you be looking for throughout your home buying process? Ask yourself “What’s in it for me?” The prospect will eventually ask themselves this same question.

Proper design and placement: If you want your CTA to get the attention it deserves, you need to take advantage of basic design principles. To pop, your CTA needs proper white space, colors, shapes and other visual elements. This field has been studied to a science by marketing automation experts, so it’s critical to get their help.
Marketing automation experts know that seemingly small changes in design can have a huge impact on your response rates. They constantly test colors, shapes, sizes and placement to generate the highest returns, so consider a marketing automation platform to avoid losing out because of simple design principles.

Deliver value to your prospect: Provide your prospects with insights, trends and offers that the prospect can’t live without.  Put yourself in the their shoes and find out what motivates them to take action. Adding value for your prospect creates a higher need and increases the chance of taking your call to action.

There are a number of articles that provide key insights into the power of CTAs and how to get the most out of them in your marketing materials.  In an article by Wendy Marx entitled Calls to Action: “How to Motivate Your Audience”, she lists 10 Guides to Creating Calls to Action that Convert”. Check out the story for some additional tips on creating the perfect CTA https://goo.gl/Zd18pz.

5.) Consider a marketing automation system

There are several turn-key programs available that can suit your niche perfectly. “Set it and forget it” technology has dramatically improved marketing effectiveness and you don’t have to do this alone when there are experts with proven success. Once you’ve done the hard part of identifying your niche, you should lean on marketing automation systems that know how to get attention in your niche. They have ready-made content that’s already been proven effective, and you can consistently stay in touch with your niche with very little effort.

Choosing the right marketing automation system will give you a significant advantage over your competitors. Make sure your system has expertise in your niche market and understands the keys to effectively engaging your ideal audience. Backed with marketing automation, you will quickly make progress towards being the “go-to” mortgage expert for your niche.

Succeed with targeted, clear solutions

Effectively communicating with your ideal niche will bring the leads in that you need to grow your loan pipeline. Consistently deliver the messages they’re interested in, with clear language and hooks that further engage them, and you will become a trusted advisor. When your audience knows that you “get them” and that you provide valuable solutions, choosing a mortgage loan provider and recommending you to their friends will be a simple decision.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Is Your Marketing DB An Asset Or Liability?

We work with lenders across the country to help them leverage marketing automation so that they can attract potential new borrowers, keep current borrowers informed and past borrowers connected for future business or referrals while increasing customer satisfaction.

Invariably, lenders what to know what kind of marketing programs we have, how effective are campaigns are, what type of templates we have and how customizable the system is and best practices or examples from other successful lenders. Lenders want to know when they can start emailing prospective borrowers, how soon they will be getting leads and why it is not happening faster.

These are all good questions, but what amazes me is that they always want to jump to the marketing materials before we even discuss the most important first step. So what is the important first step that many lenders look past?

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The first step is discussing the condition of their marketing database. You would be shocked at how many lenders say that they want to start marketing immediately but when asked about the condition of their marketing database we hear things like this—“I think we have a list from the last couple of trade shows”, or “don’t worry about that we will send it over to you later”, or “I think we have a spreadsheet with that information somewhere.”

Unfortunately, these and many other similar responses indicate that the marketing database is not in the condition needed to fully maximize new and evolving marketing strategies. Would it surprise you that many trade show lists only include a physical address and not an email address? Or that lists that you buy online don’t always include the person’s full name, title or the physical address? O the information is outdated and has not been updated in years? At this point the lenders database is definitely a liability.

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If the keys to successful marketing to todays millennial home buyers include a dynamic mix of print and digital marketing materials delivered in a highly personalized manner specific to that individual when they are searching for a home, isn’t it absolutely critical to have a clean marketing database with as much information about the potential borrower as possible?

The companies that are most successful at attracting new borrowers understand that one of their greatest assets is their marketing database. It is the lifeblood of their organization and as such, treat it that way.

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They understand that to have a clean marketing database takes a commitment on a daily basis to constantly be updating, modifying and cleaning up this information. Information is power, and the companies that have a clean database are in the best position to maximize that information to drive new business.

If you want to successfully leverage marketing automation to attract new borrowers, it all starts with your marketing database, one of your businesses greatest assets.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

CRM Mainstay Acquires Point-Of-Sale Vendor

LoyaltyExpress, a provider of marketing automation and cloud-based CRM solutions for mortgage companies and banks, has acquired Lending Manager, a point-of-sale and website creator for lenders of all sizes.  The acquisition and integration of both companies’ technologies will help automate lead flow and associated marketing for all aspects of the loan process.  The combined company services 115 lenders with over 15,000 loan officers across all platforms. No sale price was disclosed.

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“The ever-increasing expectation of consumers during the lending process led us to this merger,” said Wayne Steagall, Founder of Lending Manager.  “We are thrilled to partner with LoyaltyExpress. We look forward extending our solutions backed with the power of the LoyaltyExpress creative and fulfillment teams.”

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“After extensive due diligence and market research, it became immediately apparent that Lending Manager delivers incredibly efficient and automated lead capture systems and attractive corporate and loan officer websites,” said Jeff Doyle, Chief Executive Officer of LoyaltyExpress.  “Wayne and his team have developed integrations with over 75 CRM, loan origination, lead management, and point-of-sale systems which is a growing requirement of any solution in the mortgage industry. We look forward to integrating CustomerManager with Lending Manager.”

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LoyaltyExpress simplifies CRM and marketing automation for banks and mortgage companies, including one of the top three retail lenders in the nation. Its flagship solution, CustomerManager, is an enterprise-wide, Software-as-a-Service platform that combines lead management, email and direct mail campaigns with a 360-degree view of each loan officer’s customers, partners and prospects. The MarketingCentral service delivers a web-based, sales collateral store powered by custom content creation and integrated print fulfillment. LoyaltyExpress eliminates the need to share sensitive customer data with multiple vendors and has a team of world-class marketing and branding experts with extensive experience in the mortgage industry. LoyaltyExpress is backed by New Capital Partners.

Lending Manager builds custom corporate and loan officer websites for lenders of all sizes. The Company delivers point-of-sale solutions with over 75 integrations with the leading mortgage technology providers. Lending Manager is based in Newark, Delaware.

Mortgage Marketing Trends For 2018

At this time of year there are a number of articles that focus on the key trends in a certain discipline or industry for the coming year. I found some interesting articles on marketing trends for 2018. Here is what some of the predictions included.

In an article entitled “5 Trends Marketers Need to Prepare For In 2018” by AJ Agrawal, CONTRIBUTOR to Forbes, he states.

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1.) Establishing A Conversation

In 2018, look for marketers who are doing more than ever before to generate high-quality, relevant content and optimize their sites to encourage users to participate in the content they share. Marketers will need to find ways to connect more authentically and leverage social listening to strategize successfully in the new year.

2.) Short Planning Cycles

When it comes to marketing strategy, it’s important not to get too far ahead of yourself. Consumer tastes change frequently, so businesses can’t put all their advertising eggs in one basket. Kate Sayre, global head of consumer goods strategy at Facebook, explains that when it comes to marketing, the only real constant is change: “We do six-month planning cycles at Facebook because we don’t know the future. A lot of it is driven by the consumer.”

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3.) Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing is driven by the insights afforded by big data, including market and customer analysis and predictive analytics; understanding the context in which consumers seek to engage with your brand can help you determine customer intent and drive conversions. Contextual marketing is the future of marketing, as consumers continue to demand greater personalization online.

4.) Purpose Driven Purchasing

As much as 79 percent of consumers would prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose, and high-performing marketers are more than two times more likely to be leveraging purpose-driven marketing methods.

5.) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

“In 2018, chatbots will become a far more common solution for brands wishing to serve their customers in a smarter and more cost-effective way,” explains Matt Navarra, director of social media at TheNextWeb. “With AI now being easier to integrate into various tools and services, chatbots will become far more useful and personalized with each interaction it has with users.” Artificial intelligence will also help to power big data interpretation and analysis, making it possible for startups to glean greater insight from the information collected.

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AJ’s predictions got me thinking about what which marketing trends the mortgage industry will see in 2018.

>>Content is Still King. You must be able to create and deliver highly relevant content when and where your potential borrower is ready to consume it. The content must be specific to that individual and help them along their specific home buying journey.

>>Big Data and Analytics. There is an enormous amount of data available about your potential borrowers. The lenders that can best utilize this data and turn it into meaningful content can engage with potential borrowers before they begin shopping around for the best mortgage rates.

>>Mobile. Mobile is not just important in delivering on the digital mortgage, it actually begins when the potential borrower begins their housing search. This usually starts on mobile devices; therefore, your mortgage marketing must be mobile and highly engaging to capture their attention and to keep them engaged.

>>The Need for Print & Digital. While more and more of today’s borrowers are starting their searches online and looking for a digital mortgage experience, what we have found is that the most engaging mortgage marketing campaigns combine both print materials that are highly personalized to that specific borrower and digital marketing. Because so many people are getting inundated with emails and digital ads, combining strategically placed print with your digital campaigns truly captures the attention of the borrower.

>>Marketing Automation. The days of lenders using their outdated CRM or email marketing tools to drive business are long gone. With big data, analytics, the need for personalization, and the need for event triggers to send highly targeted marketing materials at the exact time the potential borrower will consume them requires sophisticated marketing automation.

 What mortgage marketing trends do you think lenders are looking to incorporate in 2018?

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Attracting New Borrowers

In today’s hyper-competitive mortgage market with fluctuating rates, low inventories, and changing borrower expectations, it is vital for lenders to truly understand their target audience if they want to attract new borrowers.

In an article entitled “How to Define Your Target Market” by Mandy Porta from Inc.com, Porta addresses this topic and states, “To build a solid foundation for your business, you must first identify your typical customer and tailor your marketing pitch accordingly.”

“Given the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target market is more important than ever. No one can afford to target everyone. Small businesses can effectively compete with large companies by targeting a niche market.”

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“Many businesses say they target “anyone interested in my services.” Some say they target small-business owners, homeowners, or stay-at-home moms. All of these targets are too general.”

The mistake a number of lenders make is trying to appease every possible potential borrower instead of focusing their marketing message and materials to a specific or a limited number of target audiences.

In addition, Porta says, “Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.”

For example, “an interior design company could choose to market to homeowners between the ages of 35 and 65 with incomes of $150,000-plus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To define the market even further, the company could choose to target only those interested in kitchen and bath remodeling and traditional styles. This market could be broken down into two niches: parents on the go and retiring baby boomers.”

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By clearly defining your target audience, your marketing materials and value propositions can be much more specific, personalized, and meaningful to your prospective borrowers.

Porta goes on to state, “With a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your company.” Here are some tips she provides to help you define your target market.

“Look at your current customer base.

Who are your current customers, and why do they buy from you? Look for common characteristics and interests. Which ones bring in the most business? It is very likely that other people like them could also benefit from your product/service.

Check out your competition.

Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Don’t go after the same market. You may find a niche market that they are overlooking.

Analyze your product/service.

Write out a list of each feature of your product or service. Next to each feature, list the benefits it provides (and the benefits of those benefits). For example, a graphic designer offers high-quality design services. The benefit is a professional company image. A professional image will attract more customers because they see the company as professional and trustworthy. So ultimately, the benefit of high-quality design is gaining more customers and making more money.

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Once you have your benefits listed, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills. For example, a graphic designer could choose to target businesses interested in increasing their client base. While this is still too general, you now have a base to start from.

Choose specific demographics to target.

Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy it. Think about the following factors:

>>Age

>>Location

>>Gender

>>Income level

>>Education level

>>Marital or family status

>>Occupation

>>Ethnic background

Consider the psychographics of your target.

Psychographics are the more personal characteristics of a person, including:

>>Personality

>>Attitudes

>>Values

>>Interests/hobbies

>>Lifestyles

>>Behavior

Determine how your product or service will fit into your target’s lifestyle. How and when will your target use the product? What features are most appealing to your target? What media does your target turn to for information? Does your target read the newspaper, search online, or attend particular events?

Evaluate your decision.

Once you’ve decided on a target market, be sure to consider these questions:

>>Are there enough people who fit my criteria?

>>Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?

>>Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?

>>Can they afford my product/service?

>>Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?

While targeting is a very powerful tool to help maximize marketing dollars and results, it is important to prudently carve out your niche. Companies can get too narrow with their focus and have a very limited number of prospects to market to.

Porta’s tip, “If you can reach both niches effectively with the same message, then maybe you have broken down your market too far. Also, if you find there are only 50 people that fit all of your criteria, maybe you should reevaluate your target. The trick is to find that perfect balance.”

She concludes with, “Defining your target market is the hard part. Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of sending direct mail to everyone in your ZIP code, you can send it only to those who fit your criteria. Save money and get a better return on investment by defining your target audience.”

Knowing your target audience will not only save you money on your marketing but it will also deliver greater results as you look to attract more new borrowers in today’s highly competitive mortgage market.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Are You Motivating Your Audience With A Strong Call To Action?

Calls to Action (CTA’s) are often the difference between prospects just eyeballing your content versus prospects that are converting into leads.   In today’s highly competitive mortgage market it is critical to convert potential borrowers into leads, which convert into actual borrowers.

You can create great content, new websites and professional marketing materials but if all a potential borrower does is read your materials you still have nothing to show for it. Your CTA’s must motivate the potential borrower to take action.   To get pre-qualified, to start the application process, to speak with a loan officer, because once that happens most borrowers stop shopping around.

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So, what is the difference between a CTA that drives leads and action compared to the typical CTA that people just read and do nothing with? There are a number of factors that impact the effectiveness of your CTA. They include:

Wording is critical- Use words that demonstrate an understanding of your prospects pain and of what motivates them.

Proper design and placement- If you what your CTA’s to pop you need to take advantage of whitespace, colors, shape and visual elements that will make the CTA stand out.

Deliver value to your prospect- provide them with insights, trends, offers that the prospect can’t live without. Put yourself in the prospects shoes. What will motivate them to take action?

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There are a number of articles that provide key insights into the power of CTA’s and how to get the most out of them in your marketing materials. In an article by Wendy Marx entitled Calls to Action: “How to Motivate Your Audience she lists 10 Guides to Creating Calls to Action that Convert from leading industry experts. Check out the story for some additional tips on creating the perfect CTA https://goo.gl/Zd18pz.

To succeed in today’s mortgage market your marketing materials must include a clear and concise call to action.

Action:

Ask for their business

Offer a discount

Visit a website to apply

Join Group/list

Click to Apply Now

Get Pre-Qualified

Considerations

Do not hide your call to action

Provide multiple opportunities in your marketing materials for your prospect to take action.

Finding the right call to action takes time and plenty of trial and error. Put yourself in your prospects shoes. What would you be looking for throughout the home buying process? Ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”

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The prospect will eventually ask themselves this same question.

Here are some examples:

Should I be working with someone who simply wants to do a loan or a trusted advisor?

Should my lender guide me through the loan process from start to finish or do I have to figure it out myself?

As your prospect asked themselves these questions, you should make a conscious effort to portray yourself as a valued asset in their home buying journey. Adding value for your prospect creates a higher need and increases of moving your audience to action.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Value Your Data

We have heard industry veterans like Roger Gudobba and others say, “It’s all about the data.” The phrase has become so overused that it almost means nothing anymore. However, lenders and vendors alike should listen to this sound advice. Roger was talking about how data can improve the mortgage lending process, and that’s true, but I’m here to say to you that data can improve your marketing process, as well.

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In a White Paper entitled “Put Data First: Why Data Quality in CRM and Marketing Automation are Top Priority” written by RingLead, the author states that whatever your situation may be, you will quickly realize that it all comes back to data, because data is the real value in your CRM and marketing automation platform.

We don’t mean to trivialize the importance of workflows, automated processes and drip nurturing campaigns that these systems offer. These features are one of the primary reasons that organizations invest so much time and money into their implementation and ongoing administration and improvement, but many are rendered utterly useless when they come into contact with dirty data.

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Dirty data has a way of silently infiltrating your organization, creating frustration, inefficiency, and loss of confidence (eg. dismal user adoption) in the systems themselves. It can affect each department and group of stakeholders in a very different way, but unless there is a “State of Our Data” address, the problem is not brought to the forefront of the organization’s collective psyche.

One of the key requirements of a customer and prospect database is to easily segment the records, allowing your organization to interact with one set of contacts differently from others. This can be easy if you have a strict set of values for each field and the input is controlled at the insertion point.

A common requirement is segmentation by job title, but there are simply too many variations on an individual’s job title to try to account for each with a picklist value, so the standard method of insertion is via a regular text field. This creates a pretty big problem for segmentation.

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According to a 2013 Experian QAS survey, 94 percent of businesses believe there is some level of inaccuracy within their CRM systems. When you think about the time, money and focus that is put into CRM, an allowance for inaccurate and useless data is mind boggling.

Think about the time that your organization is wasting sifting through inaccurate or worse, completely useless, data. Inaccurate data leads to:

>>Wasted sales efforts on useless bits of information stored in CRM, leading to discontent and potential abandonment of the CRM system (ie. decreased user adoption)

>>Longer wait times for support while reps are forced to piece together information while on the phone with a customer, leading to decreased customer satisfaction

At Sirius Summit 2013, Jim Ninivaggi, Service Director of Sales Enablement Strategies at Sirius Decisions cited a study that found roughly 30% of an enterprise salesperson’s time is spent doing research on the Internet. If you think about that in the context of an 8 am – 6 pm workday, that means that 35 days per year are spent doing research.

In Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset, Thomas C. Redman sums up the advantages of data completeness as “A moat around our business [that] gives us a unique competitive advantage.” Nowhere is this more evident than the aspect of data completeness.

Duplicate records in CRM and marketing automation platforms are a familiar aspect of bad data. The errors and frustration that duplicates cause can be felt across most departments at almost every level.

Reports are skewed, the wrong messages are being sent, and quarrels are created over one record that somehow made it into the system twice and was distributed to two different sales reps.

How are duplicate records created? Today’s CRM and marketing automation platforms come equipped with very basic duplicate identification, which is, in almost every case, based on a scan for an exact-match email address.

Many modern, technology-enabled organizations are using more than one software platform to manage their customer and prospect data. It is crucial to keep your data in sync across your email, ERP systems, CRM, marketing automation platform, and more. If your data quality plan is limited to one platform, you’re only solving part of the problem.

It’s important to remember that dirty data can be a big problem, but can be easily solved. Analyze the problem and try to hone in on the areas that are causing the most pain. Then get in touch with a team that has experience in resolving these types of issues.

For example, NexLevel Advisors is focused on companies that are looking to take their business to the next level. NexLevel Advisors assists you in elevating your results. Creating new opportunities, executable strategies, and delivering results creates an environment that promotes continual growth and business value for your company.

We add value through strategic advice specific to your company. Our team has years of experience and have been in your situation and position. These individuals possess in-depth knowledge of your complex product and service offerings, the nuances of your market segment, and the challenges of your product roadmap and lifecycle. We deliver customized differentiation in the marketplace for your organization while producing measurable results.

What this means for your business is that you get customized programs from accomplished executives who offer proven results-oriented solutions specifically created to take your organization to the next level, quicker and more strategically than you could on your own.

NexLevel’s experience has covered multiple industries including: Financial Services, Healthcare, Legal Services and Insurance in delivering marketplace results, with extensive expertise in complex technology oriented products and services. Our customized solutions help you to sell more, more frequently, to more people by clearly establishing your specific value propositions. This is where real world experience, strategy and execution deliver measurable results for your organization.

For over 20 years the advisors of NexLevel have been leading and creating market leaders in business, delivering success after success in taking companies to the next level in revenues and profitability. This vast expertise comes from real world experience in running companies, building organizations and holding the following positions of leadership: CEO, CMO, VP Business Strategy, and Director of Sales & Marketing. Our experience makes the difference in your business.

If your CRM reporting seems “off”, if your marketing campaigns are less than impressive, if your sales team is underperforming, then this is your system flashing the Check Engine light. More often than not, dirty data is the root cause.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Rest Your Weary Fingers—Voice Activation Is Coming To A CRM Near You

We spend a lot of time talking to our gadgets these days. Whether we’re seeking directions from Siri or weather updates from Alexa, speech is quickly becoming a preferred means of communicating with technology. A future once at our fingertips now rests at the tips of our tongues.

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Voice activated technology doesn’t just afford us fun tools for our private lives – this technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the professional world, too. And that extends to the small and midsized business space. Voice activation is now helping small and midsized businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software with more speed and efficiency. This burgeoning feature becoming a game changer in a world where the tech-savviest players win.

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Here’s how your business can, and should, use voice activation for CRM to its advantage.

Alexa, help save me time

Voice-activated CRMs have become significant time-saving tools for professionals across the board.

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They help users interact with data in more targeted ways, meaning they can bypass irrelevant information and skip directly to the data they’re seeking. A time-crunched salesman can simply say: “Alexa, open Act! and retrieve John Smith’s email” rather than opening a CRM program on a computer and manually retrieving the information.

Speech-to-text software can be a real timesaver for data entry, too. Rather than the costly and monotonous task of manually imputing data, users can rely on software to submit information via speech. This saves hours. The average worker types 50-70 words per minute. Meanwhile, speech recognition programs can accommodate 120-140 words per minute with near-perfect accuracy. And if you’re serious about saving time, forget texting. A Stanford study found speech recognition to be three-times faster than typing on a phone.

Alexa, help me adapt

As I mentioned, many people are already using voice activation in their day-to-day lives. According to a recent study, nearly 40 percent of smartphone owners use voice recognition software.

Naturally, small and midsized business owners and employees will want to use voice activation in their professional lives, too. And smaller organizations are often better positioned to test and integrate new technologies on the fly than enterprise-level companies that come with much longer approval, research and implementation processes.

Early stage voice-activated CRMs will consist of a basic integration with well-established virtual assistants such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod. Users can ease into this advancing technology by mastering the basic skills, and continuing to learn as voice activation becomes more sophisticated.

As businesses begin relying more heavily on voice activation, they’ll find there’s no longer a need to bring up a full-blown CRM. Instead, they’ll rely on spoken words to complete a task.

Alexa, what’s next?

The greatest advantages of voice-activated CRM technology are still to come. Though base level interaction tools will continue to pop up over the next 12 to 15 months, this technology is expected to become much more sophisticated within the next year-and-a-half.

It’s mind blowing to think about how sophisticated CRM-related artificial intelligence will become. In July, an Israeli startup called Gong received $20 million in funding to develop a tool that uses “natural language processing and machine learning to help train and suggest information to sales people and customer service reps.” How incredible is that?

Mainstreaming of such technology will allow small and midsized businesses to take advantage of the processing power that industry behemoths such as Amazon and IBM are investing into. If you can believe it, the speech recognition market is expected to reach nearly $10 billion by 2022.

It all translates into tremendous value for small and midsized businesses. Taking advantage of technological advances as they become available allows smaller organizations to adapt faster within their CRM plans, benefit from huge productivity gains, and experiment with less risk.

Soon, CRM users will be able to interact with email, set up activities, and even receive recommendations on the next best customer interaction to initiate. They’ll accomplish all this by simply verbalizing a sentence or two.

Keyboards aren’t going anywhere…yet. But CRM voice activation is coming fast and finding ways to have your small business take advantage of this new technology to drive better, more meaningful customer interactions can have a real impact on your bottom line and organizational growth. So, drink a nice cup of tea with honey because you may need those pipes at the office tomorrow!

About The Author

John Oechsle

John Oechsle joined Swiftpage in July 2012 and currently serves as president and chief executive officer. John came to Swiftpage with a 30 year track record of building highly profitable and sustainable revenue growth for emerging companies and established global leaders. John is an advocate for technology and education in Colorado and has been an active contributor to the Colorado Technology Association (CTA). He has been recognized several times for his involvement in the tech industry. In 2006 and in 2009, John was awarded the Technology Executive of the Year, and the Titan of Technology awards by the CTA. John was also awarded the Bob Newman Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community by the CTA in 2011.

The Best Of Both Worlds

In today’s hyper competitive mortgage market, with fluctuating rates, an influx of regulations and enforcements, focusing on attracting new borrowers and retaining the ones you have isn’t always the top priority. It is critical to take care of those areas without losing sight of the importance on bringing on new business.

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I was reading a recent blog by IQ Total Source titled “How to Combine Print & Digital Marketing Campaigns”. In the blog they state “To be successful in today’s marketing age, it is important to have an integrated campaign: both print and digital tactics.

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Making these tools work together can be tricky, though. As with any campaign, you’ll want to start out knowing who your target audience is. This means not only knowing the demographics and parameters of your audience, but also how best to reach them. While it is easy to assume that older customers prefer print while younger customers like digital marketing, it will almost never be advantageous to operate this way.

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There are various advantages and disadvantages to both print and digital media that you should research. Most likely you’ll find that a combined print and digital marketing campaign is the way to go. Digital media is a great option because of its ease of change and the fact that you are not so strictly limited in space. You can use links to your advantage in this capacity, giving your customer an easy path of simply clicking to learn more information or even purchase your product then and there. However, print offers its own set of advantages. Information is much more easily digested in print and people like and trust something tangible.

Through both your print and digital channels, you should have a consistent look. It’s quite possible that a customer will come in contact with both your print and digital designs. Your campaign will be made stronger and clearer if your customers can easily connect the two. Make sure that the efforts you put toward your campaign can be used in as many ways as possible. Information from a newsletter can be organized in a print pamphlet or poster, used as a basis for an online banner, and expanded on for a web page. Consistency is key when managing a combined print and digital strategy.

Don’t rigidly separate your print and digital information. As we’ve already covered, it is not as black and white as assuming you’ll generate one set of customers from print and an entirely new set digitally. Including twitter handles, an invitation to visit your website, or even an online code within your print campaign can compel your audience to your digital channels and vice versa. Always make sure all of your marketing is contributing toward your desired result.

Print is not dead and digital marketing is fast growing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but combining them can mean the best of both worlds.”

To succeed in today’s mortgage market you need a multifaceted marketing approach to attracting, engaging and eventually bringing on new borrowers. This includes the use of both print and digital.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.