November 14, 2007
Case Study

How to Convert Old Leads Into 11.07% New Sales

SUMMARY: If you’re paying for online leads that are growing old because your team is concentrating on new leads, quit ignoring them.

An online home mortgage company devised a triggered email program to target consumer leads that were going stale. They’re seeing 89% ROI, and the campaign increased sales 11.07% during a severely depressed year for the housing market.
Warning bells were going off in Philip Baltazar’s head last December. Although the country’s housing market was trending down, market prognosticators were forecasting that it might take a bigger dive in the months to come.

Baltazar, President, America Funding, and his team knew they had plenty of consumer leads coming in. That wasn’t the issue. “Typically, we spend about $150,000 a month on leads for our 60 loan officers. My problem was that we were closing only on about 5%, and the other 95% were getting away because we were so focused on new leads.”

Baltazar wondered if they could create a strategy that would systematically target those old leads better and raise conversions.

Under their current system, they sent a series of four emails in the first 15 days after a consumer filled out an online mortgage or loan application, but nothing after that point. Baltazar wanted a system to reach out to those applicants who didn’t convert in that timeframe.

Here’s how they implemented a new system with five additional emails:

-> Email #1. Day 21 - Stalled loan message

Baltazar wanted to simultaneously re-qualify leads and rekindle the consumer’s interest in shopping for a loan. The names in the bucket of 21-day-old leads received an initial email that included:

- A short, personalized letter from the assigned loan officer.
- A “View” link that clicked to a landing page with a 25-second video. They placed the link in the top left corner of the email.

The video clip featured a spokesman who:
o Reminded consumers that they had already filled out an application
o Offered assistance to take the next step
o Invited them to fill out a five-question survey

The survey ended with a request for the consumer to provide a telephone number. “When they give you their phone number for the second time [in a month], that’s not just a qualified lead,” Baltazar says. “It’s a hot lead.”

For the subject line, they used a simple reminder: “America Funding: Checking in.” The brand name was used in all of the subject lines -- a best practice for both deliverability and open rates.

To avoid any negative feelings, they also made the unsubscribe button easy to find at the bottom of the letter.

-> Email #2. Day 35 - Incentive

For consumers who hadn’t converted by day 35, Baltazar and his team added an incentive. To pique interest, they used the subject line: “America Funding Will Meet Or Beat Any Loan Offer.”

Recipients who clicked on the link in the email were taken to a landing page with a $500 credit toward their closing costs.

The landing page included:
o Strong call-to-action copy
o Financial tools, including a mortgage payment calculator
o Loan application page
o Loan consolidation information links

“Here, we assume the prospect is still shopping,” Baltazar says. “From top to bottom, the offer is meant to close on people who are still actively mulling the idea.”

-> Email #3. Day 49 - Testimonials

Prospects who didn’t convert within 49 days received an email titled, “Don’t Take Our Word For It.” It consisted of eight customer testimonials on the left-hand side and the same tools as the prior message on the right side. The subject line repeated the title, “America Funding: Don’t take our word for it.”

-> Email #4. Day 56 - Rates Update

With the sales lead potentially slipping away, Baltazar and his team moved quicker with the fourth email. It was sent a week later. The message involved three new loan quotes, including interest rates, points, APRs and monthly payments.

The email also listed their loan officer’s phone number and a link to send him/her an email. The subject line read: ‘America Funding: Loan Status.’

-> Email #5. Day 62 - Humorous ecard

Finally, on Day 62, America Funding sent a rich media ecard headlined: “Just Checking In.” It showed a cartoon of a person buried under a pile of past-due bills and a “money vulture” animated character.

To the right, they included the customer’s first name and one sentence of copy: “Give me a call today or send me a quick note so we can review current rates and how much that can save you monthly.” The subject line read: “America Funding: Rates Update.”
Persistence paid off for Baltazar and his team. It not only helped to keep them afloat but humming right along during an incredibly tough year.

The new system of refreshing old leads was “a huge reason why” they increased sales by 11.07% compared to 2006. Plus, their loan volume is up 10.43%, while gross profit has lifted 2.05%.

6.2% of their closed loans this year have been from leads 21 days and older, and the initiative has turned up an impressive 89% return on investment.

“In an industry that has seen a 28% decline in [sales] volume and 37% decline in [mortgage] originations, we have been able to maintain a growth rate -- which is spectacular. It’s a slugfest out there. If we were not using the system for aged leads, we’d be like the rest of our competitors that’d be shut down or depleted of a significant amount of volume.”p

Under better market conditions, Baltazar says this contact strategy will be a bigger boon. Due to the performance, they now use the system for all leads, and it’s bringing in around 19% of their closed loans.

More statistics on how the emails drove sales:
o 7.99% of the recipients watched the video a single time
o 22.18% of those who clicked to view the Day 21 video watched it multiple times
o 98% provided their telephone number to be contacted

“That’s definitely telling us that the customer is still in the marketplace,” he says. “What works is constantly tapping the prospect or customer on the shoulder and reminding them of the offer.”

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from America Funding:

SoftVu LLC - the firm that helped America Funding with the system:

America Funding:

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