My name is Alex Curtis and i’ve spent the last 18 years working with financial advice businesses to generate leads through their websites.
My team and I have many success stories building and growing sustainable, profitable lead pipelines for our clients.
Our mission is to ensure that when someone searches online for mortgage advice, they find an adviser and not a lead generator, who will sell their data.
We turn your website into a ‘lead engine’ so that you get better quality and more profitable leads.
If it’s answering the questions they have…
|Average Time On Page (Old Website)||Average Time On Page (New Website)|
First Time Buyer Mortgage Page
3 mins 33 secs
Bad Credit Mortgage Page
1 mins 7 secs
3 mins 40 secs
NHS Mortgage Page
Did not exist on old website
3 mins 4 secs
Self Employed Mortgage Page
Did not exist on old website
2 mins 57 secs
Convert Commercial Mortgage To Residential
Did not exist on old website
8 mins 34 secs
The more specialist, the more they want to read.
Once you have some great content we can start advertising…
Listen to part 1 of the “Advisers Assemble” legendary Mortgage Leads podcast episode below… (if you’re more of a reader we’ve tried to summarise each point further down too).
Then listen to Part 2 below...
The more content you have that is relevant to what people are looking for, the more seriously Google will take your website.
So when you choose a content topic, make sure it’s something people are actually looking for online. Think about the main things your clients are interested in and what you want people to find you for when they search the internet. This process is essentially the first step of SEO for financial services.
You don’t need to worry about being a great writer. Mortgage advisers are very passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects, and great communicators. Something that can work really well is to talk out loud about your chosen subject, record that on your phone and get a writer to turn it into an article.
Remember too that some people might prefer to listen to or watch content rather than read it.
You’ll quickly see from many other of our top 9 ways to generate leads that content is really important, so it’s well worth investing time and a bit of money in getting it right.v
When anyone searches for a mortgage broker or mortgage advice on Google, they will see a list of local businesses in their area as supplied by Google Maps. So it’s very important to have your business featured on it.
There are three spots per search, and sometimes there might be a competitor advertising to get on that map. But if you can earn the right to be there for free because of good content, you can get decent traffic and inbound calls that can make a big difference.
There are about 250,000 searches a month just for ‘mortgage broker’ or ‘mortgage advisor’.
Google Maps is a great way of getting to the top of the search engine for your local area.
To get there you need to register the business on Google My Business. You do need a physical location – virtual offices aren’t officially allowed (although a lot of people use them).
Getting reviews is also very helpful and there are various other tools in Google My Business you can use.
There’s a video guide on how to feature your business on the top 3 of Google Maps on the MHBS Marketing Hub.
If you’re not currently ranking on page one or two of the search engine, and you’re not on maps, Google Ads can be a good solution. These ads appear at the top of the search page – you pay for an ad to be there, and you’re only charged when people click the link.
So, you’re paying for it, but it is still a profitable way of getting a lead. It’s best to aim for an ‘exact match’ – so you’re only bidding when someone searches for a mortgage broker in your area or town. The cost will depend on the level of competition in your area.
The cost of a click in our local area is around £1.90 to £2.10, but in the south that cost is more like £4.11 to £4.50 – it often goes in line with property prices.
Generally the quality of leads tends to be good if you’ve got the right approach in place. The cost will change all the time, so check Google’s current prices.
You’ll also find that different products have different costs in line with the value of the product – bidding on life insurance can cost you upwards of £25 per click; while Bridging Loans might be £12-14 because they are high value to the broker. Remortgaging is higher because it’s a nice, quick business.
The next area of lead generation is looking at the different areas of mortgages that people search for. It’s much more than First Time Buyers, Home Movers, Remortgages etc.
People often search for specific products based on their circumstances – very common examples include NHS mortgages, teacher mortgages, mortgages for non-standard construction, Japanese Knotweed, mortgage for the self-employed, contractor mortgages. There are so many more potential areas too – mortgages for HMOs, self-build, government buying schemes…
The key again is content. You could pay for a Google Ad, but when the person clicks through they will need to find a good level of detail on your page that answers their questions.
If someone is searching, let’s say, self-employed mortgages, they will want to understand how to prove their income, what documents that a lender will want to see, and how many years of accounts they need to provide. Once they’ve clicked your ad, your website needs to explain all those details, plus how you can help them – you need to show each visitor that you’ve got their best interests at heart.
Getting this right will position you as a friendly, trusted expert, and that should convince the person visiting your site to call or email you and set up that initial chat.
This won’t help you if you’re brand new in the game. But if you’re looking for more leads and you’ve got a back book, sending something out to previous clients can be a simple source of new business.
This is especially the case with remortgages. You can automate a ‘nurture sequence’ to follow up with clients at the time when their deal is ending. Mortgage protection is another good area – perhaps your mortgage client wasn’t ready to think about protection when their house purchase was going through, but they might be feeling differently now.
One thing we’ve found with email marketing is that you need to lead with education, rather than a sales message. The same is true with Facebook posts and other marketing – sharing useful content rather than a sales message is much more effective at generating business.
We also find that it’s better to keep emails short and snappy and make sure they direct people to your website. Think of them like a social post. They don’t need to be beautifully designed and branded – although you could send a couple of versions and test which one gets the most engagement.
With emails you can get quite clever these days and programme a sequence. Perhaps if somebody clicks on three emails in a row, you could show them a more conversion focussed email.
Make sure you’re measuring the results, too. Maybe you’re already emailing your back book – do you know what the take up rate is? If it’s 75-80% or so, you might be able to squeeze a bit more business out of it with some careful content.
In terms of tools, a lot of people use MailChimp. – it’s free for a couple of thousand email addresses, but the automation side has a cost attached. Here at the Lead Engine we like ActiveCampaign – there are a lot of sophisticated things you can do and the automation is clever.
Sendinblue is one that clients use a lot, and Zapier is good for connecting all your systems and platforms. All the tools are good, they’re fairly easy to use and choosing often depends on how many records you have in your database. We can recommend an approach if you need some support.
Facebook ads are great for reaching certain audiences. You can target people that are interested in mortgage brokers and financial services.
We use Facebook accounts for branding and local awareness. You can start conversations in Messenger. And if you have only got a small budget, it can be more realistic to run Facebook ads over Google ads.
You can spend as little as £1 a day on Facebook and get in front of a good audience of people. With Google ads you need to be spending £25-£30 as an absolute minimum.
Advertising is about three key stages: awareness, consideration and conversion. Facebook ads are better suited to generating awareness – where people start to notice your brand – and consideration – where you get people to visit your website and have a look at your content.
In terms of conversion we’ve always found the quality of leads is not as good as what we see through Google. Generally it’s well worth putting time and the effort into driving more organic traffic online. So even though the cost of a Google lead is high, the quality is so much better. On a model of cost per good lead, Google ads wins every time.
We’re doing less Facebook as a result – and we focus on pushing out content and credibility of your brand. If you just want to dabble with a couple of pounds a day it will get your name out there and put you in front of people. But if you want good leads and enquiries, it’s perhaps not the highest priority.
A final point on Facebook ads – remember that people scroll past things very quickly. You must have the word ‘mortgage’ in your page title to make people stop, look and click. You also need to have at least five ads in circulation as people quickly notice they are seeing the same thing.
You create an audience of those people and then place ads in front of them – you can do this on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and the Google display network. That’s where there’s banners across lots of websites that make money from Google for hosting them.
We all receive remarketing almost every day, depending on what we do online. For example, if you look at some shoes on a website you will have noticed that those shoes will follow you around the Internet for the next few days.
In a mortgage scenario, perhaps someone searching for self-employed mortgages will hit your site. They read your content but weren’t ready to make an enquiry. Then the next week your brand appears, reminding them that they still haven’t done anything about their mortgage. They might then pick up the phone or email you. Even if they don’t, it’s a good value way to build brand awareness among people that we know are interested in a mortgage.
It’s cost effective too because you’re paying to get in front of a smaller group of people who already know you, and have already engaged with your brand.
It’s often said that people need six ‘touchpoints’ with a brand before they actually decide to buy.
You can run remarketing ads for just £1-2 per day even on the Google display network. Bear in mind that this will only work if you have an established website that is already generating some traffic. A brand new website won’t have a big enough audience for this to work.
We’ve just talked about one customer audience, the remarketing audience. But what you can do with Google and Facebook is create ‘lookalike’ audiences of people who are similar to your typical client base.
It’s because Google and Facebook know a lot about everyone: our age, where we live, the things that we click on and search for. It’s how they decide what post to put next in everyone’s feed. Check out the social dilemma on Netflix to help understand this bit more.
So by understanding your own existing audience you can start reaching out to lookalikes.
An important part of this is Offline Conversions. As we know, selling mortgages isn’t like an online shoe shop where everything happens on the website. For e-commerce sites it’s easy to understand who, for example, buys red trainers and create a lookalike of that audience.
With mortgages there’s a journey. People make an enquiry, then there’s a meeting, maybe a dip, an offer, application, etc. So you will need to be able to connect your online enquiries through to the people who take out a mortgage. Then you can tell Google which people converted from their first click to become a client (And then use that data to find similar people).
Google can then look at what they clicked on when they saw the ad – where they saw it, what time of day it was, what the keyword was for them. Then they can find other people that are likely to do the same.
This lookalike audience are more likely to turn into a lead than the general public, so these leads can be a bit more expensive, with a higher Pay Per Click. But it’s effective and will usually give you a lower cost per acquisition because more of them will actually turn into business.
Again, it’s really important to look at the tracking and results. It can happen that two different clients are both running a lookalike campaign in different locations, and one is getting fantastic business from it and the other isn’t. A good example is bad credit mortgages – where perhaps the second company is finding that although they’re getting leads, the credit issues are too severe and the clients can’t be placed. Once you have 50-100 bits of data you can understand what’s going wrong and tweak the approach to get a better quality lead.
We have some clients that come to us who are already getting quite a bit of traffic to their website, but it doesn’t convert. People aren’t picking up the phone to book a meeting. They’re not filling out a form and asking for a call-back.
It’s often quite a simple job to generate more enquiries from this kind of site. It might just be tweaking some words ‘above the fold’ – the content you see when you open each web page. Small changes can change contact rates and quality because they improve how the visitor feels about the site. It’s all about creating a human connection
This is why we do podcast interviews with our clients – so that someone who needs a mortgage can listen to the mortgage adviser and get to know them as a person.
We’ve surveyed people that we’re in the market for a mortgage and they say things like: “I need to learn enough to feel confident enough to call”. So a lot of people want a certain level of knowledge before they speak to an expert.
Far too many broker websites only have a paragraph of text about each type of mortgage – and that’s not nearly enough to arm the potential client with the information they need.
That can even put off someone who’s been given a personal recommendation. Say you’re thinking about buying a house, and you’ve gone to Barclays and you have a mortgage appointment next week. Then a friend talks about an excellent broker they used and how good they were, and gives you a website link. But if the website is short on detail and doesn’t convey personality or expertise, you decide to stick with your Barclays appointment.
Could you be missing out on this type of referral because your website isn’t working hard enough?
Some clients don’t realise how well their advertising or website are doing. They might be getting 200-300 searches a month, because they have a good brand or good reputation – but that doesn’t reflect in the number of enquiries they receive. Take a look at your analytics and see what’s really happening.
So there are many different ways to generate mortgage leads – and a natural question is, which ones does the Lead Engine do more of? Our goal is to get as much free traffic as possible – people actively searching for advice. So SEO is a huge part of that – which means that content is probably our number one. Then we use Google ads to drive business while we’re waiting for search rankings to improve.
The other tools are all important within the mix, though, and can make a big difference to how your business is doing.
A final point to note is that although there is so much data and information available, nothing is ever 100% predictable. Every number represents a human being, and what’s fascinating about humans is that we are all so different. So you can never be completely sure why people behave as they do and what will happen when you make changes to your marketing, your website, your brand or anything about your business. And that’s what makes lead generation so interesting.