Building a loyal social media following for your online business profile will take time, patience, commitment and a fair bit of trial and error.
It may sound obvious, but the reputational value of a professional 'social' presence may be more than you think. Luckily, most online platforms provide a range of metrics which brokerages can use to see if you're achieving your objectives.
In part two of the "MFAA Groundbreakers" interview series, Mary Degetto, Natloans director and TV co-host for Dollars With Sense, debunks the social media marketing myths of budgeting and lead-generation for brokers.
MFAA: Before you started your work on Dollars With Sense and had success with social media marketing, what was your biggest fear?
MD: When starting any project that requires marketing, your biggest fear will be spending money and not getting it back. As mortgage brokers, we can't help but think: "How is this going to translate into a return on investment?"
The answer? You have to keep trying different things.
It's a matter of trial and error; in some cases, you will need the help of a social media expert. If you can find someone who can manage and engineer all your Facebook content to be a soft sell, it'll place you as an informative thought leader.
I believe that it is crucial for your content to be engineered in a way that's giving back to your audience.
MFAA: How much 'should' brokers invest into their marketing campaigns?
MD: I suggest to start with a budget. Start small and see what comes of it.
Don't be afraid to outsource social media expertise or pay a service fee to someone else who can do it for you (this may be a marketing specialist or your very own support staff members). You might find this is better than you trying to do all the work by yourself.
Managing and creating your social media content doesn't have to be a solo task. Otherwise, it'll be another thing to review, another thing to cross off your list and it'll take more time out of your day when you could be working alongside your clients. If you're struggling to manage your social media channels, consider having someone monitor the content for you and providing you with reports so you can see if the traffic is generating the leads and/or the traction you're after.
In terms of budgeting, I do a monthly and annual strategy for marketing along with every facet of my business (e.g. IT, compliance, automation, etc.) I measure the outcomes once a week to see where it’s tracking.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m throwing dice to see if a marketing strategy will stick or fly - it’s a matter of refining your content A/B testing system regularly. It’s also crucial for you to be okay with taking a bit of a gamble on what your marketing ideas are.
MFAA: What are your top 2 or 3 PR, marketing and/or social media marketing strategies?
MD: Sure, I just want to put out there that any marketing strategies will be tied to every part of your business and isn't just limited to the "digital landscape".
I agree that you can't go without working with the online world, there's such a great push for it in and outside of our industry.
I've been in the game for 16 years and here's just a few strategies that have worked for me:
1. Automate and integrate your marketing into your system and processes
It's all about systems and processes. Everyone in your business should know what everyone is working on and what deadlines they're working towards. For my business, this helps us to ensure we deliver a sound and consistent service to our customers. It's very much a team effort as it requires collaboration and working with different system functionalities based on your marketing strategies.
You can't go wrong with a cost-per-lead acquisition model; you get a lead, it tells you what the enquiry/application needs and then determines your next steps for the enquiry. Simply, if we know the outlay is X and Y is the return – we can easily then tell if your strategy is good and if it will work.
Some examples that I've worked with include Google Adwords, Facebook Insights or cross-advertising with another company on their website. This has been a good option for me for my work in the field of asset finance.
My marketing strategies even extend to how we respond to customer emails; everything is standardised based on the customer's behaviour. Your clients' needs will need to be catered to from enquiries down to the post settlement stage. This will also help you develop a strong long-term relationship with your customers.
It is important to regularly nurture your customer database to source new opportunities via your repeat customers. There will also be cases where it might cost 6 times less to keep your existing clients than your new customers. I'm very big on regularly communicating with those customers, so it's worthwhile to fine tune and monitor what communications go out via email, phone, flyers and how much time it takes to perform each task.
2. Create customer feedback / testimonials to drive traffic to your website and social media channels
Consider developing a customer feedback tool which enables your new and repeat customers to rate your service; this is a strategy I have in place.
Facebook reviews and written testimonials after the post settlement stage are usually effective – a system for this should be automated and accessible for you to share on your website to help build your SEO. Chances are new visitors to your website and Facebook page will see these testimonials to gauge what it's like to work with you. Repeat customers are usually quite receptive to doing these reviews if they're happy with the service you provided.
3. Explore new ways to do things with your current communication tools
I'm investigating the way customers use their phones. I've trialled a few things such as SMS-ing to communicate different promotions to customers based on their type of loan applications.
This feature is already built into my Salesforce CRM and helps manage the workflow in my business. By using this feature to get to my customers, I'm saving time from typing individual messages and I'm also able to receive the SMS responses on my computer.
MFAA: What is your next crazy idea?
MD: My next crazy idea is making processes scalable and cross-serving our customers. It means not just being able to sell the products we currently have, which is asset finance, home loans and insurance, but also being able to transition with customers as their needs change too.
The idea of cross-serving is being able to constantly find solutions for our customers. This changes an asset finance customer to a long-term and loyal client who'll get in touch with us for their financial planning, accounting needs etc.
I'm not an expert and I don't like to call myself an expert in everything I do. I'm using this an opportunity to also work with other passionate like-minded professionals who can help our customers at Natloans. This way, we can get our customers to become sticky and to return to us when they're after a reliable and efficient service.
As a professional, I'm still growing and still learning. Just like other brokers, I'm constantly evaluating my own work but also looking at new ways to do things efficiently.
Need more help with your marketing? The MFAA Marketing Team is offering free, tailored marketing advice as an exclusive offer for members to help fine tune their ideas and strategies to reach new clients and prospects. Find our more