Successful Mortgage Lead Gen on Facebook by Dennis Yu

by 19 Jan 2010

The Hyper-Targeted Ad
Facebook is the second most popular website on the Internet, making up 25% of all page views. You need to be there, but how do you do it profitably? You’re a business person wanting to generate mortgage leads, not look at last weekend’s drinking pictures. Follow these steps and you’ll discover how to use Facebook for your business.
But first, let’s discuss how Facebook ads diff from your Google search ads.

When someone searches Google for “mortgage refinancing”, for example, they are indicating an immediate intent. They are actively looking at that very moment and want to consume ads. Unlike Google, on Facebook you’re not targeting people at the instant they are looking. Instead, you’re getting them earlier. You’re building trust and awareness, such that when that time comes for a mortgage modification loan, they will select your ad over all the other advertisers. Familiarity breeds trust. This is similar to brand building via traditional media, except with some measurability.

Think of social media advertising as a hybrid between the brand awareness of offline media with the targeting and measurement of paid search. In the AIDA funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action), you have to spread your marketing and advertising across different points in this funnel. When people are making considered purchases, it takes multiple contacts to develop sufficient Awareness and Interest such that you can convert them in the Desire and Action stages.
I have conducted studies to show that for every one lead generated from a display ad (a fancy word for banner ad or advertisement that is shown somewhere other than next to search results), that advertisers get as many as 7 additional conversions from people who saw the ad, but didn’t click on the ad. In other words, these people saw the ad and later filled out a request form or made a phone call. Other ad agencies have seen multiple conversions between 3 and 10. Thus, if your advertising is really driving a 5 to 1 lead ratio, your $200 cost per call might actually be only $40—and you might be unknowingly shooting yourself in the foot. Fortunately, there are ways to measure this phenomenon, called a view-through conversion, so you can see it in action in your campaigns.
Another key insight is how to target potential customers on Facebook. Facebook is not a keyword search engine—it’s a people search engine.   So instead of targeting keywords, you are targeting people. On Google, you’re buying keywords such as “mortgage quotes”, “refinance jumbo loan”, and so forth. Now how do those keywords tie to people? Do people who search those keywords tend to live in certain zip codes, fall in a certain age range, watch certain TV shows, drive certain cars? You can target those variables as a proxy for keywords.
And when you do run targeted ads on those folks, you’ll not see immediate conversions—you’re building trust and awareness with the users. With PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising, you see immediate conversions, since you’re targeting the bottom of the conversion funnel—with that conversion taking credit for the work that your other marketing did earlier.  
It may take a 3-month investment to start to show returns on your social media advertising—but when you do, especially if you’re targeting a small neighborhood, then you’ll likely be THE dominant player in town. Anyone on Facebook in your town that fits your demographic will see you any time they are on Facebook—they’ll remember your name and tell their friends. 
A massage therapist client in Boulder told her how strangers would come up to her in the street, asking if she was the massage therapist showing up on their Facebook—and then to ask how she did that. The level of competition among local service firms is so low that the price of inventory is low. And, thus, it’s relatively easy to blanket a small or medium sized town. If you serve all of Chicago or Manhattan, we’re sorry—this might not work for you unless you have $10k a month. 
But if you’re in a town of under 500k residents, you can dominate locally for $1k a month. It’s the equivalent of being able to stick yard signs at the homes of 25% of the people who you’d most desire as leads. Try it for a month and see what kind of buzz you generate.
That’s the hyper-targeting secret—you can target locally and at such a low cost, you can have the impact of radio or TV at a fraction of the cost and with far less waste. But that’s not enough. Just because your ad loads on a page doesn’t mean anyone sees it or will click. Remember that your ads are appearing on the far right side of the screen, away from where the viewer is focusing their attention. You want your ads to be eye catching and emotionally interesting. Don’t just copy over ads from your other campaigns—that’s boring. Make your ad social—relevant to Facebook—and you’ll be able to get them to click on it.
An effective social ad has 3 components…
·         The attention grabber
·         The message
·         A call to action
With Facebook ads you have the headline and the image for the attention grabber, while the message and call to action are in the ad copy. Generally the call to action should come last.
Here are a couple examples of what your ads might look like. Which do you think would perform better? It is hard to know if you don’t test them. What if you’re targeting this ad to people who like red Jettas? (yes, you can do that). That’s why you should always test different combinations of headlines, images, ad copy, and targeting.  

·         Showing a pretty smiling face in the ad, combined with a question will usually work. If it’s your face, great. If it has to be a model, fine—then say in your ad copy “We got your attention, didn’t we? So will our low refinance rates. Call Mary at 123-555-1212.”
·         Aim for a CTR of above 0.2%-- anything less and your targeting is not precise or your ads aren’t interesting enough. 
·         Don’t have a headline that says “Refinance now for 5.15%” or something directly like your PPC ads. “Are you paying too much?” or “My mortgage is ridiculous!” with a dancing green lizard will draw their attention more. Remember how effective those dancing girl ads or “shoot the monkey” ads were? Not only was the CTR higher, but conversion rates didn’t suffer.
Make sure you aren’t blindly trying different combinations without knowing which is the most effective. Although Facebook does provide information such as cost per click and click-through rate, it does not tell you what the viewer does after they click through to your website. That’s why tools like Google Analytics are absolutely necessary for optimizing ads and calculating your return on investment.
As you begin your first Facebook advertising campaigns, be patient. You may have to wait a few weeks to have enough data to be able to draw conclusions about your different ad variations—as well as to test a number of combinations to find the ones that perform. Who knows what might work?  We’ve seen clients succeed by targeting the names of their top competitors—yes, you can do that.
The mortgage lead gen space is competitive. You might not have millions to spend. And you need every advantage you can extract from your precious marketing dollars—to measure your ROI via how many emails you get, calls you receive, and loans you originate. There is a lot more advanced ground we can cover, such as how to tie in Facebok fan pages to your advertising, integrating Facebook campaigns with and your website, running contests on social networks, grabbing a vanity url (, and so forth.
I wish you all the best of luck with your Facebook advertising efforts. If you have any questions on these or advanced topics not covered here, feel free to send me an email at [email protected]. I promise to respond to all questions from The Niche Report subscribers.
Dennis Yu is the CEO of BlitzLocal, an online ad agency specializing in local search and social media—helping your business get found online and driving calls to your phones. Clients include Equifax Corporation, California Pizza Kitchen, World Wrestling Entertainment, Quiznos, March of Dimes, and businesses of all sizes that want to drive more leads online. Dennis is a noted international speaker and author, having appeared on NPR, CBS Evening News, TechCrunch, KTLA, Search Marketing Strategies, and other media.