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Archive for January, 2008

LeadsCon 2008

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Our own Noel Collins put up a blog a few days ago on LeadCritic talking about LeadsCon 2008. It’s at the Palms Casino & Resort on April 2 - 4. I know, most of you are already booking your plane tickets now, huh? Your friends at Leads360 will be there and we would encourage our clients and partners to make an effort to be there as well. It is always great to be able to put names to faces, and this should be an excellent opportunity to network. We look forward to seeing you there!

Hillary’s mortgage reform plan…

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I am going to keep this post very, very short and simple. I can only write about Hillary for about 30 seconds before I start getting political and this is not the right forum.

So with that said, I would like you all to take a look at a very intriguing blog post I just read over on the Blown Mortgage blog. Take a look, what do you think?

Every cloud has it’s silver lining?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Has anyone else noticed a general calm lately? Perhaps an uneasy ‘uhh, what’s next?’ kind of feeling in the industry? Not to say that things are looking peachy and that people aren’t wondering if their company will be around tomorrow…I think we’re still a couple years, or at least several quarters away from that. But a more positive outlook on the future of the mortgage industry? Anyone else, or am I alone here?

I talk to industry people daily, and I’ve noticed that people are a little more relaxed. This could be due to humans innate ability to simply deal with pressure by becoming used to it afterwhile, or maybe people are just throwing up blinders left and right and plugging their ears and screaming “LALALALALALALALALALA!” any time someting makes them think about the state of the industry. Maybe the general calm is the eye of the storm? However, we’ve all seen some pretty promising things happening lately. Bank of America’s usurping of Countrywide is inherantly good for the situation, the economic stimulus package that the Feds are looking to send out ain’t too shabby, and the discussion on raising the conforming loan limit into the $7XX,XXX’s is great.

So, with that said, we’re not out of the storm just yet, and I don’t think we will be for a while, but stay positive, and don’t lose hope, because every cloud has it’s silver lining…

<SHAMELESS PLUG> Besides, if you’re working right, you are probably still growing right now like most of our clients. </SHAMELESS PLUG>

$19 Million says online Lead Generators are HOT again.

Thursday, January 24th, 2008


Congrats to all of our hard working and very smart friends over at Adchemy.   According to Lead Critic, Adchemy has taken a pretty sizable $19 million funding round.   As advertising, lead generation, lead management, and the entire sales cycle moves online, we will see more and more support forming around the Lead Ecosystem.

Lower Interest Rates + Your Old Data = $$$$$$

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I’ll make this short and sweet. An old lead, today, is a new lead. Why? Rate drops make old prospects new again. There is money to be found in your old leads, and frankly the amount of work that it takes to find that money, is less than the amount of work it takes to find new money. The question is, what are you doing to take advantage of all of the new opportunity? Within the question, for most, lies the challenge. The challenge is that you, like many, probably aren’t doing enough, or anything period.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are, then more power to you. But if you are not, then we should chat about Best Practices and how they will help you capture NEW business, out of OLD data. Don’t waste time, don’t hesitate, start finding that money now.

Oversee.net (low.com) takes on additional $150M investment

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

TechCrunch reports that Oversee.net has taken a large capital infusion. Our friends over at low.com will surely benefit from this cash as they adjust their business in the face of the changing mortgage landscape. Oversee as a whole is a fascinating company, and represents one of the first e-conglomerates. Just how important will domain names become?

Some argue that it’s the company that makes the domain. A frequently cited example is Amazon.com. Jeff Bezos could probably have used any number of book-unassociated websites to launch his online bookstore.  Meanwhile, I am not sure when, but Barnes & Nobel has snapped up book.com and books.com, they currently redirect to B&N’s homepage, which is probably an inefficient use of the domains, but will still net them a strong marketing advantage in the long run.  Zappos.com, which this blog has discussed before, is another example of a successful retailer successfully using a non-product related domain name.  What value would sneakers.com have for Nike?  For now it is a bit unclear.  Rick Shwartz, while biased, has written an interesting article dissecting the success of hotels.com, and how if any of the smart hotel chains had developed it, they would have seriously boosted their online marketing prowess, click here to read it.

I think Oversee.net is trying to transform itself into the Boston Properties of the online world.  They are betting big on online properties, which as hotels.com has proven, can gain the same kind of inherent value that real estate holdings can.

One consumer, multiple leads…

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

An interesting blog post popped up on the Lead Critic today. It concerns the monetization of leads by lead providers. The spotlight is on BigMortgageLeads right now. In question is their apparently new(er?) lead form. A traditional mortgage lead form has around 30 fields of basic information and is sold to a mortgage company. The BML form takes this and expands it a little bit, but this is hardly the first time we’ve seen this. For example, the form asks the question “Are you behind in payments” in regards to your mortgage. If you select “Yes”, it prompts a few more questions that prod a little deeper. One of which is “Would you consider selling your house to avoid foreclosure?” If you answer Yes, it will once again prompt more questions about your home.

I’m sure that you can see where this is going. I would assume that initially, a consumer would think that they are filling out a lead form to be matched with a lender. As they proceed, if they answer questions that prompt more questions, it quickly becomes evident that there are other service providers that this information can go to, and at the bottom right before the submit button, there is an acknowledgement of that.

So the question is…is this bad for the consumer, the lead buyer, both, or neither. I guess that depends on who you ask. I cut my teeth in the mortgage industry selling mortgage leads for a few years. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to management. In doing so I had a lot of view into how leads are generated, and even more importantly, how they are monetized. This is where it gets interesting. I guess most people wouldn’t think of it, but this kind of data is a goldmine and is worth $$$$ to lots of people. Where there is a way to make money, there are people who will make it.

So is this a bad thing? That depends on how you do it, mainly. BigMortgageLeads isn’t the first lead company who has done this and certainly will not be the last. From my experience, the way that BML is doing this, namely by putting the information in front of the consumer as they are filling out the form and then telling them that the lead may be sold to other service providers, is much cleaner than some that I have experienced.

At the end of the day, the numbers will speak for themselves. I am sure that we have some readers who use BML leads and I would urge you to share your experience versus more “traditional” sources.

Furthermore…and this one is maybe playing devil’s advocate here…perhaps this is actually better for consumers than other kinds of lead forms. Why? Well let’s take a look at the past, say, 3 years of experience in the mortgage industry. 3 years ago when a consumer was in any kind of financial trouble, what did they do? They mortgaged their house and used their enourmous home equity like a checking account. Now fast forward and take a look at the state of the industry today, and see where that kind of practice left us. Now take a look at BML’s process. A consumer may be exposed to not only a mortgage lender, but a tax advisor, a real estate agent, a debt counselor, etc. And the operative word here is “may”, because not all leads will spill onto the desks of all providers of course. What does this do for the lead buyer? Does it degrade the quality of the lead? Perhaps. Does it enhance the consumers ability to get the RIGHT help? I would argue yes.

If I owe $25,000 in back taxes and I am uneducated on the subject, maybe my first thought would be to refinance my house and take out cash to pay it off. Is this the right solution for me? Maybe. Maybe not. But without really digging into the subject and talking to multiple people, I may never know. So you could make a valid argument on both sides of this subject and be right I think, but at the end of the day, I think the consumer may actually be better served given the option to take advantage of different avenues if they so choose.

This of course is going on the assumption that even if a consumer fills out the portion of the lead saying that they are behind on payments and want to sell, that the lead is still being sold to a mortgage company. I tend to think that this may not be the case, however.

My two cents, take it as you will.

Simplification can’t come too quickly for the “Lead Ecosystem”

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008


Image courtesy of GapingVoid 


Anyone in the “Lead Ecosystem” knows that it is a complicated world. 

Lead Providers have a complex formula for generating, pricing, filtering, and distributing leads, in addition to all the integration headaches of providing leads to customers by email, spreadsheet, or through one of many Lead Management Systems.

Meanwhile Lead Management companies have to work with the Lead Providers to make their mutual clients as profitable as possible, while keeping everything running smoothly.  Lead Management companies have to work with hundreds of lead providers, client self-generation and importing of leads,  and exporting those leads to a 3rd party software, such as a Loan Origination System or a client management system.

As convoluted as life is for Lead Providers and Lead Management companies, it’s worse for clients and consumers.

Companies that buy leads, use a lead management system, and otherwise integrate their operations with the “Lead Ecosystem” have a steep learning curve to contend with.  Companies which are used to doing in-house marketing, generating their own leads, gathering referrals, and distributing them on paper, suddenly have to contend with managing multiple vendor relationships-which are all intertwined.  Also successful Lead Buyers have to adjust their workflow and sales process to fit the requirements of working with Internet leads.  That is a lot of learning that a client has to do, before being able to reap the benefits of the Lead Ecosystem.

Consumers often have it the worst.  Consumers have little or no idea about what happens to their data when it is submitted to a lead provider.  They are often totally unprepared for the sales process which they will be exposed to, uneducated about the products which they are interested in, and unequipped to make intelligent decisions.   An unqualified, paralyzed, traumatized, frustrated, or otherwise unreceptive consumer is always going to be the toughest sell.

How do we simplify the Lead Ecosystem for everyone involved?

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

If you’ve been in or around the military, you’ve probably heard this before.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

This has been adopted as an unofficial motto of the US Marines, and many of you may remember hearing Gunny Highway say it in Heartbreak Ridge. The Marines used to be the bastard child of the armed forces. Heck, they were conceived in a bar in Philadelphia one evening, and got Army hand-me-downs. But, they made it work, they improvised, they adapted, and they overcame to become arguably the most feared military force the world has ever seen. I’m starting to hear my friends in the mortgage industry say this more and more often these days. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. What does this mean to you?

To me it means a lot of things. Specific to this blog, it means finding what works, and doing it until the whole notion of IAO becomes second nature. What worked last year does not work this year, and what works now is a radical departure from what worked last year, to most. What have you done to improvise, adapt, and overcome?

I can tell you what Leads360 has done. We’ve changed our entire model for the most part. We’ve brought on talent from several different aspects of the mortgage industry; those who have run successful shops, those who have worked with lead vendors, and those who have worked on the front lines doing loans. We’ve had to adapt to the current market and overcome monumental obstacles. We’ve done so and continue to do so. Understanding that you are currently doing the same, we’ve prepared a series of Best Practices for you, for 2008. We know what improvisations and adaptions need to be made in order to overcome. Give us a call, shoot us an email, or stop by the office. We want to help you IAO.