It is amazing how neglected direct marketing is in the lending space. Many lenders are ignoring a unique opportunity to maximize revenue and operations.
The Cost and Advantage of Direct Mail to Online Lenders
Direct mail has a long and successful past, beginning with an Egyptian landowner in 1,000 B.C. Many people still wonder, “Why send direct mail when we have the advantage of the internet with online advertising, social media, and such?”
While this is an applicable marketing strategy for many industries, it is not true in the lending space. The advantages of a lending company adding a direct mail component to their advertising campaign are beyond what most can imagine, and it can truly take a company’s operations to the next level.
Although adding a direct mail component to your business can take it to the next level, it is a huge upfront investment for many lenders. The cost to implement direct mail marketing can fluctuate based on your company’s mailing quantity and the services you are receiving, but the results you’ll generate will be far superior to your online marketing results.
Recent monthly response data results show direct marketing deliver response rates of up to 1.16% in the lending industry. While this number might not seem sensational, it is a powerful number for lenders. When targeting and mailing up to 120,000 people, 1.16% means 1,392 have responded. Then consider that 75% applied and 50% converted. Do the calculations and consider; how much revenue would 522 funded loans mean to a business? What about mailing to 1,000,000 people? A positive ROI is an immediate reality. More on this later…
Direct Marketing and Traditional Direct Mail Differences
After making the significant investment to implement direct marketing, a company will naturally desire immediate results, but with direct mail marketing you need to have patience. It could (in some cases) take more time to see results than it does with online marketing. Direct marketing involves a lot of trial and error, which involves a lot of testing, and time. To reap the benefits, you need to be ready to make a long-term commitment to the process.
However, businesses must consider the significant differences between traditional direct mail and direct marketing. Vast improvements have been made since the times of the Egyptians roughly 3,000 years ago. Traditional direct mail is simple. Use a specific database with addresses and send your prospects letters with your advertisement. It is a basic procedure and basic results follow. Direct “marketing” applies much more to strategical thinking, and its results directly correlate with the complexity of the program.
Starting with the advertisement portion of the equation; generic advertising attempts to sell but fails to communicate value according to the reader’s needs. How are a reader’s needs determined? THE DATABASE! Having a clean, well segmented, well-targeted database will do wonders. Creating a database of this caliber takes time, plenty of deliberate testing, and detailed analysis, but done correctly, qualified response rates will increase indicatively.
A well-tested advertisement in the form of a letter is one of the last pieces of a successful direct marketing campaign. However, if the message is off-target, it’s almost guaranteed to decrease the response rate and ROI. Creating the ideal message can be more complicated than one might think. The message must make an intellectual and emotional connection with your prospects, but it is the emotional connection that drives response. Human beings are ruled by their emotions. No logical argument will ever sway a client from their feelings. No emotional connection, no deal. You must tap into the reader’s emotions by using every method possible. How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer makes the case that rationality depends on emotion. Motivation is driven by feeling, not intellect. Lehrer points out, “Emotion and motivation share the same Latin root, movere, which means to move. The world is full of things and it is our feelings that help us choose among them.”
The Logistics of Direct Marketing Campaigns
The logistics of the whole direct marketing campaign process play an important role, as well. Mail at the wrong time, choose the wrong address, work with the wrong mail house, or lack the ability to take each separate campaign through its segmentation and analysis process on time and the investment could be a waste. That being said, it is imperative to have an excellent team of analysts to address these needs, and effective writers and marketers, as well. In direct marketing. every facet counts. Get all the pieces to align and you’ll enjoy unlimited growth.
Logistics are a critical component of the direct marketing campaign process. With direct marketing, you have a lot more rules and regulations to deal with than you would with online marketing, thus affecting the logistics process. The increased amount of legislation makes the logistics process more complicated than what you would have with online marketing, but it can be done. The complication of logistics occurs when everything needs to be in compliance and has received any and all legal approvals.
Lenders also need to be ready operationally. Once a lender implements direct marketing, they need to ensure that they can support the demand that direct mail brings in. One of the operational change lenders must be ready for is scaling up the company’s call center to be able to answer the increased amount of calls. Updating your business’s infrastructure to meet new demands depends on the quantity of mail your company wants to send out, and your current infrastructure. Although these improvements can be an additional cost, it is necessary to have the proper framework in place to obtain the full benefit of direct marketing.
While those are two of the largest pieces, there are a few more things to recognize. Tracking and reporting, for example. Less than 1 percent of lenders perform accurate analysis on their own, which can significantly impact direct marketing performance. This is a powerful tool, so a business can determine what’s working and what isn’t and improve upon the parts that are not.
Lenders are busy lending, so a strong suggestion is to outsource to experts in the direct marketing field. Preferably to those who have a long, successful track records and have shown they know how to identify and effectively change what is and isn’t working.
So, if maximized revenue, larger pipelines, and improved operations aren’t enough for a company to add direct marketing to their advertising campaigns, then there is the one final consideration of “scale.” There’s no other channel that comes even close to the scalability that an effective direct marketing campaign provides. The universe of options to choose from when targeting potentials becomes almost infinite. Improved targeting equals more relevant audiences and higher response rates. The more targeted and precise a database is, the more profitable direct mail marketing can become.
It’s important, however, to consider that results from direct marketing vary among different types of lenders. The charts on display at Lending Science show direct marketing results in business lending, consumer lending, and mortgage lending for the previous month. These results show accurate averages of each overall group’s results. Something necessary to note is that even if direct marketing proves to maximize a business’s lending game, the results on cost-per-funded loans depend on your team’s ability to execute on the highly qualified prospects that direct marketing delivers.
Pablo Gonzalez, marketing coordinator and account manager, and Linda Didio, SEO & content specialist, at Lending Science DM.