Yousry-BissadaThe Internet has changed mortgage shopping forever. Yet, some mortgage originators still don’t put much thought into it. Many are content to simply put up a website and hope for visitors.

That doesn’t cut it if you truly want to cultivate mortgage business online. Fortunately, however, there’s still time to act, says industry pioneer and Kanetix CEO Yousry Bissada. Online mortgage origination is “still in the early adopter’s stage,” he said on Monday, “But it’s coming.”

Speaking at VERICO’s annual conference in Las Vegas, his message was essentially this: “If customers can’t find you online, you don’t exist to them.”

“Getting traffic to your site is the most important factor for success,” he explained. According to research he cited, every 100,000 page views can translate into up to 300 mortgage deals. That, of course, depends heavily on how effectively the site converts borrowers and how convincing its value proposition.

How hard is it to get 100,000 page views? The vast majority of broker sites get less than 5,000 a month. In terms of online mortgage lead conversion, Bissada says the rule of thumb is that 20% of prospective borrowers who fill in at least an online contact form will convert to closed customers.

The challenging part is wooing site visitors in a cost-effective manner. But you can’t let that scare you, Bissada said. “You…have to do something…You’ve got to have some presence” online. Otherwise, he says, the online and social media world will pass you by. Consider that almost 1/3 of Canadians already claim to do “all” of their mortgage research online. That number is not finished growing.

One strategy that saves time is bringing on a “community manager” to help with social media. “You just give them the strategy and they implement it,” said Bissada. There are countless community managers for hire and he called it a “booming industry.” (The tough part, in our experience, is finding one who’s mortgage-savvy enough not to write innacuracies or fluff.)

Barring that, posting by yourself even “once a week” (on a blog, company Facebook page or other social outlet) makes a “huge difference,” he says.

And if someone badmouths you online, “You have to respond quickly.” That corrects the issue before it spreads. Kanetix has someone continually monitoring its social media channels and they sometimes respond “in seconds.”

Other stats of note from his presentation (comments ours):

  • Why do people shop online?
    73% say it’s for time savings.
    67% do it for “more variety.”
    59% do it because it’s easier to compare prices.
    (These also happen to be drivers of online mortgage shopping, albeit rate comparison is the #1 motivator.)
  • 48% of seniors used the internet as of 2012 (Is it just us; or does there seem to be more and more reverse mortgage websites popping up this year?)
  • 58% of Canadians go online through PDAs, tablets or cell phones (A powerful case for a user-friendly mobile website)

Rob McLister, CMT (email)