I often find myself talking to mortgage brokers who want to generate their own mortgage leads online, but feel they can't because they don't have their own website.
Now, in case you're wondering how someone in the 21st Century could be running a business and not have their own website, let me explain.
A lot of mortgage brokers and financial advisers in the UK are self-employed but operate as an Appointed Representative (AR) of another regulated firm of mortgage brokers or IFAs. That firm (known as the principal) will handle all their compliance and process all their cases for them. But, the AR remains responsible for generating their own leads and finding their own clients. And, crucially, any marketing they do has to have the approval of the principal that they're an appointed representative of.
And therein lies the problem. Very often, the AR has never had their own website because their principal firm has always provided a single website for both itself and its self-employed advisers.
So when an AR mortgage broker wants to start using the internet to generate their own mortgage leads, they are often faced with two impossible choices:
- they can drive traffic to the principal’s existing website - but then they run the risk that some or all of the leads which are generated through their marketing efforts and their advertising spend will end up going to the firm’s other advisers
- they can set up their own website with its own branding on a separate domain and use that to generate leads - but often their firm will refuse to let them do this as they don’t want the added compliance burden of having to approve an additional website
So, if you're a mortgage broker with no website of your own, and building one isn’t an option, then what can you do to generate mortgage leads online?
Well, there are three options I suggest you look into.
Build a Dedicated Landing Page
Sometimes it’s possible to create a standalone landing page on your firm’s existing website. This needs to be a page which is separate from the rest of the website. It is not accessible via the menu structure on the main website; and the landing page itself has no menu bar on it. This is so as people who are sent to the landing page (e.g. from a PPC ad) can’t go wandering off into another part of the website where they might end up becoming a lead for one of your colleagues.
Because the landing page is a single page it needs to have all the key elements of an effective landing page. And it needs to feature your own contact details and have an enquiry form that people can fill in if they want to get some mortgage advice.
If you want to learn more about how to build your own landing page from scratch and get step-by-step instructions that you can use even if you've got zero knowledge of web design, then check out The Predictable Pipeline Programme.
Use the Existing Website and Tag Your Traffic
This option is a little more complicated, but it can be a good fallback if you are not allowed to create your own landing page or if you want your potential clients to be able to explore your firm’s entire website whilst still ensuring that “your” leads come through to you correctly.
To illustrate how this method works, let’s imagine you're a self-employed mortgage broker for Molly's Mortgages - a firm which has a website called mollysmortgages.com - and that your name is Sam.
The first thing you need to do is ensure that all the traffic you send to the site from your online ads is tagged to identify that it came from one of your marketing channels.
There are various ways you can do this. The simplest is just to add the following parameter to the end of the URL every time you put a link to the site in a social media post, PPC advert, etc - like this:
Then you need to ask your web developer to add a simple piece of code to the website which will detect if the broker parameter appears in the URL and, if it does, set a cookie on the user’s computer.
A cookie is a small piece of data stored on the user's computer by the web browser while browsing a website. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user's browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields, such as names, addresses, passwords, and payment card numbers.
If a cookied user later submits an enquiry form then the site should be coded to send that enquiry directly to you rather than letting it go into the central pot.
If you want to do this tagging in a slightly more advanced way, you could use UTM tracking codes. That way, your traffic will be easy to identify within Google Analytics too.
By using the Google Campaign URL Builder, you can take any URL on your firm’s website and create a tracking URL for it which will include not just your unique broker code but which also has codes to identify whether the user came from, as in this example:
Then it’s just a case of getting your web developer to set a cookie based on the content of the utm_campaign parameter instead of on the presence of the broker parameter.
Use Facebook Lead Generation Ads
With this final option, you won’t use a website at all. And it’s an option that’s only suitable for people who are happy to rely solely on Facebook as their source of potential clients. If you want to use other marketing channels like Google Ads then you’ll need to go for one of the other options we’ve already looked at.
Facebook Lead Generation Ads are a special type of ad on Facebook where the user is invited to fill in a short enquiry form on Facebook itself. This contrasts with the more common ad formats where the user clicks the ad and is taken away to the advertiser’s own website.
Facebook Lead Generation Ads can be used to generate actual mortgage enquiries but they tend to be more effective at getting people to download a lead magnet.
So you could have a Facebook advert which promoted a guide for first-time buyers, for example. When the user clicked the ad they’d be asked to complete a lead generation form with their name and email address (Facebook even pre-populates the answers because it already knows the user’s name and email).
The details are then put into a database which you can view in your Facebook Ads account and download as a CSV file. You can then manually add each lead to your email marketing system so as they get sent the guide they’ve requested plus some follow-up nurture emails.
That’s all a bit of a faff, though. So, in order to save you time and also to ensure the potential client gets the guide they asked for as quickly as possible, I recommend you use Zapier to automatically take each new lead and copy it from Facebook into ActiveCampaign (or whatever email system you’re using).
So, as you can see, although it's much easier to generate mortgage leads online if you have your own website, it's not impossible to do it without one - you just have to be a bit more creative and use one of these workarounds.
Have you come up with any other imaginative ways for generating mortgage leads online without actually having your own website? If so, do share them in the comments as I’d love to hear them.