HELOC lead generation is critically important to banks and financial institutions. With trillions of dollars tied up in rapidly-rising home values, it’s no wonder that they are fighting hard for every homeowner looking for spare cash. According to SpyFu.com, the average cost of the phrase “Home Equity Line of Credit” is almost $21 per click and at least 30 advertisers are bidding for their share of the pie.
Because of all the factors involved in taking out a Home Equity Line of Credit, it’s a natural Lead generation play. Marketers use AdWords, Bing, Facebook, display advertising, email and other media to bring prospects to a landing page where they fill out a form and a loan officer follows up with phone calls and emails.
If only 10% of people who click ads fill out the form and become prospects, then the cost-per-lead is over $200. If only 10% of leads convert to borrowers, then the average acquisition cost is over $2,000. And that’s if they’re really good at converting. For most marketers, buying such expensive keywords is a good way to burn through a lot of budget quickly and end up spending $5,000 to $10,000 per conversion.
So, it’s critical to get every aspect of a lead generation program right because the ones who do can bid up the initial cost and drive out the competition. Or at least cause them to lose a lot of money.
This is such an important point that it’s worth restating: if you figure out lead generation for your industry, you can price everyone else out of the market by bidding up the keywords to the point where they’re unprofitable for everyone else. There are no consolation prizes in business. The winner really does take all.
So, how did the top advertisers do? Using an Incognito Chrome browser with no cookies or search history,we captured the actual ads major advertisers ran. We didn’t want outside factors to influence the results. We also repeated the same search on an iPhone in Private Browsing mode for the same reasons.
Discover’s is a very cut-and-dried, features-oriented ad. Why is Fixed APR better than Variable? Why are $0 origination fees better? Why $0 due at signing? If you can easily substitute another company’s name into your ad, chances are you’re doing it wrong. There is also no localization which is odd given how much real estate varies nationwide.
In all fairness, Discover did include a phone number and they do have sitelinks to useful places on the website.
Discover’s iPhone ad leads off with “Try a Home Equity Loan Instead” and then proceeds to exactly copy the computer version. Oddly, the only missing element from the computer version is the phone number!
Unison makes a nice contrast to Discover in that they do nearly the opposite every step of the way. With “California Home Equity Funding” they build localization into the headline and with “Home-Equity/Fund-California” they add it to the display URL. They tie their product into specific uses: paying off credit cards, paying for an education or home improvements, paying off loans, etc. There’s no uncertainty about the major uses for their loan alternative.
On the downside, there is no phone number and no sitelinks. The latter may be due Google’s placement vagaries or possibly not.
Like Lending Tree below, Consumers Advocate is an affiliate program that resells leads to other companies. Both companies must acquire leads at a lower cost than they can sell them and with sufficient quantity to attract and retain buyers. As such, they are often the best marketers in a space because they test and measure more frequently than traditional marketers.
Consumers Advocate pushes a lot of the right buttons: a 10 best list, reviews, millions of viewers, comparisons and recommendations. There are not any benefits, but they do have social proof nailed down. The site links are decent but could use a bit more finesse. Oddly, there is no phone number, not even on the mobile ad.
Lending Tree, on the other hand, does have a phone number on both the desktop and the mobile ads, but more importantly, they have star ratings. Both visually and psychologically, Lending Tree stands head and shoulders above the rest because 570 reviewers trusted them enough to warrant a 4.8 rating.
The rest of the ad deals with comparisons which are nominally the same as Consumers Advocate’s ratings, but do imply a bit more work. Their offer of a free credit score more than makes up the difference. They have essentially the same sitelinks as each other.
Interestingly, Lending Tree nor Consumers Advocate were the fourth and third placements, respectively, on desktop and first and second placements on mobile. Smart marketers segment their buys by platform and optimize bidding accordingly. Position changes constantly, but according to this snapshot, it appears that the two best advertisers are betting on mobile.
US Bank does something that no other marketer does and it’s as jarring as Lending Tree’s star ratings. Clearly, they’ve done the work of localizing all of their advertising by zip code or radius. And it’s a lot of work, but Google rewards them with an address link and office hours. If you have local physical presence and you’re not listing your address, you’re wasting money.
It’s nitpicking, but it is odd that the display URL only lists “www.usbank.com”. Every other advertiser lists the category (HELOC) and/or some descriptor. I would have expected “usbank.com/affordable/heloc” to match their headline.
QuickenLoans uses the same headlines and mostly the same copy for their desktop and mobile ad, neither of which have phone numbers, site links or star ratings. The ad teases at an alternative, a better option, but doesn’t really give a reason why it’s better, what’s wrong with traditional HELOCs or offer anything other than an oblique “Great Incentives”.
HELOC Lead Generation Summary and Conclusion
At the end of the day, a search ad has one and only one purpose: to move a prospect along towards becoming a lead and ultimately a sale. Decades of marketing has make clear what works and what doesn’t work. Offers work. Benefits work. Social proof works. Providing multiple means of contact works. No one cares about features.
If you’re willing to spend $20 per clickthru and far, far more on actual leads, take the time to make things work. Or hire an agency that understands the process. Our team has in-depth experience in lead generation for pharmaceuticals, education, financial services, home energy and much more. We conduct detailed analyses on the entire process, from ad to landing page to follow-up to give our clients an advantage, even in the most competitive industries. For more information, please call us at 310-954-9710.