For Lenders

Secrets of the Best Optimized Conversion Funnels

Dec. 03 2021

Why do some lenders convert at 40% and others at 5% … with the same leads?! This panel will examine in detail this conundrum whether you auto-fund, use a call center, or both! Too often the answer is not where we expect it to be. We have therefore gathered experts in the key areas of Website Design, Online Decisioning, Call Center Management and Lead Generation to open up this fascinating topic and give Lenders practical takeaways to improve the conversion rates of the highly time-sensitive leads they buy.

Moderator – Lena Knysh – VP Client Relations, Leadsmarket.com (Lead Generation)

  • Stephen Birely – Chief Technology Officer, Lokyata (Ai Decisioning Platform)
  • Robert Montoya – Director of Marketing, Social Ubiquity, (Web Design)
  • Eric Agrelius – SVP Sales, Centrinex (Call Center Services)
  • Melody Cherchian – Senior Client Relations Manager, LeadMarket (Lead Generation)

Taken from the 2021 LendConnect conference in Florida.

Here is the transcript from the video:

Hello. And welcome to this seminar called The Secrets of the Best Optimized Conversion Funnels. We’re going to discuss here today is why some lenders converted 40% while others convert to 5% with the exact same leads. We have a very knowledgeable panel over here, and we’re going to discuss all the aspects of lead conversion from the moment of purchase to the moment of funding. So welcome you all. And I’m going to allow our panelists to briefly introduce themselves. Robert, why don’t you go first?

My name is Robert Montoya. I’m a director for Social Ubiquity. We’re a website design and development and digital marketing.

Great. Steven.

Yes. Hi. My name is Steve Byrlyn. I’m the chief technology officer of Location Ada, and we provide automated decisioning platform for lead decisioning and underwriting.

Eric Eric Agrillev with Centrone, we’re the nation’s leading call center for non prime lending.

All right. And Melody?

Yes. I’m Melody Church in I’m from Leads Market. Been there for about five years, work on the lender team with three other great members.

Wonderful. Well, thank you all. So just to briefly cover the format of this session, I’m only going to ask three questions. For the first one. I’m going to give the panelists 1 minute to answer for the second one. I’m going to give them two minutes each. And for the third one, you guessed it. Each is going to have three minutes. So what we’re going to talk about here is once again why some lenders converted 40% while others converted five with the exact same leads. Now, why is this topic so important?

Well, first of all, because leads are expensive, and I know that there are a lot of lenders at this event who by leads by a lot of leads. And I’m pretty sure all of them would agree with me that leads do cost a lot. And all of them would love to convert more of those leads. I’m pretty sure. Right. So my first question to all of you in just 1 minute, could you give us your reasons why you think some lenders convert while others don’t, Robert?

Well, once a consumer speaks to a lender, they’re going to go right back to the website. So if the information is not there, if the answers to their questions are not there, they’re going to bounce. So this is credibility of a website. So your website is basically your first impression. So you really got to make it count for sure.

What about you stream? Yeah.

To build on what Robert was saying. Ibv is a place where there’s a lot of conversion loss. And so because you’re asking the borrower to put in their credentials to share their bank statements, there needs to be some trust. There so good solid integration and a good trustworthy site that is integrated well and matches the side of the lender is important.

Right. What are your thoughts on this, Eric?

Well, our call center, we kind of have a motto. It’s called the need for speed. So speed to contact is extremely important. And leads are like fast food, like French fries, especially French fries are great when they’re right out of the fryer into your mouth. They’re nice and hot and crispy and they’re not soggy limp and wet. So speed to getting out those leads through the system is really important.

Melody, what about you? Yeah.

So kind of what Eric was saying. Getting in contact with the lead as quickly as possible is really important. A lot of lenders don’t have the capacity sometime in staffing, and they take a little longer than necessary to respond. Another one would be technical issues if sources of traffic aren’t redirecting quickly enough and they lose the consumer on the landing page. So those two things are probably the biggest.

Makes sense. So I seem to be picking up two main reasons here, so that’s speed and credibility. Basically, speed totally makes sense. Leads are obviously time sensitive. But even if you do overcome that obstacle, are you credible? So taking these two into consideration, I’d like for each one of you in two minutes to let me know. What are your thoughts on the main reasons for the loss of speed on credibility and how could lenders overcome that? Robert, why don’t you go first again?

Okay. So going off of credibility for a website, it has to be very authentic. And you want to create that after effect. So you want to keep everything consistent. As with your theme, your fonts, your color palette. But the after effect, because images are the biggest factor here. So if you have images on your website, you want to create the after effect for that emotional feeling that when somebody wants to work with the lender.

All right, Steve.

Yeah.

And so to continue on with the IBV theme, there is some regulatory, some regulator as well as consumer advocate groups that tell potential borrowers that they shouldn’t share their login information or they shouldn’t ever be asked to be logged into their bank accounts. And so that, I think, is one aspect from the trust factor, you can see lost conversion rates of 60% or more from the time they get the IBV link. So anything you can do to increase that trust to provide additional information that shows that this is a credible site, that it’s secure and that by sharing their bank statements, they’re not providing any additional risk to their own personal security and their information.

Right, Eric?

Well, loss of speed on that contact with that lead could be attributed to a lot of different things. It could be a technical aspect. Like you just mentioned instant bank verification. It could be a bank conference call. It could be a delay on the Ecig page. It could be any number of things. But one thing that we see as a call center is that you’re getting that lapse there because of the staffing levels. So you want to make sure that you match your leads to the staffing and not staffing to the leads.

So it’s very important to have that communication between your LMS platform, your marketing campaigns, your lead providers, and your call center to make sure that you’re all in sync. And you know what’s expected during that time. But those leads are coming in high volume times, low flow. You want to make sure you have the right staffing levels to handle all those leads quickly. We follow three main concepts on leads within our call center. Number one is speed to contact, number two is frequency of contact, and number three is quality of contact.

Right.

Thank you.

So back to the technical aspect. It could be on the lead provider side or the lender side, so you can be lost with the lead provider side. Let’s say a source doesn’t redirect quickly, and there’s a technical issue. It can also be on the lender side where underwriting may take too long or there’s a timeout issue. I think it’s important to be objective whose fault that is? I think that’s the main key thing to take away from this is be open to taking responsibility on either side for both lender and lead provider.

On the credibility side, landing pages are super important. We’ve seen some where they’ll go to a landing page with no brand recognition, no Congratulations page. It’s literally just put in your Social Security number, and that’s not very credible. You need to basically introduce yourself before you ask for that information.

All right. So we seem to have identified some key reasons why speed and credibility may be missing. And we’ve also talked a little bit about how to remedy those. But now I’d want to dig even deeper, and I want each and every one of you to give us one key area where a lender with their website with their process with their funnel could make that one big improvement that could really improve the overall performance of the entire funnel, because it seems like what you are saying is kind of all the same thing.

Whether it’s the lead, the decisioning, the website, the call center, each and every single one of those pieces has to deliver speed and credibility, or at least not lose it in the process. Right. So what I’m trying to understand is when someone is trying to optimize their conversion funnel, if one element of that funnel fails, does that mean that the entire funnel fails? Is that how it works? I’d like for you in three minutes. This is our third question. Before we go to questions from the audience.

I’d love for you to talk to us about that. So, Steve, when it comes to the decisioning part of the funnel, right. What’s the role of the decisioning engine plays in the overall process?

Yeah.

So with our customers, we actually drive the entire funnel from taking leads off the pink tree all the way through to final funding. And I think what’s really important is to understand what the goals are for the customer and then measure we measure every point where there could be some conversion loss. So from the time the lead comes off the pink tree, we’re measuring every interaction with the data providers so that we can provide a response, a decision to buy that lead within a few seconds. So 15 seconds is a good benchmark, certainly less than 30.

And then you also provide a B testing.

And we provide a B testing. So part of what we do is we provide as part of the service a B testing and then recommendations on how to improve each of those waterfalls.

Yeah.

And it’s a continual improvement process.

Yeah. Great. So basically an accurate feedback loop as well as a B testing can really help optimize that process.

Right.

So speaking of the funnel, Eric, when it comes to lenders who are not auto funding and also don’t have a professional call center at their disposal. So what should they keep in mind when designing that funnel?

Yeah. It’s consistency that goes back to the third. See that we talked about earlier, and that’s quality. And how do you get quality when you have your loan processors or your customer service representatives talking to these consumers? Is that good training and make sure that when you have these agents dealing with the customer and we don’t like to look at customers in what our industry commonly calls the Underbank. We like to consider them as people and they’re just creditly challenged. I think I just invented a new word credit, and they’re disadvantaged.

And it’s not because of their choice. It’s just where they are in their life. And in order to understand that there’s different levels of a CSR when they’re communicating and taking that lead information, you want them to be quick, efficient. You want to establish rapport. You want that customer service rep to have an understanding and to be empathetic, not to be overly so like a chatty Cathy or a Jabbering Jimmy, you want them to follow a script, you want to have them stay on point and to be alert and professional, not feeling sorry for that customer because of their fire situation.

And again, continuing that conversation on but moving through a script to get them involved. So that’s a part of quality.

Great. And, Robert, when talking about funnels, could you talk to us about optimizing the whole journey? And how do you keep people interested throughout the process?

Okay. So like we already said about the aesthetics, you want to be very consistent. The funnel has to have the credibility. But the one thing that’s very important is content. And this content is key because you want to create that desire to make a decision. So you don’t want to go with the minimum amount of content you want to put long form content on there. Keep reiterating what it is that you and the lenders are trying to sell to the consumer.

Yes.

And I think it’s a lot about kind of the end goal, right. Not so much about. Well, I guess a little bit about lenders end goal, but also about the consumer’s lend goal, right. Yeah. Okay. So I guess directing the funnel with those KPIs in mind and having empathy, not sympathy and creating that desire for the consumer to reach that end goal that they’re desiring as well as we desire. Right. So that’s kind of the target. So, melody, once there is a consistent approach to the optimized funnel, what can change do leads stay the same forever.

Or how does that work?

No, they don’t. The market does fluctuate, of course. And that’s why we talk ad nauseam about sending us disposition data. Right. Sending us how the sources are working for you. What’s funding, what’s not what’s defaulting, what isn’t because good sources can have bad times and bad sources can come back and clean their traffic up and be great. Again. So that data really helps us. It’s about paying the right price for the right source. And there are, of course, sources that are more consistent, like PPC and radio and TV, and we do a lot of internal traffic as well.

So that does tend to be a little bit more consistent. But if we have that data constantly week over week, we can nip things in the bud before they become too big of an issue.

Wonderful. All right. Well, I think we have some key principles here. Basically, what we seem to all come to a conclusion is that conversion is a moving target, and there’s really a lot of different pieces that go into it. So the funnel it relies on, obviously speed and credibility and empathy and creating that desire. And you need kind of all of those elements to be in the perfect thing for the funnel to really work well. And then when something changes, whether it’s the lead or redirects or FBDs or the website or the landing pages or the call center reps, and that results into a conversion drop.

Then basically you have to sit down or get up and get your shovel out and start digging, digging and trying to figure out what is it that had that negative effect? Right. But also it seems like it’s not just when issues arise. It’s also, even when everything is looking good, there’s still ways to improve. Always right. You have to always kind of look at the funnel at all of its aspects and try to find ways and using a B testing, check out some different options and always find ways to improve that funnel.

Right. Because then you can always get more and that results in you getting more with your money for the leads that you are getting. Right. Yes. So that’s kind of our main topics here. Do we have any questions from the audience? Yes.

Please.

My question is for Robert.

In the lending space.

There seems to be a lot of times where lenders have a tried and true website, and they may not change that website for years and then wonder why their conversion has dropped. So in your expert opinion, how often should websites be viewed, landing pages and things of that nature and maybe even a B test? How often do you think that that should be done to continue to gain credibility and health conversions?

Sorry, Robert, I’m just going to quickly repeat the question briefly for our online audience. So the question was about websites. And how often should websites be updated or changed? Because we do see a lot of lenders using the same website for a very long time without making any changes. Right?

Yes. So for websites, you want to keep up to date with ongoing trends. As for the content and images, you want to change that up every six months only because search engines do. And they want that update on there. They love that. And that’s what’s going to help bring. But as for the consumer, you want to keep adding more content. You want to add more information, you want to add the FAQs and you want to answer what people are questioning.

All right. Thank you.

Anyone else?

Eric. Eric.

Hi, Eric. My name is Ron. You spoke a lot about call center and how to set it up. And staffing to the lead versus the lead to the staff. Can you stand on that a little bit as part of that answer? How do you maintain? Because right now we definitely have a staffing issue trying to hire the right people.

Exactly.

But also to keep from turning off the lead, we find ourselves sometimes in a position to where.

Okay.

You have different shifts.

Yeah. The next question was for Eric, and it was about leads to staffing and staff to leads ratio and how to manage that weekends shifts, hiring issues that everyone is having now. So how do you address that with call centers?

Yeah. Again, that goes back to the second element I talked about earlier on the three C’s that we follow. And that’s quality and quality can also be related to your leads. The communication that you as a lender have with your LMS platform, with your lead providers, with your call center, with your brand manager to know exactly when you’re channeling and marketing, you have different marketing campaigns for different times of the day, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays versus a Monday or a Friday. If you have weekend traffic when we come into peak high season, you definitely want to staff up for that and be ready for it instead of saying, oh my gosh, we’re at capacity.

I’ve got all these leads coming in and we can’t handle them now because we’re understaffed. And that’s when you work really closely with your call center, and you make sure that those staffing levels are mapped out in advance of whatever campaigns that you’re working with and all that communication with everyone involved and a part of that also in managing those leads is that we know all leads are not created equal. We talked about earlier. Sometimes a $5 lead will close and you’ll fund right away and very little involvement, and you got a $60 lead here, and it’s taken forever.

Then they abandoned for whatever reason. And you always have to have a script with your call center reps to make sure that they’re working their way through with quality. And then on that other part we talked about frequency is to make sure that if you’re still working that lead and you can’t get a hold of them right away, we want to make sure that that scripting has that call center representative reaching back out, whether it’s an hour, 2 hours, 4 hours and keeping in mind the consumer or the borrower schedule.

If you know their work between nine and four, you’re not going to call them at work unless they request it during a break time. So it’s the communication and really focusing on quality and working together as a team with all the different entities and not just thinking, oh, we’ll handle the leads as they come in. That’s bad planning.

Any other questions? Yes, of course.

First of all, Congratulations to Melody for winning the Latin word of the day.

I threw that in there for you for sure.

I’m curious. This is for anybody on the panel. But how you go to a lender who thinks they’re doing things right, but they’re not converting. And sometimes the knee jerk reaction is blame the lead provider, and sometimes they’re right. But often they may not be. And it could be a myriad of different factors. So how do you go back to a lender who thinks that they’ve got everything worked out because it’s worked in the past and help them identify where issues might be? It’s hard to get through to them sometimes.

But also there’s so many moving parts. How do you identify which one broke the question first?

Okay. Yeah. So the question was from Jason for basically any panelists, which is how do you identify the issue with the lender when they believe that it’s lead provider’s fault, and they’ve done something for so long that they don’t want to change it and they believe that it’s still working. So how do you go about talking to that lender and dealing with the issue? So I can take that a little bit first. So I think it goes back to having a relationship with the lender for us.

If we talk constantly in good times and in bad, I think it’s easier to have those conversations than to just talk once a month when something goes wrong and then that friction is there. So for us, it’s about getting on calls constantly with our lenders, building that relationship, building the trust, talking about anything and everything. It’s not just how are they converting leads? How are they converting? How are they defaulting? It’s about, well, what’s your product? Giving me more information about your landing page. What’s the process is it a call center?

Is it auto funding, like, really asking important questions that other than just how are you converting? Right. And again, like I said before taking responsibility on both sides. We are wrong sometimes, and the lender is wrong at times. It can be hard when you’ve done something for so long to be self reflective and be like, okay, maybe it is me. So yeah, we’ve had that happen. But I think it’s about the relationship and just being able to trust each other and have open conversation. Does anyone else want to take that?

Yeah.

So I think also it comes down to measurement. And so as a platform that runs the entire funnel, we have measurements in various places along that funnel. And so we’re measuring the speed that the leads get approved. We’re measuring the data providers. We’re also measuring the lead providers. And so in some cases have metrics that are by day by score. And so you can see those trends over time and maybe even actually predict when things are starting to go wrong before they really get too bad based on the trends.

So really, it’s measurements and a B testing.

I think I’ll take a stab at that also. And that’s in my past life when I was at Data X, which we did credit underwriting and we would do a lot of data studies. We’d have lenders coming back to us and saying my first pay default is out of Whack. My conversion rate is out of Whack. My cost per funded is out of Whack. And we do a data analysis and we go through all that data, all the attributes. What’s working? What’s not? Why isn’t it working?

We scratch in our head and say, Everything looks good. It smells good. It tastes good, but it’s not converting. Why? And then it would come down to got to be a call center issue. And how do you address that? And again, it’s having those call center representatives properly trained to make sure that they’re following scripts. One thing that we’ve always really enforced a lot is having rebuttals automatic rebuttals. If a consumer says, Geez, I wanted to get a $500 loan and you’re only offering me $300, I’m going to go someplace else that CSR then immediately followed script and said, Well, we can appreciate that you wanted a $500 loan, but at this time, we can definitely give you $300 to work you through this.

Once that is properly paid off, we’d be more than happy to have you on our loyalty program, and we’ll be able to give you a higher funding amount at a later date. But wouldn’t you rather get this started now? So you’re constantly working with those CSRs, making sure they’re trained having them work off of a script and have those trial closes. Wouldn’t you agree with me? How do you feel about that? Isn’t it right that this would help you today? Not tomorrow. If you try to do this someplace else, do you think you would be as effective getting a loan from a competitor?

You probably wouldn’t. Isn’t that right? And all of a sudden, you’ve got that customer thinking. Wow, he’s really not. He nailed it. Yeah, I need that $300. I’d like $500. I can get $300 today. And then all of a sudden you’ve reengaged that customer. Can I get those funds in my deposit today? Well, yes, we can. We can do a push the card we can do next day. Ach, which would work better for you. A or B. Okay. You’re forcing that conversation to get that consumer involved to get them.

Yes. Yes.

Boom.

They’re funded.

I’d like to answer that on a digital marketing aspect. So when it comes to analytics of a website, you’ll be able to see the bounce rate. So anybody who is coming to the website and how long they’re staying on a page and then you get to see how they’re navigating from one page to another. So if your bounce rate is very high, people are only staying on there for 30 seconds. Then there’s something that’s going on on that page. If they’re going from one page to another and they’re spending some time, then the information, the content is good, but it’s all about the bounce rate.

Perfect.

Yeah.

It looks like data and analyzing the data and communication. That’s all very important on both sides. Any other questions? Yeah.

Great time from start to finish and everything in between.

Thank you.

So I’m thinking to myself, where do you guys see the industry trending towards? I’m thinking of you think call center. And I almost look at that as a dated term because I’m thinking, Well, do a lot of our leads. Do they apply through mobile channel? Do they apply through other means? What’s your experience? Any of you where you think trends are going to is an app. Our own app, a good investment, is a mobile version of the website chatting, email it from a contact perspective. What’s your thoughts?

That’s a very good and tough question. So the question was about trends and where the industry is going. Automation. Mobile, whether mobile website is the way to go, whether call centers should be changing and just what’s in our future? Who wants to go first?

Well, I’ll take a step at that.

All right.

So when it comes to websites, you have to know what’s trending, because in every industry, the verbiage is always changing. So that’s why you want to update the content. And as for mobile responsive, of course, the website has to be mobile responsive because any search engine will index the website by their mobile layout first.

Wow. That’s great information.

Yes. More. And more lenders today are using more automated features. In other words, working that lead through the system as quickly as possible, getting the consumer verified and through the system and funded. But at the same time, you also have to always be aware of compliance issues, regulatory issues and making sure that you’re keeping those borrowers happy and feeling comfortable and building that trust with you as a lender, it’s your brand, it’s your company. You are making the funding you’re entering into that contract obligation to have that borrower report back to you, make those payments on time and a lot of time that’s done through human interaction.

You want to make sure that that comfortable is feeling trusted and safe, and they know that they’re dealing with a reputable company. So you’re never going to totally eliminate the need for person to person contact just to build that trust and that comfort. But more and more today is definitely going automated.

Yeah. Absolutely. Go ahead.

Maybe in 1 minute.

Sure.

But I know these providers talk to lenders a lot.

Yeah. Wonderful question. So the question was whether different members of the funnel should talk to each other as much as lead providers. Talk to lenders.

Yeah.

So we do, because we’re driving the funnel. We talk to all of the data providers. So we have relationships with the CRA’s and other all data providers. Definitely talk to lead providers.

Absolutely.

I’ve talked a number of times. Part of it is just gaining a better understanding of how the whole process works and then things that are changing. I think the only constant is that things are constantly changing. And so by staying connected with everybody that’s in the funnel, it helps us better understand or predict how things are going to happen or what we should be measuring.

All right. Melody.

Yeah. So we constantly talk to LMS’s data providers. Lenders, of course. And I think for us why it helps and where it helps is if a lender is again a little hesitant about sending data and they don’t want to send everything they have. So we’ll get in touch with the LMS or the reporting service and we’ll ask them, okay, let’s get on a call together. Let’s have a discussion about what you can share and what there could be that’s going wrong a lot of times we talk about them for campaign setup, right.

Like if a Credential isn’t working or if things are timing out, we’re constantly in contact with them and auto back to automation a little bit. What we like to say is we would love for you to automate your data where it just comes through on an SFTP file. If you’re a little hesitant about sharing PII on email or whatever, but we don’t want you to automate your conversations with us. Don’t just put us on autopilot lead providers and say, oh, well, it’s running. Ok. So I’ll just let it be.

It’s about being proactive. I think first and foremost. So don’t put your providers on autopilot, put your data on automation.

All right. So I think at this point, we don’t have any more questions, right. Thank you, everyone. I think what’s left is to thank our wonderful panel. As you may remember, at the beginning of this discussion, I gave everyone a limited time to answer each question, and we felt that in the spirit of this panel, speed and credibility were really important to turn us into a meaningful discussion. I think we succeeded at that not just because of our panel, but also because of this wonderful and very engaged audience.

So thank you very much for that. And we’ll see you guys in a couple of weeks in Dallas. Thank you, guys. That was really good. Thanks a lot. Yeah, it’s fun. Good audience, too. Let’s do this again. Hopefully.

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