Mortgage Marketing Expert Reveals Secrets to Generating Leads from Email and Social Media – Mortgage Industry Marketing Part 1, Erina Johnson

From freelance copywriter to mortgage banker, Erina Johnson has a unique story that has given her a competitive edge in the world of marketing with a focus on highly effective mortgage email marketing.

In this episode, join host John Bertino as he sits down with Erina to explore the fascinating journey that led her to become an expert in the mortgage industry.

Hear about Erina’s experience as a processor before transitioning to full-time marketing and how her hands-on knowledge has made her an even more successful marketer.

Discover the most important elements of marketing and lead generation in the mortgage industry, with a particular focus on effective email marketing and social media. Don’t miss out on the valuable insights and strategies that Erina shares!

Want more on the mortgage vertical?

This episode is Part 1 in a multi-part series on Mortgage Industry Marketing.

To continue learning on this niche, visit:

And for a detailed resource guide on how to market the mortgage industry, bookmark this step-by-step expert advice here:

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A Few Highlights on Mortgage Email Marketing and More:

  1. The mortgage industry needs to demystify the product to make it more understandable to consumers, who usually trust someone else to handle the paperwork and do not consider themselves experts.
  2. The three key audiences in the mortgage industry are referral partners (realtors, real estate attorneys, insurance agents, financial advisors, and contractors), closed clients, and prospects.
  3. The most valuable player in the mortgage industry are referral partners, who have clients with high commission potential due to the large amounts of business they generate.
  4. Mortgage bankers serve as a resourceful intermediary between large, completely online lenders and local banks, taking advantage of the best of both worlds.
  5. A qualified lead in the mortgage industry is someone who seriously plans to buy a home in the next one to two years. Although credit score and financials play a role in determining whether a lead is of high quality, it ultimately depends on the amount of time and guidance it takes for the lead to become a buyer.
  6. Understanding the right marketing channels is crucial for marketers. There is no clear-cut approach, but rather a spectrum of channels that work to varying degrees in different situations.
  7. Email marketing is essential for referral partners, who are professionals that come into contact with mortgage bankers or brokers that want their business.
    1. Email marketing is done for mortgage bankers under their personal brand and sent out to their own lists.
    2. By providing these partners with valuable information every week, they are more likely to reciprocate the relationship by referring leads to the business.
    3. The Friday Realtor email, in particular, has been very effective in getting realtors to engage with the business. It covers a range of topics, including economic announcements, common questions that clients might ask during holiday periods, and any new products the mortgage company is releasing.
  8. Social media and print are also important components of the marketing mix.
  9. Social media is crucial for staying top of mind, especially for individual mortgage bankers who get a lot of their leads from friends and family.
  10. Social media is not necessarily for getting direct leads, but for creating multiple touchpoints with potential clients.
  11. The three key things that mortgage bankers should communicate on social media are ease and convenience, interest rates, and qualification requirements.

Mortgage Marketing Expert Reveals Secrets to Generating Leads from Email and Social Media - Mortgage Industry Marketing with Erina Johnson

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About Host John Bertino and TAG:

A decade spent working for marketing agencies was more than enough to know that there are too many bad agencies and not enough objective marketers within them. John launched TAG in 2014 with the mission to provide brands unbiased guidance from seasoned marketing professionals at little or no cost.

TAG advises brands on marketing channel selection, resource allocation, and agency selection to ensure brands invest in the right marketing strategies, with the right expectations, and (ultimately) with the right partners. TAG represents 200+ well-vetted agencies and consultants across the United States and Europe.

John’s professional background and areas of expertise include: Marketing Planning, Earned Media, SEO, Content Marketing, Link Acquisition, Digital PR, Thought Leadership, and B2B Lead Generation.

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About Guest Expert: Erina Johnson

Erina Johnson is the Marketing Director of FYD where she leverages her expertise in Branded Content Development, Content Strategy, Management, and Marketing.

For You Design

Established in 2001, For You Design (FYD) focuses on visual brand development through creative design, custom web design and development, UX strategy, and social marketing. They enhance brands through custom work that exceeds client expectations.

Motivated and inspired by what’s next, FYD approaches every project with an enthusiasm to create something new and innovative.

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Transcript of Mortgage Marketing Part 1 with Erina Johnson

Note: This transcript has been provided to assist you in finding extra information specific to your needs and goals. We have not edited it line by line for grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Please forgive small errors.

(upbeat music) Today’s guest, I’m here with Erina Johnson, marketing director at FYD in Downers Grove. It’s in the greater Chicago area. Roughly how far from downtown Chicago is Downers Grove?

35, 40 minutes. Okay, not far at all. And today we’ll be talking about marketing specific to the mortgage industry. Exciting stuff. So, Erina, before we get into today’s discussion, could you tell us a little bit about your professional background, how long you’ve been in marketing, and perhaps how you initially gained exposure to the mortgage industry, or how you have exposure today? Okay, cool, yeah. I jumped into marketing right into the mortgage industry. So I actually started with FYD as a freelance copywriter.

Writing papers and essays in school was one of my favorite parts of school. That makes one of us. I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed research. Anyway, I had met Tim at a networking event. saw kind of the copy, the owner of the agency.

Sorry. And, uh, so kind of sent him some of my stuff, um, copywriting, what I could do with a blog. And he has this mortgage client and he’s like, well, they could use a copywriter. So, I start turning in blog articles, starting my Friday weekly realtor email. And that’s one of the reasons I came onto the show to talk is why I’m excited to here is to talk about my Friday Realtor email that goes out every week.

But anyway, it started as a freelancer. As time went on, I learned so much about mortgages that the owner of the mortgage company was like, “You could be a mortgage banker. ” Then we said, “Why don’t I become a mortgage banker? “

So, half the time I was doing the marketing and half the time I was actually a real mortgage I also, I started right at the beginning of COVID, where nobody had time to train me. They just kind of threw me right into mortgage processing.

So I was working as a processor for three or four months, and then as a mortgage banker for another six months or so. Before I went full time into just being the marketing person, but I had all that experience under my belt. So that’s how I got into this niche. That’s why I’m so excited and passionate about this. and I know a bunch about it.

Awesome, well we’re excited to have you. So that’s fantastic, you have that hands-on real-world experience that’s worth its weight in gold when it comes to trying to market it and be the subject matter expert for a third-party brand. The fact that you’ve been there, done that is huge. So, we always like to start by giving the listeners who we assume are other marketers an overview of the space.

So before we get too much into the marketing stuff, let’s cover the foundational stuff of who are the players in the space, any jargon that comes up a lot or is important to understand, or even just the overview of the workflow of how mortgages are done or what it takes to get a mortgage in place. Could you cover that a little bit more? Sure. So I’ll start with what value are we communicating in the mortgage industry? because it is not, you know, mortgages are elusive.

They have this, you need to demystify them for people. It’s one of those products where you trust someone to give you the paperwork, you sign the paperwork, you do whatever they tell you to, and you don’t really get it. You know what I mean? Nobody’s like, expecting themselves to be an ex-person.

But you want your house, so you’re just like, sure.

Exactly, exactly, right?

For young buyers.

Yeah, and even as time goes on, you do a refinance or whatever, because you’ve heard from your buddy that that’s a good idea and you just call mortgage banker. So, what I’m doing is I’m communicating the value of you understanding and being empowered to take hold of one of the largest financial assets in your life. So, it’s communicating the value of homeownership, being a proud and educated homeowner.

Okay, very good. And then if, you know, what’s, you talk about demystifying, let’s break that apart a little bit. So, if I’m someone in the market to get a mortgage and you know, I actually want to move through with that process.

Like again, who are kind of the players behind it? You’ve got the lender, you’ve got the broker, but like what are the respective roles? So I’m going to split that answer into two. One is the three key audiences because this will kind of come into the players. So your three key audiences are referral partners that’ll be realtors, real estate attorneys. These are the people who work with mortgage bankers. And refer them opportunities. Exactly, referral partners. Then you have your closed clients.

The people you’ve already worked with before, that’s a big revenue source because they’re going to come back to you, and they have to do their refinance or the next home that they’re closed. Closed clients. Closed clients. Okay, gotcha. And then finally you have your prospects. So first time buyers, things like that. People who have worked with another mortgage bank before and had a bad experience.

Now you have three key players. You’ve got these large, completely online, totally hands-free, best rates out there. The ones that sponsor Super Bowl commercials and you see a bunch of internet advertisements for you have those.

Then you have your local bank that you go to, or your large national bank, whatever is right around the corner. And then you have like my client, a mortgage banker, which is not a bank. It’s not a broker. They’re mortgage bankers. So they’re smaller, more resourceful, take advantage of the best of both worlds.

Interesting. I think that’s probably really helpful to our listeners. Okay, great.

So you’ve got this mortgage banker client in particular, and they want to generate more mortgage leads. That is someone that probably falls into one of those three groups you mentioned earlier. And before we get into some of the specific marketing tactics, Let’s just talk about why they want those leads. And look, let me clarify that question. Obviously, they want leads. Obviously, they want business. But how much revenue potential is there for the banker?

And the reason I asked that question is for marketers listening, they might want to understand, “Hmm, I’m interested in this space. Maybe I want to generate leads in this space. Maybe I want to take on clients in this space.”

But how much money is there in this space? Everybody needs real estate, but is it lucrative? It is lucrative. And I don’t have exact dollar amounts for you, but I will say that probably the most valuable is the referral partners. Because you have a realtor who does $10 million in business in a year. That’s a heck of a lot of commission.

So I actually have, the main client is the mortgage company. But at this company, there are 26 mortgage bankers. And I serve each of those mortgage bankers individually. You know what I mean? So it’s like for an email marketing piece, the mortgage bankers, the one that has their list that it goes out to and it goes out on behalf of that mortgage banker. For each of the 26, they probably have a small handful, maybe two to three realtors who do tens of millions of dollars in business every year.


Yeah, and so your loan size could be anywhere from $2 million to $150,000. But at a certain point, every cent counts because of a look at the potential value. You have somebody who buys $150,000 condo, four years later, they’re moving on to a $350,000 house. You know what I mean?

That’s that closed client you were talking about.

Exactly, exactly. So, it starts with the referral partner that moves into the closed client.

And did I hear you correctly when you said that it sounds like the marketing, or at least the email marketing that you’re doing for the bankers, is you are kind of doing it under their personal brand versus necessarily under the brand of the holding company.

Exactly, so the mortgage company has a unique voice, right? And that I’ve created, and that’s the voice with which I write the weekly Friday realtor email. But when it comes to doing other social marketing for these mortgage bankers, social media in particular, I have different voices for each of them so that it’s more exclusive to their own personal brand.

Interesting. Okay, and so let’s dive deeper into the marketing element of this. So let’s start with why email? Like, you know, whenever a marketer is looking at a new niche, you have to understand and identify the channels that are gonna work.

And sometimes it’s not as black and white as, this works, this doesn’t, as much as there’s kind of like a spectrum, and you’ve got certain channels that kind of rise to the top as like critically important, others that don’t work at all, and then some that work to varying degrees in the situation, depending on the situation.

So, as far as email goes, where does that fit in the marketing mix? Critical, work sometimes, and why is it important?

Oh, it is absolutely critical for the referral partners in particular. So, I keep mentioning those referral partners.

Sounds important.

It’s important, yeah. And these are people who in their professional life, they meet lots of mortgage bankers or brokers, whatever it may be, who want their business, who want them to refer leads to them.

Now, the best way to build that relationship is to be useful to that referral partner. I mean, the more useful you are to them, the more likely they are to reciprocate in some way. So, they get these emails from mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers that are like, “Oh, here’s today’s rates.”

What our email marketing does is every week give them something that they can use the following week as they’re showing a house, as they’re calling up their clients. them some sort of knowledge that’s very useful. And sometimes I like to just make them laugh too. You know, when they, they open up the email. Provide value however you can. Exactly. Exactly. And so, it is extremely important.

Um, I’ve had quite a few of the bankers tell me like their realtors absolutely love opening it up every single week. It go, it used to go out at 4:15 now it goes out at 2:15, but it’s one of those things where it’s like every week at 2:15, I got to open up that Friday Realtor email. Wow, that’s impressive. It’s fun. It’s really fun. My favorite comment was one mortgage banker told me that their realtors treat it like their soap opera every Friday at 2:15.

So, is a lot of temporals like things that are happening now, like in the economy or? It’s a good mix. So I will cover topics. Let’s say like the Federal Reserve has a big announcement that way. I’m going to cover that in the Friday Realtor email. Let’s say that it is the week before Thanksgiving like it was just recently. And I’m gonna cover common questions that your family might ask you as the real estate person at the table.

How to shift off politics and into mortgages, why not?

Yeah, so something like that. And then other times if the mortgage company itself is releasing a new product, I mean, I’m essentially there to market for the mortgage company, right?

Gotta sneak that in there.

So, you can cover that, yeah.

Gotcha. And one of the things I’m gleaning, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but part of the reason that you guys want to refer or your client wants to, excuse me, lean into the referral partners is because it’s maybe hard to generate the leads directly. Like maybe the best way to get leads as referral partners. Is that a fair statement?

It’s one of the best ways. Yeah, absolutely.

And again, these referral partners, it sounds like there’s more than just one persona. So real estate agents are one persona. This newsletter goes out to, who are some of the other personas?

Attorneys, insurance agents, financial advisors, and lastly, contractors, but you don’t get a lot from contractors.

Okay, great. I think that last bit was great for the SEO of this podcast. (laughs) She said attorneys, she said insurance agents.

Did you get that, Google? Okay, very good. And let’s talk about, I do wanna get back to other aspects of marketing, but before I forget, frankly, Let’s talk about what a qualified lead looks like, which I think in this space is of particular importance. So we don’t just want anyone inquiring about a mortgage. What’s a good mortgage lead look like?

So, a good mortgage lead is somebody who seriously plans to buy within the next one to two years. And then these referral partners, somebody who goes out there, is a hardworking realtor, who makes calls to somebody that you’re gonna partner up with who is good at their job and you’re good at your job. and then together you make some magic, you know? But as far as like one-on-one consumer leads, is anybody who’s serious about it, who’s serious about home buying?


Yeah, once you get them through the door, you know, some people might take more time than others to become a buyer. But as long as they’re serious about it, there’s a lot of potential there.

Okay, and credit score and financials also go into whether or not it’s a quality lead, right? Yeah. So what I mean by it, it depends on how much time it takes us. Because let’s say you have somebody come through the door who doesn’t have the best credit and they don’t have enough saved up for a down payment. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to buy two years from now because they need somebody to guide them toward these things.

You know, if you come out of your, you’re renting, you talk to a mortgage banker, the mortgage banker tells you all this new information that you’ve never heard before. Because you’ve only ever rented up until until this point, you’re gonna listen to that person and that’s the person you’re gonna call six months down the road, a year down the road and go, hey, can you check my credit score now and see where we’re at with this.

Okay, so there’s a, again, I’m using the word temporal element to this, like what’s their timeline to take action, there’s the financial element of like, you know, are their finances good enough where they can get a loan and then they’re qualified from a referral partner sense if they’re just interacting with the types of buyers that I want. That sum it up pretty good?


Okay, very good. And now back to the marketing stack. So, okay, so emails critical. What are some of the other critical components to the marketing mix that if you’re a marketer trying to generate leads, mortgage leads, what must you have in place or pay a lot of attention to? Are you talking about like channels of communication? Like social media? Yeah, like just if I said to you, okay, let’s say I’m your prospective client, I’m a lender but I’m clueless about marketing.

And I said, okay, Irene, you’re going to do an email newsletter, great. What else do I need to do? Where else do I need to put my marketing dollars to make sure we’re getting leads? Okay. So I would say social media is a big one because you just want to stay top of mind. I mean, how often do you need a mortgage banker? It’s like once every 15 years, maybe. And so, you want to stay in front of that person.

And so, when it comes to consumer leads, posting on social media, you know, being on your Instagram, because a lot of these mortgage bankers, where they get a lot of their leads is from their friends and family. They’re direct consumer leads. I mean, is that, you know, all my cousin posts about being a mortgage banker all the time on Instagram, you should talk to her. So it’s that kind of communication.

So, it’s less about maybe the corporate entity being obsessed with their social as much as it is the individual agents.


Am I using the terminology agents?


Bankers, bankers.

It is the individual bankers that are key on social media.


The other thing is print. we actually do a lot of print materials for them because you keep in touch with your closed clients by sending them a nice handwritten note. So, uh, around Thanksgiving time, Christmas time, whatever it is, I get to express my, one of my favorite styles of writing, which is romantic writing.

And so, I’ll do this like really beautiful flowy Christmas message. You know what I mean? And put it onto a card. Hey, if it leaves an impression, like that’s the idea. It’s touching. You know what I mean? And that’s what I mean by this romanticism of like flowing language.

This must be top of mind right now since it’s December while we’re recording this. It might be January by the time this comes out. Okay, interesting.

So print, social media. You know, social media, I love to play devil’s advocate here a little bit and give a little deliberate pushback. Because I feel like social media, specifically for small business, and if we’re talking about individual bankers, they’re their own little small businesses, right?

Like social media can be such a resource suck, like time, effort, energy, money. So push back on me. Like if I’m the banker and I’m thinking about, you know, shelling out some money to a third party marketer to help me and you say, well, John, one of the areas we can help you is social media.

And I say to you, social media, I mean, like really? Like it’s a waste of time. What do you say to me? I don’t blame you for that reaction because who are you going to get who messages you on Facebook? Those “leads” that come through Facebook is probably spam or something like that, right? But that’s not the point. Social media is for staying top of mind.

So when you’re posting a LinkedIn twice a week every week and that realtor who follows you on LinkedIn is constantly seeing this. The next time they meet a couple who says, “Yeah, we have this specialty financial situation. We’re not sure we can get a regular mortgage.” Who are they going to think of? The person who is just posting about those bank statement loans, an alternative type of loan program. So that’s who they’re going to turn to.

It’s not going to come through your inbox, your LinkedIn messages. It’s not going to be, “Oh, a qualified lead that just filled this out. It’s the people who are going to go, “Oh, you know what? I know somebody who does that.” Interesting. So it’s about the multiple touch points. Exactly. Okay. And let’s stay on social media for lenders a little bit more. Agents, brokers, I can’t get this right. Bankers.

Okay, let’s stay on social media for bankers a little bit more. What type of content? Oh, so there’s three key things that we’re communicating. First is ease and convenience, because I’m sure you’ve seen there was a mortgage, large mortgage company, who a while ago, while ago, their big tagline was like push button, get mortgage or something like that. People, yeah, it was a while ago, but sounds easy too, a little too easy.

Doesn’t it sound a little, that’s the thing. So, I’m careful with that because it’s getting a mortgage, it’s not supposed to be that easy. Um, so communicating how convenient it is to apply online or take those first steps, especially for first-time buyers, hey, you don’t need to be afraid of it. The second thing we want to communicate a lot is interest rates because somebody who is shopping between different brokers, bankers, loan officers, they’re going to be looking for the lowest interest rates. And then you also have the big question of, “Can I qualify?”

So this hypothetical couple that I was just talking about who has a specialty financial situation, they’ve applied down the street at their corner bank, they applied for a mortgage there, and they got rejected because of this, this, and that. Now, where can they find a lender who is gonna say, this, this, and that? No problem, we have a solution for that. So that’s also what I’m trying to communicate.

I would say I actually spend 60% of the time communicating that. That even if you have a special situation, there’s a solution for you. Okay, so those are some great insights on the messaging piece. What about the actual format? Is it primarily curating other content across the web and sharing it with a caption?

Is it actual blog posts that are going to live on that banker’s blog or on their parent company’s blog? Is it a lot of video? I mean, I’m sure there’s a place in the mix for everything, but any certain types of formats that you like the best or that you guys are more often recommending to clients than others. Sure. So blog articles, I write those for the site, for the company site, and we’ll link back to those.

We have a wonderful team of graphic designers, one in particular, Molly. She is our resident mortgage graphic design expert, and she makes all sorts of images for us to post. But when it comes to video, this is interesting. We tried to make videos and you know, it’s a compilation of like stock video or animations, you know, something like that.

Don’t do anything, don’t perform well, nobody clicks on them, nobody watches them. So what I started recommending to the mortgage bankers was, hey guys, I need you to make your own videos. I need you to hold up your phone to your face and talk about interest rates today and post it, please.

Or if you’re really self-conscious about it, send it to me first, I’ll give you some tips, which is usually just me telling them to smile more. (both laughing) And then they can post that video. And then that way they really do get this great mix of stock looking posts, things that are, I call them like slick and shiny, things that are made for them. But then when their social media followers see their face, that posting for- – Raw, unedited.

Yeah, exactly.

It helps you build that personal connection.

Exactly. Smart. I like it. Well, with the time we have left, anything else come to mind worth talking about, whether it’s SEO or buying lists, these are things that, through some keyword research, we’re popping up, but I don’t know if any of them resonate with you as really important areas to key in on. I would say buying lists is one of the least valuable things that you can do. Interesting.

Expand on that a little bit. When you buy a list, you don’t know where these came from. You don’t know how qualified these people are or anything like that. And if you’re mass marketing on a platform like MailChimp or constant contact, you might get flagged for these people. And these cold, non-solicitous. Exactly.

And they’re going to market as spam or whatever. It’s just not a good way to go. Focus on the people around you who can supply you with leads and build relationships with those people. And then your sphere, right?

Isn’t that what you guys on the inside call it? Okay. Exactly. Exactly. Even your friends and family, people who are going to say, oh yeah, my cousin does that. And then the people who you’ve already worked with before continuing to work with them again and again. Okay, very good.

And then, you know, something else occurred to me, I wanted to have you touch on before we call it for the day is, you know, giving as it is, you’re doing a lot of email marketing. Any tips for increasing that open rate and getting those subject lines just right? Or what have you seen? I will say I started seeing better open rates when I put emojis in the subject line, but that was only slightly.

So, I have really great open rates on this Friday realtor email. And I think the reason for it is because the voice is so strong. I have a background in theater, by the way. And that’s what I do when I’m not being marketing director. I’m doing theater. So I have this distinct ability to create characters and play those out into the different brands that I work with. Well, my voice for the Friday Realtree email couldn’t be more like established and distinct. I’ve been writing it for three years now. Right.

And so, it becomes like your favorite columnist. And that’s where I see, let’s say that the, as I mentioned before, the Federal Reserve makes a big announcement on Wednesday. Yeah, a lot of those coming right now. Yeah. Friday email is going to come out and these people, these open rates after, after something big happens in the news, I see a direct relation in my open rates being really high for that week because they want to know what their favorite columnist had to say about the federal reserves announcement.

You know what I mean? I built that relationship because I am such a person to them and not just this like stock form email that’s coming their way. Sounds like you’re quite gifted at building the drama.

Well, that’s good. That’s why we’re here. Very good. So, Erina, thank you so much for your insights. If someone wants to get in touch with you or your agency, FYD, what’s the best way to do that? You can go to our website. It’s actually For You Design. So, And we’ve got a contact form.

Learn more about us, all that. Right.

And that’s Erina Johnson with an E. Yeah. Okay. Very good. Well, thank you so much, Erina.

It was a treat avenue and that’s it for today’s episode.

Thank you.

Thank you.