Top 10 Takeaways from Total Expert’s Accelerate 2021

This month, we were honored to host our bank and lender customers at our 2021 Accelerate conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. When you get the best marketing minds in consumer finance together for two days and nights, the results are electric. Read on for the top 10 takeaways we hope will tide you over until Accelerate 2022!

1. The Smartest Person in the Room Was the Room

According to Accelerate attendee and Nationwide Mortgage Bankers marketing head Jarrett Stanley, “The smartest person in the room was the room.” We couldn’t agree more. There’s no replacement for face-to-face customer engagement. One huge theme that gelled at this event was how existing banks and lenders mastered one-on-one human customer care long before the fintech disruption era. This phase of the era is when these organizations — which have most of the mortgage and consumer lending and banking market share in America — master the same digital capabilities as the disruptors, which then powers the human touch.    

2. Fintech-Powered Banks & Lenders Will Beat Fintech Startup Banks in the End

Total Expert Founder and CEO Joe Welu shared staggering stats about how digital banking disruptor threats are real. Eighty-eight challenger banks raised $100+ million funding rounds in 2Q21 alone. Crypto leader Coinbase now offers banking to its 68 million customers. PayPal added 100 million customers in 18 months during the pandemic and is now expanding further into banking. The list goes on. The point is: these models fall short because they aim to edge human advice out of consumer financial decision-making. Meanwhile, Total Expert and other fintechs serving banks and lenders, aim to empower human advisors by automating personalized advice and ensuring the human connection is only a tap away for lending and banking consumers.

3. The Marketing Funnel Is Dead. Long Live the Customer Journey.

James Robert Lay, founder of the Digital Growth Institute, noted how modern marketing is no longer a simple funnel. Instead, it’s about orchestrating a much more complicated digital journey for financial services customers. Two key stats he shared underscore this. First, 87% of consumer shopping journeys start online for a financial product but only 2% convert on the first visit. Second, 43% of consumers believe websites aren’t designed around end-user needs, while 95% of bank/lender teams say it’s “somewhat” or “very” easy for users to use their site. Combined, these points show banks and lenders have work to do on customer empathy, and how important empathy is in mastering modern digital journeys for customers.

4. Master Customer Marketing Journeys by Operationalizing Empathy

Expanding on this concept, Founder and CEO Joe Welu described how cracks in the customer journey form when banks and lenders fail to personalize, engage, and automate communication with customers. You can operationalize this with data, insights, and action. One innovative example of data is real-time surveying each customer on their intent, which takes life events (like growing a family, selling a home, etc.) a step further to ensure you truly understand customer intent around these events. This transforms mere data into insight, then marketing automation feeds this insight about intent to sales teams as tasks, which enables them to speak to customers with true, informed empathy. This data, insights, action flywheel with the customer at the center is the modern journey — and this is how you operationalize empathy.

5. Total Expert Changed the Marketing Game on $1 Trillion in Mortgages This Year

Total Expert Chief Product Officer Matt Tippets shared how, in the last 12 months, 85,000 users created 2.1 million tasks in Total Expert’s CRM. They increased marketing automation by 300% by sending 1 million SMS messages and 300 million emails, which created 5.5 million insights. The result: Total Expert has powered 3 million loans in the last 12 months, representing $1 trillion in loan production, which is about one in every four loans and 25% of total mortgage production in America. Matt shared six ways Total Expert helps power this: Understanding Customers, Drawing Insights Into Customer Needs, Enabling & Empowering Teams, Customer Engagement & Marketing, Creating Personalized Experiences, and Measuring Engagement & Success. Matt detailed these concepts here, and Founder and CEO Joe Welu detailed them here.

6. Four Mortgage Lender Playbooks to Win the Customer Retention Game in 2022

Total Expert product lead Alec Catsuros and The Basis Point’s Julian Hebron ran down four bank and lender customer retention playbooks for 2022, which were: (1) The Golden Age of Debt Consolidation Cash-Out Refi Mortgages, (2) Home Improvement Cash-Out Refi Mortgages In A Time Of Record Home Equity, (3) Trade Up Homebuyers In A Market Defined By Bidding Wars, (4) Second Home & Investment Property Buying In The Remote Work Era. Alec explained that there’s a critical gap between what financial providers vs. customers know about markets and product availability, so providers must do real-time personalized surveys of customers (which Total Expert powers down to the individual customer level) and feed those action items to salesforces. Julian went through the latest market data that makes these four playbooks relevant ways to break through to and educate customers right now.   

7. Personalization vs. Privacy: Solving the Financial Marketer’s Dilemma   

Data and marketing guru Josh Lehr of Total Expert and Taylor Donnell of Jebbit (a firm that helps power Total Expert’s TrueIntent), shared that, while 79% of consumers worry about data security, 64% of people are willing to share personal data to get more relevant, personalized services. Also, 44% of consumers trust financial firms with their data — this is high compared to other industries. Josh emphasized how critical zero-party data is to the modern marketer. This is data a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a business which includes personal preferences, purchase intentions, personal context, and how they want to be interacted with. Taylor summarized six non-intrusive ways to get zero-party data: (1) Give Me A Recommendation, (2) Save Me Time, (3) Test Me, (4) Unlock A Benefit For Me. (5) Teach Me, (6) Entertain Me. More details here on how to use this data effectively.

8. The Five-Part Formula to Make Every Customer a Superfan

In her keynote, Chief Experience Officer of Experience.com Brittany Hodak defined a “superfan” as a customer who’s delighted with their experience, compelled to return to you, and tell others about you. She said every customer is an influencer, and that you don’t find superfans — you must create them. Brittany shared her five-part formula to creating superfans: S: Start with your company’s story–not your value proposition or pitch, but your story so people can relate to you. U: Understand each customer’s story–she gave a pro tip here that your customer’s story IS your story.  P: Personalize your communication with each customer–she gave the Chewy.com example of how they get intimate with people by knowing, loving, and promoting their pets. E: Exceed expectations with each customer–here she applies the Platinum rule that says treat customers the way THEY want to be treated. And most important is the R: Repeat. More on Brittany’s great talk here

9. Pro Tips from Top Lender Sales, Marketing, Digital Pros

On a lender best practice panel, American Pacific Mortgage sales and marketing head Melissa Wright said her firm has double the industry average customer retention by understanding how loan officers adopt technology that helps them retain customers. She shared three categories of adopters: embracers, follow-on folks, and resistors. Turn the embracers into the evangelists and influencers and it brings the other two categories onboard. Assurance Financial Chief Digital Officer Katherine Campbell said the current market turn is also driving adoption as loan officers open up to new ways to engage and retain customers. Motto Mortgage Head of Product and Strategy Dustin Morton made it crystal clear that, in lender organizations, the loan officer is the customer–keep them happy and they’ll keep customers happy. Perhaps most important, they all said content in the company and loan officer voice is the special sauce that makes all their marketing technology and automation special.   

10. Journey Is Timeless Both as a Band and a Marketing Strategy 

The theme of Accelerate 2021 was Elevate the Journey, and we work hard to practice everything we power for our bank and lender customers. To us, this conference was constructed as a 2022 playbook journey for our customers — and a journey of high engagement for two days and nights. We didn’t stop believing in our Journey playlist for Accelerate attendees, and we even brought in a Journey tribute band for one of the evening receptions. It’s always about the journey we’re on with you, and how we can make your experience better — so you can make the experience better for your customers. We can’t wait to host you next year and keep improving for you every day until then.