CMO interview: What Mortgage Choice’s marketing leader is doing to instil CX

The latest bootcamp for home loans initiative taps into wider efforts to help customers improve their financial wellbeing

It’s no good trying to be a customer-led marketer if you haven’t established the key fundamentals of brand strategy, purpose and process first, Mortgage Choice’s GM of marketing believes.

Melissa McCarney has spent the past five years working at the financial services company and is the first group marketer to sit at the executive table. She’s just unveiled her latest initiative, ‘Mortgage Choice Home Loan Boot Camp’, which she positions as another step forward in the group’s brand transformation from pure mortgage brokering to full financial services adviser.

More recently, this shift has seen the company change remuneration structures for franchisees aimed at making them more competitive.

“What we are now looking at as we move into the next phase of change is brand strategy, and we also need to focus on our CX strategy,” McCarney tells CMO. “As GM of marketing, it’s important for me to be the customer champion, and to drive and foster this change [around customer experience] across the entire organisation.

“Five years ago when I joined Mortgage Choice, I had more fundamental things that need to be addressed and fix. And until they were addressed, the business wasn’t quite ready for CX in a more strategic sense.”  

That initial layer included getting the right website platform in place, and introducing centralised communication programs to ensure the group communicates to customers throughout their lifecycle, McCarney says. The second big step 18 months in was relaunching the brand, inside and out.

“We changed the visual identity but more importantly, we worked on defining purpose and then defining service standards to help deliver to that purpose,” she says. “Those are fundamentals to delivering CX, because you have to know what purpose you’re trying to deliver to before you can build the CX you want and need.”

Financial bootcamp

McCarney’s latest effort, ‘Mortgage Choice Home Loan Boot Camp’, is a response to the growing need for education around financial well-being. It’s based around a core bootcamp digital content program, supported by a mix of broadcast, digital, social and out-of-home advertising.  

“We know a lot of customers are doing a significant amount of research before speaking to an expert as they want a level of education first and don’t want to look silly. We saw that as an opportunity to start having a conversation earlier with us, so they come to us while doing that research,” McCarney says.  

“The lending environment is changing significantly. Now more than ever, it’s really important for people to be financially fit or they’ll struggle to get a home loan. So we wanted to do more education around what it means to be financially fit. It’s very deliberately a prospect program.”

Mortgage Choice has built a microsite with different bootcamp modules, the first of which are about securing your first home-loan or refinancing one. The eight-week series is complemented by an email-based lead nurturing program that sees participants being encouraged each week to complete the next stage of the bootcamp. Each module features a short quiz and those who complete the quiz go into a prize draw.

What made the latest activity possible was replatforming Mortgage Choice’s website to a new CMS in January. “This has given us more flexibility to build these things fast – we built the whole bootcamp in a six-week period,” McCarney says. “We already had a very clearly defined creative platform of ‘better choices for a better life’, which we were adding to.”

Another consideration was being able to capture interactions to understand how a prospect was interacting with the microsite, which allows Mortgage Choice to then offer targeted content via email.

As part of its supporting above-the-line, digital and social media advertising buy, Mortgage Choice struck a radio sponsorship with the Today FM network around the ‘Kate and Hughesy’ drive time program incorporating specific integration points.

“Radio is giving us air coverage, but most of the source of bootcamp registrations has come via social media,” McCarney says. “Two years ago, social media was something we dabbled in; now it’s a much more significant part of the overall strategy, particularly from a brand point of view. It’s not so much a lead generation tool for customers ready to speak to a broker right now, as it doesn’t tend to work that far down the funnel. It’s more suited to earlier in the funnel, such as our bootcamp idea, and where it’s more in the customer’s control.”

The bootcamp is illustrative of the changes Mortgage Choice is making to its marketing strategy in order to focus more on brand rather than lead generation. “We’ve taken some investment out of paid search, as it’s becoming extremely competitive and expensive. And without brand investment, it’s worthless,” McCarney says.

“However, we have always seen the opportunity to play a role in education, and that comes from the fact we’re a financial planning business. Five years ago, we launched financial advice, and one job we need to do from a brand point of view is help people understand we can do more than just help with home loans.

“Although it’s called a home loan bootcamp, there’s a lot of financial planning content within it and the next bootcamp will be more about the financial planning side of the business. It’s important for us to talk to customers about more than just a home loan.”  

Up next: What Mortgage Choice is doing in the face of growing financial services scrutiny, plus McCarney shares her views on the evolution of the CMO role

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