Jason Perkins From Bonzo-Striking a Balance Between Automation and Consumer Personalization

Jason Perkins

Jason Perkins is the president and co-founder of Bonzo, a relationship management automation provider that cuts the time mortgage and real estate professionals spend communicating with prospects. Jason has over a decade of mortgage and real estate industry experience directing marketing and engagement. His previous roles include serving as regional director of engagement for Union Home Mortgage and director of marketing for NOIC, an independent mortgage bank.

MBA NewsLink: In what ways has the borrower’s journey changed in recent years, and how has it impacted the way LOs engage clients and prospects?

Jason Perkins: The borrower’s journey has evolved tremendously. There was a time when a single email or letter was enough to gain someone’s attention. Today, the average consumer views as many as 6,000 ads a day. From commercials to social media ads, junk mail, website popups, they are completely inundated. As a result, consumers have become smarter. If they want something, they can Google it or ask AI.

So, in a way, the digital marketing many loan officers do has just become noise to the consumer. For instance, when I was a loan officer, we used a CRM that had a past customer retention campaign, and it would send out content like apple pie recipes or how to decorate your home for the fall. But these days, consumers can find that info anywhere. Instead of continuing to push stale, unrelated content out, companies need to start thinking about how to make their marketing more relational and contextual. Any content a loan officer sends that isn’t relevant, timely or relational isn’t going to move the needle when it comes to staying top of mind.

MBA NewsLink: When we talk about personalized communications, what are some examples of what borrowers are looking for these days?

Jason Perkins: Ultimately, people do business with people, not company logos. It’s the loan officer that the borrower is working with, not the company. But post-closing, a lot of that trust is lost. Lenders end up pushing out content to the borrower that is focused on the brand, when it really should be from the loan officer.

For instance, if I’m buying a car, the sales rep will usually ask me lots of questions about me, like whether I’m married or have kids or a dog. After the sale, I don’t want to hear from the dealership. But I don’t mind if the sales rep follows up with me to ask how my car is and whether I’ve taken it on any weekend trips, because I know them. If my friend is looking for a new vehicle, I’ll say, “go talk to Steve, he’ll fix you up.”

It’s the same concept in the mortgage industry. Loan officers should use the information they gather during the transaction to continue building the relationship. For example, five days after closing, the borrower could receive a text that says, “Hey, I just want to make sure you got the locks on the doors changed. If you need a recommendation for a locksmith, let me know.” When you do that, your clients are highly likely to refer business to you.

MBA NewsLink: How can data and automation be used to create more personalized communications with borrowers?

Jason Perkins: Data is the most valuable asset any lender has. Think about the loan file. Lenders know every borrower’s income, where they work, whether they have a spouse or kids, and obviously their birthdays. Every lender has a ton of this data, but most only rely on five to ten data points in their marketing efforts when they can really go much deeper. In fact, I think every lender should have at least one data scientist to interpret this data internally and put it to use.

For example, let’s say you’ve helped a recently married couple buy their first home. We know that within five years, they’re likely to have started a family and are at least thinking about buying another home. You could send messages saying, “I just wanted to check in. How is the space and location working out for you?” If you add little nuances to the conversation that are relevant to your clients, you’re going to win more responses, more trust, and more sales. But it starts with the data, and hyper personalizing your outreach by segmenting data the right way, so the right message gets to the right borrower.

MBA NewsLink: What compliance concerns should lenders be aware of when texting/using SMS communications?

Jason Perkins: Every lender should be aware of new rules adopted by mobile carriers that involve application-to-person or A2P messaging, in which texts are sent from an application like a CRM to individuals. Every major carrier now has their own A2P filters in place, which can block messages that include terms like “loan” or “interest rates,” and some are more stringent with these filters than others.

Lenders also need to register their marketing campaigns with their carriers, which typically involves providing an Employer Identification Number so carriers can verify the legitimacy of the business. If they don’t go through this step, the throughput on their text campaigns will be very low. And if a company violates their carrier’s rules or if its messages are consistently blocked or flagged as spam, the carrier can shut down their EIN number. They won’t be able to send another message again, even if they went to another CRM platform or SMS provider.

As a campaign service provider (CSP), this is an area Bonzo has invested a lot of time and effort into. We have relationships with all major carriers and an entire compliance team that is dedicated to bringing awareness and the highest delivery rate to our clients.

MBA NewsLink: How do you see the future of CRM technology evolving in the mortgage industry?

Jason Perkins: Many legacy CRM systems were built 15 years ago and worked awesome for that time. Traditionally, however, mortgage CRMs were built for a lender’s chief marketing officer, not the individual loan officer. Today, loan officers are starting to demand better tools, and if a lender’s C-suite doesn’t bend on that, the loan officer will get their own solution. At that point, the company will no longer have any awareness of whether the loan officer is doing something that may get the company in trouble.

Clearly, we’re entering a new age in which ease of use, speed of delivery, personalization, support and compliance are now at the forefront. For example, AI has become essential for mortgage marketing. If you’re not adopting AI in your marketing efforts, you’ll be left in the dust by companies that are literally taking over the industry by using AI for better insights and better tools. More than anything, however, loan officers need CRM technology that helps them build more relationships and make more money. Today’s originators should have the freedom to leverage their CRM in a way that works for them, so they’re able to build the business they want.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policies of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Editor Michael Tucker or Editorial Manager Anneliese Mahoney.)