Episode 79: From Finding to Financing a Home: Marketing Automation in Real Estate

How a mortgage company uses marketing automation to improve the client experience on the path to home financing.


In an industry where regulatory constraints often make it difficult to keep up with new trends in marketing and technology, Jim Kadingo is changing the game for Fairway Independent Mortgage. He shares how he uses ActiveCampaign to personalize the residential financing journey for Fairway’s clients—from the early stages of information gathering, to applying, and closing on a home.
Listen in to learn how marketing automation can be leveraged in the real estate space to manage tasks, and facilitate more meaningful personal connections between clients and agents.
Related: Episode 24: Managing Mortgages with the Deals CRM with Jeff Irving


Chris Davis: 00:24 Welcome to another episode of the Active Campaign Podcast. I’m your host Chris Davis, and on this episode I have Jim Kadingo from Fairway, they’re Independent Mortgage Corporation. Jim is the one responsible for managing and building out the marketing and we all know or hopefully you know how antiquated mortgage companies or just the real estate industry is in general with their technology when it comes to marketing. It was really refreshing to sit down with Jim and see how he’s kind of broken out of the norm and adopted Active Campaign as his marketing system, and some of the things that they’re doing to enhance that journey from someone shopping for a house all the way to getting approved and getting those keys. All of that is in this episode. Enjoy. Jim, welcome to the podcast. How you doing?

Jim Kadingo: 01:22 Hey Chris. I’m doing good. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it, man.

Chris Davis: 01:25 Great. Glad to have you on. Give our listeners a little bit of insight of your background and the business.

Jim Kadingo: 01:34 Background is in residential mortgages. I run a small branch for a national company, Fairway Independent Mortgage. Basically, the way that I got into this was jumping out of college, working in banking. Evolved into the mortgage niche and been looking to essentially scale and looking to use Active Campaign in order to help me do some on the tech side.

Chris Davis: 02:06 Got You. Where in your journey here did you find out about marketing technology?

Jim Kadingo: 02:15 I would say more so within the last two years. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, so seeking out some of the higher level professionals within my industry, but outside of my state seeing how they’re doing it, everyone had different systems and platforms. Needed to figure out which one would work for me and why. Worked through a couple of them. I had been with Salesforce, I used Pipedrive for a little while, but then ultimately migrated over to Active Campaign just because of the ease of the platform as well as the features that it offered.

Chris Davis: 02:54 Okay. Okay. Just a little bit of background on Fairway, you guys do mortgage financing or what is it that you do? Fairway.

Jim Kadingo: 03:05 That’s correct. Solely residential financing. Basically, when our clients come to us either referred or through online ads, essentially we’re looking to take them from the early stages of information gathering all the way up to funding and getting keys at settlement.

Chris Davis: 03:25 Nice. Nice. What I liked about this particular podcast is, you know, I’m always excited when someone wants to be on the podcast and I was looking at how you’re using Active Campaign. I was like, wow, this is going to be a really good podcast but then when I looked and saw that you were doing it in the mortgage industry or the real estate industry, I was even more impressed. I want to highlight, not necessarily highlight, I just want you to divulge and give some insight on some of the ways that you’re handling that because I’ve been through the home buying process a couple times now. Both times have felt very much, I would say traditional, right? I didn’t feel like there was any use of cutting edge. I’ll say, it wasn’t as convenient as it could be even down to the file submission piece. It’s definitely one of those industries that are years, it’s years behind. I think anybody and these people will admit to that.

Jim Kadingo: 04:28 Maybe even a decade or two but a lot of that revolves around just all the compliance that we have to deal with and companies just catching up slowly. There’s really, I guess you could break it down to two ways that I really utilize Active Campaign, the features that it has. One is for my preexisting clients that have already opted in or already taken through the mortgage process. I’ve built out, could narrow it down to say two pipelines, sales and ops, the mortgage guys that are listening to this will understand that. Basically, the sales side is any client coming in that we’re still in the process of evaluating and determine if they qualify and if they do, then they start shopping. Basically, I’ve broken down all the different stages or buckets, if you will, that that client would fit into and then the drag and drop system.

Essentially as this client, we move them through the different phases from contact me, to docs received, out shopping, automated correspondence will go out to that client so they know exactly where they are in the process and what they need from them. It frees up me and my team a little bit, as well as also buys us time. We don’t take out the personal touch from the process, but if someone gets an email letting them know, “Hey, your loan has been submitted to underwriting.” That will buy us an easy 24 hours before we call them and dive deeper into the details. One side really using it for client management, whether that’s communication going out or just task management, making sure me and my team are on the same page with what has to happen with every client.

Then second phase that we’re using Active Campaign for is really generating the business and managing the relationship partners. Just like I might move a client from information gathering stages through sales and operational phases, getting them to the closing table. We do the same with our referral partners. Me being in the mortgage business, my best friends is going to be a realtor, a financial advisor or diverse attorney. Those individuals can consistently refer me business. Basically, we’ve built kind of the same buckets out for them where we’re taking them from a prospective referral partner to we’ve had coffee, we’ve got them on a honeymoon to they’re now giving us leads which are starting to convert to transactions. That’s how we use it in a nutshell.

Chris Davis: 07:10 That’s big what you just mentioned, man, because I don’t know. I’m trying to think, I’m jogging my memory if it has happened it happens very, very rarely. People talk about A, the importance of partnerships and nurturing those partnerships. Right? I feel like Jim, honestly, I feel like approaching partnerships has become very one dimensional. It’s like outreach, “Hey, let’s partner up,” or hey your audience, there’s some synergy between audience let’s get together. Then it’s like a one-time collaboration thing and if the person is profitable, they’re off to the next one instead of actually taking the time. Like you said, you actually send your partners through a nurture sequence where you get to know them, right? You actually go out and have coffee with them and I’d have to imagine the quality of your partnerships are much stronger because of it.

Jim Kadingo: 08:04 Yeah, undoubtedly. Undoubtedly.

Chris Davis: 08:06 Great. Great. Another thing I want to highlight for the listeners is that pay attention to the pieces that go into the marketing that Jim’s doing and see how they apply to your business. Every single business should have strategic partnerships. There’s not one business on earth that I could think of that say, oh, well, strategic partnerships won’t benefit you. Right?

Jim Kadingo: 08:31 Yeah, exactly how I built my entire business, we’ve pretty much been running at about 90% or so referral rate. Those leads that are coming to me are much warmer because of those introductions that are coming from the key referral partners. Little bit different than say like a quicken mortgage model where everything’s online, but you’re kind of just a number and you’re just relying on that numbers game that you’re going to convert a percentage. I would say that our conversion is probably much higher. Now that said, that makes up 90% of the business. We’re missing out on a large piece of the general public, which is where we’re looking to take Active Campaign as we move forward and bringing in the masses.

Chris Davis: 09:18 Yeah, because you guys do things, you leverage social media in ways. Well, let me not say how you’re leveraging social media. Can you tell us a bit, I know you’re using our custom audience feature and I could project to see how you’re using Facebook or social media, but are you using that more in the segmenting of front process to figure out where people are or is that throughout the entire stage, throughout the entire pipeline?

Jim Kadingo: 09:53 We’ve got something set up throughout the entire pipeline. I would say for us right now, using this for about a year we’re still in the data collection phase of looking at everything that comes back in. Doing our retarget marketing, which is with the Facebook audiences that you mentioned I think personally that’s huge. Basically, what I’ve done is I’m using different series of ads through say Facebook or Instagram to capture people. Whether that’s for an app that we offer or a webinar that I’m conducting as those leads roll in, they roll into their custom audiences. Whether they download that app or they show up to the webinar or not, we’ve now identified them as a potential prospect.

As I continue to do all my Facebook and Instagram ads moving forward, they’re going to get re-hit by my marketing. Essentially, they can’t escape me once they’re in my system, we’re going to follow them around everywhere. That’s what’s going to help us really build that brand and become much more of a larger scale presence within the community.

Chris Davis: 11:05 Which is good and if it’s done the right way, which I know you are, it’s more of a convenience, right, than it is a hassle where people are like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t get rid of this guy.” It’s more so like, “Look, you no longer have to rely on your email or me catching you at the right time to call you to provide you with information to help you along the process.”

Jim Kadingo: 11:32 Yep and that’s definitely, you nailed it, it’s to provide them something that is going to help them. We’re not just constantly spamming these individuals, like in those kind of a joke like I pity the person that say sign up. I keep using scenarios from my business because that’s how my mind relates, but say like lendingtree.com. Man, if you sign up for any of their ads, you will be bombarded on the phones, just constantly with salespeople. We take more of an approach of, “Hey, we know you’re in this market, we’re going to consistently keep feeding you free tools that are going to help you along the way.”

Then, just like we’re kind of talking about building a relationship with the referral partners, we’re essentially building it with the future clients as well so they can get to know and trust us and let them make the decision in their mind when that time comes to purchase a house or acquire financing that we are the ones that they have to talk to.

Chris Davis: 12:32 Have you seen lookalike audience be helpful for you? I could imagine referral partners sending great leads over and then having a database of those leads and potentially uploading them to find other people that may look like them. Has that been something that has worked well for you guys, or is it something that you’re planning on trying out?

Jim Kadingo: 12:52 That’s something that we just started playing around with. I believe you need a certain number of people in your audiences to get to the look-alike phase.

Chris Davis: 13:02 Right.

Jim Kadingo: 13:03 We’ve generate a ton of leads. We’re throwing them through the system, now creating the lookalike audiences and yet what I’ve heard and what I suspect will come out of that is basically just doubling down. We’re hitting twice as many people now. Based upon the same demographics of the people that have already come to me and raised their hand said they’re interested.

Chris Davis: 13:26 That’s exciting, Jim. I just know in industries like yours that are more outdated in terms of marketing than others, you normally have like a proprietary CRM, right, or some marketing system is. It’s normally not just the CRM, it’s like these all in one antiquated systems that you get started and it’s like, here’s your marketing. It’s like log in, this is all the marketing material you’ll ever need. I remember one time this realtor man, I was looking for a house and he’s like, “Hey, I’ve got this new system too and what I’ll do is I’ll add you to the system and I’ll just make sure I send you every house that comes up so you can pick and choose.”

Literally, all he did was subscribe us to some feed that just dumped every … It was the worst. It was the absolute worst. I hated it and I couldn’t unsubscribed from it, but I knew that it was antiquated software and technology running marketing. For him he was like, “Oh, that was easy. Just add their name.” For you, you broke that pattern and instead of relying on their marketing system, you went out and you grabbed Active Campaign. Was this something that you knew from the start or did you go through the pain first and was like, “You know what, I can’t do this. There’s got to be other ways, better tools.”

Jim Kadingo: 14:55 Yes. I guess I went through a lot of the pain first. I’ve been in mortgages for about six years and it’s really been, I would say the last two that we really started to get involved with outside systems and tech. You’re absolutely right. I worked for three, four companies now. Then working closely with realtors, I noticed the same thing on their side. You literally get one, two, three email marketing campaigns with weak call to actions. There’s really no segmentation to determine who should get what. The platform that you guys provide me makes it very simple to create your own buckets. So like me for example, it’s very easy in our business to get focused on the deal, the qualified leads that can make it to the closing table.

Then, most people are just dumping into say a cold bucket, ones that you don’t have enough money or are in credit repair, whatever the case may be versus getting them specific marketing to help them through whatever they need. For credit repair, maybe every 30 days follow up to make sure they’re sending the appropriate letters to the bureau to increase their scores. Someone short funds for closing right now, I’ve got them in a bucket that come January one, they’re starting to get emails or texts regarding tax refunds and how we can utilize that to help you buy a house. It is a lot of work to build out all the campaigns, but at the same time the results that you’re going to get are results that you wouldn’t get using that kind of cookie-cutter system that most real estate companies are provided.

Chris Davis: 16:42 I know you work closely with the realtors. How involved are they in some of this automation building and planning?

Jim Kadingo: 16:53 Not so much, a lot of my agents I partner up with I help them out. Getting back to the compliance thing, there’s certain things I’m limited to doing on my end, but that I can help agents do. Generating Facebook leads without six paragraphs of compliance at the bottom. Those are systems that I can help the agent build out. The nice thing about Active Campaign is once you have one built out, you can copy that automation and get it into someone else’s account so I can literally build things out for agents, transfer it over to them and now they have a fully functioning system relatively quickly that’ll allow them to do all these things for them.

Chris Davis: 17:39 I always see, I was going to say I always have this vision, but I always see it. Realtors are nine times out of 10 on their phone, right? They’re either sitting in email talking on it or they’ve got it tethered or hotspot it to their laptop as they’re doing something. Let me ask, are you guys using the phone app that we have out for Active Campaign? I would imagine that would be a no-brainer for the realtor to use.

Jim Kadingo: 18:13 That’s huge. I myself I’m switching over to an iPhone so I haven’t hopped on just yet being on the Android platform, but all my coworkers are on iPhone and it’s huge for them. I mean just the simplicity and ease. A lot of times the thing with real estate is it’s not a nine to five job, so we’re getting calls, texts, updates 24/7 on the weekends and it’s almost like no matter where you are and what you’re doing, you’re kind of expected to keep things moving. Having that app allows us to do so. That goes back to what I was saying before where it could buy us time. Say for example, it’s a Saturday evening, I might be out to dinner and really unavailable to talk, but if I get a text, voicemail or something that indicates to me that a client is under contract, the most exciting piece of the puzzle for them and immediately they want to know what happens.

What I have to do is just with my finger and you can do it on the cell phone app, drag and drop into the now under contract bucket and they’re instantly going to get from me an email laying out the next steps. Having that cell phone basically allows you to provide higher level communication literally within seconds no matter where you’re at.

Chris Davis: 19:34 I love it. I love it. Of course, I can visualize, I can visualize the flow of this, because I’m familiar with the CRM, but just hearing you say it validates kind of what I felt like in terms of ease of use because like yourself, you have automations connected to stages in your CRM, in your pipeline. When a deal moves from one stage to the next, that movement actually triggers automation. For you being able to just do that from the palm of your hand, just move something over. I mean, it seems simple, but beforehand, I mean, what were you doing beforehand?

Jim Kadingo: 20:18 Everything manual. Probably the best, “automation” that I had would be, Outlook signatures. I would have all my email templates saved, because you say the same thing to every client for every state, but I would have to make the phone call, let them know that this is coming versus now literally it can be as simple as drag drop. They get a voicemail saying, hey, keep an eye out for the email. It’s going to be in your inbox which explains steps A through Z. It may not be a phone call, but that person gets a voicemail. They feel like you call them, even though that might be automated, you guys have videos so you can prerecord all your videos and actually talk your clients through each step. It’s really, really, apologies, I forget the original question that you have but basically it’s really taken us a long way.

Chris Davis: 21:12 The more you talk about it, I get excited because I love seeing that blend, right, of the manual and the digital and I find that just hearing you explain what you’re doing, you haven’t tried to over-automate anything. You know that you still need to make that call. You’re still going to need to reach out manually or send that text back or respond to an email or something like that.

Jim Kadingo: 21:39 It’s pretty much just saved me instead of doing everyday random updates for different clients, it’s basically enabled me to say, hey, on Tuesdays and Fridays I’m making my calls. I’m going to talk to each client personally but I know that throughout the week they’ve gotten all the communication that they need and not only that, when I go to make that call, I pull Active Campaign up on my screen and I see, say it’s I’m making my Friday calls, I see everything that’s happened with that client Monday through Thursday, whether I’ve actually done it or the system’s done it or one of my team members have done it. We know exactly what’s happening. Our motto has always been, basically five of us on the team, no matter who jumps into a deal, you should be able to know what’s happened with that individual from day one until now. Active Campaign, whether it’s on desktop or phone has really enabled us to do that.

Chris Davis: 22:36 Yeah, that’s nice. I’m thinking from the realtors point of view, it’s like you become a no-brainer because you’ve got systems in place to ensure that when a lead comes, it gets to financing faster than perhaps other partners that they have, which is huge, right? Because it’s like when I bought my house, they ran multiple. They ran through, I think they did multiple banks or maybe they use the same, I don’t know how the backend works, but essentially I knew it wasn’t just one company, they were trying to find the best deal for me as fast as possible. It was like, okay, I really want to work with this company, but they’re going kind of slow getting you preapproved X, Y, Z, so I’m going to try another company. Right. That becomes your competitive advantage because you have systems in place.

Jim Kadingo: 23:30 I’ve told anyone that’s looking to get into the business or struggling within it, it’s really not hard at all. It’s just know your business and then it comes down to speed and communication. If you can deliver both, you’re going to come out on top. Thankful to you guys, it’s what you’ve been able to provide for us.

Chris Davis: 23:49 In closing, there’s one thing that I would say, we can confidently say is on the rise, has been on the rise, it’s not going anywhere and will continue to rise and that’s customer service man. With the more technology that comes out, the stronger the desire people have to be treated like a human because everybody’s abusing technology. Everybody’s just trying to use it to be effective and grow fast and what’s being lost a lot of times is just that personal connection. I don’t want to say humanity that seems too broad, like we’re coming to the end of the world or whatnot, but that personal touch. Sometimes, honestly, that is the difference, the quality of the product could be the same, but somebody could just have that much better of a customer experience and say, “You know what, I’m going with this company.”

Jim Kadingo: 24:50 Yeah, absolutely. It’s a huge factor.

Chris Davis: 24:54 Jim man, thank you so much for coming on and sharing some insight. Where can people find out more about you and your company?

Jim Kadingo: 25:01 If you just go over to extonmortgagepros.com, it’s our website. You can find us on Instagram, follow The Mortgage Pros, and Facebook is The Mortgage Pros at Fairway Independent Mortgage.

Chris Davis: 25:16 Great. Great. We’ll put all of those links at the bottom of the podcast so you can click those and visit them at your leisure. Again, Jim, I really appreciate you coming on, sharing some insight. You’re a prime example, man of automation done right. Find that blend everybody. Don’t try to go too automated and please don’t stay manual on everything. Find that blend. It looks different for every business. Thanks for showing us what it looks like in your day-to-day.

Jim Kadingo: 25:47 Yeah. Thanks for having me, Chris. Appreciate your time and all you guys do.

Chris Davis: 25:50 Yes, no problem, man. Thanks for using us. I’ll see you online, Jim.

Jim Kadingo: 25:54 Likewise. See you.

Chris Davis: 25:55 Thank you for listening to this episode of the Active Campaign Podcast. One big takeaway I hope was clear was that blend. You guys have heard me talk about it on previous podcast, that blend of automated and manual marketing to create the best experience for the end user to achieve the goal that you set out is so critical and it’s always refreshing to meet someone in a more traditional business space that’s leveraging technology in a way to where it enhances that experience. Hats off to Jim and everyone at Fairway. If this is your first time listening to the Active Campaign Podcast, it’s time to join the family. It’s time to join all of the other podcasts listeners, the business owners, the entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, the million dollar businesses.

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