We’ve all been there—left feeling thoroughly confused after receiving some sort of communication from our financial institution that was supposed to clearly explain an important topic.
That’s precisely why Detroit-based Quicken Loans has been so committed to radically simplifying the mortgage process for its clients. At the heart of this commitment: an in-house marketing agency that is thoughtfully driving the company’s message to its clients.
This group, which came together over a decade ago with less than a dozen people, has grown into a team of more than 200 creatives, marketers, and other client experience-focused professionals. All marketing and communications are handled in-house, enabling the massive organization (17,000 team members) to “move at the speed of the game we’re in,” according to Ryan Mulvaney, marketing creative technologies manager at Quicken Loans.
The in-house agency is responsible for customer experiences across all touch points—everything from client emails to Super Bowl ad campaigns. The team is a horizontal function within the organization, supporting all of the various business lines to bring their ideas to fruition.
“This team is challenging the status quo of how people think experiences need to be,” Mulvaney told CMO.com. “We are a marketing and technology company that just happens to sell mortgages. We have this entrepreneurial spirit, and having the agency in-house allows us to move fast and better serve the brand.”
But that doesn’t mean they won’t seek outside help, Mulvaney said. The team enlists independent contractors and external agencies on a per-project basis, though the bulk of the strategic work gets done in-house.
Besides the agility that comes with doing things in-house, the approach has instilled a culture of innovation for the entire organization–not to mention it also has helped Quicken Loans cut costs.
There’s nothing like sight, sound, and motion to get a message across to people. That’s precisely why the in-house agency at Quicken Loans is so focused on video.
“Our company is very much rooted in storytelling and visual communication, and we have found video to be the most effective way to get our messages across,” Mulvaney said.
Video can sometimes be challenging to make, Mulvaney said, especially with the various form factors that come into play today (mobile, social, etc.). The process can also be time-consuming and expensive. But Quicken Loans’ in-house agency helps to keep the costs down and executes quickly.
Quicken Loans uses video not just as general marketing materials but to connect with clients directly. For example, the company sends personalized escrow analysis videos to clients any time their mortgage payment changes. The video explains how and why the changes were made and any actions that client may need to take.
“We’ve always faced a challenge with explaining the escrow changes to clients in an effective way, due to unique tax situations when property values go up or down,” Mulvaney explained. “It can become pretty complex. We had tried video before, but the generic explanation just wasn’t making significant impact.”
The result? Mulvaney says the company has seen a decrease in calls from clients asking about escrow account changes.
Quicken Loans’ in-house agency was also one of the early adopters of Snapchat’s World Lens. The company teamed up with some of college sports’ most famous mascots for a large-scale campaign. Quicken Loans repurposed some of the video footage from this campaign to create an AR experience on Snapchat.
“One of our motion designers and our social media managers got together with our in-house game developer on the training team and learned the development part of AR together and created the experience all on their own,” he said. “And Snap was blown away that it had come from an in-house team.”
What’s next for the in-house agency and Quicken Loans? The organization is bullish on automation, Mulvaney said, particularly for the mundane aspects of the creation process, such as communications among campaign managers, project managers, and distribution.
“That’s what we are thinking through right now,” he said. “How do we tie that process together in the most seamless way so that we don’t play that manual game of telephone that can happen when you’re dealing with creative development?”
In terms of the agency’s strategic priority going forward, client experience will continue to reign supreme, Mulvaney said. Now that technology has become such a staple in the everyday lives of customers, the agency is focused on figuring out how tech can further simplify financial information for customers, build trust, and improve the customer experience.
“Trust is key in that relationship with our clients, and video will continue to play a role in helping us build that trust,” Mulvaney said. “Visual storytelling is really the most engaging way you can connect with somebody on an emotional level. There are so many strings you can pull and so many compounded layers of things working on top of each other to drive that message. We will continue to explore new ways of telling stories to make that connection with people.”