NEW YORK Quicken Loans, known for its online customer acquisition campaigns, is shifting more attention to customer retention with the launch of a new community site called Qtopia.
The animated, Second Life-style site combines financial planning tools, information resources and community features for Quicken's 300,000 customers. Visitors are guided through the site by an avatar, who shows off Qtopia's different structures, such as the Q Library, Q Cafe and Q Arena.
Qtopia is designed as an entertaining way for users to access sensible financial planning tools and maintain ties between Quicken and its customers during periods between loans, said Todd Lunsford, client chief marketing officer.
"It's a site we can create some stickiness to," he said. "In the past, our client loyalty campaign was like any other company's, like signing up for newsletters."
Lunsford noted that it costs five times more to acquire a customer than retain one. Quicken spent close to $25 million in online advertising in the first 11 months of 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The site, created with online incentive marketing company ePrize, offers several tools to investors, including mortgage calculators and a debt management system called Quizzle. It also houses Quicken-created financial advice podcasts, an online version of the company's Home Advantage magazine and includes offers from Quicken marketing partners like TurboTax.
"You used to be able to push your message out to people," said Matt Kates, vp of strategy at ePrize. "Now, media is so fractured and people have ability to opt out, there's the need to lead with the value-added proposition and support with branding."
Establishing customer loyalty becomes increasingly important as the mortgage industry undergoes an upheaval. Lunsford said maintaining regular communication with customers, even if they visit the site once or twice a month, is important in creating such loyalty.
The site illustrates a new dimension to loyalty and referral programs, Kates said. Rather than solely focus on "transactional" loyalty, brands are building bonds with customers through providing utility.
"A lot of our clients look at loyalty as transactional, but there's also emotional and engagement loyalty," he said. "In the long run, that emotional loyalty is much stronger than the transactional loyalty."