I’ve been in this business working with finance lenders for the past 21 years (don’t judge, I’m still a spring chicken in my mind). Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, technology changes, my clients face new regulatory challenges, or new competition surfaces in the marketplace. But fear not. I’ve got it all figured out for 2016. Promise. Here’s what you need to do:

The Bread and Butter – Live checks, Pre-approved offers and “Invitation to Apply” campaigns 
Plain and simple, live checks work. As an instant loan, live checks bring in new prospects and instant loan volume with the first touchpoint. The acquisition costs for live checks are astronomically low, and they are the perfect vehicles for direct mail marketing. The trick is to have the know-how and right machinery to make them work. That’s a lot of money to put out on the street and knowing the proper positive pay file processes (that’s a tongue twister!) is a crucial element. It is worth noting, that experience in this field is essential, as working with someone that doesn’t have the technical expertise could cost YOU a lot of money.

Live checks are great, but they aren’t for everyone. That’s where pre-approved offers and invitation to apply campaigns come in. When you have data at your fingertips (or work with someone who does), you can send out an offer to the perfect, targeted group of prospective customers, knowing ahead of time that they are the right fit for your offer. Choosing the right bureau criteria and having the knowledge of how to use the data is how you can make these campaigns successful. In invitation to apply campaigns, data modeling helps identify the right customers, and helps grow new customer acquisition.

Marketing Technology for Lenders
Lenders realize that marketing technology is an opportunity, not a hindrance. I think there’s a misconception that social media, online ads and mobile marketing are all broadcast mediums. But with advances in technology, you can reach your specified target audience on social media, text message, website banner ads and on mobile devices that you are reaching through the mail. It all involves cross-referencing your prospect file, and matching up your specified prospects with their respective device IDs and IP addresses. Sounds complicated, but I promise it’s easy.

Renewal Programs
Building a relationship and a communications strategy with your customer is crucial, and the lifetime value of a good customer is exponentially higher than that of a one-time customer. How can you achieve this? With renewal programs that help keep the communications stream open, and that encourage each customer to come back and make in-branch visits and introduce them to the latest offerings. Proactively communicating with past borrowers, and building trigger campaigns around loyalty events makes it easy to stay in front of borrowers at the right time, and to share with them the most pertinent offer.

Adding Email and Geotargeting 
Your best bet to reach your target audience is always rooted in customer intelligence – modeling, profiling and segmentation. Once you know your list, often all you know is the mailing address – wouldn’t it be good to know their email addresses, and to find other customers that look just like your identified audience? This is where email appending and geotargeting come in. Lenders are migrating more and more to appending email addresses to their data file, and even though there will never be 100% match, we’ve been seeing incremental lifts of over 100% from appending email to mail files for campaigns. Additionally, if you are running invitation to apply campaigns, or any campaign that doesn’t rely on a preapproval, you can also “geo-target” email addresses of similar prospects in the same zip+4 and gain “bonus” customers at a very low rate.

Preparing for regulatory scrutiny
You’ve certainly heard the phrase “The best offense is a good defense.” With more and more government scrutiny from the CFPB, now is the time to start thinking about archival solutions and regular statements as a communications tool. One trend we’ve been seeing is the use of PDF archival to have an electronically referenceable database of loan records, disclosures and payoffs. This makes it easy on a branch level to pull up a single loan record in case of an audit. Also, the Dodd Frank Act heavily leaned on regular customer communications. Look for a shift where lenders may be required to release monthly statements on installment loans. It’s always better to be a head of the curve rather than behind on these sorts of things.

These five tips are just the tip of the iceberg to what lenders can be doing to enhance their offerings, and represent a jumping off point for really growing a book of business and expanding your lending footprint.

Greg Hamby is one of SourceLink’s Consumer Finance lending experts. Greg is a business partner board member for the American Financial Services Association, and has been involved with lending companies for over 20 years. You can reach Greg at ghamby@sourcelink.com