Nesto tries to make the mortgage process less of a slog

New CMO Martin Aubut has been trying to distance the platform from traditional ways of doing things as it expands across Canada.

By Will Novosedlik

The words “simple,” “fast,” “fun” and “mortgage” are generally not found together in the same sentence, especially with the current state of the housing market.

But if Martin Aubut has his way, they soon will be.

Aubut, who was named CMO of the Montreal-based online mortgage advisor in September, has a long list of very recognizable brands on his resume, including L’Oreal, Quebecor, Havas, Bell and CGI. Diversity of experience – a known prerequisite for innovation in any sphere – should stand him in good stead for the fast-paced world of fintech.

Nesto launched its digital mortgage matching platform in 2018 and its early success in Quebec recently earned it a $76 million round of Series B funding. Some of that money is earmarked for brand development, and Aubut’s mandate is to grow Nesto in the rest of Canada, starting in Ontario – the company will take a region-by-region approach to build its way to becoming a national brand.

So far, the push into Ontario has been led by the “Low from the Get Go” integrated campaign, employing a mix of TV spots, OOH, online video and social to convey the message that Nesto provides the lowest rates on your first try, even if you have never looked for a mortgage before. That helps eliminate some of the “what ifs” that homebuyers – especially first-time homebuyers – often grapple with when making decisions during the process of finding and closing on a home.

Nesto’s core value propositions are speed and simplicity. Rather than having to go from bank to bank until you find a rate that works for you, or using the services of a mortgage broker whose fees increase in proportion to the interest rate, Nesto will search the rates of 22 different financial institutions in seconds. Ordinarily, banks have some wiggle room on rates so when seeking a mortgage rate from the bank, a customer needs to negotiate to get the best deal. But Nesto provides only the “floor rate,” so users don’t need to negotiate.

According to Aubut, not only is the initial rate search fast, but so too is the approval process. From start to finish, it can happen in under a week, at least four days faster than the normal 11 to 22 day approval time at a bank or with a broker.

It’s pretty clear that Nesto doesn’t want to feel or look like a mortgage company or bank. Aubut wants to ensure an emotional response and hopes to rely on the injection of a sense of fun into the personality of the brand. So far, the humour comes through in the videos, and the fun comes through in the visual language of the brand, which employs a lighthearted interplay of vivid, contrasting colours and bold geometric forms.

In addition to the traditional financing sources, Nesto also needs to stand out from other online mortgage shopping tools, like Ratehub. Aside from Ratehub’s more restrained visual language, the more substantive difference between these two brands is that
Nesto is 100% focused on mortgages, compared to Ratehub’s wider range of financial services.

Aubut’s many years in senior and executive digital roles prepare him for finding effective ways to reach and engage a digital-savvy audience. The fintech had previously experimented with Facebook ads, but it wanted to see if it could leverage the top of the funnel to drive a click-through direct response at the bottom. After running only direct response ads, Nesto and its partner Jungle Media tried running a brand awareness campaign at the same time and then measuring the difference.

The results were very positive. A joint conversion and brand lift study done with 1.7 million respondents revealed that the combined approach delivered a 7.6-point lift in ad recall, a 42% increase in incremental applications and 9,221 incremental “view content” conversions. For the 1.7 million users seeing the direct response campaigns in conjunction with the brand awareness videos, an extra 130,000 recalled the ads and nearly 26,000 remembered Nesto specifically.

As for engagement, the website offers a solid mix of content and functionality, with articles on topics ranging from mortgage basics to renewal and refinancing. The “nesto-meter” is a monthly roundup of mortgage shopper insights, and there’s an Advice section aimed at the uninitiated – which, unless you are in the real estate business, means everybody.