Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mortgage Web Site Myths

Confusion exists on the Internet, because it is so new. Conjecture, once quoted, becomes folklore. These factors lead to misperceptions on the Internet such as:

* The Internet is one big brochure.
* I must have a 'fresh' site.
* Visitors will take the time to read my site.
* Customers will easily find me.
* I will test the net first to see if it really works.
* I need some of those whirling, twirling graphics on my site.
* I must submit to every known search engine in the universe.
* I must provide outbound links for my clients.
* If my site is good, my visitors won't mind waiting just a bit.
* A .net domain is just as good as a .com domain.
* Only large sites succeed.

So if you don't want your site to be recalled only via tribal memory from stories told by your web master; you need to be aware of the following. Here are a few Internet myths that impact companies specializing in mortgage loans.

"I Put My Brochure Up On The Net."

The letters www used to stand for 'world wide web'; now it stands for 'what we want'. Mortgage sites can no longer put up what they want to tell the customer, they have to include information as to what the clients are seeking.

Moral: What works in the real world, doesn't work on the net.

Fresh Mortgage Site

Many web site owners feel they have to keep the information 'fresh' on their site, constantly updating content. Well, if you are CNN or a stock quote site this makes sense. But for most mortgage sites you only get one shot at a visitor. Your potential customer is not returning time and time again to your site. You need to put your best information on your site and leave it alone until you have better information.

Tip: The only item that requires 'fresh' content are your mortgage rates.

Fire All Of Your Guns At Once, And Explode Into Netspace.

Your web site may have hundreds of pages, great information and fantastic rates, but your customer has little time to read your site. An April 2000 study by Nielsen/NetRatings found that people spent as little as two minutes on the most successful movie web sites. This is for an entertainment, so you would expect a visitor to take their time and have a leisurely stroll through the movie site. Now imagine how long visitors will spend on your site. You have about 30 seconds to convince the user to stay and go deeper.

In the first paragraph have an entire overview of your site. An example might read: This web site provides new home loans and refinancing starting at 6.5%. Additionally VA and FHA loans are available. Bad credit loans and second trust deeds are currently not available from our company. You can email us at info@thisdomain.com or call our toll free number 800-OUR-RATES.

Moral: fire all of your guns at once. Put your most important message first…at the top of the page.

"People Will Easily Find Me."

A quick check of a major search engine, AltaVista.com shows 1.5 million web pages with the word "loans" on them and 115,000 web pages with the specific phrase "home loans". It is a competitive with over 300,000 new web pages added every day, many of them in financial services.

Moral: Marketing on the net is harder than the real world, but can be more productive.

"I Will Dip My Toe In The Water First…"

I can get by with a low cost site. A poorly designed site communicates a less professional company to your potential customers. With the opportunity to earn $1,000 to $5,000 in commissions per loan, be sure not cut corners in your appearance.

Design For Show, Content For Dough

A study by the Stanford Poynter Project (using the same technological gear to track internet user eye movements that the Air Force uses to monitor pilot eye movements) found the following:

Web Page Element % Viewing Element

Article text 92%
Article summaries 82%
Photographs 64%
Graphics 22%

Moral: Content is what people are seeking. Keep your headlines simple and to the point. Have nice graphics…but don't overdo it.

If Submission To One Search Engine Is Good, Submission To 1,000 Is Great.

The major search portals (Yahoo, HotBot, Lycos etc.) will account for 99% of your search engine traffic.

Moral: Submissions to hundreds of lesser engines will account for 99% of your inbound spam email.

It Pays To Be Popular

Several major search portals, including Google.com (which now supplies Yahoo with findings) and Snap.com use link popularity as an indicator of how 'important' a site is. The greater number of quality links to your site, the higher your rankings will be in these engines.

Moral: spend time getting quality links as part of your marketing effort.

They Check In But They Don't Check Out

Once your customer arrives at your site, you do not want to make other sites 'popular'. You do not want to make an easy way for your potential clients to leave you so eliminate or minimize links to sites that don't benefit your site directly. Common examples of this include links to Netscape or Internet Explorer; links to nonprofit associations, etc.

Moral: Keep your customers on your web site; do not let them check out.

Fine Wine Gets Better With Waiting, But Not Your Customers

Your web designer says that this introduction is "worth the wait". It whirls and twirls and plays cool music. Mortgage customers are coming for mortgage information, not entertainment.

Moral: Flashy stuff builds the ego of web designers. It does not create income for mortgage web site owners

Is A .Net Domain Good Just As Good As .Com?

A few domain facts: Over 75% of all domain names registered end in*.com.
About 14 million domains names have been registered to date (meaning if you are looking for a good domain name, you are probably too late).
For the first quarter of 2000 about 5 million domains were taken; that is about 39 domains a minute are acquired.

With these facts, many look to 'lesser' extensions (*.net, *.org etc.) in hopes of getting a decent descriptive domain name. The problem is that with so many *.com names, people assume your name is *.com, even if you tell them it is myloandomain.net. They will actually hear myloandomain.com and go visit your competitor.

Moral: a *.com name is the best option. You may have to examine buying a domain name from a domain broker to get the correct descriptive name for your site.

Only Large Sites Succeed.

You can create your own success story and dispel the myth that only large sites succeed if you budget both the needed monies and time to have a strong Internet presence. But just like the real world, the Internet is a competitive arena; especially for mortgage companies.

Tip: Give your customers what they want: information on rates and programs. Eliminate confusion on your web site. A clean, effective, and content rich web page produces more business than flash and whirls. A mortgage company specializing and focusing on their niche can outperform much larger companies due to the power of the net.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.


Mortgage Web Site Myths
Originally published August 2000

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