Thursday, April 5, 2007

Can Words Cure Your Web Site?


I recently went to my local pharmacy to look for something for athlete's foot. There were about five options, each with quite an array of packaging and various headline banners screaming at me plus each product had its own "team" colors. I narrowed down my purchase to two boxes.

One said, "Relieve Athlete's Foot Symptoms Fast" and the other said "Cures Athletes Foot." I picked up each box and read the active ingredients and they were different; I assumed both worked or they wouldn't be touting their claims. I ended up buying the product that "Cures Athletes Foot" because while I wanted the symptoms to go away, what I really wanted was to be cured.

Now what does athlete's foot have to do with your mortgage web site? Each person arrives at your site with an itch; a problem that they are looking for you, or your competitor, to fix. And because most mortgage loan companies look essentially the same, visitors have to use your "packaging" and "words" to determine which web site will cure their problem.

Your words determine if the visitor becomes a customer. There is an example from the Tom Peters "In Search of Excellence" book which compares the expiration dates on fruit drinks. One company prints, "Expires on 1-25-04" on their product while the others states, "Best enjoyed by 1-25-04". Now the difference is subtle, but the "best enjoyed" has better wording.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Gets Going

If you make it hard for your customers to use your web site through layout design, navigational issues or barriers to entry, you will lose them. They will simply leave.

Many loan companies create a tremendous obstacle to overcome before using their web site in earnest, "To begin your loan application process your must first create a user account."

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda

This Yoda saying can teach us a little about reaching our visitors and converting them into customers. Don't try and be of service to your visitors, take the extra time to just be of service. Use the correct words to communicate this to your visitors.

Which sounds better? One web site, which will remain nameless, states, "Click here to fill out the form and then we will contact you." Eloan.com says, "Click here to receive your loan. It takes just 4 minutes, get a decision in 90 seconds, and get a call back in 15 minutes." DiTech.com says, "Our online application is quick and easy. Why wait?" See how the more successful companies take the time to sculpt their wording?

Which sounds better? "We try to do our best for each and every customer," or "Our Guarantee -- Our loan consultants will help you: Get the lowest rates, points, and fees; close on-time and avoid closing costs surprises or you get $500 back when you fund your loan with us" Eloan.com, says the latter.

Which sounds better? "Get your loan here," or "It is easy to get a loan with us, simply apply online, schedule a convenient time for us to call you or call us now at 1-800-THIS IS EASY."
Freddiemac.com has a tart, not-too-friendly comment, "Do Business with Us: Go directly to our forms and premier web-based applications to transact business."

Are you making those subtle wording differences at your web site? Make your web site friendly, easy, convenient, helpful and professional; and use content wording that answers the questions that the visitor is seeking.

Give To Get

People are like banks, you must make deposits before you make withdrawals. You must give your visitor what they want; to get what you want. Here are some examples:

LendingTree.com says, "Calculate how much you can borrow. If you're still renting, use our renting vs. buying calculator to see the benefits of buying a home with today's low rates. More calculators... "

They also say, "Let LendingTree help make your dream home a reality. Completing your loan request should take about 15-20 minutes. See a checklist of information you will need to complete your form."

Be helpful to your visitors. It is as important to tell your customers what you don't do; as to what you do. Here is a sample off of a web site illustrating this.

Loan Types Not Offered:
  • Multi-unit rental properties with more than 4 units
  • Manufactured homes (pre-built)
  • Mobile homes
  • Refinancing properties listed for sale
  • Construction loans
  • Land loans
  • Bridge loans
  • FHA/VA loans
  • Commercial property
  • Condos over 4 stories
Other Helpful Phrases

Many successful sites use the following wording to communicate how they solve the customer’s problems:
  • Use our calculator to determine if you should refinance.
  • Consider your refinancing options.
  • How to understand rates and costs.
  • Home loans unbiased advice.
  • One-on-one service.
  • Zero down & money back.
  • Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are at your service.
  • Our fixed fee structure will never change during your loan process.
  • No fees prior to closing and no cancellation charges give you the freedom to choose with no obligations.
Oh, that athlete's foot? The "Cures Athletes Foot" took care of it. The wording on the box answered my question and then did what it said it would do. Your web site should do the same.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published February 2004.

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