Thursday, April 5, 2007

Does Your Web Site Require a Premortem


A postmortem is conducted after your web site has died. Management gathers, wrings their hands and wonders what went wrong. In a premortem, you simply imagine a date in the future and accept that your web site has failed. Next you analyze "what happened". Could it have been design, not enough traffic, high interest rates, poor customer service or a combination of factors.

When doing the premortem exercise, it is necessary to drop all your assumptions and attempt to envision the unthinkable. Here is a premortem checklist:

Site Design: Is your web site professional in design and appearance? Internet visitors are quick to judge your site by how your page appears to them. Their initial impression will determine whether to explore your site or go to your competitors.

Owner Ego: Does your web site start off with a message from the President touting customer service, commitment to excellence and integrity? While these are all important, they are not what a customer wants to see initially. Your visitor may ultimately want to get "warm and fuzzy" by reading information on your company, but initially they want information on rates and programs.

Designer Ego: Do you have a Flash-animated introduction spelling out your mortgage company name or showing image after image of homes, percentage marks and dollar signs? Worse yet, is there a "Repeat Intro" at the end of the Flash animation? Visitors want to get directly to the information they desire, not watch the equivalent a movie trailer preview.

Irrelevant & Off-Site Links: Does your site have links to Netscape, Microsoft Explorer, your web designer, your Internet host? Do you link to trade organizations, the association of Realtors or an off-site loan calculator page? Unless these links generate revenue for you, get rid of them. Focus entirely on links that benefit your company and your clients. It is exceptionally difficult to attract traffic and many mortgage companies make it very easy to leave the site.

Navigation: Virtually every site on the net is unique in their own way. While this allows a mortgage site owner to provide its own personality on their web pages, it also poses problems for the visitor, as they have to learn how to use a web site every time they visit. To make this easier on the customer we suggest a left hand side, or top, navigational structure. The navigation bar should be consistent on every web page and, when possible, avoid drop down boxes or java script driven menu's. Not all your visitors surmise that there are 30 additional links hidden under a single word like "Rates"

Content: Do not underestimate the power of the word. Pictures and graphics are nice, but words sell your site. Words are the key to unlocking your customer's interest in your site.

Clickability: Make all your links easy to find. The easiest way to do this is make a hyperlink in red or blue and underline. This allows your visitor to know where they can get more information. Some designers will argue that a web page looks "cleaner" by being all the same color and no underlines, but "cleaner" doesn't lead to sales.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Imagine a web site as a newspaper. People look at your site and they want easily determine if your web site meets their needs. In example, if you provide bad credit loans, your USP, at the top of the web page, might read - "Bad Credit Loans for People With Less Than Perfect Credit."

You must state your USP at the top of every web page. At the top of your loan calculators page it could state, "Mortgage Loan Calculators for Bad Credit Home Loans." If your visitor doesn't see what they want, they will leave.

Domain Name: When potential customers visits a search engine and types something like "San Diego home loans" and the first listing is MMC-Corp.com, the second is SecondTrustDeedsInCA.com and the third is SanDiegoHomeLoans.com, which do you think is most likely to be clicked upon?

Make sure your domain name is descriptive. If your company name isn't descriptive enough, then buy an additional domain that will confirm the nature of your site to your visitor.

Death By Killer App: We have seen many mortgage companies that allow their Internet customer service reps to respond to emails using their own personal email, like: loanlady@aol.com, WallyBear@hotmail.com, BornToBoogie@msn.com or hotloans4you@yahoo.com. All your correspondence must be with your domain name. Two problems occur when you don't use the company domain name in replying: 1) It is unprofessional in appearance, and 2) If your employee leaves, the customer still has your employees address and not your company email address - you could lose customers.

Poor Customer Response: Customers expect their emails to be answered promptly. While the time frame of "promptly" varies with the individual's perception, we find that mortgage companies that answer within one hour tend to have greater success on the net. Conversely we see that companies that take longer than 24 hours to respond have poor results.

Internet Advertising: A common cause of web site death is still believing that the "Internet is free." It is not... it has been highly commercialized and in most of the search portals, the top bids are influenced by how much the web site paid to be listed.

Black Sheep Syndrome: Some mortgage site owners don't "get the net" and have a web site simply because they feel they must. They spend little time and effort on the site and thus it does not perform.

Contact Info: Provide contact information on EVERY page. The contact information should, at a minimum include: company name (hyperlinked back to the main page), address, toll free number, direct line with area code (because if a client is overseas, but moving back to the US, the toll free won't work), email address(es), hours of operation (including time zone, i.e. EST).

There are hundreds of ways a web site can die. If you spend just a bit of time on providing preventive health programs, your web site can live a long and prosperous life.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published February 2003.

Labels: , , , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home