Thursday, April 5, 2007

Is Your 'Killer App' Killing Your Business?

There are many killer app's on the Net, one of the more powerful applications remains email; especially requested email. Email is a cost effective customer-service application and is the single most efficient method available to a mortgage company.

So why are so many mortgage companies 'killing' themselves with poor emails?

Just like everything else on the Net, these companies were never told the "right" way or the "wrong" way.

Email Is So Simple a Child Could Do It

Anyone can send an email -- just look at your inbox. The real management issue is how to send a compelling email in response to a customer inquiry. An email that will meet the needs of your potential customer and will result in increased business for your company. Let's review a few of the elements required to make your email responses result in success.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Focus. Focus. Focus. The mortgage web sites that produce the most business tends to be focused; plus offer attractive pricing. We still see a few sites that have links to Amazon or to life insurance sites or wherever. Don’t dilute your site with these banners or distracting ads as your business is loans. And a loan is worth more money than you will ever make from Amazon in a lifetime.

If you offer FHA loans, your site should have everything people ‘need to know’ as they are searching for information and seeking an expert. It is not enough to say, “Hey, we do FHA.” If your site is void of substance, you won’t receive email because…

The Journey of a Thousand Sites Begins with a Single Click

Before we discuss email, let’s focus on your site; where customers go before they send email. Searching for information on the net can be a grueling process, but ultimately people find what they want (or give up). Your key to success is offering the information that people want...on your site. If you do a good job at this, the only emails you will receive are from customers ready to proceed.

Don't Break My Heart

Online (as in the real world) you must have a continuous set of UNBROKEN events that culminates in a closed loan...and a happy customer. If just one sequential item breaks, the loan does not go through. It can break your heart (and your cash flow) when you don’t close as many loans as possible. So let’s examine the email process.

I Am Spam, Spam I Am, Am I Spam?

The subject line of your response is critical.

You don't want to sound like a Dr. Suess book.

By replying with just the words in the subject line: "mortgage loans" you can fool the client into thinking it is possibly an unsolicited email. The subject line should be much more descriptive so the customer knows it is not spam and the email is an important reply from your company.

We would suggest a subject line that says "Response to your loan inquiry - XYZ Mortgage" or better yet, “Alicia, this is in response to home loan inquiry from XYZ Mortgage."

Measure Twice, Cut Once

We suggest that our clients compose template responses to emails. Most companies will require 5-10 standard responses such as: “Our current interest rates are,” or “Here are the loan application steps.” When constructing your emails be sure NOT TO SHOUT (all caps) and don’t use excessive punctuation like this!!!!!!

One of the problems with visitor created email is that they generally don’t know everything to ask, i.e. “I asked for this, but I really meant...” By developing a comprehensive FAQ list and incorporating the FAQ’s into your email (and onto your web site) you can be of great service to your customers.

Up Front and Personal

There is a joke that goes as follows: “My spouse keeps complaining that I never listen, or something like that.”

When a potential customer visits your web site and requests information; are you really sending what they requested? The critical aspect to using a template response is to place the answer to the customer’s question first and at the top of your email reply. Even though the answer to the customer’s inquiry is embedded in your comprehensive FAQ; copy and paste the answer and place it at the top of the email so they customer can easily find it.

The moral of the story is to answer the customer’s question FIRST. If not, all your efforts to build a web site, drive customers, and to convince the visitor to give you lost.

I'm Late, I'm Late. For a Very Important Date.

Your response time to a customer inquiry is crucial. If you expect to gain additional business from the Internet you need to respond in a very timely manner. And in Internet time, that generally means within a few hours.

I Be Professional. Iz You Guys?

A professional appearance is vital so your customers feel comfortable working and completing their loan with your organization. Your email response must be free of typos and utilize proper grammar. Items such as missing punctuation, layout problems, and capitalization of words, should be corrected before sending to the customer.

Leave a Trail For Your Customers

One of the most overlooked aspects of a great email response is the "signature" at the end of the email. It should comprehensive so the person can contact your company via email or phone or so they can go back to the web site with a click of the mouse.

The elements of an effective signature are:

  • name, title

  • mailing address

  • email address

  • direct, fax & toll free numbers

  • hyperlink back to your web site

  • Competitive Intelligence

    And finally, you may want to consider a little competitive intelligence work and visit those sites that offer the same mortgage services as you. Complete their application forms (using a Hotmail or AOL address) and receive their email responses. You may be surprised at what you find.

    You are in a very competitive business (some say cut throat), so by using the full power of your follow-up email's, you can make a 'killing.'

    For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

    Originally published May 2001

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