Friday, April 6, 2007

When Good Web Sites Go Bad


This really isn't breaking news, but there are a substantial number of web sites that while they look great, the sites just don't generate much income for mortgage companies. Sometimes the owner will say, "This Internet thing, it just doesn't work." Generally the owner is wrong in their assumption.

We have been online since 1996. We have made our share of mistakes and most certainly we have marveled at mistakes that occur on other sites. Here is a list of mistakes "good" web sites can make.


Getting To "No"

Too often seemingly good web sites want to concentrate on getting a "Yes" out of the customer. Great web sites utilize a technique where the goal is learning how to get the customer to say "No."

As you are aware, a successful loan is a long series of steps, each of which must be completed perfectly, or the loan doesn't close.


You Prequalify the Customer, Why Not Prequalify the Visitor

Make your web site really work for you. Make your web site screen out potential inquiries that you can't service. In example, maybe you can only provide loans in California. Unless you have a mechanism for servicing loans from other states, do you really want your staff spending time on the phone with someone only to ultimately learn they are outside your service area? If you don't provide loans for land, co-ops or retail shopping centers, you should have a list of the loans you can provide, followed by a list that you can't offer.

Your goal is that if you are going to have a customer say "No," you want that to occur before you expend energy in processing. You want to find out if you are going to have problems up front, not 3 weeks into the adventure. You can word your web site to tactfully allow people who don't qualify, not to contact you. This allows you to receive inquiries from customers that you can help.


I Want! I Want! I Want!

One of the secrets to a successful business is often overlooked when having a web site: Give the customer what they want, and you will get what you want.

Seems simple, but so often we only look at our own site, through our own eyes, and not the customers. In example, if you are a provider of "sub prime loans" that term may accurately describe your business, but your customers are NOT typing in that term, because they don't know what that is and so they type "bad credit loan."

In effect you could have a good looking web site, that doesn't perform.

Here are a few common mistakes with regards to web sites:

  • Looking good? Always view your site on another machine. You will be surprised at how different your site looks on a machine with a bigger monitor or with an older version of Internet Explorer or with AOL or with an alternative browser such as Opera or Mozilla Firefox will make your site look.

  • A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand pictures is not worth a million words. Some sites seems to add too many graphics in order to look nice, but they can be a hindrance to your site. Graphics should be like perfume; it should augment, not overpower.

  • Perform the hardest test on your site. Have your mother-in-law go to your site and listen to her feedback. You will discover how many obvious features to you, are not obvious to her.

  • Pay attention to the little stuff. Does your site still say "Copyright 2005" (or earlier)?

  • Your customer wants to know how they can benefit and save money by using your company instead of one of the thousands of other companies online.


  • Is your site consistent and easy to navigate?
Batting Leadoff?

Is your most important information on every page, at the TOP of the screen shot your customer sees? You have to keep your eyes on the prize. If you are trying to sell mortgages, then that information needs to be at the top of every page.

Don't provide extraneous information in prime real estate areas of your web page. We have seen sites that show how a mortgage company softball team is doing or a long rambling message from the owner on how it was to do mortgages in the 1980's. You can have that info, if you need to, but just don't let it get in the way on your primary objective of providing loans to customers.

Time to Think About Time

If you think your time is important. The customer is not really concerned with your time... they are very concerned with theirs. If you waste their time, you will not get their business. Keep these factors in mind when writing your content, and then displaying it on your web site.

Here are a few more tips to help keep your good site good.

With Quality You Only Pay Once

  • Hire winners. Just like in real life, you usually get what you pay for. If you constructed your web site by offering your neighbors kid a $100 bill, you may end up with a site that looks nice, but fails to have the proper HTML coding or meta tags that could actually cause your site to be banned by the search engine.

  • Use real email. If the name of your company is MortgagePromote.com, have each employee use an email address with MortgagePromote.com in it, ie, Robert@MortgagePromote.com. Don't use a hotmail.com or aol.com or yahoo.com or gmail.com or your-ISP-provider.com email. Your email may get tagged as spam and if it gets through, you will appear to be amateurish or unprofessional by using an email other than your own domain name.

  • Use quality software. If you are having difficulty managing contacts, use a PIM software such as ACT or Goldmine. If your email program isn't as productive as you want, try using Eudora. If your site is difficult to upkeep, try a program like FrontPage.
These Clicks Are Going To Walk All Over You

  • Don't be fooled by numbers. Not all website traffic is created equal. Just because you are receiving a substantial amount of traffic, doesn't mean that they are all relevant to your site. I know of a Nevada mortgage site, that bought hundreds and hundreds of pay per click (PPC) words, including the singular word "Las Vegas." They had substantial traffic for the term "Las Vegas" but these visitors weren't looking for loans. The result was an expensive lesson in PPC costs and untargeted audiences.

  • Poor PPC Conversions. If you are getting traffic, but not sales, then one of two things is wrong. Either you have high interest rates or you there is something wrong with your site such as bad content or it is difficult to contact you via your site.

The bad news is that truly good sites are hard to find. The good news is that there are mostly bad sites on the Internet. If you can improve your mortgage site just a bit, you can make a good site into a great site.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published February 2006.

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