The Internet Cake Recipe for Success
As all web site owners eventually find out, an effective Internet presence is more than a snappy design or a page full of spinning graphics. It is not enough just to produce a site; you have to produce a site that produces results.
First, as in the real world, you must realize your mortgage company does not exist to sell just mortgages; it exists to solve problems for your customers. And if you solve their problems…you will sell mortgages. If your mortgage site does not provide solutions for your prospective customer, you will not receive business from that customer.
Four Cups Of Flour, Two Eggs, Bake…
Effective web sites are created much like a cake recipe. If you leave out any ingredient (flour, eggs, water/milk) or a certain step (baking), the cake will not turn out as you planned. Our company has developed numerous web sites and in that process we have fine-tuned many of the required business model elements in order to produce successful web sites. There are at least ten simple elements necessary for your mortgage Internet business to be effective.
And as with a cake recipe, if ANY element is missing, you will NOT have an effective Internet presence.
Here are at a minimum, the elements required for a successful mortgage site:
· Product - Service
· Design - Appearance
· Convenience - Layout - Navigation
· USP - Competitive Advantage
· Data - Information - Knowledge
· Content - Trust
· Price - Quality - Value
· Traffic - Marketing
· Sales - Profit
· Customer Relationship Management
Product Service: You must clearly state (at the top of each page) what you are offering to your customers. Examples of products can be VA home loans or home equity loans. Examples of service would be loan servicing or escrow.
Additionally you must have a viable product or service. We always tell our clients that “if you can’t sell it in the real world, it won’t sell on the net”.
Design Appearance: A common misconception is that a “wow” site will result in more business. That really isn’t true. We find that the appearance of your site is usually scored as a “pass fail” by your visitors: if you have a nice site you pass, and they will stay. But a site that is drab and unprofessional you fail, and it will cost you business, as your potential customers will leave…and go to one of your competitors.
Convenience Layout Navigation: Once your visitor decides to stay on your web site you must offer an easy way to navigate your web pages. By placing your most important information at the top of your page and having a well-defined navigational menu, you become convenient to your visitor and save them time. Your layout should be consistent throughout your site. So if you have your navigational menu on the left, keep on the left on every page.
USP Competitive Advantage: You have to position yourself as an expert in your niche. You must state your USP (unique selling position) at the top of every web page so that visitors know they are at the “right site.” Examples of USP’s are: We close fast on FHA loans. We specialize in problem credit loans.
Data Information Knowledge: Data is simply factual information. Average sites provide data to their customers and the customer processes the data.
Information is data that is organized so it can be used to process who, what, why, where and what questions. Good web sites organize the data to provide information to their customers.
Knowledge is the application of data and information into understanding. Great web sites provide knowledge for their customers; ie instead of just a home equity loan, take out an entirely new home loan as your monthly costs will be lower than what you would have paid with your existing first loan plus the home equity loan.
A great mortgage site that emphasizes knowledge allows your visitors to use your web site as a tool, thus increasing the utility of your site and causing visitors to find value and trust with your company.
Content Trust: It is not only the information on your site, but how your content is delivered. You must sculpt the words on your web site to convey your image, your style and your message in a professional and compelling manner. Since the Internet predominantly uses the written word, your ability to communicate with the content of your site, will determine the success of your site. A well-written site will convey trust…and trust will lead to sales.
Price Quality Value: Because your customer can quickly and easily search the web, the price and quality of your product or service (coupled with the customer’s perceived value of your site) is important in the customer's decision-making process.
Traffic Marketing: What good is it if you built a web site and nobody came? Traffic building is probably the most difficult aspect of the following elements. With hundreds of thousands of competing web sites, you must target the type of customers you can best serve.
Sales Profit: You cannot give your product or service away. Sure there are loss leaders, but ultimately you must generate a profit; after the day to day operating costs plus the long term cost of capital. And you need sales to keep your business afloat. If you are “just 1-2 points” higher than other sites, you will not receive loans from the Internet.
Customer Relationship Management: While this is the current business buzzword, very few web sites practice the online version of this concept. Make it easy to call you (put your toll free number and e-mail hyperlink at the top and bottom of every page) and include information about your company. Respond back to emails within hours and return all your phone calls.
The Internet Cake Recipe
You now have the necessary ingredients to produce a successful web site. Simply provide a quality product or service at a reasonable price, write compelling content, with an effective design, plus an easy to follow layout, and then market your site to the net, which results in a constant stream of targeted traffic and visitors directly to your web site, then by offering great customer service you will achieve sales.
It will be the best cake you ever had; if you do it right…
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