Why Isn't My Mortgage Web Site
Bringing In Any New Clients?

Article by: Doug Perry

This has got to be one of the most-often asked questions since the advent of the internet. Fortunately, there are some wise insights and simple answers to this huge question for online mortgage entrepreneurs.

Although the list of reasons why your mortgage web site isn't bringing in any new clients can be quite long, I have listed six potential areas of concern to consider if your mortgage web site isn't doing well on the internet.

1) The Billboard-in-the-back-yard Problem
This is a common term in the marketing business. Essentially, what it refers to is: You may have the best billboard advertisement in the world sitting in your back yard where nobody can see it.

In other words, you might have a great mortgage company, the most experienced staff, the lowest rates, some really dynamic loan programs, excellent customer service and advertise it on the most user-friendly web site money can buy, but it will not do you a bit of good if nobody knows it's there.

Most people claim that they advertise all of the time, and are frustrated with the fact that they get almost no response with their ads. What can you do about this? Here's a big hint: learn to write and test your own ads by learning a few simple rules (see "The A.I.D.A. Formula...Rules For Ads That Work", and "Baiting The Hook").

You need to advertise the right way! If you're just getting started in advertising, you can get an introduction and some great hints by reading the article on Where Should I Advertise? Q & A's. There are many easy ways to advertise on (and off) the internet.

2) The Web Site Vicious Circle
I am totally at a loss for words when it comes to explaining why this common phenomenon even exists. The vicious circle I'm referring to is: None of the loan consultants knows anything about the company web site, how to navigate it nor even knows the web site address, yet the web site gets no business, so why promote it and encourage the loan consultants to use it?

One of the most convenient, time-saving and cost efficient ways to make your web site presence grow quickly is to direct your clients to your web site to fill out the online application. When borrowers experience the benefits of the loan process from the convenience of their own home, and how quickly they get an approval, they invariably tell others about your company and your web site.

Your mortgage web site is one of the most powerful tools you will ever have. If you don't familiarize your staff with your web site and encourage them to use it, you are missing one of the greatest word-of-mouth opportunities you will ever have. Don't get caught up in this vicious circle.

3) The Meta Tag Mystery
If you talk to ten different webmasters, you will get ten different methods of the proper way to put your meta tags on the pages of your web site. What are meta tags? To be over-simplistic, meta tags are HTML tags in the HTML code on your web site that tell the search engines where to find you.

Specifically, meta tags give a DESCRIPTION of your web site contents and your services on your web site, the KEYWORDS to match what visitors might type into a search engine to find you and instructions to the search engine ROBOTS to carry out when they SPIDER your web site and all of its pages.

Many people I know personally have paid literally thousands of dollars up front and hundreds of dollars per month to web site development companies who never even put the meta tags on their clients' web sites. Check to see if your <META> tags are on all of the pages of your web site. Just get online and go to your web site, click on "View" at the top of your browser, then click on "Page Source", or "Source" in the drop-down menu. Your meta tags should be near the top of your HTML code.

There is no mystery about meta tags themselves, but a huge mystery why webmasters don't include them when they create a web site. If your meta tags are missing, have your web master put them in right away. This could be the answer to some big questions like: "Why is my web site traffic so low?", or "why don't I rank higher on the search engines?"

4) The Ugly Web Site Problem
Is your web site ugly? I always think about someone showing me a new-born baby and asking: "Isn't he beautiful?" While it's true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, web sites tend to have the same problem as babies when it comes to honesty - no one will tell you it's ugly!

Many mortgage brokers take the time to learn the basics of HTML so they can create their own web sites. I encourage this. However, they are emotionally attached to it because they have worked long and hard to accomplish their goal. Unfortunately, emotions don't necessarily coincide with good judgment and your web site visitors may leave your site the second it pops up.

It could be that the creator of your web site doesn't really have an eye for graphics, or even know what will work on a mortgage web site, and what won't work. Some creative brokers ask their staff how the site they created looks. Do they expect the truth? They have about as much chance of hearing the truth about their web site creation as they do about their toupee. Why ask your staff? Are they experienced mortgage web site developers trained to create sites that appeal to online borrowers?

Let a professional create your web site if you're new to the game. Choose your web site developer wisely. Ask to see other examples of their work. Ask if they mind if you call and talk to some of their clients. Get a list of web sites they have created if you can. If they don't offer this information, find someone else.

If your web site isn't bringing in new clients, perhaps it's ugly. Remember, the internet is a source of information, but it is also a form of entertainment. Even borrowers like to be entertained.

5) Functionality, The Key To A Web Site Winner:
Mortgage web sites can be plagued by too many problems to mention here, but a short list of questions you should ask yourself will give you an idea of whether your site needs some work.

Is your web site pleasing to look at? Do all of the links work? Do you have an online application? Do borrowers fill out your online application? Do you have online calculators? Can you navigate to anywhere from anywhere on your site? Is your contact information on every page? Is your email address on every page? Are your meta tags on every page? Do you have an information request form? Does your site have mortgage information reports to educate your borrowers? Is there too much information on your site? Not enough information? Is the spelling and grammar correct on your site?

If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, you need to correct these problems as soon as possible. Some of these are simple problems that can be easily overlooked, yet detrimental to your online survival. These are functional details that will turn off your borrowers if they aren't taken care of (like misspellings).

Additional functionality and ease of use are desired commodities on the internet. The more advanced your mortgage technology and the easier programs and information are to find and use, the greater the satisfaction will be for your borrowers.

6) Making Sense Of Web Site Templates:
Very few mortgage web site templates are worth the money you pay. Some templates are over-marketed leaving you with a web site that looks like 700 other mortgage web sites on the internet. What does this tell you? It tells you that they are fairly inexpensive and easy to set up. This attracts those who are too busy (or too lazy) to look into doing it right.

Beware of mortgage web site development companies that advertise "Set Up Your Web Site In 5 Minutes!" What this means is that the entire program is very limited as to how personalized you can make your web site without paying extra money. You may be able to change to a different look or create your own text, but the look you end up with is still that of the company you're getting the site from.

There are some excellent companies that offer mortgage web site templates that you have the option to alter to look like your company. Here's some things you should look for when choosing a mortgage web site template to work from:

Look for a mortgage web site template that allows you to:

  • Upload your own graphics with no restrictions on file size
  • Change the content on any page at will
  • Access the raw HTML code for dynamic changes
  • Add pages as you need them to accommodate your growth
  • Add buttons to your navigation as needed
  • Access blank template pages and blank buttons for creating your own pages that may not be a part of the original design
  • Delete pages you may not want
  • Add as many pages as you want without additional charges (within reason)
  • Add additional functionality and programs of your choice
  • Download the pages into your own HTML editor to make changes and upload the changed pages back to the server.

No mater how many changes you make, in most cases the template will still belong to the company who's template you began using. This means you will still owe the monthly fee and will be restricted to hosting it on their server where they can maintain control. To move the web site to a different host without permission is probably against your licensing agreement and a violation of Copyright law.

Another important consideration is whether or not your template, and its mortgage application program, are housed in a database along with other clients of the hosting company. More than once this year there were news stories about loans going to the wrong companies and borrower files exposed on the internet because of security problems or improperly set permissions to the database where these files are stored.

To say the least, choosing a company that offers mortgage web site templates is a major decision that should be considered carefully.

On The Bright Side

I have clients who were doing virtually nothing on the internet two years ago, but stuck with it and now claim to be doing around 70% of their mortgage business online. They are also quite internet savvy now due to keeping up with the technology available to them and not giving up.

The internet is not going to go away! Computer technology is not going to go away. Look ahead to where the mortgage business is headed and ask yourself a few questions: Is your mortgage web site geared to bring in new borrowers? Is it up to snuff with today's technology? Are your staff and your loan consultants familiar with and actively using your web site? Are you doing everything you can to make your past and future clients aware of your online capabilities?

For those of you who have been putting off learning the in's and out's of the online mortgage business, I will tell you this: Developing a successful online mortgage presence is easier than it sounds. You will learn it faster than you expected. And, in a very short time, you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Seize the day!


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Doug Perry is the developer of a large number of mortgage lending web sites and is currently President of Click1003 where he develops Interactive Online Mortgage Application Software that integrates into all major loan origination systems for the mortgage industry. Doug is also President and Managing Editor of Mortgage Marketing Online, a web site devoted to helping the lending industry learn and apply marketing techniques to their online and offline lending businesses. As a loan consultant and California Mortgage Broker, Doug served eight years originating loans in California.

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