It is hard to stand out among the tens, hundreds, thousands of internet companies available to potential mortgage customers. In this month’s article, I am going to mention a few smart things that separate successful mortgage firms from their competitors.
My business partner, Robert, is a Wall Street Journal junkie. He is always reading about how companies do business online, then we discuss his findings and see what we can do for ourselves and our clients, if anything. Robert recently read about a company that converts those thousands of snapshots you have around the house into digital images. One of the companies mentioned, ScanMyPhotos.com, had an all-you-can-put into a box for $99 special. I purchased their box, filled it with the about 2,000 snapshots, dropped it in the prepaid box they sent me. Then, just four days (that is smart doing such fast turnaround) later I got the box back with all my pictures plus a DVD with the digitized images. Apparently they have some high tech machine that takes a stack of regular photos and converts them to jpg images. Here is where it got real smart…
Out of all those images I included, they actually selected one that they guessed was my family, and took my family picture and put it onto a postcard coupon for 30% off. In fact, four postcard coupons, all with my family’s picture, so I could send it to friends so they would receive a discount on their order. I even gave Robert a coupon since he actually found the company.
This past Valentine’s Day I ordered flowers online for my mother, as I always do. I typically buy from a company called GrowerFlowers.com because I first tried them quite a few years ago, and they always had performed.
There is a little lesson in this as well, as if your current customers had a good experience during their loan, they are far more likely to come back to you next time they need another loan.
Back to the GrowerFlowers.com story. As I was checking out, I remembered they always had a place where I could select what kind of card was to be included in the order and what I wanted the card to say. This year I noticed a few things different; and better. First, they had more cards to choose from and they had images of both the outside of the card and the inside text showing where what I typed would go. Second, they added a feature where I could select a digital picture from my hard drive, and upload it to be imprinted into the card. For a moment, as I was thinking that is a cool feature, I pondered sending that picture of my wife in that cute little negligee that I liked so much… but then I thought mom would prefer to see her granddaughter instead. After looking closer at the picture of my wife, it was probably a good call.
And GrowerFlowers.com does other smart things as well. They have “suggestions” as what to say in your card if you are creatively challenged. They offer a handy reminder feature. I could enter names, birthdays, anniversaries etc of people and then GrowerFlowers.com would send me an email a couple of weeks before so I could remember what to do… Try missing your anniversary — that is not so smart.
I am sure a few other flower companies are doing this, but I am so pleased that I just keep going back… And, telling my friends.
What was smart about this, is that many people don’t have a car VIN number immediately available and this site sent an email reminder to me so I could easily return to the site when I had the VIN number from my car.
The book, “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies” By Robert H. Waterman, Jr., Thomas J. Peters; contains one of my favorite examples of how to be smarter about the presentation of your business.
Words are a very powerful tool, especially online, where words are the way a potential customer judges you. The “In Search of Excellence” book has an example of two companies and how they state the expiration date on fruit drinks. One company prints, “Expires on 6-25-07” on their product while the others states, “Best enjoyed by 6-25-07”. Now the difference is subtle, but the “best enjoyed” has better wording.
Search engines are getting smarter too. Now when you do a search for something than is best served by a local provider (i.e. dry cleaning, donuts, real estate, home loans) the search engines are reading the origin of the request by using your internet protocol (IP) address. The search engine can tell your location with your IP and deliver results that best meet your needs.
This is especially evident with Google and if you actually create an account with them, which I do. I just searched for the single, generic term “plumber” and I got back all my results that specifically said “San Diego” in the Adwords ad (that is the little column on the left of your screen that are paid advertisements). Google knows that if I get better results with them that I will keep using them. And if my results are better then I end up using the companies that advertise with Google, so these companies benefit as well. That’s smart.
For a number of years, some doctors’ offices will call after a visit just to say they are following up on our visit and to see if we have any questions. Hmm, I always used to think that someone had a Porsche payment due… But, it makes good sense for marketing and patient relations and also helps with limiting malpractice exposure. Even our veterinary doctor (at least his staff) calls after visits to his clinic. (He should be providing us with kitty limousine service given how much we spend there.)
I did buy a car for my daughter and then I had several calls from the dealer. The first was from a person who specialized in answering questions such as how does cruise control work or where is the spare tire found. The second call was from the person that sold the car thanking me for purchasing the car and just making sure I was happy. These guys should call because if you think cats are expensive, you should try daughters…
So, take a few minutes and look at your site. Go back to your site and re-read how you have your wording. Try to click through your site as a first time visitor would. Is it friendly, concise, compelling, helpful and informative? Does your wording get you customers, or does your wording cost you customers? As you go through your site ask yourself what would you want to see? How can the navigation be better?
If you do this, you will find that your web site results in more closed mortgage loans. Ahh, so smart.
MortgagePromote.com is a leading Internet marketing web site that provides hundreds of articles & information tips on web site promotion, search engine marketing and search engine optimization; to help loan officers & mortgage companies increase their online sales. Aries and Farris has been providing nationwide mortgage leads & Internet marketing services since 1998.
Web site: innetwetrust.com
Originally published March 2007.