Create and Maintain Your Web Presence

JAN 7, 2014 2:38pm ET

You probably already know how important it is for potential customers to be able to find your business on the Internet. Consider that 85% of consumers now use the Web as their primary source for finding local businesses like mortgage professionals. Consumers that are searching online are also usually engaged in a purchasing decision process, which means having a web presence is one of the most effective forms of marketing.

However, when you’re busy running your mortgage company, creating and maintaining an online marketing campaign can seem like a daunting task. For a start you need to consider the very specific online marketing regulations administered by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Beyond compliance, you also need to keep up with the ever changing technological and online marketing trends, and I haven’t even mentioned the importance of staying on top of your competition.

If you want to know what works best when marketing your mortgage businesses online, look no further. I’ve narrowed down the five top tips for effective online marketing.

1) You must create an effective and findable website. Your website needs to convince visitors that your mortgage expertise is exactly what they need so that they pick up the phone and call you. Some tips to consider:

a. Provide a call to action. Make it clear what you want the visitor to do (call, make an appointment, etc.).

b. Include your contact information clearly and make it visible on each page.

c. Be concise and specific. Having too much content or text will overwhelm visitors. Clearly state the services you offer and how you can help a potential customer. Always remember: a picture is worth a thousand words and people don’t buy your services, they buy you as an individual. Be authentic. Be visually attractive.

d. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices, as mobile search is expected to bypass desktop search by 2015.

You also need to worry about organic search placement of your website because being present is not enough; you need to effectively be found when consumers are searching for local mortgage companies. Bear in mind that search engines use something called a “bot” (short for robot) to read through the backend coding of sites on the Internet and determine what sites are most relevant to come up in a search. These bots look at the content on a particular site that includes both the visible text and also part of the code which is referred to as “tags.” For example, all things being equal, a search for a mortgage provider in Chicago that uses the words “mortgage,” “Chicago” and “Illinois” in the tags has a much greater probability of high placement than one that does not.

2) Invest in a paid search advertising. This is the quickest way to get your mortgage company on the first page of key search engine results. Note that the vast majority of consumers never go beyond the first page of the search results. Use your ad to entice people to contact you. Without powerful and persuasive ad copy, potential clients will click on your competitors’ ads instead. An effective paid search ad should include a compelling headline, a call to action, relevant keywords, a unique value proposition and contact information.

Focus on advertising for four to six of your strongest offerings instead of, say, 10 types of mortgage programs that you offer. Depending on the budget, you risk spreading yourself too thin if you advertise too many services. As part of your approach you should also customize your ads to demonstrate that you can meet the biggest needs that consumers have in your specific location.

3) Get on the maps. It’s important to show up for map listings as they are prominent on key search engines and local consumers typically compare different companies on simple criteria such as distance, services and business hours. “Claim” a map page with Google + Local, Bing and Yahoo! Local Listings, and make sure to create relevant keyword content and add appropriate photos to the listing. This helps search engines view your page as credible, and therefore more worthy of incorporating into its map section. Another criterion for ranking high on maps is to ensure that your information is consistent across a variety of other credible Internet directories. Examples include Citysearch, Yelp and Internet Yellow Pages. Another benefit of putting your information on directories is that you’ll be found in more key places on the Internet.

4) Ask for reviews. Online reviews and testimonials are extremely important for most businesses today. Reviews not only affect your brand and consumer perception but can also impact organic search. A recent study conducted by Merchant Warehouse and Column Five found that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s important to get your business listed on review sites and to then establish a positive presence. Ask a customer if they’d be willing to post a positive review when you’re confident that you’ve provided exceptional service. And make it as easy as possible for them to post the review by providing a direct link for where they should go.

5) Get social. Having a social presence is great for building your brand and retaining customers you already have. You can share information in “real time” on social media about significant business updates, interesting news articles, changes in interest rates, etc. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you can keep the conversation going with existing customers. Being active on social sites will help keep you “top of mind” for consumers when they think about mortgages or need advice.

Everything we talked about seems like a lot of work but establishing a strong online presence is critical for your business. It takes time to implement, maintain and measure an online marketing program but you will see the benefits if you persevere. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you should consider partnering with a vendor that specializes in online marketing.

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