internet marketing

How much for that Web Site in the Window 

"How much for a web site?" Asks the potential client. Seems simple enough. Seems to be a reasonable question.

This question, "How much for a web site?" is also one of the biggest mistakes asked by mortgage companies and any designer that answers that question (addressing only cost) is probably not a web designer you want.

A mortgage company on the Internet is on the web to conduct business and generate revenue. A business should not be on the net to just 'be on the net.' Short term thinking just focusing on expenses should be replaced with long term analysis of web site revenue and Internet market share. While the expense of a web site is an important consideration, two major considerations should control your decision: the revenue a web site can generate and the market share and brand name awareness your site can create.


Here is a typical scenario from a year or two ago:

Potential Client: "You design web sites?"

Web Designer: "Yes."

Potential Client: "How much?"

Web Designer: "How many pages?"

Potential Client: "Oh, 10-20 pages I guess. Information on our company, a list of our loan products and a page on how to contact us."

Web Designer: "Ok, that will be $x."

Potential Client: answers - select one or more of the following…
1. "Well, our in-house MIS guy said he could design a web site in his sleep."
2. "My neighbor's kid just took a web design class, let me get a quote from him…"
3. "But we have seen complete web site pricing for less than $1000" 
4. Client thinks, "I think I could do it myself cheaper," and says, "I will get back to you."

With web sites costing from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars, here is what is wrong with the question, "How much for a web site?" The real question you need to ask, your designer, MIS guy, neighbor's kid, is "How much web traffic (i.e. how many closed loans) do you think we could generate with a well designed web site?" The question your management team needs to ask is, "How much market share are we going to lose by not being found on the Internet?" 


Here is how a conversation with your Web Manager should progress.

Potential Client: "You design web sites?"

Web Designer: "Well, yes, while the actual design aspect is very important; that is just one component of the overall success for your mortgage web site. But a web site is worthless…"

Potential Client: politely interrupting… "Worthless? What do you mean?"

Web Designer: "Let me show you how. This is how most web page designers design a web site. You tell them what you want, show them your logo, tell them your favorite color, and the web page designer brings back a few nifty graphic layouts. Your spouse gets involved, your secretary, your mother-in-law, your MIS professional, and you finally pick an award winning design. Then you build your web site. End result - a nice looking site..."

"But that is like creating a wonderful television commercial. The TV ad is worthless... unless potential customers see it; unless you get the commercial in front of people. It is the same with web sites. You can spend thousands of dollars designing a web site, but if no one sees it; your site is actually worthless. It is will not be generating new mortgage customers."

For a web site to be effective, you need to get 'eye balls' to your site. You may have competitive interest rates and great loan programs, but if no one knows your web site exists... your online mortgage business will be non-existent. You will be missing a huge marketing opportunity."

"Do you know what 'www' stands for?"

Potential Client: "Of course… world wide web."

Web Manager: "Yes, that used to be true. But with the vast numbers of consumers using the Internet to find information and to conduct business, 'www' now stands for 'what we want.' You need potential mortgage customers to find your web site and you need to give your visitors what they want."

"The old adage still stands, 'What's in it for me?' This is vital to remember when designing your web site. What makes your web site unique from the thousands of competing mortgage web sites? You have about 5-10 seconds to catch a customers attention to stay on your web site; so make sure you tell these customers, "What's in it for them."

Potential Client: "Yes, you have to give the customer what they want."

Web Manager: "Here is how a web management company builds successful web pages. Internet studies show that unless you are a company like E-loan (who spends thousands of dollars on banner advertising),most people will find your web site on the net by going to a search engine and typing in key words to find what they want. 

(i.e. 'home loans,' 'mortgage loans' or 'mortgage broker'). So we first work with our clients to determine which key words we will build their web site around."

"Because information presented on the net is not the same information as presented in a real world brochure, we next determine what information to provide to your current and potential customers. People will arrive at your site looking EXACTLY for what they are seeking. So unlike a TV commercial that interrupts your favorite show, a web site is a 'TV commercial' that someone has asked to see and wants to visit. You have that 5-10 seconds to entice them to stay... to make them your customer. If you don't ...there are thousands of other web sites that can.

"After we do that, we complete the web page layout and graphics...Subtle? Yes. Difference? HUGE! End result - a web page that produces results. Can we make people purchase a mortgage from your company? No, but we can design your web site to deliver them to your site... for your company to do your job."

"That is how we turn a worthless web site into a valuable site. That is why a well designed and managed web site doesn't cost anything; it generates revenue.

Potential Client: "So the question is not how much does a web site cost, but how much revenue will that site produce. I have to analyze the amount of revenue each closed loan is worth; and how much I am currently spending on traditional marketing sources (including labor) to get new customers; versus the savings I can have from this 'TV commercial' playing 24 hours a day on the net AND being seen."

Web Manager: "Yes, a well designed web site costs you nothing, it makes you money. You will quickly find out that a poorly designed web site is actually 'costing your company money' instead of generating revenue each month."

Client: Let us now forget about my first question, 'How much does a web site cost?' Just tell me the best way to properly design and market my mortgage web site. 

Next month we will discuss "What is wrong with your web site." 

Robert Farris and Rod Aries are co-founders of a leading Internet based marketing provider to the mortgage industry. Web site: 1-800-625-8787 or E-mail: offers web site promotion services, proven Internet marketing techniques and comprehensive search engine management strategies to mortgage brokers, bankers, and lending institutions.