Truth: If you are like me (umm, for your sake - hopefully not), the most complicated tool I use is a stapler. We live on the California coast and a wild storm knocked over a light on our entrance gate. I quickly identified the solution as five quick wraps of duct tape, and, sure enough, the wayward light had returned to its original and upright position. I was quite proud of my almost mystical abilities and the fact that my wife was somewhat impressed (surprised) that I 'fixed' it. The storm continued through the day and within a few hours, the light was knocked over again; my ego took a fall as well.
Have you ever applied a similar same quick fix to your web site? Have you had a graphic that was nice, but slow loading? Or do you have an "About Our Company" page that says "Under Construction"? This costs you customers and if you are guilty you have learned one of the many lessons of the net:
Truism: Good enough is just not good enough.
If you expect your web site to produce revenue, your site needs to be perfect, perfect, perfect. If you have applied a quick "duct tape wrap" fix to a problem, you are losing revenue - it is that simple.
Myth: Customers have their finger on their mouse and want to use it to explore your site.
Truth: Visitors are hard to attract and they value their time, far more than they value your web site. As they QUICKLY glance at your site, just one red flag will act as an exit indicator and will cause your visitor to leave.
These exit indicators can be:
A copyright date of only 2001 or 2002
An email that doesn't match the domain name, something like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or
A navigational linking structure that changes from page to page
Truism: Customers have their finger on the trigger and they will use it to leave at the first red flag.
Myth: Everybody knows who we are.
Truth: In the mortgage business, people only seek you out once every 4-20 years, which means you are about as memorable as the name of the best actress in 1987. Even if someone vaguely recalls your company name, say, North Coast Mortgage Associates, how are they to know you took the domain NCMortgageAsc.com. We recommend to all our clients that no matter how "famous" they are, to get a short, keyword laden domain name.
Truism: You may not know who Cherilyn Sarkisian is, or even be able to spell it, but you know who Cher is, even if you don't remember she won an Oscar for Best Actress in Moonstruck in 1987.
If You Pay With Peanuts…
Myth: "The net is free. I don't have to pay for customers."
Truth: There are many similar, possibly once true, truths, the earth is flat, 8-tracks are here forever, fins on cars are cool and if you build it, they will come.
Once people got over the "peace, love and anti-corporateness" of the net and determined it needed to be monetized in order to survive.
Truism: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. And, if you pay nothing, you starve.
Truth: A major conversion has occurred within the net from the "it's free" to a pay per click
(PPC) model. The PPC strategy is quite simple: Whoever pays the most is listed first.
In example, for the term "home loans" as of this date, the top five bidders at Overture all pay over $2.75 per click, not per sign-up, but per click. The top bidder is at $3.86. If you want to become the first ranked site, you would bid $3.87. Then it is bid up until your cost tolerance threshold is met.
Numerous studies have proven top 3 listings receive as many as 50 times more clicks that listings after number 10.
Myth: I will create a form with the info "I NEED" to serve the customer.
Truth: Customers don't care that you want a wallet biopsy complete with social security, mother's maiden name and VIN number of your car. They want to give you the basic information and you respond with whether or not you can, or can not, do the deal. We have found that the percentage of application completions decreases by 5% for every three questions you ask.
In the event you have a form that requires the collection of sensitive data, such as social security numbers, make sure that web page is secure and has an https:// not an http:// at the beginning.
Truism: Keep it short and unless you are secure, your customers are insecure and they will not fill out your forms.
Am I Hot?
Myth: A well-designed site means a nice looking site.
Truth: It used to be that a site had to look "pretty" and you were happy. Soon, mortgage site owners found out a pretty Corvette is pretty-much worthless when you find out it has VW Bug motor for an engine, if any motor at all.
Truism: Companies have slowly realized that pretty is just the veneer, as in the real world, and it is what lies underneath that drives the machine.
Hey, My Site Is Usable!
Myth: Mortgage site owners think their site is perfect.
Truth: When we perform comprehensive usability and revenue studies for clients, we almost always find at least a dozen problems, each maybe minor in appearance, but when added together we wonder how the site is producing any revenue at all, and how many clients the site has lost.
At a minimum the following items need to review and optimized:
Call To Action Considerations
Performance Usability Flow
Web Site Continuity
Internal Link Strategies
Navigational Management & Control
Visitor Comprehension Analysis
Customer Acquisition Strategies
Truism: Usability used to mean that visitors could "click" from one part of your site to another. Now usability is defined a site that seamlessly and transparently escorts your visitors to your form and makes the customer
want to fill it out.
Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.