Get net-savvy and widen your appeal in difficult times

The web is an important tool for brokers to use in their attempt to broaden their range of business activities

PHIL WHITEHOUSE, HEAD, THE MORTGAGE ALLIANCE
PHIL WHITEHOUSE, HEAD, THE MORTGAGE ALLIANCE

I am sure that anyone who has been ill or had a day off when the weather hasn’t been great and found themselves flicking through television channels will be aware of the savings on offer from financial product comparison websites.

Of course, this is apart from the financial help available from selling gold, recycling mobile phones or claiming for something that might have occurred that you may or may not have been aware of.

But I digress. Looking at online offerings, whether advertised by animated animals, opera singers or Z-list celebrities, it’s obvious that the online phenomenon is not losing impetus – quite the opposite.

Recent statistics from technology specialist Greenlight suggest that consumers’ online searches for terms relating to financial products increased considerably in January 2010, with phrases relating to mortgages the most searched for.

Greenlight’s report used industry data to classify 540 of the most popular search terms used by consumers to find providers of savings, credit and debit cards, mortgages and loans online.

Mortgage-related terms accounted for 58%, equating to some 3.2 million searches.

There’s no doubting the increasing popularity of online activity and it’s important that brokers recognise this and embrace changes in the national psyche when marketing themselves.

Firms operating in the mortgage market must look at what is happening around them, realise how powerful a tool the internet is and work with it rather than against it.

Online solutions can be used as effectively for attracting a regional audience as a national one

There’s growing evidence that firms are looking to up the ante in terms of being more proactive and sophisticated in their website offerings but they must also constantly evaluate how useful this activity is.

For brokers who may be not be technologically adept there are many support services available. Having an online presence doesn’t mean brokers have to turn into Bill Gates and position themselves to attract customers from the other side of the country.

There is no doubting the global potential of the internet but this is a tool that can be used as effectively for attracting a regional audience as a national one.

The important thing is that online propositions can help facilitate contacts and relationships with potential clients who were previously out of reach.

So the net can be a sales tool for generating leads or business activity but only if brokers can track activity and follow up quickly to capture enquiries.

Brokers also need to invest in publicising their online presence as customers will not find them without some kind of marketing. And websites needs constant attention, with the addition of relevant content to keep clients wanting to revisit.

Of course, it will also boost the popularity of websites if brokers use search optimisation tools.

We all need to expand our business interests in the current market and it’s increasingly evident that firms must target areas they have not before.

By using the benefits of online technology we can offer more support to clients and business partners, increase our efficiency and hopefully establish new income streams.