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Make the most of your online pressence

As the financial crisis deepens, it is crucial to maximise the efficiency of your business. Consumers are valuing advice more than ever and your firm’s success will lie in your ability to continue building productive relationships.

Human interaction is far more important than online in the financial decision-making process but the internet is key in the research stage when consumers are looking at the options have an actively marketed web presence, you could be wasting money on less effective promotion and potential clients are going to find it difficult to find you.

In the last five years the internet has significantly changed the way in which consumers research information. Gone are the days where the local press or directory was the first port of call for finding a mortgage adviser. Consumers have migrated to the internet and this is not going to change.

Some 67% of internet users research financial products online because it’s accessible all the time, with nearly 60% believing it’s the quickest and easiest way to do research. With about 30 million people in the UK now online, Britons spend an average of 23 hours a week online, which equates to 21% of their media consumption.

Statistics like these show you can no longer afford to ignore the internet as a vital component in your marketing strategy.

Promoting your website

There is little point in having a website if consumers cannot find it. To not have a website is like not having a shop front on the virtual high street. Consumers doing online research invariably use search engines to match sites to the keywords they enter – 50% start their research of financial products online by using a search engine – or visit their favourite sites and use links from content they find there.

It also follows that if consumers are researching online and find your details through another website, they will want to continue the research process by visiting your website, finding out a bit more about your business and potentially emailing you to see how you can help.

It is one thing to have a website but another to attract consumers to it. But there are a number of actions you can take to promote it, which need not be costly or time-consuming.

  • Ensure your web address is on every communication that leaves your office, whether these are letterheads, emails, newsletters or brochures.
  • Make sure your staff know about the website, where to find it and what it offers.
  • Mention your website to every client at meetings, taking them through it if suitable.
  • Tell your introducers about it by email if possible with an embedded link.
  • I ssue regular newsletters – e-newsletters are even better – linking them back to your site.
  • Monitor where your enquiries come from. This means if a client says they found you through Google, find out if they went directly through to your site or through a third party.

    The benefits of having a website

    Consumers expect mortgage advisers to have a website and will use it as a means to find further information about the type of business you do, the advice process and information such as contact details and where you are.

    In this virtual day and age your web presence reassures consumers that you are an existing business and can help them compare the service you offer with those of your rivals. Advisers who do not have a web presence or whose website is out of date are not showing their firms in the best light and will lose out to firms that maintain their websites.

    You can benefit from having an up-to-date website in many ways. Not only is it a potential source of new business, but it demonstrates that you are serious about your profession.

    It also promotes your services in an efficient way, while providing a home for secure and confidential client correspondence. It can divert potential business that you are not interested in away from you.

    A successful website is:

  • Clearly branded – no point in your visitors not remembering whose site they have visited.
  • Fast to download – although most consumers have broadband, some images can still take a long time to appear.
  • Easy to navigate – don’t bewilder consumers with choice or make it difficult to get around the site.
  • Easy to read – one of the fastest turn-offs is to have tiny text or the wrong colours, either too pale or too bright.
  • Secure in the areas that contain personal information.
  • Easy to find again – use a memorable domain name if possible.
  • Easily found by search engines – although getting a good position for generic searches is impossible without paying, a website should be able to be found under specific searches related to the main business or trading style.
  • Easy to maintain – it can be expensive to pay someone for every amendment and an out-of-date site does you no credit.

    Content

    Once you have decided on these aspects of your website, you must consider its content.

    This is key to ensuring visitors want to return to your site. Always make it easy for enquirers to get in touch with you, whether by filling in a form, email link, call-back request, phone or office address.

    Many website providers can supply the majority of the text for your site, so you need only to amend pages which saves time.

    A good content management system will allow you to amend the text yourself at the very least, if not the navigation.

    Websites with the most flexible systems tend to cost more and you need to consider how often you are planning to make changes and who is going to do them.

    Whether you have a website or are in the process of deciding whether to have one, the current financial environment means it is essential to promote your company in a cost-efficient way.

    Consumers now need clear, professional mortgage advice more than ever and it is up to you to make sure they can easily seek your company out.

    Having a visible, properly promoted professional website with relevant content and up-to-date information is an essential part of this.

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