9 Essential Components Every Lending Website Must Have to Originate More Loans
If you have your website of your lending business built by a marketing or web design agency, the chances are high that you are losing as much as 70% of your potential clients!
The reason for that is because most of the companies don’t invest enough in research and development of the essential components websites in a particular industry (in our case it’s Lending) absolutely must have.
As a result, you get a mediocre website performance-wise that directly impacts your bottom line without you even knowing that. Luckily, you can fix it once you identify the problematic areas.
So, if you want to turn your website into a 24/7 client acquisition machine, in this in-depth guide you’ll learn those 9 essential components your lending website must have to originate more loans and take your business to the next level.
Regardless of the industry, clients highly appreciate extra perks a business can offer them in addition to their core products and services.
In other words, the more value you can provide to your current and future clients, the more likely they will keep doing business with you as well as recommending you to their friends.
Lending industry is not an exception.
That said, what extra goodies could you possibly offer your borrowers to make your company seem especially valuable and differentiate it from other lenders?
Well, there are many different ways to provide extra value on-and-off line.
However, here I’ll outline three remarkably valuable benefits that you can offer your clients as an extra perk directly through your company’s website.
#1 Property Marketplace
If you run a private real estate lending business, the vast majority of your clients will probably be flippers, landlords, syndicators and other types of investors.
What do all these investors have in common? They are constantly looking everywhere for lucrative deals.
If you had an advanced Property Marketplace with constantly added fresh deals on your website, do you think giving your current and future investor clients an access to that marketplace would be a valuable perk for them?
Of course it would!
In fact, Property Marketplace would benefit not only your clients but your company as well.
Think about it, once they find a property they are looking for, who will most likely be the lender on that property? I’m sure you got the point.
So, if you lend money for a living, regardless if you offer owner-occupied or non-owner-occupied loan products, make sure you have a robust Property Marketplace on your website to make yourself a valuable resource to your clients and stand out from your competitors!
#2 Property Alerts
Having a Property Marketplace on your website is already a significant value add on its own.
But what about an automated notification system that will alert your clients via email and/or text whenever a new deal is available and take them back to your marketplace?
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Well, I call this functionality Property Alerts. Property alerts is an undercover, non-threatening automated follow up mechanism.
Whether you lend on owner-occupied or non-owner-occupied properties, many of your potential borrowers are still in the stage where they are looking for the right property to purchase.
This gives you an opportunity to capture this segment of your target audience and keep following up with them (on autopilot) until they are ready to purchase a property. Here is how it works:
- Your prospect visits your website to inquire about your loan products. But in that stage they are not ready to take a loan because they haven’t found the right property yet.
- You will offer them to either join your preferred buyers list (if you target investors) or sign up for property alerts (if you target home shoppers). They will fill out a short questionnaire asking them to provide their buying criteria.
- Once they’re done, your Property Alerts follow up system will start sending them automated email/text notifications whenever a property matching their buying criteria is available for sale, driving them back to your Property Marketplace on your website.
Such functionality is essential for every real estate lender because it achieves three very important goals:
- It will help you build your own email list of prospects actively looking for properties to purchase.
- It will make your prospects constantly return to your website to browse currently available inventory making your company a valuable resource.
- It will help you build trustworthy relationships with your prospects making your company their go-to lender.
#3 Vendor Directory
You have probably been asked numerous times by your clients if you knew any reputable title agents, construction contractors, realtors, inspectors, etc.
In fact, your clients constantly look for recommendations of credible professionals.
Imagine if you had a well-organized directory that lists all the top rated professionals right on your website, which you can direct your clients to whenever they ask you for a recommendation.
Wouldn’t that be another valuable perk to offer to your clients? You bet it would!
So, whether you serve regular home shoppers or real estate investors, having an advanced preferred Vendor Directory functionality on your lending website is an additional valuable resource that you can offer to your clients.
Another essential component your website must take care of to increase the amount of loan originations is lead generation.
Most of the lending sites on the web today just scratch the surface when it comes to the amount of leads they could have generated if they had the right tools in place. Even websites created according to the best practices of real estate website design miss out on features making a huge difference specifically for a lender.
In this section I’ve listed a number of effective ways you can utilize on your website to significantly boost your lead generation efforts that will ultimately help you close more loans.
#1 Contact Forms
I know it is obvious that you need to have contact forms on your website. But this is not what I would like to address here.
What I want to talk about is actually how your contact forms should look like.
You see, if you look at most of the lending websites (perhaps your current one too) you will see one of the following:
- A tiny form with a few fields
- A mile-long form that lists all the available fields at the same time
In the first case, you collect too few details which doesn’t let you properly qualify the prospects. In the second case, you ask for too much info right away causing your prospect to not even start filling out all that info.
What I recommend based on my personal experience is to utilize multi-step forms.
Multi-step forms have quite a few advantages over the traditional ones, especially when it comes to forms that require you to collect multiple data points about your prospects.
Take an example of a loan quote form.
This form requires prospects to provide info such as: loan amount, what the loan will be used for, property type, stage of the purchase process, credit score and bunch of other details including contact info.
This is a lot of info to ask for from your prospects. But it has to be done. In such cases, multi-step forms come extremely handy.
They ask all those questions one question at a time.
This leads to a dramatic increase in conversions because people don’t know you are going to ask 20 questions. If they knew, like with the traditional long forms, they would leave.
This is why after answering a few questions through a multi-step form, they often don’t leave because they already invested their time into filling out the form, which keeps them going.
So, the first thing to increase your conversions is to make sure you utilize multi-step forms on your lending website.
Additionally to forms, you may want to add a real estate AI chatbot. It will answer the lead’s questions, collect additional info from them and can even schedule an appointment without your involvement.
#2 Native Widgets
Another way to maximize lead generation throughout your website is to utilize, what I call, Native Widgets.
In simple words, Native Widgets are in-content ads that drive attention and trigger response. Here are a few examples.
Let’s take the property search functionality as our first example. Since your clients will visit your Property Marketplace (let’s assume you have a property search functionality on your website) to search for properties, what will be more appropriate than reminding them through an attention-grabbing in-content widget that your company can provide financing?
While searching for properties on your Property Marketplace, your clients would often click different property listings to view more details. When they will be reviewing the details of a selected property, you’ll have another opportunity to remind them about your business by placing useful widgets in strategic areas throughout the property details page.
Having helpful informational resources on your website is another way to generate leads. For instance, let’s say you created informational guides for each geographical area that you target covering how to flip houses. It only makes sense to add your Fix & Flip loan products in the section of the guide that addresses financing.
#3 Property Alerts
In the first section of this guide I already explained how valuable Property Alerts feature is. However, I want to give it extra credit here in the lead generation section.
You see, Property Alerts functionality does a lot of valuable things for you but first and foremost it is a stealth lead generation machine.
I call it ‘stealth’ because your prospects, who sign up for property alerts, don’t even realize that they actually become your leads!
But this doesn’t end there.
Besides giving you a decent amount of information about themselves during the signup process, they automatically give you their consent to notify them via email/text when a new property is available.
In other words, they let you email/text them until they find a property they are ready to purchase (which will happen a number of times if you target investors) and most likely use you to fund the deal.
What else can be better than that?
So, having Property Alerts functionality is a must lead generation component for your website
#4 Exit Popups
You have probably seen those annoying popups on other websites. Well, as long as they don’t directly interrupt users’ experience on your website, it is ok to have them.
I specifically refer to ‘Exit’ popups and not those popups that pop on the screen right after you land on a page.
Exit popups are popups that only appear whenever a user exit intent occurs.
For example, a user visited your website, browsed it and tried to exit by either clicking a ‘Back’ button in the browser or completely closing it.
That moment an exit popup will be triggered and before visitors will have a chance to get out of your website, they will see your exit popup.
At this point you will need to offer something very appealing to make them reconsider.
It is a fact that if you manage to come up with an attractive enough offer presented on the exit popup, a considerable number of visitors will convert, who otherwise would have left forever if there was no popup.
#5 Target Location Pages
So far we’ve covered various ways to generate leads by capitalizing on your existing website traffic. Another way to boost lead generation is to get more traffic.
This is where target location pages come in.
By target location pages I simply mean dedicated web pages outlining your company’s products and services created for each geographical area that you target.
For instance, let’s say you lend on properties in the state of Texas.
In this case you’ll want to create location pages for all the major cities (or if you are serious, for all the cities in the state) such as Houston, Dallas, Austin, etc.
If done correctly, you’ll be able to pull additional traffic from search engines of people looking for real estate financing in those specific locations.
This is a great strategy to pursue if you want to generate more leads.
Email List Building
As cliche as it sounds, the money is in the list indeed. Having a large email list of current and future clients is a real asset for your business.
When you have your own list, literally with a click of a button you can start making sales.
Therefore, building your own email list should always be a priority. The sooner you start the better.
In the following section I’ve outlined a few effective techniques you can implement on your website to help you build your own email list and ultimately close more loans.
#1 Lead Magnets
Lead Magnet is a term used among digital marketers to describe an appealing offer that’s given away for free in exchange to a name and email address.
It can be an e-book, case study, report or anything else that your prospects would consider valuable.
Lead magnets are a very effective way to build your own email list of prospects who will potentially turn into clients in the future.
Under this category falls anything that your prospects would love to get notified about immediately as a certain event occurs.
For instance, an e-commerce store can offer their visitors to sign up to freebie contests or special offer notifications.
Many people would gladly sign up to those notifications in exchange for their name and email address.
As a lender, you can offer signing up to your property alert notifications, which we already discussed in the first section of this guide.
Quizzes are an incredibly effective way to build an email list because most people consider them fun.
Yes, the word quiz sounds fun indeed. But in reality it is just a play on words. In fact, a quiz equals a survey.
Nobody likes filling out surveys, yet quizzes are exactly that. They are just named in a ‘fun’ name specifically for consumers.
With quizzes you can extract tons of valuable info from your prospects without them even noticing it.
For instance, let’s say you want to start generating prospects that are pre-qualified for a loan but you don’t want to use a traditional way of asking them to fill out a pre-qualification form. This doesn’t sound sexy.
Instead, you could create a quiz named “5-Step Quiz to Find Out if You Are Financially Ready to Buy an Investment Property”.
This doesn’t sound that threatening and intrusive. Is it?
But in reality, you are going to ask the same exact questions in this quiz like you’d ask in a typical pre-qualification form.
I highly recommend using quizzes not only for email list building but also for learning more about your audience.
Newsletter is one of the most common ways to build an email list. However, people generally don’t like signing up to newsletters as they don’t tend to provide much value.
That said, this email list building strategy still works even though it is not as effective as others.
Expertise is one of the cornerstones of every successful business. Your future clients want to deal not just with a competent professional but with one that possesses a great deal of expertise in the business.
But how do you convey that expertise to your clients without tooting your own horn like most of real estate lenders out there do?
Well, below I’ve provided a few items you can implement on your website that will demonstrate your expertise for you even if you are yet to become a widely recognized expert in your field.
What is a better proof to demonstrate your expertise than showing actual examples of your past work?
You can easily do that by adding a portfolio of your past funded deals. Each funded deal will serve you as an individual case study to attest your expertise.
As you add more and more case studies over time to your online portfolio, it will impress your website visitors making them feel more comfortable about working with you.
In addition, these case studies tend to become valuable lead generating assets as many visitors like viewing them, which eventually leads to a contact.
#2 Knowledge Base
Another great way to convey your expertise is via education.
Whenever you have on your website a rich knowledge base that provides educational resources on the subject of your expertise, it makes people trust your competence.
However, you need to make sure your content is comprehensive and covers each topic in full; not a 300-word generic article that regurgitates the same information available all over the internet.
It is a fact that quality, comprehensive, well-researched and well-put together educational content facilitates your expertise in the eyes of your target audience.
#3 Service Pages
This may sound obvious but many lenders overlook service pages. Oftentimes you visit a website and see a single web page with all the services combined together.
That is a missed opportunity right there.
Instead, if you dedicate a separate page for each of your loan products, not only will it be more helpful for your visitors but it will also demonstrate what you specialize in.
This is an additional pillar that helps establish expertise.
Credibility is another crucial factor when it comes to decision making.
An evident credibility can instantly instill trust into prospects’ minds making it one step closer for the conversation to get started.
So how can you project your credibility in a clear and efficient way?
There are quite a few things you need to make sure you include on your website that will help you indicate your credibility.
#1 Media Coverage
Adding those shiny “As Seen On” logos of famous publications on your website certainly adds an extra boost to your credibility.
But, of course, you need to earn them first before you can display them on your website.
How do you go about earning them? Well, historically you had two options:
- You become your own publicist
- You hire a PR firm to do it for you
In the first case you need to possess the know-how and extra time while in the second case you need to come up with a budget of at least $3k a month.
Until recently these were all the options you got. Luckily, we came up with a 100% free of charge Press & Media Coverage Publicity Program exclusively for the members of Real Estate Bees platform.
So now there is no excuse of not having those coveted “As Seen On” logos on your website.
#2 Trust Badges
Trust badges are those little seals issued by authoritative third party organizations recognizing your company for certain accomplishments.
Publicly displaying those badges on your website is another effective way to project your credibility.
You should opt for displaying trust badges issued by industry-specific organizations as well as general ones. As long as the organization issuing the badge is authoritative, use it for your advantage.
#3 Company Overview
What can be more obvious than having a thorough overview of your company on the website, right?
Well, it is mind boggling how many lenders skip this part and instead put a one paragraph generic description about their company.
Did you know that the ‘About Us’ page is the second most visited page on a website?
Your visitors surely want to learn more about your company and what it stands for before they get into business with you.
A well-organized and detailed ‘About Us’ page is an effective way to boost your company’s credibility. It is an easy fix. However, it is overlooked too often.
Don’t be one of those lenders who ignore this important piece. Don’t miss out.
#4 Team Members
Besides a missing proper company overview, many lending websites get it also wrong by not including their team.
It is imperative to showcase your team members, especially when it comes to financial business.
Not only do your prospects want to see who is behind the company, but they also wonder about the experience, specialties, credentials and other credibility related attributes of the people who will be handling their financial transaction.
Simply by displaying on the website your team members, along with their professional biographies, you can instantly add extra credibility points in the eyes of your prospects.
Don’t underestimate this simple, yet remarkably powerful, component.
Finally, to activate the full power of persuasion, you need to utilize Reputation as the third pillar in addition to Expertise and Credibility.
Reputation is not something that can be gained overnight. It’s usually built over a long period of time.
However, there are things you can implement on your website that will allow you to demonstrate your unparalleled reputation in the business and successfully leverage it to convert visitors into leads.
Testimonials are crucial to back up your reputation. The more testimonials you have, especially in a video format, the more powerful impact it will make on your visitors.
But don’t just display testimonials only on your homepage. Showcase a few most powerful ones throughout your entire website as well as create a dedicated page where you list them all.
The vast majority of lending websites on the internet today either have a few unnoticeable, often even fake-looking, testimonials or don’t have any at all.
Don’t be one of those lenders.
Instead, capitalize on client testimonials. They are literally your 24/7 unbiased infomercials that sell your products and services for you!
Have you received any worth-noticing awards throughout your career?
It doesn’t necessarily need to be directly related to your services. Awards that recognize any aspect of your business would work just fine.
Again, all these pillars form a giant social proof for your business that’s vital to persuade your prospects that you are trustworthy and worth doing business with.
Similarly to awards, recognitions are another reputation building component. Have you been recognized by a third party entity as a top rated lender in your area?
Or maybe your company was recognized as one of the highest producing, by number of closed loans or dollar amount, by some external industry organization?
Any recognition issued by authoritative industry-related or general organizations is an extra building block to your unshakable reputation.
As you know, strategic partnerships can dramatically contribute to scaling your lending company in the long run.
Of course, there are numerous ways to create strategic alliances that will benefit both sides.
However, in this section I’ll show you a few interesting ideas on how you can utilize strategic partnerships right through your website to help you grow your lending business.
#1 Reciprocity Network
Wouldn’t it be cool if your strategic partners such as realtors, property managers, general contractors and other local real estate professionals, who also serve your target audience, would add your lending company to their websites as a ‘Preferred Vendors’ resource for their clients?
Not only will it benefit you directly in terms of referral business but it will also help you with your real estate SEO (search engine optimization).
So, make sure that you utilize this powerful strategy by featuring your strategic partners as ‘Preferred Vendors” on your own website as well as ask them to do the same for you.
It is a win-win for everybody!
#2 Capital Raising
If you are a private or hard money lender who lends on real estate investment deals, there is a chance you are constantly looking for external capital to fund those deals.
If so, why not start attracting investors who have available capital and are interested in passive income?
You just need to create a dedicated web page on your lending site that will appeal to passive real estate investors, outline your offerings and ask them to join your network of investors.
It’s that simple but the outcome can be significant.
As you know, the more capital you have access to the more deals you’ll be able to fund, which directly impacts your bottom line!
You may also want to read our article on how to get investors for real estate. It suggests additional ways.
Regardless of how robust your website’s functionality is, it won’t do any good if the user experience is poor.
You need to make sure that your website visitors have superior experience while interacting with your site. But what exactly do you need to look for?
Website user experience consists of numerous things.
In the following section I’m going over some of the most crucial ones you must take care of on your lending website to satisfy your visitors, which directly improves the conversions and ultimately leads to a greater amount of closed loans.
#1 Fast Loading
The loading speed of a website is paramount especially these days when everybody seems to have an extremely short attention span.
I personally hate using slow websites. I’d rather leave a slow site and find an alternative one unless there is no substitute for that website (which is very rare).
I’m sure you are very similar.
Therefore, one of your main priorities should be to make sure your website is fast. If you achieve that, it is a huge contribution to your overall user experience.
User-friendly is another way to say ‘intuitive’. Intuitive websites convert way better than non-intuitive ones. You don’t want to confuse your visitors.
A confused visitor is a non-buying visitor.
Therefore, make sure your website is organized in an intuitive way as well as uses intuitive functionalities to make the interaction of your users clear, understandable and pleasant.
Responsiveness is another critical component of a superior user experience.
Responsive website is a website that automatically adopts its design and layout according to the device it is viewed from.
Even though this issue gets less and less prominent as the technology evolves, there is still a considerable amount of non-responsive websites on the web.
Since every visitor uses a different device with different screen resolutions, you must make sure your website is responsive and compatible with at least some of the most popular devices and browsers.
Interactive websites get a greater engagement, which benefits the conversions. There are various ways to make your website more interactive.
Some of the most popular ones are to utilize various interactive tools and functionalities.
For instance, as a lender, you can offer your visitors various calculators such as ARV calculator, Cap Rate calculator, Mortgage calculator, etc.
You can also offer your visitors a Property Marketplace that we already discussed in earlier sections.
Generally, any tool that makes your visitors interact with your website is great because it increases engagement, improves user experience and ultimately boosts conversions.
Branding makes all the difference when it comes to prospects deciding between the available options in which one company looks familiar due to their brand recognition while the other one is unknown.
Maintaining a strong brand identity of your lending firm is a key to an overall greater recognition. In the following section you’ll learn how to clearly communicate and strengthen your brand identity with the help of your website.
It is amazing how many times I see websites with a design that is completely inconsistent with a company’s brand identity.
Therefore, to stay consistent and cohesive, make sure that your brand colors are appropriately highlighted throughout your website.
A serious company should have a professionally designed logo. Please don’t try to design your logo by yourself unless you are a skilled graphic designer.
I understand that sometimes our entrepreneurial spirit calls us to do everything on our own. However, this is not a good use of our time as business owners and entrepreneurs.
We need to concentrate on growing a company and all the rest of the tasks to delegate to appropriate professionals specializing in those tasks.
Photography is also a part of your branding.
I highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to take quality photographs of your office, team members and everything related to your business.
This is worth the investment as quality photography signals your prospects that you care about your business.
It also helps with establishing trust when your prospects see that you are a legitimate organization with real humans behind it.
2 Ways to Implement the Above Strategies on Your Website
If after reading this in-depth guide you would like to go ahead and implement some or all of the components described above, you have a few available options.
#1 Hire a Web Marketing Agency
First option is to engage a digital marketing firm that employs web designers as well as developers. Then you can explain to them what exactly you would like to implement on your lending website.
Unfortunately, this route can be quite pricey because many of the functionalities we’ve discussed in this guide are quite unique and specific to the lending industry.
Therefore, the chances are high that a web marketing agency will need to develop most of it from scratch, which means a lot of billable hours!
#2 Get a Ready Website Solution
A remarkably cheaper alternative to hiring a marketing agency is to find a company that offers an existing solution for a lending website.
The problem with this option is that there are a lot of generic existing website solutions and very few (if any) industry-specific existing website solutions.
A generic website solution won’t do any good for you. It will be a complete waste of money. So, you need to concentrate only on industry-specific website solutions.
A huge benefit of those platforms is that they are developed not only by digital marketing and technology experts but also by professionals from within the industry.
Unfortunately, even though there are plenty of marketing agencies specializing in marketing lending businesses, there is not a single decent website solution created specifically for lenders.
This is why my team and I, along with a select group of lending industry experts, took on ourselves the responsibility to develop a one-of-a-kind, innovative website solution specifically tailored for lending businesses!
The product is still currently in development but if you’re interested in being the first one to know when we release the Beta version to a limited number of lenders, feel free to contact us requesting to join the waiting list.
About the Author:
Oleg Donets is a serial entrepreneur, technology and digital marketing strategist with a solid track record. Since 2013, he has been successfully helping numerous startups and established companies from a wide range of industries to launch, grow and scale their businesses by utilizing his innovative technology solutions and progressive marketing strategies. Oleg is a founder of Real Estate Bees, a cutting-edge technology & marketing platform for the real estate industry. Oleg is also a proud business mentor at SCORE, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.