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In today’s marketplace, your customers are shopping online. Surveys consistently find that 9 out of 10 shoppers will use the internet at some point in their shopping process.  For many, this is their starting place.  Whether they need a new TV or a new line of credit for their business, they turn to Google for information on what is available.

For others, the internet is an intermediary step in the shopping process.  They will seek out commercial loan broker referrals from colleagues, family, or the local chamber of commerce.  Then they will check out these companies online, visiting their websites and contacting the business only if they appear to be respectable and trustworthy.

In each case, the fact remains that 90% of your potential clients will — at some point — use the internet in their shopping process.  This means that you need a commercial loan broker website.

But as a loan broker you need more than just a website.  You need the right type of website.  But what does that site look like, exactly?  What are the 7 Needed Features of a Commercial Loan Broker Website?

1) Your website needs to build trust.  We are visual creatures.  More of our neurons are devoted to processing sight than any other sense.  And even though we’ve all heard the famous adage, bookstore sales consistently confirm that we do judge books (and buy them) based on their covers.

This means that your website, and your company, will be immediately judged based on their appearance.  You wouldn’t show up to a client meeting in sweatpants because you know that no matter how good your pitch was, people would still doubt your professionalism and trustworthiness.  So don’t let your website show up in sweatpants!  Make sure that your website design is clean, professional, and earns your clients’ trust at first glance.

2) Your website needs to differentiate you.  You and your firm are unique.  Similarly, your website should be different from all the other commercial loan broker websites out there.  This starts with having a custom design that reflects your company’s brand.  But there is much more to it than just the look of your site.

Your site also needs to tell your story.  Just as we are visual creatures, we are also hardwired to grab onto and remember stories.  So tell yours!  Throughout your website tell the story of who you are and what you love about being a business loan broker.  Tell the stories of clients you’ve served.  Focus on the people you helped that are behind the businesses you funded. Tell these stories in a unique way and prospective clients will see you as different from your competitors.

3) Your website needs to show clients that you can serve THEM.  Everyone likes to feel unique.  And we all prefer to work with people who “get us”.  Use this to your advantage!  In addition to telling unique stories, also be sure to speak to the industries that you serve, the variety of business models that you can fund, and the breadth of loan products that you offer.

Each prospective client wants to work with “the expert” in their field.  As most commercial loan broker websites don’t show them to be experts in any one area, this is any easy way that you can get a leg up on your competition just by including the right content on your site.

4) Your website needs the right contact information.  After years in the web design field, “I couldn’t even find their contact info!” is still consistently one of the top 5 most common complaints that I hear.  Don’t make this mistake for your business.  Place your phone number prominently on every page in your site, ideally in the top right of your site’s header.  On your contact page be sure to include your phone number again, as well as an email address, mailing address, and a web form.  You WANT people to contact you, so make it as easy as possible for them to do so!

5) Your website needs to have a clear call to action.  Just hoping that people will contact you is not a very solid strategy.  You will generate more leads if you tell people to contact you, and then give them a reward or incentive for doing so.  In the marketing world, this process is referred to as a Call To Action (CTA).

This could take a variety of forms.  For a commercial loan broker website this might mean offering a free report on: Which loan type is the best for you? The pros and cons of different loans.  Or, it could be an offer to join an online webinar with education specific to their industry.  Or it could be a free consultation, or hundreds of other offers.

Whatever the incentive may be, the visitor will then enter their contact information in order to secure the offer.  This gives you the opportunity (at their request!) to immediately email them some great marketing info,  But even more importantly, you can now continue marketing to this individual for months to come.

6) Your website needs to be bigger than your site.  In today’s world, your online identity is much bigger than just your website.  When people research you and your loan brokerage online, of course they will be checking out your website.  But they also will be looking you up on social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.  In addition, your prospects will be checking out what others have said about your services.  Your star rating on Google Plus is now included in your listing on Google, and Yelp (again with your star rating) is usually one of the top results when people search for a company.

So build out your full digital footprint.  Be sure to set up great looking profiles on all of the websites where clients will be looking for you.  Ask your happy customers for online reviews.  And link it all together.  Create a huge spider web so that when people come to your website they will be inspired to click over and see you on social media, read your online reviews, and become even more convinced about the quality of service that you offer.

7) Your website needs to be optimized.  Having the best website in the world with all of the features outlined above still doesn’t do you any good if no one visits it.  Today the overwhelming majority of online traffic starts from search engines like Google.  If you can’t be found, then prospective clients who are a perfect fit for your brokerage will speak with your competitors instead.

So be sure to optimize your website for search.  Install the correct title and description tags on each page of your website. Research your keywords to select the best ones, and then use them properly throughout each page of your website.  Add alt tags to your images and, in short, do all of those things that will drive you to the top of search engines.

This list gives you a good starting place for reviewing and polishing your commercial loan broker website.  If you have any questions, or would like a quick site review and some personalized tips for your business, just get in touch.