Is your website a positive and effective reflection of your business and operational practices, or is it screaming you have become irrelevant?
So you bought a domain name and built a website…Check! Maybe you added some robustly vague content about delivering efficiencies and increasing ROI and maybe you even still have that glamor shot from 1958 on your bio or team page. Or even worse, you built a cool flash website with a twirling logo and star-burst effect…that won’t display on any current IOS device today. When was the last time you even thought about your website or what it might be saying about your business and your attention to the details of running that business?
Your website says more about your business than you may think. What agency, buyer or collection law firm today would allow the exterior of their business or their reception lobby to become so dilapidated that the furniture was held together with duct tape, the carpet had a traffic path worn through to the padding, and the paint was so old it was flaking off the walls? You would never let that happen!
Yet every day, I visit website after website of collection agencies, debt buyers and law firms that are so outdated that they are either entirely ineffective, or worse, they create an initial negative perception of the business for the visitor. Many utilize such antiquated technologies that they can’t be viewed easily on mobile devices and tablets or displayed on some operating systems altogether.
More Than a Digital Business Card
The website of the 21st century ARM Company has to be more than a digital business card. Your website is usually the first point of contact a potential client has with your business. It speaks volumes about the quality of service you deliver, the operational efficiency of your business and your attention to details. Simply having a copyright notice at the bottom of your site that has not been updated in the last five years (I see it all the time), tells a potential client you don’t pay attention, you aren’t interested in tending to the details of your business, or you are just to incompetent, or worse, too cheap to take the time to address your own website or hire a professional to manage this function for you. If you have ANY doubt about what I am saying here, just look at how the perception of the new healthcare law has been impacted by the performance of the healthcare.gov website. The new narrative in Washington has become, “The website was supposed to be the easy part. If they can’t get that right, what chance to do they have to get the rest of the law right”. The same applies to your business.
Responsive Design, Effective Communication
Any corporate website online in the year 2014 should be built on a responsive mobile platform, with a backend Content Management System (CMS) that allows the site owner to easily manage and update website content. The website should perform functions like blogging, vlogging (video blogging) and effectively managing such ARM Industry functions as online payment systems and an online complaints management portal. According to a recent Advertising Age study published in August of 2013, over 50% of the US population is projected to own a smartphone in 2014 and 44.9% of the US population is projected to own a tablet. So it is not a stretch to assume that fully one half of visitors coming to your website will be using a deviceother than a personal computer to consume content on your site. If your site is not designed to dynamically adjust and display the site’s content for the visitor based on the specific screen size and resolution of their device, the experience will be less than effective or altogether negative and frustrating. This is not the desired experience you seek to provide potential clients who want to provide you with placements or consumers who may just want to pay an outstanding debt.
Using Your Site to Demonstrate Compliance
Have you ever thought that your website might be costing you new business opportunities…before you were even aware that a potential client might be considering your agency or law firm for placements? It’s probably happening more than you think. Your website can tell a potential client a lot about your business; before they ever pick the phone and speak to you. The absence of a payment portal for consumers to make online payments might demonstrate you’re not doing everything you could to collect on behalf of the client. The lack of a complaint management system or consumer education resources could demonstrate that you either don’t understand the new regulatory requirements outlined by the CFPB, or worse, you just don’t care to implement them.
Regardless of the reality, perceptions usually drive decision making processes and your website could be creating some pretty negative perceptions as the first impression of your business to potential clients. Furthermore, if they rule out your agency or law firm for consideration and you never knew you were even in the running, there is not much you can do to recover. In an era of consolidation in the ARM industry, there will be fewer and fewer clients to serve in the coming years. You don’t want to make that list even shorter by shooting yourself in the foot because your website does not show your company in the best light.
So, now you have a new website and it’s built on a dynamic responsive mobile platform, you’ve updated your bio photo and even added a contact form so potential clients can actually contact you online. You’re ready for the world to begin beating a path to your online door. Well…it’s just not that easy. How do you stand out on the internet in a world of millions of online offerings? How do you make your website come up on the first page of Google when people are searching? How do you make your listing stand out from the other nine listings on the first page of Google and how in the world do you manage all the negative online reputation issues? Maybe by now you are thinking that you should just scrap this whole “Website Strategy” and just wait to see if the internet idea really catches on.
Building an effective website is like integrating any other piece of technology into your business. The collection agency of 2014 doesn’t utilize a 3 x 5 card file system to track collection accounts and they don’t use rotary dialed telephones to make outbound collection calls. ARM operators have made significant investments in technology, training, integration and maintenance because these technologies deliver value, increase efficiency and drive more revenue to the bottom line. Your website should be creating the same value for your company…if it is engineered correctly and the proper strategy is applied to the technology. Properly defining meta data, titles, descriptions, image tags, file names, post tags and categories, SEO, SEM, content marketing are all part of an effective web strategy. If you don’t possess these skills and can’t manage this part of your marketing and compliance strategy effectively, outsource it to a trained professional.
Lighthouse Consulting has been providing solutions to operational compliance challenges for ARM companies for over a decade. Contact Phillip Duff, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting today and let us help you navigate the compliance landscape.
Phillip Duff, CEO | www.LighthouseConsultingInc.com | Phil@LighthouseConsultingInc.com | (904) 687-1687