After working on over 150 websites and hosting over 110 as an agency, Branding Arc has experienced every correct (and incorrect) way of building and executing a comprehensive debt collection-focused website. As a marketing firm focused exclusively on the collections industry, we’ve had years of experience and thousands of data points to analyze both our approach and that of our clients to culminate expertise in building the perfect website.
Over time, we’ve discovered five key principles every collections firm should consider both before and after creating their website to optimize content, design, messaging, and workflows.
100 Websites’ Worth of Data
In the age of ever-evolving collections regulations and standards, Branding Arc has analyzed over 100 websites’ worth of data to determine five key trends that we believe every collection agency should focus on. These trends are backed by endless data points, internal SEO studies, and anecdotal evidence from our clients.
1. Build a Mobile-First Website
First and foremost, consumers nowadays are mobile-first. Gone are the days when the average consumer is picking up a laptop or browsing the web on their desktops at home. Consumers are overwhelmingly visiting our agency websites via their phones or tablets, and in many cases, the majority of the traffic is mobile traffic. The entire website, from start to finish and every page in between, needs to be built through a mobile lens.
A mobile-first approach not only caters to the needs and preferences of mobile users but also improves search engine rankings, as search engines like Google prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their algorithms. Furthermore, the mobile-first design encourages simplicity and prioritization, forcing businesses to focus on essential content and features, leading to a more streamlined and efficient website overall.
When a website is built with the mobile user in mind, a more streamlined, curated, and succinct experience for all users is all but guaranteed.
2.Understand the Audience Dilemma
Your website needs to be built with a mobile-first lens to better appease the thousands of consumers who have switched to a primarily mobile-first searching approach, but your website can’t be built with only consumers in mind. Every website that comes through the Branding Arc web is built with a clear understanding of target audiences. Every sentence, page, and design choice is built with the understanding that each part will be viewed by three key stakeholders: consumers, clients, and regulators.
Build a website and design content around that understanding. You can’t speak directly to a consumer without your client reading it, so don’t try to. Speak to all three of our audiences (consumer, client and regulator) while remaining compliant. Consumers don’t need to be coddled by speeches built within sites, and clients certainly do not need to be lost via overly focused consumer content. While it requires finesse, a good collections website can accomplish both tasks simultaneously.
3. The Difference Between a Payment Portal and a Website
A little more on the nose than the previous two points, we’ve noticed at Branding Arc that many collections firms struggle with the difference between a payment portal and a website. While both support one another, they are separate entities focused on two different goals. While a website needs to speak to all three audiences, as we just alluded to, a payment portal is a very direct way to ensure every consumer interaction accomplishes the end goal of increased revenue from collecting dollars.
These separate entities, however, are not intrinsically separate. Your website should funnel traffic into your payment portal across the entire site. Consumer pages, payment pages, about pages, and more should give consumers a quick way to access your payment portal to make compliant payments at the touch of a button.
Building lead funnels and understanding how traffic flows between your web pages and your payment portal can help you make better design decisions and, ultimately, drive more traffic to the portal itself.
4. SEO is Still King
A collection agency’s biggest weakness is ultimately its ability to explain to the consumer that paying down debts is a vital part of their financial health. Decades of past collection practices and the general stigma of debt collection have soured the public on debt collection to begin with. When you combine the fact that many attorneys built their websites to attack collection agencies and convince consumers to sue rather than pay down their debt, agencies are already starting at a deficit.
To combat these preconceptions and a negative online reputation, you must build your website with SEO in mind. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fundamental part of Branding Arc’s strategy and website architecture. Every piece of messaging through social media posts, content creation, and even YouTube video scripts are built with the idea that we must make those pieces of content the first thing consumers search for when they Google our clients’ names.
Defending your reputation as a collection agency will make or break your organization, and an optimized SEO strategy is how you start combating the predetermined disdain for our industry and the lawsuits and complaints that come with it.
5. Community News is News You Need to Share
You must share your successes as an organization. Every one of us in the industry knows the time and effort we all put in to better our community and industry as a whole, but almost everyone outside of our circle doesn’t. One of the most important aspects of Branding Arc’s marketing efforts is focused on sharing and promoting our clients’ community involvement efforts.
We noticed very quickly that each one of our clients was donating to, supporting, or advocating on behalf of dozens of charity organizations each year without so much as a mention of their goodwill. We understand that putting that kind of information on the web isn’t why you do it, but those messages of goodwill go a long way to bettering the reputation of both your organization and the industry as a whole.
And, continuing with our SEO efforts as an industry, each community involvement article gets picked up by trade organizations like RMAI and newsgroups like Receivables Info. It’s a win-win across the board that must be shared.
Continue to Learn More
These five key principles will help position your organization for a better future with both consumers and clients alike, but they aren’t the only aspects of web design that should be considered. Continue to research best practices, and keep up to date with Branding Arc’s latest developments as we continue to build upon what we’ve learned through the next 100 websites.
About Branding Arc
Located in Port Saint Lucie, FL, Branding Arc is a full-service marketing agency focused on providing website, marketing, and reputation management services to the receivables management and financial services industries. The team is composed of communications and branding experts who listen to clients’ visions, learn their stories, and apply that understanding to help each client position their brand, find new customers, and manage their online reputation. Branding Arc customizes each client engagement ranging from simple one-time projects to marketing department outsourcing, adeptly handling creative direction, graphic design, programming, and project management. By closely monitoring the marketplace and competition, the team identifies trends and leverages opportunities that drive bottom-line revenue for clients.