By Eleanor O'Connor – On
With the release of the CFPB's new debt collection rule, having a strong online presence is more important than ever before for debt collection agencies. Working in collections can be stressful. Between keeping up with ever-changing restrictions, retaining & attracting talent, reaching consumers, and staying TCPA compliant, there's a lot to keep track of.
Recently, you may have been hearing a lot about the importance of having a strong online presence in collections. "Not another thing I have to worry about," you might be thinking. You shouldn't be expected to know how to optimize the online experience. Your expertise lies primarily in the debt collection industry. People, like myself, have entire jobs dedicated to doing JUST this!
So my team and I thought, "how can we make the process of improving the online experience for consumers a little bit easier on professionals in the debt collection industry?" We realized that we have a lot of experience to share in this area. Our solution? Create a FREE, complete, step-by step, 50+ page guide that shows how to audit and improve your collection agency's online presence.
Unfortunately, the guide was so detailed and long that we couldn't include it all in one blog post! What you'll see below is a summary of each chapter within the guide we created. To get the step-by-step audit and optimization checklists along with the full 50+ page guide, all you'll need to do is share your email & name with us so we can send it to you.
Chapter 1: Importance of a Strong Online Presence in Collections
Oftentimes the first interaction between consumers and your agency will be online. Why? Contacts that don’t pick up your initial call will have enough time to look up the phone number that called them.
All it takes is a quick Google search and they’re able to piece together who called them and why they called. Unfortunately, the details they find online may not always be the most accurate.
You must ensure that information is accurate and available when consumers seek it. What consumers find online will impact their decision to return your call or make a payment.
A strong online presence & reputation will motivate consumers to respond.
Limited Content Message
Your collection agency's online presence & reputation can increase voicemail effectiveness. Voicemails are a great opportunity to reach consumers. You can leave limited content messages using this channel. The CFPB's debt collection rules don't consider these as communications under the TCPA. This means less risk for your agency.
A common belief about voicemails is that consumers will know who the message is from and not respond. The reality is that consumers will always have information to go off of for their research. That isn’t something that you can control.
You CAN control what consumers find when they search your phone number or the name of your agency.
Limited content messages build trust with consumers through transparency. Combining that with a strong online presence and reputation will bring more responses.
Email & Texting
Debt collection agencies have begun adopting an omnichannel approach to the collection process. The CFPB's final debt collection rule accelerated this.
Enhance your email & texting efforts by improving the customer experience online. Limited content messages don't apply to texts or emails. If a consumer has established these as their preferred channels, you can still use them.
Consumers that you email and text have an established relationship with your agency. Maintain that relationship to ensure they continue making their payments.
Oftentimes emails and texts remind consumers of upcoming payments or new debts owed. Simplifying the payment process increases the likelihood of them following their payment schedule. The easiest way to do this is by improving the customer experience online.
Chapter 2: Add & Enhance Mentions of Your Agency Online [Step 1]
How to Audit
Our full guide includes a 9-step checklist that you can use to audit your agency's online presence in Google & Bing search. Completing this audit will help you see what consumers are seeing when they search your agency's name or phone number.
How to Add & Enhance
In our full guide, we show you step-by-step how to claim, verify & enhance your agency's Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, & Facebook page. You'll also receive recommendations on how to improve your existing online listings that we uncover during the initial audit.
Chapter 3: Optimize Your Agency's Website [Step 2]
How to Audit
Our full guide includes an 18-step checklist that you can use to audit your agency's website. This will help you determine what is and isn't working on your website.
How to Optimize
Our full guide shows you how to optimize the most important aspects of your agency's website to provide consumers & customers with the best possible online experience. You'll learn how to optimize your website header, footer, homepage, about page, contact page, navigation, and landing pages.
Chapter 4: Drive Traffic to Your Website via PPC [Step 3]
There’s no guarantee that your phone number landing pages will show up organically. Creating a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can increase the likelihood of them showing as top results.
In our full guide, we break down setting up a google ads account and creating a campaign for specific phone number landing pages into a 3-step process.
Chapter 5: Impact of a Strong Online Presence in Collections
Now that you’ve audited and improved your debt collection agency’s online presence, you might be wondering what benefits you’ll see from your efforts. Lets look!
Transform Negative Perceptions & Build Trust
Picture this. A consumer sees an incoming call or hears a voicemail from your agency. Their first instinct is to search for that phone number on Google. Immediately, they see the landing page your agency created for that phone number. Additionally, your agency’s homepage or consumer information page shows in the results, leaving less space for complaint websites. The consumer clicks on one of the results and sees that a legitimate business is calling them. They see the next steps to achieve their desired outcome and take action. Your agency has begun earning the trust of this once skeptical consumer.
When the consumer searches the phone number that called them or your agency’s name, they’re bound to see your agency’s website, Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Social Media Profiles, or other positive mentions. Now that you’ve added and optimized these, you can transform the negative perceptions consumers have about debt collection agencies and build trust.
Result #1: Increased Call-Backs
The first tangible short-term result you’ll see is an increase in call-backs from consumers. Consumers will feel more comfortable reaching out to your agency when they know the next steps to take and can easily see that you’re a legitimate business.
Result #2: Greater ROI
The first tangible long-term result you’ll see is a greater return on investment. Making high volumes of outbound calls costs money. When most consumers aren’t answering or returning those calls and thus aren’t making payments, you’re getting a low return on investment. An increase in call-backs and connection rate leads to more payments, and that brings a higher return on investment for your agency in the long run.
**Note: This guide is not intended to be legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. It should never be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.**