What comparison sites can take away from Zillow.com

By |2018-06-05T06:51:32+00:00May 9th, 2018|

When the WUA research team conducts a Digital Sales Scan, often times a couple of comparison websites wind up in the rankings. These sites may not offer products such as credit cards or mortgages themselves, but they are indispensable tools that customers use to help make decisions when searching for a product. The comparison website has become an integral part of the customer journey, which is why they are included in the rankings when WUA measures an online market.

In our latest digital experience measurement of the online market for home mortgages, the comparison websites Realtor.com and Zillow.com were featured, with the latter finishing in 3rd place overall and achieving higher scores than the former in a number of key categories. Here’s what comparison sites can learn from the design of Zillow.com.

A calming welcome to mortgages

Getting a mortgage can be an overwhelming ordeal, especially for first-time home buyers. After all, a mortgage entails borrowing large sums of money that must be paid off at interest over a period of up to 30 years. It’s a decision that must be made with caution and confidence. It’s up to lenders and comparison sites to help to create that feeling through the design of their websites, starting from the moment the potential home buyer enters the website. For nearly every category that has to do with the first impression that respondents in our study form during the initial stages of the customer journey, Zillow.com ranked on top. Have a look at Zillow’s mortgages landing page.

What a customer sees when searching for mortgages on Zillow.com.

To start with, this  landing page is all about “you”, the potential homebuyer. Zillow avoids overwhelming the customer with the technicalities that come with getting a home mortgage and chooses instead to merely explain how Zillow helps homebuyers find a lender that fits their needs. The page is clean and clear, utilizing large icons to better exemplify what Zillow does for customers. It’s also worth noting that there’s only two CTA’s on this page, both of them simply labeled “Get Started”. Realtor.com, Zillow’s competitor, takes a different approach by immediately providing mortgage rates and several CTA’s on their mortgage homepage. Considering that respondents ranked Zillow.com highest for Look & Feel during the initial stages of the customer journey, we can see that it pays off to be simple and straightforward in order to ease potential homebuyers into the idea of getting a mortgage. One respondent in our study even exclaimed that the “introductory explanations and messages make me feel positive.”

Keeping the buyer informed

As we saw in the previous section, making sure the potential home buyer is clearly informed before starting the process of comparing and selecting a mortgage works to boost customer satisfaction. And since choosing a home mortgage is a time-consuming process, it’s also beneficial to keep the buyer informed about the progress they’re making throughout the process. Comparison sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.com first ask a substantial amount of personal questions before helping home buyers find mortgages that suits their needs. The difference between the two comparison sites is that Zillow informs the customer how they’re progressing as they fill in their personal information.

Subtly placed at the bottom of this page is a bar that continuously tells the customer how much of the application process they’ve completed. With each question answered, the percentage in the middle of the bar increases by a number of points. Yes, the progress bar is just a small detail, but it’s one that works to keep antsy customers from exiting the website too early. This, along with the crisp design of this personal information page, propelled Zillow.com to first place for the category “application process.”

Giving a sense of support

A grip of the terminology surrounding home mortgages is crucial when selecting one. Potential home buyers need to understand what is meant with APR or 5/1 ARM, and if you’re a first-time home buyer, chances are you won’t be all too familiar with what these terms entail. Zillow.com knows these technicalities can be challenging to understand, and uses this as an opportunity to display the supportive nature of their brand.

Above we see the page of customized mortgage rates Zillow.com displays after the potential home buyer enters their information. If the homebuyer is on the page for more than ten seconds without clicking on anything, a small blue box appears with the question “Feeling overwhelmed?”. The blue box has a CTA that eventually gives the home buyer an option to speak with a representative from Zillow.com. It’s also worth pointing out the orange label placed above the logo of Ally Bank, which informs the customer that this bank offers the lowest APR (30yr) in the region. With these small additions to the page, Zillow.com gives the home buyer a sense of support while simultaneously strengthening their own brand image. These added features to their page also helps to explain why Zillow.com finished way ahead of the competition for our question on whether the site “Provides fair and reliable information”.

WUA’s Digital Sales Scan

We didn’t just come up with these insights into the online market for home mortgages on the spot. The data from our proven Digital Sales Scan pointed us towards them. With each Digital Sales Scan, we deploy hundreds, sometimes thousands of respondents to evaluate websites within certain markets based on the digital experience they have, which allows us to uncover the elements of a website that work best to attract customers. This article provides a sample of the superb insights we have on the home mortgage market, but the rest of our data paints a more complete picture.

If you want to become a leader in digital sales, our digital experts can help your company become that by creating a custom tailor-made report based on data to improve the customer journey step-by-step. Each Digital Sales Scan report includes market best practices both inside and outside your industry, recommendations and customer feedback on each step of the customer journey, and screenshot analysis to help your team create a better website and drive conversion.

Want to get the whole picture of the online home mortgage market?

Download the free market results report from the Mortgage Digital Sales Scan