According to a report by NARs (the National Association of Realtors), nearly all generations of home buyers start their property searches online. In 2017, 99% of buyers 36 years and younger used online real estate websites to find their new home, and the stats remain the same to this day.
Modern home buyers turn to online resources because of their vast variety of listings, easy robust search functionalities, real-life reviews and huge informational databases. In addition to that, the whole process is quick, easy and effortless.
For real estate agents today, a website is an online representation of their business and a key marketing channel to raise brand awareness and attract new potential clients. With more and more companies raising the bar with their digital marketing campaigns, new techniques have to be implemented to improve the experience the website offers to the customer.
The sooner real estate companies start viewing their websites as something more than just an informational page online, the sooner they will understand the value it holds and the ROI it brings.
Homebuyers’ expectations have risen to new heights and customers are no longer interested in just an appealing design. They are looking for a complete experience, that is informative, effective and brings the results needed. They want to get the level of service they could get at an agency in the comfort of their home. If you manage to capture all this and present it online, you will get a huge positive response and improve your sales.
To help your path to the perfect real estate website, we have gathered the best tips out there and listed them below. Whether you are building a completely new website from scratch or simply want to learn how to improve your existing one, this is the guide for you.
Answer the right questions
A common problem for many real estate websites is that their content doesn’t answer to the needs of their target audience. Most of the time the content is created according to the interests of the real estate company and not of the potential clients.
This is why it is very important to understand who you want to target with your website and what information are these people interested in. People go online to answer specific questions and your website needs to become the source for this.
By creating an online directory on real estate matters you will attract more traffic to your website and gain loyal followers.
Don’t turn your website into a simple listings’ portal. Give it a unique feel and fill it with valuable content. Use your expertise to talk about the neighbourhoods your listings are in, market statistics, community events, interior design and tips for new homebuyers.
Why not create a real estate wiki page, with industry terms and explanations? Educate your webpage visitors on selling and buying processes and vendors.
Check out other real estate websites to see what content they are using. Test what pages are the most visited and try producing more similar content. Make sure that whatever message you are trying to convey to the audience is direct, powerful and straight to the point.
It’s a no brainer that a consumer is going to trust another consumer’s opinion much more than a promo text. You can highlight your business benefits all you want, but if there are no client testimonials to prove them, you are losing a big percentage of potential opportunities.
Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. (Socialfresh)
Inserting client testimonials throughout your website to back up certain statements will increase your brand’s credibility and serve as a constant reminder to viewers why you are the company they should opt for.
Try adding photos of clients to reviews, so that viewers can visualise the positive feedback and remember it better. You can even take it a step further and record them in video format. These tend to work even better as they are more personal and will give a feel of what it is like to work with you.
Have your testimonials tell a story that will send out a powerful trust signal to new clients.
A good testimonial highlights your strengths, talks about how you sorted out client’s pain points, sets you apart from the competition and is sincere. Ask your clients to describe their previous experiences and how working with you was different.
The most important aspect of an effective review is authenticity, so make sure that each testimonial is unique.
Don’t be afraid to be straightforward and ask your clients for reviews. Provide them with a template so they have an idea of what is required. Mention how important they are to you from the beginning of your professional relationship so that they understand why you need them.
After you’ve collected the feedback make the most of it by including it in marketing emails, promoting it on your social media and adding them to your blog posts.
Be mobile friendly
Making sure that your real estate website looks and performs on mobile devices as well as it does on a desktop is vital. With more and more people conducting searches and browsing online through their devices, you cannot afford to have a website that doesn’t cut the mark, or you will end up losing a big chunk of potential customers.
But just having a page that can be viewed on mobile devices is not enough. You need to dig deeper and provide a positive user-focused experience too.
Try to think outside the box for a minute and consider how a potential customer will interact with your website. What browsing route will they take? Taking into consideration how people use their devices will allow you to design a website that will appeal to them more, thus making them use it more actively.
A mobile responsive design will not only allow you to reach a new diverse audience and help you rank higher on Google, but also make sure that the content you are producing for your page doesn’t go to waste.
Now, if your website was created in WordPress, making it responsive can be easy. You simply need to choose one of the existing responsive templates that are offered. This way, your page will automatically resize itself to fit the device screen. This option though has less flexibility as you are confined to the layout of the template.
Another option is to invest in a “mini” mobile version of your page. This way, when your website is accessed via devices, it will automatically redirect to the mobile version. This option is usually created through various applications but does not necessarily showcase all your website content.
The last and most difficult option is to build a responsive webpage from scratch. It’s more expensive and will require more time, however, the benefits it carries are worth it. Responsive websites are fully fluid and benefit your overall SEO. They also don’t limit your content and allow you to present your brand better.
Something to remember when building a mobile-friendly real estate website is that it must behave differently on desktops and devices. For example, because of the limited viewing space on a device, your menus and drop out lists have to automatically collapse to save space. Call to actions should be centre stage and all the fonts should be big enough so that the viewer doesn’t need to zoom in.
When people provide any sort of personal information, they want to be certain that it will be protected. That’s why it is extremely important to ensure your real estate website is secure and has an SSL certificate installed.
A secure URL will start with “https://” rather than “http://”.
If a URL isn’t secure, some browsers, like Google, for example, will even display a warning letting the viewer know that their information isn’t protected. They will also rank such websites lower, making them harder to find.
Customers also will think twice before providing any information if they know that its safety isn’t guaranteed. According to research, 84% of people would abandon a purchase if they were dealing with an unsecured website.
Engage with visuals
Visual assets, like images, videos and infographics are a powerful tool when it comes to marketing and client attraction. It’s a proven fact that visual information is processed much quicker by the human brain than text, making it much more effective at passing a certain message.
With the help of high-quality images or videos, you can make your listings look more attractive and eye-catching to potential home buyers. You want your client to visualise the lifestyle they are buying into and that it’s not just a house. If they can get a flavour of what it would be like to live in that property and in that area, then they are much more likely to engage further with the site
You want to create an atmosphere for viewers that would convince them to work with you. To evoke a positive emotion that would linger.
If viewers feel impressed and inspired, not only will they share your content with others, but they will also more likely pick up the phone and get in touch with you. Make sure that if there are people present in your visuals, that they are always smiling. Ask your friends and existing clients, what emotion they experience when they enter your website. Does it send out a message of trust, joy and family?
Another important thing about using visuals on your web page is to make sure that they are relevant to the information you provide. If your listings are on the beach, it really isn’t a good idea to have a mountain view image as a background. This may sound obvious but is a very common mistake made on many websites.
Check that all the images are of the same quality and format so that your overall design looks cohesive and represents your branding in the right way. Try to use images that highlight the best parts of the area and appeal to viewers.
Nobody likes to wait for a page to load. Even if it’s the best real estate website in the world but it takes too long to show up, people will leave. And not just people! Search engines like Google will too!
Research proves that 2 seconds is all companies get when it comes to website loading time. Anything longer increases bounce rates by 50%.
The loading speed depends greatly on the amount of information a page holds. If you’ve uploaded lots of heavy visuals and are a fan of pop-ups on your website, you can be sure that they are slowing your page down immensely.
Sometimes it’s better to focus on a simpler approach that provides instant and rapid access to your information, rather than a more intricate design.
Try resizing your visuals before you upload them, to make them lighter and thus stop them from affecting the load speed as much. Use tools like PageSpeed Insights, that are free and can provide you with a complete analysis of your site and everything that needs fixing.
A 1-second delay in your site speed can result in a 7% reduction in conversions (neilpatel.com)
We would also recommend saying no to pop-ups altogether. Not only are they hard to engage with on mobile devices but they are also extremely annoying. Allow your real estate website to sell itself without additional help.
An important function of any real estate website is to act as a connecting line between the customer and the company. For that, it doesn’t only have to provide an easy-access contact form but also offer an opportunity to connect to a company representative on the spot.
Include a separate contact tab on the menu and place links leading to it on the pages. Add social media buttons for them to connect with you on various platforms and be able to share your content on them.
Create a contact form that is simple and short. The less information they have to fill in the more chance you have of them actually going through with it. Try to include only the important fields required, such as name, email, phone number and message. Consider including drop-down menus for any other information that isn’t vital.
To capture potential leads that are really not into filling out forms, it’s a really good idea to invest in a live chat solution. This way you can communicate with visitors in real time, engage them and direct them to the information they need.
Be sure to allow the visitor to close the live chat window if they are done using it so that it doesn’t irritate the eye.
Human communication is still as important as ever for consumers, so try to reply to all the requests personally and quickly.
Focus on content
Now, we cannot stress the importance of good content enough. Essentially everything that you have on your website has to have a specific role and message behind it. Even before you start writing something or creating a visual, you need to understand what is the goal that you want it to achieve.
Focusing on the action your text or visual is supposed to inspire, will allow you to produce things of higher quality, and will be far more effective than simple generic content.
It’s also important to keep your text structured. Because most people have a short attention span when it comes to reading things online, and mostly try to scan through the text, it is important to make your information digestible and catchy. Experiment with headlines, bullet points and images to break up the text, so the viewer’s eye can engage with something.
Use calls to action to help guide your website’s visitors and encourage them.
Diversify your content. Create area and neighbourhood profiles that educate viewers about their layout and their benefits. Form small guides to help people learn about the attractions, atmosphere and activities there.
Neighbourhood and area profiles aren’t just interesting for your visitors but also help with SEO.
Showcase what surrounds your listings. Are there any schools nearby? What are the best restaurants in that area? Is there a gym walking distance away? Demonstrating these things will allow your potential home buyers to visualise all the opportunities they will have if they decide to live in that area, and will act as an additional convincing factor.
Refresh and update your content frequently, to rank better with search engines and show activity. Try to post on your blog at least once a week.
Offer market reports tailored to local data about home sales and prices, that you can also use in your marketing newsletters. Add an online calculator that will estimate the worth of a property or the mortgage. Be creative and try to look at things through your customers’ eyes.
One of the most important parts of any real estate website is, of course, the listings on it. And even though integrating your listings on a web page may sound complicated, in reality, it’s actually an easy task.
Consider integrating your website with a powerful back-end CRM System such as Qobrix which allows you to have powerful Multiple Listing Services on your site with easy access and control via Internet Data Exchange.
Try to provide an easy to use search experience with different filtering options, to segment the results according to customers’ preferences. Add a map view next to each result and point out the community features.
To gain even more use out of your search function add a “Sign up” button, that would allow viewers to create an online cabinet, by providing minimum information and their email. This way they can gain a chance to add listings to favourites, schedule property showings and save searches, while you gain access to a potential lead’s contacts.
Overall you need to remember that the best real estate website is informative, user-friendly and unique. It has an efficient search functionality and is optimised to drive conversions. Its main goals need to be focused on attracting new visitors and on helping your business beat the competition. A website should be an investment and not a cost. Its main goal is to build credibility, make your business more visible online and raise onboarding.
Author: Nadia Ivanova, PR & Digital Marketing Manager at Qobo Group Ltd