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What Should Your Real Estate Website Have to Drive More Customers?

March 29, 2016

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The Internet has become a major part of our daily lives, changing the way we socialise, work and even shop. This has forced many companies from different industries to develop an online presence to meet changing customer habits. Banking is now completely online, travel and insurance companies have shifted from the offline world to online, allowing you to purchase travel tickets and insurance packages with the click of a mouse.

Similar to other industries the real estate sector, is going through a serious change as customers look to ease the home-buying process by doing most of their work online. This has forced many real estate agents to create custom designed websites or launch a template website, basing in on WordPress or some other control management system.

Real Estate Website

 

AirBnB was a real game changer for the Real Estate industry, setting a new design standard. When they arrived on the scenes the AirBnB site astonished its visitors with a revolutionary clean design and search box that was user oriented, located in the middle of their homepage banner. Their site structure was designed to get people engaged and retrieve information from their database of homes. AirBnB’s structure quickly became a role model for many site owners and businesses, looking to create similar designs.

While real estate agents have reacted well to the increased online presence in their business, getting more involved with technology to meet changing consumer habits, many websites are still lacking basic elements that can help take their business from good to great. The majority of Real Estate agents have invested in their online presence, developing easy-to-use websites that are established on the popular platforms, such as WordPress or Joomla, but haven’t gone that extra mile to make it conversion oriented. Most of the sites today are very similar in structure, design and content – complete lookalikes. Creating a similar website to other players is always an option and will get you so far, but to significantly increase your clients and revenue, requires you to think strategically (out-of-the-box).

In this article we are going to focus on 5 design elements that every real estate website owner should think about when developing a website.

1. An Engaging HomePage Banner

All online companies have goals and are looking to achieve something specific, whether it is lead generation, sales or selling an online product. Our company, TechSors, focuses on website development, so when you land on our site we have created an engaging banner that allows our users to choose what type of goal they want to achieve. This type of banner immediately gets our users engaged allowing them to choose a route that is best for them. Sure we could have done a static banner like our competitors, but then we wouldn’t have been thinking out-of-the-box.

Techsors Homepage

 

So the same goes for any business, especially in the real estate business. Your users are probably arriving from organic or paid search results, usually to your homepage. From there they want to find information that is relevant to what they are looking for. You can confront them with different slogans or irrelevant information that will bore them to death, or you can get them engaged with your site.

If you have the technological capabilities why not show them featured properties that are relevant to their place of living. In addition you can provide them with a MLS search box to immediately search your database of properties. Just remember that if a user is coming from a neighbourhood in Essex or surfing the web from Manchester, then he is probably looking for information that is relevant to his/her location. That user won’t be interested in all the properties you’ve got to offer, from locations that are not his.

Another great way to personalise your users’ experience is to have a dynamic title that retrieves your AdWord’s keywords (if you are doing paid marketing). This way when your users land on your page they see content that matches what they were searching for. So if a user types in to Google “Buy a house in Manchester”, your Homepage banner title would be dynamic and change to “Properties for Sale in Manchester” – The dynamic keyword would be the location {manchester}

Remember that personalisation is often the key to success.

RedFin’s website is quite eye catching as they implement a stunning design and allow you to search their properties. To achieve higher conversion, they could have added 3 Featured Properties that are relevant to the user’s location. By adding “Properties Near You” would have probably increased their engagement and conversion rates.

Redfin Homepage

 

The same goes for Remax. Their site looks stunning but lacks personalisation. Surfing from a U.K IP address, I entered the remax.com website. I was immediately confronted by a standard search box. Why not detect my location and immediately show me relevant properties?

Remax Homepage

 

How to detect location?

GeoIP detection is an easy to use plugin that can be installed on most WordPress websites. It basically detects your user’s location, allowing you then to personalise and show relevant information (To setup a location detector or plugin you will require some technical knowledge). Similar to GeoIP there are other detectors as well. All of these can be implemented on your website allowing you to target your audience and present them with much more relevant content. Always remember, it’s the first impression that counts, so make sure your site looks good and provides relevant information – In other words, personalise the whole experience.

2. Money is Always a Major Incentive

If you have been in the property industry for a while, you know that listing fees, closing costs and other commissions that your company charges are always a deal breaker. After you have got your potential clients hooked, make sure you close the deal by telling them how much they are going to save. While all your clients are going to have to actually spend money with you, it always sounds better when you tell them how much money they can save with you.

Again, Redfin do this well with their interactive widget that shows you how much money you can save on each purchase. Furthermore they tell you that they charge half of the typical listing fee. 

Redfin Widget

 

Create a widget that will engage your users and not just read information from on your site. If you can get your users engaged, your conversion rates will sky rocket and you will get more business.

3. If You’re Good at Something Brag About It

Trust is always a serious issue, especially if you’re not an established company or not well known. Your clients need to feel right at home when they arrive on your site and receive a feeling that they are in good hands. 

Offline, trust can easily be achieved as you can meet up with your clients, face to face, and sell your product, but online Trust can be quite difficult to achieve. Think about it, you can’t talk to your prospects, instead you can only confront them with marketing material and promotions on your website. You can’t get them to immediately sign anything, instead you have to get them to sign up to your site if you want their business. You can’t show them properties that might interest them, instead you have to get them to insert their search queries into your site to understand what they are looking for. If you’re marketing through your site, then in most cases you will require your users to take action before you can provide them with any relevant information – and for this to happen you will need to gain their trust.

Trust can be achieved in many different ways. You can have endorsements, badges and even testimonials of previous deals you’ve closed. Just make sure the testimonials are real and that the quotes you put on your site provide your future clients with added value. Which testimonial would convince you more?

a) “Agentab found for me the perfect property. I absolutely love it”
b) “Agentab found for me the perfect property and also saved me time and money”

Others ways you can gain trust is by adding numbers to your page. apartments.com do this by adding achieved numbers from their internal data.

  apartment homepage

 

4. Make Sure the Tabs on Your Navigation Bar are Relevant

Ok, so for those of you who don’t know what a navigation bar is, it is basically the top of your site where you have your tabs. Your navigation allows your users to navigate between different pages on your site. It is one of the most important elements on your site.

In this section I am not going to go into the navigation styles that you can implement, but rather talk about the types of information that you should have on your navigation bar. Yes, you can go for the standard navigation tabs, like most of your competitors, or you can think about your navigation bar and create one that is really relevant to your individual users.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that your competitor’s website navigation bars aren’t good, I’m just saying that you can always make them better. To create a result driven navigation bar, first analyse your analytics. If you already have a website and have implemented Google Analytics then you can easily see which pages are more popular. Which pages are causing your users to leave and which pages interest your clients.

Here is how you see the data in Google Analytics:

BEHAVIOR > SITE CONTENT > ALL PAGES or LANDING PAGES

Google Analytics

 

Analyse your data and then try to determine which pages are more important. So for example if your top viewed page, apart from your homepage, is your “About Us” page, then you might want your first tab from the left to direct to that. Remember that users read from left to right so its best to place your information in the correct order of importance. If it is your “Get Advice” page then maybe that should be your first tab. You need to analyse your data and understand which information and pages attract your users and which pages serve their purpose. If your featured properties are the most viewed part of your website and provide you the best results (ROI), then why not have a tab to that page that allows navigation.

If this is the first time you are developing a website, then it’s a different story. Note which information your clients crave when you meet up with them and what type of information helps close the sale. Also try to map out your sales pitch. All of that information then needs to be put on your website and placed in a correct structure in order to lead your potential web clients through the correct channels of your site.

5. Video Sells Better than Images

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a product video could very well be worth much more.

The great thing about online video is that people vastly prefer watching them over reading. Just imagine landing on a website and seeing a cool video of people that have bought properties through your agency or seeing the inside of a few impressive properties that were sold. Wouldn’t that impressive you more than just seeing an nice image with a bit of text on it?

According to kissmetrics.com organisational housewares e-tailer StacksAndStacks.com reported that visitors were 144% more likely to purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not.

Furthermore, according to 3M corporation, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.

And if that doesn’t impress you, then this fact will. According to crazyegg.com people who watch a video of your product are as much as 85% more likely to purchase.

So instead of having a website like Bairstow Eves, that doesn’t really tell you much about what they do, spice it up with an amazing video and boost your conversions.

Bairstow website

 

Final Thoughts

This article touched only a few things that need to be taken into consideration when developing a performance oriented website. Design, UX and tracking should also be taken into consideration, especially if you want to achieve your goals. If you get stuck or need further guidance, then feel free to contact us. We are always happy to assist

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About the Author
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Adam Perl
Adam Perl is VP Marketing at TechSors, a digital agency that specialises in Content marketing and Web Development. Adam's work experience spans 10+ years of strategic marketing & planning for online international companies in the financial, gaming, eCommerce and the travel industry.