The last couple of years have been tough for most estate agents, especially those relying on the ‘old ways’ of marketing. Typically, a high street agent’s website will work as a glorified brochure, built to present all the properties for sale or let. Many agents do not rely or use their websites to generate leads, and as such, miss an opportunity and a chunk of the local market share. This is because most agents still rely on the portals to bring the buyers and tenants and on word-of-mouth or direct mailing to attract the vendors and landlords.
Your website isn’t just a corporate brochure, it is your route to more leads and more instructions.
The new online agents, however, have pushed the market to a completely new level. They use their shiny new websites and the latest technology more effectively, which allows them to provide a better user experience, charge less and, consequently, scoop up more customers.
The high street agents that want to stay in business and do well in the future, should (if they haven’t already done so) rethink the role of their website and online assets, and invest in learning how to up their game. Here are a few things to consider when doing this:
THE DEATH OF THE HOMEPAGE
In the past, the homepage used to attract the highest number of visitors as it was the first entry point for most agents’ websites.
We are now starting to see less traffic coming to the homepage. Going forward, most new websites from forward-thinking agents will move further away from a traditional homepage and towards more dynamic entry points (or landing pages).
You should plan for a personalised experience on your website based on intent, location, and visitors’ larger data profile. From the images and their size, to the actual content you show, including call to actions, you should consider the prospects previous interaction with your brand and give them a more personalised experience to help them climb up the ladder from a cold to a warm to a hot prospect.
Don’t think of your homepage as having only one entrance or exit; consider it like a theatre with multiple exits and entrances.
DEVELOPER TOOLS AND ADD-ONS
As people live more of their lives online, digital user experiences will be the rock on which almost every successful agency is built. But there’s one slight problem. There is a demand for good software but, broadly speaking, there are not enough good developers to build all this functionality. And even if there were, infrastructure is something that takes a lot of time, attention and investment – something many high street agents cannot afford.
But here is the good news. To plug that gap, we’re currently seeing an explosion in developer tools.
From instant valuations to booking a viewing appointment directly into your calendar or online chatting bots, the new breed of websites should have the flexibility to add or remove any elements you need, which helps your visitors and clients.
This is why at Art Division we only use WordPress (a free, open source website creation tool) as it gives us an extensive pool of tools and the ability to add third party applications for a smaller investment.
When planning your next website, consider a system like WordPress, which can grow, mould and evolve as your business and visitors dictate. This means you can spend less on developing your own software and more on your customers’ needs.
DATA MEETS DESIGN
Most agents list their services on their website and add the content they believe describes them best. The problem with this is that it’s not necessarily about the visitor’s needs.
Instead, try to understand your visitors better. Consider what, exactly are their needs, and then plan a new sitemap which consists of several entry points and funnels (other pages which help a specific type of prospect) according to that.
For example, an elderly couple looking to sell their holiday home in Wales will require a different entry page and subsequent funnel to a young couple looking to sell their current property so they can buy a bigger home.
Work with your web analyst to better understand your visitors and design an experience that is helpful to the user, leveraging on data and analytics to make it personalised and contextualised.
As an agent, you help people to sell, let, buy or rent properties, but clients have different needs. Put your clients’ needs first and then structure the content for the services you provide rather than the other way around, and your website will be transformed from a glorified brochure to a lead generation machine.