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Turning Internet Confusion into Success: Websites Part I

Written by Brandon Smith on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 6:00 pm
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The simple fact that the internet is a part of the returning real estate market is not big news, but with so much information coming out so fast, understanding it can be difficult. This article is the fourth in a series of six that decodes the basics, and even some mild intricacies, of the world of electronic marketing and will show you how to compete and succeed in an area of marketing where you might have previously feared to tread. In this portion we will discuss the core of your electronic marketing strategy - your website. In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that I consult for a company that provides web sites for real estate agents. As such I will not be citing sources to specific providers as I have in previous articles. This is in the interest of fairness.

Technically Speaking … What is a website?

The simplest explanation of a website is that it is a file that sits on a computer that one can view from afar. The more elegant, and personal, explanation is that a website is the core of your electronic marketing strategy. Websites have become so essential in the real estate market today that it is almost impossible to exist as an agent without a website.

Websites are the storefront of the new millennium and give you instant access to clients that you would never have met otherwise. However the same marketing rules apply with a website that apply to a storefront. Marrying a few basic marketing concepts to your website will yield better results.

Marketing Basics + Website = Confusion

In marketing terms AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Decision, and Action. This philosophy still holds true on the internet. Simply because you have a website does not mean that anyone is going to find it. In order for you to have a website that you can build an electronic marketing campaign on it must fulfill those needs:

  • Attention - What is your Google rank? How many visitors actually come to your site?

  • Interest - How long do people spend on your site?

  • Decision - How many leads do you receive from your site? If you said ‘zero’ then we have some work to do.

  • Action - How many leads have turned into sales? You can open the world’s best cookie store, but if you open it in the middle of the woods, and no one sees it, then you likely won’t do any business. With millions of websites in the wild, why would they pick yours? Starting right now, you need to begin to think of your website as your marketing hub - for all your campaigns. Internet, print, TV and direct.

The interactive aspect of the internet allows you to fulfill your client’s needs in a way that was not possible ten years ago. Your website is your new business card and people will treat it the same way. Will they bookmark your site into their favorites or toss you in the trash? Essential Components of a Website The number of tools that you can add to a website is almost obscene. You can find widgets and gadgets for almost anything. Do you want a widget (an independent tool on your web page) to tell the weather? How about a widget to give us APRs? Whatever it is, you can find it. Widgets are nice, and definitely have their place, however there are a few elements that your website must contain: A home page that is content rich - Flash is pretty, but it does not help with your SEO efforts or add sufficient content to your site. It is best to go with a simple front page that says who you are, what you do and has a very apparent way for your customers to search for listings. If your picture is bigger than the ‘call to action’ on your front page then switch the sizes.

Search page - You need some way to allow your clients to search listings. Clients come to real estate websites to search for listings, they do not come to read your life story (sorry about that but it is very true). Your listings - You need a page that highlights your listings. This is especially important to people that are looking for someone to help them sell their home. If you are going to put a link on your site for a sales appraisal or comparative market analysis, then this is the place to do it. This page is also a great opportunity for good original content - which means that it is good for your SEO efforts.

Contact - They must have a place to go to contact you. Very few people will use a contact form but you want to have it in place because users are so used to going to the ‘Contact Us’ page to get contact information. Besides, if you spend the time to create a proper web site, your pay-off is their information.

Call to action - Not a page in and of itself, but you need to have a call to action on the right hand side of every page. How do people read English? Left to right. So make sure your ‘call to actions’ are on the right. This can be a newsletter signup or a simple contact form, but you should have something to offer on every page.

Lead capture - It simply does you no good to get people to your site and then not capture that information. We will discuss in-depth lead capture as a strategy in the next article.

Next Article: Websites Part 2: What the market offers and how to choose a website

Brandon Smith is a marketing expert in the real estate industry and college instructor. He can be reached at AgentExcel .

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