Your real estate website is a 24/7 sales tool. How can you make sure that it’s one of your most powerful marketing assets? These five best practices from Weichert® will get you started.
1. Design it for the UX (User Experience)
It’s probably not surprising to note that over 95% percent of all homebuyers use the internet in their home search. [National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Real Estate in a Digital Age 2021] This underscores the importance of your real estate website and why it needs to be designed with the user experience (UX) in mind.
Be sure that your site is easy to navigate and that it provides the visitor with a visual experience, too. Customers want to “see” elements of their buying/selling experience to help them gather information to take next steps. Quality property photographs, 3D videos, and location maps are all key visual tools for buyers and sellers.
In addition, there are visuals on your site that represent you and your brand. Headshots, your company logo, the color palette of your site, and how it all comes together paint a picture of who you are and what working with you might be like. In many cases, this will determine a customer’s first impression of your business. That’s why, with your website, every little detail counts. Just like staging a home, a website designed for a great UX sets you up for success.
2. Use smart site navigation
Also known as a site map or the site’s information architecture, your site’s navigation is like the careful framing of a new home. Basically, it’s how you plan to flow out the information on your site. This should align with your customers’ research process. For example, your navigation buttons should include “properties for sale,” “properties for rent,” and “about us” pages because you know that’s what customers will be searching for. You can even go a step deeper with sub-pages. For example, if you’re near a desirable beach location, or a new 55+ community, help your customers get to that information with easy-to-find sub-pages and links within your own site.
Then, make sure your content is relevant, giving the user what they’re looking for. Answer their who, what, when, where, and why’s to engage them long enough to take a next step, which is a call to action. Whether it’s inviting them to sign up for your newsletter, or reaching out for more information, a call to action is a critical step toward generating leads.
3. Optimize for mobile
Much of today’s online searching is done straight from our phones. According to NAR, millennials use mobile devices nearly twice as often as the silent generation (those born from 1928-1945). Be sure to create a website that is designed for mobile first but is also responsive. This means that the design can adjust to whatever device the user is using. It may seem like a minor point, but it can make all the difference in what the UX looks and feels like.
4. Offer value-added tools
According to Forbes, “On-site self-service tools such as booking in-person or virtual visits, calculating selling prices, or checking rental property availability can dramatically speed up the path to conversion. [This] helps move prospects from the evaluation to engagement stages without involving their agents.” Calculators, filter options, 3D videos, and customer portals can make the UX simpler, more informative, and more gratifying.
5. Consider an IDX feed
NAR defines IDX— Internet Data Exchange—as a set of policies, software, and standards of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that allows real estate agents participating in their local MLS to share information online. In simple terms, it exchanges consent between real estate agents to display each other’s property listing on the internet.
According to Zipper Agent, “IDX integration [on your website] helps you create crawlable pages for each listing, which could include all of the listings in your MLS. So, the more listings you have, the higher the pages Google will index. It increases content on your site, resulting in attracting more potential customers.”
On the positive side, IDX can provide site visitors with up-to-date listings and an accurate search tool. On the negative side, it can be pricey when you do it on your own. Read more about IDX pros and cons to weigh your options.
Lastly, and while it’s not an official tip, it’s our most important point of all: be honest with yourself. Weichert knows that an effective real estate website comes from more than just a few best practices done once. It’s an ongoing commitment to excellence that requires time, which very honestly, many brokers just don’t have.
For our broker-owners, having an effective and professional website couldn’t be easier. Upon affiliation, they have myWeichert IDX-ready sites ready for their brokerage, offices, and agents that are out of the box, easy to use. The options are all visually beautiful and are designed with the UX in mind. Customizations can be added with just a few clicks to customize for the area, services offered, and more. The icing on the cake is that all leads that come in through the website can be set up to feed automatically into your smart CRM, where you or the automated campaigns can immediately begin to follow up. Our broker-owners have access to these sites as part of their franchise partnership. Ask us for a demo to see it for yourself.
Your real estate website is an extension of you. It’s an all-day-every-day marketing/sales tool to attract visitors, generate leads, speed up conversions, and satisfy customers. With a little training, Weichert can help you make your site is as professional and impressive as you and your team.