We read a recent article titled, “Your real estate website is irrelevant. Here’s why,” by Will Caldwell. We have to address it.
Hogwash! The real estate website is vital to the real estate agent- if it is used right.
You real estate website is relevant if:
1. Clients can search for active listings
2. Clients can get information on pending and sold listings (for registered users)
3. It contains good neighborhood information including school info and demographics
4. It shows your testimonials and evidence of success
5. Visitors can read your personal insights into what’s going on in real estate today.
A relevant website can go toe- to- toe with the “Big 3″ if you can attract people to use your website. True, you will not outspend Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow for SEO and “stranger” traffic; however, agents do have control when it comes to promoting their website to their sphere of influence. By leveraging email marketing and property listing alerts, agents can drive traffic back to their website by notifying their sphere of influence of market activity in their neighborhood. They can promote “special offers” they want to advertise. They can use their CRM to track their website’s visitors. They can be proactive and strategically follow up with clients that are logging in and viewing the data being sent.
There is no better forum to showcase your credibility than on your own, professional website. If you are expecting referrals to be the life line of your business, you need to have a forum to sell your services in a non-threatening environment. Aggregate websites, like Zillow, lack credibility because of the misinformation they provide. In this sense, a real estate website proves its relevance because its information and boss (you) are credible.
Speaking of Zillow, many agents lose business to the “Big 3″ because they choose to use broker-provided website. Most broker- provided websites do not possess the necessary tools to keep clients engaged. A real estate website keeps people engaged, provides accurate information, and helps keeps the “communication flowing” (as the article points out, but fails to mention that the real estate website in actuality does these things).
When your clients are not engaged, then you become forgotten. If you don’t give your clients a website to rely on for information, then expect them to search on Zillow or Realtor.com. A branded app, email campaigns, and business cards will all also help- but the real estate website is not obsolete and the web is most certainly not dead. All marketing is good marketing. Your chosen marketing tactics should work together.
True- you will not outspend the “Big 3″ for traffic. These portals have multi-million dollar budgets to optimize their SEO and keep traffic flowing. This contributes to one of the biggest misnomers about real estate websites: the website will generate new leads from complete strangers. It will not, not by itself. What a good real estate website will do, however, is support your referral business by giving potential consumers an opportunity to learn more about your business, and will eventually convert them into clients.
If the website is combined with a useful CRM and email marketing platform, it will generate business by maintaining contact with the people you already know and will provide them with the real estate information they need so that they are not tempted to go to the “Big 3.”
If your clients are seeking out the Big 3, then your website is deficient. You have to think like a client. What information do they want to know? Consumers visit large aggregate websites because they provide information many agents and brokers simply cannot provide online due to cost and resources. However, if you are working with an experienced website provider your site may compete favorably with the “Big Three.” Furthermore, since all listing data would be sourced from the MLS, it is always accurate and timely. Create relevant content that will create “buzz.” Create content that will answer their questions. Be creative. Be yourself. People want to work with people, not large robot-like entities like Zillow and Trulia.
There is another issue we will address. MLSs are clinging onto pending and sold data, making it challenging for real estate agents to compete against the BIG 3, who get that SOLD data from “other” sources like county records databases. These “other” sources of data are very cost prohibitive for individual agents to leverage on their websites. If the MLS would allow agents to display pending and sold data, agents’ websites could go head-to-head with the Big 3 by providing the historical sales data consumers crave. Some MLSs “get it” and allow website providers access this info to provide the best possible solutions for agents, but many become “the rope that binds” the agents hands behind their back as they enter “the ring.”
Individual Agents can compete against the BIG 3. If the focus is to compete for clicks or new business from new, unrelated or referred business, then it is an uphill battle. However, agents do have influence over the people that are in their database. People that they know, that know them to be credible and viable-are there waiting to be taken care of by a caring, knowledgeable agent. An agent can keep their sphere away from the Big 3 by providing data on their website and soliciting traffic to their site via email marketing.
For active consumers, get them off the Big 3 and get them searching for homes on your website. If your consumers are not searching on your website, you may need to get a better website. What does that mean? Here you go:
-Internalize you marketing by driving client traffic back to your website. This can be accomplished by not using your MLS to set up searches, but using the IDX integration on your website.
-You should add industry articles to your website, and invite clients to read the articles on your site (not in their email inbox).
-Use custom IDX links. They do 2 very important things: 1. Give your clients instant listing information 2. Brand you as a local/neighborhood expert.
PropertyMinder has built every tool to keep clients engaged. We offer websites with:
-Self Evolving Optimization (using IDX integration into the agent’s sitemap)
-Seller’s Corner, the industry’s exclusive listing generation tool that uses Drip Marketing and CMA software to keep sellers away from listing agents, open houses and Zillow.
We certainly don’t think the author of this article is wrong by emphasizing the importance of mobile. Do make sure your website and systems are meeting the needs of the mobile marketplace. Your website does not need to have an adaptive design IF your system provides a mobile app solution to supplement the site. Adaptive designs are typically great for smaller screens, but lose impact when viewed on large screen devices like tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. Why limit yourself? PropertyMinder has your covered with both standard and adaptive designs as well as mobile apps to optimize your clients experience.
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PropertyMinder agents do an average of 4.6 more deals per year and have an average database of 387 contacts. Our AccelerAgent platform extracts more business for your existing database by regaining the necessary relationships it takes to create repeat business.
Take your clients’ back by investing in a website that they will actually appreciate.