Do your real estate websites generate leads for your business?
According to the National Association of Realtors, only about 3% of sellers found their real estate agent on a website. Makes you wonder; is that because so few homeowners are using the Internet? Or that so few real estate websites are designed to generate leads? I’m putting my money on the second reason.
Let’s face it, real estate is a crowded business. Oftentimes there’s too many agents chasing too few good leads.
You spend money to drive traffic to your web site. So how are you ensuring that you stand out from the crowd of agents in your market? What steps are you taking to communicate your value to the visitors of your site?
Unfortunately, most real estate websites operate with the assumption that the more they can cram on the home page, the better. Let’s throw everything, including the kitchen sink, on the home page lest we miss a chance at offering something a visitor might want.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that your home page needs only two things – to declare your unique value proposition and ask the visitor to take the next step.
Your Unique Value Proposition
The most important component of your home page is your unique value proposition, yet I’ve seen a very, very few real estate websites that use one. Think about something; when people arrive at your web site, they have to figure out what your site is about in a matter of seconds. If they can’t, they’ll hit the back button and go to your competitor’s site.
Sure, they know you’re in the real estate business, but how are you better than the other agents in your market? Why should they stay on your site? If you don’t communicate your value proposition, you will lose a lot of potential clients – they won’t invest their time trying to figure your site out.
Your value proposition is the main reason a homeowner should want to do business with you. A well-defined value proposition answers the following questions;
- What service are you offering?
- What benefit can I expect to receive by using your services?
- Who is your ideal client for this service?
- What makes your service unique and different from other agents?
If a visitor cannot determine the answers to those questions in a matter of a few seconds, you’ve lost any hope of converting them to clients.
The Typical Real Estate Website
Look at the web site below; this is typical for most real estate websites. In a matter of seconds, can you determine why you would call this agent over any other agent in the same area?
No, you cannot.
There’s about 29 things you can do on this home page, but understanding this agents value proposition is not one of those. We know that this person is in the real estate business. We know what town they’re in – although I blurred that for privacy! We have no idea who their ideal client is or what makes this agent’s services unique and different from other agents.
In the mind of the visitor, there’s no compelling reason to stay on this site.
Furthermore, we are not sure what the next step should be. With 29 options, it’s too confusing. Most visitors will simply hit the back button and go to the next site, hoping for a better experience.
An Alternative To “Typical”
Now, look at this home page. In a few seconds, can you identify the value proposition?
Sure you can. We know that this Realtor works with homeowners who want to sell.
We can clearly identify the benefits; outperforming the market averages, selling faster, selling for a higher price and avoiding stress. All good things.
We also see who the ideal client is; Shady Grove homeowners. Not Apple Valley or Metroville, but Shady Grove. If I live in Shady Grove and visit this site, I know they are helping homeowners in my area.
We can also see that their service helps the homeowner who is thinking of selling get better results than those from other agents – the agents who comprise the “market”.
Last, the next step is clearly defined in the “Discover How” button. This is a very clear call-to-action that enables interested homeowners to learn more. In fact, there are only three other options, besides hitting the back button, that a visitor could take. One of those, the menu option “How we help sellers” would simply take them to the same page as the red button.
Good Design Sells
If your website was designed by your brother-in-law or some freelancer working in his mother’s basement, it sucks. There’s no getting around it. If your website looks like it was designed for Netscape, it sucks just as badly. Maybe worse.
If you want to be viewed as a professional, if you want your website to generate leads, it has to be beautiful. That means no cheesy stock photos of families sitting around the closing table with the agent smiling like they just won the lottery. Or, heaven forbid, a photo of an agent holding a key out to the website visitor or a sold sign.
This web site home page is for Nest, a manufacturer of home electronics such as thermostats and carbon monoxide detectors. Not exactly sexy stuff. But look at their home page, it’s gorgeous! If they can make common household electronics look this appealing, imagine what you can do with photos of the neighborhoods you serve.
The key is to remove all unnecessary clutter from your home page – nothing more than a “hero” image, such as a typical home you sell or perhaps a photo of a client, your value proposition and a call-to-action.
Design your website home page for maximum flow; what message do you want to convey and what action do you want the visitor to take? If those are not clearly established in a few seconds, go back to the drawing board.
Look at this home page from Sniply.com. The value proposition is front and center. It lets you know that you can share content and use those shares to drive traffic to your web site, landing page – whatever, by attaching a call-to-action to every link you share.
The design of the home page is very simple. It focuses your attention on the value proposition and the call-to-action.
The call to action is unmistakeable – watch a video tour – or visit the dashboard if you’re already subscribed. They’ve removed all of the friction between the website visitor and the desired action by allowing the visitor to try the tool without any risk.
Friction occurs when the desired action you want the visitor to take is impeded through bad design, poor flow, an unclear call-to-action or your failure to convince the visitor that there is anything worthwhile or beneficial for them on the site.
The visitor may not know you or have any reason to believe that you can accomplish what you say you can.
One way to reduce friction of this type is through testimonials. Use a client testimonial stating that you helped them achieve the results your value proposition promises. This will go a long way towards helping a visitor to your web site feel comfortable that others have had success using you to sell their home.
To be effective,client testimonials must include a photo of the client along with their name, and if possible, the address of the home you sold for them. Simply putting the quote, followed by an abbreviated name such as “Mary M” or “D. Johnson” doesn’t work. People don’t trust those because the seem made up – and often times they are.
Offering additional information without asking for the visitors contact information is another way to reduce friction. Many homeowners will visit several sites before contacting an agent. The more information your site provides, the more questions are answered, the greater likelihood of converting the visitor to a lead.
It doesn’t matter how good of an agent you are, how many homes you’ve sold or how well you rank on Google. If you can’t get visitors to immediately identify what value you offer and why they should spend a second more on your site, you’ll lose them. A properly designed home page will accomplish these goals.
When hiring a developer for your real estate websites, be sure to inquire about their ability to test various designs before launching your site. They should be familiar with how to do A/B, or split, testing to determine what layout, what value proposition and what call-to-action converts the most visitors. And once your website is launched, continue to test new designs every so often. What works today may not work as well next month or next year.
Keep your real estate websites up to date and test the layout and content regularly. Keep your home page simple. Focus on the visitor and the unique benefits you offer and be sure to include a strong call-to-action.