Your property website represents your brand. In today’s competitive market place, your website needs to do more than just look good and work perfectly across any device – that should happen as standard.
Typically, property website has two primary objectives:
1. Make sales
2. Generate leads
The most effective estate agent websites have systems in place to make this happen seamlessly.
The secondary objectives are very important too. They include:
a) Positioning yourself as an expert in your field
b) Building trust and credibility with potential new clients
c) Providing an exceptional website user experience where visitors can efficiently find the information they need right away
In this article, we’re going to look at the top things your website needs to have in order to hit these primary and secondary objectives.
- The features that every top property website needs
- How to drive more ‘qualified’ traffic to your property website
- The techniques and systems you can implement to see more leads from your property website
- How to position yourself as an expert in a crowded marketplace
So, what does your website need to make sure you get it right?
1. Good branding and a clear value proposition
Your website must immediately say who you are, what you do, and who you serve. This messaging must be clear and succinct.
You need to communicate who you are, your speciality and who it is you serve (a particular geographic location or people interested in a particular type of property, such as farms, perhaps).
Ideally this should be above the fold (yes that’s still a thing) meaning it will be the first thing your site visitor reads when they land on your website, so they can quickly understand who you are and what problem you can solve for them.
Likewise, it’s really important to have a strong branding. This is not just your logo (although that is really, really important) but the whole way you present yourself online. The images you use. The language. Headlines. Is your tone of voice formal or friendly?
Of course, all of this will be determined by your ideal customer persona.
You should have an intimate understanding of your ideal customer and every aspect of your brand should be designed to attract, engage and encourage your ideal customer to take action.
2. Go beyond responsive design
Many web designers really push the whole “your website must be responsive” thing, which surprises us.
As far as we are concerned, any good website in 2019 should look great on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
In fact, we quite often find ourselves taking a mobile first approach to website design – working upwards to the larger screen format. (To see if you should be taking this approach, have a look at your device analytics).
Responsive design simply means that a website will respond to a user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. For example, on mobile you may have one column where on on desktop you have two or three.
Taking responsive design further provides big benefits to your site visitor.
We call this approach ‘adaptive design’.
Instead of just reordering content depending on device width and orientation, adaptive design is where we look at the content itself, assessing what is required to provide the best user experience on a mobile device. Not everything that’s present on your desktop site will be needed.
A good example of this would be an interactive neighbourhood (tooltip) map. We recently implemented one for a property client which displayed nearby points of interest in relation to the property the site visitor was viewing.
While this is a really nice, value adding feature when browsing the website from desktop and tablet, it is less user friendly on mobile and is therefore not displayed at all.
Thinking about the types of content you have and what is needed on mobile to make a buying decision is key to providing an excellent user experience.
3. Exceptional photography and great design
Photography can grab our attention and speak directly to our emotions.
Bad photography will lose you sales – fast!
When it comes to photography, property websites are not dissimilar to food/recipe sites – visitors buy/eat with their eyes.
You may have a stunning property ready for sale but if its photos aren’t up to scratch, don’t be surprised if viewings are scarce.
This may seem like such an obvious point but you would be surprised how many times we see property agencies getting this one wrong.
Here’s our four golden rules for property photography:
- Tidy up and declutter (don’t leave any underpants in shot!)
- Don’t underestimate the power of good lighting.
- Use the shots to identify key features of the property – ideally ones that will excite your target audience (cupboards are great for storage, not-so for inspiring people).
- Be consistent with your images. Photos should work together as part of a set (rather than looking like each has had a different Instagram effect applied). Decide what angles you will use, what features your photos will show and find an image style you like and stick to it.
They say ‘a picture says a 1000 words’ so make sure ‘your thousand words’ are meaningful.
Design is a key factor in any website development project. It covers everything from the use of form, colour, shape and type to display your content in an engaging and practical way.
With a property website design there is a lot to consider. Do not fall into the trap of placing aesthetics before function.
It may seem like a great idea to have full screen imagery with the property descriptions off-page, however, site visitors will quickly become frustrated.
A good website designer will be able to help you strike the perfect balance.
4. Easy-to-use site navigation and powerful search tools
You must deliver your content to site visitors in no more than three clicks. If it takes more to find the information they’re after, they’ll become frustrated and head on over to a competitors website.
It’s also essential to provide a number of ways to search for, and sort, homes.
Common criteria like location, number of bedrooms, ascending and descending listing price and square footage are all useful.
You could take this further and introduce parameters that let property buyers narrow down results by other in-demand features and amenities like garage size, distance to nearest school, ensuite bathroom, walk-in closets, stainless steel appliances, fireplace, etc.
Often, visitors will explore dozens of property listings when on the hunt for a new home. Providing them with the facility to save properties for later viewing is great (use session cookies rather than have them create an account).
Another neat feature that provides a ton of value is to allow visitors to build a viewing list. Not too far away from a website shopping cart, only after browsing the list is sent through to the agent to arrange house viewings at the click of a button.
5. Have multiple calls-to-action on your website
Rebranding Your Property Business?
Don’t do anything until you’ve read our free guide. This definitive introduction will save you time and money.
We established early on that the typical primary objectives for a property website is to a) generate leads and b) make sales.
To do this you needs calls-to-action (CTA).
It’s maybe a strange psychological phenomenon, but without clear instructions on what you want the site visitor to do once they’re on your website, they rarely take the next step on their own.
Your primary call to action will almost always be to get in touch. We suggest providing visitors with multiple ways to contact you including telephone, email and, potentially, chatbot.
Chatbots are great as they can be programmed to capture visitors information automatically and answer FAQs before they go through to your sales team.
It’s important that your primary CTA stands out from other page elements. Do this by using high contrast design techniques. A good web designer will be able to help you create something that works effectively with your brand.
Secondary calls to action are there to capture people who are in a different stage of the customer journey. They may not be ready to buy but you don’t want to lose them as a lead.
There are several strategies we can implement to turn a visitor into a lead.
If people are reading your blog, a good secondary CTA would be to offer a sign up to your newsletter.
Another effective strategy is to offer potential customers access to ‘value adding content’ in exchange for their contact details. Examples of this could be a ‘Selling Your Home Cheatsheet’, ‘How to Invest in Property webinar’, or Buyers Guide video series.
Whichever method you go for, the idea is to provide your prospect with real value. The content really needs to address a real ‘pain point’ they have.
Once you have a lead, you can then nurture them until they are ready to buy.
6. Don’t forgot to tell your story
Quite often, your story tends to be housed in your about page. People mistakenly think the about page should be about you. It isn’t, it’s about your customers and their need to bond with you before they buy.
Everything on the ‘About us’ page must be tailored towards the needs of your customers.
Don’t share the entire history of your company or list all your accomplishments. Write about what is only most interesting and relevant to potential customers.
How do you do this?
While writing constantly ask yourself “why would my customers care about this? What’s in it for them”. You can also count the amount of times you use I and we versus the number of times you use you or your. If you do a good job of relating your story, the numbers should be roughly equal.
An effective About page allows you to establish trust with customers. People get to know who you are. This is important because – as Simon Sinek said – people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.
The about us page needs to introduce your brand, values and mission to your customers.
The idea is to humanise your brand so your customers can relate to you on a more personal level. Relatable brands are profitable brands.
Another good element for the about page is to feature members of your team. This gives your organisation a face. People can see who’s who and the role they have.
Show yourself and your team with professionally taken portraits or even photos of the team enjoying the local community. Show your passion for the area and for delighting your clients. Show that you’re the ‘local’ expert.
People buy from people so humanising your brand is great way to engage with your site visitors.
7. Position yourself as a specialist
Trying to sell everything to everyone is an easy trap to fall but, in all honesty, you can’t. You don’t have enough time or enough money – and this is good news!
Why? It allows you to get specific.
Who is your offer for – we’re not talking demographics here. We are talking psychographics.
What are their beliefs?
What are their dreams?
What are their fears?
What are their desires?
Knowing this information allows you to be really clear with your messaging and pinpoint your ads with laser like accuracy.
So, position yourself as a specialist. This is the best way to stand out in a crowded market place.
How can you do this? Take a look at your business:
Do you work a lot with buyers and sellers in retirement communities? Do you sell more commercial properties than the competition? Do you prioritise families? Do you have extensive experience managing large apartment complexes?
All you need is to answer ‘yes’ to one of these questions. You can then begin to position your property business as a specialist in that area.
8. How to build trust and credibility
For people to buy from your business, they need to know, like and trust you.
The best way to build trust and credibility on your website is by having prominent trust signals in strategic places.
These could include trade or local business associations, testimonials from buyers and sellers, links to social media accounts where you have a large following and high engagement rates; but by far the most powerful is video.
Video of happy clients and customers removes any doubt as to the authenticity of the quote. Visitors can see and hear first-hand how you delivered value and helped them.
Ideally you want to be matching testimonials from buyers, sellers, property management, etc to the corresponding page on your website. This way the messages will have a greater and more relevant impact.
9. How to increase traffic to your website
When it comes to website traffic, we can broadly break it down into two categories.
‘Organic’ and ‘Paid’ – often referred to as Pay-per-click or PPC.
We’ll be releasing an in-depth guide that will cover paid property advertising later in the year. For now, we’ll focus on organic traffic.
First, you need to get the technical aspects right. This means:
Organic traffic is most commonly associated with search engine traffic. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is concerned with two things:
2. Link backs from other websites to that content.
The two actually go hand in hand. Produce specialist content targeted towards your specialist niche, that adds value and the links will follow naturally.
This is a huge area but some quick tips when planning your content marketing strategy would be:
10. Killer website information and features
Placing relevant, interactive features on your website will keep visitors engaged, exploring and coming back.
Mortgage calculators, area maps, and features for finding local places of interest (e.g., schools, restaurants, corner shops, shopping centres, museums, parks, golf courses) are good for this purpose.
Make sure the content on your website goes beyond just property listings. Provide your site visitors with useful tools that will help solve their problems.
Example of this could be:
- Buying and Selling guides.
- Mortgage calculator.
- Online home valuation.
- Regular market reports.
- Lifestyle guides and blogs.
Rebranding Your Property Business?
Don’t do anything until you’ve read our free guide. This definitive introduction will save you time and money.
Get everything in this article in place and your website will be well underway to becoming a fantastic tool for your business.
However, if you do need a hand with anything we’ve touched on, we’d love to help.
After building hundreds we know what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t.
Contact us today for a no obligation strategy call. Even if we both decide it isn’t a good fit, we guarantee you will get great value from the session.