How to Build a Winning Website
Realtors are highly image-conscious. It’s a fundamental characteristic of the trade. Because much of the profession is regulated, there is a lot of common ground in the job. As such, presentation, style, and level of professionalism are key differentiators for customers when deciding which Realtor to work with.
Every Realtor we spoke to understood the importance of a professional image and a well-defined public persona; however, not everyone understood all that is connected to one’s image these days—or the fact that one’s public persona is actually a marketing guideline, not just a self-description.
That means that your website—yes, your website—is an extension of your professional image. Whatever importance you attach to your clothes, car, or headshot should be extended to your website. You would never wear cut-off shorts and a tank top to a showing and justify it by saying that all your good clothes were in the wash!
And yet numerous Realtors we talked to lamented their websites as “ugly”, “bush-league” and even “embarrassing”— before making the excuse that they were too busy and/or didn’t know enough about websites to do anything about it.
Unfortunately, it’s rare that you have an opportunity to defend a bad website before it’s too late. When a potential customer visits you online, you’re simply not there to explain that your site really isn’t representative of your level of professionalism, expertise and experience. Your website is going to speak for you, whether you like it or not.
So where does a website rank in the hierarchy of marketing tasks you need to address to ensure you’re competing a level playing field?
It isn’t the first thing you take care of, but it’s pretty close.
First, you need to define your public persona and target client group. If you haven’t done so already, try filling out our free marketing checklist. It’s free and it’s easy.
Once you’ve defined your public persona and target customer group, you need to complete a basic content plan. If you’re not familiar with a content plan for marketing, you can read our guide, Building a Content Plan the Drives Leads, and fill out our free content plan template.
Once you’ve done these things, it’s time to turn your attention to your website.
Most business owners hire someone to build their website for them, be it a relative, friend or professional service provider (we recommend the latter). Of those that do it themselves, the majority use a website-builder platform such as Wix.com. The more ambitious and technically savvy Realtors may choose to set-up their own site using WordPress or a similar platform and host it on a discount hosting provider such as Bluehost.com or Hostgator.com.
Building your own site may not be worth it, however.
These days, you don’t need to pay a fortune to have a professional-quality site. Website companies such as RealtyNinjas, offer high-functioning sites for as low as $69/month—and these sites are specifically constructed for the Real Estate industry. If you don’t have a site yet or you have a site you’re not really happy with, we recommend checking out our Vendor Marketplace and have a look at the options listed there.
Regardless of whether you build your own site or have someone build it for you, however, the guiding principles remain the same:
Visitors to your website will come from different sources (search engines, social media, external articles, by typing in your website address directly, by clicking on an advertisement, etc.), and they’ll invariably be looking for different kinds of information.
Regardless of the User, their path to your site, or their reason for visiting, two facts are constant:
The number one priority when building your website is to promote your professionalism and build trust in your personal brand.
The primary goal of your website is to generate leads.
When assembling or refining your site, don’t lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish with your design and content—to promote your professionalism and build trust in your personal brand.
This means that your colours, images and website content should be aligned with your content plan and consistent with who you are and what you stand for.
A User shouldn’t have to overcome obstacles to accomplish whatever task they are trying to accomplish on your website. If they want to contact you, it should be an easy and direct navigation for them to do so. If they want to view listings, show them listings. Don’t make them pass through other content first. Remember, if your primary goal is to generate leads, and to generate leads you need to give people a reason to contact you, make sure you give different people different reasons to contact you at all times. Reward them for reaching out by offering them something in return (i.e. a free home report or valuation). And make it really easy for them to do so.
Not everyone will land on your homepage, particularly if you have listings and/or a blog. So make navigation easy no matter what page you Users land on, and make sure that there is a call to action on any page that a visitor might land on.
Tip: Every page is a conversation. When the conversation ends, you want to try to move the relationship forward with a call to action, more related content, or a downloadable report.
Make sure your site works on any screen size. This means it needs to be responsive or at least mobile- optimized. If you can’t view your site on a phone and easily do everything you’d want someone to do, expect to lose a large percentage of your visitors before they have a chance to engage with your site.
Don’t ask for something without giving something of value in return. If you want to know what your Users are after and want to obtain their contact information, offer them something in return—a free home report or a free home valuation, for example. Or at very least, ask them to sign up to your e-newsletter .
Blog and link to your social channels. For more on why you need to blog, check out our How-To Guide: Generate Leads by Blogging.
Don’t lose track of why people come to your site. Most people want to know who you are and why they should work with you. Many will have heard of you already and will be looking to corroborate what they’ve heard.
The more content you build out—i.e. statistical information on the markets you serve, market insights and trends, recent valuations, etc.— the more of an expert you become. It may sound like a lot of research, but the truth is, Realtors talk about this stuff all the time. If you recorded everything you said to clients in a single day, you’d have enough content for months!
A branding video is also a great way to introduce yourself to website visitors—particularly a branding video that really speaks to who you are and how you work. Not sure where to start? Check out our how-to guide: Creating an Amazing Branding Video.
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