It goes without saying that the Internet tops all other resources when it comes to consumer research. So, how does a real estate professional, whose business depends upon personal contact, connect with the hundreds of buyers and sellers looking for an agent online? Simple: you give ’em one great website.
There are probably thousands of virtual pages full of “how-to’s” when it comes to developing the kind of website that draws steady online traffic. While most of these tips seem like common sense, relatively few realtors put them into practice when it comes to their professional websites. When the rubber hits the road, few agents take the time to educate themselves on the web-based tools available to help them build a truly outstanding website. But, the benefits to building and maintaining a website are many:
- It is extremely cost effective, especially when compared to other, more traditional, forms of marketing, like flyers, bus bench ads, etc.;
- It allows you unlimited space to talk about who you are, whom you work for, your background and experience, professional affiliations, charity/local work, your current listings, buyer/seller education material, etc.;
- Once you have your basic format or template established, the time it takes to maintain your site or to give it some fresh content or the occasional “face-lift” is minimal;
- An estimated 80% of prospective home buyers (RISMedia.com, 31 May 2007) are searching online, and you have a way of reaching them!
So let’s say you agree you need your own site. Or maybe you feel it might be time to give your current site a fresh, new look. Where do you start? If you can, try to register your site with an easy-to-remember URL or domain name. Since so many websites out there are already using most of the commonly used real estate-related terms in their URL, many realtors now choose to use their own name as their URL.
When deciding on the type of content and layout for your site, you have endless possibilities from which to choose. In an article dated 30 April 2007, Jen Blackert stresses the importance of making your website personal, of using it to build instant relationships with visitors so that they decide to stay with you rather than shopping the thousands of other agents viewable online (RealtyTimes.com). To do this, she suggests many useful tips, such as posting photos of your employees and workplace, providing useful articles (written by you or other authorities) intended to educate buyers and sellers, defining industry terms, giving clear instructions, sharing stories and specific examples and making every effort to collect their name and email for follow-ups. Also important is making your listings search easy to navigate and frequently-updated. And don’t forget how vital it is to post good photos. As agents become more tech-savvy, some even add audio clips of themselves describing their services or detailing a property.
Some really techno-savvy top producers are pulling ahead of the crowd by creating individual websites for individual properties. These sites can also be linked back to your personal site. Or, for a related way of using alternate websites, see this article written by Craig Forte, now posted in the AgentInnerCircle.com archive.
All realtors are interested in improving their prospect-to-client ratios. In today’s real estate market, however, this takes a determined commitment and dedicated effort to stay ahead of the pack. By personalizing your website, and by consistently updating it, you are truly moving in the right direction!