Zebra Report: What's In Your Website?

Zebra Report: What's In Your Website?

Whether you are a real estate agent who is looking for a solid starting place for an online marketing campaign or just in need of a something that will impress visitors without costing a fortune – here are seven traits to look for.

Our topic of technology for the month of May would just not be complete without a conversation about having an online business presence. Next week at Denise Live our fabulous Director of Technology, Randy Bowers, will be presenting on having a hyper-local website. You can learn come enjoy that webinar for free – and all of our May technology topics – by becoming a member of Club Zebra. Learn more about that here.

Today I want to talk about websites. Specifically, what makes for a strong foundation. Whether you are a real estate agent who is looking for a solid starting place for an online marketing campaign or just in need of a something that will impress visitors without costing a fortune – here are seven traits to look for.

#1 Branded

If you’ve spent anytime at all in my content or coaching, you know that I am passionate about branding. Your brand – online and offline – is the memory marker for your business when you can’t be there in person. It is what separates you from the look-a-likes and says, “This is an agent worth considering.” Branding your website will help you connect with more clients that you enjoy working with because it communicates who you are before they even meet you.

A brand is much more than just a logo, so if you aren’t sure where to get started, do yourself a favor and give our design team a call – schedule a consultation here – because having a brand is foundational to every successful business.

#2 Low Hassle

Are you excited about editing websites, installing security updates, and making backups? If you are like most agents, you would rather spend your time meeting clients, marketing homes, and making money. That means your website should be staying out of your way and letting you get things done, not filling your inbox with requests to update something or dire warnings that something is insecure.

At The Lones Group, we build custom websites (check out our portfolio!) that are fully managed. No one is ever going to ask you if your plugins are up-to-date, nag you about making a backup, or remind you that you need to stay secure because that is all done for you by our incredible friends over at AgentFire where the custom sites we build are housed.

#3 High Automation

As an agent, your real estate website needs to do everything it can to keep current on its own. Unless creating content and making regular updates comes easily, you need a system that does this for you. And I already know – based on the hundreds of websites we’ve built over the years – how most agents will find almost anything else to do before they spend time updating their website.

A good website will make these tasks easier by doing things like pulling reviews from somewhere like Zillow and offering information from Great Schools. It might have maps that are updated with locations for groceries, gyms, medical centers, and parks – things that a buyer in your area would want to know about. A regularly updated connection to your MLS will also bring in loads of fresh and current content about inventory in the area. Your highly automated website might even gather local stats and demographics for you.

What about content, can that be automated? In a sense, yes. While there are times when your unique take on a neighborhood or your housing market is critical, sometimes you just need an interesting, quality post to share. Ghost-writing services like Text Broker can quickly put the work of writing unique content in a professional’s hands. Having a professional write your content can be inexpensive (about $25 for 500 words) and if optimizing for search engines is important to you, they will even include your keywords in your new content for you. Better still, this service is baked right into the websites we build. Combine for-hire content writing with a feature that shares your blog posts automatically to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels and you have a head start on a very low-effort content marketing machine.

Speaking of social media and automation, many websites are also making it easy to build in content from Instagram and other social media websites so that visitors can access that content from your website too. These are great time-savers for agents who want a content rich website, but don’t want to spend the time and energy producing all of it.

#4 Instill Confidence

Web browsers have gotten a lot more obvious about when you are visiting an insecure website with unlocked padlocks, highlighting website addresses in red, or even displaying pop-up warnings if you start filling out a form that isn’t secured. A warning message is the absolute last thing you need when a visitor at your website actually decides to fill out your contact form. A secure website is a website that gives your visitor the confidence that not only do you care about confidentiality, but that you are running a professional operation.

Speed is also key. Few things help improve engagement more than having a lightning-fast website where everything quickly clicks into place, all while looking amazing because it’s also branded (it is branded, right?) When done right, this shows that you believe your clients deserve quality service and gives the impression that you too are paying attention and are ready to respond to their needs.

First impressions matter – don’t let yours be the impression of being slow and insecure.

#5 Local Focused

An agent who really knows their product and their area is gold. Your website should clearly demonstrate that you are connected to your community and provide both credible and interesting facts that potential buyers and sellers can enjoy.

Earlier I mentioned features like Great Schools and maps with local features and amenities. As a real estate agent your website should also include market information. What are the average days-on-market? What is the median sales price trend – and how does that compare to five or ten years ago? What about crime? What kinds of jobs are in the area? How many homes sold this past year and what’s the ratio of homeownership to renters in the area? Researching and updating this can be fascinating – if you are like me – but also time consuming and tedious. Imagine doing that for not just your geographical farm, but for your ten favorite local communities too.

This is our favorite feature of the websites we build, amazing community pages that are full of all the facts listed above and much, much more – and all completely automated and updated daily. It’s not a substitute for doing your own MLS research and tracking your own stats, but it makes a big impression on your visitors. All the while, you look like the hyper-local real estate expert.

#6 Available for Engagement

It might be the most incredible website out there, but if you don’t make it easy for visitors to contact you then the job is only half-done at best. Your website should have more than just a contact page. Make sure your email address and phone number are easy to find on each page – somewhere in the header or footer. I regularly see agents still hiding their email address thinking it will keep spammers away. It won’t – but it will stop some visitors from contacting you. So, make it easy to find.

You should also have prompts to contact you spread through-out your content. You don’t have to be obnoxious about it and attack your visitor with pop-ups. A button here and there does the job very well. Make sure to have more than one way you can be contacted so that people can communicate with you the way they prefer to communicate – whether that is email, a phone call, a text, or even a live chat option on your website.

Finally, when a website visitor does fill out a contact form, a request for a showing, or ask to download a buyers guide you offer – make sure you have a system to get their information into your database so that you can follow-up with them. If your website integrates with a great customer relations management (CRM) tool like ours do, use it.

#7 Well Supported

For all the automation and low hassle, there will occasionally be times when you need help. The best help will be there when you need it, be someone who is easy to understand and who quickly understands your need, and who can quickly find a solution for you. I would add to that wish list that the person you talk to knows something about our real estate industry. This way they can offer tips to help you reach your goals. That can be a tall order – a lot of website services have great technology and not-so-great people skills.

We are lucky that the support team for our websites checks off every one of our support wishes. Like my staff at The Lones Group, everyone here and at AgentFire understands real estate. It’s what we live and breathe every single day. If you contact support and ask how your website can support your geographical farm – the person helping you knows what a geographical farm is and can point you to options to explore.

At the End of the Day…

All seven of these points may sound like a lot to ask for, but we have done it many times for nearly two decades. The branding, low hassle and high automation – all of it – are part of what we expect a solid website to have. This way, whether you ignore it or build an online marketing empire on it, you have a solid foundation to start with.

Your potential buyers and sellers are out there. They are definitely checking out your website before they call. Make sure your online presence doesn’t just say that you are open for business, but that you do business right.

Want to learn more about how we do it or level-up your own website? Visit us online, check out our website portfolio, or schedule a free consultation.

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By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.