In 2009, Every business person knows they need a website. And for Real Estate professionals, this call-to-action is paramount. Effective online communication is the cornerstone of today’s success. The problem is that too many people stop there, go with the most reasonably-priced web design option out there, or their neighbor’s kid who is a web designer, and end up throwing something online that doesn’t effectively align with the true purpose of the website – lead generation and high visitor participation. Real estate marketing, especially residential, is all about generating interest in your unique branding and capabilities. Capturing that audience interest from the instant they click on your site, that’s how you achieve high ROI. And so if lead generation goals aren’t at the forefront and purpose for each and every single page within your website, then you are going to see a lot of people bounce away from it, and that means you’re losing business.
Before even one pixel has been pushed onto a design comp, before even a domain name has been chosen, it is extremely important to create a Website Strategy. Establish clear goals regarding first your offline business model and key strengths/weaknesses/opportunities and threats. “Know Thyself.” Visualizing the correct targets and goals from the beginning will save a lot of wasted time down the road. Where do you want visibility in search engine results? What audience are you targeting and what do they want? Analyzing your competitors, their websites, what they appear to do well. The better you understand your audience’s point of view and what they want, the better off you’ll be in all aspects of your website and your business success.
Now take this information forward into the web design, combining the promotion of what makes you great alongside with good lead conversion practices. Some important key factors then, to effective and actionable website design:
Hire A Great Web Designer
Often clients fall into our offices with old, poorly-designed, real estate template, websites that might even be ranking well in local search results, but see almost no online value because of all the clutter and poor design execution. A competent designer will be able to take all those marketing and usability concerns and transform them into really eye-catching and appealing website features, that make visitors are happy to click on and search the site.
Prioritize Lead Generation
Every page’s purpose and content becomes a question of ‘how can this page convince the visitor to contact me or sign up to my email list?’ Give your audience the best information and tools/resources you can, but keep in mind your true goals on each page to push the visitor towards contact and commitment with you.
Emphasize Calls To Action
A great way to help convince visitors to sign up and fill out contact info is through effectively designed buttons and similar small design elements. Something that stands out somewhere above the fold of the webpage layout (again, a great designer can really mean the difference here). Perhaps have a contact/lead generation form as part of that call-to-action. Highlight some kind of featured promotion if possible, if you give a discount on closing costs, great! Highlight that!
Create An Interactive Experience
Although websites built entirely in flash animation can suffer from poor SEO, bugs, slow loading times, etc, selective flash animation and programming does provide great interactivity. Flash slideshows, interactive maps, interactive forms, are all great design elements that position your website as a cutting edge place to look for homes and real estate information.
Write Enticing Website Navigation
A typical real estate website has main navigation buttons similar to this:
About I Properties I MLS I Buyers I Sellers I Contact
Compare that with the navigation naming and ordering of the links and you can see which one does a better job of conveying important information.
Free Market Report I Today’s Featured Listings I Search The MLS I Buyers and Sellers Tools I About Us
Compelling Content With A Purpose
Spell out, using some of your most intuitive keyword search phrases, why your services and website are the best-positioned resources for your visitors. Keep your visitors on the website once they get there by providing them with the most comprehensive and original resources for your market. Also keep in mind that all of your content should have a set purpose in the end; to convert your visitors into clients. So always switch the focus of your website writing back to how you can assist the reader in doing whatever they are reading about, if applicable.
Some Further Do’s
- Establish Credibility and Emphasize Benefits
- Market Snapshots, Market Analyses, community resources, tips for buying and selling are always effective content additions
- Provide high contrast between the font colors and the background colors in the layout design
- Use a font size that is legible and easy to read
- Reduce clutter
- Include positive testimonials
And Some Don’ts
- What does the realtor look like? Images do matter, and poor headshots are killers. If the realtor is not an attractive person or have a welcoming, friendly image, than visitors very well may be deterred
- Avoid putting annoying or distracting elements in the website such as music, animated gifs, vanity pages, irrelevant information that might divert the visitor’s attention away from them converting to a lead
- Leave any broken or empty pages up in the main navigation
Effective Web Design is a sum of many different parts, many of which are not even mentioned in this post. All of the above components help build a better lead conversion website. The main lessons to be learned here really comes down the importance of a clear marketing/branding strategy, and partnering that strategy with effective web design and marketing.