Is your real estate website “sticky”?
In other words, when visitors get to your website, do they stick around by spending more than a few seconds or minutes on your site or pass your website on to friends, family and co-workers?
If not, then your website is not sticky enough and probably needs some help. Luckily for you we have worked with and analyzed thousands of real estate websites and have decided to help real estate professionals like you understand this important stickiness factor.
How to Tell if a Real Estate Website is Sticky
Before you make any changes to your website it is important to understand how to gauge the stickiness of your website. Here are a few of the best ways to do this:
1) Use Google Analytics (or any other robust analytics program)
Hopefully you have been using Google Analytics on your website already. If not, we highly recommend you get it, or some other analytics program, installed as soon as possible.
In your analytics program, you will want to look for a couple key metrics to determine if your website or specific web pages on your site are sticky or not.
Bounce Rate – This is a stat that shows the percentage of visitors that left your website after viewing only the page on which they landed. Bounce rates above 40-45% are cause for concern as this rate, or anything higher, is just too costly if you are sending traffic to your website.
Average Time on Site -This is a stat that shows the average amount of time that visitors are spending on your website. This stat, like just about every other stat, can be drilled down to see average time on site numbers for specific web pages on your site as well. There are no benchmarks with average time on site numbers; however, your goal should be to have this average be as high as possible.
Site Overlay – One of the coolest tools of Google Analytics is the site overlay tool which shows where visitors are clicking on your website. This helps with determining stickiness as it can let you know which buttons or navigation options on your website are not attracting visitors or creating valuable interaction.
2) Take advantage of user testing and feedback
As much as we love data and statistics, we understand that not everything is objective. Awhile back we provided an article on how to take advantage of user feedback by utilizing some of your best resources for research – your friends, family members and even strangers. Surveying, or better yet, observing someone’s action on your website can provide you with some of the most valuable information you will be able to find anywhere.
3) Measure conversions
When it comes down to it, the best metric to determine the effectiveness of your website is its conversion rate. Your conversion rates are some of the best indicators of whether or not your visitors find your website helpful and your services enticing enough to feel comfortable provide personal information. As “sticky” as you want your website to be, it is more important for you to be able to generate leads then to just have people spend hours on your website.
How to Make a Real Estate Website Sticky
Before you launch that online marketing campaign or send out those monthly mailers (hopefully you are weening down your print marketing by now), you must make sure that your website is as “sticky” as possible. Traffic is valuable and so are first impressions so here are some necessary elements to make your website as sticky as possible.
You have about 3-8 seconds to impress a new website visitor. If anything impedes the user’s ability to properly see or navigate your website, then you will find yourself wasting valuable marketing dollars. Your website must be user-friendly before it can be sticky. Some of the main elements of a user-friendly website consist of:
- Correct Title and Meta Data
- Cross Browser Compatibility
- Proofread content
- Correct links
- Successful functionality tests
- Validated website
- Accessible to all disabilities
You can find more detailed information and instructions on how to check your website for usability by checking out our previous post: Real Estate Website Launch Checklist
As stated above, you have a very short window to impress your new visitors. If your website is old and outdated or its design is just “off” then you WILL chase visitors away. Many people make up their minds about your real estate business based off of the look and feel of your website. Your website must have a professional, clean and well thought out design for it to be sticky. If you are going to spend the time and money driving visitors to your website, then spend the time and money to get a well designed website too. Some of the main elements of a good design are:
- Warm, welcoming color palette (loud colors can be hard on the eyes)
- Clean layout (complex layouts cause distractions and confusion)
- Calls to action (strong calls to action help users focus)
- Interactive elements (flash, forms, polls, etc can entice users to get involved with your site)
One of the most commonly ignored elements of a website is its content. Content consists of text, images, videos, etc. Without great content a website is empty, and thus, ineffective. Many website owners cut corners with their content by using terrible photos, copying text from other websites or using videos that don’t play or take forever to load. These are all surefire ways to chase your visitors away. Your website must have unique, optimized content for it to be sticky. Some of the main elements that make up great content are:
- Unique, relevant verbiage (text should be your own and should be optimized to your visitors)
- High quality photos (pictures can make or break a website – use high quality photos)
- Supportive materials (testimonials, certifications and designations create trust – use them)
- Quality videos (clean, quick loading videos engage and interest your visitors)
You can find more useful information on how to use content effectively by referring to these previous posts: Putting Your Video Content to Work, Make Your Real Estate Website Work for You, Using Video to Market Real Estate Services
With so many options and choices for real estate information and property searches these days, it is becoming harder and harder to compete online, keep visitors and generate leads. Don’t get discouraged though as people, although they might be in love with large sites like Trulia or Zillow, will always want to find the local specialist at the end of the day to help them with their real estate transaction. It is your job to create a highly targeted, relevant website for your visitors that provides information, creates trust and most importantly, provides your visitors with something of value to them. Your website must provide value to your visitors for it be sticky. Some effective ways to provide value on your website are:
- Offering convenience (personalized property updates via email, text or RSS)
- Offering exclusivity (personalized home tours, access to custom reports and market data)
- Offering information (custom CMAs and community / neighborhood profiling reports)
- Offering interaction (videos with exclusive information on new listings)
Being able to provide value and substance to your visitors is ultimately going to decide how successful your website will be. There are no cookie cutter approaches to what “value” is as you must do the necessary research and evaluation of your target clientele and local real estate market(s). Once you have a good grasp on this information, then it is imperative that you feature it appropriately on your website in a non-intrusive and authentic way. Your visitors will eat it up and your website will become a lead generation machine.
Do you think your website is a good example of a sticky real estate website?
If so, we would love to see what you have got and even use you as an example of a great sticky real estate website.
If not, then read this post a couple of times, and our other relevant posts, to learn how to make your current site stickier. If you still need some assistance, then don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send us an email.