Promoting your brand in a positive way in consumers’ minds is an important aspect of growing your business and understandably can stretch your marketing budget. This is a pretty obvious opening statement but, an important one to note, especially for those principles and managers who face the relentless pile of advertising invoices – which I’m certain produce offspring at any given opportunity.
Real Estate Agents obtain business through a variety of ways. Buyers who become sellers, referrals and street smart prospecting are all a part of tapping into the consumer stream and most likely potential business has arrived from your marketing dollars. Given that the majority of (potential) consumers will view your website then it should be a priority to regularly update and manage it effectively to maximise the return to your overall marketing investment.
A website is a reflection of the business it represents. A well designed, regularly updated website will be a tangible asset to your business, an effective pipeline to productivity and gain. Equally, a poorly maintained, out of date site will be a bottleneck that turns consumers away; and, a liability to your business and the money invested in ongoing marketing and advertising.
Statistics released on 18th March 2008 by the Internet Measurement Company Nielsen Online showed that the amount of time Australians are spending on the internet, “Has for the first time ever, surpassed the time spent watching television”.
Your website can present valuable interactive aspects that cannot be offered via print, television or radio.
Even when it comes to offline advertising, your website should still be utilised effectively as a virtual shop front to your business, one that is an efficient, purpose driven site, an online entrance point for potential consumers and one that will efficiently guide them to where they need to be, that is your businesses services, products and resources, a site that assists in the path of conversion from potential consumer to customer.
Given the above you can quickly ascertain how your marketing dollars will fair when operating an up to date, well managed website as opposed to one that’s not.
There are many different aspects to consider with the development of a successful website including up to date presentation and technology, automation, search engine optimisation, user friendly navigation and quality up to date content and resources that attract visitors. These are just a few of the many points to be considered with your web development professional. Below are a few points to consider from a management perspective:
*Note that some of these points may not be applicable to Franchise operated websites and systems
– View your website as its own department and manage it effectively. Understand your website can be an asset or a liability, a pipeline or a bottleneck for your business. It needs to be developed and managed with a focus over time to maintain a positive consumer impression.
– Gain regular, quality feedback from your website visitors. I cannot emphasize this enough. They are the ones who will swiftly choose to stay or leave your site, this is where you will either gain or lose a consumer so you had better know what the majority of them think. Feedback can be obtained by having an interactive submission form on your website with a few questions and tick boxes regarding the visitor’s experience (or) a simple feedback request form for salespeople when talking to consumers; you might be surprised at just how much feedback you receive. This feedback is valuable but only if you take the action and implement change.
– If you haven’t already, make it a priority to invest some time into resourcing a good web development consultant and work towards building a positive long term commercial partnership with them. Although it’s not imperative, try to source a developer that understands the culture of the real estate industry or is open to learning. A good web consultant should be positive about your business and the industry in general. They should also be up to date with most web based platforms and systems. Some developers will prefer certain platforms or systems and should have the facts as to their preference.
– Request an evaluation by your developer for your web and internet parameters. You will start to gain a very quick picture as to whether it’s time to bite to bullet and go for a full redesign or at the very least a priority list of tasks large or small to be implemented over time. Your site should not just contain property for sale/rent and a few testimonials, it should be a hub of up to date information and resources that are high on the list for users who are searching.
– When it comes to web based knowledge accept the fact that it’s not your speciality but it is imperative that you do gain a basic understanding of e-commerce and web based business. Although you don’t directly make a product sale online you do market property on the web and this is the starting point of a potential sale. The world is moving swiftly towards web based interaction and if you don’t keep up you will be left behind.
– Understand that a website will never fully arrive. It should never be a set and forget system. Even in a recent upgrade situation there are ongoing improvements that can be implemented over time to make sure your site is providing a positive experience for visitors and delivering the best possible return for this department.
– Include web upgrades and development tasks into your annual budget. You do not want your website to be placed in the too hard basket; it should be one of the tasks you give priority to.