Is Your Website a Pipeline or a Bottleneck For Your Marketing Investment?

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 Equally, a poorly maintained, out of date site will be a bottleneck that turns consumers away; and, a liability to your business and the money invested in ongoing marketing and advertising.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.

Design, Development, nielson, web

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

13 Responses to Is Your Website a Pipeline or a Bottleneck For Your Marketing Investment?

  1. Peter Ricci April 3, 2008 at 12:56 pm #

    G’Day Craig, great to see your first post online here at Business2.com.au!

    Wish you all the best with your blogging.

  2. Craig April 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Talking about agent web sites, I was looking at a property on re.com.au the other day and went to this agent web site http://www.johnkontek.com.au/taylorslakes/. OMG, what a total stuff up. It might actually look good, but somewhere along the line someone has stuffed up all the directory paths and with no css and no images just looks bad.

  3. Craig Honeyman April 3, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the response and a good example, i must admit i’m a bit perplexed as to how this could even be allowed to happen.

    regards,

    Craig Honeyman

  4. Glenn Batten April 3, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Craig… great first post.

    As to that agent’s site and it stuffing up that seems to be their webdesigner which is the REA’s design team stuffing up and it the same for every one of their offices.

    It seems that REA have created a new website but the old address have not been redirected properly. The address for each office is now not a static address but a dynamic address like http://agents.realestate.com.au/cgi-bin/cs/run.pl?_t=Search&_c=XJK&t=res&st_Agent=XJKTLA

    So REA now gets his traffic attributed to him!!! All this on the same day I get their latest stats claiming how much more traffic they are getting 🙂

    Basically the agent just lost every bit of search engine credit he had collected on those domains. The designers should have have included a url rewrite of the static address to the dynamic address.

    The least they could have done was a 301 redirect so they could have kept any traffic they were generating from the old site to the new site, especially the search engine traffic.

    Because the web designers left enough code in those old directories you can at least find their real site from the dropdown box but I doubt most people would continue browsing, choosing to hit back instead.

    This sort of thing happens quite a lot by web designers who dont think of the big picture. Whenever you redesign a website and change the file and directory structure you must check all your landing pages and make allowances for every part of that traffic such as 301 redirects.

  5. Craig Honeyman April 4, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    G’Day Glenn,

    Thanks for the positive feedback and yes the developers should take some credit for their good work but equally i think the agent should take some as well.

    I actually called and emailed that agent this morning to see if they were aware of the issue; i knowi would want to know, they were surprised to say the least and went into immediate action to fix the problem.

    I know errors can occur; we have all found them and thought…oops! The above ‘extreme example’ only reinforces the point to me about managing sites better, adjusting focus to run the website with more emphasis on it being a dollar productive department.

    In speaking with agents I often ask them what they think is the 5 most important aspects of their business, around 8 out of 10 put the website way at the bottom of the list, Justifiably this is attributed to their focus on what they consider to be dollar productive activities – listings, sales, training etc. My goal is to have them adjust their thinking slightly to include their website in that list, i know they will greatly benefit!

    Craig Honeyman

  6. Peter Ricci April 4, 2008 at 10:04 am #

    Always good to remember to do a redirect for all urls under a domain that do not work or at least a 404,405 page informing user, happens quite a bit though.

  7. Trevor Weeding April 4, 2008 at 2:05 pm #

    It’s interesting to note from your article Craig, just how much the advertiser now has to recognise that they are now a publisher as well. Just as they have had to make sure that their print advertisements were well designed and well written*, (*often the single biggest flaw in r/e advertising in the past has been the quality of the ad copy – don’t start me on “BIR”, “LUG” etc 🙂 ) agents now have to ensure that the internet user does not have an unpleasant or difficult time accessing or using their web site.

    In the print media, it’s the newspaper sales rep who gets the stick if the page prints poorly or the community newspaper isn’t delivered properly, etc. Online, it is entirely the agents responsibility to make sure that their web page works and your closing advice (“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.”) is perhaps the most important message of all.

  8. Greg Vincent April 4, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    one thing I’ve noticed with a lot of agent websites is that they do not include the wording within their site that most browsers would actually do a Google search on.
    I don’t have the stats but I caught up with an agent in suburb’X’ who thought he was number one in their area & when you counted his listings & sales he was pretty close. But when I typed in basic real estate search words like :- “suburb’X’ property”, “suburb’X’ real estate” or “suburb’X’ real estate agent” they came up as almost the last agent in their area. They were located in the Google abyss (page 7), a place where almost no man goes.
    I checked their website & it was one of the major franchise groups, but his allocated pages had minimal if any local content displayed.
    I must admit I really like what First National have done by adding the “suburb’X’ real estate” hyperlinks within their site. I think it’s a very clever use of some basic keywords.

  9. Dave Platter April 9, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    Craig, great first post. Well done.

    I checked on the website you mentioned and it is being worked on. Those problems are temporary and are being sorted at the moment.

    I’d love to ask a question about your post. You say one’s website is a virtual shopfront, which I agree with. I’d even say that, as shopfronts, websites are becoming less and less “virtual” by the month.

    My question is, now that it seems more and more browsers are first landing on interior pages rather than on the home page, what does that mean for web design?

    Do interior pages have to be different than they used to so that those people who arrive on them stay longer?

    Be well.

  10. Glenn Batten April 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Dave,

    Thought I would check our stats regarding landing pages other than the homepage…

    All Visitors
    Over 75% of all visitors enter through a landing page other than the home page and 39.5% are repeat visitors

    Direct Visitors –
    Just 29% enter through a landing page other than the home page and 59.5% are returning visitors

    Search Engines – Google, Yahoo etc etc
    A huge 76% enter through a landing page other than the home page and 23% are returning visitors

    Referring Sites – Real Estate Directories and other websites
    54% enter through a landing page other than the home page and 20.5% are returning visitors

    The returning visitors is based on a one month period.

    A bit generalised but this shows that the search engines are the cause of most landing pages inside a site and if they return they normally come back through the front door. If you are getting good visitor numbers from the search engines and your site navigation is not setup to capture that traffic you are wasting plenty of opportunity. Since January this year Search Engines have been delivering 47% of our traffic which is up (along with our total traffic) from last year.

  11. Craig Honeyman April 9, 2008 at 6:01 pm #

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the feedback.

    Just too quickly make it clear on your first note about the agent

  12. Dave Platter April 10, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Thanks, Craig and Glenn. Glenn, those stats are great. Very illuminating.

  13. Rhonda Madden April 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm #

    Craig well done, I really agree with your article as our website is our window to the world and shows prospective cleints how serious we are about your business.

    My business is internet based and through Business alliances have the opportunity to grow my company globally.

    Quite a few agents are very lazy when writing the scripts for their clients listings and the presentations of the properties are extremely ill informed.

    I am presently having a new website designed which will have the latest technology online as it important to keep on attracting new clients with a new shopfront.

    I believe that presentation is important when advertising a property and more agents should spend the time in showing the features of the property for the benefit of the purchaser.

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