Today’s Internet environment is brutal. The Web is akin to a huge stage where worldwide competition screams to be noticed by people with short attention spans. If you are unable to engage these consumers within a few seconds, they hit the back button, and they’re gone. As Reddit Executive Chairman Alexis Ohanian noted, when it comes to connecting with consumers online, “The back button is the enemy.”

The world online is awash with billions of ads, videos and social media posts vying for your attention. What steps can you take to grab the attention of today’s online consumers and to avoid the dreaded back button?

If you’re ready to reduce the number of times people hit the back button on your communications, here are some important steps to follow:

You have to be better than cat photos.

According to Ohanian, if you want to avoid having your communications drowned out by the sea of Internet noise, “You have to be better than cat photos.” So, what does that mean?

People share cat photos because these photos make them laugh. Laughter releases beta endorphins that make us feel good. When people feel good about the communications you share, they are more likely to do business with you. Consequently, whenever possible, use humor.

Pictures are better; video is best.

Leigh Thomas Brown describes the benefit of using video like this:

“I am the product. I use video to sell me. Video takes your marketing from push marketing to pull marketing (in other words, from hard sell to attraction). Consumers want a Realtor to be engaging. Avoid trying to be something you’re not. A lack of authenticity will only put off people when they meet you in person. Video helps others to define who you are.”

Another reason video is better than pictures is the audio. While Google is unable to read the visuals within your video, it can read the audio. Google translates the audio, converts it into searchable text, and then uses this data to determine search placement.

To capitalize on this fact, avoid music-only backgrounds. Replace these with audio descriptions of your video’s content. If the video is about one of your listings, be sure that your description includes the property address, your contact information and a description of the most appealing aspects of the property.

Move from email to “vmail.”

A simple way to make this shift is to upgrade from email to “vmail” (video email.) Tools such as BombBomb or Eyejot make sending video emails super simple. More importantly, the open rate on vmails can be up to three times higher than plain text emails.

Enable navigation without typing.

Keela Robison, the CEO of Urbanspoon, had this recommendation for the audience at Real Estate Connect NYC 2015:

“Retention is what matters in mobile. Users want to be able to navigate without typing.”

Typing has always been a challenge on mobile devices, especially on phones. This is one reason video and communicating through photos on apps such as Snapchat is so popular.

People are more likely to engage when all they have to do is to simply tap or play. If you want to avoid having your visitors hit the back button, make sure that your communications and your website are easy to navigate and do not require users to type.

Think voice first.

Apple’s Siri opened the door for millions of users to search using only their voice. In fact, have you noticed that Google Web search box now contains a microphone icon? When you click on the button, it says, “Search by voice.”

This shift from keyword search to voice search requires you to craft your marketing headlines, content and tagging differently. Voice search takes the form of questions rather than keywords. Instead of typing in a property address and the word “price,” a user who is sitting in front of your listing might ask, “Siri, what is the price of the property at 232 Elm Street?” If you’re like many agents who dislike revealing the property price in your ads, chances are that buyer is gone.

Avoid the back button with 3-D.

New 3-D technology is revolutionizing real estate. The Matterport 3-D camera is a quantum leap above the previous generation of tools that allow consumers to visualize properties online. This tool captures how the property feels, as well as allowing visitors to visualize a multifloor layout, including what the furniture looks like in a 3-D setting. Users can change the walls, change the furniture or make other alterations. It is also an excellent way to engage with remote buyers and to generate offers.

So here’s the bottom line when it comes to beating the back button: Use laughter, create great content, make the move to 3-D marketing technology, and use voice rather than typing for search and navigation.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at and

Email Bernice Ross.

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