Technology

9 tips to crush the competition with your listing website

How to wow homeshoppers
  • Custom property websites add extra value, help agents be more successful and make people want to work with you.
  • Showcase your digital capabilities using new creative content forms and code-free tools that make it easy to offer custom websites for properties on an ongoing basis.
  • Take property marketing to the next level, and you'll gain a distinct competitive advantage.

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As a real estate agent, you’ve probably had many clients claim they have incredible properties. To them, there is a story buried deep inside — poured into the foundation.

Sellers want agents to take property marketing to the next level and differentiate the offering from any other available channels. Competing with Zillow, Trulia and Redfin is not getting any easier, so how are you showing your unique value to earn your client’s trust?

Anyone can send flyers or purchase advertising space in the Sunday classifieds; however, this substantial advertising investment gets you almost no insight into who’s actually interested.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), four in 10 buyers looked for properties online as a first step in the homebuying process (up from 36 percent in 2010).

After checking out popular online databases, buyers usually move on to single-property and corporate websites — and that’s where custom websites can become a competitive advantage if you can include them in your offering.

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To take advantage of the market and set yourself apart from the competition, use these 10 tips to nail down your website-driven real estate marketing efforts.

1.  Add extra value to your property website

Real estate agents often feel like new database and brokerage platforms are replacing them, but property information and visuals are limited by these platforms’ standard formats.

Websites enable you to create a marketing experience that standard technology can’t. Include detailed information about what kind of community the buyer will be moving into, and get quotes from a few locals about why they like the area.

Other topics to cover through your professional agent lens:

  • Location and its investment potential
  • Benefits
  • Existing tenants
  • Recent upgrades
  • Accessibility
  • Transportation
  • History of the building area

2. Help your site rank locally with search engine optimization

NAR points out in its “Digital House Hunt” report that 53 percent of users hunt for their homes online using search engines.

Additionally, 69 percent of homeshoppers who take action on a real estate brand website start their research with a local term, such as “Houston homes for sale.”

Take advantage of SEO meta tagging opportunities to ensure that your listing shows up where people are looking.

Additionally, adding engaging details about the community on your property website with links to local information about schools, city websites, restaurants with the highest Yelp ratings in the area and so on, will help your website’s local search rankings and expand your available audience.

Hear about a new biking trail that the city is investing in to help commuters? Add links to articles about it and all the other big projects reshaping the area.

3. Stun your users with impressive visuals

High-quality photography continues to be a top priority for any property website — people simply love images!

In various surveys, homebuyers rate photos as the feature they use most when searching for a new home on the web (important to 83 percent of all buyers!)

Websites provide an opportunity to create an emotional connection to a property through carousels of images and photo galleries that standard database platforms might not offer.

Consider making living photos that are often used as a engaging background for a website, as well as other creative imagery such as interactive infographics (for example, commercial real estate websites sometimes include an opportunity to learn more about the building by clicking on parts of the blueprints).

4. Move beyond static content with breathtaking videos

Customers now expect videos everywhere, courtesy of mobile cameras and recent social media developments and features.

Although a creative selfie-stick iPhone video tour might work for some properties (say, targeting younger audiences), we are seeing a trend with really expensive (and impressive!) video production in real estate marketing.

For example, property tours in the style of HGTV’s “Celebrity Homes” with a professional host. You could write a script and be an on-camera guide or hire a professional production team with a narrator/host to do it for you.

Some agents produce movie-quality trailers for properties involving a staged set, actors and a storyboard.

5. Integrate other channels, and bring social into the mix

Consider leveraging a professional copywriter to prepare the content that quickly captures the audience.

Hire a journalist to prepare a national-daily-newspaper-worthy report about the property discussing what makes it a great investment or a place to live. Curate and include exciting news about the area.

Choose the right messages for the audience — for example, millennials will most likely be more interested in the building amenities rather than technical specifications.

Because prospective buyers might visit the site a few times, it’s valuable to continually add fresh content to ensure the website is never stale or tired. This can be achieved easily; for example, adding Instagram images from the area and content (with permission) from top local bloggers.

6. Establish compelling calls-to-action to keep people on the page

You want your potential customers to easily spot buttons and links to “schedule a viewing,” “learn more,” “explore,” “find nearby,” “inquire” and “click here.”

Make sure you help the visitor get all of the necessary info (what, where, how much) as quickly as possible while promoting interaction and telling your property’s story.

Consider including “tap to call,” “contact the agent” and “get directions” buttons or widgets for sharing on social. Make sure complete contact information doesn’t require sleuthing to find it.

7. Make it responsive and mobile-ready 

Reports show that 94 percent of millennials search for properties on websites with 50 percent using an app or a mobile device for that. It’s also very common for agents to have iPads at open houses with the website up.

Capturing the mobile audience is extremely important, and that’s why single-page scrolling websites that create a seamless mobile experience are so popular now.

Check your website on a mobile device to ensure it’s mobile-ready, responsive (also important for Google search results) and loads with the lightning-fast speed.

The reality is: nearly half of web users now expect a site to load in two seconds (or less!) and will likely abandon a site that isn’t loaded within three seconds.

8. Optimize feedback and goals using key performance indicators

Print marketing materials offer little to no insight into the effectiveness of your programs, but website analytics can tell you a lot. You can adjust your messaging and optimize lead conversions if you analyze traffic count versus form submissions.

You can expand and measure your reach with social shares if you add a few widgets to your website.

CRM, marketing automation and analytics tools will make a huge difference for optimizing your marketing processes and creating a single funnel for all leads to avoid lots of errors and missed opportunities.

9. Extend your high-quality converting assets by taking advantage of sophisticated ad platforms

I was recently using a gaming app when a pop-up ad reminded me about an amazing apartment for sale nearby that I had been looking at earlier.

Hopefully, you are also integrating smart digital marketing activities in your plan while also making sure all digital banners lead to your website (and a quick contact form with a “schedule a viewing” button).

As new real estate database and brokerage platforms continue to streamline the real estate buying and selling processes, they alienate real estate agents from their sphere of expertise.

Building effective property websites brings back the human element of knowledge, experience and capability that is getting lost somewhere along the way. It’s time to show your personal touch adopting the new tech to provide marketing services that a property owner can’t find elsewhere.

Matt Kinkaid oversees real estate accounts for Brandcast in San Francisco. Follow Matt on the Brandcast blog and Twitter

Email Matt Kinkaid.