In a recent interview, Agent Image Co-founder and Managing Partner Jon Krabbe shared his insights on how agents today can build their digital presence. We also spoke about the critical value of a personal brand, and how best to communicate it online.
Does today’s agent even need a website anymore?
Absolutely. Prospective clients check out your website, social media and reviews of you online first. Your website is often that first impression, and without it, your potential for branding, marketing and lead generation plummets. But you have to decide what you want your website to be. In my experience, when people reach out to us to design their website, they’re either looking for lead generation or brand awareness, or a hybrid of the two.
For those that want brand awareness, you are looking to showcase who you are, your expertise and develop your online brand. For those looking for leads, you are trying to answer the question of how to market yourself to get the most conversions. These are the two main reasons to have a web presence. To touch potential clients and either show them who you are or to create a funnel through which you can generate leads. Both are important and necessary for your business development and overall success.
Let’s jump into the lead generation aspect of a web site. Say I’m an agent trying to generate leads. What are the things that my website should have? Should I have one website, should I have multiple? What’s that direction?
Having a well-branded web presence is imperative first and foremost. That said, if your goal is lead generation, consider having one website for your brand and a separate website to generate leads.
Here is why: consumers are looking for homes first. They’re not necessarily looking for a Realtor. Therefore, they feel comfortable and familiar with sites like Zillow, Redfin and Realtor.com. Use that comfort to your advantage and build a website similar in look and feel to one of these.
My suggestion is to keep your photo and your branding off your lead generation site. As an individual agent, your photo and contact information will often scare off the average consumer who may think you’ll be knocking down their door tomorrow if they leave behind any contact information. Passive consumers want to browse the information anonymously, so if your site feels more like a community resource of listings and less like an agent site, they will be more likely to favorite a search or sign up for property updates.
What if I am an agent with stronger name recognition in the market? Would I have a different marketing strategy?
Yes. If you are already well known, then you can also rely more on your brand for lead generation. For instance, agents like Sally Forster Jones, Aaron Kirman, or Dolly Lenz have names with enough cachet and respect in the industry where it would make sense for them to use that familiarity.
From a PPC standpoint, if someone is well known from television or has a brand that is prolific in a certain area, it can be favorable to do a lead-generating campaign with the brand front and center. I would still A/B test branded vs. unbranded in this situation regardless, but the rules here are definitely a bit different.
But what if my goal is both lead generation and brand awareness?
If your goal is lead generation and brand awareness, there is a way to make a hybrid website by using just your logo or just your company name but still focusing on the community.
I would place a logo in the header of a landing page that shows properties in order to associate the two. Potential clients are still going to know it’s a real estate company, but the effect is much more subtle, and you will still generate more leads than a fully branded site stacked with images of yourself. But in my experience, nothing produces more leads as quickly as a fully unbranded site.
Where should today’s agents focus so they make the right choices for their business?
You should decide what your goal is and find the marketing strategy that will get you there. You’re either looking for lead generation, brand awareness or a hybrid of the two. If the goal is lead generation, an unbranded site is going to get you the best results. If your goal is brand awareness, create your site to represent you and the kind of agent you are. If your goal is brand awareness AND lead generation, find that subtle mix of the two that puts your name out there but still sets you up as a community resource and drives traffic to you. Know what you’re looking for first and build your plan around that so that you maximize your marketing dollars for the results you want.
Jon Krabbe is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Agent Image, the #1 real estate website design company in the world. He began his career as an agent where he saw the need for uniquely branded websites and marketing in a template-saturated industry. With over 20 years of industry experience, Jon has overseen the creation of over 20,000 websites and has worked with top-producing agents to develop award-winning designs. He has found a way to combine his passion for real estate, branding and design into a service that is committed to helping real estate professionals from around the world grow their business and succeed.
Since 1999, Agent Image has specialized in branded website solutions and online marketing for real estate professionals. Known for creating award-winning real estate websites for REALTORS®, agents, and brokers, Agent Image has launched over 20,000 websites for top producers throughout the country.