Four E-Z Guidelines To A Productive Web Site
By: Marsha Mitchell
Have you ever surfed the Web as a consumer? Pretend you are moving to
Houston and want to preview homes on the Internet. Are you first going to
look for homes or are you going to look for an agent? Most consumers agree,
they want to look at listings. And if your site provides listing content,
chances are your “sticky” time will increase as consumers will also want to
view listing details, pictures, virtual tours, neighborhood information and
locate the property with a mapping tool.
Rule #1 – Give them what they want.
All Area Listings. Make sure your site provides updated, local MLS inventory
for the visitor to search. Do not just give them the ability to search your
listings; they will soon realize the limitation and go somewhere else. Find
out if your association has a solution for you. If not, you might need to
contact a 3rd party listing aggregator such as Realtor.com or Homes.com and
see if they feature the listings from your local MLS.
Also, do not make the consumer work to find the search button. Most
consumers stay on a site less than 30 seconds, unless they find a reason to
stay. Do not make them scroll down to find the search. Do not hide it under
your own listings. Let it be easy to find so they know it is there
immediately when they come to your site. Give them a reason to stay.
Rule #2 – Stay a click away from the consumer.
Is your name and contact information on every page? Do not make the
consumer have to search to contact you. Do not let them forget whose site
they are on while performing their search. Once they find something of
interest, can they find you? Can they easily click a button and e-mail you
for an appointment or to ask a question? The Internet consumer wants
information and wants it quickly. Do not put your contact information in
small print at the bottom of a screen. Your name, e-mail address and even
phone number should be on every page they visit while on your site.
Rule #3 – Don’t lead them astray.
This is a sad, but common problem. A consumer comes to your site to view
properties online. The site has lots of resources on it. The visitor
clicks on a button that takes them to another site and then another site and
then another site. Pretty soon, they cannot get back to you unless they
press the back button about 50times. If you are going to have links to
outside sites, either keep those sites inside a frame, or have the browser
open a new window so the consumer can always get back to you. Be cautious
in putting so many resources on the page that the visitor loses site of his
purpose – to search for homes. But make sure you are with them on every
click of their journey.
Rule #4 – Encourage the visitor to take action.
Always keep in mind the main purpose of your Web site is to get the consumer
to take action and involve you in their decision to purchase a home; in
other words, to transact business. Invite the consumer to sign up for more
information and get their permission to contact them in the future.
Remember the 30-second rule of capturing their attention. Make use of the
word “free” on your site. Encourage them to sign up to be auto-notified of
properties matching their criteria. Have contests. Offer FREE relocation
packets; FREE Market Analysis of their home; FREE event calendars; FREE
pre-qualification for a loan; or FREE brochures on buying a home. You know
you have a lot of FREE services to offer. Do not assume the consumer
understands that it does not cost anything to have a market analysis
performed for their home.
Following these four guidelines should enable your Web site to capture more
consumers for longer periods of time. Know and understand your consumer.
Target your audience and create headlines on your Web site that will
separate you from the competition. Let them know what you do best; what you
have to offer. Give them a reason to stay on the site. Make it easy to
contact you. And get their permission for you to contact them.
Marsha Mitchell is a consultant/speaker/trainer that helps REALTORS® feel "not-overwhelmed" by it all. Marsha’s expertise is offering practical solutions to the many perplexing challenges facing REALTORS® and Brokerages today. Her “Technology Assessment Scale For Brokerages” is more than a necessity for every Broker; it’s a reality check.
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