Is your website working as hard as you do? In the first article in our Build a Better Real Estate Website series, we'll discuss assessing your current website and whether it's doing a good job of appealing to your customers, allowing you to convert leads into clients. Experts estimate that your website has only a few seconds to hook a casual browser. If they don't like what they see, they will hit the back button and they'll never call you.
Visual Appeal Leads to Victory
As a savvy real estate agent, you're aware that many people begin their search for a new home or an agent online. When people come across your website, the first impression that it makes is a visual one. So that's where you should start. Stand back and look at every page on your site and assess its impact as if you were a customer seeing it for the first time. You've spent a lot of time tinkering with the information on your site—but is it easy for the customer to read? Remember, not all house hunters who come to your website will be in their first youth. A font size of 12 is harder to read for people over 35. A font size of 14 or 16 is user-friendly, and a simple font is easier to read than a sophisticated font that looks pretty.
Clutter Can Cause Confusion
Real estate agents are experts on de-cluttering when it comes to advising clients on home staging. But do you practice what you preach? Is your website guilty of having a cluttered appearance? Does the design of your real estate website look crammed, with too many sidebars, panels, boxes, widgets and just too much information? A customer who comes to your site and gets overwhelmed by all the options on the page, finding it impossible to choose, may just decide to navigate out of there. At this point in your assessment, if you're finding it difficult to be objective about your own site, ask the opinion of a friend whose opinion you trust. Get your friend to look at each page of your website and tell you if it's attractive and easy to navigate. Does each page make your friend want to stay there and keep reading? If the answer's no, it's time to de-clutter. If there's too much information on a page, split it into two pages. Having fewer options, not more, on each page, will help the customer to interact with your site. Leave some white space around panels and text boxes—white space helps the reader to navigate and find the content that they want. Easy reading, not eye-straining, should be your motto.
Once you've assessed your website's visual appeal, it's time to think about the content you have on your site. Let's be honest, if real estate agents had a dollar for every time they heard the phrase "content is king," they might not be millionaires, but they could probably take the kids to Disneyworld. And having winning content on your site will help you convert casual browsers into solid leads. But how do you make sure that your website's content is hitting the sweet spot? One solution is to stay focused on the customer whenever you're building content, whether it's blog posts, informational pages or open house listings. What is the potential client who comes to your website thinking about? Which of the client's problems can your website help to solve?
We will discuss building and using a profile of your typical customer in an upcoming article. But as you're adding text and pictures to your website, examine every sentence or photograph of a 4-bedroom house from the perspective of whether your customer will find it interesting and useful. If you're writing copy about a home that's perfect for a bigger family, picture that family in your mind and keep thinking about their needs as you describe the large bedrooms, the playroom, and the spacious backyard with its beautiful deck. If you're writing a blog post about downsizing, imagine that you're in the field talking to retirees and answering the kinds of questions they might typically ask you. "Talking" to clients as you write will help to keep the customer front and center when you're crafting your content.
Have you redesigned your website recently? Share your experiences of customer interaction in a BizPals status update!