Websites come in all shapes and sizes, from single static pages to deep multimedia libraries with fancy graphics, animated sliders, maps, photos, and video. But just because you can add features to your site doesn’t mean they will do anything for your marketing.
With the enormous variety of real estate website features available, it’s easy for agents to get caught up in the hype of the latest tools. Never lose sight of the real purpose of your website: to produce a steady stream of quality Buyer and Seller leads each and every day. Unless a new tool has a demonstrated effect on your lead generation it’s really just an “extra” (and a potentially costly one, too).
ESSENTIAL Real Estate Website Features
Here’s my list of the key features every agent should have in their Internet Marketing system to capture and begin converting the maximum number of ready-to-act Buyer and Seller Leads. Get this stuff right first before expanding your feature set, and make sure that any new tools don’t steal focus away from these.
#1: Your Own Identity
It’s crucial to your branding to select and register your own unique domain name (e.g. www.YourName.com). Even if you’re comfortable using the website provided by your real estate brokerage, buyers and sellers want to relate to you as a human being rather than just another agent in “the firm”. Once registered, you can point your domain name to any site or individual landing page you want.
Your domain should also allow you to operate one or more branded email accounts (e.g. John@JohnSmith.com). You’ll look much more professional using this email address than one that your Internet access provider gives you (i.e. stop using firstname.lastname@example.org for your business correspondence).
Owning your own domain name and email address also allows you to easily switch website providers (or even brokerages) without having to track down and notify all your contacts of the change. Your email address will stay the same and you can quickly point the domain name at your new site.
(Read more about Real Estate Domain Names.)
#2: PROVEN Direct Response Marketing Content
Your website’s content is what will make or break it as a lead generator. Every word of your landing pages, unique selling propositions, registration incentives, reports and scripts should be designed to maximize your response rate and get you more and better-qualified leads and clients. Continuous testing is necessary to make sure your content is actually attracting interest and capturing leads.
(Read more about Direct Response Marketing Content.)
The content included with the SuccessWebsite System has been carefully crafted and honed to perfection by some of the world’s top direct response copywriters and then tested in the million-dollar real estate businesses of North America’s top realtors, including Craig Proctor, to achieve the highest possible response rates. We’re the EXCLUSIVE providers of Craig’s content online.
#3: Complete Customizability
Most real estate website providers offer “templates” to help you get started quickly. This is a great option that can save you on custom development costs (which can be very costly indeed).
However, templates are generic by nature, and their lack of differentiation won’t do much to help your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Make sure you have the ability to customize your content for your own marketplace. Include local place names and your own individual sales messages.
Avoid website providers who charge you for non-major customizations. The best providers also include a website Control Panel that lets you make changes yourself, anytime you like, as often as you like, from the comfort of your own home or office.
With the SuccessWebsite System you can choose to include or exclude any of the pre-existing content as easily as flicking a light switch on or off. You can even change the text or “tweak” the content for your specific market. Nothing could be easier or simpler. And we include easy to follow, step-by-step instructions. If you can surf the web, you’ll be able to customize your website, quickly and easily, with no special software or expertise.
#4: Step-by-Step Internet Marketing Program
Too many providers hand you a website with no knowledge of how to market real estate online! If you’re new to this stuff, or if you simply want to avoid making costly mistakes along the way, you should have access to a proven plan for generating leads online.
With our system you get complete step-by-step instructions to maximize the potential of your website. We’ve studied all the Internet marketing tricks and gimmicks promoted by many so-called Internet “experts”. Our team of Internet Marketing for Real Estate Specialists will help you know what to do and more importantly what NOT to do.
#5: Automatic Feature Enhancements and Updates
Technology and tactics change quickly, and your website should keep up. Implemented quickly, new features can help you leap out in front of your competition, maybe even dominate a market. You also want to know if strategies stop working, so you can redirect your marketing budget elsewhere. These updates should come to you automatically so you don’t have to waste time or money keeping up to date.
With the SuccessWebsite System we’re continually studying and testing the latest developments in Internet Marketing and site development to keep you one step ahead of your competitors. If any other agent using our system (including Craig Proctor) comes up with a new breakthrough, you’ll instantly benefit.
#6: Detailed Advertising Tracking and Web Statistics
It’s amazing how few realtors ever test any aspect of their marketing and compare it to something else. Never before has it been so easy to know precisely how your ads are performing. This data is invaluable in shaping your marketing budget and generating leads as efficiently as possible.
The SuccessWebsite System provides you with all of the tools and information you need to test and continually improve your marketing. Through our proprietary TrackMySuccess System you’ll always have access to valuable information such as hit counts, referrals from other sites, page popularity, and much more.
#7: Online Listings
When searching for Listings information, over 85% of people perform some kind of search online. Why should all that traffic go to the MLS when you can provide listings info on your website?
At a minimum, your site should be able to display your own listings. Features that can be helpful here include photos, virtual tours, media clips, maps and easy sharing options via email or social media. This is not only an essential for attracting Buyers – good listings tools can also help you prove to Sellers that you can do the job. (Be sure to highlight these in your Listing Presentations.)
You can go one step further by providing access to all the listings in your local MLS data feed through IDX (Internet Data eXchange). A good IDX system will allow you to track the properties your leads are most interested in, which will help your conversion efforts.
In addition to easy-to-use Listings Tools in our website Command Center, our exclusive HDX Property Search & Display System (Patent Pending) lets you create HotLists of properties that can be customized to specific neighborhoods or property types you want to highlight (e.g. foreclosures, waterfront homes, first-time buyers, etc.).
#8: Email Auto-Responders and Drip Campaign Follow-Up
First things first: Your leads expect instant access to information in exchange for supplying their contact details. Your website should quickly and automatically deliver the reports or property info they request. Period. Sending a photocopied list of home prices a few days later just won’t do it anymore.
Follow-up has traditionally been both a difficult and time-consuming task. For most independent businesses, leads are usually contacted once via mail or telephone. Some so-called “modern thinkers” or “Internet gurus” only rely on email auto-responders to do their follow-up (boy, are they missing the boat!). There is always the good intention to follow up again later, but the discipline required to do this is sorely lacking (“when I get around to it” just won’t do the job). If your only client follow-up is a single email auto-response, don’t count on making many sales.
The key to closing any deal and profiting from clients over the long term is a reliable ONGOING follow-up system that delivers a proven sales message. As with direct mail, one-shot follow-up isn’t nearly as effective as a coordinated campaign of follow-up messages. For every person that responds to your message, there are 2, 3, 10, maybe more, who almost responded. These people who ALMOST responded WILL respond to another nudge, or two, if the nudges come quickly enough.
Automated email campaigns insure that your clients are being “nudged” regularly with your message. Pair this with regular telephone follow-up and you have a one-two conversion punch.
Our MyLeads CRM provides targeted campaigns of follow-up messages that are delivered to your leads, from YOU, on a pre-scheduled basis via email. This Craig Proctor-Proven content has been designed by some of North America’s top copywriters and real estate professionals to encourage return visits to your website and keep you top of mind. Whenever your leads decide to make their move, you’ll be the first one they call!
#9: Monthly Newsletter for Leads and Clients
It’s a sure bet that many of your leads won’t be ready to move for some time. A monthly newsletter is a pressure-free way to maintain contact with them, continually establishing your credibility and reminding them of your services. Coupled with an occasional “checkup” phone call, it’s a key component of any follow-up strategy.
Each month, we update the SuccessWebsite System with a professionally-written online newsletter (with NO advertising) that will have your clients and prospects coming back to your site. The MyLeads CRM automatically notifies leads and clients each month that the latest issue is now available.
#10: Affiliate Pages for Your Business Partners
Affiliate Partnerships (e.g. mortgage brokers, home inspectors, lawyers, landscapers, etc.) are a fantastic way to get your sales messages in front of new leads. Providing space on your website for your affiliates allows you to collaborate on marketing services and stretch your budget even further.
The SuccessWebsite System allows you to create pages within your site for your key affiliates or partners. Easily promote your partners, and develop profitable back-end alliances without directing traffic away from your site. You could even charge your affiliates an advertising fee (or a commission on sales) for these pages and reduce or ELIMINATE THE COST of your new site.
Did I miss anything? What do you think are the key real estate website features for generating leads? Leave your comments and questions below.