Real Estate Marketing
GoDaddy recently had a relatively good group of articles about real estate marketing. It covered things like how to start a real estate business, how to build a real estate website and some fundamentals on how to market the new business. We thought it would be good to summarize the good points of the articles and layer in a bit of our own experience. Our articles will focus solely on the digital marketing aspect of real estate, but if you’d like to read all of the GoDaddy articles, they can be found here.
Deciding whether you would be a decent realtor or not isn’t something we can decide for you. It is a self-managed profession, so if you are a go-getter with an extensive network of people, you’ll be better suited than someone who isn’t a self-starter. Even if you work for a large real estate broker, no one is going to tell you what to do day to day; you have to figure it out. And it seems that EVERYONE is a realtor, so figure out what sets you apart from the rest. It could be great marketing…
Let’s dive into what this article is about: real estate marketing websites.
Most brokers will have their real estate website that hooks into the primary Realtor MLS (multiple listing service) website. This allows the broker to feature all properties that everyone who works there has listed. New realtors have to rely on the MLS website and their broker’s site unless he or she wants to build their own (or have it built).
If a realtor chooses to have his/her website, it is a widespread practice and can be done quickly, and depending on the property management tool, maybe inexpensive as well. Two main options that we will discuss.
Website Option 1: Standalone
Build a website that uses a property management tool. This will likely be the most cost-effective website because there are many property management plug-ins available at no or low cost.
- Learning Curve: regardless of the platform you select, there will be a learning curve to managing your listings on your new website.
- Adding/updating properties has to be done manually. This means a realtor will get a new listing, fills out all the paperwork to get it added to the primary MLS system; they would have to re-enter the property information on his/her website. It’s less expensive but will require more time, in the long run, to keep things updated.
- Lower Cost: No real custom programming is necessary to display your properties on your site.
- More Control: with this type of website, YOU will have control of the information on the site, all phone numbers and contact forms will go to you, and you can also use your specific property URLs in your other marketing efforts. This will ensure branding is on point (a URL that is yours leading to a site that is yours).
- Possibly a Higher Conversion Rate: while it’s a pain in the rear to load properties into multiple locations (the central MLS system and your website), it’s a good way to ensure your potential buyers and sellers ONLY see information about you. Directing a person to a property you have listed on the leading MLS site in your area, or even your broker’s website provides the opportunity for the user to see listings that other people have, reducing your ability to close a deal. Driving people to YOUR site where you’re the only realtor listed will translate into a higher probability that the user will work with YOU.
Website Option 2: Integrated
Integrated real estate marketing websites integrate with the main real estate MLS system. This is a huge benefit in reducing the amount of time it takes to get a new listing out the door to the public. Instead of having to list the property in the MLS system AND your website, you would enter the data into the MLS, and your site would automatically pull new information into your site on a regularly scheduled basis.
There are several ways to do this. Some website developers will use what’s called an IFRAME. This option will pull listings from another site into your site, but you get no real benefit from it, and it can make for poor user experience. Users will be on your website looking at listings that appear to be on your site, but they are on another website. IFRAME is an older technology that still works, but we’re not a fan of it in this application.
Another way is to leverage a pre-existing tool or plug-in that handles the integration into the MLS system. You will have to provide your realtor credentials to authorize the use/access to the MLS, but once granted, that tool will import the data for your listings and display them onto your website.
The final way we will mention is to use what is called an API to pull the MLS data into your site. This sounds like the last option, right? It works similarly, except you will need a website developer to build how the data is displayed on your website. The plug-in from the previous option will have a pre-defined layout for this data; this option enables YOU to control how your listing is displayed on your site. It’s an added benefit, but my opinion is that it’s likely not worth the cost unless you’re a broker. That’s an entirely different conversation, though!
In the integrated option, we would recommend using a plug-in to hook into your MLS system and pull the data into your site. It will give you all the marketing benefits you’ll need and the most efficient way to get your listings publicized.
The “Must Have’s” for Your Site
Almost 50% of potential home buyers look at properties online before contacting a realtor. You need a well-built website that loads quickly, has plenty of information about the listings, excellent photos, and it HAS to be responsive (built for tablet, desktop, and mobile browsers). Over half of all website traffic is now performed on a mobile device. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’ll miss out on more than half of your potential business.
Here is our list of requirements for a real estate marketing website:
- Unique Domain Name: Your website’s domain name needs to be easy to spell, easy to write, and easy to remember. Keep in mind that your domain name should be on all forms of marketing, so you want something easy, but that is also unique. Tip: include a geographical area in the URL to help with local search volume.
- Searchable Listings: No matter what you do, PLEASE make sure your website developer can explain to you how your listings will be searchable. If users can’t find your listings, you’re not going to make money. Today’s content management platforms that are used in websites have plenty of tools and settings to make search engine optimization a breeze. Tip: the information displayed in an IFRAME will give you ZERO searchability.
- Quality Photos: Photos can make or break a listing. Not only is it essential to have the property clean and well lit, only upload good quality images. The chances are high that serious buyers will be zooming in to see details of a property. Those in the market for a realtor will check your site to see how well you represent your listings. The better your photos, the higher the chance of business!
- Contact Information: If a person loves a property, your contact information needs to be listed right there to prompt them to contact you. We have built multiple real estate marketing sites in the past and included a contact form as well as other contact information on every single property listing, photo of the realtor included!
- Neighborhood/Property Information: This sounds pretty basic, but take a look at individual realtor websites and look to see how many of them include links to schools in the district, how to find a lender, a mortgage calculator, utility bill information, etc. The more information you can load, the easier it is for a user to understand the area, not just what they can see in your photos. Tip: if you link to other websites for this information, ensure you have these links open in a new browser window. You don’t want to send people to another website with no easy way to return to yours.
- Testimonials: Testimonials will help you secure new buyers and sellers. We have a system that integrates the website with an email marketing database that, with minimal effort, will automatically solicit feedback/testimonials for you and will drive for ratings/reviews to be left on Google, Facebook, etc.
- Email Marketing Integration: This is a great way to stay in touch with past, present, and future customers, to announce new properties, and to keep your business name in front of people, growing your network over time.
There are countless options for real estate marketing websites, so we hope this article helps to explain some of the options at a high level. Digital Bombers is available to help you with your real estate marketing in any format needed – simple consulting to ensure your site is set up properly; we can build the site for you, and/or we can handle the marketing. Contact us today to discuss your needs!
Next Up: Real Estate Marketing. Stay tuned for more!