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Why so many estate agency websites are missing a trick!

When I decided almost a year ago to develop a new website, looking back now I cannot believe how out of touch I was between what I thought made an interesting website and what clients actually wanted! And that still seems to be the case with a lot of estate agents own websites today! Many are simply not catering for the audience they most desperately crave – new sellers and landlords!

You only have to visit a few at random for the same recurring theme, large property search buttons taking centre stage or pages of self indulgent waffle about how good the agency is and why they are doing the clients a favour by letting them sell their properties with their agency!

The vast majority of home hunters will start their online search for a property on Rightmove or one of the major portals, so why do agent’s websites place such a huge emphasis on buyers? After all we need more sellers don’t we? Yet how many agents own website offer anything for them?

During my own website project, research showed that potential sellers often start planning to sell up to twelve months before they actually instruct an agent to market their property. Chances are then, they might visit the websites of agents they would potentially consider using? What will they want? Information? Help? Advice? Probably all three.

What makes a good website?

A good estate agency website must be aesthetically pleasing, clean and simple. Visitors want to be able to find information quickly! Therefore bold clear headings and ease of navigation are essential. We live in a world of short attention spans, so a site needs to capture the user’s attention immediately. People scan read until they find something of interest or relevance. An average page visit to a website is under a minute and many users leave a site within twenty seconds if it is too cluttered and wordy. The use of video can help engage visitor’s interest and is much more powerful than lots of text!

Make your content matter – give them a reason to come back

To attract and retain your target audience – sellers, it is important to give them a reason to stay on the site and comeback again! Therefore a FREE download of some description is essential, maybe the top ten selling tips? next steps or a local market commentary? In our case we have an interactive e-guide “The ultimate guide to selling your home” It is also essential that there is some form of data capture facility. If you give something away – it would be nice to receive something in return – a name and contact e-mail address at the very least in order for you to be able to politely follow up the enquiry. A regular blog providing useful tips, hints and ideas will also attract potential sellers and landlords back time and time again as they gather information! They might even recommend your site to friends and family!

Differentiate to stand out

Differentiating yourself from the competition is important in any industry for lead generation, customer retention and raising brand awareness which will ultimately reflect in a business’s bottom line.

Live chat can offer that differentiator on your website – yet I see it on so few! The internet is there to be used and people do – 24/7 so live chat provides an agent with a powerful but subtle, round the clock marketing opportunity that can help nurture relationships and build trust, which is the key to overtime translating a tentative enquiry into new business. Within twenty four hours of launching our new site last Friday, on the Saturday at 8.15pm we received a qualified valuation lead through live chat that has subsequently being been booked into our diary as an appointment. If High Street agents want to maintain their belief that they offer value in their fees, delivering a terrific online customer experience is a must.

Agents must innovate, tweak their business models, particularly their online offerings – an amazing customer focused, easy to navigate website which engages with their emotions is an essential investment in my opinion- remember it is the modern day shop window for today’s internet savvy client.

To take a look at our brand new website please go to www.mkiea.co.uk you can talk to someone 24/7 and find lots of useful information if you are thinking of selling or renting your property.

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