Like it or not, the internet has taken over the property industry in a major way. Newspaper based marketing now has limited value and is costly by comparison; the internet is effective, cheap, and the coverage is both enormous and timely. On that basis every property marketing campaign should be carefully considered and structured with a bias towards online marketing initiatives and coverage. The same can be said for the personal marketing creativities for every agent and the ways in which they can build their brand across websites and blogs.
So let’s look at one big part of the property marketing process and that is the website used by the agent or broker. I am not talking about the portals used by the players in the industry; but rather the personal or brokerage websites where listings and information for contact will be placed.
It stands to reason that your website should be of high quality and practically designed. In many respects your website could be the ‘front door’ of your business and the way in which people will find you.
Website Design and Layout Tips
There is a special strategy behind the website process and continual improvement is required. Here are some important facts to consider in your website design:
- Menus and simplicity – You will have different segments to your business and quite commonly sales, leasing and property management. You may also focus on office, industrial, and retail property. The menus that you install on your site should be chosen with those categories in mind. Make it easy for people to find what they are looking for.
- Pages – The internet search engines love to see fresh market related information. If you increase the pages in your site continually with valuable market related information, you will see a rise in your search engine profile. The ‘search spiders’ will soon see that your site is changing regularly with valuable content, and on that basis the content will be watched and assessed for search value. If you put a ‘blog’ into your website and feed it with updated content every day or each week, things will be seen by the search engines.
- Photographs – As a general rule use professional photographs in all property listings. An attractive photograph will retain the interest of readers and those people visiting your site.
- Site map – A site map is something your web designer can provide for you. It is a map that helps the search engines move around and see the best content and or new pages and blogs.
- Key words – Choose a batch of keywords that relate to your location and property specialties. Those words should be used commonly through the website in blogs and property listings so you are correctly branding yourself and your business for the image that you want to portray.
- Above the fold – There is a concept today where the home page of a website is or should be designed with simplicity in mind. Most of the content on the home page should be seen in the single ‘open’ screen without any scrolling (above the fold) when a person loads the site in their browser. Don’t make your home page complex or long and lengthy; there is a good degree of evidence available to show that too many words on a home page put people off browsing.
- Database capture – Use a ‘pop up’ point in your website for capturing people into your database (you will need special software to do that, however it is inexpensive). This means that a person will see a special ‘slider’ come into view when they visit your website. The ‘slider’ will offer a special report or something of value relating to property; the entry of the person’s name and email into the ‘slider’ will help them get that information. Use an auto responder to send out that information automatically when the new database entry has been captured.
- Design – Your website should be designed with consistency to your brand and logo. Perhaps you are part of a franchise structure; consistency of brand is required. Colours chosen for your website should be selected with a view to professionalism and layout. Website consultants are not always the best people to give advice on that. Check out other sites online to see what makes the better ones stand out.
In saying all of these things, it is a fact that the websites of today will be redundant very soon without regular updates and format changes. View your commercial real estate website as a ‘moving target’ requiring special involvement and shaping. Put the best people on your website updates so online enquires and interaction evolve.