Many estate agents today seem to be engaged in a battle to have ‘the best’ website. But many seem to be forgetting one critical thing in their bid for supremacy over their competitor: their audience.
Going back to basics, the importance of a website is to cater to the needs of those looking to buy, sell or rent. An agency site acts as a window display for the web, with the potential of attracting thousands more browsers who could be your next client.
Whilst getting the right branding for your website is doubtlessly important, the main focus will always be to show your properties in the best light and make it simple for people to view them, access more details and to arrange viewings. End-usability is essential, so ensure your agency gets it right with these simple steps:
Being able to view properties on a mobile was once a dream, then a ‘nice to have’; now it is essential. We are more mobile today than we ever have been and people are looking for property in a totally different way. Maybe they are commuting, perhaps watching TV in the evening, or looking at a link their partner has sent them – your website needs to work wherever they are, so make sure it is accessible whatever the device.
Much like the change we have seen because of increased mobile usage, people now expect in-depth search results. If you have a search function (and if you don’t, get one) make sure it works intuitively. People want to filter by size, price (or price range), and location. Make sure they can, and if like Rightmove you have adraw-a-search function, make sure this functionality actually works on all browsers.
There is nothing more frustrating to a potential buyer than finding a perfect property only to be told it’s already been sold. Ensure your website is constantly being updated so that only available properties are visible. Likewise, the faster you can market new properties on your website, the better.
When people have found a property, how easy is it to get in contact to arrange a viewing? For most estate agents the easier this is the better (although for some, especially high value properties, there may be reason to make it a little more complex to put off unsuitable enquiries). Phone number, email options or even a ‘request a viewing’ form work well. For some a live chat function will also be a great way for an immediate way to answer questions and arrange viewings.
Listing sold properties may not be ideal for buyers, although for sellers they’re fantastic. Showing a sold property timeline will highlight your agency’s success, enticing your preferred clientele and showcasing what your agency can do.
In addition, a sold gallery can add an additional feature to those simply browsing, because when it comes to their time to sell, they’ll know the agency to head to.
You should be tracking everything on your website – which properties are being viewed most often, which get enquiries, what areas are most popular right now, what features of the site do people not use? You can get so much information about your website and then use that to provide evidence of what is working and what isn’t. Use this information to optimise what you are doing for even better results – your website should never be finished, it is an ongoing project.
The world consumes huge amounts of content and whilst the most useful information will likely be your properties, do not write off other content forms. Some estate agents are seeing huge returns on their content marketing efforts – whether they are using it to build brand awareness, grow market share, or position themselves into a new part of the market, content can be beneficial for all your audiences (buyers, sellers, commercial etc).
Many estate agents build their website and consider it finished. That’s not how it works, and we always see the best agency websites are those which are constantly evolving. With all the data at your fingertips, you can be optimising the website to work for your audiences and selling more properties as a result.
- Annie Swift, Swift Estate Agents
- Michael Foundly, Chamberlains
- Ani Kraja, Julie Twist Properties