By Roger Martin
As more and more people begin to shift their house hunting efforts to the Internet, it has become increasingly important for anyone in the real estate profession to have a website that showcases their business. And if you want a website that contributes to your bottom line, there are a few fundamental questions that must be answered first.
What is the goal your website seeks to accomplish?
In order to clearly define your goals, it helps to step back and assess your project from a very high level perspective. Are you trying to build a brand, develop a content-rich community resource or generate qualified leads? Having a thorough understanding of the purpose your website will make it much easier to plan your strategy, your budget and your expectations.
How do you want your website visitors to take action?
Once you have determined the intended goal of the website, you need a metric by which to measure your success. This is referred to as a ‘conversion,’ and it can be defined by any action that you have the ability to track. To build on the examples from above, if your goal is to become an information hub, your conversion may be defined by the time a user spends on site or by the amount of page views you generate in a day.
Alternatively, if you aim to collect as many leads as possible, you may define a conversion as a successful contact form submission or a call from a prospect that was generated by the website.
Have you created a clear call to action?
While a conversion is what you have defined internally as the action you want your website visitors to take, they won’t know that they should take it unless you make it abundantly clear. Creating a strong ‘call to action’ is critical for enticing users into converting, whether it’s sending you an email or checking out the market snapshot you recently posted on the site.
Many websites make the mistake of featuring 10 or more different items on the home page all competing for your attention. A better alternative is to prominently feature your primary call to action, and create more subtle ‘information scents’ for the less urgent content on the website.
Do you know your target audience?
The best way to communicate clearly with your website visitors is to have a good understanding of who they are and what they are looking for. Take some time to consider everything about your target audience, from basic demographics such as age and income to more in-depth considerations like the various stages of their buying cycle. Are they just collecting information about the neighborhood or are they ready to schedule a viewing?
The ability to address the needs of your prospects at any stage of the sales cycle will prevent them from needing to leave your website and ultimately keep them engaged long enough to convert.
Spend a little time answering some basic questions about your business and your customers in order to help define your goals. Incorporating a few basic usability principles and market research into the planning of your website can have a dramatic impact on its success.
Roger Martin owns a full-service real estate agency specializing in West U real estate and Houston’s other luxury markets.