How to Get More Business From the Web
You’re making connections on social networks, generating
tra;c to your blog, and drawing consumers to your site via
search results. All of that doesn’t mean much if you aren’t
getting those connections to supply their contact info, request more information about your services or listings, or
ask for an appointment.
Your online e;orts should all point toward a single aim:
generating leads. Here are four ways to get more business
from your Web presence, recommended by user-experience
experts at the Real Estate Connect conference hosted by
Inman News in San Francisco in August.
Rogers Healy and
Associates in Dallas
makes it easy for users to
search inventory and see
1. Keep it simple. Too often, real estate companies pile
everything they have onto their Web site’s home page. “Bro-
kers want everything on the page—title, escrow, mortgage,”
says John Hensley, chief product and technology o;cer at
Real Estate Digital, a provider of integrated technology solu-
tions. “But consumers don’t come to broker sites for that.”
Featuring too many options on your site tends to a;ect
visitors with a kind of mental paralysis that may lead them to
close their Web browser in frustration, agrees Galen Ward,
cofounder and CEO of listings site Estately. “Every time
you add a new button or choice [on your site], you reduce
the number of people who will make any choice. For me,
it’s about removing clicks and being transparent. It’s about
bringing features to your users,” he says.
2. Give the people what they want. What are real
estate consumers looking for online? “People want photos.
They want to do an analysis of the house from their computer. Real estate search is doing a lot of what we’re already
doing for our clients—price and location filtering. But it’s also
about making it more responsive,” says Ward.
Knowing that, make sure your site is presenting the information people are searching for in the simplest, most intuitive way possible, says Andrew Machado, CEO and founder
of Open Home Pro, which provides a virtual form to collect
visitor info at open houses. “It’s all about delighting people,”
For example, Rogers Healy, a broker-owner in Dallas,
prominently features a property-search function and includes an extensive collection of client testimonials on his
business site ( www.rogershealy.com). “That’s what people
are looking for—a demonstration of market knowledge and
experience and a track record of success,” he says.
3. Test and measure interactions. One way to figure
out what consumers want is to assess how visitors engage
with your content and design. This involves user testing to
determine if your current setup is getting results. User testing doesn’t have to involve focus-group testing, which Ward
says is “unnatural” because of how often it involves contrived
scenarios and leading questions.
Ideally, you can track how people use your site by gathering behavioral metrics through measurement tools, such as
recordings of visitors’ scrolling patterns and heat maps that
register the most-clicked items. “You can’t lead them on,”
Hensley says. “Let them play; let them get lost on your site.”
Once you’ve got data that shows how users interact with your
site, examine it to determine whether they’re doing what you
want them to. If they aren’t, use that information to figure out
what content you should have—and where it should go.
4. Make sure the site represents you. Even as you
change the design, structure, and content of your site to simplify it and align it to consumer expectations, you have to protect your branding.
Ultimately, the site should reflect your personality, business niche, and services. “Some of it is your gut, and some of
it is what your customers say,” Machado says. “Just make sure
it’s not a hodgepodge of what people say they want. Then the
product isn’t yours anymore.” By Brian Summerfield W