March 2nd, 2012
Think for a moment about the best listener in your life. Your words bounce off of them and ricochet back in the form of carefully packaged advice – partially because they’re engaged in your cues, and partially because they knew half of the story about your neighbor’s dog always managing to go to the bathroom in your yard before you even started talking.
Now think about your favorite website for search – commercial or otherwise. Does the exchange of information follow the same flow it does in your interpersonal relationships? Can it take in your query and offer advice in the way that relates closely to the way you think? If it’s a good site, the answer is yes. If it’s a great site, it will also tailor its advice specifically to you (“Recommended because of your interest in Never Say Never by Justin Bieber…”).
Sure, the Amazons and Netflixes of the world have a ton to spend on interactive, but they also have gained household name accolades and cult followings throughout the process. Even if you start small, there are things you can do to show you are listening.
1. Show you know what’s important to their search
Real estate websites are really good at feeding information about the home, down to the smallest record detail. Without supplementary information about what’s outside the home, you’re missing one of the biggest parts of the search.
Only 4% of all buyers compromised on the quality of their neighborhood last year, versus 18% who compromised on the price of the home (according to the NAR Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers). The same is true of other quality of life aspects:
- 2 out of 3 buyers said quality of the neighborhood impacted their search
- Quality of schools and convenience to friends, family, shopping, schools, entertainment and parks also ranked highly
There is an arsenal of information available that can take care of this need for you fairly easily. (Onboard has been providing this information for nearly a decade if you’re looking for more specific ideas.)
2. Offer more than just a listings feed
Take a look at your site and ask yourself: what value am I adding beyond other sellers with access to an MLS feed?
Adding your local expertise, via blog or adding your unique content to the listing in a unique way can add a dash of local flavor and humanize the process.
If you don’t have time to do that for each property, are you showing home sales trends or accurate home values? For those looking to relocate, providing supplemental information in an interactive and engaging way can mean the difference between a buyer ending the conversation (going to a different site) and converting them to contact you. Even if the buyer is familiar with the area, having reliable school information and local points of interest will allow them to envision their life beyond the look and square footage of the structure.
3. Make it interactive
Third-party search sites and big aggregators offer great search experiences, but your site can compete. Building out a great, unique search experience is something that can set you apart. If you don’t have the resources for that, you can still quickly build in great tools that blend in with your brand’s site.
Speaking in relation to Onboard, we’ve done this numerous times for clients through easy plug-and-play Neighborhood Navigator and Lifestyle Search Widget tools that are colored and branded to match the client’s existing web presence. Clients can capture leads and get their time on site up without long development cycles.
4. Stop and ask yourself what you really know about your visitor
We know about what is important to overall buyers, but how deeply can characterize your website visitors? If you’re hazy, chances are, you’d benefit greatly by spending just 20 minutes a day digging into your site statistics to see where you’re hitting and where you’re missing.
Study the parts of your site where the visitor is likely to drop off and ask yourself what you can do to keep that conversation going.
We have clients who are taking an extremely proactive approach in understanding their visitors – not just for site improvement, but to price properties correctly based on search thresholds. The adage says that if you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.
To answer this call, Onboard has developed Listings 360°Insight. Do you know how price searches for 4 bedrooms are changing over time? What about the most searched neighborhoods on your site? The future of online success is responding to the business intelligence that buyers are lobbing at you just by being on your site.
5. Give them a reason to have a second and third conversation
This is perhaps the most important part. Not just capturing leads, but compelling them to work with you, is what you do best. If your site is great, chances are they will come back. But with lengthy search processes and buyers shopping around for weeks before they contact an agent, it’s your chance to stay engaged.
If you’ve implemented the content we discussed earlier, it’s easy to stay in touch. Send them emails on value trends in their community to entice them to list. Send them reports on trends in their community or where they’ve searched. Send them updates on price changes, open houses or other relevant updates or modifications to listings they’ve saved.
As is the case for our friendships and relationships, those who show they understand us the best are the likeliest to win our trust. With such a critical process at stake, building that trust is essential.