Real Estate Website Marketing… Is Yours Up To Par?

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Marketing. The one area that needs to be up to par if you have any sincere plans on growing and developing your real estate business. Whether you are flipping houses, renting them out, fixing them, or lending private money, marketing is a key variable in the “success equation”. Ignore this variable and the likelihood of being successful is drastically tilted against you. If you don’t take it serious enough, you’ll end up ‘reverse-marketing’ your company. As good as your intentions may be (it doesn’t matter) what people see is what they’re going to assume.

I don’t believe ‘reverse-marketing’ is an actual term (can’t say I was a marketing major in college), but my own definition is “while attempting to market yourself in a positive light, you actually do the opposite and market negatively upon yourself and/or your company.”

This article is going to address one of the more common forms of reverse-marketing that I come across: websites.

Real Estate Website Marketing

Websites are an excellent, excellent, excellent (did I mention “excellent?”) way to market your company, it’s goals, and most importantly – the services it can provide. You pay for it once to be built, and from that point forward (minus yearly hosting fees which are nominal) it will market for you while you’re awake, out enjoying life, and sleeping. Bottom line, it is one of the most cost effect marketing areas, and in my opinion, a must have.

BiggerPockets recommends HostGator and BlueHost for your web hosting needs.

While websites are becoming more common place, that doesn’t mean they can be taken any less serious. Remember, in many cases, your company’s website is the first impression a potential customer has of you.

Let’s use this analogy: picture yourself sitting at a coffee shop sipping on your coffee as you await to meet a fellow investor. The investor shows up with… shirt partially tucked-in, food stains on shirt, holes in jeans, food stains on jeans, hair in a total mess, food stains in hair (is that possible? anyways…), boogers hanging out of their nose, and food stains around their mouth. When they start to talk, they speak in broken English and you can barely comprehend.

And your first impression would be???

You would never allow yourself to look like that, so why would you let a website?

Make Sure Your Real Estate Website Is Up To Par

If you already have a website, ask yourself how your site is doing in regards to these items. If you are thinking about building a website or are on the verge of getting on built, take into account these points.

  • Spelling & Grammar

    There is no quicker way to come across as unprofessional (and therefore ‘reverse-market’ yourself) than to have website content riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.

    Even if you were an English major in school, after you are done with the content of your site, have another set or two of eyes look over it. I know that I suffer from the syndrome of something “making sense” in my head, but when other people read it, they go “huh?”. Proof read. Proof read. Proof read.

  • Overall Design

    Does your website look like it was constructed as a 5th grade science project? Your site does not need to be on the cutting edge of technology; however, don’t let your website look exactly like other sites out there. Again, you don’t need to hire some expert graphic designer, but be sure your site has some uniqueness to it.

    Go out and spend some money on a good website developer. You are the person hiring, so you get to be the judge. Take advantage of that and figure out who can provide the services and design you want.

  • Functionality 

    Some people may disagree with me on this one, but I would rather have a site that is a pain in the neck for me to use on the back-end (meaning controlling things from “behind-the-scenes) than one that is a pain in the neck for the potential customer to use on the front end. If a site is hard to use due to layout or functionality, the person isn’t going to spend much time cruising around. Not good.

  • Broken Links

    Even if your site is easy to use from a functionality standpoint, broken links will be devastating because they will be that much more obvious to the user. What is a broken link? Some examples…

    • Social Media icons – if you have a social media icon on your page and the person clicks on it and it either 1) Does nothing or 2) Goes to some other page besides your social media page, then you have a broken link.
    • Blog – if you have a link that says, “Read My Blog” and when the person clicks on it, it takes them to 1) your “Contact Us” page or 2) a page saying, “This page can not be found”, then you have a broken link.

    You get the idea. When a person clicks on something on your site, be sure it takes them to where they think they are going.

Small Things that Can Add Up

The above four items are the big ones, but these are some additional items you should be aware of.

  1. Video Load TimeIf you have a video on your site and it takes forever to load, while not a deal breaker, it will frustrate the user. Frustration is the last thing you want to cause.
  2. Blog Post Comments Do you have a blog? Make sure you monitor those comments (or set the site up where you need to approve comments). The last thing you want is a blog filled with spam comments about Viagra. This is going to cause the user to wonder if you even read comments, let alone care about them. You don’t want a user to start questioning your “care level.”
  3. Is Your Contact Form Working? Not only would this be counterproductive to you in regards to getting a lead, but it also will once again cause the person to question how much you “care” about helping them. I mean they’re trying to contact you and it’s not working, what are they supposed to think?
  4. Non-Delivery of Promised Item – If you tell people they will get a free eBook when they sign up for your newsletter, you NEED to be sure the eBook is sent (you can have this process automated). No quicker way for the user to question your trust level then to promise something and then not deliver.

 Small, Yet Effective Precautions to Take

As much as I sit here and preach about this stuff, odds are there is probably something wrong with the sites I have online. While we should all certainly strive for a perfect and flawless site, that may not always be the case. I think we can all agree though that there is a huge difference in a site, for example, where one has spelling and grammar errors all over the place verses one where there are a few minor ones here and there.

These are some of the things I personally do that help mitigate the above mentioned items…

  1. In production stage I get people who enjoy proof reading to look it over. Free labor is always good, so if you have anyone in your family who enjoys this sort of thing (it’s my Mom in my family), then ask them to look over and offer critiques.
  2. In production stage, find ignorance. You don’t want a real estate professional to read over your content and then ask, “Does it make sense?”. You want someone with no knowledge (or very little) to read over it. If it makes sense to them, then you know you did a good job of clearly explaining your services.
  3. In post production stage I do periodic check-ups. Open up the site, make sure things are loading quickly, click on links to make sure you don’t have any broken ones. Basically, treat the site like you’ve never been there and surf around it. Sometimes for whatever reason a dynamic can change, so you’ll want to catch those sorts of things as quickly as possible.

Summary

In summary, websites are a very cost effective method to get your marketing out to the world. On the same note, they are also more than likely going to be the first impression someone has of you, so be sure you have all the food stains off your clothes and face before you “introduce” yourself.

How about you? Do you have a website already? Any precautions you take to make sure you site is always making the best first impression possible? What about as an user? Is there anything out there that catches your eye that frustrates you or makes you question a site? I’d love to hear as I believe a site can always  be ‘upgraded’ in one away or another. Any feedback can benefit us all.

Photo:Stewart

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About Author

Clay (G+) is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Huber Property Group, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Grand Rapids, MI. His company purchases distressed properties with the main exit strategy of fixing them up and reselling with owner financing, particularly, land contracts.

12 Comments

  1. Clay –

    Excellent post. The details are so important. Folks won’t come back if they don’t have a good experience, and that certainly includes ease of use.You aslo have to have a site that meets their expectations so it’s really important to be clear on the audience you are trying to attract.

    Sharon.

    • Well put Sharon.

      If no one has any idea ‘who’ you are trying to serve, or ‘what’ you are trying to serve, then there’s just going to be a whole lot of confusion, which is NOT what you want from a marketing perspective.

  2. Clay,
    Great article! It was perfect timing for me as I am in the middle of this project now. I’ve been building my website/blog via WordPress for a couple weeks now. While I probably should have outsourced this effort in the sake of time, it’s truly been a great learning experience. I look forward to incorporating some of your ideas into my project. Thanks for sharing!

    Brian

    • Glad you found it helpful Brian.

      There is nothing wrong with learning, so while maybe you should have outsourced it, you’ve been gaining knowledge… definitely no shame in that!

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Great post!! All of your items are necessities for sure. I’m a bit of a tech nerd and have done more IT projects than I care to admit. :) It’s been my experience that testing is so often rushed or barely done at all – IMHO I’d recommend the same amount of time budgeted for each development and testing.

    On top of regular testing, see if some “average joe” friends or family will test the site for navigation logic – like, are menus/options intuitive or where the user naturally wants to click, is the layout/structure familiar/standard, similar to other major sites, or is there at least functionality that is standard (e.g. clicking your logo takes you to Home, Search this Site is toward the top right of the Home page)

    On the same note as slow video load time, I like to check each page’s load time too. It’s sweet to have all the bells & whistles with Flash & the like, but if there’s ANY drag/delay users will get irritated and possibly browse away from your site altogether, especially with the speed of things online nowadays.

    It’s great to see the tech side of the biz addressed – keep up the good work! :)

    • Thanks Julie for the comments.

      You are absolutely right. I definitely should have made note that everything should load quickly, not just videos. Nothing worse then trying to navigate a site but to sit there and wait and wait for a simple page to load.

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