Are you managing your online brand like it’s 1999? Well, it’s time to learn what attracts clients to your website today.

It’s not news that the internet plays an integral part in the home-search process. But many brokers still fail to realize that managing a successful brand fundamentally starts online.

So when it comes to your website, you can’t set it and forget it in a world where users leave a webpage when it slows down by a thousandth of a second, says Todd Carpenter, NAR’s managing director of data analytics. Carpenter led a panel discussion during the REALTOR® Broker Summit in Denver this month on how the internet is shaping consumer expectations in real estate today. Here are some of the solutions panelists shared for providing a stellar user experience online.

Go Fast or Go Home

“People demand instant gratification in the digital world,” says Grier Allen, president, CEO, and cofounder of BoomTown, a real estate sales and marketing software company. With stiff competition in the online space, Boomtown has found that if page speed improves by even half a second, traffic significantly increases.

Whether you have a person dedicated to managing your site or you’re running it yourself, Allen says it’s important to test its load time. You can do this with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or, which also lets you test a URL’s load time in different browsers and can pull data from various locations around the world.

If your site is slow to load, it may have to do with your server's response time. Your site may also need an overhaul in design. Sometimes, scaling down images will improve load time dramatically. 

Be Useful

In addition to swiftness, your site must also contain compelling content that can help potential clients who are navigating the real estate waters.

Ginger Wilcox, chief industry officer at Sindeo, a mortgage company that focuses on the online experience for purchasers and refinancers, says content is critical for people at every stage of the transaction. Her company shares a common goal with real estate professionals: getting in front of consumers who are just beginning the buying or selling process.

“Look at the personas in that [process] and map their journeys as they move through the phases of real estate,” she says.

And when you think about your content, don’t just consider what you’re saying — look at how you’re saying it, Wilcox says. Is an article or blog post the right avenue? Or would a video or infographic be a more compelling way to get your point across?

Continually Improve the Experience

Grier says A-B testing (also known as split testing) is a great way to determine if certain content or site updates are more useful in one form or another. For instance, try two versions of a navigation button or two headlines on your site; then see which one performs better over a trial period. Your goal is to find out which version is converting more visitors or reducing bounce rates.

“At any given point, we’re running multiple A-B tests on our website,” he says. “After you know what works, roll it out on your site.”

Wilcox says there are many points where a lead can drop out, so it’s important to use analytics to track how quickly online leads are contacted, how many times they’re contacted, and at what point that lead is converted.

Brokers should also consider sending leads to someone who’s good on the phone, which might not necessarily be the agent that buyer or seller ends up working with, Allen says. It could be someone hired specifically for his or her skill set, who can speak to that type of online customer.

Stop Bad Reviews Before They Happen

Another avenue of brand management online is through reviews. Most business owners know they should be Googling themselves on a regular basis to monitor what’s being said about them. But instead of reacting to bad reviews, intercept an unhappy client before the review takes place.

Laura Monroe, director of marketing at RealSatisfied, a platform for surveying customers and collecting testimonials, says you have to worry about more than complaining customers. The ones who don’t say anything and quietly slip through the cracks also pose a threat to your reputation.

RealSatisfied surveys are interactive and dynamic so that, at any time, if a customer indicates dissatisfaction, the system asks if they want to talk to someone about it. The broker is also notified of the customer’s response.

“If you have a system where you’re managing and measuring performance levels at specific times [throughout the buying or selling process], then you’ll be able to see at what point in the process things are breaking down,” says Monroe. “This is your stop point where you can find out what happened.”


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