How to Use Your Real Estate Website to Increase Referrals

Most all the hoopla about Web design and marketing these days focuses on attracting new buyers and new homeowners who are ready to sell. But as all experienced Realtors know, referrals make the best clients. So here are some ways to structure your Internet Marketing strategy so that you increase your referral rate.

Many Happy Returns

If you want your Website to help you increase referrals, you will need to structure your site so that people will want to bookmark it and visit it often or at least whenever they have a question about real estate. The trick is to have something on your Website that other sites do not have and to publicize it. Yes, it still revolves around differentiating yourself from your competition. Of course, this exclusivity is not going to be found in any template Web designs, as by definition these sites are not high on exclusivity. So, what can you possibly include on your site that others will not have?

Focus on Homeowners

Homeowners, whether they are thinking about selling right now or not want to know what homes in their area sold for. So, develop a plan to keep folks who sign up on your Website informed on a regular basis. If your MLS provides recent sales data, you will have an easier job but since most do not let you display that in your IDX you might have to do some updating on your site to make this happen. Believe me, it is worth the effort if you promote it. You can promote it on your home page. You can promote it on your AdWords ad if you use that type of marketing. Think about refrigerator magnets distributed to people in the area or areas where you work. Think about small billboards, ads at the movies and maybe even a sign on your car. Certainly think about adding a rider to your For Sale Signs. Create flyers to distribute to all homes in a certain radius of any new listing. These ideas should get you started.

Focus on Renters

Renters who are hoping to buy a home are interested in the same recent sales data as homeowners are. Since most all first time buyers start out as renters, this is another group of people who are likely to appreciate your information and they are likely to make a referral. Remember, folks like to feel important by being able to recommend a service or an agent. So, even if they have never used your services themselves, if they know your name and know you provide helpful information they are likely to pass the word along to a fellow renter who is ready to take the plunge.

Focus on Follow Up

The key to increasing referrals, of course, is follow up. This is not a new concept to any Realtor but it is a strategy that is known, talked about but often ignored. I understand. Over the years, follow up had become costly and time consuming. But today, follow up can be developed and then automated. Again, I am not a big fan of those template follow up letters. You have no idea how many other agents are sending out template messages to the same audience you are targeting. And duplicate messages make everyone look bad. So, the trick is to be clever, plan ahead and use your Website to help you build a massive database. Then do not ignore it.

Guidelines For A Successful Real Estate Website

Did you know that recent surveys reveal almost three-quarters of the people looking to buy or sell real estate begin their search on the Internet? With numbers like that, you simply have to have your own Internet presence if you want to compete with other agents in your market. The secret to a successful website is three-fold; provide valuable information for free, include elements to make your visitors want to come back, and follow up with them immediately.

Before you begin, take the time to think through exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Write out your goals as clearly as you can, as well as the results you would like to see. Here are some things you will want to consider when designing your site.

Of course, you are trying to bring in clients, but which clients. Who are they? Are they relocating from out of the area? You need to know since this will help you decide what elements and what copy you will need to add. For example, if you are trying to appeal to out-of-town buyers, you are going to want to feature that prominently on your site, along with all the ways they will benefit by letting you work for them.

Make sure your site is easy to use and easy to navigate. Do not try to be clever while forsaking ease of use. It is much more important that people find their way around. Clearly label all the elements and make sure you have a “Home” button on every page so your visitors can find their way back to where they started. Also include buttons that allow your visitors to open an e-mail form to contact you, and another that lets them send the page to a friend.

It is important that your visitors feel they can trust you. After all, this is still a people business; you are only finding each other with the site. To prove you are the agent that should work for them, provide some of the more important details about yourself such as how long you have been in business and any special qualifications you have. It is also very important to include testimonials from past clients.

Try to be a one-stop shop. This means, in addition to the listings, you will need to add a mortgage calculator, and links to other local groups such as schools, city hall, Google maps, etc. The more information and links you provide, the more likely your visitor will be to return or send you a request for more information. Be sure to add an “Add this to my favorites” button to make this task easier for your guests.

Follow up immediately with people who contact you. People are going to expect an instant response and if you do not provide it, someone else will. Why would you go through all the time and trouble and expense of starting and maintaining a website if you do not take the final step and convert your visitors into clients? You can now have your site send you a message on your phone or other wireless device if someone e-mails you.

Create excitement to get people emotionally involved. Provide many good pictures of your listings. Do not just write copy saying there is a large eat-in kitchen; show you visitors what it looks like. Have at least one picture for every room in the house and show the outside, front and back. Do everything you can to help your visitors picture themselves in the home.

The bottom line is that you simply are not going to be able to compete for new clients in most markets if you do not have a well thought out website that convinces your visitors to contact you, as well as a strategy for converting those visitors into clients.