How Realtors Are Attracting Buyers in the Digital Age

September 3, 2017 by in category Industry Solutions, Web Design with 0 and 3
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How Realtors Are Attracting Buyers in the Digital Age

Though the internet has significantly impacted the way people search for homes, ultimately the realtor is still king — even in the digital age, 9 out of 10 buyers contact an agent in their search. One key role of digital marketing for a real estate company is in building enough goodwill with users that they feel comfortable trusting that company with some of the most important decisions of their lives. Trust is what turns a website user or social follower into a viable lead and ultimately, a client.

Real estate companies are building trust with users in 4 keys ways:

1. Optimizing websites for a luxury experience and sense of professionalism

2. Developing themselves as thought leaders in the industry

3. Showcasing a wide variety of social proof

4. Putting mobile first to meet the needs of today's digital citizen

Website Optimization

The cornerstone of a digital presence that builds trust is a website that is both beautiful to behold and useful to users. The website is the face of the brand online and as a result, if users don’t trust it, they won’t trust the brand either. Real estate companies are investing in cutting edge websites with stunning visuals and strong selling power.

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Modern Design

An outdated website is easy to spot. Small images, too much text, too many fonts, competing colors – these are hallmarks of website design from days (and decades) past. Consumers have come to expect brands to take a digital-first approach and outdated web design is a signal that a brand isn’t taking itself seriously. The hard truth is that 38% of website users will leave a website if they find it unattractive. To build trust, top-notch realtors are investing in modern designs that present their brands in the best possible light.

Functional Design

Of course, a modern design isn’t the only thing users are looking for from a website. They also expect to be able to find the information they’re searching for and for the website to provide a path to do so quickly and easily. A website with a thoughtful user interface indicates that the brand understands the user’s needs and has considered them in the development of their website, thus deepening trust. Another critical component of a functional website, and indeed one that users demand, is speed. Smart real estate companies, and indeed companies across all industries, are working to make sure their website load quickly and meet the expectations of users. A fast website is another indication that a company has invested in its digital presence, and put thought towards the needs of users.

Accessible Contact Information

Research indicates that once they land on a brand homepage, 64% of users want to see the brand’s contact information. Smart brands know this intuitively – offering contact information clearly and visibly is a cue to users that there are real people behind the scenes and that customer connection and service is a priority of the brand.

Professional Photography

Quality photography is important to any brand website, but when it comes to real estate, it’s paramount. Real estate brands build trust with prospective clients when they invest in stunning, high quality photography of the homes they sell. Buyers want to see that the company has beautiful homes in their inventory. Sellers want to see that the company is going to invest in selling their home for the best possible price. Quality photography on the website builds trust with both user groups. Savvy real estate companies also invest in quality headshots for realtors. Real estate agents are the personal touchpoint between the client and the brand. Blurry, dark, or unprofessional-looking portraits can erode trust with users. Companies win trust when agent portraits are professional, consistent, and aligned with brand standards and aesthetics.

Showcasing Expertise

Real estate companies rely on content marketing techniques, likeblogging and video creation, to position themselves as thought leaders. It’s a smart play given that some research shows that 60% of consumers say they feel more positive about a company after they’ve read content the company has created on its website. Realtors are showing their expertise in three key areas:

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Local Expertise

Many real estate companies build trust with prospects and clients by showcasing their local expertise. If real estate is all about location, location, location, as the saying goes, then it makes sense that clients will be reassured to know that their agents have significant neighborhood know-how. Local expertise is demonstrated in a variety of formats including video neighborhood tours, neighborhood-specific landing pages, and blog posts about community events and hot spots.

Anything that proves that a real estate company is an active member of the city or community they represent helps to build trust with clients buying or selling in that community.

Job Expertise

Another way real estate companies demonstrate expertise and know-how is by creating content that speaks to their experience and insight into the business of selling and buying homes. From FAQ pages with expert answers to the most common real estate questions, to blog posts with ideas on how to stage a house to sell, realtors demonstrate their breadth of knowledge and build confidence in users.

Market Expertise

One final way real estate companies show thought leadership and build trust with users is by showcasing their market expertise. Many real estate companies compile and publish their own reports about market trends in their areas of operation. These reports provide value for buyers and sellers alike by arming them with relevant information about the market that makes them more knowledgeable and confident about what to expect.

Social Proof

Along with a strong content play comes a concerted social strategy. Real estate companies are building trust through social proof in three keys ways: a strong presence across a multitude of social platforms, an investment in creating and sharing video content, and a focus on engaging client testimonials.

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Wide Presence

Real estate companies are expanding their social reach with the goal of being seen by more users. Though Facebook still remains the platform where brands focus most of their efforts, many have begun focusing attention on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube where visuals take center stage. The visual platforms are perfectly suited for real estate companies who benefit from a natural wealth of visuals to choose from.

Video Content

Research suggests that 40% of home shoppers found video tours useful and many real estate companies are taking this a cue to create more video content to hero their top properties. Some luxury real estate companies are even breaking the mold of traditional video tours (which often feature sweeping angles and soothing elevator music) to create videos that showcase their premium listings in fun and unique ways. By thinking out of the box in terms of what real estate video content can be, companies are delighting users and creating memorable touchpoints between themselves and their audiences.

Research also suggests that listings that included videos received 403% more inquiries than those that did not, indicating that video can build interest and act as a conversion factor to turn prospects into leads.

Testimonials

Everyone knows the power of word of mouth marketing – people are more likely to trust a company, product, or service when it is recommended to them by someone they know. Real estate companies are using testimonials as the natural next best thing to a recommendation from a friend. Many companies are moving beyond traditional website testimonials which feature simply text and maybe an image, in favor of testimonial videos with high production values.

Mobile First

The data surrounding mobile adoption is staggering. Between 2013 and 2015 tablet internet consumption has grown 30% and mobile internet consumption has grown 78%. All the data point to the same conclusion — mobile adoption continues to grow and mobile traffic as a share of all online activity is growing in tandem. As mobile traffic grows, so too do users’ expectations that a company’s website will meet their needs on all devices. Real estate companies have taken note and are optimizing their mobile assets to build trust with users.

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Mobile Optimized

We know from the data on mobile users that they have very little patience for websites that don’t perform. A website optimized for mobile browsing indicates bolsters confidence by showing that the brand is at the top of their game. At a most basic level, realtors are redesigning their websites to make sure they look good and perform well on both tablets and mobile devices. Many real estate companies now have responsive designs that carry over the luxury feel of their websites to the tablet and mobile experience.

Targeted Content

The needs of a mobile user are often different than those of a desktop user. A study of website performance and traffic across different devices often reveals that mobile users are focused on Real estate companies are thinking about the needs of their mobile users and making sure those needs are met when someone visits their site on tablets and mobile devices. In many cases that means re-ordering the content on a homepage to put the most pertinent information or functionality close to the top of the page. That could mean placing more emphasis on current and upcoming open houses, or collapsing other website elements to make search functionality more accessible — both likely points of interest for a mobile user on the go.

Searchable

Searchable databases can be some of the most difficult website functionalities to use on mobile, usually because the technology was built to meet the needs of
desktop users and often relies on tiny data entry fields and buttons that are frustrating to use on a touch screen. Real estate companies are reinforcing the trust of their users by modernizing their search functionalities to meet the needs of users across all devices. Modern, usable mobile forms for property searches are vertically aligned so the user doesn’t have to scroll sideways to jump into the next field. They feature large data entry fields that are touchscreen accessible and, where applicable, scrollable menus built for fingers, not point and click.

Conclusion...

Real estate companies know that the way to build trust for their brands in the digital age is to invest in digital assets and content at a level of quality that users expect. By investing in beautiful, functional websites that are a reflection of brand values and quality of service, real estate companies are signalling their professionalism and, by extension, their trustworthiness, to anyone who encounters their brand online. Companies are also optimizing these websites to meet the needs of their growing mobile customer base and to offer answers and information to mobile-specific browsing needs. Finally, they’re creating unique and engaging content that anticipates the interests of their clients and sharing that content across a wide variety of social platforms.

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