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What the Funnel is going on around here?

Back at Portland’s Real Estate Bar Camp I was intrigued by a discussion led by Galen Ward of Estately about how to increase conversions on real estate websites. How do we take visitors to our blog or website and turn them into closed sales?

I’m not sure we came up with any hard and fast rules or even best practices.

My takeaways?

  • Forced registration for IDX search probably doesn’t help.
  • It takes about 2500 visitors to have any real data to see if what you are doing .
  • 2.5 % conversion rate (customers filling out a form) is great for a real estate site that doesn’t use forced registration.

Much of the discussion focused on how to convert a lead into a sale once a consumer had filled out a form.

To me, that is the less interesting and less challenging question or problem.

The interesting question in my opinion is how to get website visitors to make contact and stop being a “lurker.” This conversion could be filling out a form, calling an agent, or sending an email.

In late May, @davidgibbons posted about the Inbound Marketing University – a FREE 10 hour online class with some of the  best professors available – David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan and Rand Fishkin to name a few. The price was right, so I knew I had to try and take the class.

Classes 7 and 8 of the 10 class series really hit me hard. (Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices : CV101 by Jeanne Hopkins of Marketing Experiments  and Inbound Lead Nurturing :CV201  with Brian Carroll of InTouch

What is my unique value proposition as an agent? How do I describe that online?

What are my calls to action on my website? What do I want a visitor to do?

There are three types of folks who visit my site. Buyers, Sellers and Readers.

I want the buyers to click on the Search for Homes feature of my website. If they find something that interests them I want them to call or email. It would be great if they read some of my articles and it would also be nice if they signed up for the RSS feed for articles or to have new listings emailed to them automatically. (That doesn’t seem like a simple conversion process does it?)

I want sellers to read my articles too, but really I’d love for them to fill out the little form and have me come do a market analysis for their house. The outcome seems simpler here, but how do I get them to the form?

Readers are past or future clients or just neighbors looking for news about the real estate market. I want them to keep coming back so signing up for the RSS feeds or having articles delivered to their email is my goal for these folks.

How best to get each of these different users to go where I need them to go? How do I tie a call to action to each post or page and make it meaningful to the user?

I wondered what the “Big Kids” are doing as far as calls to action:

Realtor.com basically has 3 options for listings.

  1. Save listing
  2. Send to a friend
  3. Print listing

I’m guessing that’s not selling too many houses. No way to actually contact an agent or schedule a viewing.

Windermere.com (The regional group I work for) has those options and a few more.

  1. Contact your Windermere agent about this listing
  2. Request more info, if you are not yet working with an agent

ReMax.com sends me to a local Re/max office depending on the zipcode, they have the Save/ Send/ Print options as well as:

  1. Ask an agent
  2. Schedule a showing

John L. Scott – This regional player seemed to have the calls to actions as links without any graphics.

Surprisingly, it feels to me like the better calls to action are from IDX providers like Cevado, IdxPro, or Diverse Solutions.

Online retailers like Zappos and Amazon seem to have the sales funnel down to an art. How can it be that no one in the real estate space has this figured out?

About Geordie Romer

Geordie Romer is a Realtor in Leavenworth Washington. He specializes in selling vacation homes in Leavenworth, Plain and Lake Wenatchee. He has been blogging on his own site since 2005 and guest posts for others around the web. In 2013, he rediscovered competitive cycling and if he's not showing houses, he just might be off riding his bike.

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  • Dwayne Wallas

    Well stated about the comparison to Online retailers and the real estate biz. I wonder why there is a lag in getting this figured out?

  • At first glance it may seem easy to outline how a real estate and/or companies website should accomplish for its owner. The main focus of any real estate website, in my opinion, is to get eye balls looking at homes, either via a property search or agent/broker owned listings. On-site SEO/SEM helps users land on a site but its not what keeps them coming back. I think success, from a consumers point of view, comes from a balanced mixture of:

    Let users focus on the information in which you want them to see.

    1. Easy on the eyes approach to design
    2. No external advertising
    3. Minimal (or zero) widgets on B2C sites

    Make is simple for people to find what they want.

    4. Have clear and concise navigation
    5. Provide information that is freely given
    6. Answer questions on blog posting as much possible

    Make contact simple.

    7. Do not have to many places for users to email or find phone numbers

    Sometimes “less” is “more”.

  • This brings up some good points – it is not simply enough to get people to visit a site – but to get them to trust you and contact you when they are ready – which could be a long time from when they first visit the site. That is one of the main differences between real estate and something like Amazon or Zapos – the consumer is more likely “ready to buy” when they visit – so our approach needs to be different.

    • geordieromer

      Thanks for your ideas.

      I think it boils down to these questions?

      What is the goal of a real estate website?
      How do we measure success?
      How do we measure improvement?

      It sounds like Carolyn thinks that increasing time on site or numbers of actions per visitor is a good metric. I certainly can't disagree.

      What I do wonder is how many people are visiting my site, reading articles, searching for homes, and buying them elsewhere?

      Are all my readers eventual clients with long incubation periods or am I losing some portion of them to my competition?

      How would I know if I am doing a better job with my website or a worse job?

  • Hi,
    Really getting trust is very tough.You cannot have a successful business if you fail to inspire trust. People are very cautious when it comes to purchasing services and products online. They even feel threatened by giving away personal data.If you want visitors to become clients you have to show them you are running a serious business.

  • Excellent post. I like the points about a strong call to action. It isn't easy to get a visitor to do what you want. I am still struggling with getting a good conversion.

  • Excellent post. I like the points about a strong call to action. It isn't easy to get a visitor to do what you want. I am still struggling with getting a good conversion.

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