I was having a conversation with a real estate agent the other day as a result of the test I ran as part of Startup Weekend Amsterdam, and we got to discussing conversion. Conversion, of course, varies depending on your goals. Generally, in a real estate context, conversion means the percentage of your web visitors who contact you by some means after hitting your home page. Ideally actually buy or sell a house with you – but that is out of the control of a website since closing the deal happens in person or on the phone.

The agent I spoke with asked me what type of conversion numbers I’d seen from agent and broker websites. Truth be told, VERY few agents and brokers are setup to track their exact conversion numbers to even know the answer to that — let alone tell me their exact rates. To truly calculate conversion figures, you need to track every last contact mechanism on your website – phone number, contact forms, CMA request, IDX registration, and instant chat (among others). Though it’s not my specific area of expertise (Ryan and Jim handled the consulting side of Virtual Results while I was there), I told him that if a website was converting at near 5% (or higher), it was doing pretty well.

Though he never shared his exact numbers, he said they were way way above a 5% conversion rate and was stunned that such low conversion numbers were considered good in the industry.

As we talked further, I learned more about the scenario at play:

  • His “website” is more or less a single squeeze page with very little information and zero out links
  • The squeeze page is not on his own domain name
  • There is zero organic traffic
  • All traffic is direct response traffic such as CPC and postcards targeting a specific URL (that forwards to this squeeze page)

If your traffic is 100% direct response funneled to a single squeeze page, of course it’s going to convert at a higher percentage than a mix of organic and direct traffic to a large number of different landing pages. Why? You’ve already paid a lot of money to get the attention of a certain type of buyer or seller looking for your specific product/services. Compare that with thousands of organic visitors, all of whom are at different cycles in their home buying or selling process, and you’ll get very different conversion rates.

The two primary downsides to this agent’s approach are as follows:

  1. 100% dependent on driving traffic to that squeeze page, which costs money each and every time. The squeeze page generates no business organically.
  2. Low quality of leads since there is very little actual information on the page to answer their basic questions – so they have to contact you instead. This means a large amount of time working the lead funnel to turn email addresses into real relationships.

The point I’m getting at is, without context, conversion figures are utterly useless figures to compare. That said, feel free to share your numbers and the context that goes with them in the comments if you wish.