Your home on the web: Stefan Williams

With a background in real estate marketing and several years in the business, Stefan Williams from Campaigntrack explains the need for self-promotion and the rise of the agent website.

Real estate is an intriguing business, don’t you think? You get a job as an agent and, unlike most other jobs, your progression and pay rises are not a matter of impressing the boss so much as how you build your own small business within the agency you work for.

Sure, you may be given leads sometimes and be included on other people’s listings, but to truly progress you need to have a more active role in bringing listings in the door. Spoiler alert: highly visible agents get more listings.

There are many things that set the high achievers apart from the less so, but self-promotion seems to be front and centre of every success story.

This, of course, is a good segue into the main point of my article. If you accept that you control your own destiny and are your own brand as an agent (or team), then it makes sense that you have your own website.

It would be dishonest not to disclose the fact that Campaigntrack, of which I am CEO, has invested heavily in creating amazing agent website solutions – but we aren’t alone. Whether you choose our product or someone else’s, your own site is one of the cornerstone pieces in your digital self-promotion, and it’s never been easier to do.

No doubt you have a page on your agency’s website, you have one on REA, on Domain, perhaps RateMyAgent and many others as well. What these pages have in common is that they are on other people’s sites, and you have almost no control over most of the content.

With the proliferation of lead sellers and now major portals muscling in on the lead-selling business, it makes sense that you might want to attract and nurture some leads of your own. After all, the main thing these lead sellers do that you don’t is to drive clicks to their respective websites. Some of those website visitors will be genuine soon-to-be vendors; some of those will make enquiries, click to call or request appraisals. These are called leads.

You either own your digital future or you’re owned. Which is it to be?

You don’t need to be Einstein to figure out that having a website is a prerequisite if you would like your own traffic, and control over content and data ownership. As an online CV to impress would-be vendors, a great website of your own earns you a gold star for credibility too.

So whether it’s a website for you featuring your own name in the URL, or for the team you’re working on, a website is really as important as a business card for serious agents.

Not so long ago an agent site would cost many thousands of dollars, because every aspect needed to be manually set up by a web designer. Thankfully, that’s no longer universally true. Recent technology advancements mean you can be up and running with an amazing site for a few hundred dollars, in short time and with relatively little effort. 

Of course you can still spend 10 or 20 grand on an agent website, but to be honest there is likely very little added benefit to doing this – and often such sites just don’t work as well with mobile and digital marketing. The mistake most people make when considering site designs is that they look at everything on a desktop computer, often with full-screen gorgeous and artistic photos. The view that matters most is mobile. Almost all enquiries, clicks and traffic will be from a mobile device – and most sites on mobile look so much more alike than their desktop counterparts.

So if you decide to spend 20k customising a website, consider whether the investment will actually make any difference to the vast majority of people who will see it on a mobile.

Ongoing monetary costs for your website hosting should be relatively low, but you need to consider the benefits of spending some money on promoting the site online to drive traffic. (More on this later.) You also need to consider the cost or effort required to keep content on your website up to date; the easier this is, the more likely it will happen and the less it will cost you.

Step one, get a website. Step two – let’s get people looking at it. It’s surprising how many websites there are in the world that get little or no traffic because they are nowhere to be found. So how do you get people to your website? Let’s start with the free stuff, which almost everyone overlooks.

  • Put your website URL on your business card
  • Use Facebook? Save your website URL on your personal or page details so people can click on it from your page or profile to find out more about you
  • If you’re on LinkedIn, save your website URL on your profile
  • Active on Instagram in a professional sense? Well, you can save your URL on your profile for free
  • Update your email signature to include your website URL. Not just your desktop signature either… why not make your fancy iPhone or Android phone include this instead of the ‘Sent from my iPhone’ free plug for Apple? You’d be surprised how many people would click on ‘More about me at’
  • If you can, put it on your property sign Sold stickers – why not?

A well-designed agent or team website is built for digital marketing. This means using Facebook and Google advertising, among other things, to actively drive traffic to your site.

For less than the cost of a monthly letterbox drop, you can have tens of thousands of digital ads delivered to your local area, with clever targeting ensuring your ad is seen by more of the right kind of people too.

People clicking on your ads will land on your website, where they can find out a whole lot more about what makes you a great agent. Add into this retargeted marketing, which is at the heart of the best digital ad technology and means that anyone clicking on your ads will likely see them again, and the properties you are selling too. That’s marketing gold.

When you consider the cost of a lead-seller lead is thousands, digital marketing that drives your own leads seems a bargain. Like anything worthwhile, you will need to be consistent and also understand it often takes a few months for your online credibility and retargeting data to build up. The phone isn’t going to ring off the hook the first month you start digital marketing, but you will be nurturing interest and followers every single month. Keep it up – you’re worth it!

A well-designed agent or team site will deliver on a number of very important fronts. Firstly, it should load super-quick for mobile. If it doesn’t you will lose most of the click traffic you get, especially from digital ads, because mobile users are impatient.

Secondly, it should have clear engagement and enquiry options on-screen as soon as it loads. This includes things like click-to-call, enquiry links and more. People are impatient, and if they have to hunt for things they often give up.

Thirdly, it should trigger Google and Facebook audience building, so that people who visit your site can be retargeted for ads about you or your listings if you do digital marketing.

Fourthly, it should have some great relevant content that sells the idea of you. Ideally, this content should be largely automatic where possible, saving you time and ensuring it ‘just happens’. Where it’s not automatic, it should be simple to update or add content, again improving the chances that it will happen.

What content you should have on your site? Let me suggest the following.

  • Stylish and genuine hero photography of you or your team. This is the ice-breaker image. It’s worth investing in some new photography if you don’t have something like this that makes you look approachable, likeable and professional
  • About you: Words that sum you up as briefly as possible, including a pull quote perhaps
  • A gallery of your recent sales
  • A gallery of your current listings
  • Testimonials – a selection of your best testimonials from happy vendors
  • Awards and achievements: Top price in the suburb? An agency award? If you have ’em, flaunt ’em!
  • Enquiry, appraisal-booking and lead-capture forms and links
  • Contact details, including other team members if relevant
  • Blog: We get asked about this a lot and have integrated Blogger into our sites. A blog is a good idea if you are prepared to invest in adding regular content, either personally or by employing someone to do this for you. There is nothing sadder than a blog with a one-year-old article at the top – so be honest, if you won’t keep this up then keep it off.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, you’d be wrong. Set-up would normally be handled by whoever is providing your website, using content provided by you. Depending on the provider you select, the ongoing effort can be very low if you choose. Excuses much? I don’t think so.

Short answer: no. If you’re a principal who is concerned it may encourage successful agents to set up on their own, remember that good agents will likely make more money listing and selling than worrying about every aspect of running an agency. Good agents, given more tools to get more listings and build more profile under your brand, will make you all more money.

Finally, there is no stopping this. If an agent wants their own site so they can build their profile and leads, and you get in the way, I wouldn’t bet on such an agent staying with your office for long. The true opportunity here is increasing digital presence away from the walled gardens of the portals and lead sellers. It’s the future and it should be embraced.

As part of a holistic approach, which includes taking Facebook seriously as well as digital marketing that drives your brand and data directly, an agent website says you exist digitally and you are part of the modern business world. It’s a great way to start your digital transformation, because that’s the world nowadays. You either own your digital future or you’re owned. Which is it to be?

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Stefan Williams

Stefan Williams is the co-founder of Campaigntrack, the marketing platform driving property marketing of agencies and agents nationwide.