The blueprint for an effective estate agent website.

February, 2021

by Adam Boother

8 min read

An estate agency website we recently launched saw a 200% increase in enquiries compared to the same month in the previous year. Here I outline some of the vitals behind this success.

When thinking about the requirements for an estate agency website design, it's often the case that the focus is set on cutting edge features for applicants. After all, the property search and property details pages form most of the technical complexities when creating an estate agency website. And if you think about using your website, why wouldn't you look at it from a potential applicants' point of view?

While a great user experience for potential applicants is important, research has shown around 80% of estate agency enquiries are generated online. This includes enquiries from applicants and, perhaps more importantly, potential landlords and vendors. Therefore, ensuring your estate agent website is set up to take advantage of this is vital for business.

Below are some key focus points to get right in order to attract vendors and landlords, as well as offering a pleasant experience for applicants looking to find their perfect property.

The two typical user journeys

Now that we've established the two typical user journeys through an estate agency site, that of an applicant and that of a potential vendor/landlord, we need to think about how we ensure their journey through the site is not only a nice experience, but more importantly, a pretty clear journey where they gain trust in what you offer as an estate agency and convert. Below are some tips to achieve this for both types of user journey:

Potential vendors/landlords

  1. I'll touch on this below, but adding 'social proofing' content to the entry points to your site is vital. You can tell the user about your team or your fancy office as much as you want, but nothing works better than showing proof that you are experts when it comes to selling/letting property. Make sure it's super easy for a potential vendor/landlord to get in touch too, whether they're on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or anything in between. Whether that's calling you, filling in a contact form, requesting a valuation or talking to you via live chat, this needs to be easy peasy.
  2. Offering functionality such as a vendor/landlord login area that allows for easy access to data, such as viewing feedback or offers made, can help to set you above the competition. Most estate agency software providers offer this as part of their CRM. 'Instant valuation' tools are also a surefire way to get your foot in the door with potential vendors/landlords with minimal effort. We've implemented some of the off-the-shelf solutions in this field and have been impressed with the reports that have come off the back of these.

Applicants

  1. The first (and most obvious) tip is to make sure it's as easy as possible for applicants to find the properties they want in the areas they are looking to move to. We've launched new websites for many estate agencies that just haven't quite got this process right in their original site. Whilst many applicants will search for properties on portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla, it's vital to get the property search process in order on your own website to appease applicants as well as potential vendors/landlords...why would they sell/let their property with you if they feel applicants will struggle to find their property?
  2. We've searched on plenty of estate agency sites (both personally and as part of research stages on new projects) that have made our overall user experience pretty poor. For example, 50% of properties listed are already sold, yet there is no option to exclude sold properties. Consider tools that provide useful information such as nearby schools/train stations, or average Broadband speeds in the area of the property. We've built up a library of these features which form an essential part of an applicants journey on our estate agency websites.

Content, content, content

As mentioned in a previous post of mine, '5 key ingredients for a performant, lead generating website', there is an old, wise saying "content is king". This rings true in any industry, and estate agency is no exception. By putting together a strategy behind your content, you can ensure both of your user types can find exactly what they want to find via a clear, easy journey through your site. Below is a little more detail behind some key factors when creating your content:

Picking the right content

First of all, pick the right type of content for each area on your site. Let's say a potential landlord arrives on your home page greeted with a nice lifestyle image, some text about your team and an essay explaining why they should let their property with you. It's probably safe to say it's not immediately obvious that they can rely on you to sell their property. Compare this to them arriving on your home page to find a short video showing a few testimonials from happy landlords, and a carousel of properties that you've recently let. It's obvious which of these two scenarios is more effective.

Social proofing

Not all vendors and landlords are likely to be ready to request a valuation as soon as they land on your website. Make it glaringly obvious that you are the right agent for them as touched on above. Have you received lovely testimonials/thank you cards/social media comments from happy customers? If so, this type of 'social proofing' content is a surefire way to gain the trust of a potential vendor/landlord. Make sure this is on all the entry points to your website, mainly the home page or any vendor/landlord specific content such as 'guides' to selling/letting.

Transparency

A quick way to gain the trust of a user is to be transparent about what you are offering. Hiding away fees or terms and conditions is not the best approach, whether purely by accident or because you feel like you'd rather tackle that issue with the customer when you speak to them. For example, providing easy access to your tenant fees will get tenants on board with your offering as well as conforming to industry guidelines.

Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation is, of course, another hugely important consideration. Correctly feeding relevant keywords such as 'estate agents in yourlocation' or 'property for sale in yourlocation' into your content all helps in the process of improving your rankings. This in turn will of course increase traffic to your site.

We've seen some high increases in traffic when following the vitals mentioned in this article. In this example, sessions on the site increased by over 35% compared to the same month in the previous year. Sessions by new users increased by over 40%.

The power of social media

Social media isn't necessarily a good marketing option for all industries, but it's certainly a good fit when it comes to estate agency.

As I mentioned above, it's no secret that a large percentage of applicants will head over to Rightmove or Zoopla to start their search for their perfect property. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you get to grips with marketing on social media you can catch users before they do so as well as getting them engaged with your brand. We've had cases where our client's properties have sold before they've even made it onto the agents website, let alone any portals, simply via our management of their social profiles. In our experience, Facebook and Instagram are the top two social media platforms that estate agents should focus their efforts on.

Whether you look to targeted advertising, or simply posting content from your website such as properties, testimonials or blog articles/videos (videos are a hit when it comes to social media) - you can have a huge audience to share your content with. This may be potential applicants on the hunt for a property, or potential vendors and landlords who are planning on finding a good local estate agency. Why wait for them to find you when you can pop up on their feeds and show off your strengths, such as your knowledge of the local property market?

Tool up

Providing tools and features that make life easy for your two user types will help to improve their journeys, and, if done right, certain tools will provide an increase in enquiries too. Below are some of the tools we build into estate agency sites which continue to deliver for our customers as well as their users:

  • Guides for vendors and landlords containing tips for presenting their properties and information specific to their local area
  • Property search tools that allow users to search for properties on a map as well as finding amenities within their areas of interest
  • Calculators, which offer quick, easy answers to your users' questions. Whether that's a rental yield calculator for potential investors, or applicant suited calculators such as a mortgage calculator or stamp duty calculator
  • Sold/let galleries, a great way to prove your worth to potential vendors/landlords. A level of trust is gained straight away when they see you have a history of successfully selling/letting properties in the local area

Conclusion

Ok, so these are some key points we focus on when working on projects for estate agencies. If you are an estate agency looking for help in any of these areas, whether it's estate agency website design, social media marketing, search engine optimisation or estate agency content creation, get in touch today to speak to a member of the team.

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A couple of our latest estate agency projects.

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