Why a Responsive Website is Essential For Property Hunters

We no longer live in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ world, and your website visitors will be browsing across a multitude of devices and screen sizes. A site that has been built using responsive design techniques will ‘adapt’ to different screen sizes automatically, ensuring that your visitors have an optimal browsing experience regardless of whether they’re using a large desktop monitor or a tiny mobile phone.

Hopefully by now your website is already ‘mobile-friendly’, but if it’s not then without question this should be at the top of your to-do list for 2018. And even if it already is, is it the best it can be? There is nothing more frustrating than a website that’s clunky to navigate on a mobile phone. Ideally, you want your visitors to have that ‘native’ app-like experience that lets them find what they’re looking for with ease and leaves them with a great impression of your brand.

Websites are seen on so many devices that having a responsive site is no longer optional. If your website isn’t mobile-ready, potential customers will be clicking off straight away to find a competitor who is. Google also ranks down non-responsive sites, so don’t let your SEO suffer as well.

Why not test your site today?

Why a Fast Website Can Improve Your Agency’s Performance

According to a recent study from Microsoft, people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalised lifestyle on the brain.

Site speed, or more accurately, page load time, is a critical measure that can influence not only visitor behaviour, but also your search engine rankings.

Website pages with long load times tend to have a higher bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave a site without visiting another page), and longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions (the number of people who carry out a preferred ‘action’ on your site such as submitting an enquiry form).

Google also state that site speed is one of the signals they use in their search ranking algorithm, meaning that if your site is consistently slow to load you will be penalised in the search results.

With human attention spans supposedly now shorter than those of goldfish, you need to be doing all you can to keep your visitors engaged and on your site – else risk losing them to a competitor.

Make 2018 the year that you turbocharge your website and push the performance needle all the way to eleven!

How Blogging Can Help You Stay Ahead of the Agency Competition

Blogging can be a huge asset to your estate agency with regards to generating a large network of leads. Most agents think they are too busy to blog, and so pass up on this golden marketing opportunity.

It’s true that a well kept blog does take time and attention to generate engaging and useful content that pulls in leads from your target audience. And even though blogging is not a quick fix, it’s a worthy investment which pays off tenfold once you’ve built up a network of quality converting leads.

With fierce competition from local and online agents, you need to be doing everything possible to reach your audience through the crowd of noise. And blogging could be your secret weapon if your competitors can’t be bothered to do it.

In this post we’ll be discussing the benefits of blogging, blog writing with time saving tips, advertising your posts, and we’ll finish up with some content ideas to inspire.

Blogging benefits

A well maintained blog connects with your customers and brings visibility to your agency’s brand. It’s also a prime place to share your unparalleled local area knowledge and really position yourself as authoritative source in the agency world. But a blog can bring so much more than that. Other benefits include:

Returning website visits

As long as your blog is updated on the regular, blogging can encourage returning visitors to your website as it gives people a reason to come back. A returning visitor is much more familiar with your brand and more likely to convert into a customer as you’ll be one of the first who come to mind when they’re ready to buy or sell.

Lead generation

When producing quality content, you don’t have to give it all away for free. Save some of the really good stuff (like pricing reports, local guides) for a ‘lead magnet’. This encourages people to provide their email in exchange for the content.

Boosts SEO (Search Optimisation)

More content gives you more chance of being found online. Most people start their online journey with a Google search, usually in the form of a question, so if you’re creating content that can provide answers to your audiences queries, you are more likely to appear in their search results.

When written well, blog content adds appropriate keywords to your site. This helps search engines better understand what your website is all about and therefore position you better in the search results.

Adding fresh, new content to your website on a regular basis also tells Google you’re an active company with a dynamic website. Search engines will favour this over an agency with a static site, as it doesn’t exactly give Google the impression it is still in business, and so ranked lower down the search pages.

Writing tips for perfect posts

Now we’ve covered the fundamental reasons as to why you should be blogging, you need to create posts in tip top shape to avoid readers from clicking away. Here’s our top tips for writing posts to perfection:

Quality not quantity

Don’t ‘fluff’ up pieces and only include relevant information. Attention spans are lowering all the time and you need to keep your audience engaged on your website.

Format for readability

Just like we’ve done in this article, separate your content into digestible chunks to make it easier to read. Avoid big walls of text as people tend to skim online content. A well formatted post will allow people to still get the important info, even if they don’t read the whole thing.

Include links

There are two types of links to include in your blog posts. Internal links which link one page to another page within your website. And external links which link out to other websites.

Links might include another blog post that explains a topic in further detail, or an external link to a research study which backs up any claims you’ve made. Either way, these links direct visitors to important parts of your website, keeps them on your website for longer, and helps search engines like Google better understand what your content is about – resulting in better search result rankings.

Time saving tips

Use a template

Don’t get stuck and let the blank white screen and blinking cursor intimidate. Use a blog content creation template to help you get started and structure your posts. You can find many suitable templates online with a quick Google search.

Get the office involved

Sharing content creation between the whole office means you can produce more posts in a shorter time frame and delegate between people with more time on their hands. Featuring different staff members on your blog also adds personality to your agency, making your brand more relatable and approachable.

Outsource a copywriter

A decent copywriter is a worthy investment as they’re professionally trained to write content specifically to engage and attract leads. If your sold on the art of blogging but just can’t put aside the time, a copywriter might be a suitable option.

Advertising

All these tips for blogging fall short if your posts aren’t promoted. You need to drive traffic towards them so shout about posts on social media and include them in your regular newsletter.

Remember to spruce up previous posts that could still be relevant and advertise these just as much as new posts to boost traffic.

Blog ideas

Sold on blogging but don’t know where to begin? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Area guides
  • Industry news
  • Property trends
  • Community events
  • Help-to-buy schemes
  • Tenant safety
  • Holiday opening hours
  • Local housing developments

For more inspiration, have a look at your competitors blogs and social media pages. Don’t copy but use them to research and understand what content is popular and what subjects could be covered better to provide use to your audience.

Remember to always provide value for your readers otherwise they’ll have nothing to gain from your content and won’t return to your website.

Final thoughts

Blogging on your website does not bring overnight success. However continually providing useful, well curated posts can gradually turn your site into a bubbling hub of publicity and leads. A worthy return on investment. If you would like to implement a blog on your website, get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.

How to Build a Trustworthy Agency with Online Reviews

The majority of people begin their buying journeys with a Google search. They scan the results looking for a reason to click. And as simple as it sounds, if your business has more/better reviews than your competitors, there’s a good chance you’ll be the one that they are drawn to first.

Reviews are about more than just commanding attention in search though. Good customer reviews boost confidence in your agency. When a real person backs up the claims you’ve made on your website about your amazing service, it has a much bigger impact then when you say it yourself.

And by gaining a steady flow of online customer reviews about your agency’s great service, you’ll also be increasing Google’s confidence in your brand, which will naturally lead to a positive increase to your search engine rankings.

Why not have a think about how you can encourage your customers to leave you a review?  If you make it an integral part of your workflow then it will be easy, and the results will do wonders for helping generate new instructions.

How an SSL Certificate can Secure More Instructions

For over a year now, Google has been pushing for a ‘safer web’ by encouraging all sites to switch to ‘HTTPS’, meaning that the data transmissions between your browser and a secure site are encrypted and can’t be eavesdropped.

Why is it important for you to implement secure browsing?

  • It enforces trust with your visitors and minimises any concerns that they may have in submitting their personal information to you
  • It helps protect you from the risks of customer data theft via your site
  • It can help improve your search engine positions, as Google now considers HTTPS as a positive ranking signal
  • It demonstrates that you are a forward-thinking agency that values your visitors privacy
  • It’s inexpensive

Traditionally, HTTPS was largely only used by e-commerce sites, as it helped protect their customers from having their credit card details stolen. However, the latest version of Google’s Chrome browser now shows a ‘not secure’ warning on any pages that ask for a password, such as login screens, and this will soon be rolled out to apply to all forms – including the standard contact forms that virtually every site has.

Don’t wait until your contact form enquiries start dropping off – implement an SSL certificate to provide your visitors with secure browsing ASAP, and help Google look favourably upon you in 2018!

Why Estate Agents Need Live Chat on their Website

What are the benefits?

  • It encourages your visitors to make contact with an easy and non-intrusive option
  • It allows you to instantly respond to your visitors’ enquiries
  • It will help you build a knowledge base of common questions and answers
  • It lets your staff multi-task and answer multiple enquiries simultaneously
  • It reduces the time you spend on the phone or responding by email to simple enquiries
  • It’s inexpensive and very cost-effective

Live Chat doesn’t require you to have any additional resources – anyone in the office sitting at a computer can respond to messages. And if nobody’s available, you can either hide the chat box, or have it take a message to be emailed to you.

Recent reports have shown that consumers actually prefer to use Live Chat over phone or email, and AI ‘bots’ can even be programmed to understand and respond to common queries on your behalf!

Marketing for Instructions

Stand out from the noise

Most agents will offer similar services but many of these lack personality and compete on nothing but price. What is it about your estate agency that makes you so different?  Your brand needs to communicate your values effectively and be exciting enough to resonate with your audience. Do this well to capture attention and cut through the crowd.

Focus on your audience

Many agencies have the same marketing message strategy. You brag about yourselves, how many houses you’ve sold, how long you’ve been in the industry, how much bigger you are than other local agencies etc.

Instead, focus on the benefits to the seller who are only concerned with how much their house is worth and getting it on the market. Look at the examples below:

  • Your house will sell quickly as it will be promoted over our 5 local branches.
  • You’ll receive more accurate quotes because of our 50-year knowledge of the local property market.

This is much more attractive to potential instructions as it discusses their house and their sale.

Content marketing

Sellers are interested in how much their house is worth and how they can sell it. They want to hear about their local property market, and local developments that affect it. By providing content around this subject, you will quickly become an authoritative source and seen as an industry leader.

Get into blogging

You know who your audience is and what they’re interested in so start talking to them via a blog. This is a great way to connect with your potential sellers, positioning you as an expert in the field and putting you in the forefront of people’s minds when they consider selling.

Always provide content that’s useful to the seller. Here’s a few examples to think about below:

  • Feature news on local developments that will affect local house prices.
  • Compare different areas of local housing estates and discuss why prices have increased or decreased in that area.
  • Discuss the local school and do a report on the property area around the school.

Pro tip: Use graphs to show figures as this increases engagement.

Don’t neglect current listings

After attracting sellers, don’t put them off with sub-standard listings. If they aren’t happy with the way your agency presents properties, why would they choose you to sell their home?

Blurry smartphone shots and including only two pictures is frustrating to potential buyers, looks unprofessional, and raises questions about your ability to present a property. A list of property features is standard but an exceptional agency will also provide engaging descriptions to further encourage viewings.

Final thoughts

As a leading agency, you need to be speaking the right language and providing content that focuses on a seller’s need to generate interest. Nearly all Estate agents follow the same marketing pattern of bragging about themselves. Put the attention on the seller and you’ll rise above the competition.

If you need any assistance with your next marketing campaign, please get in touch.

Social Media Tips for Estate Agents

Building familiarity online is an absolute necessity to increase trust and credibility for your agency. Social media is not only a great place to start doing this, but gives you a hub of useful connections and potential leads to interact with. However, there are still plenty of estate agents not engaging online, relying on expensive and ineffective traditional marketing methods.

Where to begin?

There’s loads of social media tips out there but it’s tricky to know where to start and what’s appropriate when marketing your agency. Here we’ve outlined our five top tips to get you started on the right path.

Invite your current network

Social media can be a numbers game. People are influenced by numbers so the more followers you have, the more trust and credibility your agency receives. Make sure you invite your current network to follow you when you first get started as this will attract more people to follow in the future.

Study competitors

Look at competitors who are already succeeding on social media. What are they doing to drive audience engagement, post likes and shares? See what existing content is sparking interest and you’ll know what to post out.

Don’t spam people with property listings

Whilst social media is a great opportunity to show off stunning properties, don’t just use it as an avenue to advertise properties. You may lose followers for appearing too sales-orientated and your posts might look like spam on people’s timelines.

Post regularly

And ideally, to a consistent schedule. Posting out then going randomly silent will leave people to assume you’re inactive, with nothing further to offer, and you’ll lose out on making quality connections with your audience. That being said, remember that it’s about quality, not quantity. Always post out content that is useful and relevant to vendors and landlords otherwise they have no reason to follow you online.

Don’t ignore negative comments

The key thing here is not to ignore negative reviews if they come in. Apologise for the bad experience and attempt to resolve the issue with the client. This puts your agency in a positive light as it shows you care and are willing to help. People can also see you are reachable and responsive should any problems arise.

Lasting thoughts

The best way to excel at social media is to take a proactive approach. It takes time to figure out what works for your agency, so don’t expect to be a social media expert and have a following of 1000’s overnight. Focus on making genuine, quality connections with your audience online, listen to their feedback, and you’ll be top of mind when they’re ready to instruct.

Getting Landlords On Board With Your Agency

It’s tough out there. Agency fees are shrinking, competition is fierce and traditional marketing methods are being left in the dust. You need to be smarter in your marketing efforts. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the top ways to win portfolio landlords and keep your agency ahead of the competition.

Stand out from the crowd

Landlords won’t swap agencies for the same reason you won’t swap banks. It’s extra hassle, time consuming and each one looks the same as the next. And if they’re already happy with their existing setup, why would they need to come to you? This is why it’s so important that you differentiate your agency from the crowd in terms of your business and the value you provide.

It’s not about you

Many agencies seem to have the same marketing strategy – bragging. How many houses you’ve sold, how long you’ve been in the industry, how much bigger you are than other local agencies etc. To attract more interest in your agency you need to focus less on what you’ve done and more on what you can do for landlords.

What your agency can do

Here we show you how to effectively reach out to landlords and how to maintain a good online presence to show that you’re the right agency for them.

Speak their language

You need to create compelling content. They are interested in how much their house is worth so focus on producing content about house prices in their area. Not how many you’ve sold in that area.

Two questions that landlords have on top of mind:

  • How well are my current properties doing?
  • Where is the next one I want to buy?

Instead of talking about your agency, create compelling content that focuses around these two topics and you’ll seem much more interesting. For example:

  • Why have property values increased in location ‘X’ over the last 5 years whilst property values in nearby location ‘Y’ have decreased?
  • Latest developments in the area that effect local house prices.
  • Legislative measures that impact landlords.

If you haven’t already, start a blog and get posting useful content that landlords will want to keep coming back to. This also positions yourself as an industry leader and an authoritative source.

Build a VIP list

Invite new and existing landlords to a special VIP list where you can notify them as soon as any investment properties come in. Attract new sign-ups on your website by providing useful content as discussed above.

Get social

Landlords are obsessed with property value, and if they’re on social media, they’ll likely be following brands or agencies that provide useful content regarding their local property market. Set up your agency on social media and start building quality followers. If you post out relevant content, it won’t be long before you attract a decent audience and a list of connections.

Have a quality website

It’s all well and good creating high class content but if your website looks a mess, is difficult to use and was built in 1998, this could be turning potential leads away. A website builds trust and is a first point-of-call for many when checking out your services. Don’t deter any prospective landlords and make sure your site is top quality. Showcase your reviews, accreditations and a blog to feature that all important content discussed above.

Get reviews and accreditations

There are a lot of shady agents out there and you need to separate yourself from them as far as possible. Ensure you have up-to-date reviews and accreditations on your website to build trust and confidence in your agency. Post these out on social media, show them on Rightmove, Zoopla etc., and make it a process to collect reviews after successfully on-boarding a new landlord.

Follow up with existing landlords

Make contact on every renewal anniversary. Not only is it good customer service (which will get you far in recommendations), but you never know if they’ve picked up any extra houses in that time. Referrals still work very well so this might be a good opportunity to offer referral schemes.

Round up

Plenty of estate and lettings agents use marketing as a way to talk about themselves. Once you reposition your marketing to focus on the customer, your chances of attracting landlords are greatly increased.

If you would like any help implementing the marketing ideas above, please get in touch.