7 Reasons Your Visitors May Click the "Back Button"

Many of you know that I recently converted my old directory to a completely different platform, and now trying to get it all nice and as complete as I can. I started going through my state categories to make sure that all business listings have their information up to date. While visiting each site and updating my database, I found myself having to search for the most obvious (in my eyes) information. I don't know the reasons why these simple things are being left out... may be agents concentrate so much on a bigger picture, while missing the important bits… I thought this is worth bringing up.

It's the Little Things that Make a Big Difference

It's the little things that make a big difference.

To my great surprise (and disappointment), I was spending anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes just looking for something simple as a company name, a telephone number, and an office address. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to criticize anyone here, even big companies like Orbitz.com will make you look for their phone number, but how do you feel about it? We live in a fast paced society and it is still gaining speed. A survey of fast food restaurants in the 1970’s found that customers thought delivery of their order in five minutes was fast. The same survey conducted in the late 90’s thought that delivery in under a minute was fast. What do you think the time frame today will be? In a small business like real estate, customer service and personal professionalism are the most important criteria which can make a difference in this very competitive business, but if a customer is kept waiting or has to make a time consuming search to find what they need they’ll go elsewhere and not come back.

Researches show that it takes only about 4 second for a user to make a decision about the page they arrived on, and click the "back button". Not a big window of opportunity. So, why not to begin with the things that acknowledge the professional authenticity of your web site?

1. Company Name

A lot of real estate agents work for big franchises, and one of the reasons why they do that is the well known "brand name" they can use. Sometimes the company you're working for speaks for itself - it already carries credibility weight that you (personally) haven't had a chance to earn from your visitor yet (in 4+ seconds?). Even if your company name is not well known, doesn't it make a difference when there is a business name standing behind your site? Ask yourself, would you trust a web site with your credit card number when there is no specific business entity attached to it?

2. Contact Information - Phone and Email

A contact information on a business web site should be a no brainer, right? But that's not the case - there are still plenty of people that don't have phone numbers on their web sites. Personally, I think a phone number should be available on every single page of your site. You never know when people will be reading your write ups on communities or looking at the listings and, suddenly, have a question - do you really want them to leave the page they're on and start searching for a phone number?

Are you trying too hard to avoid spam?

Another item which absence bothers me a lot is an email address. Yes, we all have contact forms, but we also know that people hate filling them out, so why limit our visitors in a simple choice like that? By providing an email address you give your visitors a comfort of choice (and may be even peace of mind) which adds another "brownie point" to your professional image. You should encourage your visitors to contact you on every page, every step of the way. After all, the more way you have to be reached, the greater the chances are that a visitor will take you up on one of them.

Please, don't tell me about the spam and all of that - this is something you have to figure out yourself since, nowadays, it's just a part of daily routine of an online presence. Make sure your email address in available; you'll be surprised how many "good" people will use it. On a side note, I think a simple direct email is more personal, and I usually get a better feedback from people that email us directly. Think about it. What do you prefer when you contact a business?

3. Representative Name

Most real estate agents are self employed, market themselves and try to generate their own business. There are different reasons why you would not want to include your name on the web site. May be all of your calls are handled by an assistant, or may be you have a team of agents and different person may get the call. The reasons can go on and on. Think about it from a perspective of a customer: probably everyone had their fair amount of customer support phone calls to Dell, Lenovo or even their bank - remember how ridiculous it gets when you're getting passed from one person to another multiple times and have to explain it all over again? After a few experiences like that you learn to write down direct extensions or representative's name and personal ID numbers. In real estate, a customer gets the right person (usually) the first or the second time. So, why not to use this as to your advantage? A name by the phone number creates confidence that they will get the right person and an expectation of a good service.

4. Office Address

Unless you're a terrible agent and don't want your clients stalking you - you should include your office address. You have it on your business card, don't you? People love convenience. The easier it is to reach you, the more likely someone will.

5. The "About" Page

This is one of those pages I personally don't care much about. However, if I don't find a web site credible enough to make my move, I'm looking for this page. I'm curious what they have to say about themselves... they haven't bothered to say who they are by not providing their company name nor business address... just a contact form. And "just a contact form" doesn't give me much confidence in a business. Many agents don't realize how "not very bright" they look by using "canned" "about" pages written by their "template based web site" provider. If you read closely, you'll see that those "about" pages don't even mention agent's name, neither their company name, and if you did a poor job on re-writing them.. guess what?! (I'll leave it to your imagination).

If a page describing your business sucks... do yourself a favor - just remove it.

6. MLS Search/Home Search

If you've been around the block, you know that most of the visitors that come to real estate web sites are looking for property listings (What? People want to see listings?!). This is not a rocket science and it's almost as obvious as a phone number on your business card, yet there are tons of sites that don’t have a way to look at MLS listings. It’s kind of like going off to war with a gun that doesn’t shoot. In today’s online real estate world, having MLS access from your site is a must.

You don't have to spend too much money to have a simple home search service on your web site. Worse case scenario - go with solutions like i-framing and even using a completely different domain, but have it. This is pretty much the only reason why hundreds of thousands of people on daily bases search for real estate - to see what's on sale. If people find what they want, they have a tendency to come back and ask you to show them homes.

7. Office Listings

If you represent sellers and currently have listings for sale, I don't see a reason why you don't have them outlined separately on your web site. Make them stand out. Make them better, more informative than all the other listings in the home search. Besides satisfying your current client’s needs, you're presenting a showcase not only for the potential buyers, but sellers as well. Take a lot of good photos of your listings; write verbose, informative descriptions of the property - do your best. If it is too time consuming for you, other advertisement and services might be as well - meanwhile, they'll keep shopping around.

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