8 Conversion Killers for Real Estate Websites

Make a good first impression and build credibility with online customers by making simple yet important updates to your site.

July 28, 2016

The task of marketing a mortgage company online entails a little creative bliss and a lot of paranoia-inducing performance analysis. On one hand, creating and promoting useful content for consumers is extremely satisfying. On the other hand, fretting over converting site visitors is a beast.

Real estate brokers understand this struggle. When you work hard to attract qualified visitors to your company website, the last thing you want is a high bounce rate or a low conversion rate. The end goal is to create a lead-converting machine, not a brick wall.

So why do so many websites act more like the latter?

There are eight common conversion killers I see on a regular basis when I visit real estate and mortgage websites. Let’s solve the biggest problems first, shall we?

First Impressions

1. Awful Design. Visitors are going to make a snap judgment about your site. Its design doesn’t have to be cutting-edge, but it shouldn’t be horrible either. Here are some outdated design choices:

  • Visual cacophony such as blog posts with white text on black background or blue text on red background. The ‘90s called, and they want their website back.
  • Small font. Blog posts (or any page for that matter) with small text are unreadable to folks using ever-bigger desktop screens. That guy with the dual Thunderbolt display setup can’t read your content.
  • Not mobile friendly. This is a bad situation that will only get worse, as 56 percent of Internet traffic is mobile. That’s growing fast, and by the time you finish reading this article, it will likely be higher.

Things to try:

  • If your site theme is more than a few years old, consider investing in a modern-looking, mobile-responsive theme update. Themes are cheap, and if you’re not technical, it’s not expensive to hire someone to modify it for you.

2. Failure to Orient the Visitor. After visitors make their snap judgment about your site’s aesthetics and usability, they need to know three key things:

  • Where am I?
  • What can I do here?
  • Why should I use you to buy or sell property?

And they need to know these things within the first seven seconds. No joke.

The answers to those three questions are found in your value proposition. Crafting one is not hard, but it is a topic worth exploring first in some detail. I highly recommend this classic webinar about the role of clarity in conversions.

Things to try:

  • Work on communicating your value proposition at the top of your site using a top-level (h1) heading. Add supporting language reinforcing your value proposition in an h2 heading.
  • Make sure the value proposition is above the fold (higher than the point where visitors have to scroll down to see more).

A clear value proposition answers the three key questions visitors have in mind, but it’s paramount to good SEO, as search engines give weight to h1- and h2-formatted text when determining a page’s subject matter.

3. Auto-Play Video. Please do not enable video auto-play. Period. Loading a page with an auto-playing video is like getting slapped in the face — or worse.

Here’s why: Like many people, I conduct 100 percent of my business using the internet as my business infrastructure. This includes placing and receiving all phone calls with voice over internet protocol (VOIP), which is phone service over the internet. Therefore, my computer speakers must always be on — so that makes auto-play video brutal. In fact, that’s why I choose Google News over CNN for my frequent daily headline checks. CNN’s force-fed video streams are intrusive and get very tiresome. If I want to watch a live feed, I’ll turn on a TV.

Video that doesn’t automatically play, however, is a very powerful marketing tool. Use it as much as you can.

Things to try:

  • Embed a quick, personal introduction on your “About Us” page.
  • Use video on blog posts along with the transcription for better SEO.
  • Short videos on landing pages can boost conversions by 30 percent or more.
  • Shoot and post short videos of neighborhoods.
  • When a prospect leaves a phone number and doesn’t pick up when you call back, record a video response and text it to them.

Conversion Path

4. No Clear Direction. When visitors hit your home page, what is the one thing you want them to do? Obviously, people can do lots of things on your website, and they may eventually get around to doing all of them. But to start, prioritize a single goal, and don’t bury it among a zillion competing tasks. For example, don’t overwhelm the visitor with five calls to action. Focus on one and let the next four happen organically.

The size of the CTA and its placement on your website matters. Users scan pages from left to right and top to bottom, so placing it above the fold, offset by size or color, can help guide visitors to the most important task.

Things to try:

  • Add a call to action to your homepage.
  • Put the CTA in the user’s line of sight.

5. Poorly Constructed Calls to Action. So what makes a good call to action? That’s simple: Create a short sentence that starts with a verb and ends with what’s in it for them.

Try these CTA examples:

  • Search for a new home.
  • Start your real estate search now.
  • Contact us to find out what your home is worth.
  • Read the first-time homebuyer guide.

Credibility

6. Poor Grammar, Spelling Errors. Assuming visitors are sticking around because they have not been punished with auto-play video or confused by other material on the page, they’ll start digging in and consuming your content. Now that they’ve decided to navigate your site, this would be a bad time to blow your credibility with spelling or grammatical errors.

Check that these common mistakes are not polluting your site:

  • Spelling errors
  • Passive verbs
  • Ending sentences with prepositions
  • Your vs. you’re
  • Too many commas

Spelling and grammar checkers are your best friend. Create all your drafts in Microsoft Word or Pages for Mac. While not perfect, word processors can pick up many potential problems. In this technological age, there’s really no excuse for poorly constructed content.

7. No Social Proof. Do you have enthusiastic customers? Have they reviewed your service? Do you write guest posts for other blogs? Have you received favorable local press coverage? If so, it’s time to start displaying these things on your site and linking to them.

Social proof makes you more legit in the eyes of site visitors. Rather than looking like the wild-eyed creep on the subway, you’ll look like the emcee of the party. Believe it or not, people prefer parties to creeps.

Things to try:

  • Add customers’ testimonials on your home page.
  • Link to your guest posts.
  • Link to your reviews and profiles on realtor.com®, Yelp, and other sites.

8. No Trust Signals. If your site has lead forms (and I would have to believe you have one or more of them if you’re reading this), consider running a secure site. Picking up an SSL certificate is pretty cheap (I got mine for $50 from WPEngine). SSL encryption builds trust with consumers, especially if they are handing over sensitive information, such as their email address or phone number.

Thing to try:

  • Display a security badge in your footer.
  • Run sitewide SSL (a visible green lock shows up in the browser address bar).

Final Thoughts

Is every website perfect? Nope. I’m guilty of violating a few of the points above (still working on adding social proof to my home page). But as you slowly but surely tackle these big, ugly conversion killers one at a time, you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor.

I’ll leave you with one parting thought: If your site is not mobile-responsive, make it the first priority. There’s way too much on the line to not have your site’s mobile usability up to snuff. Over half of your site traffic is at stake.


 

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Tony Mariotti

Tony Mariotti is the founder of RubyHome. In addition to helping folks get home loans, he is a sought-after blogger. His favorite topics are online marketing, real estate, and mortgages. You can follow him on Twitter: @tonymariotti.

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