Improve Your Web Response

Get buyers, not lookers, online. Plus, Dell enters the PDA market with two bargain options.

December 1, 2002

Ever wonder how your company’s Web site is faring against competitors and how you might improve its performance? If so, ShowingTime may have some useful answers for you. In addition to its ShowingDesk management software for real estate offices, the company offers an online listing management system called ShowingAlert. When activated as a feature of online listings, ShowingAlert lets prospects who view your listings schedule make an appointment to see the property right from your site using a link to an electronic showing calendar. The Web-based service also provides follow-up tools such as reminder e-mails to both salespeople and their brokers, a follow-up note to customers ensuring that an salesperson has contacted them within 24 hours, and customer surveys to ensure prospects are satisfied with the level of service.

“It’s not enough to just offer an e-mail link to request an appointment with an salesperson,” notes Ron Reimann, president of Showing Time. “Too often, sales associates are slow to respond, and the consumer has moved on to someone else.”

Currently, ShowingTime is gathering data on Web listings from a user base of more than 60 client companies. “We get a picture of site traffic and requests, then aggregate the data and create a benchmark brokers can use to compare how their Web site performs against other companies,” he explains.

However, Reimann notes, “The game is not about the quantity of leads generated by your Web site, but the quality of leads: how many people looking at your listings are serious buyers, ready to schedule an appointment.” He estimates, on average, only five of every 1,000 visitors to a real estate Web site will actually request a tour of a listing they see online.

Real estate professionals can improve these odds in several ways. To keep buyer interest, it’s important that they can take that next step and schedule an appointment as they are looking at the property information, when their interest is at its peak, Reimann notes.

Other factors that can prompt buyers to act may be less apparent. Comparing the number of requests for showings against content on client Web sites, Reimann found that including a map of the home’s location with other listing information can increase the odds of a request. “Make it a map, not a link to a map,” he stresses.

“The address is also important. Although some brokers prefer not to reveal the address of a listing until they are contacted, we found people will use the address to decide whether or not they are really interested in the home, without wasting their time or the salesperson’s.” And, he says, six to eight good photos can be enough of a virtual tour to help prospects narrow their search.

“The most significant thing most real estate companies can focus on is ways to increase your traffic,” Reimann adds. “That’s where you’re going to get the most bang for the buck. The more visitors you have, the more serious buyers you’ll find among them.”

Reimann suggests that a high search engine ranking for your site when a user queries area properties is probably the single most important factor in developing traffic. He recommends sites such as www.toprankposition.com for insights into improving your site’s ranking.

Breaking Tech News

Dell Computer has taken a long-rumored step (reported here in my October 1 “Tech Watch ” column) and committed its formidable marketing muscle to gaining a share of the PDA market. At November’s Comdex technology trade expo, in Las Vegas, the company unveiled the first two models in its Axim line of handhelds. The launch challenges other Pocket PC makers with the lowest-priced Pocket PC PDA yet: just $199 after a $50 rebate.

Standard features in both versions of the Axim X5 include a 3.5 inch back-lit color screen, Compact Flash and Secure Digital(SD) expansion card slots, an IrDA wireless port, lithium ion rechargeable battery, and built-in microphone and speaker. Both units weigh 6.9 ounces and measure 5 x 3.2 x .7 inches. The basic configuration, at $249 suggested retail before rebate, includes an Intel Xscale 300 MHz processor, 32MB of RAM, and 32MB of Flash ROM memory for data storage. The step-up model boasts a 400MHZ processor, 64MB RAM, and 48MB of ROM. It carries a suggested retail of $349, $299 after rebate.

As other PDA makers respond to Dell’s entry, you can expect some great buys in handhelds in coming months.

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