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What to prepare for with a new website

What to think about

So, it’s time for a new website. You’re last one is starting to creak a little in its old age and you want to have something shiny and new for your clients to enjoy. You find a developer and you say “Hey, let’s make something amazing!” Eager to oblige, your developer gets out their notepad and says “Great! What sort of thing are you looking for?” This is where you realise you don’t have a fully fleshed out idea.

Not knowing exactly what you want is fine, it’s what designers are here to help with. However, there’s a lot to consider when outside of the standard “looks nice” remit. While that’s an important factor, there’s a lot to consider before any design work begins.

What do you want the sites focus to be?

It sounds painfully obvious, but it’s pretty commonly over-looked. Let’s take an estate agent for example, there’s a lot that can be done to change the focus as soon as a visitor lands on your home page. Want more sales? Making the property search a prominent feature will make that clear. Maybe you have no problem selling but you need more stock? Making your valuations a focal point will drive more people there.

Making sure you know what you want to get from your website will help your designer achieve that for you and know exactly where to place focus. This will save you from having a fantastic website that doesn’t do the job you want it to.

Site Map

It’s important to know exactly what pages you want to go into your website. Do you want a page dedicated to the business and how things began? Do you want something a little more personal like a “meet the team” page? Putting pen to paper and making a full list of every page you want to be included is important. It’ll help you in knowing exactly what content needs to be provided and will make it easier to cut anything unnecessary.

It’s important that every page on your website has a function, whether that be a blog that provides engaging content and helps SEO or a testimonial page that shows new clients how well you perform. You’ve got the perfect site map, not when there’s nothing left to add but when there’s nothing you can take away.

What to think about

Your content

As well as the website being easy to navigate, the text on it should be too. Patience is something that we don’t have a lot of in this day and age. We want everything now and that extends to information about your company. It’s important that no matter how much content you have, it’s easily digestible. This can be achieved in many different ways:

  • Sub headings breaking up large blocks of text (like this article)
  • Bullet point lists (such as these)
  • Cutting out any unnecessary information (like the points in the brackets above)

There’s a lot more to it than these simple points, but they’ll get you on the right track to writing content that people actually want to read.

Provide your brand guidelines

It’s all well and good asking a developer to design you a website, but without predefined brand guidelines it can be hard to get the tone right. While any developer worth their salt will talk over the design with you before-hand, brand guidelines will ensure that your website enforces the same brand ideology as the rest of your business.

It’s important that your brand look its best, so in addition to your guidelines make sure you have high-res versions of your logo and any other brand images ready to go. If you don’t have the high-res version a quick chat with your designer should sort that out.

Have great imagery

A picture says a thousand words. The average adult in England reads at a rate of about 300 words per minute, which means it’ll take 3 minutes and 20 seconds to read a thousand words. When a user lands on a web page they normally make their mind up on if their hanging around in 8 seconds! That’s enough time to read 40 words. If you can’t get imagery for every page make a real effort for the home page, it’s the page the page that needs to grab a user’s attention so make it count!

Moving imagery is even better so don’t be afraid to get fancy and put some video in there!

Property Feed

To make sure your website is always up-to-date you’ll need your property management software. There’s loads to chose from out there but chances are you already have one set up. All you’ll need to do is provide access to your developers and they’ll get everything running automatically, no painstakingly uploading properties over and over.

Mobile Strategy

The way we consume media has changed. Current statistics show that just over 80% of us have smart phones in our pockets and that we use them as our primary means of browsing the web. That means that if your website isn’t compatible you’re missing out on a HUGE chunk of the market.

With the surface of responsive technology making your services available to users on the move is easier than ever. However, one of the things you need to be aware of is whether or not your designer will include responsive design as standard. Many designers will charge you extra for this so it’s important to be aware of exactly what you are getting and that you’ll be ready for any platform.

Budget

It’s always good to go into any new project with an idea of how much you’d like to spend and what you can realistically achieve for the price. The more complicated you want your website to be, the more it will cost. Be sure to talk to your developer about your budget and they’ll always be happy to tell you what they can and cannot build for your requirements.

In conclusion

Getting a new website takes a lot more thought than waking up and just deciding you want one. Sure, you could do that, there’s hundreds of template services out there and some of them are even free! As with anything though, you get what you pay for. If you want to strongly represent your brand in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, there’s a lot to think about!

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Has this article left you feeling stuck? Or maybe just unsure about what you should take into consideration? Chat to us at Estate Apps and we’ll do what we can to get you heading in the right direction.

 

Are you a faceless company?

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Social media is everywhere these days, especially in the news. I mean, have you heard the latest about Wimbledon visitors being banned from bringing in selfie sticks and livestreaming this year’s competition with the Periscope app?

Did you know the Citrus Content website is currently undergoing a complete rebrand, so preparing for my new job title (watch this space!!) I’ve been undertaking research on a variety of websites, what I found was a lack of a ‘face’. What I mean is that there was no sign of the people within the business, but isn’t the property and interior industry about people so why are you being faceless?

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A couple of weeks ago Andrea and I attended Lettings Live 2015. These photos are of us taking part in their Selfie Competition in London, social media even allowed Vicky to take part from back at the Citrus office in Newport!

Isn’t that what social media is meant to be? Being social and putting a name to a face. The name Facebook didn’t come about by accident, it literally is a book of faces! And when people think about your business, you want to appear trustworthy and transparent, but above all personable.

A current example of the power of social media comes from a personal experience, back in February 2015. Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare was featured on the BBC’s Inside Out program; ‘Is there a future for Birnbeck Pier?’ Actor Timothy West spoke about his love for Birnbeck Pier and wanting to see it saved, having been closed to the public for 21 years now.

I went to Westcliff Art College, which overlooked Birnbeck Pier (now luxury apartments) and I have really fond memories of going out on photography assignments and always being drawn back to the mysterious and beautiful derelict Birnbeck. So seeing her in that sad state, I felt I needed to do something about it and help the cause in some way.

So I vowed from that day on that I would tweet one photo a day until Birnbeck was saved!

So 142 tweets later, I truly believe that their Facebook and Twitter accounts have played a significant part in providing constant awareness to this cause. Of course, not forgetting the many Friends of the Old Pier (FOTOP) who have been working tirelessly over the years to resurrect Birnbeck. But back when this campaign first started the likes of facebook, twitter and Instagram didn’t even exist! Furthermore, having Justin Lee Collins’ backing (originally contacted through Twitter) helps provide a well-known face to a virtually-unknown historical building. Therefore, I really think the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust campaign is well on its way to going viral; all thanks to the power of YOU.

So by engaging your customers with frequent, relevant content you can add a whole new dimension to customer service, but you’d be surprised how many estate and lettings agents still aren’t using it to their full advantage.

It’s easy and cost efficient to build your brand through social media, and it shows that you and your business are embracing new ways customer interaction.

So have a look at your website right now and ask yourself; are you a faceless company? If the answer is yes, then please get in touch with the Citrus team today!

The Rightmove for your Content

The Rightmove for your Content

It is essential when we start writing for an estate agency that we understand not only the company but also their clients. Your content needs to have your voice whilst speaking directly to your past, present and potential clients. It can often be a challenge to find innovative ideas for customer centric content, but we have been given a sneaky peak into a content creation haven.

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A couple of weeks ago I attended a Rightmove seminar, where the Rightmove:Hub was introduced. The Hub is a wealth of information on your market and business that will aid you to be more targeted with your marketing as well as being an amazing resource of content ideas for your blog, website, newsletters and more.

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The hub is divided into 4 sections:

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Webinars Rightmove have a continuous series of live webinars each of which lasts 30 minutes. Full of advice and best practice from Rightmove and key partners, they are well worth a look.
Events A full list of seminars, workshops and trade events.  As we found, the seminars provide an invaluable insight into homeowners.
Workshops are a new edition, and provide you with a more classroom style of training; there are currently two workshops to choose from; digital marketing and back to basics.Events – Rightmove exhibit at a number of key tradeshows throughout the year, find out where they will be next!
Marketing Here you can:·

  • Order a range of free marketing material.
  • Watch a range of videos that will help you make the most of the tools available on Rightmove.
  • Gain insight into your market share on instructions, available stock and agreed sales in your local market on Rightmove Intel.
  • Everyone loves a stat, and in the insights section you will find many.
Mystery Shopping Find the truth about how your agency responds and handles your clients. The results will enable you to produce strategies that meet the needs of your clients.

Understanding what motivates homeowners, discovering insights and stats into the local area and your results from mystery shopping will provide you with a wealth of powerful content to drive customer engagement. Launching on 11 May, we highly recommend that you make the Hub part of your content regime.

Want a sneaky peak too? We can exclusively give you pre-launch access now to Rightmove:Hub

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Estate Agent Leaflet Drops – Sin or Success??

Estate Agent Leaflet Drops - Sin or

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a Rightmove seminar in South Wales, where on a couple of occasions when the words ‘leaflet drop’ were mentioned.  This made me twitch a little, why?  Every day we all receive a wonderful selection of ‘junk’ mail through our doors some of which could include one of your leaflets.  Now I am a little sad as I actually go through my junk mail to pick out estate agent leaflets as I want to research what you are doing.  But many of these leaflets are lost inside the numerous take-out menus that seem to decorate my door mat when I arrive home.  Unlike me, many people will be throwing this pile of unwanted mail in their recycling bin so are your leaflets going the same way?

I ask you, are leaflet drops working for you?

When is the last time you actually questioned the number of leads you received from this essentially costly form marketing?

What is the solution?  You need to create awareness of your brand and your agency services.  You want to ensure that you are in the forefront of people’s minds when they are looking to sell, so is there another way to ‘leaflet drop’ that will have a greater success rate?

The typical estate agent leaflets are a maximum of A5 with pure advertising copy.  I have even had post cards, house shaped and even scraps of paper (yes not the best first impression!).  But is it the size or the copy that is not making you stand out in the junk mail crowd?  Dare I say possibly both!  Nowadays no one wants to be sold to, and isn’t that what a leaflet drop traditionally is, selling?

So what would make your potential clients take note of what you deliver and even keep hold of it?  We work with one of our clients on a monthly newsletter that has had a real impact on his business.  This is a 4 page A4 quality ‘leaflet’ that is filled with tips, advice, seasonal information and industry news.  What’s more the newsletter has a focus on their local community, making it something that their past, present, potential clients and the community at large look forward to reading.  This community edge gives the reader the sense that they are not just based in the community but also actually part of it.  This newsletter is an investment in their business but the results speak for themselves.

Every piece of material you create for your business must serve a purpose and not just because its something that is done in the industry.  Look outside estate agency and property for ideas and inspiration as you need to make a lasting first impression.  Well who knew a meerkat could have such a dramatic impact on a price comparison site?

If you would like ideas on how your marketing material could evade the curse of junk mail, contact us today to see how we can help your business.

Andrea