The latin phrase, “Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes” means “Discovering truth by building on previous discoveries.”
The phrase was further made popular in English when Isaac Newton used it in essence, in 1676: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
[-_-]~~~ Pssst. No time to read a 16 minute article?
Get the most important points of this article into your brain in 2.5 minutes – watch the video below now, and come back when you have time to finish reading.
But what does this all mean, and what does it have to do with your real estate website?
There is method to my madness, I swear it. The Latin phrase above is concerned with the idea of “discovering truth…” In today’s article, we’re concerned with the idea of enhancing your real estate website. Two different objectives achieved using the same proven method: “…building on previous discoveries.”
These days there are hundreds and thousands of tools available to make your website more powerful. Many people have identified problems in website marketing – across all industries – and have built applications, plugins, widgets, and other types of tools that help us overcome these problems, in style.
For instance, say you need to embed a Mortgage Calculator widget into your website. Are you going to Google “Mortgage Calculator Widget,” or are you going to spend six months hiring programmers and building your own custom one?
Chances are you’ll go with option A, as it only makes sense to enhance your real estate website by building on previous discoveries… by standing on the shoulders of giants, if you will.
There are a number of “giants” that can enhance your REALTOR® website marketing and turn you into a modern real estate marketer. These companies don’t make websites themselves, they simply make tools for you to get the most out of YOUR website.
Today I’m going to introduce you to 9 categories of these such plugins, widgets and tools…. 9 types of giants whose shoulders you can stand on… 9 ways you can enhance your REALTOR® website marketing efforts. Here are the plugins we’ll cover:
- Live Chat
- Walk Score
- Mortgage Calculator
- Embeddable Forms
- Newsletter Opt-In
- Social Sharing
- Social Feeds
Starting at the top:
1. Live Chat
Engage your visitors and answer their real estate questions before they even leave your website.
Live chat widgets such as Olark, Tawk, Chatra, Purechat, Zopim and others turn your real estate website into a live help and info desk. Capture your visitors’ attention using the floating chat bubble, then engage them in real time. This gives you the opportunity to be helpful and answer any preliminary questions your potential lead may have.
[-_-]~~~ Ninja Tip: Don’t shy away from playing with creativity either – perhaps an initial message that says “Ask me about our new guide for buyers and sellers” could potentially spark up more conversations than “How can I help you?”
Live chat widgets give you the ability to shine a new light on your personal real estate brand and your commitment to service. However, most visitors expect that a robot, or that nobody at all will be on the other end of the chat. Make sure that if you are using live chat on your real estate website, a representative of your brand is there to actively – and intelligently – operate it!
Armed with first hand experience, your satisfied past customers are leading experts on how you do business. Let them do the talking for you.
A solid, genuine testimonial written by an actual real estate customer can go a very long way. Buying and selling property is big business, which means people want proof that you know what you’re doing. Word of mouth is some of the best advertising money can’t buy, and these days your prospects are checking for peer reviews before they shop for pretty much anything – let alone a real estate agent.
It’s worth noting that there are better ways to show your testimonials than by simply copy/pasting them into a web page…
Take an application such as Rank my Agent for instance – they have built a website widget tool that you can embed into your real estate website. This central testimonial engine not only helps prospects discover your business, but collects all of your feedback in one convenient place (rather than on Facebook, Google, Yelp, via Email, etc) and even syndicates them to 3rd party social media sites! #Winning
3. Walk Score
Display a property’s walk score, nearby amenities & commute report showing drive times to work.
If you’re looking for ways to make your listings stand out from the competition, sometimes the Neighbourhood Map widget (free to use, must sign-up) or Walk Score Badges (free to use for all) from WalkScore.com can do just that. Adding some mention of the proximity of neighbourhood amenities could help nudge someone into requesting more information… that precious contact!
Good news if you’re a RealtyNinja customer: your listings come standardly equipped with a WalkScore.com tab that fits neatly into the listing design and effectively replaces the need for any extra widgets.
Doesn’t mean you can’t add more, just that we’ve got your back!
4. Mortgage Calculator
Give your visitors answers to all of their home financing questions without having to leave your website.
Though I am seeing more agents across Canada implementing financial calculator widgets into their websites, it’s still just a fraction of the market. It feels like a Mortgage Calculator resource on your website should almost be standard, but it’s not. (Opportunity!)
RealtyNinja customers have the option of adding this Mortgage Calculator to their website upon sign-up, by using the setup form. If you never added it when signing up, we can always add it for you later (like… today.) Like we did for Karen Biffi (see below,) and many other Ninjas!
There are numerous financial calculator widgets available online, many of which you will discover with a simple Google search. The one we use and recommend is created by the Mortgage Ninjas at RateHub.
Your visitors may not predominantly use your website for financial information, but a mortgage calculator is highly relevant to the reason they are on your website. Keep them engaged with your website as long as you can… I can guarantee that adding this won’t hurt you in any way.
5. Embeddable Forms
Increase your visitor > lead conversions by introducing Wufoo forms to your real estate website.
One of the most essential features of your real estate website is to capture leads. I’m sure many of you reading this are wondering why you’re not getting more leads from your website. The answer could be more simple than you know…
The importance of embedded forms on a real estate website is paramount. On any website, really, but on a real estate website you can leverage your services in exchange for contact info by using forms. For instance, embedding a “Home Evaluation” form on a web page gives you a good reason to collect visitor information – because you’re going to contact them with a report afterwards.
Note: RealtyNinja customers have access to a pre-made “Buyers”, “Sellers”, and “Home Evaluation” form for their website. It is part of the free setup, but if you don’t have one feel free to ask us to add it anytime.
The Buyers, Sellers and Home Evaluation forms we arm you with are just 3 examples of forms. Please think of creative ways that you can leverage your skills and services to receive contact info from leads, then go create a Wufoo account and start making some forms! It’s very easy to embed them into your web pages once you make them (making them is also quite simple,) and if you’re a RealtyNinja customer we’re here to help!
6. Newsletter Opt-In
Visitors won’t always transact real estate with you immediately; get them on your mailing list so you can stay in touch until they do!
The mailing list and email marketing in general keeps you close to your potential future customers, even after they’ve left your site. Us Ninjas use Mailchimp to acquire and engage subscribers of our mailing list, but there are plenty of options out there such as Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor. No matter which tool you use, be sure to include an embedded opt-in form on one or more of your real estate web pages.
Remember though, people don’t subscribe to your mailing list unless they are given a good reason to do so. What are the features, advantages and benefits of joining your mailing list? What will we receive upon subscribing? What will we be receiving 6 months after subscribing?
We recently released Part 1 of our all new modern marketing ebook for REALTORS®, and we asked for people to subscribe to our mailing list in order to download it! This has been perceived as a good trade-off by our readers, obviously, considering we’ve added literally hundreds of new email addresses to our list since launching it approximately 50 days ago.
Make sure the benefits of joining your mailing list are valuable to your visitors, and make sure you clearly state them on your website where you embed the opt-in form.
7. Social Sharing
Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to share your awesome real estate content and web pages with their social media followers.
You know the saying “Ask and you shall receive?” One of the biggest mistakes marketers make these days is not asking. Ask for shares, ask for likes, ask for overall engagement and interaction with your content. When you provide visitors with the social sharing functions required for them to share your listings, blog posts, photos, and other content to social media, people tend to use them.
There are many tools out there that will help you add social sharing functions to your website pages and blog posts. A couple of the most powerful, and well-known ones include AddThis and ShareThis. Also check out the entire SumoMe suite of tools – which are a bit more premium and go into a broader range of marketing functions.
Note: RealtyNinja customers automatically have social sharing icons added to their listings and blog posts. The blog posts receive a sharing bar similar to the one in the animation above. If you’re a RealtyNinja customer who wants these buttons added anywhere else on your website, just let us know!
Bonus: Feeling super Ninja? Check out this awesome HubSpot article that outlines a more manual approach to social sharing buttons.
8. Social Feeds
Show your credibility, give glimpses into your content and convert your REALTOR® website into a brand-hub by embedding social feeds.
Are you very actively sharing great content on your Facebook Page? Do you have tons of Twitter followers to boast? Then include a small Facebook or Twitter feed widget on your website – the kind that shows your latest posts and allows visitors to “Like” or “Retweet” you directly from your website.
These social feed widgets are nothing new; they’ve been around for years.
They are still around and still useful though, mainly because one important arm of marketing today is social media and engagement. Embedding these widgets directly into your website will make your brand feel more familiar, more relatable and more progressive. So long as the social media networks you’re feeding through your website are active and consistent, that is!
The true beauty of modern marketing is the ability to track results in real-time, and make iterative improvements to your strategy based on the data.
Analytics may be the last item on our list today, but it should be the first one on yours. If you do not currently use any form of website analytics service, let me ask you this: Why the *&$# not!?
Don’t you want to know who’s visiting your website, how they’re getting there, how long they’re staying, where they’re clicking, and more relevant marketing information? Nowadays there is such advanced analytic data from companies like Crazy Egg that you can view heatmaps of your webpages – which basically tell you where peoples eyes are looking as they use your pages.
Don’t be so quick to jump on Crazy Egg if you don’t even have basics analytics yet though. Your first real important task today is to install Google Analytics (free!) on your website. Once you’ve added and verified the Google Analytics code into your website, you’ll officially be a serious modern marketer. One who is concerned with observing, tweaking, and re-campaigning day after day, month after month, year after year.
Marketing is not a one-shot deal or an afterthought. Never was, never will be. You can’t just turn a few knobs, then hope and wait. You need to be monitoring your marketing results and data every week using powerful web page and content analytics from Google, from Dasheroo and HitTail, from Hotjar or Buzzsumo… and with the data you collect, make your next series of marketing decisions.
We’re not in the blind anymore, so be sure you’re taking advantage of that fact in your real estate business.