Updating Your Broker Website: Steps to a Successful Refresh
As a broker in today’s industry, nothing can bring on more stress than moving a brokerage website or platform with - or to - a new solution partner. It’s complicated, risky, and very much like maneuvering the Titanic around that unforeseen iceberg heading right towards you - especially when you don’t know what damage it could do - if any. Building a thriving brokerage demands you get the online part right.
When faced with a variety of new goals, great ideas, brand mergers, expansion and growth, new tools for your agents, change of vision or direction, it’s likely you still have the legacy site doing good things for you that you want to keep. It’s part marketing, part strategy- but no matter how you look at it, and what your goals are, your consumers and agents have to be happy. So, how do you take this big step, and think through it technically- as well as with the integrity and creativity that is unique to your brand? It’s our thinking; your technology partner should do this with you; hand in glove.
Because, it’s a fact, that what may look good on the outside - can be terrible for business on the inside. So, let’s hit the pavement and discuss ways to avoid wasted time and money. You should walk away with a new site feeling like you have a new custom suit.
Audit your Current Broker Website - In Person- with Your New Partner
Before you even start to think about design, your current site needs a full assessment. From IDX listings, RETS feeds, SEO, sitemaps, single property sites, pages and pages of media and content, and maybe even agent websites. Knowing what’s working for you, and what isn’t, and what you’d like to have, are essential first steps. But what’s even more critical: understanding your brand. What makes it unique? What is your story? How does your marketing team work with the site? Your agents? Your consumers? Is there pain involved? How do you collect leads?
And, WHAT’S POSSIBLE?
By understanding the functional, strategic, and technical scope of your needs and wants, your new partner can begin to craft the architecture that will fill all the holes and gaps you currently have, to designing the brand platform you’ve said “I wish I could have X”-- a reality. It starts by listening and communicating. By doing this in person, design thinking is encouraged, simplifying the complicated, and building a one on one collaboration that puts you and your brand FIRST.
What Does Your New Platform/Website Need to Accomplish?
Real estate broker websites take on many forms. Some are merely window dressing for a brand, some drive actual revenue and leads to agents, some focus on recruiting- and way too many just sit.
In 2018, brokers are hungry for differentiation AND function. In many cases however, websites are doing too much. They lack focus; they have stale content, it’s costly and difficult to make needed changes to adapt to the growth and innovation of the industry. Further, the platform itself NEEDS to house the tools and systems needed to RUN and manage a successful brokerage - or it needs to talk to the products that do. However you operate your business, it’s not like any other. It’s just not working in the industry, to fit a broker’s square peg into a web designer’s round hole anymore. And why should you try? Why should your brand look and act the same as every other one? If differentiation is important to you, you have to remove legacy thinking- and work with design thinkers who understand, design - and know real estate.
What Pain Points are You Trying to Solve?
Need a few systems to speak and work together? Need single sign-on? Need a better way for your content to delight your web visitors and showcase your listings and your agents in a way that’s different and powerful? Are you changing up your lead routing? How was your SEO Audit (Yeah, the one you haven’t done in ages!) … and that MLS issue that keeps giving you a headache and you can’t work around or hack? It’s time to solve these issues. If you keep hearing dollar signs in your sleep in the name of “customizations” or solutions that are “on the product roadmap”- and your gut is telling you this could cost you revenue or market share before you have a solution, it probably is. Your web dev partner should work with you and have the technical understanding, resources, and TIME to get these paint points moved over to PLEASURE points on your new website platform.
Adding in Integrations: From “All in One”- to “All Inclusive”
Yes, API integrations. They are no longer a term for the future. Are you or your partners using an API to integrate across multiple products? Best in class solution partners KNOW they aren’t always the best in class at EVERYTHING. Broker Tech, like everything else, has it’s good and bad. But shouldn’t you have all possibilities available to you to build a platform you need and makes you indispensable to your team, agents and clients? All in one solutions usually have something you’re paying for -- not using, or worse, hate. You shouldn’t have to pay more to have an all-inclusive platform. Not in 2018. Move into the future now, before everyone else catches on. The right tech partners work together to make those integrations powerful for you.
Find Your “Deltas”
This is where it gets interesting. When you work with a solutions partner, you have to have transparent conversations. Technically and architecturally, needs and wants meet each other at different levels. Components of your website may fall away in a new refresh, while other functions, tools and features will take their place. Finding your “deltas” is where partnership magic happens, and distinguishes where you are today, and designing for tomorrow. Design thinking merges with what IS and what CAN be. Speaking with vendor salespeople is not where this happens. Project managers, customer success managers, and technology builders and developers should all be able to communicate and solve problems without repetition. Success comes when all the deltas are identified and brought together into an implementation roadmap.
Let’s get back to “WHAT’S POSSIBLE?”
Home sellers and buyers are making hundreds of little decisions based on significant life changes. Not on “a house.” Your agents don’t want to be technologists or constant content creators - they want to provide service their clients. Broker sites should and can do most of the heavy lifting to have a strong presence.
Did you know that (on average) most broker’s home pages receives less than about 20% of total web traffic? Did you know that between exclusive listings, agent content, video, property sites, articles, and testimonials you potentially have hundreds of content assets no one ever will see?
How do you connect this content with the emotional triggers that help buyers and sellers make informed decisions when using your agents or your brand? It’s time to change the paradigm of broker web design. Your site shouldn’t just be beautiful or edgy, or different. It should be intuitive, interactive, easy to navigate, and it should be it should be full of opportunity to discover and showcase your brand . You can get creative with what’s possible. You should. The time is now.
If you are starting to think about a web design refresh or a makeover -- take a few of these considerations to your team. Build an advisory panel of your internal team, agents, and clients that can help answer questions, highlight pain points, and get their wants and needs on the table. When you’re ready to begin this exciting new technology and marketing journey for your brokerage, ask the tough questions. Get what you want and need.
Your new partner should be building features right now that you didn’t even know you needed, listening, ready to collaborate, and ready build out your new custom home for your brand.
What are your next steps? Let us know if we can help.