Most businesses use their website to publish marketing content, much as they would a brochure or product catalog. In commercial real estate, especially on property marketing sites, the emphasis is on the statistics of each space, bullet points about building features, and listings of nearby amenities.
These things are obviously important. It’s the information that your prospects are looking for, and it should be front and center. But if your website is only functioning as a marketing brochure, you’re likely missing out on business. In our experience, there are four major features that any business website — including commercial real estate websites — need to provide.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Unless your prospects are already holding your business card, how will they find your commercial real estate website? They’re going to have to use Google, right? So, you need to make sure your website is found at the top of Google search results. Not just for when people search your company name, but anytime they search for what you’re selling.
The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google search results. No one ever looks there.
Lots of ink has been spilled (and pixels filled) over the years on just how to get your site ranking at the top of Google search results. Moreover, as technology — and Google’s search algorithm — has evolved, the techniques that work have also changed. Suffice it to say that there is no silver bullet to search engine optimization. Ultimately, getting the SEO results you want comes down to having smart, relevant content people want to read.
It’s also helpful to have a site that lets you frame that content so search engines can find it easily. That’s where a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal comes in. A CMS lets even non-technical users add website content in a way that will help improve your search engine rankings. Getting found on Google doesn’t take black magic, just thoughtful planning and good organization.
Responsive Web Design
More than 70% of web traffic happens on mobile devices, according to CIO Dive. Yes, that includes your prospects and tenants. That means your website needs to both look great and be functional on every size screen. Websites with design that adjusts to the size and type of screen they’re being viewed on are called “responsive.” The trick with responsive design is to understand how people want to use your site on any given device.
Think about it this way: if a client is touring your site with a broker, what information do they want from your website? Typically, prospective tenants will want specific details about the space they’re touring right that moment. They also like to have a way to review that information later. That’s different than what they want when they’re researching the building back at their desks. Back at their office, they want more information on the entire property, as well as printable specs they can share with their team.
As you may be gathering, your website should work as more than just an online version of your company or property brochure. The magic of the internet is that it’s interactive, and your website can leverage that to drive more business. So how can your website use interactive features to help you capture more leads?
The first step is to link generously. Connect the pages of your website together using more than just your site menu. This has two benefits: it can help improve your SEO, telling search engines what pages on your site are about. It also drives people deeper into your site and keeps them reading longer. That matters, because increasing pageviews and time on site typically indicates increased interest from prospects. (Caveat: some websites, like online banking and dictionaries, should be easy-in-easy-out transactions. People only spend a lot of time on these sites if they can’t easily find what they need.)
In addition to getting people around your site more effectively, you can use interactivity to help connect you with prospects. Don’t just trust your contact page to do all the heavy lifting. Instead, you can add lead capture forms where they’re most likely to be used — on available suite pages, agent bios, and case studies. Combined with compelling calls to action, these forms inspire prospects to reach out right when they are most engaged with your content.
You can also use time-based or exit-intent pop-up forms to capture leads. Time-based pop-ups appear, as the name indicates, after someone has been on the page for a specified amount of time. (Alternatively, they can appear when the user scrolls to a certain point on the page.) In contrast, exit-intent pop-ups appear when the user moves their mouse to close the browser window. These interactions are more aggressive, so use them with care. You want to motivate people to connect with you — not drive them away screaming.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the value of making your website look great, too. Just as new buildings rarely have black granite or glacier ceiling tiles, new websites look different than ones designed even a few years ago. This is partially an issue of credibility. A website that looks like it was designed when Friends was still Must-See TV suggests that a company isn’t modern. It may also suggest that your firm isn’t very successful, which can scare off prospects who might otherwise be interested.
In addition to changing aesthetic tastes, though, web design also evolves with technology. As new technology becomes available, designers take advantage of it to create more effective sites. Likewise, as new research shows how users interact with websites, designers evolve their work in response. Strategic companies take advantage of these advanced technologies and user research to create websites that help them be more successful.
Want to see how your website can help grow your business? Contact us today.
Director of Marketing and Business Development