One of the hardest lessons for new agents to learn is that when it comes to real estate marketing, less is indeed more. Of course in the trenches, this is easier said than done. In order to please finicky homeowners, today’s agents have to choose between single property websites, Matterport tours, drone videos, and on and on. The temptation for agents to overdo it can be incredibly hard to shake.
In order to help you stick to your marketing plan and keep your budget lean and mean, we put together this guide on single property websites for 2020. Are they really still worth the time and effort it takes to make them? If you end up answering yes, we cover everything you need to know to make killer single property websites.
The Case for Single Property Websites: 4 Ways They Can Still Have an ROI in 2020
Since we try to be optimistic here at The Close, we’ll go ahead and start with the reasons why you might want to consider investing your time, effort, and money into single property websites for your listings.
1. Boomer Homeowners Are Still Impressed by Single Property Sites
Let’s be honest, we’re still living in an age where a decent majority of most agent’s seller clients are going to still be baby boomers. They landed on the moon, ended the Cold War, and even invented the technology that still serves as the backbone of the internet. But when it comes to digital marketing … well, let’s just say they’re not quite up to speed.
Now don’t get me wrong, this can mean an excellent opportunity to explain to your boomer homeowners the inherent value (or lack thereof) in the latest and greatest digital marketing fads. The only problem is that there are going to be other agents who are using the exact opposite argument to win them over—and they have flashy pictures and can send them their own “www site on America Online.”
So, Why Not Give Them What They Want?
So for the price of a cup of latte a week, why not give them the shiny bells and whistles their granddaughter who “knows computers” told them they need? You’re not going to end up hurting anything really, and it might actually encourage them to send your single property site out to friends and family. Referrals are referrals right?
2. There’s No Competition For Clicks On a Single Property Website
Let’s face it. We all want to make good decisions. Whether that means kale over potato chips, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or keeping the phone off when you go to bed, we all try to do the right thing. If you want to make those decisions easier, studies show that you need to reduce the friction that comes between you and the right choice. For example, you might keep your kale front and center in the refrigerator, or lock your phone in box when you go to bed.
When it comes to influencing people to click where you want on your website, the same rules apply. The goal is to make clicking on that contact us button as easy as humanly possible for your audience. In the marketing world, we call this CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization. It’s basically the art and science that designers and marketers use to make sure you click the link they want you to click. Reducing friction is one of the most common ways to guide people to click where you want them to. That means the fewer distractions they have on the page, the more likely they are to contact you.
Fewer Distractions = More Clicks
On social media, the distractions are basically endless, which partly explains why click-through rates are so low on Facebook or Twitter. Even on your own site there may be other listings, your blog, and other shiny objects that can keep people from clicking on the big “make an appointment” button. On a well-designed single property website, almost all of the friction is removed. This can and often does mean much higher click-through rates.
3. Single Property Website Builders Offer Professional Looking Websites For a Very Attractive Price
Since websites aren’t cheap and web design is hard, not every agent has a super professional online presence. That’s not the end of the world in the age of Instagram and YouTube, but every little bit helps.
Since you can build gorgeous websites for less than $25 per month using single property website builders, it can be a cheap way to build up an online presence that looks professionally designed and you spent a ton of money on it.
4. Single Property Websites Still Look Great in Your Listing Presentation
Let’s face it, since getting listing leads is hard, pitching them successfully is a must. That’s why having a killer CMA and listing presentation are not optional if you want to list. The only problem is that newer agents often have few closed deals to point to and even fewer case studies for marketing homes successfully.
Here’s where your small investment in single property websites can come in handy. Instead of just the usual menu of listing photographs and Facebook ads, you can show off the professional looking websites that you make for every listing you get. The nice thing is that they often end up looking like they took you a long time to make. In reality of course you can knock one out in a few minutes once you get comfortable with a single property website builders like Rela.
Why Single Property Websites Might Be a Waste of Time in 2020
Even though we try to be optimistic, we want to give you the whole story, not just the story that makes us friendly to real estate software companies. That’s why instead of pushing you into buying yet another SAAS product you don’t really need, we’re giving you three good reasons why single property websites might not be worth your time in 2020.
1. Single Property Websites Only Really Make Sense for Historic or Expensive Listings
Let’s face it, one of the main selling points for single property websites is the URL itself. It’s like saying you’re an actor and having an IMDB page. The mere fact that someone took the time to register a URL and make a website for a house confers a certain sense of importance.
That’s why you’ll find many high-end homes or historic homes have their own sites. For example, here’s a single property site a photographer made for a listing for an historic Spanish style house in Los Angeles. If you took away from the glamourous shots of that incredible house … well, there’s not really much left is there?
Now imagine that same site with 10 pictures shot by your bored MLS photographer of a $125,000 ranch in Ohio—in the middle of winter. Kind of kills the whole exclusivity thing right? It’s almost like putting a velvet rope and bouncer outside of your local bowling alley. No one’s buying the idea that the bowling alley is suddenly an exclusive club.
2. You’re Not Offering Anything of Real Value For Buyers
Another reason why single property sites might not work for you is that pretty much everyone who visits the site comes from a source that might have MORE information than your site does. For example, I’ve seen people link to single property sites from Zillow or their own website. The whole point of having listings on those sites is that you can offer visitors a ton of information about the listing, about you, about buying in general and so on. So they’re basically clicking over to a new website that has LESS information than the one they’re on!
Of course you can always get clever and save some nice pictures, a walk-through video, or other goodies for your single property site. You can then entice people to click by saying something like “check out 123mainstreet.com for more exclusive pictures.” The only issue is that you then have to actually do it! Keeping pictures or videos that help you sell on a private site that only a certain percentage of people are going to click on probably isn’t a great strategy for marketing your listing.
3. The Same Traffic Might Convert Better on Your Website
Another hard truth about marketing a listing is that only a small percentage of the people who click on a listing or even come to an open house will be interested in making an offer. This is something that every listing agent discovers early and often in their careers. Buyers just want to look at listings. Hell, even non-buyers want to look at listings!
Considering the low odds of converting a site visitor on a single property site, wouldn’t it make more sense to try and entice those people into contacting you for another reason? Most often, that reason will be another listing, but someone might also be looking for honest advice, or just some information on the local market. Since you have basically unlimited pages on your website, you can curate listings, write content, or shoot videos that might encourage one of the many, many visitors to see the place and maybe even become a client.
How Smart Agents Build Single Property Websites in 2020
If you’ve already decided to give single property sites a try, we put together a few options that are available to you to build killer sites cheaply. Let’s start out with the dedicated single property website builders:
Single Property Website Builders
Single property website builders are very similar to website builders like Real Geeks, Placester, or Propertybase. You can quickly change the way your site looks with templates, you get an easy-to-use editor to build the site, and you even get basic analytics and CRM to segment your leads and track your progress.
There are a lot of builders out there, so here are a few that we think are actually worth the money.
About Rela: Rela offers gorgeous single property website templates that will work for pretty much any listing you have.
Rela Costs: $24-$99 per month
Features: Rela offers listing agents and brokerages great features like an easy-to-use site builder, CRM, social media marketing tools, lead forms, 3D tours, lead routing, videos, and basic analytics.
Example Rela Website: Dax Template
About Listings Unlimited: Although their templates aren’t quite as nice as Rela’s, Listings Unlimited has a lot to offer agents and brokers.
Listings Unlimited Costs: $24.95 per month for up to 25 listings and 89 cents per listing after that.
Features: Listings Unlimited offers a ton of features for a very attractive price. You get 25 sites, a video builder, 3d tours, syndication to YouTube, QR code generator, feedback tool, social media tool, flyer builder, and a CRM.
Example Listings Unlimited Website: Listings Unlimited Template
About Cribflyer: Although they only have three templates to choose from, they are nice looking and Cribflyer has some decent features for agents and brokerages. It’s also the most affordable for people who only need one site at a time.
Cribflyer Costs: $1.25 per month per site (in bulk) – $7 per month per site (individual sites)
Features: Cribflyer gives you 3D tours, printable flyers, SMS text codes, lead routing, Pixel tracking, and social media tools.
Example Cribflyer Website: Zen Modern Home
Even though dedicated single property website builders are great, they’re not THAT cheap, and if you’re already skilled with running a WordPress you can basically build sites for free. All you need is some basic WordPress skills to customize your current template, or a few dollars to buy single property templates from sites like ThemeForest.
Another way to build single property sites is by using a landing page builder like Unbounce. Like the dedicated builders, Unbounce has an easy-to-use editor and you can build sites pretty quickly. Unbounce’s templates are also built for conversion and even let you A/B test different versions of your site to see which converts better.
The downside is that Unbounce’s templates are not well suited to building out lots of pictures and videos that you might want for a single property site.
Single Property Listings Best Practices: 2020
1. Include Content That Isn’t Available Anywhere Else
A great way to get people to go to your single property site is to promise content that isn’t available anywhere else. You can offer extra pictures, videos, floor plans, neighborhood information, or anything else that you are comfortable leaving off Zillow. Just remember that the content doesn’t necessarily have to be amazing, but it has to sound good enough to get someone to click.
2. Include maps and other useful data that keep people from clicking to another site
Data is king in 2020, and if you can generate data that is not available anywhere else then you might be able to easily drive traffic to your site.
3. Use large photos & videos, but make sure they’re optimized to load quickly
People don’t want to squint at tiny pictures, especially on the desktop. Make sure your pictures are at least 900 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall at 72 DPI. At this resolution your pictures will look crisp but will still load quickly.
4. Make sure your site is mobile friendly
A huge percentage of your audience, especially those clicking over from Facebook, will be visiting your site on their phones or tablets. Make sure your website looks great on the small screen.
5. Get permission from the homeowners to post their address & photos online
While you may be able to legally get away with posting photos and address information online, it’s polite to inform your seller that you are going to leave the site up. To help sweeten the deal, you could include handy links to gas hookup, cable hookup, and other local information and offer it to the sellers as a resource after they move in.
6. Try to answer every question a buyer might have: include maps, MLS data, etc.
This is a tricky one, but the more information you can include on the site including on the neighborhood the better. You likely won’t have room for articles, but you can and should include lots of pictures and at least a quick guide to the neighborhood with a few pictures or maybe just a video.
7. Update the page once the listing is sold
Remember that your MLS won’t be pleased if you leave a listing up without mentioning that the deal is closed and it’s no longer available.
Over to You
What do you think about single property websites? Do you use them to market listings? Do you think they still make sense in 2020? Let us know in the comments or join our private Facebook mastermind group to discuss with other agents.