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Creat a Web site They Can't Ignore/Users/adamp/Desktop/APR08/Optimized/Website

Check out how a free analytics program can help you assess the stickiness of your site.

Perhaps you, like many brokers and sales associates, are investing time and money getting property listings posted on as many different listing Web sites as possible. After all, exposure is key to getting these properties sold. However, when prospective customers call to tell you they found one of your listings online, but they can’t remember on which Web site they found it, you’re left wondering which online lead investment is really paying off. 

While many Web hosting companies offer some version of visitor and site tracking, those who go it alone or who want more services may consider analytics software such as Google Analytics, Urchin 6, Visitorville and others. You can use these tools to build a picture of what consumers are using your site for, how long they stay on your site and much more.  

Sticky Site?
Are people going to your home page and staying there, or are they leaving for another site?  In Internet terminology this is called a bounce. With analytics programs you can find out how many bounces you receive in a day, week or whatever time period you’re measuring. This is important since your goal is to attract online consumers to your site and to keep them there for as long as possible.

Because Google Analytics is free, we’ve decided to use it as the example for how analytics software can benefit your business. However, several other programs are available (see “Analytics Programs to Consider,” below). Here’s how to get started:

Create Your Account
To start the process, you’ll need to visit Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics) and create an account. After your account is created, you’ll be given a small code that needs to be embedded into your Web site. Once this process is complete, the software will track and summarize the results for you. 

Some Web vendors who provide templates for real estate sales associates already have an area built into their Web template where you can paste this code. However, if you update your own Web site, contact Google support to find out how to configure this for your site. It’s not difficult to do. 

In just a few days, you can log back into your Google account and see a visual of what pages consumers are looking at on your Web site plus much more. Over time, the software will begin to paint a picture of where consumers tend to gravitate on your site, how long they stay, what region of the world they’ve come from and more. 

Use this information to build pages and customize your site in the areas in which consumers show interest. Just because something isn’t working after a short period of time doesn’t mean that you should give up the ship.  Marketing programs and advertising ideas take some time to work. Keep evaluating your situation before making a major change.  

Track Your Marketing Leads
One way to determine the effectiveness of your Web site can be to offer items of nominal value to the public for free. Consider giving information through free downloads or e-books. You could also advertise a free Web site download in your local newspaper or homes magazine and then, using an analytics program, determine if you had a jump in visitors to your site.

These kinds of promotions and offers can help you determine which of your marketing endeavors help drive traffic to your site. For example, if you offer a free download in a monthly homes magazine, and you notice that visits to your site took a big jump that month, then your marketing dollars were probably well spent.

Experimenting with promotions like this and watching the results through an analytics program can be extremely helpful in developing and building future marketing plans.  

Interpreting the Data
Consider the following: How long did the consumer stay on your site? What pages seemed to get the most attention?  If you have a page featuring local school information and this seems to attract a lot of your visitors, you might consider building more marketing tools around this topic. 

How many bounces did you have? What was the average number of page visits? If you’re getting a lot of bounces or perhaps the average number of page views is low, your Web site probably does not have much stickiness. If this is the case, spend some time evaluating your content.

If consumers are going to the home page and then leaving your site, consider adding a home page feature that will entice the consumer to drill down deeper into your site.

Look at other sales associates’ Web sites, even those from out of state, and ask them what kinds of results they’re getting. Remember, the goal is to keep the consumer on your site for as long as possible. When you accomplish this, you’re sure to get return visits and a new customer or two when all is said and done. Incorporating new changes into your Internet presence and monitoring your site with your analytics account can help you build a successful Internet presence.
Analytics programs give you the information you need to determine if your Web site is giving consumers exactly what they want. The data is at your fingertips. Once you get hooked on evaluating the results, you’ll find it’s easier to fine-tune your content, create a little stickiness and make your site a winning marketing resource for your real estate business.

John Mayfield (www.realestatetechguy.com) is a real estate broker, trainer and speaker from Park Hills, Mo.