As part of the Sotheby’s network, Andrea Savage, vice president of marketing for Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle, says they had “a great global website with SIR.com that gives us almost 4 million visitors a month.” What they didn’t have was “a local presence that really helps our brokers [sales associates] market themselves while keeping with the brand.” Four years ago, they set out to create a real estate website that their 320 sales associates would embrace.
Named the 2021 Best Overall Website by this year’s RealTrends Website Rankings proves they succeeded. Every year, RealTrends highlights the top real estate websites across the country in six categories, including best overall. This is the second year that Realogics SIR won the best overall honor.
“Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty has a website that speaks to all elements of web design,” says Brent Driggers, web director for HWMedia and RealTrends.“ They’ve developed several different unique design features, such as dynamic headers, sticky call-to-action elements, enticing lead generation and captivating media utilized across the entire website. This experience flows seamlessly into mobile with just as much attention to detail that truly makes this website an industry benchmark.”
Partnering four years ago with Neutrino, Realogics SIR set out to create a real estate website that agents would embrace in their marketing. “They are entrepreneurs and want to market themselves in their own way. We needed to create a site for them. We already had the property exposure (through the national site), so our goal was to build something that agents would use in their marketing,” says Savage.
Understand your audience
For brokerages looking to revamp their real estate websites, she advises that you “really understand your audience. We have a couple different clients, the end consumer and our brokers,” she says.
She notes that Neutrino has been very responsive to their needs. “When choosing a vendor, make sure you find a team that is innovative. In the past, our vendor was somewhat complacent once our website was done. But, a website is never really done.”
They chose Neutrino because it has some “cool backend pieces” that allow agents to activate a property, create a detailed page within the website that also goes on SIR.com, and also “creates several other pieces that agents can use in marketing the listing.”
Savage says that once an agent enters a listing, a single listing website is automatically created. “That has marketing information on that area. Every month, we have updated market reports that are generated for each neighborhood which includes days on market, median price and more. We cover 110 market areas.” She says that sales associates can print that information out, share it with clients and take it to open houses. It also automatically generates social assets.”
Something they carefully looked at when developing the site was the ability for agents to “micro-brand themselves.” Savage says, “We wanted to allow them to put their mark on their real estate website without fully hitting heads with our brand.” She said they also wanted to ensure that leads are kept with the original agent. “Anytime clients use their unique URL, that lead will always come back to the agent,” she says. “That’s important to our brokers because they want to make sure their clients are being serviced by them.”
In addition, all the reporting is coming back to the agents and their clients. “Clients can see how many times people are looking at their property. We also currently working on how we generate more leads for our brokers in our local market,” says Savage. “We get quite a few through SIR.com, but we want to make sure that we are saturating our market with keywords to our local neighborhoods and our brand within our local market.”
Continually tweak and update
As with all successful real estate websites, Savage says, they are continually tweaking the site and adding new components, such as live chat to allow consumers to get additional information immediately. “Navigation is key for us, but even with good navigation, you can lose people because they are looking for something specific and having a hard time finding it. The live chat allows people to instantly ask questions and get what they need.”
Plus, she says, they’ve tweaked the mobile experience to improve that for consumers. “We even look at things like photos. I knew we needed an easy-to-go-through gallery that people could flip through. That’s a really big deal,” she says.
A great website is continuously “optimizing, updating and make sure that everything is where it needs to be,” says Savage. So, they take feedback from sales associates and consumers to heart.
To organize the updates, Savage says that she has an element that she focuses on each year. “Last year was automation. How are we going to make this easier for brokers [sales associates] to make it easier for them to market properties?” The year prior to that was broker focused. “How do make the site more valuable to them?,” she says.
This year, she says, they are focusing on lead generation. “How can we generate more leads back to the brokers through our real estate website?” To do that, Savage says, they “hired somebody to be in-house to facilitate phone calls. She’s picking up the phone, talking to leads and passing them along as warm leads to our brokers.”
Building an award-winning website takes planning and a mind set that your work is never done. “You have to look at trends, new ways to compete in the local market and how to serve consumers, because that’s always changing.”