As technology continues to progress and evolve on a daily basis, many brokerage owners consistently wonder what is on the horizon. With the presence of big portals and large affiliated brokerages, it has left a lot of unanswered questions as to where the competitive landscape lies and why it is still important to have a meaningful web presence. The good news is that websites are not going anywhere anytime soon, and it has never been more important to have a website that displays your brand, values and what sets you apart.
Web Presence Becomes Even More Important
While it is no surprise that a website is still vital to the business strategy of a brokerage, web presence will become even more important as we move forward into the future with new technology and data. Consumers will continue to search for validation and connect with brokerages based on traditional means of advertising, and it will be extremely important that your website reflects your brand and entice the visitor to engage your brand. Even more so, your website will act as a hub for consumers to get to know your brokerage and agents on a more meaningful level, which the portals and other listing websites simply cannot compete with. Personalizing your website with a one of a kind experience towards your brand that other listings sites cannot accomplish will become the new wave of presence and impact. Let your potential consumers know who you are and why they should care.
AI is the ability for a machine to problem solve by learning a users interactions based on a set of criteria. It is a very similar process to how our brains operate when processing data and making impactful decisions. So what does this mean for real estate? This means that your website will have to start acting more like a predictive platform in which you can match the needs of your consumers before they even arrive on your website. This can be accomplished on several different fronts. One quick example is the use of AI-powered chatbots. Let’s say someone arrives on your website and a bot immediately greets them. The bot can determine (using a set of data/questions) what they are interested in, and what type of action to take with the visitor. This can be scheduling a showing, proving a link to a matching property, or getting the user where they need to go on the website. This is all accomplished with the chatbot, so the machine is in a sense learning your customers and what they need when they need it. Artificial intelligence will continue to become more and more popular (and automated) as we move into the future.
Search has increasingly become a huge topic of discussion as portal websites have taken the first stab at perfecting the search experience beyond a brokerage website. Although they have done a good job, there are still several opportunities to capitalize on your website by customizing search in a way your consumers have never experienced before. Websites should act as an environment for your visitors to understand the specific neighborhoods you cater to and give them data that no one else can. For example, your brokerage can create "micro-community" pages that no other portal or competitor is focusing on. Then, you can provide meaningful data such as geography, lifestyle, demographics, etc. to become the expert in that space. In turn, you then become the expert of search for that space as well. Lifestyle search means leveraging data and information at a very personal level that no one else can serve up. Portals will only go so far with these types of pages, simply due to the fact they are focused on high volume/high yield markets and do not want to dive deeper into smaller subsets of data.
Want to learn more about what makes a good website today and what is on the horizon tomorrow? Read the 2018 REAL Trends Online Performance Study where we have an entire chapter dedicated to the trends, functionality, and creation of real estate websites.