According to Mr Carroll, online resources and tools are now the biggest contributor to how consumers form opinions.
Because of this, it has become increasingly important for agents to have an innovative but easy to understand website, differentiating themselves from the competition.
“Today, 57 per cent of opinions and thoughts are made about a person or brand before a consumer actually engages with them,” Mr Carroll says.
“Therefore, it is likely that a consumer will determine whether they want to engage with an agent to sell their property based on what they initially find online.”
What consumers want
This should always be the primary objective when determining how you can build your website to attract more clients.
“Property buyers and sellers are now demanding more than plain photos, 2D floor plans and descriptive copy,” Mr Carroll says.
“Instead, they want the experience of looking at a property without physically attending an inspection.”
To keep up with consumer demands, agencies need to break away from the status quo and think more broadly at ways to better engage their audience, Mr Carroll explains.
“Augmented reality and 3D floorplans are great products to integrate into your marketing material that provide a unique experience for consumers,” he says.
Creating a point of difference
The key to creating a website which generates more clients lies within its ability to differentiate from other players in the market.
Ask yourself: why would this particular client pick my service over another agent’s based on what I’ve got on my website? What am I doing to standout? How can I project an offering that is better than the average Joes?
“A great website is one that informs and educates a consumer,” Mr Carroll says.
“Agencies should ensure their website offers more than just property listings and provides useful insights that add value to consumers, whether that be through videos, blogs or testimonials.”
There are many elements agents can use to transform their website into a lead generation platform, however there are just as many which are unknowingly turning clients off.
“The biggest mistake an agency can make with their website is not being mobile compatible,” Mr Carroll says.
“If a consumer needs to zoom in on their mobile device to find information, it alienates them and they’ll look elsewhere.”
Poor quality photography is another big no-no, according to Mr Carroll.
“Consumers lose interest quickly with poor quality photography, or if a website is too focused on selling,” he says.
“Ensure you use a professional photographer, your video content is properly edited and you include content that inspires and educates your audience.”
Mr Carroll adds not having information readily available to consumers will leave them agitated and frustrated.
“At the end of the day, people don’t want to call an agent for information such as the address of the property,” he says.
“Ensure your listings include as much detail as possible, including the estimated price, as consumers expect this basic information to be in the advertising.”
Carroll’s top tips
Mr Carroll shares the four fundamentals a successful agency website must include:
1. Mobile compatibility
“We know that approximately 60 per cent of traffic to realestate.com.au is coming through mobile devices, so it’s fundamental that agencies update their website to be compatible on all platforms.”
2. Greater details
“Include more than just properties listed for rent or sale. We know that consumers are now looking for relevant information on their suburb or neighbourhood, so an agency website should provide property seekers with localised knowledge.”
3. Multiple channels
“Consumers will now research agents through multiple channels. An agency website should therefore provide links to Agent Profiles on realestate.com.au, LinkedIn and Twitter.”
4. A positive consumer experience
“Create story telling moments for your buyers and sellers that will lead them to talk about you on social media. When a consumer speaks about a positive experience to their network, you’ll inevitably pick up listings as a result.”
Jellis Craig CEO Nick Dowling shares how the innovative features of his network’s website helps generate over 1.2 million hits every year.
• Personalised mapping technology
Users can tailor their search results to isolate properties within a particular area of interest, by drawing a search zone directly onto the location map.
• Appraisal wizard
Visitors can type in their property details and instantly receive industry sourced information and market data specific to their property and suburb.
Users can mark properties they want to watch as favourites, and the list of chosen properties will be remembered each time they return to the site.
• Market research and knowledge centre
Users have access to relevant, up-to-date market insight, intelligence and industry articles.
• State-of-the-art backend development
Built using the latest content management technology, the site will continually evolve to enable efficient updates and agile development.
• Intuitive design
A contemporary new look and ease of navigation enhances the user experience, delivering interesting and relevant property related content.
• Closely monitored user interface
In-depth analytics on clicks, visits and length of stay responding to audience usage.
• A completely tailored and customisable email system
The Jellis Craig network can keep regular contact with subscribers, providing valuable tailored content.
• Online management of user subscription preferences
Users can sign up to various Jellis Craig email communications and property alerts at the click of a button.
• EDM reporting system
Provides Jellis Craig agents with information on users, their movements, clicks and the properties they are interested in.