International property buyers use the web to research property. They have to. They live so far away that the internet is the only practical way for them to educate themselves about real estate markets in Australia.
In fact, without online listings and smartphone apps, a large share of today’s international buyers simply wouldn’t be purchasing real estate in Australia.
The UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA — the sources of overseas buyers of Australian property seem endless.
Personally, I'm most familiar with buyers from China. Just this one group spent $50 billion last year on real estate in other countries, and Australia is their number two destination worldwide.
Because international buyers rely so heavily on the web to research real estate markets, your professional website has to play a new role. It is no longer just an overlooked online brochure for local buyers. It has become a vital marketing tool for international buyers that can help boost your revenue.
For Real Estate Business readers, I’m sharing my four top tips for optimising your website for foreign buyers:
1. Speed up your site.
The most important thing you can do has nothing to do with the content on your website. It’s all about site load speed.
Content strategy has a place, but not first place. Site speed is more important.
Why is site speed crucial? It’s because users quickly bounce away from a site that loads slowly. Google has shown that even a microsecond’s delay cuts user page views and searches. That’s why the search giant puts such an emphasis on delivering search results quickly.
Not only will you lose users, you will lose leads. Web company Mozilla improved conversions of visitors into leads by 15 per cent when they improved their site speed by 2.2 seconds.
The good news is, with a fast site you can really stand out from the competition. Only news sites waste more time in loading than do real estate websites, as a group.
You can use free tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights to help you target ways to improve your site speed. Also, ask your webmaster about using a content delivery network. And, if you are targeting Chinese buyers, look into hosting your site within China and behind the “Great Firewall".
2. Show listing prices in multiple currencies
This one is easy to implement because there are so many great available tools for currency. Some are built into real estate industry software and templates, or you can obtain a currency-conversion API such as the Exchange Rate API.
You want users to be able to view your properties in their own currency as a means of eliminating obstacles that could cause uncertainty in the minds of your prospects. Calculating currency conversions isn’t fun for anyone, and this nuisance can cause you to lose users as they seek more friendly websites.
When you use a currency tool, your listings are shown in Australian dollars by default. The user can select to show the listings in the other available currencies with a simple mouse click.
3. Be smart about colour
The meaning of colour is a cultural construct. That means that white can stand for purity in Australia – hence the white wedding dress – while it stands for death and mourning in China.
Since you’re catering to foreign buyers, as well as Aussies, it pays for you to consider international sensibilities in your web design and use of colour.
It’s possible to go overboard with this. After all, blue can be associated with depression, but one in every four of the most valuable brands in the world actually have blue logos.
For more practical tips, read this good piece by Nataly Kelly posted on Chief Marketer.
4. Use professional translation
Presenting your material in the language of your target prospect has a major impact on your ability to communicate with them. Even those who speak good English, as a second language, often prefer to browse in their native tongue.
Your should limit your choices to either "no translation” or “professional translation”. Never go the in-between route of automatic or “machine” translation.
Yes, Google Translate already translates text the length of 1 million typical books on a daily basis. But, Google Translate and similar tools can create nonsensical – and even offending – results. Including such material on your website undermines your professional image, your credibility and your future success.
When you want to reach international buyers, making it easier for them to use your website is a key step. These four steps will get you started.