This is an ongoing series of articles that cover the topics and insights shared during the three-day Real Conf 2021 hosted by Adfenix. The following article summarizes the panel discussion with Britt Chester and Philip Hegge on Day 1 Session 3 of the conference.
Britt Chester serves as Head of Client Services at Tribus, a company that provides medium and large brokerages around the world with custom technologies. Philip Hegge is US Director at Adfenix. They share industry insights on a key question:
What do clients, agents and staff expect from a brokerage’s website?
What purpose do brokerage and real estate websites have?
Britt Chester from Tribus highlights that the core website is there for a number of reasons:
- To help buyers and sellers connect with agents
- To promote branding and exposure
- To provide information and guide prospective customers on the journey to buying or selling a home
Philip Hegge of Adfenix adds that real estate is often difficult to digitize, because of all the different layers and stakeholders that are at play, with the latter having their own set of expectations.
The potential for conflict between agent and brokerage can arise due to a few factors:
- With the brokerage website, the goal is often first to represent the overarching branding and exposure, and for buyers and sellers to visit the site as potential leads that, ideally, will soon be converted and qualified into the system, before being handed over to agents.
- On the other hand, for agents with their own website, the goal is often to capture leads independently by their own various measures, whether that’s through digital marketing campaigns or mailers.
The conflict lies in what the expectations of each party are. The agents want buyers and sellers to register, sign up or login and build those safe searches, so that agents can keep track of what they’re looking for and help direct them to it. For brokerages, it’s a matter of capturing as many eyeballs as possible, to be distributed to their agents. It involves different means to the same end, because ultimately, their end goals are very much in line with each other: sales commission and market shares.
That being said, what happens when education and digital adeptness levels vary from agents and brokerages, and even from agent to agent?
Britt draws from experiences at Tribus; one of the most common queries from agents is how to get more traffic to their website. Tribus would respond by allocating resources and success coaches so that agents can start portraying themselves as an authority figure in their market. This is done in various ways - Facebook ads, social media campaigns, Google campaigns, advertising etc. However, organic traffic is important to navigate too; creating content that helps websites appear in searches in the first place, while also being relevant to the community. Agents who understand this know what their audiences are searching for and create content that serves within those search parameters.
The Digitally Educated Customer
Buyers and sellers are more digitally aware and educated than ever before. There’s more information at their disposal, and while their demands shift constantly, they still want to visit websites that will tell them a little more about the brokerage or agent they’re thinking of working with, how much of an expert they are in the local community and what they’ve done for past clients. All this information is found when they sift through the website content, because they’re searching for things that are serving their interests.
Today’s customer knows exactly what they’re looking for; they no longer search by neighborhood alone, but may search by school district, local parks, walkability, etc. The agent website that keeps up is one that can serve these features and search capabilities, enabling the visitor to help themselves (at least initially) on their search for their home before being converted into valuable, qualified leads. Philip adds that a really good brokerage or agent website knows how to figure out what to provide buyers and sellers that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.
How can brokerages better serve their agents?
Britt believes there are lots of opportunities and services for brokerages to provide for agents. For example, how have agent expectations shifted in the last 18 to 24 months, a particularly tumultuous time across all industries? Agents could be demanding better or more technological support from their brokerages to empower them to generate leads, find more clients, and to become better agents overall. Agents can also be asking their brokerages whether they are getting the maximum output from their websites, their CRMs etc, and whether these systems are truly helping them save time and increase efficiency.
The shift is that agents are starting to understand that they do hold power, and they do need to continue to be empowered, in order to better serve their digitally-adept and search-sensitive clients on their customer journey. To that end, the real estate website is increasingly becoming a focal point, especially in the US. Agents are realizing that everything else must simply be connected efficiently and accurately to their website, the motherboard of valuable, untapped data, and an integral part of the overall agent tech stack.
To sum up:
- Websites have the capacity to help buyers and sellers connect with agents, promote branding and exposure, and provide information, but real estate as an industry can be difficult to digitize because of different expectations by different stakeholders
- While agents want direct sign ups and information on what terms are being searched, brokerages focus on the number of visitors on the site, which are then distributed amongst their agents.
- Both parties have similar end goals: sales commission and market shares.
- Digital awareness and adeptness vary from brokerages and agents, but brokerages should be allocating resources to help agents become authority figures in their field and communities through a mixture of social media and automated campaigns, as well as organic traffic where original, creative and relevant content is being generated for their website.
- Agents hold the power to aspire for greater success in their businesses, and brokerages can serve their agents better by addressing their concerns and expectations.
About Real Conf.
Real Conf 2021 is a three-day virtual event exploring ways that agencies and brokerages can leverage the power of digital to increase business opportunities, elevate the brand, and empower agents to deliver success. The conference features hundreds of invaluable insight from keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies from experts in the field.
All 15 sessions with 25 speakers are now available to stream on-demand.
Gain full access to the stream and watch the sessions in their entirety by signing up here: https://www.adfenix.com/real-conf