If you are selling luxury real estate in 2018, then you are probably aware of the fact that everything you do is being judged by potential clients. Now, I know I may be a little biased–but knowing this means that I want to look good.
However, I’m not just talking about your choice of professional attire, or your business cards, I’m also including the one thing that can bring you more sales than you ever dreamed possible. It’s the gateway to being able to get clients to say “yes I want to work with you.”
Any guesses what it is?
Well…the title probably gave this away, but it’s your luxury website.
Your Website Matters
As soon as someone refers your services to another new prospect the first thing they will do is check out your website. Chances are, they’ve never actually met you in person, which means that there is a barrier of trust.
Your website can either be a wall or a bridge to building trust.
This is the same line of reasoning behind why you wouldn’t want to show up to sell a $1 million house in an old flannel shirt, distressed blue jeans, and dirty work boots. This might make you look cool in the coffee shop, but it’s not going to get the job done to impress luxury clients.
If one of your friends dressed too casually you’d tell him that he needed to up his style game, right? You wouldn’t do it to be mean–you’d do it to help him.
However, there’s a different comfort zone when it comes to our websites.
Typically, most agents can’t build their own, and no one wants to spend $5,000-$10,000 to get it done by the best, so most agents fall somewhere in the middle.
However, many agents are actually really stressed out about their website. And that leads to them never updating or changing it, which is bad for your business reputation.
Another thing that agents do is they hire someone really cheap who will upload their website, but it doesn’t look professional. It’s sorta newish, but it’s not professional enough for the types of commissions the agent is earning.
The image your website conveys precedes your one-on-one meetings with clients. You have to make it be the tool that wins you the deal.
Like I said earlier, your real estate web site is either a wall or a bridge.
An ugly website stops the client from wanting to work with you further. A professional, well-done website convinces them to proceed and reach out to you.
What we wear to work, what we drive to work, our hair, makeup, and even our profile photos influence a prospective client signing a contract with you.
What precedes all of that is our websites. This is the most important part of your real estate business that essentially represents your own “curb appeal.”
What Makes a Website Look and Feel Luxurious?
There’s a lot to love about luxury products.
From walking through a multi-million dollar home, to shopping the latest high-end clothing store shelves, the experience of luxury is so important to being able to sell it.
When I work with clients, I try to give them a first-class treatment. What does that mean exactly?
Well, for starters I try to get them out of their element through a technique called escapism.
You probably know all about this if you’ve ever browsed the internet for hours on end or binge watched a new show on Netflix.
This is the exact same principle that makes the experience of going to the movies, or playing a computer game so enthralling.
And it definitely, must apply to your user’s experience of your luxury-branded website.
So how can you make your experience better than your competitor’s?
You need to create something that catches their eye by providing a great visual design.
If the house doesn’t look like a million bucks–I can’t sell it. Same thing with a great website, if it doesn’t say “hey, I can sell your expensive property,” then you’re not making the most of your shot.
Another key component that goes hand in hand with that are beautiful photos.
I always hire top photographers to get images. I don’t use my iPhone, or try to cheap out. I’ve never seen top agents use stock photography. Unless you can be creative with this, it is a no-go and an immediate buzz kill for interested clients.
Additionally, if your website loads quickly you are going to get more interested clients.
People are busy, if your site doesn’t load right away, they could check their texts and forget all about you.
Don’t lose opportunities because you have a slow loading website.
The better quality developer you hire, the faster your website will load.
Those free DIY site templates and discount developers aren’t going to get you the fastest site possible.
If you want clients to see how easy you are to work with, your site needs to reflect that kind of intuitive, clear navigation as well.
Have you ever hired a copywriter?
You should always use a copywriter, because user focused copy is vital to getting people to convert from your website. Using the wrong words, or not telling your clients what you want to do can cost you big time.
This will also help to ensure that all key information is easily accessible.
Another key differentiator between the best agent’s websites, and the average real estate agent’s site is that the best websites are designed for mobile phones and tablets. Let me say that again: design your site for mobile first.
In 2018, if it doesn’t work on your phone, you’re missing out. People don’t always make it back to their laptop or desktop like they used to.
Because people’s attention spans are fleeting, you really need to make sure that you are showing up on the first pages of search engines. If you aren’t then chances are, you aren’t creating the next essential: good, high-quality blog content.
The better your blog, the better the quality of eyeballs that traverse your site. If those eyeballs happen to belong to luxury clients, who read about your expertise on the luxury real-estate industry, then that improves the likelihood that they will want to work with you instead of a competitor. See, it really does pay to pay attention in English class!
What Makes a Website Look & Feel Cheap?
Cheap websites are a dime a dozen in real estate, unfortunately. Even in average priced markets it’s a terrible idea to have a cheap website, because the market is inundated with agents all competing for listings.
If you can’t afford a real website you probably shouldn’t be working in real estate. Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse either.
Steer clear of bright colors and loud combos–nothing says amateur like something too bold.
Similarly, if your website has a bunch of pop ups and too much going on, clients don’t know what to do, and may get lost.
One of the biggest pet peeves I have for any real estate agent is to avoid stock photos. They make you look inauthentic. Nothing is cheesier than seeing smiling people in business suits, who are hovering over a For Sale sign. We’ve seen that one-thousand times, and it doesn’t make your brand stand out.
Websites that are hard to navigate, and unclear make the user experience feel cheap and complicated.
When the copy is vague and boring and the client isn’t directed on what to do exactly, you ruin the possibility to work with them. And it’s all your ugly website’s fault.
Chief among the worst facets of a poorly designed, cheap website is the fact that it reduces your chances of getting a high-yield SEO strategy in place, which means less people will find your site.
All of these things combine into a black hole of misdirection and vague marketing that make you look like an amateur.
Why Do Agents Still Use Cheap Websites?
Because they don’t really know any better.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people out there teaching agents what they need to know about how to do things the right way, so some of them fall through the cracks.
The resources out there for agents to take advantage of, typically don’t involve top-notch information on what makes or breaks a luxury website.
Not to mention the fact that most agents don’t want to waste their money on unknown designers, or bargain sites that don’t provide any helpful resources whatsoever.
Don’t worry, by the end of this free guide you are going to be able to not only know what doesn’t work, but know what will win over the hearts and minds of all of your future prospects.
Here are the top five keys to creating a luxury website that will give you the right response from your clients and avoid sending the wrong message.
There’s nothing worse than showing up to the Black Tie Gala in just a shirt and tie, so why would you do the same thing with your website?
Follow these 5 tips to make the most of your branding, and take back your lead-generating, referral-promoting power source: your luxury branded website!
Key #1: Your Website is Your Brand
That quote from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com says it all. Look at his background, he managed to take an idea and flesh it out to be the most popular shopping website in the world. The Amazon brand is legendary and successful.
The fact remains, that your brand identity isn’t what you think about yourself, it’s what your clients think about you.
In line with Jeff’s quote is the concept that your brand is actually your personality.
Our personalities make us friends, and sometimes they make people dislike us. While you can’t get everyone to like your brand, it is important that you take care to manage your reputation. The better job you do with managing your brand’s personality, the better your client’s will be able to gauge whether or not they want to work with you.
My brand is aligned with luxury. I drive luxurious cars, I wear designer clothes, and I work with people who have more money than I would know what to do with.
What I communicate through my branding is that I know what my clients are looking for in an agent.
In other words, I speak the language of my clients.
So what do you do if you don’t know how to speak the language of the affluent?
You leverage the credibility of other brands that are more credible than yours.
The question is how do you do this?
One of the fastest means towards being able to increase your credibility is to harness the power of major logos. I’m talking about the big ones–Huffington Post, Inc, Forbes, etc. If you can get your content published or shared on there, it’s going to help you grow your brand because you can list those links on your website.
You can also leverage PR placement, meaning that if someone quotes you on a major site or on the news (or in the newspaper) you can get credit from it, which will boost your visibility.
Every time someone visits your website they are going to be looking for any reason to do one of two things.
First, they are looking for a reason to trust you.
Second, they are looking for a reason to doubt you.
Having links to credible sources where you are quoted as an expert, is an immediate way to dispel the doubts and amplify their beliefs in you.
That’s why on my website I have testimonials from very famous clients. It’s not because these clients know a lot about luxury homes–some of them didn’t.
I have them listed on there because people have heard of my celebrity clients, which means that by association they trust their opinions.
It’s always helpful to have testimonials and reviews on your website. However, you don’t want to overdo it. And you also don’t want them to be cheesy.
By having this information on your website, you are helping to build trust and credibility. Use that to your advantage because you have the power to control how the public perceives you.
Key #2: First Impressions Matter
When I was a small boy, my grandmother told me that “you can never get a second chance at a first impression.” And she was right.
Typically, the first few words on your website have been read within about 8 seconds of someone landing on your page. And it only takes a fraction of that time for them to form an opinion about you!
Let me say that again: in a matter of seconds–you can get someone to love your website or lose your website. It’s that quick.
And because it’s that quick, you have to be using only the best tactics, design, and conversion optimization techniques to snag clients. If you don’t, chances are that text message, crying child, or Black Mirror episode is going to be much more attractive to your visitors than taking the time to read about you on an ugly, unimpressive website.
I mean, think about how quickly you size someone up when you meet them. It doesn’t take too long before you hear their voice, see them from a few angles and decide whether or not you trust them, or need more time.
In the luxury market, million dollar decisions are made on the spot. Sure, there may be months of intense planning and research. But I’ve had clients walk into a home, look around and say “I’ll take it!”
And that’s the kind of experience that you need to provide with your website.
You don’t want your visitors to take time critiquing your website to their spouse, because there’s no chance of you getting the deal then.
My point is that homepages matter.
I spent $50,000 on my website design and development.
I spent hours interviewing, reviewing, and reading about what to do–because I wanted it to be perfect.
As humans we make decisions in the blink of an eye. That’s why my above the fold video of me driving down Beverly Hills is placed there.
Even if you live in the ugliest county in America, you can still hire a breathtaking photographer and videographer to shoot gorgeous homes and do something unique.
Getting your visitor’s attention is half the battle.
I get my visitors to experience the luxury lifestyle before they ever schedule a meeting with me, and I do it by the experience and first-impressions I’ve created with my website.
Key #3: Unity of Style and Consistency in Aesthetics
Luxury retailers have a sense of style that is fluid, and just sort of flows. By being consistent, they help to maintain the integrity of the brand.
A real-life luxury example, is Hermès. When you go into a Hermès store anywhere in the world, you have the same sense of brand and layout whether you are in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive, or at Hermès in Sydney, Australia.
Why is this important?
Because customers need to feel like they are getting the same experience no matter who they work with.
This is even more important with your digital presence, because it can’t physically communicate and explain things to the customers, they have to read it and absorb the information themselves.
Your website is the storefront for your brand. Instead of having to go to multiple physical destinations, you have one perfect digital destination to show your potential clients.
This is how the best agents in your market are winning clients left and right. It’s because just like a luxury flagship storefront, their website is consistent with the experience they offer their clients in real life.
You see the thing is, in the digital age, we can’t separate digital reality from physical reality. That means that how people view your aesthetic experience online, is how they will expect your real estate skills to be in real life.
This may not be fair, but it is how we’ve been wired to anticipate things based on the way we’ve utilized technology.
Make sure that your style is elegant, but not over-the-top. Just like how you wouldn’t wear a rainbow suit and pink hat to a showing, your website should be tasteful as well.
You also have to make sure that your mobile and tablet experience is top-notch. The website needs to run with a specialized mobile versions so that it works well on any and all devices that people might use.
Key #4: Reducing Friction Leads to Higher Conversions
Ah, friction. One of the silent killers of any good thing with momentum. Have you ever scraped your knee when you were a kid after falling off your bike? The friction is what causes the pain, and bleeding.
User friction refers to the flow of the user experience. If it’s choppy, hard to navigate, and doesn’t make intuitive sense it can cause friction, which means that your visitors will go someplace else.
As you can see, friction is a major problem because it leads to bouncing, reduces conversions, and frustrates a would-be client to the point of abandoning their tasks and looking elsewhere at the competition’s website.
When users understand your websites behavior instinctually it means that they understand your brand better. Think about it, when a visitor finds your site easy to work with, they will believe that you are easy to work with as well.
Pretty crazy how that works, right?
A great website should motivate customers to want to take action, and that action should be easy to take.
If it’s not, your website conversion could suffer–which is just a fancy way of saying that people will leave.
In the first few keys I was pretty clear–a stunning website is important in the luxury landscape. However, let me also be clear that an attractive website is no longer enough to win over customers just on its own.
The website also has to provide a great experience, and that involves some careful planning, and some great coding.
Make your site easy to navigate, and make sure that clients enjoy the time they spent on your site. If they do, they will be ringing your cell phone ready to book an appointment.
Even if a customer enjoys five excellent in-store experiences, it only takes one bad experience to erode a brand’s image. The same rule applies to a digital experience. The interface must act as the salesperson in being the face of the luxury store.
What takes precedence is understanding the users’ mindsets and optimizing their experiences.
How can you do this?
I suggest testing the website features out with a case study group first, to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
Key #5: Your Value is Questioned in the Absence of Quality
As consumers we are primed to believe in what we enjoy, even if what we enjoy costs a lot of money.
However, due to the fact that luxury is so expensive, clients are aware of when the quality is lower than what they are used to, or expecting. As a result, any absence of quality is going to cause them to question the value, and the higher price tag associated with it.
For instance, if you go to purchase a luxury car and notice that the leather isn’t stitched together flawlessly, you may wish to get another vehicle. However, chances are you will be questioning why that vehicle is flawed–which could lead to you questioning the brand as a whole.
We want our luxury products to be real, authentic, and even timeless.
Rolex, for example, is a household name for a reason–they last and maintain their value. Timelessness means that the brand will impart feelings of trust, security, contentment, and confidence over the lifespan of ownership.
In the luxury market you can’t just claim your expertise, you need to show it to them.
Then, and only then, will they believe your brand.
The best way to do this is through storytelling using creative content.
Million Dollar Listing is one example of the way that I communicate my story to my audience.
This is my version of “content marketing” through network television which is what you can do with Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.
Luxury consumers are attracted to inspirational content and great reads, so engaging them with creative content is one of the best ways to not only attract them to your luxury website, but to also keep them there.
Luxury customers love a good story and therefore content is at the heart of the window-shopping experience for a luxury agent.
Entertainment is the new currency you exchange for attention in a busy and distracted world.
Examples of how you can market real estate content online in an entertaining way:
- Home Makeover– Document a complete home makeover from start to finish. This is a great way to educate potential buyers and sellers and display yourself as an authority. Examples of shows to check out here are: Property Brothers and Extreme Home Makeover.
- Flipping Properties– Document the flipping process and show how much money you’re making for investors. Examples of shows to check out here are: Flip or Flop and Income Property.
- Documenting the Home Buying or Selling Process– By documenting the buying or selling process from start to finish, you’re showing potential buyers and sellers that you know what you’re doing while at the same time educating them, which is a great combination. Examples of shows to check out here are: Million Dollar Listing L.A. and House Hunters.
- Weekly Neighborhood News– Another example is a weekly quick report spotlighting any notable news within your neighborhood. This is great as a podcast as well, which allows you to take advantage of the recent podcasting boom.
Be the Flaggship Agent In Your Market
The problem with most agents is that they view a website as a necessary evil—it’s just another expense to them.
Instead, you need to leverage the power of having a great way to reach clients 24/7/365. You’re beginning to realize that your website isn’t just a “business card.” It’s your branded storefront in our digital age.
A website is the digital destination for your real estate business, and it’s the hub of your online business, and it’s one of the biggest keys to your success in the luxury market.
Mastering the art of reducing friction through a combination of design and engineering to give you a significant competitive advantage, especially when converting users into clients and growing your online real estate business.