Why ongoing investment in your estate agent website is key to business growth.
Pernilla Tweddle,Marketing Director at PropertyStream, shares her thoughts on the importance of budgeting properly for ongoing website costs. Doing this will help estate agents stay ahead of the game in the fast moving digital space.
When I worked for a large estate agency network, I recall having discussions with the CFO around how we should budget for website cost. Where and how in your P&L should the costs sit? Is it a one-off cost or a regular investment? Is it an IT cost or marketing cost?
With rapid transformation around online lead generation, the website is now your number 1 marketing tool; the foundation of your business profile, the driver for growth. Therefore it is important that enough budget is set aside to look after it.
A new website, or a website refresh, is likely to require a one-off cost during the website build process. It is worth clarifying if your website provider offers flexibility around payment options for when the initial bill must be paid. The sum required will depend on the complexity of the web-build and the overall project.
Once up and running, it is important to consider regular investment in your website for several reasons. Investing in a website helps to ensure that the website is working properly and efficiently, as well as providing a secure environment for customers. Regular investment also helps to ensure that the website is optimised for search engines, helping to boost visibility and draw in more customers. Importantly, investing in a website will help businesses stay ahead of their competition by providing a modern, interactive, and user-friendly experience.
Making sure your website is built and structured with great UX (user experience) in mind and supported using high quality, advanced technology will help to ensure fast loading speeds.
Reasons to invest regularly in your estate agent website: keeping up with consumer expectations
Budgeting for regular investment into a website is important because it ensures that the website remains up-to-date and relevant to the current market and customers. As we know, the estate agency industry is rapidly adapting to changing consumer behaviours that demand more advanced, and more convenient technology.
That means an expectation of certain functionality on estate agent websites such as the ability to view property photographs in less clicks and ability to book a viewing or a valuation directly from your website. The estate agent website design is also undergoing close scrutiny from customers who are looking for a smooth, easy and effective browsing experience.
Keeping a close eye on your website speed is critical
Fast loading speed is important for websites because it can increase user engagement and satisfaction, improve search engine rankings and reduce bounce rate. Users expect websites to load quickly and efficiently, so a slow loading speed can lead to frustration and cause users to abandon the website. Before you know it, visitors have left your site and jumped to your competitor estate agent website.
Additionally, search engine algorithms use loading speed as a ranking factor, so websites with faster loading speeds have a better chance of appearing higher in search engine results - in other words on Google.
A slow loading speed leads to a higher bounce rate, which means that visitors are leaving the website before engaging with it. Therefore, fast loading speed is essential for websites to provide an enjoyable user experience. Great estate agent websites need to have easy and clean navigation where visitors can quickly browse and get to the information they are looking for, whether that be searching for available properties to buy or rent, viewing the property listings, reading local area guides, downloading helpful checklists or watching videos about your team.
Should website costs be part of your marketing spend?
Here are some of the thoughts I have around why it's important for estate agents to plan and budget for both upfront and ongoing website costs as part of their marketing budget and monthly marketing spend.
- Primary marketing tool
The website should be seen as the foundation of your marketing plan and budget.
- Lead generation hub
It is where all your digital marketing leads arrive. You can no longer afford to NOT invest in your website. Like all marketing, it is not a one off job. You need to tweak, fine tune, optimise and adopt your estate agent website to make it work as hard as possible for you.
- Shop window to your brand
Your website is your window to the world, with far more visitors than a high street branch would ever receive. Therefore, it needs looking after - for visiting customers and prospective customers. Take a look at some of THESE AMAZING WEBSITES we've built here at PropertyStream.
- Keeping Google happy
Keeping your site up-to-date, refreshed, fast, compliant and bug free helps Google recognise your website and rank it better. This improves your discoverability online, ultimately giving your website more visibility. More visibility means more business and increased income.
- Replacing other marketing costs
Website investment now replaces other spending that may be reduced or redundant - for example office displays, print marketing such as newspaper advertising or the volume of direct mail canvassing you're doing.
- Biggest earner
Your website should earn you as much income as your highest paid member of staff. For this reason, it deserves ongoing support and attention to get the very best out of it.
- Return on investment
If maintained, monitored and fine tuned, your website should pay for itself within 3 - 6 months.
- Longer shelf life
If a website is looked after properly it should not have to be updated every 2-3 years. Otherwise, it risks becoming out-dated and redundant.
Why is it important to choose a quality solution for monthly support and hosting for your estate agent website?
At PropertyStream we offer a high quality support and hosting service for our estate agent website clients. We understand how important it is that your property feed is working correctly for your buyers and tenants, but also your sellers and landlords. We also know how important it is that your lead generating forms are fully functioning and driving new enquiries for you. And crucially, we recognise the increasing threats of cyber attacks, and the need to mitigate against these risks as much as possible to safeguard your website.
Here are some of the benefits of our hosting and property feed:
- Private server
With PropertyStream you get your own, exclusive high spec private server, instead of it being shared, which means better SEO, security, speed and responsiveness.
- 24/7 monitoring
We’ll actively monitor the website to prevent issues such as cyber attacks which can take your website down or cause severe disruption stopping you from getting leads.
- Weekly backups
We backup your server on a weekly basis, so if the worst did happen we can restore it in no time at all so you don’t lose business.
Benefits of our Digital Performance Support
Our estate agent clients can expect a powerful, high converting website that is fully supported and hosted. We also want to make sure that our websites are kept refreshed and up to date. With our ongoing Digital Performance Support clients benefit from ongoing website support as well as content additions and marketing tips on a quarterly basis. If you would like more information around our tiered packages, please get in touch.
How much should you budget for your estate agent website?
How long is a piece of string? It really depends on your unique circumstances, your business goals, ambitions, the size of your agency and your budgets.
Our Signature website packages are all high quality products, lead generating, and built using the latest functionality with stunning designs. We cater for all budgets. The specification of your features and functionality will determine the cost of your website, as will the number of pages and number of branches required.
Our estate agent website packages start at £5000. Take a look at our SIGNATURE23 - a more-than-a-template website with stunning designs. Followed by our SIGNATURE PLUS bespoke website for agents with ambition and SIGNATURE PRO for our largest clients with multiple branches or large networks. Our tiered Digital Performance Support and Hosting services start at £250 / month.