Commercial real estate professionals are spending more and more time on their smartphones and computers as technology’s role in commercial real estate continues to grow in importance. But we’re not here to tell you that you just need a CRM to stay competitive in today’s industry.
We’re here to get back to basics and talk website best practices. Your website is likely the first place a potential seller or interested tenant will go to find out more information about your brokerage and the services you offer. According to HubSpot, visitors spend 15 seconds or less on your website, meaning you only have so much time to grab their attention and hopefully convert them into a new client.
We’ve come up with a list of six tips for making your brokerage website better, using examples from real brokerages who are currently killing the website game.
1. Your homepage should be both informative and engaging
If an interested client is searching your company’s name on Google (or looking for a list of all brokerages that offer similar services), they’re probably going to visit your homepage first. Also, your printed materials (like brochures or flyers) or social media accounts likely direct traffic to your homepage.
If this visitor is going to spend 15 seconds or less on your homepage, you’ll want to make sure of two things. One, it is very clear what the product you’re selling is or what the services you offer are. Two, it should be visually pleasing and a page someone wouldn’t mind scrolling through to find what they’re looking for.
T3 Advisors is a full-service real estate brokerage and consulting firm that specializes in advising corporations nationally. Why do we like their homepage? Instead of a header image, they use a header video. They don’t define themselves as a typical brokerage but rather a “collective brain trust” of “makers, entrepreneurs, creators, thinkers, and negotiators.” They call out what sets them apart, who their notable clients are, and where you can find them. From their homepage alone, it’s clear that they aren’t your typical brokerage, and therefore you can infer they’re dedicated to delivering innovative solutions.
2. Your listings (or whatever services you offer) should be well presented and easily accessible
While your homepage should make it crystal clear what exactly it is your company does, a visitor will need another page that goes through those services in greater detail. Your product/services page—or as it applies to many brokerages, your listings page—should be a part of your main navigation or menu and easy to find.
The page itself should break down your services or listings in a very clear, organized manner. A site visitor shouldn’t be left asking “I wonder if they do this or that?” The page can include a table or be broken down into sections, or, since this is commercial real estate after all, be presented in a map format.
Prime Commercial Inc. is a full service commercial real estate firm in Northern California. Why do we like their site? They have available properties clearly called out in their top navigation. When you click on the page, their listings are presented in a map view, and the color scheme is stylistically consistent.
B6 Real Estate Advisors, an investment sales and capital advisory firm, also does this well, with their listings clearly called out in their top nav, presented on a map, and stylistically consistent.
3. Stylistically, your website should feel cohesive, from colors to fonts and everything in between
As a visitor moves through your site from page to page, that transition should feel seamless and like all the pieces fit together. Use colors that are present in your logo, or, if your logo is black and white, choose no more than two main colors to use for image overlays or header text. Be sure to use only one font across the site, and one that is simple and legible. You can make use of bold text for titles or to call out specific sections.
RISE Commercial Property Services is a Colorado-based property management company. Not only do they use the same colors and fonts across their site, but the pixelation effect that is present in their logo is also carried through the header images on all the pages.
AREA Real Estate Advisors, a full-service commercial real estate company serving the Kansas City metropolitan area, also does a great job of maintaining consistent colors and fonts across their site. It gives the whole thing a sleek, easy-to-navigate feel.
4. Use lots of imagery and videos
Well, duh! But seriously. No one wants to sift through pages and pages of dry text explaining what you do or who you are. Of course, you’ll need words to supplement the symbols and imagery you use, but a picture (or video) is truly worth a thousand words.
Also, your imagery should make sense. While websites like Unsplash are great for stock photos that are safe for reuse, your images should really reflect your company and who you are/where you’re located. Go light on the stock photos of businessmen shaking hands, and better yet, post photos you’ve taken (as long as the resolution is high enough).
Mountain West Commercial Real Estate, a full service brokerage based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, knocks it out of the park in a lot of these categories, including their homepage and properties page. What we really like about their website is that their videos and imagery feature mountain scenery, which obviously appeals to their clientele.
5. Make your "About Us" page fun!
While you may be an investment sales firm or a bunch of tenant reps, at the end of the day, your company is comprised of human beings. Therefore, your About Us/Meet the Team page should be human, and fun!
You could start the page with a story about the beginnings of your company and why you are where you are today. Then, whether you feature everyone or just the executive team, make the bios (and photos) interesting. Don’t just list the individual’s full name, title, and contact information. Get creative and have your brokers and staff write their own bios to include hobbies, inspirational quotes, or favorite travel spots. At the end of the day, commercial real estate is about relationships, and you want your website visitors to think, “Hey—she looks like a cool, relatable person. I’d enjoy talking to her about more than just real estate transactions.”
Virtus Commercial is a full service commercial real estate brokerage located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and we love their Agents page. “We’ve noticed that many people in the industry use photos that are 30 years old…..we didn’t want to break the trend. Each of us has grown up a little bit, but that child-like creativity gives us a fresh, agile approach that makes us unique.” Click the link to see what they used for headshots (you can probably guess).
6. Whatever you do, try to stand out and set yourself apart from your competitors
All of your website content should be as unique as possible, but it doesn’t hurt to have a section that specifically highlights why a potential client should choose you over a competitor. This can live on your homepage, About Us page, or its own page. Also, don’t just rattle off fancy-sounding, jargony value props. Keep them short, clear, and honest.
Bespoke is a Chicago-based boutique tenant advisory firm that calls out exactly what sets them apart on a separate page. For starters, people love lists (like us, clearly). They’re easy to digest and quickly summarize important information. Plus, their list reads honest and to the point when it comes to the value they provide to their clients.
Like your website, your marketing efforts are another chance to stand out from your competition. Click below to learn more about Apto's new suite of marketing tools.