Whether you use bandit signs, direct mail, Google AdWords or other marketing channels, there’s one thing you can’t run a business without these days: A website.
Now, different investors have different websites. And there’s many websites that can pull leads for you. But there are a few things every successful investor website needs so it delivers motivated sellers to you.
In this episode, you’ll hear which elements you absolutely need to make your website get leads for you (You can implement some of these in under 5 minutes).
Show highlights include:
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You're listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of Ad Words Nerds, a high tech digital agency focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition and live a freer, more awesome life. And now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Daniel: Hello everybody and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdwordsNerds.com. How are you, wonderful people, wonderful real estate investors? Hope you are having an awesome week. Today, I want to get back to some technical, tactical stuff. [0:01:04.6] I feel like the last couple of episodes have been these big overarching ideas. I want to dig into something that is really, really, really, really, really applicable to you right now and give you some takeaways that you can take from this podcast, go back to your business and improve your lead flow.
Today, we are talking about websites and specifically I'm going to break down what needs to be on the perfect real estate investor home page. So we are talking about websites and really the most important piece of real estate [laughter] get it? Real estate on your website is going to be your home page. Now a home page is just kind of like by design or by the way the things work, they are generally going to get the most traffic of any page on your website. They are going to be the most read. The home page is your opportunity to make a really good impression and convert any website visitor into a lead. [0:02:07.8]
So they are really, really critical. If you're going to spend any time on your website, you're probably going to get the most leverage from that time by spending it on your home page. Now all the other parts of your website are still really, really important especially if you're doing any sort of search engine optimization. Like our search engine optimization team at Adwords Nerds, they spend a lot of time analyzing traffic to other pages and they find that a lot of people are going to consume multiple pages of your website. But the fact remains that I think a lot of investors, if you're going this on your own, generally you're not going to have a ton of time or you're not going to be able to spend a ton of time on this and if you're like give me one thing that I can do – the thing that I'm going to say is improve your home page. That's going to improve your search engine rankings. It's also going to improve your conversion rate which is the percentage of people that become leads once they land on the website. [0:03:02.6]
So this is really, really powerful area to focus on.
So let's talk about what you need. Before we jump into the specific stuff about the actual page, the thing I want to recommend to you is that you go and install two pieces of software. They are free. You can install them on any website. You can do this if you've got InvestorCarrot or WordPress or LeadPropeller or anything that you're using. That is Google Analytics and Google Search Console or sometimes called Google Webmaster Tools. Now both of these are free pieces of software that are put out by Google and they provide you with a lot of valuable data. Google Analytics which you can get at Analytics.google.com or just by Googling Goggle Analytics; this is a piece of software that tracks people that come on to your website and show you how they behave. It's going to tell you how many visitors you had, how long they spent on the website, how long they spent on every page, what page they went to – all sorts of really, really important things. [0:04:06.9]
Google Analytics is going to give you a ton of data about how people act and the amount of traffic that you're getting, and if you come to, for example, work with any online marketing company, like they came to us, and you're saying, hey, I want to do search engine optimization, it is really, really valuable to us if you have Google Analytics data going on your website, and it can only start tracking the data from the time that you install it, so the sooner that you do that, the better it's going to be. Go ahead, go to Analytics.google.com, it's just a little… You sign up for an account, you get a little piece of code that you paste in your website, support for any website company that you are working with will be able you to do this. It's really, really critical.
Now Google Search Console or Google Webmaster Tools, depending on what they're calling it, is a little bit different – similar, but different, I would say. Google Search Console doesn't really tell you a whole lot about how people act on your website. [0:05:02.9]
Instead, it gives you two really valuable pieces of data. One is it kind of scans your website and tells you if you have any problems, so it says like, hey, just so you know, a bunch of your pages Google can't read them or you've got pages that Google doesn't know about. Google Search Console will tell you that, so it's really useful for that, and then it also gives you search ranking data. It gives you data on what people are searching for when Google ranks your site, where on average you are ranked for that search term. It gives you a sense of how many people clicked at that position so if you're third in the search rankings, how many people clicked, what you are your click through rates, what we call that number, really, really valuable stuff just for getting a sense of where you are ranking and how you are doing.
Now like any ranking tool, it's not perfect, and it doesn't give you all the data that you need, and there's really no such thing as a rank for a keyword anymore. [0:06:04.3]
Everybody is bouncing around. Every single time there is a search based on hundreds of factors, but it does give you sense of sort of a trend of how you're doing and how it's working, and so it's really valuable to get that installed as well. So, first things first, perfect real estate investor home page is going to have Google Webmaster Tools or Google Search Console, whatever they call it, and Google Analytics installed. That's definitely number one.
Now, let's get into the next thing I want to talk about, which is the perfect REI homepage is fast. Okay? This is again… We're not even getting to the parts that the user, the motivated seller actually sees. This is all kind of behind the scenes, but the faster your page loads, the better it's going to be. First of all, Google is going to rank you better if your site load speed is better, and that's really, really valuable, and then, two, obviously if people have to wait for a page to load, if you ever go a website and you click on it, it takes time to load up, the chance you just bounce away is relatively high. [0:07:10.4]
People are very impatient. I'm definitely like this. If you make me wait for more than 10 seconds for a website, I'm never going to see it. I'm just going to go back to Google and find something else. So it's really, really valuable that you get a site that is going to load very quickly. If you're having problems with your website, you may want to talk to your website support or may want to look at, if you're using like a WordPress theme, a theme that's going to be faster, a little less demanding. If you're got a lot of scripts and stuff, Java script, all this kind of stuff that's running in the background, getting rid of that is going to help you speed up. There's a lot that goes into that. It's a relatively technical process so you may want to go to somewhere like Upwork.com, and find somebody, search for somebody that can help you optimize your site speed. [0:07:59.8]
There are also services like Cloudflare, which are caching services that basically like serve a faster version of your website depending on where the people are that are searching for you, so that's a service you can look up as well. I would definitely get a professional to help you if you think you have serious site speed issues. In fact, if you go on Google and you just type in page speed check or website load speed check or something like that, there's a bunch of free websites that will check your website for you. I would just go check that out, and if you think you're running into problems, hire a professional.
Those are the first two. We got installing out analytics tools, and then we've got checking our site speed. Now, the next thing that is really critical that is surprisingly on very few real estate investor websites, it's a prominent phone number, and this is something that it's very easy to overlook. [0:09:00.0]
If you kind of put your phone number somewhere on the site, you're like, cool, it's on there. No, it really needs to be prominent. I would put it in the top right hand corner, and that would make it very obvious, very bold. Make it big! You want to think about motivated sellers. A lot of times they're older folks. They have trouble reading small text. We're really designing a site here to make it easier for them to contact us, so you want a really big phone number.
Now the way you can make this even better is there is code you can use on your website to make this a click to call number. I was on a restaurant website recently, and it was on my phone. A lot of people are going to be looking at your website on their phones, and so I'm on my phone, and I'm trying to call this restaurant so I can place an order, and I'm on their website, I see their phone number, I got to tap on the phone number to call, and it just doesn't do anything, and it really struck me that it's been a while since I saw someone not use this tool, this click-to-call tool. It's really, really critical because a lot of people are just going to want to tap that number and call you. [0:10:03.8]
Now if you make them have to use their finger, hold it down, and select the text, and then they've got to copy the text, and then they've got to click the phone app, and then they've got to open the phone app, and they've got to paste the number into the phone app, you're making it harder for them, and just as in general principle, right, we want to make it as easy as humanly possible for people to contact us. So big, prominent, bold phone number, upper right hand corner, and make it a click-to-call number.
Now, under the next one, which is the form. Every website for a real estate investor needs a really prominent lead form, and there are different, kind of philosophies of this, different ways to do this. There is no one right way to do this, but there are general principles that you can make sure that you are following. One: You've got to make that form very prominent, very obvious, and you've got to make it visible before they scroll. If I have to scroll down your home page to see your form, you are going to lose leads. [0:11:01.8]
I'm telling you, you're going to leave money on the table. It's got to be big, upfront, and obvious. Now my general preference here is that we have this as few form fields as possible, by which I mean, I might have name, email, and phone number. That's it. I might just have name and email or just phone number and email, but I don't want much more than that. Now some websites, some people they want to put the address. I think that's probably okay, but as a general principle, the more forms fields that we give someone upfront, but fewer people are going to fill it out, okay? You still want property information. Obviously you still want all that stuff. I would do that on a next page, like when they fill out that form, send them to another form where you can get that in-depth information, but the reason we want to make sure we grab that information upfront the email and the phone number is because that's what lets me market to them going forward. I can text them. I can call them. [0:12:00.1]
I can email them. I've got all these opportunities, all these options, right? If I don't get that, if I make them fill out the full form before I get that information, I'm going to lose the ability of following up with people that would have become deals down the line. So I really am a fan of keeping this the absolute minimum number of form fields that you need in order to effectively contact someone. First name, email, phone – that's generally what we're going to require at AdWords Nerds, but play around with different things. I would even just say enter your phone number, and then pass them to the next one, right? Because I can call them then. There's a lot of things to experiment with there. No one right way to do it, but I definitely think keep it prominent. Make sure that your form is a different color than the background of the website.
I was on a website recently. This was with a coaching student of mine, and I was going over their website and giving them some tips. One of the things that I noticed was that they had a form, and it was big and it was prominent, but the form was white form fields, like they normally are, right? [0:13:07.0]
If you think about a form, usually it's a white area where you type in your text, so that was white, and then the background was white, so it was really hard to see where the actually form is. Let's say your background is a picture, and you've got a picture of a house or whatever, put a box around the form that's white or black or red or something so that it stands out and I immediately know there's a form there that I'm looking at, okay? So just some tips there.
We've got the form, right? Let's talk about the headline. So headline is going to be the biggest text on the webpage generally, and it's also important for search engine optimization reasons. Google is going to look at the headline as a good indicator of what this page is going to be about. I usually keep this as simple as humanly possible. I just say like, I Buy Houses In _____ Area. You know, Sell Your Home Quickly in _____ Area. [0:14:01.6]
You want to keep it straight, to the point. We want to speak directly to the motivated seller and say, hey, you want to sell your house, you're motivated to sell your house, you want to do that quickly, I can help you do that, and by the way, I am in your area. Now generally, the more specific we can make that area, the better, right? It's more compelling if I'm on 123 Main Street in Anywhere Town, USA. It's more compelling for me to look at a website that says I Buy Houses on Main Street in Anywhere Town, right? More than it is going to be like I Buy Houses in the United States. So the more specific we can get it, the better. Obviously, you don't want to leave people out, so this is going to depend on where you invest and what your investing area looks like, but I would try to keep it as specific as humanly possible. Generally, I am a fan of zeroing in the on the smallest and viable area that I can invest in or market in, in order to make this work, but do what's right for your market. [0:15:00.4]
Think about how people talk about the market, the language that they use, and then use that so they immediately see that headline, and they're like, oh, right, they work with me, okay?
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Dan: Now, let's talk about the amount of text to have on a home page. There are generally two styles of home pages out there for real estate investors right now. There's kind of the carrot style, the traditional InvestorCarrot style website, which has a lot of copy, a lot of text, right? Not a ton of images. It doesn't look very fancy. It's primarily copy.
And then you've got kind of like more modern, if you want to call it that, style of website. I'm thinking about Express Home Buyers, who are real estate investors. They're out, I think they're in Maryland or D.C. or whatever, but they do a really good job with their online marketing, and ExpressHomeBuyers.com is their website. You can go check it out, and I've met Brad who runs that company. He's a really nice guy, so you can definitely go check them out. They're a great company to model, and they're got of like, it's more images, it's less copy. There are videos. There are a lot of colors, and you've generally got these two diverging types of website.
Now, is one better than the other? No, not necessarily. They have strengths, and they have weaknesses, okay? So the carrot-style site, for example, the strength is that they copy gives you a lot of opportunity to have SEO keywords in there. [0:17:05.3]
The copy is going to be good for Google in the sense that it's going to tell Google what the site is about and if you've got the kind of seller that wants to just read or really dig-in, feel like they're doing some research. That's going to help them, right? Text-based sites, too. Sites that are heavier on the copy rather than the images. They tend to load faster, and we already talked about page load speed as being a good thing, right? I also just tend to think that people tend to spend more time on websites that look like this, and generally with the SEO department here at Adwords Nerds, we found the amount of time that people spend on a website to be a good predictor of how that website is going to rank, okay? Now the Express Home Buyers kind of approach is where it's more modern looking, more graphic design oriented. I think that is good in the sense that you can really put a lot of videos there. I think videos are really good for engagement. [0:18:01.1]
I think you can design it well so that people are more likely to spend some time on that site, but I think there are more complications there as well. It's not really that one is better than the other. We've used both types of approach here at Adwords Nerds, and I think they can both work really well. I just think for most investors, simpler is better because they are not going to do the work to really test all the different graphical variations and yada, yada, yada that you generally are going to need for kind of a more modern graphic design oriented site.
So, not a hard and fast rule there, but I would just say know yourself and know your business. If you think like, hey, my market is really simple. I just want to keep it straight and to the point, don't want to mess around with website stuff, maybe go for a text-based site. If you want something that's going to stand out more, something that's going to position you brand-wise as sort of a bigger company and you're willing to put in the time and effort because I can pretty much guarantee that Express Home Buyers puts a lot of time and resources into their website, then you might want to go that route, but just know if that's you or not, right? [0:19:08.0]
Now there are a couple of things that I would definitely have on any website that you're doing. I think any home page that you're going to do is going to need social proof and authority signals. These are really, really critical for a couple different reasons. One: Social proof and authority signals drive your conversion rates up. This is what is going to ensure that the highest percentage of motivated sellers actually contact you. So they're really, really powerful, but you can also use them as ranking signals so I think as far as ranking your website better than Google goes, I think it can be a powerful tool as well.
Let's break these down. Social proof, okay. Testimonials are incredible powerful. Testimonials: People read them. People look at them. People watch them as videos, and they do a really, really good job of convincing people. I think you've probably had this experience, I know I have, where you're looking for something on Amazon or something, and all you just look is the average review. [0:20:04.4]
Like, how many reviews does it have and what's the score, right? Something that's got a thousand reviews, and it's got a 4.5 review score, I'm like, awesome! I'm just going to buy it. I'm not even going to think about it, right? A lot of time that's the case. We are just all as humans, kind of wired to look to other people and say like, well did other people have success here? And use that as a shortcut to deciding how successful I'm going to be. If you're not getting testimonials repeatedly and systemically in your investing business, you really need to do that. But what you really need to do is use them on your website and use them prominently. Don’t hide them over like just on the side and a little sidebar widget or whatever it is. Put them everywhere. Put them in your main copy. Put images, put videos, put testimonials on every single page in prominent places. This is one of the most powerful things you can do to drive up your conversion rate and get more people to contact you. [0:20:59.6]
I've also noticed that there are sort of like, not quite testimonials, but other kinds of social proof kinds of things you can do. You can show how many people Like you on Facebook. You can show say like, hey, we've worked with 500 homes in this area or whatever, just kind of indicate that you've been around, lots of people have worked with you, lots of people have had success, lots of people are happy. That's the message that you want to give.
Now authority signals are similar, but they're a little bit different. Authority signals indicate to the motivated seller like hey, I am legit, this is a real business, I am a real thing, right? Because I think all investors face this kind of stereotype, that investing is a scam, you're a shyster, you're going to steal people's houses, you rip off old ladies, whatever you want to say. That's what people think. That's the thing you've got to get around, you've got to get past, and authority signals can do that.
So what's an authority signal? Well, Better Business Bureau, right? Say we've got an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. Now, I want to be clear. [0:21:59.6] I'm not a huge fan of the Better Business Bureau in general. I don't think signing up for the Better Business Bureau is going to get you leads from the Better Business Bureau. I really don't think that's going to be the case a lot of the time, at least not in this industry, but having that badge is really valuable, saying like, we've been audited, people have looked at our business, we've got an A+ rating. I put that everywhere. I think that's really, really valuable, I think worth the money to do just that.
Chambers of Commerce is a very similar thing. Chamber of Commerce is probably not a great source of motivated seller leads for you. I'm sure it differs from area to area, but generally, it is not going to be a big channel where you're going to get deals, but say, I am an official member of the Chamber of Commerce, putting that prominently on the website is generally what I put on the sidebar of the Home Pages that we work on, very, very powerful, saying again I'm a legitimate business owner, I'm part of this local business community, you can trust me, right? [0:23:02.9]
If I'm a part of a REIA or a local real estate investor organization, I’d put that there too. Now, the average motivated seller might not really understand what a REIA is, but they're going to see this as authoritative. They're going to see like, okay, they're a part of this local organization of real estate professionals, cool. It provides authority, and authority puts people at ease, and when people are at ease and they're not feeling anxious, they are more likely to fill out the form, okay? So really, really critical.
And the other thing that I think almost every investor misses, the thing that most real estate investor websites do not have that is absolutely critical: Human faces. Real pictures of actual people. Think about the average real estate investor website. If you go on this website, it's like, we are like Hampton Home Buyers. [0:24:00.5]
We buy homes in Hampton, blah, blah, blah, and they got the stock photo of the people with the sold sign outside the house, and it's a bunch of stuff, and it says like our team and us and like whatever, and like Who Are You? Like, literally, who are you? What's your name? If I call you, who am I going to get? What do you look like? Are you real. This is what's going through the mind of the average motivated seller. I think investors are kind of like scared to put their own photos on their website, but I'm telling you, if you can do this, it's incredibly powerful. I built for a coaching program that I ran, built kind of a like a fictional real estate investor website called Barrett Home Buyers. It's not up anymore, but it was up for a long time, and I put pictures of me all over it. I put pictures of me from my wedding, me and my wife, me and my dogs, because I'm humanizing myself, right? Like I'm saying I'm a local person, a real person that's going to come, you're going to call, you're going to get me, or you're going to get someone on my team, and here's who's on my team. [0:25:01.0]
I've got Janet, I've got Rick, I've got whatever, right? Because they want to know who you are before they contact you, and nothing is more powerful in advertising, marketing, it doesn’t matter – nothing is more powerful than the human face, a smiling human face, looking out, making eye contact, having a sense that there's someone real on the other end of that transaction. It's incredibly powerful.
If I could only give you one tip, it would be to have a prominent form but if I could give you two tips, it would be to humanize your website, humanize it, have a personality, put pictures of yourself, tell people why you do this. The story of like I was working in an office, and I was miserable, and I just needed to do something to provide for myself and my family, and so what I started to do was reach out people in my local community and see if I could help them with their real estate issues, and now I do it full time… That's an incredibly powerful story. [0:26:01.1] It doesn't need to be anything fancy. It doesn't need to be anything wild. It just needs to be real. It needs to be true. It needs to be something that can connect, and if you can do that, man, that is going to drive the effectiveness of your website way up.
If you just implement some of these tips on your home page, I'm telling you, you are going to crush it, and you're going to thank me later, and, in fact, if you want to thank me later, hey, if you like this episode, you can go leave a Like and comment or review, a subscription, whatever you want on your podcast channel of choice, I would really appreciate it. It would help other people find the show. It helps me a lot, and I would love you for it. So just Google around for the REI Marketing Nerds podcast or open us up at your podcasting app and leave us a review or Like or subscription, we would really appreciate it, and hey, if you are looking for more content from Adwords Nerds and from me, I am, every single day of the week, I am in REI Marketing Nerds Facebook Group, that's AdwordsNerds.com/group. [0:27:09.0]
It's totally free, we post tons of trainings in there. There is a lot of other awesome real estate investors sharing tips, tricks, and tactics for getting more motivated seller leads in there. It is the best Facebook Group on Facebook, I'm telling you, and there's no spam. No deal spam, nothing. I delete all that stuff right away. So jump in there if you want some awesome content. I would love to see you, and I hope you are having an awesome week. Have a great rest of your week, and I'll talk to you soon! Daniel Barrett signing off.
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In this episode, Dan chats with real estate maestro Dave Seymour. You’ll hear about Dave’s amazing journey from firefighter to successful business owner, facing tough times and coming out on top in the real estate world. His story is packed with great lessons and cool insights that will inspire and guide you through the ups
If you do what everyone else is doing, your best case scenario is getting the exact same results as them (probably worse than them, if we’re honest). But if you want to dominate your market, you have to do better. Doing better means innovating. It means marketing where your competition doesn’t market so you close