Ask the Experts: Google Analytics for Real Estate, Part 1
By Seth Price
About Web Analytics
We recently got in touch with three analytics experts to explore how real estate professionals can use Google Analytics to measure – and improve – website performance. These experts are:
- •Project Manager at Portland, Oregon-based 1000watt, a digital marketing agency that specializes in the real estate space
- •Jeff helps clients dial in their web strategy in the form of architecting new websites, SEO, monitoring analytics, user testing, and more
- •VP of Marketing & Technology at Providence, Rhode Island-based Residential Properties & technology columnist for Inman News
- •Tom works on emerging platforms & usability, developing content, utilizing a variety of online services, and analyzing the data
- •Web Analyst & Founder at L3 Analytics, a UK-based web analytics consultancy
- •Peter dedicates the majority of his time to client work, which includes writing instructional documents, reviewing data on website performance, and developing recommendations
Placester: What experience do you have using Google Analytics?
Jeff Bernheisel: I’ve been using Google Analytics since it was first launched in mid 2006 and I generally sign in to my (1000watt) account several times each week to monitor and report on activity for client sites. At my previous employer, a real estate brokerage here in Portland, I monitored a network of over 100 agent websites along with the main brokerage site.
Tom Flanagan: My first job out of college was working in the web department at a technology
company. It was a small startup and e-commerce and Google were still in their
infancy. It was a wonderful experience and a fantastic opportunity to learn emerging
platforms. I remember when Google acquired Urchin Software Corp. and have been utilizing
Google Analytics and AdWords since their inception. Over the years, I’ve used a
plethora of analytic applications, including Google Analytics, NetTracker, Woopra,
Awstats, Webalyzer and more.
Peter O’Neill: Like many web analysts, I fell into the role. For me this was at Ask Jeeves (the search engine) 7 years ago. They used an in-house tool so I didn’t get started with page tagging tools like Google Analytics for a couple of years. These days, I use Google Analytics pretty much every day and can confidently claim to be an expert with it. However, it is evolving very quickly and so there are many features which I have barely touched.
P: A real estate agent comes up to you and asks, “What the heck is analytics?” What’s your one-sentence response?
Jeff Bernheisel: Analytics is simply a way for you to track the activity on your website: the number of visits it receives, where people come from, how long they stay, and what they’re looking at while they’re on your site.
Tom Flanagan: Big Data is a popular buzzword in business these days. Although, the concept isn’t
new – terms such as big data, metrics and analytics are nebulous to many real estate
professionals. Whether the source is MLS (multiple listing service), client data, or
website statistics — My one-sentence response would be: Analytics is simply the
analysis of data.
Peter O’Neill: It’s how you know what your potential customers want.
P: What are the main benefits of using Google Analytics for real estate?
Jeff Bernheisel: I think the biggest benefit to an end user (whether that’s a brokerage or an individual agent) in using analytics is the ability to monitor the overall health of your website. There are several important metrics that I monitor that tie into everything from content creation to search engine rankings. I know if my “time on site” is lower than I want it to be, I need to add more engaging content. If users are hitting my landing pages (think IDX listings) and not registering, I should look at adjusting the call to action if possible. Analytics allows me to see all of this.
Tom Flanagan: Being data informed is critical for any business. Google Analytics is a powerful tool
that offers many benefits. The application enables you to measure conversion, user
engagement, technology trends and more. Best of all, it’s free.
Peter O’Neill: The purpose of web analytics is to provide you with intelligence that you can use to make better decisions and improve performance. For real estate, it would be incredibly valuable to know the type of properties people are most interested in.
First of all, Google Analytics can tell you the search terms they used and the filters & sort options they applied. For each search, it can tell the number of properties being returned.
At the next stage, properties can be ranked based on not only views but which ones were interacted with (to see more detail), were viewed for more than X minutes, were shared via email or saved and which ones lead to contact being made with the agency. The most popular properties may not be the most effective and there may be properties not being promoted that everyone who reviews them really likes.
The entire website is pointless if visitors cannot contact the agency. Google Analytics can highlight if people are trying to complete a form but cannot do so for some reason. Note that even contacting the agency via the phone can be recorded within Google Analytics now through the use of Call Tracking vendors.
Published on April 12, 2013
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Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.