Tracking Real Estate Leads’ Online Activity with Google Analytics
By Matt Barba
About Web Analytics
If you had superpowers (bear with me for a moment) and could read the minds of your real estate leads to learn precisely what they really wanted when beginning their buying or selling journey, it would probably do wonders for your business (well, and make you a powerful person in general, but definitely a successful real estate agent).
Since that’s (unfortunately) not possible, though, you’ll have to work with the next best option to gain a thorough understanding of your prospects’ wants and needs: Monitoring leads to see their activity on your IDX site using one of the most widely used and trusted analytics platforms out there today.
Read on to discover the kinds of online lead tracking data Google Analytics can provide your real estate business, how these metrics can influence the content you create and share with your prospects, and the next steps to take to further amplify your digital content.
First thing’s first: Determine what’s important to track.
Google Analytics offers a myriad of options to analyze your real estate website visitors’ activity — so many, in fact, you could spend countless hours tracking every metric related to your site and still only uncover a tenth of the findings the platform offers.
The key to identifying the right marketing reports to run using Google Analytics is to focus on the lead characteristics that are actionable for your agency. In other words, it’s ideal to pinpoint the most commonly useful site metrics that can reveal what’s helping your site visitors convert into leads, and what’s deterring them from doing so.
Without this mindset and approach, you could learn a lot of relatively useless details about your website’s performance (and waste time you can’t afford to lose). If you really want to get a solid idea of how your content performs on your site, examine what are arguably the most vital data points within Google Analytics to help you gain a better understanding of the value you’re providing your prospects and how they interact with it.
Figure out the major stuff items first.
Plain and simple: There are certain metrics that are vitally important to your website’s performance and should be monitored regularly.
Pages that gets lots of traffic: If a certain page on your website receives a lot of traffic, your users are intrigued by the page and content in question and want to know more about what you showcase there. While it’s great to see certain aspects of your site perform well, it’s even more beneficial to figure out why that content thrived and led to more visitors (and ones who stuck around a lengthy while to consume said content).
For example, if you offered your newsletter subscribers an in-depth look at the newest listings and blog posts featured on your website and realize the former outperforms the latter after analyzing the data, you can ask yourself some essential questions and dig a little deeper to find out what factors led to this. For instance:
- Was the high click-through rate just a matter of timing? How does this email’s CTR compare to previous ones I’ve sent?
- Were the specific listings featured in this email blast more or less attractive than previous emails? How did I present them in this email versus past emails?
- Did I use more, fewer, or the same amount of images in this email when comparing to prior ones?
That’s the beauty of Google Analytics: It’s insightful, but it really is just a launching pad for more intricately examining the performance of your IDX website and considering all of your “ingredients” for success and which ones in particular helped (or hurt) the most.
Knowing the total new and returning traffic, time on page your prospects spend viewing your content, and other similar Google Analytics metrics for real estate agents will help you gauge if your site is built properly or if it needs some work, whether that be a redesign or more relevant content.
Track who’s filling out lead capture forms on your IDX website and what’s driving their decisions to do so.
It’s not just about how much time a prospect spends reading your content (though it’s certainly a positive sign if they hang around for several minutes) or whether they visit every single one of your site pages (though that’d be swell too). If they make the effort to download a buying checklist, home seller guide, local market report, or any other tangible piece of content you offer behind a gated form, for instance, you can rest assured your content rang true with your real estate leads and drove them to learn more.
Additionally, if your prospects take the time to fill out lead capture forms associated with your listing pages, it’s a safe bet that they’re intrigued by the properties they saw and would like to know more.
To track download rates, it’s first necessary to set up eEvent Tracking in your Google Analytics account. In short, this entails adding a small piece of code to your site so you can accurately and easily see who’s interacting with specific links and pages on your site.
Make sure your site content is performing as it should by analyzing it in Google Analytics regularly.
Events happen on your website whenever a visitor interacts with a piece of content. These instances can be tracked separately from a webpage, and they can be anything from the number of times a video is played on your site, to the number of downloads of an asset like a checklist or guide.
Once you’ve enabled Event Tracking on your site (something Placester customers can learn how to do with their IDX websites here), you can start to look at which of your content is getting downloaded regularly or not at all.
(Sidenote #1: Another, more manual approach to track specific users site engagement is to create special links with Google’s URL-builder tool, which allows you to add create custom URL parameters for leads and lead segments — just in case Event Tracking seems a bit above your head, which it certainly can be for many business folks.)
(Sidenote #2: If you’re adamant about using Google Analytics’ features to track your visitors’ activity on your website, this Google Chrome extension is the perfect resource to give you the at-a-glance view of who’s checking out your site pages at any given moment, how long they’re sticking around, and the links they’re clicking — thus handling the bulk of the dirty work (a.k.a. data analysis) for you.)
So, consider creating an in-depth guide that’s an ideal resource for prospects who are first-time homebuyers or a unique, locally themed real estate report that covers upcoming events in your community — in other words, interesting and educational assets your audience would love to download … and that you can easily track via Google Analytics.
If you discover most of your website visitors are downloading that specific content — say, a local housing market report — you should focus your energy on promoting the information that’s popular with your leads, rather than on a piece of collateral that doesn’t perform as well.
Pinpoint which external sources send you bonus referral traffic — and try to capitalize on that traffic further.
It’s in the name, but the gist of referral traffic — as you may’ve already guessed — is that it’s like a recommendation from one website to another. When it comes to your IDX site, what’s tracked are the visits to your pages that come from outside sources. That means the activity that comes from your social media shares, blog posts, or any other pieces of content you post. This component of onsite activity tracking really takes into account both the reach your content has with your audience and how valuable it is to Realtor leads.
It’s likely you’ll want to track referral activity to determine the number and types of leads that result from a particular piece of content on your site. UTM parameters, or link tags, are tags you attach to a URL. In short, when a link with a specific tag is clicked by a prospect, that information gets sent back to your Google Analytics account, and that data informs you which “versions” of your content (i.e. ones with slugs denoting different sources for a particular page to be promoted, like on social media and via email).
These UTM parameters are also customizable, depending on which details you’re interested in pinpointing about your site visitors (the aforementioned sources, mediums, and audience are the primary tracking elements).
Unearth data about your listing and property detail pages to see if your listings are helping your lead gen.
Knowing which areas of your website are most popular can only help you in creating similar pages in the future, and understanding why there’s increased traffic to a specific place. Focus on duplicating the pages on your real estate site that see the most activity, while still ensuring each page is unique. Also, if you create a page that doesn’t end up resonating as much as you’d hoped it would with your prospects, figure out where the page fell flat and avoid repeating those mistakes in the future.
As a real estate professional, if you know which of your listings see a lot of traffic and get favorited the most, you will get a better idea of the property types your prospects are interested in and will be able to organize similar desirable listings to feature on your site.
Depending on what kind of business you have, bounce rate can either be viewed as a good or a bad thing. In the simplest terms, bounce rate is the percentage of your site visitors who leave without checking out more than one page of your website.
Property detail and area pages that cause your bounce rate to spike are ones that should be looked at closely and adjusted to better suit the needs and wants of your audience. In other words, a high bounce rate means your visitors don’t find the pages in question useful.
To lower it, think about ways you can improve it: more or less copy or multimedia, better calls to action, more applicable listings to filter through your IDX onto your site, etc. Take some time to analyze these pages to ensure they eventually start to see metrics improvement across the board. Otherwise, they’ll just be lame-duck pages that can drag down your site’s overall SEO effectiveness and lead gen capabilities — something you definitely don’t want.
Understand the website characteristics that tend to lead to more conversions — and add them to other pages.
When it comes to your real estate site, a successful conversion can be any piece of content that’s downloaded behind a lead capture form. The goal is to achieve high conversion rates because that’s a sign that your prospects are engaged and curious.
If lots of visitors sign up to receive your market reports or newsletters, your site content is working.
If, however, your website has low conversion rates for this site collateral, you’ll need to examine the possible reasons why. Consistently low conversion rates are cause for concern because they signal a lack of engagement from your prospects. Perhaps your leads will begin unsubscribing from your newsletters or won’t take the time to browse your site. To bolster conversions on your real estate website, make sure your contact information is prominent across the site, your pages are full of unmistakable CTAs, and your forms are prominent to effectively capture leads’ information.
Now that you have all this info on your real estate leads at your fingertips, what will you do with it?
It’s great to be aware of the data that comes from the activity of your site visitors, but you might be wondering how you can apply that information when you’re reaching out to your prospects. As with every aspect of your IDX website, if it’s not useful or valuable to your potential customers, it doesn’t make sense to spend your time doing it.
If you haven’t already, take the time to set up a Google Analytics account so you can get to work deciding which of your pages to improve or delete altogether, and which of your content pieces performs the best across the scope of your audience.
Then, block out a period of time to devote to learning and understanding how Google Analytics works for your website — not only so you’re able to comprehend the various metrics available to track, but also so you can focus on creating the most optimal content possible for your prospects.
Want even more tips and tricks on using Google Analytics on your real estate website? Download Placester’s exclusive ebook “Leveraging Google Analytics in Real Estate: Boost Traffic, Attract Business” today!
Which specific lead metrics do you consider most important to track on your website? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!
Published on March 15, 2017
Written by Matt Barba
Matt Barba is the co-founder and CEO of Placester, a real estate technology company based in Boston. Placester makes it inexpensive and simple for real estate professionals, developers, and their partners to create real estate websites. Matt is a 8-year real estate industry veteran; initially an agent and more recently as a technologist and author of the most widely used real estate WordPress plugin Builder.