Even with the best real estate website platform for your agency, it certainly takes a bit of time and effort to make your site the effective, brand-building, lead-generating machine you want it to be. To set sites up for your firm and several of its agents — now that’s a whole other ballgame.
And yet, Atoka Properties Director of Marketing and Operations Blake Showalter has accomplished this feat with relative ease.
Sure, using Placester as her company’s primary IDX website provider definitely made life a heck of a lot easier for her endeavor, but she also made sure to be proactive in training her team on how to get going and, eventually, make the most of their new sites so they not only increase awareness of their personal brands online, but also secured new prospects and clients from their burgeoning digital presence.
Showalter joined the Placester crew for an enlightening webinar to share her marketing methods for her agency, tips for continually educating yourself on the latest online trends, and the aforementioned task of getting multiple agents to launch and fine-tune their Realtor websites.
While we highly recommend listening to the 40-minute conversation from start to finish, you can view some of Showalter’s astute real estate website optimization insights in the Q&A recap below.
Before onboarding her agents with Placester, Showalter ensured the main agency website was good to go.
The primary duties for Showalter at Atoka are twofold: 1) Ensure the main Atoka website earns lots of traffic and helps with the firm’s online branding efforts, and 2) Aid other agents at the firm — many of whom have Placester websites — build and grow their internet presence.
But as Showalter stated, her focus was on getting the right websites in place for the brokerage and its agents before worrying about getting found online.
“When I first came onboard the company, we had a website … but it was hard to update,” Showalter said. “It was very tedious. It didn’t pull from the MLS, so I was having to manually update the listings, and it was really just very time-consuming. There were a lot of features now with our Placester site that weren’t on our old site, such as the ease of writing a blog post.”
Since signing on with Placester, Showalter indicated those issues have thankfully dissipated.
“Placester’s a very robust system,” Showalter added. “We started our Placester journey in January 2016, and we really launched our website I would say in May. We just saw an immense traffic increase. I will say one part of that is, our website before, we weren’t blogging. It was just something that you would go look at. It really wasn’t a constantly updated source with new content and great imagery — all of the things that come along with a Placester site.”
While she’s a fan of her agency’s relatively new websites, Showalter relayed it still takes effort to make the most of them.
“So that’s part of how we saw our growth,” said Showalter. “It’s just that consistency, and that’s something I always encourage people: Your website is going to function one of two ways. The first way is basically you’re going to have an online business card. I tell our agents with our firm, ‘You know, if you want to have a website and you just want it to be an extension of your business card, that’s a way it can function. But if you really want it to be a robust source for your clients, you have to be consistent in posting and updating that platform or it’s just going to be essentially a business card.’
“That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are: Just consistency, and just really studying what do home buyers and seller need, what are they looking for, and how can we provide that information to them via our website.”
Multiple agent age ranges at Atoka hasn’t deterred team members’ website learning curves, per Showalter.
Though there are definitely real estate agencies that exist today at which the typical demographic is limited to a particular age range — oftentimes, those with mostly Millennials or mostly Baby Boomers — Atoka doesn’t fit that mold, as there are agents just getting started and others who have been in the field for decades.
The one thing many of them have in common, according to Showalter, is they still need the same training for their real estate marketing — including getting going with their Placester sites.
“We have probably I would say from the late 20s into some that are above 60s, even reaching their 70s,” Showalter said. “We really run the gamut. We have from young to old (older, I should say).
“So that’s part of how we saw our growth: It’s just that consistency.”
— BLAKE SHOWALTER
“All of them don’t have [Placester] websites … but I do think it’s a platform that’s so easy to use that, whether you’re 20 or whether you’re 60, you can really learn to navigate it. You might not get it the moment you sit down, but I think with a little bit of work, you’re definitely going to be able to have a website.”
Showalter noted that, after each training session she hosts each month for her Realtor team, she hears feedback regarding just how intuitive and beneficial their real estate websites are for the agents’ marketing. Particularly, her crew seems to enjoy the visuals they can easily add to their hompages.
“There are many different layouts in Placester that you can use, and we chose the one that we chose because of the scrolling images,” said Showalter. “A lot of the properties that we sell are large tracks of land or estates or farms, and we really want clients to know like, ‘Hey, if you list your house with us, it can be here and everyone can see it and click into it,’ so we really love that Placester sites are beautiful and show the properties well that our agents work hard to list.”
Discover how Showalter helps her team of agents make the most of their Placester sites in our special case study:
Placester’s ease of use, along with a daily optimization schedule, helps Showalter keep her website fresh.
Attracting lots of new potential real estate leads to one’s IDX website starts with constant content creation — and as Showalter proclaimed, that’s something she makes a concerted effort to do each week.
“We blog — and I say we because we have someone that assists me with our blogging and content creation — and each week (we post at least twice a week), we always do a “just-listed” post … and then we also have just started doing an open house post each week so that the public can come in and see open houses we’re offering over that weekend,” said Showalter. “When it comes to maybe an event we’re sponsoring … we highlight those events as they come, or when we bring in a new agent onboard, that kind of thing [goes onto the site].”
The key is consistency, per Showalter. The more often you take an action on your website — whether it’s crafting a new blog entry, modifying an existing page, or altering the IDX listings shown — the better your odds are of attracting the right visitors and keeping them on the site.
“I probably do something on our site every day,” Showalter stated. “And that’s not rewriting community pages’ copy or something big, but I might be adding an agent profile or updating a link in their profile or writing a blog post or checking our analytics. For instance, we just started doing Pinterest as a brokerage, so adding that social link [is something I do].”
Without regularly checking Google Analytics, Showalter noted she’d never know if her site was helping or not.
As Showalter indicated, you can create all of the most interesting content for your audience … but unless you routinely investigate the analytics of your site to determine that content’s efficacy, you won’t be absolutely sure your efforts are helping your brand’s bottom line.
“I probably don’t check analytics every day, but I have a calendar reminder to check out analytics every single month, so the same day every month, I check … just to see how we’re doing,” said Showalter. “At that point, I set aside time — an hour or so, which might seem like a lot to some people, but it could be 10 minutes for [other agents] depending on what [they have] — but I use that time to drill down into what blog posts did well. And that’s how we figured out our “just-posted” posts were doing well.”
“I really think you have to monitor what people are doing on your [real estate] website.”
— BLAKE SHOWALTER
Google Analytics is the premier marketing data platform, and as Showalter noted, without it, she wouldn’t be able to do her job nearly as effectively as she’d like.
“I like to go in Google Analytics to see, ‘Okay, where’s our referral traffic coming from? Did this blog post go well?'” said Showalter. “Because if you’re not checking how the content on your site is performing, then how do you know what you should continue doing and what you should stop doing?
“You might think something is interesting to people that visit your site, but in the end, it might not be interesting to them at all, so I really think you have to monitor what people are doing on your [real estate] website. So I think Google Analytics is key to having a well-performing website.”
Watch our webinar with Atoka Properties’ Blake Showalter to learn how she improved her IDX website traffic fourfold in just 12 months — and drove more of the right visitors to her agency’s web presence.
What do you think about Showalter’s approach to optimizing her firm’s main agency website and helping her team of agents thrive with theirs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!