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Project Bloodhound: If your web site sucks — fix it

As I’ve mentioned, I’m building a dedicated direct-response web site devoted to pre-selling listing clients. Our main Phoenix real estate weblog does a good job selling to buyers, sellers, investors and relocators, the four markets we target there, but it is my belief that I can build a sales engine that can pre-sell and pre-condition homeowners in such a way that, by the time they contact us, we will be completely Beyond Competition.

I talked about a number of these ideas at Unchained in Phoenix, and we’ll be doing quite a bit more on this topic in Orlando.

Consider this:

21:28:40 http://distinctivephoenix.com/
21:29:43 http://abetterlisting.com/
21:32:18 http://abetterlisting.com/Presentation/
21:46:29 http://distinctivephoenix.com/
21:50:33 http://abetterlisting.com/

That’s a set of visits from one unique IP address. I built minimal session tracking into the site, but I have Cameron working on a much more robust solution. But what you’re seeing is at least 22 minutes of someone’s life. Not counting search engine spiders, this site draws fewer than six unique visitors a day — but they’re all like this. Twenty-two minutes is a short visit. People have stayed for over an hour. Others have come back for three or four days in succession. The site is not converting as well as I want it to — yet — but I’m seeing exactly the kind of user behavior I want.

There are points I want to make, but I’ll have to be brief. This site and our others are converting well enough that I’m short on time all the time.

But let’s hit this much, at least:

  • Your web site or weblog is a perfectible selling tool. If it sucks now — and sucks only means something with respect to a commercial metric, not because of some emotional aversion — fix it. Good marketing is targeted at specific prospects, presents them with a unique selling proposition and rewards the desired behavior. It ain’t rocket science. It just takes effort and testing.
  • Your web site is potentially the most efficient sales tool you have in your sales toolbox. It might not convert at the same rate as other tools, but its cost per conversion is incredibly low, and it sells for you around the clock — to people you don’t even know exist. The fact that many of the people you would like to sell to will not contact you until they have vetted you from your web site is yet another reason to perfect your presence on the web.
  • Selling is personal, but personal prospecting systems are cost-inefficient. Yes, you can find clients on Twitter. You can also find clients by handing out business cards down at the Circle-K. But I can talk to four or five people in comprehensive detail for a total of two or three hours a day — highly-motivated, self-selected owners of high-end homes — while I am doing something else. Still worse, personal prospecting time is evanescent, where your web presence works today, tomorrow, forever.

I’m not suggesting that you should devote yourself to web prospecting at the expense of everything else. For now, we depend on our “sold” signs far more than our web sites to bring us new sellers. But our single-property web sites are a huge reason that our listings sell so quickly, even in this market, and our sites taken altogether are bringing us two or three new clients every week. Not contacts, not leads, not inquiries — clients, fully committed to doing business with us before we begin to work in earnest.

But: I’m not selling myself as the last word on this subject. We are constantly learning how to do better, and we are always testing new ideas. When Cameron builds his session tracker, I will put it on our single-property sites as well as on my new seller-targeted site. I want to know what people are doing, and I want to be able to demonstrate to our sellers how long individual people are staying on our sites.

You have to deliver the whole package. There is no escape from that harsh reality. But your web presence is potentially the best marketing tool at your disposal. It can’t make a sale for you, but it can deliver true clients to you — not contacts, not leads, not inquiries — so that you can devote more of your time to selling, with a client-acquisition cost that approaches zero dollars. At its best — and this is the ultimate objective for us — your web presence can deliver clients who would never even consider doing business with anyone else — putting you Beyond Competition.

Come to see us in Orlando. We’re going to be talking about the whole package, a complete business plan. But your web presence is at the heart of everything, so we’re going to show you how to use it to build a bigger, better approach to doing business in the Web 2.0 world.

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  • 2 comments

    2 Comments so far

    1. genuine chirs johnson August 27th, 2008 11:14 am

      will your session tracker be a WP plugin also? It seems that that would contribute to the body, as it were.

    2. James Boyer New Jersey August 27th, 2008 4:27 pm

      Yah Greg, what are you going to be using for tracking. I would like to install something in my wp blog. By the way I look forward to learning more from you on the pre selling websites. I guess I am an example of is something is worth doing it is worth doing bad the first time or two and learning from it.