In 2017, millennials made up 33% of the home buying market.
And if there’s one thing millennials are good at, it’s using the internet (trust me, I am one). They (or we) know how to browse from website to website and they know what they want to see from each website they visit.
In fact, they’re quick to leave if a website doesn’t offer exactly what they were expecting.
What, though, when they visit your real estate agent website, are they (and everyone else, for that matter) expecting?
Well, they’re probably expecting to find some information about your real estate business and you personally, testimonials promoting your service, and, perhaps most importantly, house listings.
If you neglect any of these elements, then your website will likely sport a higher bounce rate and a lower conversion rate.
The digital world really is that simple.
While some online naysaying articles — like You don’t need the IDX on your Real Estate Agent Website in 2016 and Why It’s Time to Look at Real Estate Websites Differently — claim that you don’t need IDX integration on your website, we here at Carrot think they’re wrong.
And I’ll give you four reasons why. First, though…
What Is IDX?
IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange. That sounds complicated. Really, though, it isn’t.
Real estate agent websites with IDX integration have the ability to pull house listings up natively on the real estate agent’s own website.
Here’s what this looks like on one of our Carrot real estate agent websites, for example.
That’s what IDX looks like on the surface, at least. On the back-end, IDX works by automatically pulling from the MLS and collecting location-qualified listings to publish on your own website.
Without IDX website integration, on the other hand, visitors have to go somewhere other than your website to view house listings.
And when prospects leave your website to browse through homes, there’s naturally a lower chance of them choosing to work with you.
Ideally, you want them to stay on your website as long as possible — searching for potential homes and learning about your business.
Then, those visitors are more likely to work with you instead of the competition.
Of course, there are no stopping prospects from regularly visiting Zillow and Realtor.com and other massive MLS websites.
Which is exactly why some online thought-leaders believe IDX is outdated — there’s no way, after all, that you can compete with the giants of MLS.
Still, at Carrot, we believe IDX is a must for serious real estate agents. And that isn’t just an opinion built on smoke and mirrors.
Here are four specific reasons why the best real estate websites for agents have IDX integration and tend to perform better than the competition.
1. Prospects Stay Where You Want Them — On Your Website
Ultimately, you want people who visit your website to work with you.
But, of course, the story doesn’t start there. Most people, for instance, start by educating themselves on the house-buying process. Then, they might look at some listings to get an idea of what price-point they can afford.
Eventually, they’ll start seeking out an agent to work with.
During that entire process, there’s no better place for them to be than on your website.
Unfortunately, you have very little time to grab and keep their attention. One study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that most internet users stay on a website for less than 59 seconds.
That’s not very long.
Why do people leave so quickly, though? Well, in the words of Cody Ray Miller over at The Daily Egg, one of the main reasons is that “Users leave your site when they don’t get what they expect.”
Cody uses the example of Nissan.com to illustrate his point. Click on the link to Nissan.com and see what comes up.
When you clicked on it, if you’re like most people, than you expected to see this website.
Instead, though, you saw this.
Imagine if you were actually looking to buy a car from Nissan and you stumbled upon Nissan.com instead of Nissanusa.com.
What would you do? Would you stick around and see what that terrible website has to offer?
No. You wouldn’t. You’d leave within the first few seconds of arriving.
The point is, when people visit your website, they naturally expect certain things. If you don’t give them what they expect, they’ll bounce.
What, though, do visitors to your real estate agent website expect to see?
A few things.
Visitors expect to see…
- A bio of who you are and why you’re awesome.
- A clear CTA for how they can get in contact with you.
- Social proof (testimonials, case studies, and reviews) of why they should work with you.
- House listings.
Think about it. What’s the first thing you would do on this website?
First, you’d view the featured listings a bit down the page.
If you saw something you liked, then you’d probably look into it more. If you didn’t, then you’d likely go to the search bar, enter the information, and click “Search.”
Which would then bring up something like this.
Or maybe you’d first spend a bit of time learning about the realtor, only after that diving into the listings on their website.
Either way, house listings tug on the visitor’s attention and encourage them to spend more time on your website.
And that’s a good thing.
After analyzing 948,286 visitors to our Carrot customer websites over a three month period, a compelling fact revealed itself: the longer someone spends on your website, the higher chance that they’re going to convert.
The average session duration of converters was 6:39 and the average session duration of non-converters were only 1:25 — a whopping 471% difference.
Still, most people leave a website in just under a minute. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give them much time to convert.
So how does IDX integration help solve this dilemma?
With listings on your website, people spend more time browsing and less time bouncing, increasing the chance that they’ll become a paying customer.
It’s not a complete solution. But it’s a simple strategy for keeping visitors right where you want them — on your website.
Plus, visitors expect to see house listings on your real estate agent website. You don’t want to disappoint them.
2. You Can Quickly Promote Remarkable Listings
Maybe you’ve already noticed, but not all IDX solutions are equal.
Some real estate IDX providers allow you to “list” — if you can call it that — houses on your website… except that the listings aren’t really on your website.
Instead, with these low-level tools, the IDX integration sends people to another MLS site to view the listing — which, of course, kind of defeats the purpose of IDX in the first place.
Ideally, you want to use an IDX-integration tool for your website that has the following four features.
- Visitors should be able to search natively on your website for house listings in your area of operation.
- Visitors should be able to view each house listing on your own domain as an individual page, rather than traveling to a 3rd party listing website.
- The entire experience should be seamless. You don’t want visitors to feel like their viewing someone else’s listings, photos, and house descriptions on your website. You want them to feel as though each listing is unique to your business.
- You should be able to easily choose properties to feature on your website using the IDX integration.
Carrot’s real estate agent websites with IDX include all of the above features. That way, you never fall behind the competition.
And on the fourth point, no house sells like a featured house.
Here’s an example of what this can look like when you’re able to easily choose featured properties from your IDX integration for the front page of your website.
More than likely, you’re busy enough contacting prospects, answering questions, and meeting with customers to show them houses. Frankly, you don’t always have the time to create a listing on your own.
With IDX integration, you can simply choose a website to feature and, in just a few clicks, that property is on your front page.
If nothing else, IDX saves you time.
But, of course, time is money.
Pro-tip: When choosing featured properties for the front page of your website, try featuring some of your most expensive properties. That way, people see those first and then perceive other high-priced listings as less expensive (because they see the price relative to the featured houses they saw). In sales, this is called the contrast principle.
3. Each Listing Gives You Another Opportunity To Rank In Google
With high-quality IDX integration on your website, each house listing becomes a new page.
And each page, as you probably know, becomes another chance to rank in Google.
However, I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way I can compete with Zillow and Realtor.com in search engines!”
You’re right. There’s no way you can.
But, there’s another benefit to having those SEO-ready houses on your website beyond just trying to beat Zillow and Realtor.com.
Namely, that when people search Google for your real estate name and an address, you’ll show up.
Like this, for example.
Why would they ever do that, though?
Let’s imagine that there’s a certain prospect named Joe. From his friends, Joe has heard some really great things about you and he’d like to work with you in the future. But you don’t know this yet because Joe hasn’t contacted you.
One day, Joe drives by a house for sale that he really likes and he wants to see the inside of — or, at least, some pictures.
Since he knows about you and he knows about the house listing, he types in “4000 Awesome Avenue [your real estate business].”
Whose website comes up?
That’s right. Yours!
Joe clicks the result, views the house, decides he wants a tour and gives you a call.
If Joe had viewed the house on Zillow or Realtor.com — if he hadn’t arrived at your website first — then he might have seen an ad for another realtor and chosen to contact them out of convenience.
And the realtor who gets the first contact usually wins the prospect.
In other words, IDX integration allows you to attract prospects that you might not even know you had. Sure, these type of prospects might be few and far between — but each client can generate tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for your business.
You don’t want to lose that much money because your website didn’t show up when someone typed in your name and an address into Google.
4. You Can Send More Personalized Follow-up Emails
What if, for each person to visit your website, you knew that person’s desired price point, number of bedrooms, and square footage?
How would that kind of immediate information change your marketing strategy?
For one, you’d probably send increasingly personal listing updates and recommendation emails to your prospects.
Which is a good idea. The click-through rate on personalized emails is 14% higher — and conversions, 10% higher — than their impersonal counterparts.
And, generally speaking, personalized emails also have six times higher transaction rates.
But that dream of knowing your website visitors by house preferences is just… well, it’s just a dream, right?
Wrong. At least, not if you use IDX.
With IDX on your website and Google Analytics, you can track the listings that visitor’s view and even exactly what they search for.
In fact, one real estate website tried to capture my email like this when I searched for property on it.
Then, you can either set up an automatic and personalized email update system to contact prospects with relevant house listings. Or you can do so manually.
Either way, you’re now contacting prospects with things they care about rather than trying to shotgun blast one (or several) listings to loads of people who may or may not be interested.
Of course, this isn’t a new strategy. Many real estate agents do this. Here’s one example email, for instance.
I noticed you recently registered for e-Alerts on my website. I’m glad you signed up as this is the quickest way to receive up-to-date information on listings in your area. Since our website is refreshed every hour on the hour you will be the first to know when a home that fits your preferences hits the market.
Over the past 7 years, I have worked in the area selling homes and helping buyers find the perfect property. Buying a home is an exciting time and I am here to help you navigate through the process. Below I have linked to one of my blog posts about preparing to buy a home and how it is different this year over the others.
Have a lovely day,
IDX just makes doing this a whole lot easier and streamlined than it would be otherwise.
If there’s one thing that visitors to your website are expecting to find, it’s house listings.
You’re a real estate agent, after all. People go to your website to learn about your business and view houses. That’s pretty much it.
You need to let them do both of those things as quickly as possible.
Now, you understand how IDX can help and you understand why you need a real estate agent website builder that includes IDX integration.
Namely, because, with IDX integration, prospects stay on your website longer, you can easily promote featured properties on your front page, each listing helps you rank in Google, and you can send more personalized email updates to prospects.
However, some online critics believe differently — that real estate agent websites with IDX have an unnecessary crutch.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!