Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: My Brand New Website LAUNCH!

My Brand New Website LAUNCH!

OK, for years, I've always maintained my own website.  I've blogged about it before, but in case you've missed it, I'm a control freak.  I liked designing it and updating it and being in control of how things were presented.  That site still exists at www.donnahomes.net.

However, I did not think my site was being utilized to its fullest, so I made a change.  I did go to a templated site, which I never wanted to do, because I don't like looking like others, but I decided that it didn't matter to look like others.  What mattered most was to create more business and if it looks like someone elses site, but buyers and sellers love the information provided, it's a better website.  My new sites are:

www.DonnaHomes.com and www.northtexasfreehomeinfo.info

I now have a branded site as well as an unbranded site which will help with my marketing campaigns.  Though they're templates, I have still modified them a bit to make them my own.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  (If you're an agent and you fill out a form just to see more info, please say you're an agent in the comments section so I know not to follow up with you)

I'm so excited to see how this changes my business!

** By the way, if you're interested in more information on how you can get a site like above, drop me a line and let me know.  I'll get you the name and number of the great gentleman who hooked me up with my new project!

Comment balloon 26 commentsDonna Harris • March 24 2007 02:14PM

Comments

Sorry, Donna - I like the old site where more of your own personality comes through. It will be interesting to see which brings the most business. That's what it's all about.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 11 years ago
I like the old site better too. The new one is not an improvement. Just too busy and way too many menu choices,. Just a run of the mill template to me.
Posted by Win Singleton, Web Designer & Associate Broker (Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors) over 11 years ago

Thank you both for your comments.  Yes, I like my old site much better too, but it doesn't generate leads.  I've done everything I can think of to get people to contact me through it, and I even have web capture set up for listings and a home evaluation, but I very seldomly received a lead through it.  Probably not even 1 lead a month.  With AR, I get at least 5 leads a month.

The new sites are strictly lead generating websites.  I also agree that there's way too much on them which is why I've been going through the reports to decide which ones can go and which ones to stay as many are repetetive.  My new marketing plan doesn't start until Tuesday, so I'll soon know if it was worth looking like a template.  If I can get consistant leads, at least 10 a month, that's 10 times more than what I was getting with my "better" site.  I'll post results after the first week and after the first month.  Stay tuned.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago
Great job Donna, your site is excellent, you are lucky you can manipulate things your way.
Posted by Paul Anyanwu, CRS, SFR, Broker-Salesperson, Sales West Orange,NJ (RE/MAX SOLUTIONS) over 11 years ago
Paul, the site is not that expensive.  Would you like the name and number of the person to contact to get information about it? 
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Hi Donna!

As a web designer, I saw in less than 30 seconds several reasons why the old site wasn't generating very much traffic and leads... and most of it had to do with SEO. Had it been better positioned... and with some further optimization of the visible content from a search engine standpoint as well as for the human visitor, I believe it could actually do far better than the new ones. Just my two cents. Ha

Posted by Win Singleton, Web Designer & Associate Broker (Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors) over 11 years ago

Nice job Donna, a great look and feel - but I notice one thing, the first lines you states: "Free reports for Smart Consumer" and below looks like an image to click on: "Home Buying & Selling Reports and Articles", but not linked to anything, why?

If you have a chance, please check out my site that I designed: www.texasrealestategroup.com

 

Posted by Shayne Stone (Champion Real Estate Group) over 11 years ago

Win, I did pay for SEO at a couple of points, and as I said above, nothing was working.  I get a report every week on how many visits I have received, and the numbers were always fairly high, so I know it was being found.  No one was contacting me from it or filling out any contact forms.

I got my first lead today for a seller and there is complete valid information.  I've already responded back to her.  This is great because my program doesn't start until Tuesday!!

Shayne, thank you.  The site is sweet and to the point, no excess stuff.  You might want to check your page sizes because it wants to scroll to the right and left, but there is no info there.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

ok... i just filled out your form....

i hope i didnt skew your numbers.

 wonderful site..... congrats

LOL

 

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

Hey Tom,

No, you're not skewing anything since the main marketing program hasn't started yet... But I already got a new listing from it!!  I'm staging the house today, and it's going on the market next week!!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago
Woo Hoo!!
Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

I like your site. Many people I think get to wrapped up in what they like visually and not the result. Who likes to look at a gecko or a cave man. I think it is stupid and does not make sense but Geico is brilliant building there brand awareness. Donna most people will continue to do what they do year after year and expect a different result. You have to change the stagie, quantify your numbers and at the end of the day if it does not make dollars it doesn't make sense. I made over 1 million dollars in commissions from they same site you have now. Search Frisco Texas I am not in the search engine (SEO) and don't care. I listed 32 homes this month and  am already pushing 100 closing for 2007. I understand marketing, I have more clients then my competitor and I have done it all with PPC ( pay per click )  I know my dollar cost acquisition per customer. I spend X and get Y. Month after month I know with in 10% how many leads I am going to get from my marketing efforts.

 

Lets face it you can have 1000 web site hits a month. If you only have 3 forms filled out and it take you until Monday to call a prospect back that submitted a form on Saturday you are wasting money. Who would use Google if every time you typed in a search it took 3 days for it to come back with your search results. It would be faster to just go to the library and reserch yourself. It comes down to Geometric Growth ( Jay Abraham) increase traffic by 50%, Increase form submission by 50%, increase conversion by 50%. Its not only more lead in my case its now doing more with the leads I have.


Without someone taking a look at the back end there is no reason they could say which site is truly better. I do know, 3 of the top 5 Keller Williams Agents in the world use the same site you do. I also know Jay Kinder  www.JayKinder.com uses the same site as well. Jay is only 28 years old has 14 % market share in little Lawton Oklahoma 523 transactions in 2006 and #2 in the world for Coldwell Banker.

 There is a less busy version of the site built in (XML) Re Max rookie of the year Marsee Wilehms www.wiselisting.com1.8 million in GCI first year in the business uses the new layout. Again its the engine the site is over that makes these top agents fall in love with this site.

In closing I honestly think you can have more than one site. If you really just want a pretty site that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I also think you need one that generates leads, I know that yours does. Good luck!

Posted by Michael Reese (Keller Williams) over 11 years ago
Check out David Chaney Active Rain Profile!!!
Posted by Michael Reese (Keller Williams) over 11 years ago

Hey Michael!

I'm sitting and waiting for the PPC to take effect.  Jon never called me back on Friday, so all I know is everything was submitted, but nothing implemented yet.  As I've said, I'm very excited to see the results for the first 30 days as we just started a new month.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Seems like a lot of agents from large firms are going with the template you have. I think generating leads is fine, but I have received feed back from people who don't like having to fill out a form to get info. Me, personally, if I come across this, I will fill in some kind a Bull**** or leave the site.

I have found sites that offer free "on demand" information work better for me. Your goal should be to have people come to your website to find not only real estate information, but community info as well. Let them search the MLS on demand, let them find a restaurant, get a phone number for a local service, read the news and other publications or find the weather forecast . In short, you want your site to be a gathering place for the community that you serve. "Where can I find this or that, oh yeah, go to Donna's site" When someone is ready to sell or buy, who do you think they are going to be comfortable with? Who has been "branding" them over time?

I agree that you have to have your site configured correctly to gather leads, but your site should not be 1 giant form to collect info.

Maybe Michael's suggestion of having two sites is a good formula.

Just my 2 cents...........

 

Posted by Grant Howell, Broker/Owner 214-234-6901 (Alex Lowery Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Hey Donna! Congrats on the new site. A lot of people arent going to like the site because they feel like it's to busy. Check out the success websites. Now thats a too busy website. Your site gives people a reason to fill out the form. I have had all types of sites. They simply dont cut it. The site isnt made for people to look at over and over again before contacting you, it's meant for them to look at it one time and then within 10 - 15 minutes after visiting, you contact them. This makes people just go wow. I have the same site you do. I did A LOT of research before getting it. I think I've had my site for about 2 months. I have 40 leads in my database. 15 of which are people who will be buying or selling in the next 3-4 months. 5 of which I either have their listings currently up, or they are going to be on the market in the next month. The rest are not active just yet, they are 6 months - 1 year. Sure not all my leads are great, but it's better than the day before. The key is follow up. Did your last website truly give you the ability to find out where they came from on the web, what they clicked on, there information, and verify what they are doing when the e-mails are sent out? Like Mike said most agent repeat the same thing over and over and expect different results, which would be the definition of insanity.
Posted by Josh DeShong (Josh DeShong Real Estate - KW) over 11 years ago
I like it a lot because it doesn't look like everyone elses!
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) over 11 years ago
Donna, nice site. I do like the unbranded a bit better. I am all about Lead Generating!
Posted by Robert McArtor, Top Listing Agent for Baltimore and Harford County (RE/MAX Components - Fallston Maryland) over 11 years ago

Hi Donna,

 I too liked your own website better, but I also agree with getting more leads and I also like the fact it doesn't look like everyone elses.  Wow, now I have a lot of work to do on my site.  I will be sending you an email.

Posted by Suzanne Cutler, 617-549-5829, Braintree MA, Realtor, Real Estate (Success! Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Yes, my old site would tell me where people were coming from as I had a Site Meter on it.  I averaged just over 100 hits a week, which isn't too bad.  However, I wasn't getting any leads directly from it.  I was getting leads from people finding my blog and then clicking into my website and then contacting me.  So, the site was good in that it gave them the information they wanted in order to contact me, but they didn't actually find my site through regular methods.

With the new site, it's getting put in front of people first.  I'm getting more people to my branded site than I have to my nonbranded site on PPC, which is strange, but it just shows you that people are still finding my blog and still going to my website through my blog rather than clicking on the sponsored links all the time on the left.

The leads are definitely rolling in!!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Hi Donna,

I also went with that same company and went live on Aril 7th, 2007, and also have both sites.

I have tried some other companies in the past, most of the famous name ones, and was always disappointed.  I have been very pleased with this new one.

Web SiteUnique VisitorsNumber of VisitsAdded to Favorites
C21-Inman62887922536%
DFWTXRealEstate56773922940%
Total1195161845438%

These are my numbers from 4/7/07~5/6/07.  The unique visitors and number of visits is not significantly different (I owned and operated those domain names before so they were already known). BUT, the significant numbers, IMHO, are the last two...the number of folks who are adding me to thier favories and what per cent of uniques who are doing that.  That tells me that the site is appealing to them and that they are getting what they are looking for from the site.

If it is true that people are on the web sites 6~9 months before they are ready to do something, I am going to have a very busy fall and beyond.

Something I read this weekend was interesting, Allen F. Hainge, CRS, President, The Allen F. Hainge CyberStars®, " A recent N.A.R. study found that 74% of homebuyers and sellers went first to the Web to get information on their sale or purchase. Your strategy should be to capitalize on this fact by embracing a concept I call Web Centric Marketing®.

Web Centric Marketing® has two components: Step #1: Make sure you have a meaningful, consumer-oriented (i.e. about THEM - NOT YOU!) personal website.

Step #2: See your website as the core marketing tool of your business and promote it (NOT YOU!) in every way possible.

I enjoy all your postings Donna, keep on Blogging!

Bill

Posted by Bill Inman (CENTURY 21 Mike Bowman, Inc.) over 11 years ago
Wow!  Donna & Bill.  You are getting amazing visitors & hits!  My website is awfully pretty, but it needs some help with the traffic.  It doesn't matter how pretty it is if no one sees it!
Posted by Ginger Wilcox (Sindeo) over 11 years ago
I would just like to add one point that it seems is really being overlooked- the usability of a website. In other words, how does your website interact with your clients? You can blog all day about stats, SEO, PPC etc.  At the end of the day, however, does your site offer what consumers want?  In order to find out, shift gears and pretend YOU are looking for a home. Determine your criteria ahead of time- location, price, etc. Then open up your laptop, pull up your website and do a search. I guarantee you that you will find something wrong with all three of your websites.  If you're getting good response, then great- but what if you could get even better response? How do you know you can't?  Use the site as if you are your own client- is the home search easily found? (Make sure you can find it in less than five seconds...this is the average attention span of a web visitor) Do you use real estate terms instead of consumer terms? (Many people do not know what an "MLS" is and do not think of their home as a "listing" like you do).  Can you perform a search quickly? (Too much criteria can be overwhelming and produce bad results) and finally, can your clients request information from you quickly without hassle? Instead of just looking at how many people visit your site, analyze why they are leaving and then determine how many people who came to your site are actually coming back. I agree that all of the afore mentioned topics and ideas are important, but analyzing your marketing objectives from different perspectives is key to a more successful online marketing program. The biggest problem with templates is that you have no flexibility to change the things that aren't working; your website should be an evolutionary tool that changes as your business and technology changes.  When all is said and done, your clients want properties at their fingertips- give them what they want in an easy to use, effective format and you'll start generating more leads than you ever imagined.
Posted by Cassandra Engeldinger (CyberSunshine, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hi Cassandra,

I completely agree.  That is where a lot of my excitement has come from.  The companies that I had used in the past did not live up to their promises.  There were many restrctions on what changes I could make, or worse yet, that they would make at my request.  Therefore, the performance suffered greatly...even though I was getting a ton of visitors to my web site (due to my hard work), it was not translating into business.

I continue to "tweak" my sites...geared towards the consumer...and the number / per cent of unique visitors that are adding my sites to their Favorites continues to increase.  April was 35% and so far in May it is 44%, and 63 people have already raised their hand leaving their name, telephone and e-mail asking me to help them find a new home.  I have never had that level of success from any web site.

I could go on and on...sounding like a commercial...and as a disclaimer I have NO financial or business interests in the company, other than being one of their satified customers.

Bill

Posted by Bill Inman (CENTURY 21 Mike Bowman, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Hi Bill,

That is great that you have had success. A report released recently showed that real estate searches on the internet were up 13% in March and continue to rise as we head into summer because consumers are thinking about buying a home. Now is a good time to start thinking about your site and how you'll capture more of those leads.  A successful site also depends on your particular market and the kind of competition you have in your area.  In many parts of the country, the long sign-in form you have on your site would be a deterrent because statistics show that users do not want to give their personal information (and that much of it) before they obtain property info. If you had a lot of competitors that were not requiring them to do this, you would be losing out to them. You'll want to keep an eye on your users over time because I have seen sign in form response from users positively and negatively.  The key part of your response is that you said you continue to 'tweak' your site.  Websites are always a work in progress because they are an investment and many agents and brokers do not want to commit to it.  Much the same way you wouldn't let your home get run down, a website should always have someone (whether it is you, a staff assistant or your development company) working on the site at least once a month.  It's too bad you had development companies that let you down in the service arena. I think this is what separates those who are truly professional from those who operate out of their garage! Thanks for the feedback.

Posted by Cassandra Engeldinger (CyberSunshine, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Donna, I like the new site because it does generate leads.  Websites are great for consumers when they don't have to sign in.  Only the serious sign in and we are able to see what they are searching for.

 

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions) over 11 years ago

Participate