1) Everyone will be (should be!) getting a responsive website
Our stats (based on data from 500 clients) show that 60% of people now search estate agents websites using mobile and tablet devices. There is a clear preference in the market for people to browse property on their mobile devices therefore Agents have no choice but to move with the times, or get left behind. Responsive websites allow you to keep the design and functionality of your current site but the website will adapt to fit to the size of your screen by stacking the features clockwise, one on top of another. Responsive websites will help increase the conversion rates of your website and will improve your customer satisfaction!
2) Big imagery and videos...Everywhere!
A big trend that came in early in 2015 for general web design was big imagery on websites and towards the end of 2015 estate agency website have been adopting this trend too. Agents with stunning properties and professionally taken images have been able to use these images as a full width homepage, often displaying as a featured property. We have also seen towards the end of the year a couple of agents using video on their homepage. In the general web design industry it has been a big trend in 2015 however in the property industry the uptake has been slow. It is a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors and will make your site very memorable to your customers.
3) Emphasis on calls to action
Websites are all about converting the end users into a lead or if it's an eCommerce site a customer. Calls to action (CTA) are the buttons that allow you to submit your contact details to the website. On a property website they can be anything ranging from 'request a valuation' to 'register for property alerts'and will often stand out on the page. The key to good CTA's is positioning based on the user journey, you want your CTA's to be exactly where you need them at the right time. Websites are now also offering more with the CTA's, instant valuation tools that allow you to get more information about the property you are looking at.
4) The rise of Online Agents
We are seeing that online agents with no shop front and strong online offering are opening more frequently. The basis of an online agent is that they offer fixed fees, no matter how high`the selling price! They also have clever landlord functionality on their websites which allow you to log in a check the status of your properties, see if you have had any offers or interest etc. Online agents also make use of functionality that allows people to see just how much they are saving, a good example is Purplebricks who show you what you could have bought with your savings!
https://www.purplebricks.com/ scroll down to see!
5) More blogging and a focus on good linking
Something I suspect we will see more is agents posting engaging content on their websites and sharing on industry news sites like Estate Agent networking UK. As Google's algorithm changes take place this year with an emphasis on rewarding engaging content and strong inbound links, Agents (or their SEO companies) will put and emphasis on posting engaging content. The higher you rank on Google for your keywords the better your website will perform. It is all well and good building a site that ad hears to the basic SEO rules but you need more than that to impress Google!
6) Video marketing
This is a big one and something that will be prominent in 2016. Video marketing is growing in popularity year on year and so many industries now use apps like Instagram, Vine and Youtube to advertise their services and the property industry is no exception to that. Many Agents are using video testimonials as an effective way of showing off their services and in my opinion these are very effective. Many Agents are using video tutorials to show their landlords or first time buyers the ins and outs of how a transaction works and things that they should look out for. It is a much more simple method of digesting information and growing in popularity as people can now access it from their mobile devices.
7) Continued Rightmove dominance!
It is safe to say that Rightmove aren't going to be knocked of the top spot when it comes to portals. The introduction of OnTheMarket has strengthened them if anything as people leave Zoopla due to the OTM rule of only one other portal. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw Rightmove or Zoopla make a move to buy OTM due to the size of their budgets and the threat that OTM provide.
So what should you be doing?
The trends and technologies that exist move so quickly that it is impossible to predict exactly what is going to happen but this list is what we would expect to see based on current market conditions and announcements that we know are coming from Google. If you are preparing for everything on this list then that is great, if you are preparing for nothing on this list then you are going to start 2016 behind the market. It is never too late to change or to add something to your marketing mix so don't panic just make sure you plan and execute well rather than rush!