How will Google’s Latest Search Changes Affect You?

SO WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

As of April 21st 2015 Google changed its search algorithms to favour websites that are ‘mobile friendly’. This means that mobile optimised websites will begin to rank better in searches than those that are not.

WHY IS IT CHANGING?

This change by Google is a response to the changing way in which users are increasingly searching for content via smartphones and tablets. It is a move to improve the user experience and ensure users are directed to mobile-friendly sites as a preference when searching for content on Google.

WHAT ABOUT MY WEBSITE?

If your website doesn’t have a responsive design or mobile specific site it is likely that your search rankings will suffer. This can send your website tumbling down Google’s search results and potentially cost you deals.

BRIGHTFOX IS HERE TO HELP…

Although this change has already taken effect there is still time for businesses to act. Google can recognise newly optimised sites quickly and will revise your search ranking accordingly. Contact Brightfox now and ensure your website is ‘mobile friendly’ and you’re not losing sales as a result!

Another new site and another great client!

The team at Brisbane Seaside are dedicated to the professional marketing, promotion and sale of new homes, townhomes, apartments and units along the shorelines of Moreton Bay, within the Brisbane East and greater Brisbane area.

Looking for a website that would promote and compliment their reputation for professionalism and sales success, Reno and Tandi of Brisbane Seaside got in touch with Brightfox.

After a couple of meetings at the Brisbane Seaside office to ascertain the key target audiences and requirements of the site, Brightfox were able to put together a comprehensive scope of works & preliminary designs to help outline a site structure, design principles and core functionality.

Key features of the site include:

  • Mobile Responsive Smartsite Design
  • Integrated Email Marketing with foxMessenger
  • Umbraco Content Management System

responsive

So far the site has been a great success and we look forward to working closely with Reno and Tandi to help optimise their site traffic and generate plenty of qualified leads!

You can check out the site at:
www.brisbaneseaside.com.au

WHY SHOULD YOU CHOOSE BRIGHTFOX FOR YOUR NEXT WEB PROJECT?

After 18 years in business Brightfox understands internet technology intimately and there is simply no replacement for experience. We know what works and what doesn’t, and we use this knowledge to help our clients create technology solutions that deliver results.

Responsive Web Design: The changing face of website design & development

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The power of mobile

Everyone who is anyone in digital marketing is talking about responsive web design. But, whether you love it or hate it, responsive design is going main-stream in 2013. So let’s talk about the what, the why, the how & the who of responsive design and how a Brightfox Smart Site can get you ahead of the game.

What . . . is responsive web design?

According to Stanford University, the definition of a responsive website is: “A website that responds to the device that accesses it and delivers the appropriate output . . . . Rather than designing multiple sites for different-sized devices, this approach designs one site but specifies how it should appear on varied devices”

So in layman’s terms, a responsively designed website will recognise what device you are using, like an iPad or iPhone, and will adapt itself to best suit the device. What this means is that you can live in comfort knowing that every one of your website’s visitors is having the optimum viewing experience no matter what devise they use.

Responsive Design Workflow

Why . . . is responsive design becoming so important?

With the explosion of Tablets and Smart Phones all over the world we have seen a major shift in how people access websites. For the first 15 years of the Internet as we know it, everyone used a PC to view websites. But that is all changing now. In fact it is becoming increasingly the norm to access websites on your Tablet and/or Smart Phone.

Did you know that:
• 61% of smartphone users are accessing the internet daily.
• In Australia alone 76% of people own a smartphone and 38% own a tablet device.

So the next stage of evolution of website access is already being dominated by use of Tablets and Smart Phones as opposed to the use of PC’s. The significance of this to the development of a successful website is quite profound. Just one of the surprising (or could we say alarming) statistics is that on average 61% of mobile visitors to a non-friendly website bounce, that is to say they never travel past the homepage.

Good and Bad

If we look at our own website you can quickly see the negative impact that having a non-responsively designed website has. Looking at our own website’s analytics we found that 20% of our visitors came from mobile devices and that a whopping 57.73% were bouncing. That’s 72 potential customers we lost in a single month! Simple math says that if we converted 20% of these bounces into leads we would have 19 new prospects and if only one of those prospects made a purchase from us, I’d say that the money we invested into our new responsive Brightfox website was money well spent!

How do figures like this stack up in your business?

How . . . does responsive web design work?

Three key technical features form the heart of responsive web design:

  • Media queries and media query listeners
    The process that determine the device being used and its screen size and resolution.
  • A flexible grid-based layout that uses relative sizing
     The word ‘Grid’ is used  a bit freely to describe this element, but effectively it is code used to determine the position and layout of the content based on the device detected by the media queries. The flexibility of this is done not in traditional pixels instead in percentages to provide relative sizing based on the device.
  • Flexible images and media
    This feature allows you to adapt your images or other media to load differently depending on the device, either by scaling, cropping or using an alternative (perhaps smaller size) file.

Who . . . should be utililising responsive web design?

Everyone!

With the speed at which mobile devices are being adopted all over the world, a responsive design will ensure that your website stays ahead of the browsing trend. Now not everyone can justify the additional expense involved, but if you are in a selling or service industry where your clients are typically on the road or away from a traditional PC, then a responsive design is an absolute.

Two of the best  industry examples are automotive and property. With clients on the road constantly inspecting and investigating potential purchases, Tablets and Smartphones have become key tools in the consumer search. In fact, according to realestate.com.au over 34% of all visits to their site came from mobile devices (and this does not take into account their iOS and Android apps).

We suggest you do some simple math yourself. In the case of a property development, lets consider a traditional weekend advertising campaign with a full page ad in a national paper. Lets say for arguments sake that this costs $20,000. If this advertisement was to generate 40 leads, one would say the cost of lead generation would be $500 per lead. A large number of these potential leads will immediately visit your website for further information or to register their further interest. Lets assume 50% visit the website rather than pick up the phone to call or visit the display suite. If we use the above statics (61% bounce rate for mobile users visiting a non-friendly website) we can say that 12 potential leads will be lost (61% of 20 leads), with a direct cost of lost leads of $6,000. Of course the true cost is vastly higher than this as the potential revenue that could be earned from each prospect is greater than the lead generation cost. Nevertheless, this example does show the immediate and direct cost to a business through having a poorly designed and developed website.

Are you maximising your cost of enquiry and can you afford to lose this business?

Brightfox Smart Sites

We encourage you to visit the Brightfox website on a range of different devices so you can truly experience what a responsively designed website is. You will find the experience quite different, but far more rewarding on each device. To ensure that all of our customers can similarly start developing responsive websites, we have launched a new product call Smart Sites. This is a single  high powered content management system that is coupled with a responsively designed website which seamlessly delivers a website suited to every device, all with minimal technical and administrative input. Please visit our website or call Brightfox on 07 3177 0505 today to find out more.

Brightfox Smart Sites

It is time for you to get a smart phone optimised website

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ImageAnyone reading our Blog (or those of you who talk to us directly) will know that we have been saying for a long time now that everyone needs to build a smart phone optimised website – well everyone that is that is in the retail space in any event.

Smart-phone usage continues to rise as a very impressive rate, and yet we don’t need to see any statistics to confirm this phenomenon. You only need to look around at your home, your workplace or take a walk down any street and you can easily see that almost everyone these days seems to have a smart-phone – and to be constantly using it.

By 2016 more searches will occur on smartphones than on PC’s. By that stage the ‘horse will have bolted’ so to speak. The opportunity exists now to easily grab eyeballs for your business simply through developing a coherent smartphone strategy. By virtue of the large % of business still not recognising the need to have a smartphone enabled website and web strategy, there is a real opportunity for businesses to take market share from their competitors in this space. It simply requires a willingness to move, sound strategy and ultimately commitment to the mobile space. And I guess this is where the difficulty presents itself to most businesses as it is another website, another strategy  and accordingly, another expense. Difficult yes, time consuming yes, an added cost yes, but we would say that the time to ignore it has past!

Look who is going Places in Project Marketing (our recent newsletter)

This month Brightfox is proud to introduce Brisbane based project marketer, Place Projects.
In the last few months Place Projects have not only adopted foxEnterprise to manage the sales, marketing and reporting functions for their project sales but have also released a brand new website with a custom design by Brightfox utilising the power of the Umbraco Content Management System.

The Place brand launched onto the Queensland residential real estate scene in late 2002 and since then has grown significantly in both recognition and in market position.

Real Estate power houses – Bruce Goddard, Syd Walker, Damian Hackett and Lachlan
Walker partnered with this growing name, to open the Place Projects office. Understanding that their project marketing needs were going to be immensely more complex than a residential sales office, they approached Brightfox looking for a high quality CRM system and a website that could keep up with the times.

The Place Property group had an existing in-house CRM software application in use
throughout their offices. But to suit their specific project marketing needs
Place Projects spent a considerable amount of time investigating the various
options available on the market before deciding on foxEnterprise and according
to Kathy Cuthbert of Place Projects.

“. . . We never found a system before that catered for
projects. . . and the system is amazing and so user friendly”

and 3 months down the track…

“Since using foxEnterprise we get help with anything
we ask for and if it can’t be fixed straight away or the
person we speak to can’t help us, any issues
arenormally resolved within 24hrs.”

Place Projects is a business involved in launching and marketing
new ‘off the plan’ Projects, so it was essential that the website presented the
Company and the Projects it was marketing professionally. The website needed to
be user friendly and be easily updated, with both new Project content but also
up to date research from Place Projects own internal research division.

The Place Projects website has been built from the ground up to work
seamlessly with foxEnterprise, ensuring that all prospects are imediately
captured and profiled for each Project within the foxEnterprise CRM. The
Brightfox CMS (Content Management System) ensures that Place Projects is 100% in
control of the content on their website, updating as they need to, thereby
ensuring it’s up to date and encouraging repeat visitors to the site.

and the results…   

“We had our projects website designed and operational within a couple of months, the training for it was great and even now, when there is a question it’s answeredin no time at all. It’s so user friendly we can make 99% of the change ourselves”

Adobe and Flash give up the mobile fight!

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Adobe Flash ImageFour years after the release of the iPhone and Steve Jobs’ controversial decision to not support flash on apple’s mobile devices, Adobe has given up the fight. According to ZDNet, after many teething and speed problems getting flash to work on android and other mobile devices, Adobe have announced they will halt development of future mobile versions of flash.

Adobe will now focus on developing tools that will allow flash developers to create mobile apps running on Adobe’s Air platform.

What does this mean for the general population? Not much. But if you’re a website owner and have flash based content, you might want to start looking at upgrading your site and utilising the ever growing power and simplicity of HTML5!

To read more about Adobe’s decision follow the ZDNet link above or visit news.com.au

Changes to Google Search Algorithm – will it affect real estate

Google have just announced a major change to the way they their search works. Basically the changes are designed to ensure more current information is given priority in search results.

Sounds like a good idea, particularly if they can deliver updates (as they suggest in their article) within minutes of publication on the web.

So what relevance would this have for real estate online?

I immediately thought of Auctions. I wonder is this is smart enough to grab upcoming Auctions only and display the relevant page data.

So I went and did some simply searches a few minutes ago. Below you can see the results from a search on keywords ‘property for auction in bulimba’.

As you can see the first line item is a realestate.com.au link with a heading refering to Sat, 8 October. Not a good start. The link itself works fine. The REA site is smart enough to link me to Auctions coming this Saturday, but that is not the point here. The point is is that the Google Algorithm change was not smart enough to figure out that the data in their data (the heading and summary) was less relevant by date them other data.

Going further down the results we get bettter results though. See the www.domain.com.au record for the auctiopn due on 24th November.

Further down the results though you can see another entry for 18th June.

So all in all what has changed? Hard to say as I did not run this search yesterday before they ran the upgrade but certainly from an Auction search results perspective not great results.

Raine & Horne + QR Codes – An Evolution or A Revolution . . .

Some years ago on this very Blog we talked about QR codes and their possible use in real estate. Here in Australia they are finally starting to get a little traction (and I mean a little – the vast majority of Australian’s still don’t know what a QR Code is let along know how to use them).

Raine & Horne, a large real estate franchise group, have recently gone through a complete brand revamp, and as part of this have included the overhaul of all of Raine & Horne’s digital media platforms. An interesting inclusion in their new media platforms is the use of Quick Response (QR) Codes across their entire media.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes were originally developed in Japan by Toyota to track vehicles through the manufacturing process. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and were designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.

Ver. 3 QR Code

QR Codes have seen wide usage across Japan, Europe and the U.S. with smartphone users able to take a photo of the barcode which is placed onto traditional static media such as flyers and billboards. Users are then typically directed to further interactive content such as a plain-text message, website url, video url, enquiry registration form or email address. Though not as popular in Australia at this time, many local media agencies are beginning to see the potential for the use of QR codes to not only interactively communicate from what was a traditionally static channel but to also effectively track these offline user interactions.

Where is the potential for the broader real estate industry?

The primary potential for this technology in the real estate industry is to provide prospects with the ability to interact online with property listings after reading a traditional mail-out, sign-board or window card. In this way multiple images or interactive tours can be viewed after seeing coming across a simple static advertising piece.

The typical usage scenario involves a potential purchaser driving through a suburb investigating different streets and neighbourhoods. After seeing a ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Rent’ sign the purchaser would normally have to remember the address (along with 10 others); visit an agency website and search for the listing from their phone (very time consuming); or call the agent for more information (which can be daunting). With a QR code printed onto or attached to the sign, the purchaser can simply take a photo of the barcode and be redirected directly to the property listing online or to an online enquiry form to submit their details or to ask more questions.

An underlying advantage to QR codes is in tracking consumer interactions with your static media. By utilising unique URL’s for the various static media types (eg. Flyers – estate.com/flyer; Window Cards – estate.com/wc) redirecting to the appropriate content, entry points can be tracked back to the offline media that directed the traffic. A much more accurate way of tracking user interaction compared to the classis, Where did you find out about us . . . ?

QR Codes; the next big thing?

Will QR codes be the next big thing in real estate? Probably not. But is there a fantastic potential for tracking offline marketing and greater consumer interaction – Definitely! Only time will tell . . .

Utilising Email Templates to create consistent communication!

Let’s talk about why you should be email marketing and how you can utilise email templates in your business to attract more buyers and sellers!

Some of the reasons that make email marketing so popular include:

*  It is one of the most cost effective methods of marketing / advertising
*  When setup correctly it is extremely simple to carryout
*  When used correctly, you can use it to become known as an expert in your local area
*  It’s instantaneous and can command a fast response

Following are 3 effective templates that you might look at creating:

1. My Profile

This is an extremely effective piece of marketing material that you can use as part of your pre-listing / initial communication process. As soon as you have an appointment set-up with a prospective vendor, just send them this email with your pre-list kit. The idea behind this email is to pre-sell yourself and your expertise / services to the prospective client, before you even meet them.

You can even add images of recent properties that you listed & sold in the local area. The Agents who use this on a regular basis find that their prospects are very impressed with the testimonials, the information about how they do business, etc.

This is exactly like giving your business card and company profile all rolled into one, which is easily accessible in their inbox and may even be forwarded to other prospects.

One of the systems we have successfully used with some of our clients, which you can easily replicate with your website / software provider, is to send this My Profile to all those who enquire online (from your websites).

For example, if a visitor sends a request for an appraisal, an automatic email will be sent to the visitor with your details (including photo, testimonials, other useful information on what a seller will want) thanking them for their enquiry and promising that you will be in contact shortly.

You can see how powerful this kind of email can be, especially in this day of instant gratification. The prospective seller feels that their request was acknowledged and they have been provided with more relevant information that they can use whilst they wait for your call. It also has the added benefit of acting as an easy referral mechanism. The prospect can also onforward your details with a simple click of the button.

2. Congratulations

This email can be used to send to both Purchasers and Vendors.

Imagine the following:

Sending a prospective purchaser an email as soon as their offer has been accepted by the Vendor congratulating them on purchasing the property. This email has the “next action” steps that the purchaser needs to take, such as organise finance, building & pest inspections, etc.

A similar email goes again when the property actually settles. However, hold on to this thought as we have another Email HTML template coming your way and the details to download it will be available in the next blog!

You can also send a similar congratulatory email to the Vendor when the property goes under contract and then when it settles.

So why do you need to send these emails and why ask for referrals now rather than wait till the property settles?

The experts in human psychology talk about RAS (Reticular Activation System), that’s a mouthful I know! What it basically means is people who are buying a property normally meet / talk / discuss with others who are also buying a property or looking to buy a property. Similarly, vendors normally talk with other vendors / prospective vendors.

The bottom line is this (30 or so days) is the best time to ask for referrals! And you can educate the vendor or buyer that you ideally work via referrals and ask them for people they know who might be interested in buying / selling. As we all know referrals really do form the core of a successful business. Understanding how to tap into the psychology of the buyer / seller to maximise the number of referrals
is therefore essential to your business.

In foxEnterprise (one of our software products), these email templates are already provided and are linked to changes in listing status. As soon as a listing goes from Listed to Under Contract, one or more emails are automatically sent to the Vendor and the Purchaser. The same thing happens when the listing status moves from Under Contract to Settled. These emails are automatically sent out when these triggers happen, without you or your PA having to remember to do them and physically spend the time doing these routine activities. Systemisation of your customer service processes in this way really does make these initiatives achievable.

Now for our plug:
If your current software system cannot do the above then perhaps you should give us a call!

3. Newsletter

This is one of the most effective marketing tools and, unfortunately, under utilised by many in the real estate industry.

It’s a simple technique but not easy to implement! That’s exactly why we diligently train our clients to gather latest local and national news (weekly) and on a monthly basis, choose maybe 2 to 3 relevant news items and send that out as part of their newsletters. When these newsletters are used in conjunction with Blogs (we will discuss on how you can setup a Blog in detail in a later blog) you will be able to cement your position as an expert in your area.

The newsletter is an extremely important piece of marketing material that you should use to keep in touch with your entire customer database. This includes prospects, current clients, past clients and your referral network. You need to think of it as your primary marketing piece for ensuring you are “top of mind’ with your customer base. Real estate is such a competitive and dynamic marketplace that being top of mind with your customer base is essential to success.