does anyone really get any mobile traffic on their sites?

I keep hearing how mobile is the next big thing.  And I don’t disagree.  More and more, I do everything I want and/or need from my Blackberry.  So when I hear consistent chatter about an ever increasing wave of mobile users, it makes me think:

How do I, as a business, prepare for and capitalize on these mobile visitors?

First, I wanted to see if I even had any mobile traffic.  And then I asked other real estate agents about their mobile traffic, just to compare.  I had 9 responses in this oh so scientific study.  Here’s what I found.

On average, mobile traffic accounts for 3.46% of a real estate agent’s site visitors.  Answers ranged from 0.55% to 5.98%.

For most, that mobile traffic arrives via a search engine – most answers were 50% to 80% search engine traffic.  And you know what those users were searching for?

The same random stuff they search for on their laptops.  Lots of long tail type keywords mixed with those nice juicy real estate type of phrases.  And while only one person I asked had an individual property address in their top 10 overall site keywords, nearly everyone had an address (or subdivision search) in their top 10 mobile keywords.

There were, however, 2 people that had half or more of their mobile traffic from direct visitors – people who came to the site directly by either typing in the URL, navigating to the site via some kind of saved bookmark, or possibly those who clicked on a link within a document or email.  It’d be interesting to look at those two further, to look at the behavior of those direct visitors, confirm they already have a loyal mobile user following.  Perhaps not coincidentally, those two have the least traffic by far of all the agents I asked, they target the smallest areas, and tend to cover more community type events rather than the larger ‘real estate in your area’ kind of stories.  Food for thought, anyway.

So my mobile traffic pretty much falls within the averages mentioned.  Nearly a quarter of my mobile visitors are direct traffic – Google sends the most mobile traffic, followed by direct visitors, and a distant 3rd are my RSS email subscribers clicking through from those emails on their phone.

The vast majority of my mobile users are iPhoners and Androiders.  No surprise there, as those have the best browsers on mobile devices, IMHO.  People on iPads and iPods account for twice as many visitors as those on Blackberries. 

I didn’t have a single property address in my top 10 mobile keywords, but my mobile keywords and my regular site visitor keywords were pretty much the same.  But bear in mind, these are my blog visitors.  My property search (and quite honestly, the site where I target the juicier real estate type keywords) and my indexable IDX bit live on a different domains and different analytics profiles.  So that makes sense for me.

Other than making sure my site loads quickly for mobile visitors, is clean and easy to navigate on mobile devices – what should I do?

My gut tends to think that mobile users will turn to apps to search for property and get neighborhood information, and not to individual agent sites via browser search results.  And Lord knows I don’t have the resources to compete with the larger real estate app vendors out there.

So what can I do as an individual agent?  Make sure my site is easily readable and navigable via mobile devices, certainly.  But what are my chances to capture eyeballs that lead more directly to sales if I’m competing with really slick national mobile apps, and what’s the best way to do so?

What do you think?  Comments are open, below!

(oh, and we’ll look at how to find these numbers in your analytics in the next post.)

your contact form sucks

I’m tempted to just end this post right here.

But let’s dive deeper, just for sport.

First of all, I’m probably looking at your contact form because you haven’t published your email addresses in a prominent manner.  I hunted around for your email address.  I tried hard to find it, and I’m good at finding things.  That’s really really *really* how I wanted to contact you.  But alas.  None to be found.

Instead, I found this "Contact" link, and clicked on that.

And now I’m staring at your form.

I hate your form.

It sucks the life out of me to even be sitting here looking at it.  But you leave me no option.

You’ve probably got too many fields on there.  I’m tired just thinking about filling out all those fields.  You don’t need my phone number.  Or my company name.  And why is the message box so narrow?  And then I have to "submit?" 

Pbthtt.  You submit.

And where’s the feedback loop?  I just filled out your "form" with my valuable "message" and clicked "submit" and….


Did you get it?  I don’t know.  Should I fill it out again?

You know how people push the crosswalk button five million times to make sure that the button really got pushed?  Yeah.  You only need to hit it once.  Thing is, there’s no feedback so you don’t know that the traffic controller really knows you’re there, and so you hit it again.  And again.  I know you do.

But now they make those buttons so they beep when you push it.


Message received.

One push.

So when I click your little passive-aggressive "submit" button and everything I just spent 5 minutes typing into those tiny boxes just disappears, I’m a little concerned.  I have no way of knowing if that just sent you a message.  Can’t you pop up some kind of success message?  Whee!  Yes we got that!  Or maybe use form software that sends me a copy of the email I just sent to you, so at least I know something was generated and sent.

Beep at me, for crying out loud.  Be better than the mindless button I push to cross the street.

Or, you know, just tell me your email address up front and we’ll avoid this whole mess.


(and yes, i hate mine too.)

Tags, Magic, and Hell Bunny

I was doing some site consulting for a friend of mine today, helping her get more people to the site and purchasing items – it’s a retail clothing store, a basic WordPress site with an eCommerce plugin.

In the online store, she had fastidiously added tags to each item for sale because several people had told her tags could help it be found online.  So she spent hours adding 5-8 tags to each product: dress, polka dot, hell bunny, rockabilly, punk, halter top, red.  And so on for each item. 

Yes, Hell Bunny.  It’s a brand.  I’m in love.

But back to the tags.

So she very proudly shows me her efforts, asks how much that will help with her search engine optimization.

Um. Not at all. 

Because not a single one of those tags is being used.  Not in the URL, not in the description, not anywhere that a search engine can spider.  As far as I can tell, the tags aren’t even being used to find related products, and the shopping menu is arranged by categories, not tags.

That took about 30 seconds to figure out.  To look at her tags, view the source in the browser, and search for "punk."  Doesn’t appear at all. 

All these people had told her tags help with your SEO.  And not a single person could explain to her why.  They just knew – "it works."

Ya’ll, the web is not magic.  Things happen for a reason.

And if you’re taking advice from someone who can’t provide a valid, solid reason and demonstrate it to you easily on your site?  Run.  Run away.

it’s not about you. it never was.

An agent emailed me the other day and shared her site with me, frustrated that it didn’t get her any business because – in her mind – it lacked enough information.

Her site, in a nutshell:

find the link

If I were a consumer, a potential client, I’d be gone in a heartbeat too.  I’m sure she’s a lovely lady.  I just don’t care about her.  I’m looking for homes, not pretty smiling faces.

Eyetracking studies tell us where people look for information.  And this site fails on all levels.  Big pictures and clear faces draw attention.  Tiny fonts in low contrast colors do not.  Links placed in low attention areas – get low attention. 

All of the fast decision makers are out of there in 2 seconds flat.  There’s no clear, quick opportunity to do anything else.

The slow decision makers will hang around a bit longer.  The slow emotionals will watch the slide show for a bit, but they don’t want to "search the MLS."  They want to find a home, to see neighborhoods, to feel take care of.  The slow logicals will read every word on the page – but by the time they’ve moused over everything on the first 2/3rds and discovered not a single link, they’re frustrated and ready to move on.

A full 2/3rds of my browser window was pictures of desert scenes with her face superimposed on the corner.  And not a single link until you look at the bottom 3rd of the page.  If you took the time to *find* the links and clicked around a bit, she had plenty of information – lots of nice neighborhood pages, school links, house searches.

But of course no one ever finds that information.  Nothing is presented in a manner that addresses a consumer’s needs.

And in the end, it’s all about the consumer.  It’s not about you.  It’s about them, their needs, their concerns, their expectations, hopes, fears, dreams, and wants.  Give them what they want, and they’ll reward you for it.