What Makes a Great Website?

In the 1992 presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War.  Campaign strategist James Carville won the election for Bill Clinton with the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” claiming Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the recession.

Please understand that I am not criticizing anyone’s website when I say this, but for the sake of driving home a point to all of us, “It’s lead capture, stupid.”  Maybe that can be a mantra that will stick in the minds of hundreds of thousands of agents trying to build a successful online marketing campaign.

I hope that that sound-byte is forever etched in all of our minds.  The truth is most people spend far too much time and trouble worrying about the actual website.  I know from experience.  Before I learned better, I had over 4,000 pages of quality content, both original and syndicated, on my website.

I had free reports, I had calculators, I had mortgage information, I had long technical explanations of various types of financing, I had articles on rent-versus-buying and how to decide, I had first time home-buyer information, school quality reports, weather (don’t ask me why), and everything but the kitchen sink on my site.

Why?  Because “experts” had told me again and again that “content is king”.  Until one day I realized that the Emperor didn’t have on new clothes at all.  He was naked!  Instead of trusting all the experts, I decided to do something novel:  I decided to ask the people who used my site, what they wanted in a real estate website.  Here is what I found.

They only wanted one thing — a simple way to search all area homes for sale.  Not my listings, not all the other stuff, just a simple and exhaustive home search.  We developed a very simple website.  It’s not a real estate library.  It’s not an “I love me” website.  It’s not a cyber business card or brochure.  It’s a simple home search.  One page.

I say all that because my philosophy is that the website is the bait.  The LCM gateway is the trap.  If you want to catch a mouse, you need to put cheese (or peanut butter) on the trap, not broccoli.  But at the end of the day, if you lay a block of cheese on the floor without a trap, don’t expect to catch a lot of mice.  “It’s lead capture, stupid.”

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I give away about 99% of all my technology and digital training content, completely free of charge, because I want to see other agents have the same kind of success that I've had. But one thing I charge for is my Ultimate Website technology. This is the web technology I created for myself that turned my real estate practice around overnight, and now I license it agents everywhere. But right now it's too popular and is currently waitlisted. Click here to get on the website as soon as possible and I'll notify you as soon as new invitations become available.

Comments 8

  1. author Bob McTague posted December 27th 2010. 3:20 pm

    I agree… If you want a great website..build it from a marketing standpoint, not from a designers viewpoint…pretty does not pay the bills. Lead generation content is all that matters


  2. author Mike Clifford posted December 27th 2010. 4:03 pm

    I also agree, but just for the fun of it check out one of my websites and tell me if you think I should reposition the form from the bottom of the home display to the top of the page?

  3. author Matt Jones posted December 27th 2010. 4:31 pm

    Hi Bob and Mike. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Mike, I went to you website and looked around. It looks like you have spent a lot of time working on it. Good colors. Good contrast. Margins are a little tight in Firefox browser.

    My initial feedback is it is very busy, in fact, my early website looked a lot like yours until we surveyed our clients and asked them exactly what they want. Now it looks like the one on the demo at http://LCMsuccess.com. I never did see your MLS/IDX access.

    Your lead capture is first name and email only. That might make them feel a little more comfortable, but it makes it hard to prospect them. If you do it right, you can capture 20% and still get phone number, email, and full name.

    You might be interested in reading my series on The Science of Online Marketing (see right column). I love that you are doing it yourself. Reminds me of me in that regard. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for I had to build it. Cudos my friend.

  4. author Thomas Gorman posted December 27th 2010. 6:45 pm

    Another informative aticle…good reading!

  5. author Ben Latocki posted December 27th 2010. 9:22 pm

    Great article Matt. I am always looking to improve my website. I would love to hear your opinion of my site. http://www.productionrealty.com/

  6. author Matt Jones posted December 28th 2010. 9:05 am

    Hi Ben. Very nice looking site. Normally I am not a fan of red but your designer pulled it off very well. IDX is slow as molasses, but that’s not your fault. No lead capture on the search… big no-no to me.

    Did you design the site? If it is a third party site, I’ve not seen it before and it is very impressive. Love the social tie-ins. Put a lead capture gateway on it and you have a great site. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment!

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  8. author Ben Latocki posted December 31st 2010. 7:19 pm

    Thanks for the comments Matt! The website is a template style site that I modified. We have some lead capture, but not as aggressive as you suggest. I will see what I can do about the IDX speed, I’m not sure why that is slow. Have a happy new years!!