The real estate and buy-to-let sector is highly competitive and derives most of its traffic from paid search advertising (i.e PPC and display advertising). For this reason it is especially important to optimise real estate landing page design when traffic is so expensive. I’ve already written about how to create a high performing landing page, but I’ve not previously examined investment property landing page design.
However, when I recently did some work for a property company in London, I was surprised how poorly optimised many real estate landing pages are in the UK. I noticed basic faults, such as not following standard web conventions , a lack of tag lines to reinforce the unique value proposition and poorly worded call-to-action copy. Furthermore, mobile landing pages were either broken or lacked device related functionality.
What Defines a high converting real estate landing page?
What does the evidence tell us about property landing pages? Unbounce, the landing page specialists, have taken data from their Conversion Benchmark Report and the analysis of their top ten highest converting real-estate landing pages. Using this analysis Unbounce identified the following characteristics of a high performing real-estate landing page:
- Short pages convert better: By measuring the word count on the page they found that a 33% lower conversion rate for longer landing pages.
- Reading ease: Landing pages that used 6th grade level language had nearly double the conversion rate of those written at university level English.
- Call-to-action button: All high converting real-estate landing pages included a detailed description of the offer and the vast majority had a “request a call back” or “call us” option. The best designs also included button copy that reinforced what visitors would receive by completing the form.
- Imagery: The designers also noticed the use imagery with beautiful hero shots of interior and exterior of properties. Full-width photography backgrounds, maps and floor plans were also prominent in the best designs.
How do UK Buy-to-Let Landing Pages Perform?
So taking this data and my own expertise in improving landing page conversion by over 30% I evaluated five of the top PPC buy-to-Let landing pages in the UK. The landing pages were selected according to their position in a Google search for “buy-to-let property”. I have no links to any of the sites evaluated.
1. The Axium:
This site reminded me of my days in online gaming as the site is dark and menacing. The contrast is poor and some of the font sizes are far too small for anyone with less than perfect sight. Analysis of low contrast sites by psychologist Adam Alter found that such designs disrupts information processing and makes people more judgemental and critical.
The other points I noticed on the page are:
- No telephone number/contact details.
- Having navigation can be a distraction and is worth testing removing.
- The call-to-action “Apartment Types Here” is somewhat lost as it doesn’t stand out on the page and it’s not clear it is clickable.
- It’s not clear which is the primary call-to-action
- “Submit” to what? The copy on the CTA should complete the sentence “I want to ….”
On the plus side the landing page is short and there are easy to find contact details below the fold. The mobile landing page also renders well and supports mobile functionality (e.g. tap to call or to email).
2. Urbane Brix:
This a long form landing page and yet there is very little content above the fold. The page lacks contact details, a tag line and a call-to-action above the fold. Prospects would have to scroll at least once to find contact details and the contact form is two scrolls down the page.
I’ve previously covered 62 web form design best practices to optimise conversions and this form breaks a number of those recommendations. The form lacks impact when users discover it and the main issues I have with it are summarised as:
- There is no headline to communicate why prospects should complete the form.
- Single column forms generally convert better
- Placeholder text causes usability issues.
- Remove non-mandatory fields to minimise the length of forms
- “Submit” to what? Should reinforce what prospects will get by completing form.
The mobile landing page did not facilitate smartphone functionality (e.g. tap to call or to email). The phone number displayed was not responsive and so users have no other option than to complete the form. This can be a frustrating experience for prospects who want to talk to someone immediately.
This is a long form page but it would be less of an issue if all the key elements of the proposition were located above the fold.
- Displaying your phone number in the top left-hand corner breaks a strong web convention that your logo should be located here. The contrast is poor and the font size is also too small. Locate your telephone number on the top right-hand side of the page and make it prominent.
- Social media icons only create potential exit points and no one is going to share a page before they have purchased anything. Get rid of them!
- Avoid using the same colour for different call-to-actions as it takes attention away from your primary CTA.
- Always place labels outside of the input field and avoid placeholder text as this can cause usability issues.
- “Send” fails to reinforce what prospects will receive by completing the form.
When we looked at the site on a popular iOS mobile device we see a rectangle at the bottom of the screen with no label. When I clicked on it I was taken to the contact form. This creates a poor impression of the site because no one has checked the site on popular browsers and devices. It is easy to automate this process by using a cross-browser and device testing service.
4. Aspen Woolf:
This is another long form landing page. The main issues I have with this page is that it is too busy and lacks a clear information hierarchy. Hick’s Law tells us that the more choices people are offered the more time it takes them to make a decision. So to avoid choice overload be careful not to present too many different options.
- Don’t place your telephone number where users expect the logo to be.
- Your logo should be in the top left-hand side of the page.
- Navigation can be a distraction on landing pages and test removing to see if it helps.
- Too many competing call-to-actions above the fold can kill conversions.
- The sticky bottom bar can be a distraction and hides some content.
The amount of content on the AspenWoolf page suggests this is not a high converting page. Unfortunately the contact form creates more friction with users and is unlikely to encourage prospects to complete the form.
- It lacks a compelling reason to complete the form.
- There is far too much dense copy on the left of the page. People don’t read they scan and so copy should be in short paragraphs or preferably bullet points.
- Why ask country if you don’t need it?
- Best remove non-mandatory fields to minimise form length.
- “Find out more” may not be appropriate if the company automatically calls prospects.
On a smartphone users are unable to click on the phone number displayed at the top of the page. Most users will expect to use device related functionality such as being able to tap phone numbers on a mobile device. You can check to see what users are tapping on by integrating a user experience tool. Some, like Hotjar, are free if your site receives less than 2,000 visits a day.
5. Emerging Property:
This is also a long form landing page. Although the form is not wholly located above the fold, enough is clearly visible to encourage prospects to scroll slightly down the page to complete it. The main challenges users have with the page are:
- There is no tagline to reinforce the unique value proposition.
- No telephone number or contact details visible above the fold.
- The headline lacks context and so has limited meaning until the user digests more of the page content.
- No labels outside of the form fields.
- Poor CTA label copy as doesn’t confirm what the prospect will receive by completing the form.
On a popular iOS mobile device the page does not render correctly. The heading on the hero image is not readable because it overlaps with the white background. This is why it’s important to use a cross-browser and device checking service to audit your customer experience.
Landing page optimisation is particularly important when the vast majority of your traffic is derived from paid advertising (e.g. pay-per-click or display advertising). If you don’t have the internal expertise you should consider bringing in a conversion rate optimisation consultant to advise you. They can conduct an heuristic evaluation of your website and app to identify where you can make improvements. They can also transfer skills to your organisation to allow you to take control of the optimisation process.
If you have sufficient traffic you could also begin A/B testing your landing pages to identify what works and what doesn’t work. Don’t just copy your competitors as they may not know what they are doing any more than you do. Don’t forget to also check your user experience on a regular basis using cross-browser and device testing tools. Broken or poorly rendering sites can destroy your credibility with prospects online and kill your conversion rate. Use web analytics to monitor your conversion rate so that you can quickly identify when there may be a problem.