Many real estate firms find that their websites generate the highest lead volume among all of their channels. For that reason, not only driving traffic, but getting those visitors to contact you, is of paramount importance. While many visitors might just be surfing "property porn", there are also a great deal of real leads looking to buy or rent your properties.
When Jay Suites, the largest executive suites operator in New York's Times Square, found that their marketing efforts weren't driving the amount of lead gen they expected, they enlisted the help of consultant Dorin Rosenshine. Below, Dorin explains how she helped Jay Suites turn their website visitors into leads and clients.
What was the challenge that your client faced?
NYC-based office space provider Jay Suites launched its first business center in 2007. Situated in a class-A office space building steps away from Grand Central station, the center housed 17 furnished executive suites with a sleek, modern design.
Five years later, Jay Suites Times Square – the company’s fifth location in Manhattan with 76 offices – was inaugurated. In early 2013, Jay Suites announced the addition of a second floor in the same building with another 72 offices, making it the largest executive suites operator in the Times Square neighborhood and the fourth largest in Manhattan.
A few months later, Jay Suites opened its proprietary meeting room booking system, previously available only to tenants, to guest bookings via its website.
All of these happenings were accompanied by aggressive marketing efforts that boosted the company’s online presence. Although the sheer volume of visits certainly brought inquiries, the conversion rates – particularly on the meeting rooms e-commerce platform – simply weren’t at the level Jay Suites hoped to achieve.
How was this challenge impacting your client’s company or team?
Jay Suites invested heavily in marketing efforts to promote its presence, and relied on these efforts to drive its business. So it needed a better ROI.
The situation was also challenging because they were trying to accomplish two different goals on a single website: get inquiries about the office space solutions (services), and/or sell virtual office plans and meeting room time (products). Some customers were sending inquiries about the e-commerce products rather than the services, so the two were seemingly detracting from each other.
What, if anything, was your client doing at the time to address this challenge? Why wasn’t it working?
Jay Suites was investing heavily in optimizing its SEO and online advertising. Its rankings improved and the volume of visits definitely increased. It was clear from the site’s analytics that the visits were quality ones; the issue was that visitors simply weren’t converting as much as the company hoped.
Can you describe the solution you implemented to address your client’s challenge?
We began by analyzing the inquiry submissions that Jay Suites did receive. At the time we started this project, the website had a single contact form on the whole site. The form itself was lengthy, asking for specific details about a prospect’s lease interests, such as length and desired office size.
When we looked at the responses, we realized that most prospects could not answer most of these questions upfront and preferred to leave them empty, writing responses like “N/A” and “not sure”.
This prompted us to experiment a bit. We decided to introduce a simpler, “bare-bones” contact form asking for just the truly essential information Jay Suites would need in order to successfully follow-up on an inquiry. The form’s brevity also made it suitable to feature on more of the site’s pages (including the homepage) without overwhelming visitors.
Similarly, we incorporated clearer, more prominent linking to the e-commerce purchasing systems in the layout of the relevant product pages. This helped direct substantially more visitors to those pages.
In what ways did you use customer behavioral analyses to direct your client’s business decisions?
We looked at the visitor paths. The site had substantial visits, and the homepage bounce rate was relatively low, which indicated that the visitors were well-targeted and found the site relevant. Exit rates on specific pages were high, which would make sense for descriptive pages since visitors typically find the content they seek on those pages. However, we wanted them to inquire before leaving – and they simply weren’t doing that because locating a way to contact the company was too difficult, which frustrated most of them. The pages to purchase products were getting abnormally few hits; the funnel basically ended on the descriptive pages.
What results have you seen since beginning the project?
Virtually overnight after introducing the shorter form and making it more prominent, inquiries for services increased substantially. Today, the “short form” is by far the most popular one on the site, accounting for about 70% of incoming inquiries.
On the e-commerce front, we actually started seeing traffic to the pages where visitors can purchase products. Those pages are now among the top 10 most popular on the site. More than 30% of visitors to the “descriptive” pages now continue on to the “purchase” pages.
Bottom Line: What was the ROI impact of this project?
We’ve seen multiplied volume of inquiries, and another double-digit improvement over these figures when we recently made sure that the short form is visible on most screens without scrolling.
Although the data is still preliminary, the analytics suggest a similar multiplied volume in the e-commerce product sales.
How do you think organizations in general can benefit from understanding customer behavior?
This information is very versatile. Every company needs to generate a sensible return to stay in business, and analyzing customer behavior provides insights that lead to the improvements needed to better the bottom line. This is essential to competing effectively. If it feels like you’re spending too much to acquire a customer, or that your direct competitors seem to be winning a greater share of the market, conducting this analysis can help discover what’s lacking – whether it’s as simple as tweaking your website or more complex, like overhauling your product offering.
About The Author: Dorin Rosenshine is the founder of Outleads.com and a freelance online business development consultant, specializing in SEO, PPC, conversion optimization, and web application programming.