A month-long study of visitors to agents’ own websites has revealed that very few go on to other agents’ sites.
It has also shown that agents could do far more in terms of chat availability and are seeing potential business ‘walk away’ because there is no one on chat duty at certain times.
Just 4.6% of the 2.8m visitors monitored during May went on to browse other agents’ websites.
Giosg, a firm which advises businesses on how to engage with customers online, monitored a total of 2,710,592 individuals looking for properties on eight websites.
These belonged to companies of very different sizes, and included one online agent: Connells, Knight Frank, Hamptons, Savills, Countrywide, Hatched (the Connells-owned online service), Barons and Winkworth.
Knight Frank, Connells and Savills were the three busiest sites. One of them – Giosg has refused to say which – drew over 40% of all the visitors. The next busiest drew 38.4% of the visitors, and the third busiest 22.4%.
The least busy sites drew just 0.08% and 1.32% of the visitors.
On average, visitors viewed 8.8 pages during a browsing session, although results vary between the best performing site which generated 14.9 page views per visit and the worst with only 2.8.
All eight of the agency websites have chat functions, and during the month there were over 1,000 chats between them.
The study showed that most visitors go to agents’ websites during the working week between 6am and 7pm.
These times had significant implications for the chat functions on the sites, since chat operators tend to be available between 9am and 6pm.
Ville Rissanen, CEO at Giosg, said: “This means there are three hours a day which accounts for 720,000 unique visitors and indicates that a significant amount of potential additional business is currently just walking away.”
Weekend online visits accounted for approximately 850,000 visitors in the month.
Whilst weekend visits fall by 30% on Saturdays and 34% on Sundays, the number of chat operators ‘on call’ drops by 51% and 69% respectively.
Five out of the eight companies have no one on chat duty on Sundays.
During the month, the 1,000 chat conversations broke down as follows:
- Booking a valuation 30%
- Property enquiry 28%
- General enquiry 20%
- Technical issues and site content 5%
- Branch contact 2%
- Recruitment 1%
- Other 14%
Rissanen said: “Property companies have been one of the early adopters of online chat but there is more that can be done, watching potential customers’ ever-changing habits and actions.
“We know that today’s consumers expect to get a response from property companies around the clock, not just between the hours that most customer service representatives are in the office.
“To ensure there are no ‘black holes’ in the communication flow when teams are enjoying a rest, our clients such as Connells Group, whom we work with to deliver new revenue sources from its websites and to improve online customer service experience, have implemented semi-automated instant messaging services.
“This targets their website visitors at the optimum point in their online journey, regardless of whether that happens to be at 10am or 10pm.
“This has resulted in a more than 20% increase in the number of property valuations booked through Connells websites.”