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Sticky Websites, Keep ‘Em Coming Back

Strange Looks

Many times when I use the word sticky when talking to people about websites I get a strange look? However, most web 2.0 people know what that means. In its simplest meaning, it means that a visitor to your web site or blog keeps coming back again. As Realtors, we must have our web-sites be sticky. We want those return visitors.

How do we get return visitors?

We provide them with the best information out there of all the sites they are looking at. I have four sites, one is “sticky”, and the others are not. The “sticky” site brings me leads and closings, the others do not or rarely do. If I had to depend on my non-sticky sites, I would be living in the poor house right now.

How do you find out if your site is sticky?

Easy, ask yourself, do you have the same folks returning again and again to look for houses? My sticky web-site is programmed to send out new listings to the buyers who register and save their search. Then when a new listing comes on the market that meets their criteria, they are automatically sent the new listing. I can tell who opens the new listing or not. When they return to the site I get an email notification that they have returned. I have found that those who are using the site the most often are the ones closer to buying a home, usually within 90 days. On my blogs I use sites such as sitemeter or getclicky.

The Net Savvy Consumer

In Real Estate the consumer is looking for information on homes for sale in your area. Consumers want to see multiple photos, virtual tours, maps and satellite images. Where does that house sit on that lot? Are there railroad tracks next door? Is it near a commercial development? Is it close to schools? Is the Realtors description accurate? The consumer of today is not looking for a Plain Jane boring search site, they want information and they want it quickly. They want fewer clicks to get to what they are searching. They don’t like to be taken from one site to another to see the listings.

Search your competition

How do you know how you are stacking up with the competition in your area? I suggest “putting on your buyer hat” and pretend you are looking to purchase a home in your area. Type in your search queries or the words you think a buyer would look for. Some of the things I try to target my site to come up for are: Ann Arbor Real Estate, Homes for sale in Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor MLS, Ann Arbor Realtor, and Search Ann Arbor houses for sale. Next go to the sites that come up under those search terms and check out your competition. Does your web-site match up? Would you hang out and look for homes on their site or yours? Stop thinking like a Realtor and think like a buyer, think like a seller.

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I know of a Realtor in my area, that has fantastic positions for his web-site, his wife optimizes his site constantly. I also know the site is not “sticky” and he hasn’t closed a house from it all year. Good placement on Google, bad site? or not good follow up? Most of us, would love to have our sites come up on the positions he holds on Google, but if the site doesn’t give the consumer what they want they will find a site that does and they will return to that site again and again.

People visiting your web sites have higher expectations than they did a few years ago; the competition is tougher to get those returning visitors. A “sticky site” is a must. Keep is simple, easy to navigate, give them as much information on the house as you can with tons of photos, let your visitors feel 100% in charge of their experience while on your site. Remember it is all about them, their time, their needs. They don’t care about your face, your awards, the weather, or all the wonderful things you do.

They care about the information they are searching for, that’s it.

Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Jim Whatley

    October 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I realized customer do not care about me until, I give them what the want better than anyone else. My site has been powered by google and searches easier than the MLS. I can put in Destin pool and get all the homes in destin with a pool. search by any term price, map or what ever you can think of.

    We Tell out sellers think like a buyer. Brokers think like a searcher. make it easy for people to use your site. Look at Google there are no pictures of the founders of google. they do not tell you how wonderful they are. Prove your worth. Give the people what the want. You do not need flash you need SEO, either through organic or ad words and phrase. Gen Y will not stand for fluff they will want results. they will shop with the iphones and want it check out your site on the phone.

  2. V Copen

    October 14, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I am agreement with you about giving the person searching the power of being in control of the experience by giving them the information they are seeking when they find your site. The world is moving at a faster pace but at some point of the transaction the human contact will be made and we must be ready and available by quick follow ups as mentioned or sales will be lost.

  3. Judy Peterson

    October 15, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Good information Missy. You are so on the right path when you stress the importance of thinking from the perspective of your clients experience to entice them to return. Get Clicky looks interesting. Do you use the free or the pro version?

  4. Missy Caulk

    October 15, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Jim, I think most of the MLS searches are plain vanilla and boring. This is why many of us have gone to outside vendors that give the consumers more data and are easier.

    V Copin, giving them what they want is critical, follow up is even more critical, can I say more critical? Yes I did follow up is more critical.

    Judy, I paid for the pro version, more data to analyze and it was not expensive.

  5. Steve Simon

    October 15, 2008 at 6:54 am

    A question, as to what you’all think are the best values in the “outside vendor” areas for god consumer sticky data?
    Who uses what and how happy or unhappy are you with their content and service for their relative cost?

  6. Jason Steele

    October 15, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I am not sure I 100% agree with the sticky concept. Don’t get me wrong you need a web site that is built to get your target audience to achieve your objectives and keep them coming back as much as possible. Whether it be save a search, fill-out a lead form or make a phone call. You mention the NET saavy customer and I think we are moving away from trying to keep people on a functionality driven site longer. I am a strong advocate for creating features that allow the user to consume our Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate content (listings, community information, recent sales, etc.) anywhere they want. Things like RSS and automated emails are a must have option for today’s Gen Y consumer.

  7. Elaine Reese

    October 15, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I heartily agree that the focus should be providing market data and listings, in addition to our blog posts. The highest trafficked page on my blog is the “boring” housing stats. The traffic count always spikes a few days into the first of the month because readers apparently watch for the previous month’s updates. That page also has the most consumer comments.

    I’ve also sold a couple homes this year simply because people were watching for my new listings in a particular subdivision. In this market, it’s WONDERFUL to have a home go into contract so quickly.

    I think it’s also important to remember that not only are buyers using our sites, but sellers are too … if only to judge how we market other listings.

  8. Kim Wood

    October 15, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Lots of work and always new things to keep our sites sticky!

    Thankful for people like you in my life that we can bounce things off of each other and share what is working and what is not. It is important to keep things on your site that does keep them coming back – even after the sale.

  9. Missy Caulk

    October 15, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Steve, I work with a company out of LA, Tiger. I met the programmer when he lived in Ann Arbor. Brilliant guy, he custom programs according the a raw IDX feed I am able to get from my Board. I know not all MLS boards allow their agents to get a raw data feed. Then we can have him program the fields important in my area. I know KW uses Wolfnet, which with the map function some really like. I think some RSS people use ParkPlace ( I think that is the name and like it) We have people that use our site even if working with another Realtor because it is so user friendly.

    Jason, why would you want to send them off your site to BHG? I guess I don’t understand that? We work hard to get good position and then send them away. Can you explain why this is effective? Curious…

    Elaine, yes the sellers use it for CMA’s and to see how well our other clients homes are being marketed.

    Kim, When clients are past clients, they still receive all my new listings and a monthly newsletter. I tell them in the introduction, that perhaps they have a friend looking to move. I need to send my blogs out to them too. Been meaning to do it for awhile, your comment reminded me to do this asap.

  10. Jason Steele

    October 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm


    I actually don’t want to push them off the site I just want to make our content available wherever they feel comfortable consuming it. Whether it be an RSS reader via outlook that updates them on new/modified listings or on their iGoogle where they can read the latest editorial on staging a home for sale. They still will come back as the content does link back to the site but they don’t have to. Some of my favorite sites I don’t even visit anymore because of RSS and text alerts via my blackberry.

  11. Jill Wente

    October 16, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Missy, Are you concerned that your competition can look at your stats when you use sitemeter? Wouldn’t using Google Analytics be a better source for analyzing your site traffic?

  12. Missy Caulk

    October 16, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Jill, I use sitemeter and getclicky on my blogs and google analytics, they all show different results. No I’m not concerned at all. They can look all they want.

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