Developing a Strong Digital Presence in CRE

Hoping to attract investors and other potential clients? Without them, it’s pretty hard to develop and maintain a CRE career. Since you’re competing against many others in that space, it’s essential to have a strong digital presence. 

Over 80% of investors, tenants, and buyers begin their CRE journey by searching online. A solid digital footprint will capture more of their attention. A well designed, user-friendly website will generate more opportunities to connect and cultivate clients and build your pipeline. A robust digital presence:

  • Increases your credibility 
  • Elevates your company above others
  • Increases tenants’ and investors’ trust in your expertise

Best of all, a strong digital presence adds value today and generates ROI tomorrow by expanding audiences and brand outreach, growing business credibility, and more.

Expanding audiences

Thanks in no small part to the pandemic, we pivoted to spend more time online. People chat with video calls, attend meetings via Zoom, order groceries and other items, stream television and movies, conduct banking, and work remotely. The virtual world has become a way of life for most of us, and companies adapted — and adopted digitalization quickly. 

Those interested in CRE already spend much of their time online, searching for and managing properties, tweaking interior design and retrofits, and so much more. 

Extending brand outreach

As more companies opt for hybrid workforces — with employees working in-office or remotely from home offices sometimes several states or countries away from their businesses — they’re rethinking their approaches to the spaces they need.

How does this “new working normal” connect to CRE? By opening up an even wider, broader market to reach potential clients. Having a strong digital presence supports the flexibility to adjust to evolving trends and appealing to new interests. 

Cultivating business credibility

By cultivating a solid digital presence, you also cultivate business credibility. Real-time data can deliver consistently up-to-date information about current real estate offerings, for example. Plus, website visitors can access the information they need — whether they’re tenants, potential investors, or buyers — 24/7. 

Another benefit to a strong digital presence generated by a website that never sleeps is the work it does for you even when you’re not online. Count on it to attract and capture interest, engage page visitors, remarket them, and generate more opportunities to attract and convert prospects.  

Best Practices for Designing a CRE Website

Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” While the expression may have become cliché, it’s still used frequently — because it’s true.

Professionals involved in commercial real estate, from brokers and bankers to contractors and interior designers, and from building systems management companies to IT and security vendors — and everyone in between — know the most effective way to promote their business, attract new clients, and increase market share is by having a strong online presence.

The challenge? Architecting and executing a well-designed website, because outdated or hard-to-navigate websites won’t do you any favors. If someone lands on your page and can’t quickly find what they need within 15 seconds or so, they’re gone. You’ve lost that opportunity to make a connection. To deliver a website aligned with today’s tech-savvy client expectations for design and usability requires an optimized website that’s user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some recommendations to achieve that balance.

  1. Champion consistency across devices.

People browse websites from many different devices: laptops and desktops, tablets and phones. Endear yourself to your clients by creating a clean, user-friendly, and easily navigable website regardless of where someone’s browsing. When it comes to user experience, consistency is key.

  1. Provide clear navigation.

Want to help current and potential clients avoid distraction? Refrain from offering an overabundance of menu options. Otherwise, visitors may waste time (and become frustrated) looking for information. 

If you’re a broker with properties to sell or rent, for example, keep navigation simple helps visitors focus on the content — like building information, amenities, and location — instead of clicking around fruitlessly and leaving the page (and your website) entirely.

  1. Opt for a clean, minimalist layout. 

Resist the temptation to add elements that clutter and distract from the content you want visitors to read. Choose a simple, functional design to help focus someone’s attention on calls to action (CTAs). Don’t overwhelm each page with copy, either. Present the important nuggets of information users seek and rely on clean, consolidated website copy to encourage CTAs and drive conversions.

  1. Play with color — judiciously.

Want to capture someone’s attention and make a strong, lasting impact? Use color. Consider a color palette that’s complementary to your brand or the branding you’ve chosen for your properties (if you’re a broker) or products you offer. 

  1. Go bold with typography.

Another strategy for highlighting your main value propositions to generate that lasting impression — and reinforce your brand name — is choosing a bold, modern font. Avoid fussy fonts difficult to read across different devices. Use complementary fonts in headings and subheadings, titles and subtitles to deliver messages, too.

  1. Don’t skimp on photography.

It’s also true that a picture’s worth a thousand words, so factor good quality photos taken by a professional into your marketing budget. Crisp, professional pics can help capture initial interest in your properties — and encourage potential clients to reach out.

Don’t limit images to the properties page, either. Full-width images, such as hero images, also have a role in website interface design. They catch the eye and hold prospective clients’ attention as well.

  1. Showcase the lay of the land with custom interactive maps.

Who hasn’t googled an address to see what’s around it? Most savvy website surfers expect sites to feature maps and pins to help find amenities and businesses. Use these maps in conjunction with property listings to show the surroundings and community. After all, real estate’s all about location! 

An interactive map is a powerful tool — and key decision-driver — for potential investors or tenants seeking and evaluating commercial properties. Well-designed, thoughtfully-planned maps go far to deliver a robust, helpful user experience.

  1. Deliver an in-person experience online

Don’t just rely on static images. Include 3D renderings, detailed floor plans, videos, and virtual tours as well to enable prospects who aren’t necessarily local to get a more complete picture of your properties.

Are you a commercial real estate investor or looking for a specific property to meet your company’s needs? We invite you to talk to the professionals at CREA United: an organization of CRE professionals from 92 firms representing all disciplines within the CRE industry, from brokers to subcontractors, financial services to security systems, interior designers to architects, movers to IT, and more. 

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