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Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2019 | Tags:
Your website is the digital first impression of your REALTOR® association. It should be a vast resource, provide excellent functionality, and offer simple navigation to engage visitors while on the site and encourage them to return. If you’re finding that your association website needs a little more pep, we’ve curated our 6 favorite features to help give it a boost in the new year.
1. MLS Integration / Property Search
There’s a common misconception that featuring a property search on your association’s website means competing against members. However, if this feature is set up correctly, it can be an excellent lead generator for members.
Here are examples of 3 must-have features for your integrated MLS search.
Homepage Search Bar
Pro tip: Your property search shouldn’t require any manual entry into the website. All the data should be pulled automatically from the MLS via a RETS feed. Make sure the vendor you chose can pull this data automatically, at least every 2-3 hours (if not faster). Avoid FTP daily data pulls, as they are antiquated and leave you with dated/stale information.
2. Find An Agent & Office Directory
Your association’s website is meant to be a resource for members. One way to do that is to provide an agent/office search where consumers can find agents and contact them.
The best features to include in the searches:
With Accrisoft’s software, we can automatically pull data to integrate with the MLS. If you already have a property search on your site pulling from the MLS, then typically you can also access your agent/office profiles and pull them in as well. If you don’t have an MLS integration, you can also look into pulling data through your AMS. This is usually more difficult, restricting, and far more complex because there are no data standards between AMS systems like there are between MLS (ie. RETS or RESO).
3. Affiliate Go-Local Directory
If you have a site that includes some consumer tools (which we definitely recommend - see this post as a reference: “Optimizing Your Real Estate Association Website Strategy: Determining Your Overall Strategy” then you should highly consider creating a special affiliate directory.
At Accrisoft, we’ve created what’s called the “Go-Local Directory” tool for affiliates, which allows site visitors to search for affiliates, check off one’s they’re interested in, and then export/print a PDF list with contact info, logos, etc.
This can be a great resource for your affiliates, ensuring that they continue to stay on board with the association.
4. Area Statistics
Keeping your members informed is paramount. Your association can do this by displaying monthly statistics including the number of properties sold one month prior, average sale price and days on the market, plus average sales price change compared to the same time last year.
Pro tip: Include animation on the homepage statistics. If you have the numbers count up or down, this draws more attention to the information.
5. Online Application Forms
The longer you can keep someone on your website, the better it can be for your Google ranking. One way to do this is by providing dynamic online forms, eliminating the need for people to print and scan back documents.
Benefits of online forms:
Reduce double entry for staff
Streamline the process for members
Immediate notifications to staff so nothing is missed
Automated digital archives of all applications to the cloud
The use of the thank-you email and thank-you page to promote services you offer to the new member
6. Alert Bar
A primary reason for having a website is to keep your members informed. You can ensure members will see important information by adding an alert bar to your site, which will appear above the main navigation. Time sensitive or special occasion messages can be easily added and updated with this feature.
Bonus Feature: SSO to your membership system
Many popular Association Management Systems (AMS) today have APIs and can be accessed by your website provider. These APIs can give access to setting up a Single-Sign-On or advanced integration with your website.
Typically, it’s your website vendor who is responsible for performing the SSO integration. Make sure you ask the vendor if they’ve ever done integrations before, and if they have a relationship with the third-party AMS. These integrations can be extremely complex. It’s easy for a Mom-and-Pop agencies to fail on these integrations and create major issues for your website and members moving forward.
AMS providers like RAMCO and Rapattoni, also have API functionality allowing you to create a custom user experience for your members
For example, Accrisoft’s websites can integrate deeply with the RAMCO or Rapattoni databases. With RAMCO, they can authenticate users and pull information to be shown on native dashboards. This creates a wonderful user experience for your members, and a seamless website.
You will see below, the login dashboard is accessed by clicking the floating button on the right side of the page. Logging in authenticates users with RAMCO dynamically. The live dashboard data is pulled directly from RAMCO and is accessible on the website, without having to go out to a subdomain or the RAMCO portal website.
We love getting feedback from our REALTOR® association readership on how new website tools like these have been beneficial to their organization. If you are looking to integrate any of the tools mentioned in this article onto your association’s site, simply fill out the form below and one of our talented web strategists will be in touch.