Final Report: Forced vs. Unforced Registration Test
At the beginning of our test, we promised to report our findings through the end of the year. It has been eye opening for us to track our results in this much detail and we appreciate your input and advice along the way. Below is the 13th and final reporting data for the test.
Final Weekly Data: December 25 - December 30, 2009
So this is the Data that includes Christmas Day and the week between Christmas and New Years. As such, we figured this would be a "dead week" for reporting...meaning the numbers would be abysmal. But, in looking back over the past could of weeks, this reporting data is significantly better than the 2 weeks prior. Go figure?
| || Saint-Paul-Real-Estate.com (Unforced)||BarkerHedges.com (Forced) |
| Unique Visitors|| 967|| 944|
| Avg Pages Viewed per Visitor|| 17.4||13.4|
| Avg Time on Site per Visitor|| 11 minutes 46.7 seconds ||7 minutes 27 seconds|
| Bounce Rate||31%||36%|
| || || |
| IDX Registrations|| 4||51|
| Showing Request Forms|| 2||1|
| Property Inquiry Forms|| 3||1|
| Other Misc Forms|| 1||2|
| Call In from Website|| 0||0|
| Bad Information Given|| 0||0|
Totals and Analysis:
Our test began on October 1, 2009 and concluded on December 30, 2009. Our goal was to measure the lead activity for each website and compare our results at the conclusion. For our purposes, we have tracked IDX Registration leads for both websites and non-IDX inquiries (showing requests, contact forms, property inquiries, etc.) for each website. When we use the term "Conversion Rate" it means the percentage of unique visitors that took an action: either registration as an IDX user or filled out a form (showing request, contact form, listing inquiry, etc.).
IDX Conversion Rates:
- Forced Registration site (www.barkerhedges.com) = 3.98%
- Unforced Registration site (www.saint-paul-real-estate.com) = 0.38%
Obviously, we expected a higher conversion rate for IDX registrations originating from our Forced Registration website...DUH! But most shocking was that the spread was only 3.6% between the websites. For our Forced Registration Website, we expected a conversion rate above 5% and were hoping for 8% - 10%. Apparently, we need to do a better job of showing our website visitors how cool it is to search for homes on our Forced Registration website.
Non-IDX Conversion Rates:
- Forced Registration site = 0.49%
- UnForced Registration site = 0.66%
Hmmm...what to say about this? Our expectation was to receive around 1.0% conversion rate for the Unforced Website and slightly lower for the Forced site. The spread is probably close to what we expected (0.17%), but the overall percentages seem awfully low. Maybe it was the time of year? Or maybe we need to do a better job of establishing the value of our Real Estate Services?
For purposes of analysis, let's assume that a website receives 6,000 Unique Visitors per month, or 72,000 Unique Visitors per year. Working from the 72,000 Unique Visitor number, let's do some comparisons using the actual conversion rate data experienced from our test.
Expected IDX Registrations:
- Forced Registration should expect: 2,865 IDX Registrations per year.
- UnForced Registration should expect: 274 IDX Registrations per year.
When you look at these raw numbers, it's pretty staggering! This means that you should expect roughly 10X as many IDX Registration Leads from a Forced Registration Website. Which brings us to our next question: how many of these IDX leads will convert into a showing request, listing inquiry, etc.? It's a nearly impossible question to answer because it depends on the sophistication of your follow up system, the competition in your marketplace, and other factors. More about this later.
Expected Non-IDX Submissions:
- Forced Registration should expect: 353 Non-IDX Inquiries
- UnForced Registration should expect: 475 Non-IDX Inquiries
Ok, so let's just jump to the REAL question that needs to be asked? To justify Forced Registration, is the increase in IDX Registrations enough to outweigh a decrease in the non-IDX Inquiries?
Using the numbers above, the Forced Registration website should expect about 2600 more IDX registrations per year over the UnForced counterpart. It should also expect 122 fewer non-IDX inquiries during this same time span. This brings us back to the question from above: can we expect AT LEAST a 4.7% return on our IDX Registration investment? Meaning...will 4.7% of the additional 2600 IDX leads convert into a showing request or other inquiry at some point in the future?
For those that have pontificated at length in the past about the merit of Forced Registration or the superiority of Unforced Registration...it comes down to this: will at least 4.7% of IDX Registrations convert into Showing Requests, Property Inquiries, or Contact Forms? If the answer is YES, then go with Forced Registration ALL DAY LONG! If the answer is NO, then why are we even having this conversation?
Our Best Guess:
Given that an IDX user has taken the plunge and decided to share personal contact information in exchange for viewing homes for sale on a website...we can at least assume that the person has an interest in purchasing a home. With this in mind, we are of the opinion that at least 5% of these people will eventually request a showing or otherwise contact us for more information about purchasing a home.
How long this process will take is unknown to us at this time, but we hope to report some follow up postings when we have more information. We expect that it will take 6-9 months to convert an IDX lead into a showing request or other inquiry and an additional 3-6 months for that lead to purchase and close on a property. Your input and experience with these time frames would be greatly appreciated!
This concludes the reporting for the Forced vs. Unforced Registration Website Challenge.
Brandon & Matt