Win Report: How research rescued a website rebrand

Published: December 2023

The following is part of our Win Reports series, providing an “under the hood” look at how we apply the CRE methodology™ to grow our clients’ businesses—revealing the research we conduct, ideas we create, tests we run, and insights we provide.

In the next three minutes, we’ll show you how we applied the CRE Methodology™ to a website rebranding and helped a great business get back on track.
A comparison of the original and new version of the Real EstateU website.

RealEstateU provides high-quality online education for those seeking a U.S. real estate license. They have served over 225,000 students and are rated 4.5/5 by the Better Business Bureau.

Despite these achievements, RealEstateU’s website had a problem.

Background: A sharp fall in sales

Just as we came on board, the company completed a long-planned rebrand, launching a new website with bold colors and an edgier tone.

A mobile screen shot of the control version of the new website with bold colors and an edgier tone.

Unfortunately, RealEstateU’s sales fell 30% overnight.

Sadly, this isn’t unusual. As we say in our article, How to tell if your expensive new website is useless:

“That’s how most website redesign projects happen. The agency builds a beautiful website, one that would look great in its portfolio. But it has no interest in measuring how well the website works. Or even if it works. Many clients hire us to rebuild the functionally useless new website that their agency has just finished building.”

Something was clearly wrong with the new website—the question was “what?” No one wanted to discard months of work without understanding what was wrong. And fast.

(If you’re thinking of doing a redesign or replatform, get in touch. We can help you understand the parts of your website that are working well and the parts that aren’t, so you can be sure that you keep the things visitors love and not the things they hate.)

Research: “Everything is too loud.”

Analytics can tell you what’s happening, but rarely why. That’s why we invest so much energy in talking to our client’s customers. We routinely ask people in the client’s target market to rate their website against key competitors.

In this case, the study revealed a particular problem with RealEstateU’s new website: Trust.

A word cloud for RealEstateU and their two closest competitors showing
Words that visitors use to describe RealEstateU and the two closest competitors.
A chart showing the trustworthiness of RealEstateU and the two closest competitors.
The average trustworthiness scores for RealEstateU and competitors.

Trust can be hard to measure, but if you lose it, the consequences become all too clear. Our participants trusted RealEstateU far less than its competitors. They said things like:

“Everything is too loud, and my first thought is Real Estate for Dummies.”

“The neon color doesn’t make the site appealing. It’s hard to follow without hurting my eyes.”

“The whole website seems like a scam.”

In fact, RealEstateU came lowest in almost every category, including the “likelihood of exploring further”—a key success indicator.

Iterating towards a new design

Rather than revert back to the original design—which can be technically challenging—RealEstateU was still keen to refresh its brand.

But with the new site live—and losing money—we were in a race against time. We prescribed a program of rapid prototyping and usability testing to develop a design that we could confidently roll out.

Here’s what we implemented:

A screenshot of the new version of the page after the redesign.

Our goal for the new design was to:

  1. Lower the noise with a relaxed color palette and more persuasive copy.
  2. Emphasize trust signals with the A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and reviews from many of the 225,000 customers.
  3. “Explain” the low price (which some users had taken as a signal of low quality).

Results: Winning in every category

With the new research-driven design live, the conversion rate exceeded its original level.

As you’d expect, after the new design launched, we compared RealEstateU’s website against key competitors. Here’s the key comparison:

A chart showing the trustworthiness of RealEstateU and the two closest competitors.
The average trustworthiness scores for RealEstateU and competitors.

Trust had increased dramatically from the first study. When reviewing the new website, the study’s participants now said things like:

“RealEstateU.com web page was the best because of its clarity.”

“I find it trustworthy because of the reviews left by students and the detailed layout of their website.”

“I would highly suggest buying a course here.”

“It seems like there are many reasons to choose them. They have a lot of students and good reviews, they explain everything very well and go through the course with you.”

“I loved RealEstateU’s platform overall. I felt it was the best choice out of all of them.”

In the new review, RealEstateU outscored its competitors on every metric, including “likelihood of exploring further,” which grew by 140%.

Using this strong foundation and insights gleaned from our wider research, we began running A/B tests to further accelerate the site’s growth.

What next?

If you want us to grow your profits—quickly and efficiently—check if you qualify for a free one-on-one strategy session with one of our CRO consultants.

We’ll only work with you if we believe we can get amazing results together. Our success has come entirely from positive word of mouth, and we plan to keep it that way.

Thanks to RealEstateU for letting us share these insights (and being such a great team to work with).

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