I moved to Las Vegas from San Francisco in 2002. In those days, the only option for seeing houses for sale from a distance was Realtor.com. I remember looking through the homes and picking the ones I liked. I gave my email address and phone number to request more info. Some of the Realtors got back to me. Some didn’t. When I made my first buying trip, I had been emailing three different agents. The one I worked with was the only one of the three who called me rather than just emailing.
I’ve used internet marketing since 2004. Over that time, I’ve learned some expensive lessons. Recently, a couple of agents have asked me about new sites they were considering. Here are some tips I gave them.
Before starting a new website, decide what you want it to achieve.
Having a website where your clients can search listings at their convenience is a great tool. If that’s the only purpose of the site, you can go with one of the in-expensive templates that has an IDX feed. Make sure that the IDX feed updates daily. That will avoid the issue of buyers getting excited over homes that are no longer available.
If you want a website that will generate leads for your business, the process is more complicated. There are two different types of site to consider.
The first is a site that will rank well “organically”.
This is a time consuming process. You will need pages for each of the communities you target. A good blog can help you rank. If you don’t have the time or skill to write, you will need someone who does.
If ranking organically is your goal, you should learn at least the basics of Google’s best SEO practices. You may hire someone to handle the SEO on your site. You’ll be in a better position to make the hiring decisions if you know what good SEO entails.
How difficult it will be to get your site to rank organically will depend on your market. If you’re in a small town, you may have an advantage. In a busy metro like Las Vegas, you will have more competition.
Sites that rank on the first page of Google for your keywords can produce good quality leads. This can be more affordable than spending thousands on Google Adwords each month. Unfortunately, Google continues to play with their algorithms. A site that ranks well one day may not rank so well after the next update.
If your goal is to rank on the first page, you’ll find lots of vendors. Today’s vendors are building templates that you can personalize without doing a full custom site. Real Estate Webmasters, Real Geeks, Dakno Marketing, etc., are some of the leading providers. Keep in mind that picking one of the leading website providers is only the start. You will still need good content for your community pages and good images.
“Lead Gen” websites have been around for ten years or more.
These websites don’t have a lot of content and don’t tend to rank high organically. Lead Gen sites get their leads by spending money on Adwords. These sites include Boomtown, TigerLeads, Commissions Inc, etc. Their prices will vary from one vendor and one market to the next.
When you buy one of these systems, you are not only purchasing the website. They have good back-ends. You will be able to see when a visitor has returned to the site, what they looked at, etc. The Lead Gen sites provide drip email campaigns. Some of them provide text messaging.
Lead Gen sites are ideal for a team or brokerage. In addition to showing when consumers visit the site, they allow you to track how your agents respond to leads. A friend recently asked me about one of these sites that I hadn’t tried before. I took time to look at their demo and they have a good system. It would accommodate 25 agents. At $1500/month, that’s $60/agent for just the CRM. Even without generating leads, it isn’t a bad price for a good quality contact management system. Throw in the leads and it’s a no brainer.
If you’re considering one of these websites, you should compare all the options available for your area. On top of price, look at which one is the most user friendly. Which one has the best system for tracking site visitors and agents response times?
If you’re doing online marketing, the website is just the first step. The leads that it generates need follow up. We strive to call, text and email within five minutes. We continue until we either contact them, they unsubscribe or we’ve made at least a dozen attempts. At that point, they will still receive our monthly newsletters and listings from any saved searches.
Internet marketing is a great way to prospect but it only works if you do.
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