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A Conversation That Blew My Mind

Some real estate agents out there have to reread the popular best selling book  “Who Moved My Cheese” because they are just far to stubborn, and, more importantly, are losing market share.

Here’s The Background To The Story

I recently had a conversation about online lead capture with an agent that left me shaking my head.  This particular agent was once an absolute powerhouse.  In fact, she was at one time a highly celebrated agent that was consistently honored by one company award after another.  However, in the last few years her market share has began to decline in a noticeable way.  This is what led to our conversation.

She noticed that I was consistently generating leads on my website that were converting into real business and asked me to come in to her office to share with her how I was doing it.  I gladly obliged and assessed what her online business looked like.  What I found wasn’t surprising.  It was one of those absolutely  outdated static websites that do nothing but display an oversized picture of you and your dog.

As a side note, how did our industry ever decide that was a good idea?

Here Is What I Told Her

  • Build a WordPress site that makes it easy and convenient for visitors to search the San Diego MLS.  It will also allow you to stop being dependent on a web designer for each and every minor tweak, and you will be able to post relevant and current information at will.
  • Don’t plaster your picture all over the place.  It isn’t about you.  It’s about consumers and the information they are looking for.  First and foremost, they simply want to find homes for sale.  Make that the focus!
  • Ditch the generic MLS board provided IDX and use a more sophisticated system like Diverse Solutions.
  • I also offered to help her optimize her site and teach her the basics.

We were doing pretty well up to that point.  But here is where I lost her:

  • Force people that use your IDX to register in exchange for the service.  That is where the lead capture happens.  This is the information you are asking me for.

Sad But True, And Why My Mind Was Blown

She started arguing with me that forcing people to register was a bad idea.  So I asked her how many leads she currently gets out of her current system.  The answer was zero.  Not even one.

I asked her how much business she has done over the course of her entire career that could be traced back to her website.  She gave me some vague answer about how a couple clients of hers once told her that her site was nice.

I suggested that she try and follow my simple advice and I promised she would have more tangible and consistent results.  She told me that forcing people to register on her website would drive people away.  Please reread that sentence and it will be clear why I had a headache from the conversation.

How could this be?  It didn’t make sense.  This was is an agent who gets nothing from the internet yet is afraid that people will be driven away from her site?  Doesn’t it seem like they already are?  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to try something new?  Wouldn’t it be an even better idea if that something new was the exact same thing that the agent sitting in the office right next door to her was implementing day in and day out with great success?  It blew my mind.

The Takeaway

What agents like this one are missing is that building a successful online lead capture site complete with forced registration is not a new age technique that is going to come and go.  Learning how to implement a sound internet strategy is the core of what real estate marketing is.  This includes the basics of seo, lead capture, landing pages, and interactive posts.  It is here to stay.  Those that do not wake up are going to continue to lose market share.  The good news is that those that catch on quickly have an amazing opportunity right in front of them.  Agents like the one described above that once dominated the marketplace are being slowly yet surely replaced by their more tech savvy counterparts.  It is like having discovered the power of direct mail years ago before everyone else started doing it.  An effective online presence is no longer a choice for those agents that want to be big time players in the marketplace of the future.

About Daniel Beer

Daniel is a San Diego real estate agent focusing on Santaluz homes for sale. He also has a passion for helping people moving to San Diego and introducing them to the city he loves.

This entry was posted in Marketing, Websites and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • I’m absolutely amazed so many agents still have static sites built in 1995. It’s crazy people pay for stuff like this – http://www.glenngallico.com/

  • Ken Jansen

    Hi Daniel,

    Great article. I have had similar conversations. I am also a fan of Diverse solutions. I actually use two IDX services, both of which get indexed. It is amazing the level of traffic that adds to your site. It saves money over PPC too, IMHO. PPC is great for immediate traffic, and you know they are looking for answers on the cities I serve, such Kansas City and Overland Park. The monthly fee reduces the cost per click to almost nothing. My main site is averaging around 5,000 visitors a month at the moment.

  • Ken Jansen

    Hi Daniel,

    Great article. I have had similar conversations. I am also a fan of Diverse solutions. I actually use two IDX services, both of which get indexed. It is amazing the level of traffic that adds to your site. It saves money over PPC too, IMHO. PPC is great for immediate traffic, and you know they are looking for answers on the cities I serve, such Kansas City and Overland Park. The monthly fee reduces the cost per click to almost nothing. My main site is averaging around 5,000 visitors a month at the moment.

  • Ken Jansen

    Hi Daniel,

    Great article. I have had similar conversations. I am also a fan of Diverse solutions. I actually use two IDX services, both of which get indexed. It is amazing the level of traffic that adds to your site. It saves money over PPC too, IMHO. PPC is great for immediate traffic, and you know they are looking for answers on the cities I serve, such Kansas City and Overland Park. The monthly fee reduces the cost per click to almost nothing. My main site is averaging around 5,000 visitors a month at the moment.

  • Ken Jansen

    Hi Daniel,

    Great article. I have had similar conversations. I am also a fan of Diverse solutions. I actually use two IDX services, both of which get indexed. It is amazing the level of traffic that adds to your site. It saves money over PPC too, IMHO. PPC is great for immediate traffic, and you know they are looking for answers on the cities I serve, such Kansas City and Overland Park. The monthly fee reduces the cost per click to almost nothing. My main site is averaging around 5,000 visitors a month at the moment.

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  • Jeff Manson

    That way of thinking always amazes me as well. We had a couple clients that were doing it that way before they converted over to our platform. There leads went up 10 times and email requests from users by 12 times when they started using our system and requiring sign ups 🙂 You can see the numbers here: http://www.realgeeks.com/clients/

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  • I was right there with you, right up until you said “forced registration. To settle a bet, colleague and I did an A/B comparison on this once. Two websites, exactly the same platform and IDX, both got the same traffic, visits, page views, etc. One required forced registration, the other did not. Yes, the one that required registration got more “registrations”, but the other one got far more “Schedule a Showings” or “Property Inquiries”. The latter have a much higher conversion rate than the former.

    Registrations are not “leads” by my definition. Those are, “I’m just looking.” A “lead” is, “I want to see this property”, or “I have a question” or some other act where the buyer asking to communicate with you. Forcing people to register is like the pushy salesman at a department store hovering over you and saying, “Can I help you”. Most people’s reaction is, “Leave me alone, let me look and I’ll call you if/when I want your help.” On the internet, buyers will often either provide fake contact info, or just leave and go to another site that doesn’t require registration.

    If you’re in a market where most of your competitors require registration, that may be one thing. But if you require registration and your competitors don’t, your bounce rate will rise as your potential customers go elsewhere.

    As always, YMMV … if it works for you, fine. I’ve tried it both ways and enjoy better luck with an open model. Hope that didn’t “blow your mind!” 😉

    • Jeff Manson

      We have done a/b testing to have found the opposite. On more than one site in more than one market. As I mentioned. There email requests increase 12 times, and the sign ups 10 times.

      • The registration debate has been around as long as IDX itself, and there are good points on either side of the debate. Different things work in different markets, so each agent needs to do their own testing and see what works for them.

    • Jeff Manson

      I guess it all depends on the quality of the IDX search and how simple it is to get to the sign up as well. So maybe you are right for most IDX searches since they are not very easy to use 🙂

      • I’m using the same IDX as the author, Diverse Solutions.

    • No it didn’t. In fact, I appreciate your response. One major difference between you and the person I described in my story is that you are sharing actual experiences with us. The agent I was speaking of in my story didn’t have a shred of internet success yet didn’t want to listen to somebody that was doing well right before her eyes.

      I have also tried both methods, and I consistently get better results with forced registration. If you follow up quickly with each of your leads you can achieve very respectable sales conversion rates with forced registration.

  • I’m in agreement with Intown Elite and my broker as far as registration goes.
    We had mandatory registrations and got plenty of searchers registering. In my experience the property inquiries are up since we deleted the registration requirement for search. I know this is a hotly debated topic and everyone has their opinion. I have had people tell me they would keep searching for a site that doesn’t require registration if they were forced to do it. Maybe the consumers make a difference. We get a fair amount of folks age 50+ looking to move to Williamsburg. They also tend to start their searches years in advance of a move . Not sure if thats a factor.

    John Womeldorf
    http://www.MrWilliamsburg.com

    Our market is VERY SMALL only about 1000 transactions a year. ( Williamsburg VA) maybe that’s a factor ?

    Most of my business is generated online through my websites and I get numerous inquiries weekly.

    In closing, we all have our own modes of business. What works for one doesn’t neccissarly work for others. Do what works for you…

  • I’m in agreement with Intown Elite and my broker as far as registration goes.
    We had mandatory registrations and got plenty of searchers registering. In my experience the property inquiries are up since we deleted the registration requirement for search. I know this is a hotly debated topic and everyone has their opinion. I have had people tell me they would keep searching for a site that doesn’t require registration if they were forced to do it. Maybe the consumers make a difference. We get a fair amount of folks age 50+ looking to move to Williamsburg. They also tend to start their searches years in advance of a move . Not sure if thats a factor.

    John Womeldorf
    http://www.MrWilliamsburg.com

    Our market is VERY SMALL only about 1000 transactions a year. ( Williamsburg VA) maybe that’s a factor ?

    Most of my business is generated online through my websites and I get numerous inquiries weekly.

    In closing, we all have our own modes of business. What works for one doesn’t neccissarly work for others. Do what works for you…

  • Ben

    Great article here, thank you! I have taken my dad’s website (static with no search traffic) and converted his “Foreclosure Report” to an independent website using WordPress with an integrated IDX. He has gone from only word of mouth sign-ups to over 600 visits a month in less than 6 months from the initial start-up. We are also averaging around 5 foreclosure report sign-ups and 10 or so a month IDX search registrations.

    These numbers of leads have more than tripled his business. I simply taught myself as I went and it still has a LOT of work to be done as I am no web designer by any means. I plan on doing a site for myself in a different area in the spring as I know now what works and what doesn’t.

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