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RealGeeks Websites, and the Secret Sauce (a totally biased review)

Real Geeks websitesI get a bunch of calls and emails every week asking for information about the RealGeeks website system we use.  I’m happy to discuss it, but I figured if I just wrote a review of our experience, it might save me a little bit of time in the future.

To be clear, RealGeeks doesn’t pay me, give me a discount, or any other benefits for writing about their product or sending them referrals.  I’ll give you the highlights because we wouldn’t stick with the product if we didn’t like it, and the lowlights because every product has somewhere that it could improve.  This isn’t a sales pitch–I’d love to hear the rest of your experiences with your providers.

We have SeattleHome.com, SeattleCondo.com, SeattleHomes.com, and BellevueHomes.com on RealGeeks because our focus is having technology do as much lead capture and follow-up as possible (you still need to call/email your leads).  There are other systems with more intricate CRMs, designs, etc., but this system is a really clean-cut platform that focuses on your ability to take on-site traffic and turn it into reachable leads.

It costs about $500 to get set up, and then $150/mo ongoing (you might have an additional MLS fee depending on your location).  This isn’t in the super-cheap website category, but it’s very affordable for a product that includes a lead management/distribution system on the back end.

RealGeeks has a forced registration system that allows you to require users to input their contact information before seeing listing details.  Quite a few providers offer this now.  You can set it to “off”, or to allow zero, 1, 3 listings, etc, that a user can view before the popup appears.

The popup requiring registration is where the differentiation starts.  To begin, it doesn’t tell the user “You must register now.”  It offers the user an account with some great benefits, while the bulk of the listing is viewable around the popup with photos scrolling past in the background.  It’s a really nice enticement to sign up.

Within the verbiage of the popup, the user is signing up for automatic listing updates.  When they fill out that form, they’ve already opted-in to receive property via email from you.

This is the “special sauce”, and it’s much different than the kind of drip you see in most websites.  Most systems require the agent to set up listing updates, but RealGeeks has been saving that user’s property searches, even before they’ve registered.  If they land on the website and search for condos between $300,000 and $400,000 in Belltown, the system saves the search.  When the registration pops up later, and the user sets up an account, they automatically start receiving new daily email alerts with condos in Belltown in that price range.

The agent or the user can always adjust the search later or add more separate searches for listing updates, but it takes the work of getting an initial drip set up out of the agent’s hands (especially if the user doesn’t want to talk right away).  As soon as you have a new registration, you have their email, phone number (which they use as their password), and are emailing them the best drip campaign possible–customized new listings.

The back end of the system has a nice way of tracking leads as well.  While that user continues to search on the website, the back end is recording every search and every property that the user views.  As an agent, you can get a really good idea of the kind of buyer you have before even making contact with them by viewing their online behavior.

The lead management system is fairly easy to set up for multiple agents, and to distribute leads to them manually or through a round robin system.  You can also have support set up a custom geographic lead distribution system (this would be a nice future enhancement right on the site).  Agents get email/text alerts when new leads are assigned to them. **Update – the lead manager is now mobile friendly and has integrated calling and texting features.**

As for the front end, there are numerous templates to choose from, and they all need some customization to look unique/modern.  **Update – The new Miranda and Molly designs are out, and they’re faster, cleaner, and more modern.**  You should expect to have a designer do some content/graphic work to flesh out the site.  We’ve spent a lot of time on ours.  No website is going to be sticky without some custom local development, so you should plan on this no matter what platform you’re using.

People always ask us about the SEO.  It’s “great for SEO” because it allows you plenty of flexibility and has on-site IDX listings that are indexable.  It won’t rank highly in search results though, just like any other site, unless you build a lot of quality content in an organized format and develop some traffic/organic links to it.  Don’t kid yourself, nobody ranks without some work.  That being said, it has an easy and flexible content management system that allows you to create some nice pages on the site, and really customize the details for SEO purposes.

The feed for listings works well for the daily updates that users get.  There are some other websites that have faster MLS updates, but the once/day IDX update works fine for buyers getting drip campaigns.  ** Update: RG sites are now pulling new listings via the MLS throughout the day now, so listings update frequently. **

RealGeeks is building integrations for automated import/export leads with Zillow, realtor.com, etc, and into systems like Infusionsoft and Mailchimp.  They’re working on customizing the listing drip campaign so that it will come from the individual agent the lead is assigned to (right now it’s just coming from the main agent on the account).

They also have an upgrade feature that puts a seller valuation tool on your website for $50/mo.  It’s tied into public property data and captures sellers’ addresses and contact info before delivering them a report on their property and a likely value range.  It effectively gets potential sellers to give you their contact information in exchange for a zestimate.  These usually work best with Facebook/Google ads targeting a single zip code for home valuations.

There are other good website products out there, but we chose RealGeeks, and continue to use it, because it converts far more of our traffic to leads, and follows up with our leads even when we forget to.  The pragmatic way in which they develop functionality with an eye on conversion first, and shiny features second, makes me think they’ll continue to be successful for those agents/brokers who are focused on hard results.

Now, you don’t have to call and ask me. 😉

About Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a former management consultant and web developer who writes for for Inman News and REALTOR® Magazine. He is Managing Broker for Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS®. His team sells Seattle homes, condos, and Bellevue homes.

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  • Chad McBain

    Nice review and thanks 🙂 I was just thinking I should email you as we are now able to use RealGeeks which due to board software incompatibility was not an option last year. Now I don’t have to lol…thanks again!

    • Hope it works out for you, Chad, getting more MLSs on board is a big deal. We’ve been very happy.

  • Sam the start up is $450 😉 The new design will be released January or February 2015.

  • Nice review. I just left DS for a small IDX provider Showcase. Liking it so far. I just can’t look at an option that isn’t WordPress based.

    • I was married to WP for a long time, too, Stephanie. It’s a nice platform, but as I want to do less and less web site management and more content production, this system fits the bill.

    • Jennie Eilerts

      How do you like Showcase, Stephanie? I am looking at it for a client.

  • Geoff

    We’re using RealGeeks for our Scottsdale Real estate website and it’s working out great! The whole forced sign-up aspect has been amazing! We’re using the new version which you can check out at http://kay-grant.com

  • Geoff

    Hi Sam,

    Would you mind expanding on this:

    It effectively gets potential sellers to give you their contact information in exchange for a zestimate. These usually work best with Facebook/Google ads targeting a single zip code for home valuations.

    • Sure, Geoff. You put an ad on Facebook that has a picture of a home and says “Home prices are up 7.5% in zip code 98008. Find out what your home is worth online right now!”. Then you target homeowners in that zip code with the ad, and link it back to the Realgeeks property valuation tool. Users fill it out, you contact them and find out if they’re thinking about selling.

  • The new RealGeeks sites are looking a lot better from a design and user interface standpoint. They’re a little more sticky and responsive than they used to be. They are not quite to the level of the BoomTown and Kunversions of the world, but nowhere near as expensive either. My guess is that RealGeeks is more customizable as well? I’ve already read all over the internet about how they have good SEO and conversion numbers. I’m less interested in conversion (I know, call me crazy), and more in providing the best possible user experience while being the best resource for localized real estate information. To me, conversion is something that comes naturally when you are the obvious best choice and local authority.

    Being able to create local content is quite important. That will take a lot of time and energy, so finding a website provider that will let me take that content with me if I ever switch is important. Is that possible with RealGeeks?

    Is it possible to drop the heavily branded back link from the footer of agent websites? In my experience, when I see a developer branded footer on a website, it significantly cheapens the brand that owns that site. I think that would be even more the case from the agent’s customers’ perspective. When I am on a website that seems really slick and I do not see a branded footer, I think it’s a custom build and for whatever reason the brand seems bigger and more established. When I see a developer branded footer, I usually click over to see what that company is all about, and I realize that the company I was originally looking at it just using another company’s template or service. My guess is that if you polled all of the RealGeeks customers, the vast majority would say that they want that footer gone.

    • Real Geeks actually are just as sticky if not even more sticky than the platforms you mention. They are easier to search on… have lower bounce rates and automatically save the searches when the person signs up. The other systems you mention do not. They are also the best value for what you get.

      The content you add is yours and you are free to take it.

      If you don’t the brand at the bottom you should seriously consider developing your own solution.

      • Hi Jeff, thank you for the reply here. As I mentioned in my comment, I do in fact like Real Geeks and think that it has only improved over the years. I realize that as the owner of Real Geeks you are going to be completely sold on your product and think it has better design than competitors. My comments were not intended to offend you, but rather to ask some questions that I had about the product from those who have used it, as well as provide some feedback on how Real Geeks could capture even more market share.

        My guess is that Real Geeks is better today than it was 2 years ago because of changes made from feedback from prospective and actual users, as well as changes in the industry, new competition and user behavior and preferences. Maybe some of the thoughts that I shared can be useful to you because they are also shared by other agents like me. Think of it in the way that politicians see 1 letter written by a constituent as representing the opinion of 10,000 constituents because only 1/10,000 actually take the time to write in their thoughts.

        The market that I work in is unique in that the majority of homes here are luxury homes. The clientele prefer to see custom designed sites, even though most of those sites do not function all that well. I know of at least 3 other agents that have told me they would use Real Geeks or a similar product if it weren’t for the fact that it had a branded logo link in the footer that told their most interested users (those that actually get the the bottom of a page of content), that they were using a monthly fee service site where their clients could click over to and see examples of similar websites from other agents and brokerages. Hopefully that makes a little more sense for where I am coming from. Here’s a couple of posts that sort of addresses the site credit link thing:
        https://yoast.com/footer-design-by-links/
        and…
        http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2013/08/22/developers-stop-putting-your-link-in-the-footers-of-clients-sites.aspx

        • Sounds like you should get a custom solution based on the fact that you don’t care about conversion rate and you don’t like branding of the website provider in the footer.

          Although we have one of the best conversion rates in the business because the user experience is great.

          I hope you find what you are looking for and have a great 2015!

  • Guest

    We use the Real Geeks Leads Program where they manage our Google Ads to drive traffic to our site. Is anyone else using this program? If so, has it been successful in driving real buyer leads to your site? We’re not seeing high traffic numbers and need to determine if the program is worth the spend of $1300 per month or is it a conversion issue. Please share thoughts, advice, best practices…

  • Jim Henheffer

    hey @seattlehomes:disqus ! Are you using a dialer integration with your RG platform? Ie. Mojo? Also, do you see the ability to set Campaigns with SMS and the abiltity to SMS lists coming in the near future?

    • We’ve had a partner using Mojo–I think RG is still working on the integration. We’re using a combination of SMS within RG and Riley.

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