Keep Your Eye On the Prize - Remember Your WHY
Real estate websites can be a challenge. As agents, our websites should be lead generation machines! But who knew that aside from being real estate agents, we'd also have to be web-masters or tech-geeks? I'm right there in the tranches with you.
Our careers require us to be top-notch customer-service providers. We must also be experts in our industry, location, and niche. Furthermore, we need excel at digital marketing.
Ultimately, we have to deliver quality service to the clients we have, as well as generating and nurturing leads for future business. That's a lot to juggle!
To keep ourselves balanced, to keep the eye on the prize, we have to know WHY we do what we do. Therefore, we have to keep our "big why" at the forefront, in focus, as business marketing demands more of us. Otherwise, it'd be easy to slip through the chaos into the land of overwhelmed.
Traditional forms of marketing no longer create steady streams of potential buyers or sellers. We can't rely on handing out business cards, printed trifold brochures, or branded yard signs to sell houses. The bulk of business in our high-tech era is generated online. Digital marketing is what brings in the majority of new prospects.
The secret is this: Your website is the key to your success in lead generation.
7 Deadly Mistakes Agents Make with Their Real Estate Websites
Don't feel bad. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around all of these "tricks" to building real estate websites with search engine authority. Publishing good content regularly helps, but it isn't enough. By being aware of the mistakes other agents commonly make with their real estate websites, you can give yourself an edge in creating, growing, and marketing your own online presence. Here are the most common mistakes most agents make:
- Don't have proper knowledge about Search Engine Optimization
- Lack understanding about keyword strategies
- Underestimate the importance of content marketing
- Fail to design for mobile
- Overlook page load speeds
- Neglect tracking and measuring for results
- Lease or rent a borrowed platform instead of owning their website.
To promote your real estate business, you’ve got to do two things incredibly well. You must embrace technology, and you must be willing to evolve. Here’s the deal:
Technology and Evolution
I’ve heard it said that if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. I believe this is true. Here’s why:
When I was a kid in the early 1980s, I used to watch the cartoon The Jetsons. I scoffed at the notion of a video phone. Ridiculous, right?
At that time in my life, VCRs were just hitting the scene. We changed television channels by manually turning a dial on the set. Microwave ovens were all the rave for well-to-do households. The Internet, as we now know it, was in its incubation phases. Cell phones hadn’t yet been invented.
In fact, I used to use a rotary phone to call 118 to find out the time and temperature. Additionally, when we wanted to find out a business phone number or address, we didn’t Google it - we either looked it up in the phone book or dialed “information”. Furthermore, when we needed to know the name of a song (which we’d undoubtedly listen to on our cassette-tape playing portable walkman), we couldn’t ask Siri; we had to call the local radio station.
Little did I know that the futuristic lifestyle of The Jetsons would become the new norm of the twenty-first century.
Use it or Lose It - Embracing Change
Our mobile phones are smart, too! Not only can we use our devices to call our friends and family, but most smart phones are also equipped with Skype, FaceTime, or some other form of video chat. But it gets better.
Our phones are mini-computers with Internet capabilities. We use our phones for convenient searches, text messages, email communications, and more.
My past caught up with my future. Now I live in a world I once thought of only as fiction. But here’s the kicker:
I was sitting in a restaurant one day. At a nearby table, a group of senior citizens were having a casual discussion over brunch about health.
One man at the table shared his opinion that the people who cannot evolve are the ones who lose touch with their reality - who end up in nursing homes or dying before their time. These are the people who altogether resist computers, cell phones, and modern technological advancements.
That said, everyone at the table began showing off their smart phones and what they’d learned to do with their digital devices. In their phones they kept their calendar of appointments, alerts and reminders for medicine or errands, and notes of things they didn’t want to forget - many of which were recorded with voice recognition technology.
It would seem that the gentlemen sharing his opinion held the same idea as me. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.
The Learning Curve: How to Market Real Estate Websites Online
"80% of all home buyers are searching online | Not newspapers, not driving down streets and looking for ‘For Sale’ signs. No, buyers are looking online for their future homes and they want to know every detail possible about the home before they go see it in person." (source)
As real estate agents, we are often asked about the differences between renting and owning property. We sometimes equate renting to “throwing money away”, and ownership as “making an investment”.
Another differentiating factor between renting and owning a house is that when you rent, you’re limited as to what you can do regarding upgrades, design, and decor. However, when you own - stop short of HOA requirements and restrictions, you can pretty much do whatever you’d like to your home.
The same is true with owning digital real estate - a website address, a place where your business “lives” online. I learned the hard way.
When I first entered the realm of real estate, I had an advantage because I’m naturally drawn to marketing. The idea of growing my own business exciting. Lead generation and the rush of lead capture were thrilling to me. I valued the process of lead nurturing. I also discovered that as I became more educated and experienced with digital marketing, I loved the game of Search Engine Optimization through content marketing. Yep, I was definitely onto something.
Although I enjoyed building on the platform provided by the brokerage, I was facing a few obstacles. I was frustrated because of the limitations on pages and with tracking codes. I’m a real stickler for tracking and measuring content for results.
I wasn’t able to grow at the rate I felt I was capable, nor was I able to implement the tools I felt would propel the growth of my website.
The platform being used by my peers was super simple and aesthetically pleasing, but it was also holding me back. Check it out; this is crazy!
Rent vs. Own: The Real Estate of Websites
I understood that the leads I generated would be in direct proportion to the investments of time, talent, and finances that I committed to growing my website with intelligent marketing.
With carefully planned keyword strategies, I wrote and commissioned a ton of content. I mean a mountain — layers and layers of intertwining content. My mind was wrapped around the concept that search engines rewarded content that provided value to viewers, and I nailed it.
Leads were coming in. My site was gaining rank in the search engines.
Additionally, I was gaining a respectable reputation - not only for being a great real estate agent and referral partner, but also as a digital marketing strategist. But here’s the kicker:
I didn’t realize I was “renting” my website from my brokerage.
When I decided to leave the brokerage I was with in lieu of another company, I lost my website. Yep, gone. All of it. Every dream-filled word.
My efforts at generating valuable content were swallowed whole by cyber-space when “copyright” and “ownership” protected my brokerage, and not me.
It was back to the drawing board at ground zero.
Upsizing: Moving Up in Real Estate Websites
My “starter website” was a great learning experience. I used it as a test-kitchen for discovering what did and did not work in search engine optimization, content marketing, keyword strategies, tracking and measuring, and the importance of owning your own digital content.
Although the new brokerage I chose to work with also offered its own website platform, and I did set it up for the sake of having it, I focused on directing traffic to a new website that I’d own.
WordPress was a fabulous discovery for me. Not only could I own my own website and content, but there was literally no limit to what I could create. I used widgets and plug ins, explored themes, installed tracking codes, and took my digital marketing to the next level - without fear of losing my work. I stacked content. Education was paramount, so I educated myself about optimizing images, implementing video, creating visual tools such as charts and infographics. In short, I was demonstrating what I had learned about dominating the Internet in my industry.
My business was gaining traction, and others were beginning to take notice.
Agent Advice: What Others Were Asking About My Success
As my business and reputation grew, so did the amount of questions my peers in the real estate industry asked:
- What is Search Engine Optimization?
- What are keyword strategies?
- Where do I get stock images, and how do I brand them?
- What should I be blogging about?
- What website platform is best for my business?
- How do I use my website to generate leads?
- What tools can I use to capture leads?
- How should I be nurturing leads?
- How can I create video to get more leads online?
And the list goes on. Initially, these inquiries caught me by surprise. It was as though someone opened the floodgates of shared frustrations surrounding real estate website management and digital marketing. I wasn’t alone.
Teaching is in my blood. I love it. I’m passionate and purposeful about sharing what I’ve learned. But I was getting overwhelmed by the amount of agents contacting me asking for advice. So, I did two things:
I designed a digital marketing curriculum for real estate agents who wanted to learn about organically growing their business, and started presenting at large events.
The Ballen Method
Creating The Ballen Method became my obsession. It was clear to me that other real estate agents were struggling with the same difficulties I had faced. While I could no longer address every question asked from fellow agents, I could share what I had learned in my own journey. I also understood that time management is another problem real estate agents face. That's why I designed the curriculum to be self-guided. In addition to aggregating the lessons I'd learned about digital marketing for my real estate website, I also included worksheets, workbooks, toolkits, checklists, ultimate guides, and other downloadable items of value. Even better, I've set members up with three bonus items:
- 365 Blog Post Calendar
- 20 + Hours of Webinars
- Complete Buyer and Seller Email Campaigns
"I can verify that I have closed 2 deals as a direct result of Ballen Method in 2015. I did 21 deals in all of 2015. So that's about 10%." ~ Lisa Alford
"23% of my 2016 Closed Sales were organic INTERNET LEADS. Big thanks for always leading the way and sharing what works, and what doesn't. Your insight and classes have been key to building my internet presence." ~Lisa Hill
Ready to learn more about The Ballen Method? It's time to roll up those sleeves and apply some elbow grease to your digital marketing strategies! Get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at (702) 917-0755.
Taking the Stage
When The Ballen Method picked up traction, market leaders started reaching out to me to speak at their market centers. Furthermore, agents across the United States and abroad attended my events, followed my systems, and learned the art of digital marketing practices for growing their business through real estate websites. Additionally, I had the honor of speaking at several major real estate conventions.
I tell you this not to toot my own horn, but to present the evidence that what I've done works - not only for me, but for others just like me in the real estate industry. My systems and teachings were helping other agents generate more leads through their real estate websites.
When The Ballen Method and speaking events grew, so did the intensity of the go-getters, the all-stars of real estate. They wanted more, and I was ready to give it my all. I added personal coaching to my agenda. Through coaching calls, I had the ability to go one-on-one and peel back additional layers of pain-points our peers in the industry face in digital marketing and maintaining a web presence that matters.
"Lori & her team are really incredible. The amount of information that she "gives" away is astounding. Webinars, blog posts, tools, resources...I have learned so much and strive every day to implement more and more of the information. A jewel of the real estate industry! A+" ~ Jenna Dixon
"I was in Lori's class, learning all of her secrets to Internet lead generation. I can't wait to put what I'm learning into action!" ~Scott Harris
"Thank you for coming to Greenville, SC. I came away from that class with great discernment. My AHA was I am not thinking out of the box as much as I thought I was and not utilizing what I already have. I have better goals and more determined drive than ever! Thanks again!
Ready to host or attend an event with Lori Ballen? Get your thinking cap, grab a notebook, and get ready for some mind-melting marketing techniques! Get in touch with us today at email@example.com, or give us a call at (702) 917-0755.
The Magic was Brewing: Ballen Real Estate Websites
Look. Never in a million years would I have imagined I'd be responsible for the creation and development of real estate websites. Not once did I wake up in the morning feeling like it was my mission to provide this service. At no point did I decide to create a product I could sell. Nonetheless, Ballen Real Estate Websites were born.
Instead of master-minding a product, I woke up in the morning with a long list of pain-points and problems I needed to solve -- for others, and for myself.
In my career journey, I did find those souls who are do-it-your-self-ers. There are those agents who want to be hands-on and knee-deep in their marketing endeavors. The hard-core "Ballenators". However, there are also those on the flip side who just want to leverage and outsource. There's nothing wrong with that, either. And then, more often than not, there are agents who really want the best of both worlds. They may not have the time to iron out the set-up of the platform, but absolutely want to play a powerful role in the expansion of their Internet offerings.
Many agents want to outsource the "ugly parts" - the set up, the techie aspects, - the widgets and plugins and thingumabobs. Tracking codes, domain details, and the establishment of solid foundations. But then those same agents who out-source the ugly also want to play their own imperative part in adding beauty to the web-beast. And why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't YOU?
I wish I could tell you this was an overnight success. That I simply waved a wand and "poofed" the solutions out of thin air and into cyber-space. Instead, it was a process of pulling my hair out. My team and I labored over every detail - not so we could have a product to sell, but so that I could have a real estate website that was functional, powerful, and that I could be proud to showcase.
In fact, we're still laboring! Why? Because I believe that if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward.
Additionally, I am 100 percent committed to creating the best possible web solution for myself and my fellow real estate agents.
"Just wanted you guys at Ballen Brands to know that we just converted our first lead from our Amazing IDX site you guys built for us!!! And. . . It will be a listing for us and buyer which will total at a minimum of over 1.3 MILLION DOLLARS IN VOLUME!!!" ~Jamie Mixon
"Well, my Ballen BREW website went live the other day. Last night I did my first blog post. I integrated a SEO widget into my site to help me know how well I was optimizing the post for SEO. Anyways, I posted at 8 pm last night and woke up this morning to this data and one person that's signed up and given me her info on my website. Not bad for less than 12 hours! I did decide to pay to boost the post, but hardly any money has been used. It's mostly been organic! And 23 new page likes!!!" ~ Erica Stietenroth
Here are the pain-points solved by the Ballen Real estate websites
- Search Engine Optimization is at the forefront of Ballen Real Estate Websites. We build SEO value into every page in your website's fundamentals, then give you all the room you need to soar to new SEO heights.
- The Ballen Method has been expanded and opened to empower agents with keyword strategies and other digital marketing tools to grow their website organically for search engine ranking, and to be a lead-generating machine.
- Not only do I teach, coach, and present on the topic of content-marketing, but I've also put together a stellar team of copywriters who can do the heavy-lifting for your content marketing.
- Our websites are designed for mobile. Period.
- Ballen Real Estate Websites honor the need for speed and are crafted to be quick-loading at launch.
- Got tracking? Ballen Real Estate Websites are infused with the tools you need to track and measure results.
- Best of all: YOU OWN IT! We may help you build your dream website, but you are in complete control.
When I became a real estate agent, I had no idea I'd also have to learn to be great at marketing. As I grew into my love of marketing, I had no idea how quickly I'd have to evolve to keep up with trends and technology. As I learned to evolve, I had no idea how many other agents were struggling with the same problems. So I defined my own "big why" as discovering and developing solutions to help others become more successful. Thus, I learned how to fail forward - owning my mistakes, wearing my bruises with pride, so I could remove pain-points for myself, and for others.