Now I know why so many real estate professionals don't like the number or quality of leads they get from their websites. NAR's annual Member Profile was just released for 2012.
Let's take a look at some of the revelations in this member profile about business Realtors are getting from their websites:
- Nearly two-thirds reported having a website for at least five years.
- The most commonly found information on their websites was their own listings.
- $200 per year was the median amount spent on a website presence.
- The typical member's website brought in only four inquiries and 3% of the member's overall income.No wonder so many give their websites a thumbs down as an effective marketing tool, considering it more of a billboard and a way to show their listing clients that they're marketing their listings online. The problem is that their site visitors, the few that they get, are also giving their sites a thumbs down for being useful and meeting their online real estate information needs.The data in this report also tells us that the median gross income of the members surveyed was $34,900. So, 3% from a website would only amount to around a little over $1000. I think it's safe to assume that there are just a few members actually getting commission income from their websites, or they're selling really TINY houses.You know what they say about opinions, so give whatever weight to mine that you want, but here are my ideas about why this situation exists.A website can generate commissions... - I'm not typical as a real estate professional, as I really don't do the "relationship" stuff well. I don't mix, mingle, meet, greet, join, or shake hands to get business. I just take in leads and generate commissions from my web presence. So, since I'm still eating (lost some weight since 2007 though), I know that the Web can work for real estate lead generation.But, few real estate professionals do it right. - If you think of your real estate website as something to show listing prospects to convince them you're doing a good job of online marketing their homes, then it probably works to get you listings. And, if that's all you expect from your site, then you're satisfied and probably don't need to change a thing. If you're expecting more, like listings because they find your site and like it, or buyers who find you on the Web, then it's going to take more than a billboard site with great photos of your team and some testimonials.$200/year won't cut it for most. - Unless you're doing what I do, working a free WordPress site with inexpensive self-hosting and a lot of my own time in content creation, $200 per year probably isn't enough. Even as much content as I produce, video, photos, area information, etc., I also spend $1800/year on Google Adwords ($150/month) budget. I decided to start doing this three or so years ago, as I found that I was impatient for regular SEO results, and also that I spent way too much effort and angst in worrying about my free Google search position. Paying to be right at the top and getting more than 200 focused clicks to my site each month just seemed to work better. I know I slept better letting the SEO take its course.Even good sites are poor lead generators. - Even those real estate professionals doing a great job of creating useful content and getting visitors to their sites aren't getting many leads simply because they don't have a system in place to make it happen. They aren't offering premium content in exchange for email contact information, or they're not doing enough with their website leads when they get them.So, what's the solution?By far, the single most effective thing you can do to make your website a destination for buyers and sellers and something useful for them is to publish original and relevant content. Articles about the local area with a real estate slant, photos of subdivisions, videos of the area, articles about title, surveys, negotiations, inspections, closing procedures, mortgages, and more are what people are searching for on the Web. Are they finding that stuff at your site?Once you have some really useful and real estate relevant content up, then create some more detailed informational reports or an eBook that provide even more value. However, offer these via email delivery, and put forms on your site as "calls-to-action" to get their contact information for follow-up.Once you have that valuable contact information, DON'T WASTE IT! You can waste it by sending them a never-ending series of useless or very trivial emails about cutting the grass regularly for curb appeal, or baking cookies to have the right aroma in the home before a showing. They get these from all of those OTHER real estate people. Your emails should provide detailed area real estate information, and lots of regular statistics. Once I send a short 4 email drip series pointing out useful areas of my site, I only contact my list every three months with the previous quarter's sales statistics.If you keep some basic SEO things in mind when you're creating the content, you'll gradually rise in the search results. My site is in the top five consistently for our most competitive real estate key phrase. However, if you're impatient like me, do some Google Adwords advertising with whatever budget you can afford.You MUST offer a functional full IDX search solution. Both buyers and sellers want to see what's listed in the local market, not YOUR listings. Sure, your listings are in there, but why would they come to your site looking for a dozen listings when they really want to see hundreds, or thousands? You must have a useful IDX solution.Even without the Adwords, can you do this effectively for $200 per year?It's doubtful unless you're a hermit like me, sitting in a room all day writing until a Web lead hits my email. Nothing ventured ... nothing gained. Besides, you're actually pretty likable and good at getting business in person-to-person contacts. I'm more likely to scare them away. Think about spending a little bit more money, perhaps only slightly more than double that amount. A RealtySoft site gives you the ability to customize the content, easily add as much content as you desire, and offer forms and reports, capture leads, and follow up with marketing so that you don't waste your leads.If the typical NAR member surveyed is getting that measly $1000 in business by spending $200, I can promise you that doing it right and getting the right website and IDX solution will do more like what my budget does in an average year. With the $2000 or so I spend, I'm generating in the high five figures now, and will soon be getting back to my pre-2008 six figure income all from my website. In fact, I had to interrupt this post to get final acceptance signatures on a $625k home deal for my buyers. They are a pure website-generated customer, as was the client just before them who ended up buying two commercial properties. When I asked them what made up their minds to deal with me, it was my content that answered their questions.It's all about capturing leads.
About Jim Kimmons:Jim Kimmons, with more than 16 years experience as a licensed real estate agent and broker in 3 states, is a consultant to Realtors in how to use technology to market and manage their businesses. He has also written books and eBooks on Internet marketing and real estate. Jim is RealtySoft's chief evangelist and is a compensated regular contributor to the RealtySoft.com blog.
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