Succeeding Online

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with LPS Real Estate Group

As an online advertising contractor/consultant off and on for 20 years, I worked for Brokerages and Realtors to large high tech companies and everything in between.  The primary reason I was employed as a contractor to begin with was because my employers didn't have the time or the expertise to do it all.  Sound familiar?  No one can do it all.  Everyone has their specialty but, in order to capitalize on it, we need help.  Real help.

I began my career in computer training, designing and implementing training in businesses from small to large Fortune 500 companies.  It was a wonderful experience being on the training end of things because it gave me an opportunity to make a difference for many employers.  They came to me before hiring computer technicians so I could screen them.  They gave me their invoices so I could determine whether or not the services they paid for were warranted.  I was the technology police, scrutinizing every dollar that left the company.  I then found myself producing online ads and taking the necessary steps to magnify the online promotion of Real Estate professionals and businesses.  Again, I was the technology police, assisting Realtors in maximizing their online promotion while only spending what they needed to spend.  Working as a Real Estate professional is a 24/7 job and most Realtors can't spend all their time trying to figure out how to truly benefit from the Internet. 

We know that only 5% of home buyers and sellers on the Internet are ready to transact business.  What are you doing to capture the eye of the remaining 95% who can take from 6-18 months to make a decision?  Are you buried on listings sites among thousands of listings where consumers are looking for property instead of a Realtor?  Listings sites are acutely important to your business because sellers need to know that their home is published in front of the largest audience possible.  This helps you retain listings which is acutely important, but is it growing your business at a rate you're happy with?

Many Real Estate professionals understand that, the way to maximize their exposure and increase their conversion rates, is to link their websites to websites attracting prequalified consumers.  The key though is, your website has to contain the content home sellers and buyers are looking for.  Do you return to a website that doesn't contain the information you were seeking?  Most likely, you don't.  Your neighbors, who are looking for the content they need in order to decide whether it's time to buy or sell, are not going to return to your website if it doesn't offer them what they were looking for.  Your website is your only chance to make a profound first impression.

This takes me back to my original point.  You can't do it all.  One Realtor told me he didn't have time to investigate advertising on the Internet, so he's running ads in the local paper and online at the same paper's website.  He's actually spending more money on an ad in the yellow pages print edition than he would if he advertised online where his neighbors are looking.  He promotes his business on CraigsList in front of everyone, mostly people who are looking for roommates, appliances and cars.  Does that make sense?  Traffic consisting of consumers who are looking for appliances doesn't help Realtors build their business.  Take advantage of the freebies out there and then put yourself in front of the people you reach out to and touch every day.  Keep up your blogging.  Put your website address in your logo.  Design your website in line with the algorithms search engines use, otherwise they won't pick you up.  If your website doesn't use effective linking in combination with robust content, search engines like Google will not capture it in any of their sweeps.

We're all attracted to what we're used to, but you can't afford to do that.  There is so much out there that you're overwhelmed and frozen.  Don't feel like a lonely soldier out there.  You have plenty of company, but don't let that interfere with growing a successful business.  You have to scrutinize where you're putting your advertising dollars.  If you could advertise everywhere on the Internet for free like the good old days 30 years ago, you'd be everywhere.   You can't, so take a few minutes to define who your customer is and where you want to be in one year, then take advantage of the information those of us embedded in online online advertising have to offer.

Regards,

Posted by

Mimi Derbyshire
Director | National Advertising Sales
Lender Processing Services
Real Estate Media Group
805.231.3137
http://www.lpsreg.com

Lender Processing Services REALM

LPS REG

Comments (9)

Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

I used to buy the Zip a few time with different companies, it did not work then. Are you telling me that this really works?

Sep 10, 2008 03:45 PM
Chris Canzano
Villa Realty Group, Inc. - Cape Coral, FL
Billion Dollar Broker - Cape Coral, FL

Pick a strategy and work it, but the key to it all is follow up and follow through!  Too many agents jsut pick the low fruit and never go any furhter.

Sep 10, 2008 03:50 PM
Lynn911.com ~ Dallas Real Estate Agent Top Team
Dallas Houses for Rent Dallas Apartment Rentals Lynn911.com - Dallas, TX

I agree real estate requires on going talent, need focus and drive to maintain all the aspects, I produce an excel spreadsheet assistng in all the activities

Sep 10, 2008 03:58 PM
Mimi Derbyshire
LPS Real Estate Group - Irvine, CA

Hi Jon,

I have a couple of questions for you, if I may but yes, of course it works.  Advertising is a process, not a task.  This is why companies like Nike have advertised every year for the past 30 years.  Out of sight, out of mind is a good thing to remember when you're building your business.

What websites were you on when you purchase zip codes?  What did they provide the home sellers and buyers who visited their site?  In other words, why were home sellers and buyers going there?  Were their visitors home sellers and buyers?

I'd also like to ask you what your expectations were when you purchased these zip codes?  Does your website offer visitors the information they're looking for?  I'm asking about your website because I had a similar conversation with a Broker today.  Her website is devoid of content.  It doesn't matter who visits her website, they don't stay and they don't return.  She has a 98% bounce rate.  I'm sure you've seen websites that offered you no reason to stay.  Websites and the type of ads linking to them are critical to increasing conversion rates.  It's easy to embed rich and robust content on a website, so there is no reason not to.  Think about yourself and the websites you return to over and over on the Internet.  You need to provide that same allure to your website and advertisement.  You just need some guidance so you can devote your time to what you do best.

I can tell you that no one provides the content Fidelity does.  Fidelity has been in the business of supporting Realtors for more than 100 years.  We have market intelligence on over 100,000,000 homes, drilled down by zip code and updated 40,000 times per hour.  Home sellers and buyers are already coming to us seeking this content.  Therein lies the birth of the Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert program.

Sep 10, 2008 04:04 PM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Internet marketing is extremely important, but it does not market to all types of buyers.

Sep 10, 2008 04:27 PM
Mimi Derbyshire
LPS Real Estate Group - Irvine, CA

Picking a strategy and following through on it is critical and in order to pick that strategy a lot of Realtors need help.  You can't design an effective strategy if you're being hit from all sides with opinions and claims.  That kind of thing keeps a lot of us frozen in our tracks because we're afraid of dumping money into something we really don't completely understand.  This is how homeowners ended up losing their homes.  If you don't understand what you're buying, you shouldn't be buying it.

I used to support Dr's offices online.  Dr's know nothing about the Internet, overall because they're Dr's., but they do something too many Realtors don't do, They recognize their limitations when it comes to Internet advertising, so they seek out professionals who can guide them.  They don't spend much doing it either.  In the end, many of the Dr's I supported spent less money optimizing their online promotion than the Realtors I supported did.  After cleaning up their online strategies, they ended up spending far less while enhancing their advertising strategies,  I should add that, there are a lot of people out there making all sorts of erroneous claims about how to capture clients on the Internet, so everyone has to be mindful of that.  However, your clue should be in how they present their services, 

Don't try to reinvent the wheel.  All you have to do is look at the successful Realtors online and pattern your strategy after them.  You may have to start smaller, but start.

Realtors shouldn't attempt to "capture" anyone.  My work with Realtors is very similar to how Realtors work with their clients.  We offer support and guidance first.  If we do a good job, we earn loyalty.  MacDonald's is trying to "capture" online consumers.  That's entirely different from how Realtors should be advertising on the Internet.  Realtors need to be perceived as the only solution to the home owner's problems.  Trying to "capture" online visitors will fail.  However, providing your visitors with what they're looking for will result in building loyalty, because you're freely delivering what they're looking for.  You're a professional who understands that you have to offer something of value to your neighbors in order to earn their trust and create a relationship.  No content, no relationship.

--Mimi

Sep 10, 2008 04:31 PM
Mimi Derbyshire
LPS Real Estate Group - Irvine, CA

Businesses cannot succeed if they don't optimize their online promotion.  The Buyers Agents I support advertise in a way that delivers their message to the home buyers they're trying to attract.  They use calls to action and link to websites that are rich in the specific content those buyers are looking for.

Building relationships online is a two way street.  If you offer something of value to your target customer, they will reward you with a relationship.  If you offer something that isn't important to your target customer, they will look somewhere else.

Define who your customer is and build from there.

Sep 10, 2008 04:40 PM
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

I tried Cyberhomes...for 2 months. Didn't get a click or a call. Guess I had a bad banner design.

Sep 10, 2008 05:22 PM
Mimi Derbyshire
LPS Real Estate Group - Irvine, CA

Hi Vickie,

I'm so glad you posted.  This is a great question!  First though, what exactly did you purchase at Cyberhomes?

This is a misunderstanding inherent in businesses trying to grow using the Internet.  Can you think of a company that advertised for only 2 months and is successful today?  That won't even happen on Google.  Advertising is a process, not a task.  You can either receive 10,000 visits to your website from people all over the world, or you can receive 1000 visits to your website from the home sellers and buyers in your zip code.  One of those prequalified consumers who converts to a customer pays for several years of advertising on Cyberhomes, but you have to stick to it.  Can you imagine google's future if they had changed their website address every two months?  It's like what happens when they change the air time of my favorite show.  I never find  it again.  Creating relationships with your neighborhood requires consistency, just as Villa Realty Group Inc, stated above.  You're wasting your money if you don't stick to your strategy. 

Your expectations were set incorrectly.  There are basic fundamentals to successful advertising on the Internet and none of them involve achieving success after 2 months.  All Realtors out there have to try to understand that success comes to those who are consistent and stick with their strategy.  Every time you buy something, wait 1-2 months and move on, you're just wasting both your time and your money.  There are Realtors still advertising their listings on Realtor.com from its inception.  In the beginning, Realtor.com didn't have any traffic, but some Realtors jumped on it to capture the traffic that was there and they're still there today.   It's a process.  You can't create a relationship with your neighborhood if you switch from website to website.  Pick one and maximize it.  Use it online and offline.  Incorporate the lead generation tools into your contact management software and reach out to your neighbors with dynamic, custom post cards and flyers embedded with the very content your neighbors are clicking on at our site.  They are coming to us.  The Realtors who successfully bond with their neighborhoods are the ones who have, through consistency, increased their conversion rates.

Your website is awesome!  Congratulations!  I would look at adding better content in your index that is more pertinent to your visitors.  The websites that offer something different, but germane and dynamic, are the ones visitors bookmark.  Though my sample website isn't complete and contains an incorrect email address for me, I'd like you to visit it and click on the "More" tab.  http://www.realtoronlinespotlight.com/  The data you see there is one of the several reasons home sellers and buyers come to us.  Click on the Neighborhood Information link, type in a zip code and you'll see why home sellers and buyers come to us.  You need that data on your website.  It works for us, so it will work for you.

There are Realtors out there who claim their neighborhoods as the Neighborhood Expert simply because we only provide for one such expert per zip code.  One Realtor I'm currently working with is tremendously successful.  She's secured her zip code and she will stick with it because that's the key to success in online advertising.

Sep 10, 2008 06:30 PM