Capturing buyer leads from portals

Our CEO, Gabe Gross, wrote a whitepaper published by some major real estate media outlets recently (Rismedia, Brokeragentnews, Inman News).

The concept described in the whitepaper and supported by RealBird for the first time in the industry is  the following: A large segment of online home buyers start their searches on major classifieds portals. By “pushing” your real estate services (e.g. IDX Search) with your featured listings close to these portals, you can create new channels for capturing some of this traffic and not only for your own listing (the original value proposition of listing syndication), but also for your local IDX  search services (the new value proposition). Some portion of these home buyers, once they arrived to your single property site, will continue searching for comparable properties on your own, private labeled tool embedded in your own featured listing website. Furthermore, since your RealBird single property sites are indexed by Google and other search engines while they are active, once the property is sold, you can still use your sold listing sites with the embedded IDX Search to continue capturing buyer leads. In other words, rather than waiting for home buyers to visit your website and eventually contact you for assistance, you create multiple entry points for your services via your own featured listings and sold inventory at high profile portals and search engines. The concept is very similar to the value proposition of real estate blogging. Blog syndication (via RSS, blogroll, search engines) enables you to capture visitors on remote online locations and after you “pulled” them back to your blog, you can provide additional real estate services (comparables, IDX search, market stats etc.) With RealBird’s new listing publishing technology, you can use your featured listings and sold inventory to do the same: use it as a marketing vehicle to “push” some valuable content the meaningful online locations and “pull” visitors back to access your additional services on your single property websites.

Gabe’s article is below.

— Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com

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A Novel Approach to Lead Generation for REALTORS®

by Gabriel Gross, President, RealBird.com

A
“virtual” paradox is happening in real estate: the Internet has become
the major medium for real estate information, yet real estate agents
find it increasingly difficult to generate good leads using their Web
sites. The cause for this is quite simple: The majority of early-stage
home buyers will start their search with the major classifieds portals
and so individual agents rarely stand a chance to be even “seen” by
these consumers. Yet, these are clients that could be the most valuable
leads because at this stage they have probably not yet committed to
another agent.

Another way of looking at this problem is that
no matter how interesting or informative an agent’s Web site, it will
be only as useful as the traffic it gets. This of course leads to the
need to generate traffic to the Web site, and the options for this are
limited and expensive: keyword advertising, search engine optimization
(SEO), banner ads, blogging, e-mail farming, or “traditional” media
advertising. In truth, agents will find that in most markets even these
methods will only produce spotty and unpredictable results because the
majority of agents and brokers employ those same strategies, and
therefore it is increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation even
with the best agent Web site.

Another problem with the
traditional traffic-generation methods is the low quality of leads that
they produce. The best leads for an agent are those consumers who are
early in their home-buying process, the ones who have just started
“looking,” as these clients have not yet committed to another agent.
However, surveys show that the majority of consumers will start looking
for listings that are on the market on the major online classifieds
portals- Realtor.com, Craigslist, Google Base, Trulia, Zillow, etc.
Most consumers will not start their home buying by looking for an agent
to work with, and so they may end up establishing a relationship with a
listing agent that they contact from a listing that they see and like
on the classifieds portal that they happen to visit.

So what can
a Realtor do to “fish” for leads in the big Classifieds portals pond?
The obvious solution is to post (syndicate) featured listings to these
portals using one of the several Single Property Web site services.
These services allow you to create compelling Web sites for your
featured listings, with photos, slideshows, even video, and then post
them with a click of a button to several classifieds ad portals and
search engines. Many brokers and agents already are syndicating their
listings, either on their own, or using one of the many service
providers available.

A common mistake that agents are making is
to assume that their listing will be indexed by the search engines
simply because they are available in the “featured listings” section of
their own Web site. This is not the case. Another common perception is
that simply because their listings are syndicated in bulk by their
broker it is not necessary for the agent to promote these on their own.
Listing syndication works just like advertising – the more the better,
and given the low effort and cost involved this should be a
“no-brainer,” must-do activity.

As with any marketing activity,
the results achieved are usually depending on how unique your approach
is, and how you stand out from the crowd. With listing syndication it
is no different, and in most markets the majority of listings are
already being posted on classifieds portals, so posting a few listings
will not be as effective as it was one or two years ago. Also, it is
quite unlikely that a homebuyer who finds your listing will actually
consider it to be a good fit with their need, and if that is the case
then they will just click on to the next listing and you will have lost
them forever!

An out-of the-box, novel approach to increase the
effectiveness of your lead generation using single property Web sites
is to embed an interactive MLS search into each featured listings Web
site. The resulting benefit is that if a home buyer finds your listing
on one of the classifieds portals, they can immediately see MLS
properties and start a full search, directly from this listing that
they are looking at, instead of having to click over to your Web site,
which they would never do because at that time they are in the frame of
mind of searching for and viewing listings on that particular portal.

In
other words, instead of just trying to “pull” potential clients to your
site you are “pushing” your branded MLS search to the best locations
where most early-stage home buyers go when they start their search for
a home.

This ability to search the whole MLS with an interactive
map focused automatically on the area of the client’s interest greatly
increases the probability that they will contact you for more
information for any of the listings that they find using your MLS
Search and can produce dramatically better results.

For an example of such a listing, please see this Single Property Web site: http://www.58Northgate.com. Note the “Nearby Homes for Sale” button and “MLS Search” tab.

With
each active featured listing that you publish to the major classifieds
portals, you create several additional “touch points” on the Internet.
Compare this with only 1 – your own Web site where normally the MLS
search resides. What’s more, you can do this even if you don’t have any
listings of your own – all you have to do is borrow some nice, sellable
listings from a colleague (with the listing broker’s blessing) and ask
for their permission to advertise those on the Internet (make sure that
you have written and that you display the listing broker and that you
comply with your local MLS’s rules). All this takes maybe 30 minutes to
do, and you can do as many as you have time for, with each published
listing creating multiple locations on the classifieds portals where
they can find your own, branded MLS search.

But wait, there is
more: once the listing is sold, instead of deleting it from your
account you can change the status to “sold,” and so your “sold” listing
Web sites which by now are already indexed by Google will accumulate on
Google to a growing number of additional “touch points” for your active
MLS search tool. Again, this cumulatively increases over time the
likelihood that home buyers will find you and will also create an
“organic” lift effect for your search-engine standing. If, for example,
you sell 10 listings each year, then the number of Google-indexed
“entry points” increases in one year to 10 and after two years to 20,
in addition to the active listings to be found on the major classifieds
portals, as outlined above. Again, each of these sold listing Web sites
will have your MLS search embedded, and thus whoever finds these
listings on Google or some other search engine will be able to search
for active properties on the market from right there, each “sold”
listing thus becoming a potential conduit for new leads.

For more information, please visit http://www.RealBird.com

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