Is Your Web Site Provider Taking You to the Cleaners?
Have you ever opened up your wallet and shelled out wads of cash based on what someone told you something costs? It depends on two basic questions. How much do you know about the product or services and what are the alternative solutions? I have heard from many agents, “I don’t care what it costs, just get the thing to work.” They do not have the time to learn available systems nor the patience to understand what they truly need. The result is higher expenses, lower profit margin, and negative, uncomfortable energy towards technology. On the other hand, agents using their websites effectively and within a reasonable working budget will increase their return on investment from this marketing tool tenfold.
To compete in real estate today at least one web site is required whether or not it is provided by your broker. The Center for Real Estate Technology of the National Association of REALTORS® 2007 survey states 66% of people have a personal website. This survey is packed full of statistics. Make sure you check it out at www.Realtor.org/CRT. If you just depend on the broker for your personal website you may run the risk of losing leads to other agents within the same organization.
Below are services and questions to ask before choosing a web site provider:
- Forms. The true test of a web site is its ability to promote consistent lead generation. The exchange of private information such as email, phone number, name, and address for a CMA or market data should be the expected norm. Those who do not ask, do not get, and thus do not know who is coming and going.
- Tracking. Every person visiting your site should be tracked. It is almost like you are watching every click of their mouse from your office computer. Once a person submits their information they can by tracked by an IP (Internet Protocol) address. An IP address is the computer’s own address. Find out what hyper links visitors use within your website, at what time they visit, and how often. Sounds creepy but analyzing buyer and seller tendencies will help predict sales productivity.
- Templates. Template web sites give a consistent look on each page of the web site. A menu on the top or left hand side will guide you from one page to the next. These are more affordable than custom sites but do not allow for much flexibility with the overall design.
- Custom design. Have deep pockets? You can make each page unique depending on the overall design. Also, flash video may give the site an extra 'wow' when compared to competitor sites. These sites often lose ability to add extra content, or if added could be a costly venture.
- HTML/source code editor. This new feature in web sites gives people the flexibility to add their own content, pictures, and format of text. Watch out when copying from Microsoft Word documents because even though Word converts to HTML it may appear different when uploaded to the web site.
- E-mail services. A web site that offers email software and server capabilities will save money in the long run. Most need their own email address such as You@YourName.com and a place to host it. Most web site providers are offering this so be sure to ask.
- Technical support. There is nothing more sour than spending a boat load of money on a website and not being able to speak to someone when something goes wrong. If you have the capability to add content and mess it up then there should be someone to help you at no additional charge, especially if paying a considerable monthly fee.
- Uploading documents. This new feature will allow agents to upload PDF, Word, and Excel documents to the website. A link can be created within the website to use for email marketing. It becomes an online storage for frequently used documents that consumers can use on a regular basis.
- Audio/video capabilities. This mode of differentiation will surpass your competitors instantly in a short period of time. Some methods are becoming cheaper so be sure to do your research ahead of time.
Be sure to ask your web site provider whether they have the ability to perform any of the nine features listed above. Websites range anywhere from FREE to $250/month.
(Doug Devitre e-PRO, ABR, GRI, CRS, PMN, SRS, Devitre Holdings, LLC., is a recognized national speaker on internet marketing and technology. For more information on his training programs, visit wwww.ReTechTraining.com, 1213 Oakleaf Dr., St. Louis, MO 63119. Speaking@DougDevitre.com)