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2009-05-22 17:39:19

Online Marketing: Thousands Of Agents Sell Homes Online And You Can, Too!

 

If you are a regular reader of this column, you’ve read some amazing success stories of agents succeeding online in the past few months. Maybe you’ve thought: “That’s wonderful for them, but I can’t do that.” No offense, but you are wrong—you can do that.
The idea of trying to succeed online when you are not familiar with how to do so is definitely off-putting. Worse is the anticipated dread of dealing with the technological aspects of how to sell homes online (After all, in real estate school, you probably got some version of the following for your instruction on the subject: “you need to get a website.”). With everything you have to do today, how can anyone expect you to become expert in online marketing, websites, and all that technical stuff? The simple answer is that you don’t have to be expert in any of those things; you just need to follow the formulas that successful online marketers know.
This is an area where you must succeed if you plan to be an agent or broker much longer. With the public loving their ability to look at homes online and using the Internet to narrow down the choices they are faced with in choosing that new home, you must be competent and you must be a participant in the business of selling homes online.
The five things all successful online marketers of real estate have in common.
1.       Successful online marketers are all professional and successful agents
By this, we mean that they are not unschooled in professional selling and prospecting techniques and they have a degree of success selling and listing homes traditionally. Those who successfully migrate to the Internet simply learn how to apply what they already know about selling to the business of online marketing and they also learn the simple techniques that work online and employ them. The Internet will not turn an incompetent agent into a competent one.
 
2.       Successful online marketers all have their own individual website

To succeed online, you must have a mechanism for creating good leads and that must be a website under your control and management. It need not be fancy: a proper simple template website works just fine, thank you. The key is that the site gives the visitor what that visitor wants: Valuable and timely information about the area the visitor is investigating. Whether that is about Short Sales, relocation, new home buyers, foreclosures or any other specialty is unimportant; what is important is that the visitor finds what they are looking for in as few steps as possible. Some think they need to spend thousands and hire designers to succeed: it is just not so, anymore. You can become successful online for far less than you think.
 
3.       Successful online marketers websites can be found by Internet buyers looking for homes in their market

The Internet is huge and it is only getting larger each year. Your website is but one of millions; yet it is possible to make your website be presented as a choice to any searching buyer when they go online to look for a home in your neighborhood. Whether you do that yourself or hire it done, it is the essential component of succeeding with your website. Being found means that a buyer searching for homes who goes to any search engine and types in what they are looking for (i.e., San Antonio Realtor, etc.) gets a chance to pick your site because your site is one of ten presented in the search engine results.
 
4.       Successful online marketers websites are not just a billboard, but they are interactive selling tools 

Just as the best selling presentations are ones that encourage participation by the prospect, so too the best (and “best” does not mean ‘lush, rich, gorgeous’—“best” means “effective”) websites encourage the visitor to obtain something of value without putting them through a torturous process to obtain it. Whether that be a simple list of local foreclosures, some kind of information about tax credits for first time buyers, a list of bank owned properties or a custom list of MLS Listings matching what the buyer seeks is up to you, but by giving the buyer these things, the buyer will give you their information. As in all things, online selling is a mathematical proposition: you must obtain a minimal number of “unique visitors (a fancy term for “new faces”) to your site monthly; then, you must entice between 5-15% of those anonymous visitors to sign in and join your database of prospects. A good rule of thumb for success is to have at least 200 unique visitors each month and to convert at least 10 of them to real leads. Real leads are very different from ‘store-bought’ ones because real leads (ones you generate from your site) are from people who already have reviewed your information and they want to connect with you. They want more information on a topic or a property and you must be ready and able to give it to them immediately. Of course, that will never happen if the Internet buyer can’t find your website. It will also never happen if they cannot sign in—you must employ the process where anonymous visitors are converted to people who either are prospects now or who will become prospects, later (lead capture). You must employ “calls to action” that incent visitors to give you their information.
 
5.       Successful online agents respond to inquiries immediately, monitor their progress and adjust their marketing based on what works the best on their site

When an Internet visitor takes the time and gives you the trust to sign in to your site, you have a tremendous opportunity to lock them up as your prospect if you get back to them immediately. It is truly one of those times when you literally can’t do it too fast. Internet buyers expect instant feedback—after all, everything else about their online experience is that, so why not when they want information from an agent? MIT says that leads degrade substantially in less than an hour. Contrast that finding with NAR’s report that 50% of agents call leads within 54 hours and 50% of agents never call at all. It is depressing facts like these that contribute to the large percentage of failures online: If you don’t call them, they’ll go to someone else who will. 81% of Internet buyers stick with the first agent they contact online. Nothing is as upsetting as helping an agent review their leads and seeing comments like “I have tried to contact you for days and you haven’t called me back. Don’t bother!”
 
 
Don’t forget the real purpose of your website

Your website exists for one essential purpose: to allow you to prospect on the Internet. Many agents do not know this; they think their website is only for using as a billboard to send people to look at who are already dealing with them, and there’s no doubt that a website is useful that way. However, once you make the connection that your website can potentially bring you leads and sales every month, from all over, regardless of market conditions (but only if Internet buyers can find it, are incented to register with you, and if you will follow up with them instantly), you will never wonder where your next sale is coming from again because you’ll be getting real leads from real buyers every week.
 
How will you know when you are successful?

When 5% or more of the visitors to your site register with you, you are succeeding. When your traffic increases monthly; you are succeeding. When you start making sales from Internet leads every month; you are succeeding. 87% of residential real estate sales involve the Internet. You should obtain 80% of your leads there, and unlike purchased leads, these are real leads that want to talk to you. With just 10 of these a month could you sell a couple of them?
 
About the Author: Mike Parker (mparker@theblackwatercg.com) specializes in online marketing services for Realtors® and real estate professionals. Get a copy of “Real Leads™--How to get them and how to Sell Houses Online” It will be sent to you free and no one will call you. To request a free review of your website to determine if it is set up properly to be effective click here and it will be evaluated free.
 

 

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