Why 95% of REALTORS Are Leaving BIG Money on the Table
Thousands and thousands of REALTORS® are missing out on today’s biggest marketing opportunity; it’s online and it’s the opportunity to drive free traffic. It’s the opportunity to maximize the value of a listing as a powerful marketing asset, to attract more potential clients.
In the "old days," traffic was most commonly generated from a listing on Realtor.com (MLS®.ca in Canada), or through search engine traffic to your personal web site. You could increase traffic by paying Realtor.com for enhanced placement and by either using paid search, or by spending time and/or money on search engine optimization. Let’s equate time to money and conclude it’s been expensive to try and show up at the top of the natural search results. There are a few main keyword phrase combinations that drive the majority of the traffic for real estate searches. While only 10 sites can appear on the front page of Google, traffic traditionally had gone to the few that have heavily invested in SEO (search engine optimization). Over time, those top spots have been taken up for the most part by large search portals that are difficult to compete with.
Well, things have changed. Real estate listing data has been opened up to companies that are now aggressively going after a stake in the more than $11 billion a year the industry spends on local advertising. Classified search sites have caught fire, led clearly by Craigslist, the product of a 12-year labor of love that now generates more than 5 billion page views per month (yes, that's billion with a ‘b’). Innovators have also been able to access real estate listing data as they take advantage of a clear need for innovation in mapping and search, and a consumer need for access to richer data. Their quest is for consumer eyeballs and their offer to the professional real estate industry is free traffic.
Why did it happen? Who started the change?
New mapping technology along with open APIs (Application Programming Interface) were released and made widely available to developers with imagination and the will to mix and mash. Early solutions such as Mappoint and MapQuest rose to new levels of popularity only after Google made mapping technology ’hot’. Until then, the industry had not seen much innovation neither in the vertical nor the search segment.
Traditional search sites like Realtor.com, franchise portals and brokerage sites were not widely making any moves to open up access to data and information. Sites like Zillow have created a buzz by daring to provide information that consumers could typically obtain only through the services of a real estate professional. There has obviously been a need and desire for more information, a trend that is fueled by the very nature of the Internet. People want to do their own research today.
On November 15, 2005, Google kicked the real games off by launching Google Base. The promise was improved search for consumers and a simple way for people to feed or send structured data to Google for inclusion in its index.
A note to all those that wish the online listing genie would go back in the bottle, “get over it.” Don’t just get over it, recognize the opportunity and learn to benefit from it.
Tapping free traffic
Well over 80% of consumers use the Internet now at some stage in their home search. Some of the value that a REALTOR® brings to the table is to help sell the home for the highest price possible in the shortest period of time. The only way to do this is to generate maximum market exposure for the listing. Doing so also maximizes the value of that listing as a marketing asset contributing towards the broker or agent’s business, far beyond that specific sale.
The list of web sites your listings should appear on is continually growing -– and so it seems. Today it includes Google, Yahoo! Real Estate, Point2 Homes, Trulia, Oodle, NYTimes.com, Edgeio, LiveDeal.com, Us Condo Exchange, Craigslist, Backpage.com, Propsmart, CityCribs, Homescape, Vast and many others. Together these sites drive millions of visitors every month.
The only way to efficiently do this is to use technology that does it for you. The product I help build at the Point2 NLS, for example, allows real estate professionals to add a listing and send it to all of these places with virtually a click of the button. Moreover, a NLS account is free, membership is exclusive to licensed real estate professionals, and syndicating or updating listings to any of the third party sites is instant, and strictly at the discretion of the listing broker or their agent. It amazes me the number of real estate agents I speak to today that are not sending their listings to all of these places.
There are a number of ways you can go about placing your listings on all those sites and on many others. Irrespective of how you choose to go about it, I can guarantee you that if your listing is sent to all of the sites mentioned here, you’ll be amazed at the free traffic you generate. And it’s the first step to ensure you are not part of the 95% of real estate professionals who are leaving money on the table today.
In the next article, I will discuss why real estate professionals fail to maximize conversion and how you can make that work for you.
(Jeff Tomlin is manager of channel relations at Point2 Technologies Inc. Jeff has studied Internet trends, SEO and online marketing since 1997, and is a key member of the Point2 National Listing Service (Point2 NLS) strategic initiative team.)