Let me start by telling you a little story. 2 years ago a very successful and prominent agent-friend called me and said. “Don, I need you to make me look like a rock star online” I of course said ok, and asked why the urgency. This is his story. A friend of his called him a week earlier to offer a referral. His friend had told him that he had just referred a couple ready to sell their home. ($4.5 million home in the South Bay). He was excited because as we all know this is the best kind of business. Referral business right? Well as it turns out a week goes by and he never hears from the couple. He calls his friend and tells him again how much he appreciated referring him but that he still had not heard from the couple and was checking in to see that everything is still a go. Turns out, the couple did a little research on our agent-friend and when they went online they found some Zillow reviews, a Facebook page as well as his bio on companyname.com/offices/agent/agentsname… His friend told him the bad news. When they researched you they didn’t find much on you. They went with another agent who as his friends told him, look more successful online.
MISTAKE NUMBER ONE Lack of online ROCK STAR presence will hurt you. I told my friend how lucky he was. he asked why I said he was lucky after losing a $4.5 million dollar listing. I said, because you learned this. Most agents never get that call. Think about it. When was the last time a consumer called you and said. “Hey Don, we just wanted yo to know that we were online looking at agents to interview for selling our home and we couldn’t find enough about you. Unfortunately we are going in a different direction… Think of how many times this must have happened to you. Dozens right?
Today the number one tool for your business is your website. I am always surprised when I read about a successful agent on the Wall Street Journal’s RealTrends top list each year that does not even have a website. It used to be more than half, at least now it’s only about a third that do not have a personally branded website. Imagine transacting $10, $20, $50 or even $100+ million a year and you are still only present on your companies website. It’s like the contractor who builds amazing custom homes and lives in a shack.
When a consumer starts their process they immediately jump online to compare homes, find values and research agents. Yes, Zillow and Yelp reviews are important. But I challenge you today. Go to Zillow.com and look at how many agents with dozens of great reviews have either no website presence or decades-old looking bio info on a company website.
The cycle of websites has changed considerably. When I started in real estate in 2004 less than 10% of agents even had an online presence at all. This was a year before Facebook even started. I was online building landing pages for home searches and paying about $.03 to $.05 cents a click on Google, Yahoo, and Bing… Literally generating hundreds of leads which lead me down the path of being a Top 10 ranked agent in the world in 2011. The evolution continued as Zillow came online and more and more consumers turned to Zillow for a home search.
Yesterday I was talking with an agent and she was working on her site. She had spent a good deal of time and money to get it up and running and was considering whether to hire us (to do her marketing) She was concerned about MLS and IDX and having a home search feature on her site. In talking with her, I found out that she had between 50 and 75 searches a month on her MLS search. Sigh.
Having a back end system to track 50 searches a month will not add anything to her bottom line. And according to the latest numbers, Realtor.com gets 22.6 MILLION unique visitors a month, Zillow.com has had as high as 157.2 MILLION visitors a month, and Trulia.com gets about 13 million visitors a month (source SEMRush). Homebuyers are NOT generally going onto Realtor websites to search for homes.
Another thing that chaps my hide is that most agents who are building big websites are listing agents (we all know that the money is with the listings).
These agents say they want to get more listings but have a huge search box on their front page, prospecting for…wait for it…buyers! Ack. So yes, I say that having an MLS search embedded on the home page of your website is a waste of time and money and is about number 25 on my top things a real estate website needs to have. Now that we have that out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled program…
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE ON YOUR REAL ESTATE WEBSITE
The first thing a consumer should see when they click on your site is YOU, IN ALL YOUR GLORY. A video is the very best way to achieve this impact. One of the very best is my friend Josh Diaz in Napa. With no sound just visual you see everything you need to hire this guy. He is strong, has values, a creative, good negotiator, his clients love him and he loves his family, friends, and life. All of this is communicated in 30-40 seconds of great video.
HubSpot a large inbound marketing company out of the Bay Area recently published an article on the 11 best agent websites. While many of these sites are famous agents/coaches who probably make more money selling you their systems and how to’s then actually selling real estate but their sites are amazing and communicate everything you want to make a firm decision on hiring them. I recommend going through the sites and choosing modules from the different ones you really like as a framework for your site. I always instruct our clients to map out what they want to communicate and present their unique value proposition.
1). Make it visually appealing with large formatted videos. If you do not comfortable on camera then don’t talk, instead of capture your environment, your work, your home, your life including your charity work, community. Let the videographers do what they do best… Capture you in your element. Using video of homes, interior, and or community is good as well. Let’s face it. Not all of us should be on camera. (Sorry had to go there)…
2). Personal Brand. Your company should be the “Powered by” not the front and center of you. Brands open doors, consumers choose brands more often than not. I tell this story often. When you travel to a place you have never been to and want coffee where do you go? STARBUCKS! Yes, that’s right. Not because you love Starbucks but because when you are somewhere you are not familiar with you immediately turn to brand awareness and know and trust there is a Starbucks right around the corner because they most likely are! Brand opens doors and creates opportunities. however, in real estate more than just about any other industry you matter most. They may find you because you are affiliated with a brand but you still have to close the deal and this is where your own personal brand comes into play. Start with creating a strong personal brand that will get noticed and remembered.
3). Your USP. You should be front and center on the main page. The story should be yours, your teams, how you help others achieve success. Your philosophy and breakdown your USP and share your success stories. DON’T SAY YOU ARE A TOP PRODUCER Unless you truly are the Number one volume/transactional agent in your city. Even then, I caution you with those words. They do not mean anything to consumers. In fact just the opposite. When consumers read phrases like “Top Producer”, Number One, Top 10%, “etc. They are turned off and start to believe you are just fluffing the pillows…
Let’s take two agents and see the differences:
|Frank||Newbold||Sotheby’s International Realty|
When we Google Frank here’s what we find
None of these links are to a primary website for Frank. That is sad. He deserves better and if Frank you happen to see this article we would love to make you the Rock Star you already are in real estate and transform your online presence. We are not picking on Frank but rather showing you what a consumer sees. Go ahead and click on the top link Frank E Newbold Real Estate Associate in East Hampton New … You see Frank is like most of you. Sells a ton of real estate, looks professional, and works for a prestigious brokerage but unfortunately, if I want Frank to sell my house I need to call him and have him come over and hope he has a really good marketing plan because I can’t find anything online about who Frank is, how he does so much business and why I should hire him.
|Jennifer||Zales||Coldwell Banker Realty|
When we google Jennifer here’s what we find.
Yes, that’s is second on the list for Google rankings. This is very impressive. We find Jennifer on her brokerage site, her own name site, realtor.com, Facebook, and a local MLS website. The consumer has everything they need to make a sound decision on Jennifer being the agent for them They can research her brokerage and everything about her. Go ahead and click on here named listed site Jennifer Zales | Tampa Bay Real Estate Agent… Here we can see she is front and center with all the attention going to here personal brand powered by a large brokerage and everything that makes her unique and successful.
From this online experiment who would you choose? Both agents produce on the Top One Thousand according to RealTrends Both produced over $60 million in volume last year. Not all agents are equal and you can see in this real example how a consumer might choose an agent.
4). Marketing: The majority of your website should be focused on Marketing and just how to plan to sell homes. The site should be a listing presentation packed with market statistics, your numbers, your companies numbers, featured case stories. (A case study is the process in which you from start to finish successfully sold a home. Example case study here) I am seeing more and more of this type of strategy and we believe strongly it is the way of the future. It’s JUST SOLD” It’s how we sold it that matters. We covered how to effectively create and market Case Studies a few months back. Your website should be one case study after another. This is what “Just Sold” pages have morphed into. You should also do the same for your “Featured Properties” page. Don’t settle for a list of homes for sale. Instead create stories about each home, which makes the home unique, what is attractive about it. How will the consumer use the home, the neighborhood, community, etc?
Marketing from brochures, flyers, signs, property websites, photos, and videos, and social media all play a very important role in the process with the consumer. When was the last listing presentation you went on where the consumer didn’t ask more about how you are going to sell their home and what you will do and do differently or better than the next agent? What is your process? We do a couple of things to attack this process we build out marketing pages for our clients that demonstrate and sell their process and give examples of their work. We even go as far with the Elite partners as putting together a link to a marketing overview for agents heading to listing presentations. It’s a pre-listing marketing presentation sent a few days ahead of time to the consumer and we have found this to absolutely a must for deal closing. It’s nice when you walk in and the consumer says “Wow, we are so impressed with your process and how you will market our home all we really need to discuss is price and timing. ” Talk about a slam dunk listing presentation.
5). Community. The site needs to be hyper-local focused on the neighborhoods you serve. I see real estate agent sites and when we click on the Communities page all we see is a list of homes in a specific city. Again, the consumer is not going to your website to find homes. They want to learn about the community, the schools, shopping, housing, demographics, the cute, and fun things about where they will live. I have been preaching this for years. Community pages are super important because they can and will drive your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) through the roof. Try google a local community yourself. what do you find? Lots of ravel sites right. How many links focus on providing a potential buyer with relevant information on what to expect when they move into the neighborhood. Not very many.
Chances are that if you have been working for very long in a particular community, you have quite a bit of information already. You probably already are a local real estate expert, even if you haven’t thought of yourself in those terms. Taking the time to put together all the information you have about an area –and doing the research needed to fill in the gaps– will make you a trusted resource for everyone searching online. A good community page will be filled with tons of useful data including information on town history, schools, demographics, local attractions, restaurants, highway access, real estate, and more. Take a look at this REALTORS® guide to Mendon Real Estate as an example of what I’m talking about. If you were relocating into the area and knew nothing about Mendon, Massachusetts, a potential buyer would have a much better grasp of the area. Content is KING when it comes to building out an SEO friendly site and one in which buyers will love.
The bottom line is your online presence is the most important part of your business. Isn’t time to invest in it. There is a place in marketing for home search and community search landing pages and utilizing Facebook, Instagram, and Google paid search to generate lead generation which will be next week’s Monday Morning hustle. But the most important place for a website is your online listing presentation. While you should expect to spend a good an=mount of money on a compelling presentation off the shelf templated sites for $49/month will not do the job Your budget should be int eh$1,500 to $10,000 realm for a top customized site or in the $100 to $600 month depending on features. We build beautiful custom sites. each site is around 30 hours of actual work. So they are not cheap. But they are some of the best in the industry and worth every listing you can expect to gain from your investment in yourself.
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