Constructing your perfect online real estate media platform

Stage Two – (for those who missed Stage One)

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A common theme within the real estate industry is when an agent speaks with a vendor who just completed a new home where they always say “we would do many things different with our next home” – the same too applies with agent websites.

Agents struggle to upgrade their own websites yet they boast the latest mobile phone technologies. Telephones are not the solution for generating market activity enquiries. Unless your online media platform is switched on and intelligently activated those telephone enquiries will diminish. In this new century agents/agencies are judged on what their respective online platform delivers where more importantly this involves the businesses driving the communication not vice versa. How many names, telephone numbers, email addresses do you presently have in “your” electronic database?

“You can run – but you can’t hide.” Don’t hide rather start seeking, delivering and then exceeding your online expectations. Move your business to the future given online technologies with aligned marketing strategies are moving at such a frenetic pace that even the most savvy of online real estate businesses are struggling to keep – up. The savvy real estate businesses are the first point of contact for new listings to prospective purchasers which are delivered via an email alert – your personal viewing invitation. Invite the call and invoke – The Law of Reciprocity.

We launched our online media platform back on September 15, 2000. Call it what you want just that at the end of the day we were actually chasing something that was yet to be recognised nor properly discovered for that matter. Five years later, Google entered the online world and the rest is history where today, it’s all about climbing that Google search engine optimisation (SEO) ladder. For all your individual demographic markets one has to explore so that you can then fast track your online SEO position. Just like market positions which are all about growing (not declining) so in which direction is your online strategy headed – better still, do you actually have one?

In life, we are all consumers where not a single day goes by that we don’t buy product(s). When you are buying something you are drawn to product presentation. Change hats – as a real estate agent ask yourself how you are presenting and communicating your properties on your real estate media platform. Are you tracking your online traffic on a daily and weekly basis – your property website as compared to the paid portals? Don’t rely on external forces rather concentrate on your internal deliveries to consumers. When you get the mix right your website must be the (primary) source and the property portals (back – up) secondary for your online communications. Drive your business not others that you invest with. Your online message to consumers has to be your number one priority.
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Online guarantees a market – print suggests a circulation market. Just because you buy a newspaper does not suggest that you want to buy a property – the smartest online real estate agencies work from within not without. I take Unique Browsers (UB’s) well over circulation figures any day – given that UB’s are consumer activated who specifically go to your website in search of information. When consumers are not chasing your website then something is alarmingly amiss?

With Stage 2 – I want to focus on the four key ingredients that I believe assure you of the perfect building process for your online media platform. Much like building a home these four points are what I consider the “bricks and mortar”. You need to build on your foundations first.

  • 1. Technology
  • 2. Database
  • 3. Communication
  • 4. Future

All four are actually intertwined although the key processes are the identification, application and integration is to ensure that you are applying best practice for your real estate media platform. When the right technology is applied you can effectively contact your database and communicate your business activity online to your key demographic markets.

TECHNOLOGY

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One word keeps resonating – WordPress which launched to the public on November 2005 a state – of – the – art publishing platform that is free. When I look at the leading websites globally they are all using WordPress. We have been running WordPress for just over twelve months now – and I am one of their greatest fans – the perfect online publisher. WordPress also, provides a fantastic database function that administers our daily database email alerts and also, the flight centre for our subscriber weekly newsletter.

In conjunction with WordPress we run Agentpoint which manages our website individual property presentations for all our listings (the back-end). The dashboard (control centre) required absolutely no training for our staff – a vital ingredient for business owners that struggle to understand online. The transition period to a smart online business must apply the Kiss Theory: Keep it Simple Stupid. If you understand it – you use it. If you don’t understand it you don’t use it!

DATABASE

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The Achilles heel for most real estate businesses – agents own vendors not buyers. If a business is running multiple databases it is terminally ill, where in all probability no one is singing from the one hymn book. Your business is simply a one agency platform that is collectively united or a divorced communication process. United we stand – divided your business will fall. The leading real estate online businesses are running the one (and only) database platform.

COMMUNICATION

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Remember the Telstra advertisement “Why didn’t you call?” Verbal communication is important – email alerts supersede memory loss provided you are managing your database correctly. Database entry = communication. For the cost of a postage stamp (not including an envelope) you can send out thousands of email alerts. Calibrate your business so that you can communicate with your online subscribers. Activate don’t detonate your online communication platform.

FUTURE

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When was the last time you used the White Pages (print edition) to look up a telephone number? Consumers use search engines for over ninety per cent (and growing daily) of their respective enquiries. We still use print with online where the global financial crisis offered an amazing Litmus Test – that being significant declines in vendor paid advertising (VPA). As a consequence we moved our business to online – (refer points 1, 2 and 3) and outperformed all of our competitors ($63,000,000 – June 2009 month sales.)

Which takes me to point 4 – you can’t expect to remain relevant unless you embrace, adapt and activate your real estate media platform.

Online is a magnificent tool – just you have to work on it. We all know what happens when the tools (of trade) go down – your competitors build something bigger and better. Otherwise known (as work in progress) where online today, is very progressive, aggressive and obsessive. Just look at what Google did to Microsoft (whom had many years start on them).

Sit back – take three breathes, and design your perfect online strategy for 2010 and beyond.

All I ask is that where is your online business today – not tomorrow? Today, it happens and tomorrow it follows. (Hmm, I should claim that quote.)

Agentpoint, Google, Microsoft, Word Press

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Robert Simeon

Over 20 years in the real estate industry Robert Simeon considers his greatest achievements to be results, respect and long terms relationships established with my clients. In this day and age his market is all about his international audience, Robert understands that market credibility really means leading by example. Robert was the very first agent to break the magic double digit market in Mosman in 2001 a record only broken as 2007 came to a close. His agency Richardson Wrench Mosman and Neutral Bay also drives one of the most expansive online databases in the real estate industry edging towards 1 billion in sales.

19 Responses to Constructing your perfect online real estate media platform

  1. Nick March 24, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    I’ve created my fair share of agent websites, and what stands out for me is agents often know that they need a website (or a better website).
    They do not know much more than that however.

    Agents are good at selling houses, but when it comes to IT they need help.
    We usually guide them through what we need from them, make a few assumptions along the way and eventually come up with something they are happy with.

  2. Greg Vincent March 25, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Great article Robert. There are a lot of agents who feel that once they have filled in the blanks within their company website they don’t have to worry about it any more. Wrong!

    An agents website is an integral part of the day to day running of a real estate agency. It basically forms the company resume online & should be the central focus of an agencies marketing strategy.

    It should also be engaging enough to generate ongoing leads. Typically, most agents websites don’t convert very well at all & many are so poor that they actually help to convert leads over to their opposition.

    I saw an agent’s website the other day that had a simple webpage with an image, their logo, a phone number & the words “All properties currently available may be seen via realestate.com.au”. (with a hyperlink to REA’s home page).

  3. Simon March 25, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    Your pretty spot on Robert. From where we sit (WDA/CampaignTRACK) we see too many times agency web content old and out of date not to mention the capability or user friendliness of their site look old. Agents believe their site is working for them but if its not up to date then how can that be? If a property sells most will, very rapidly ,up date the portals but the site becomes the poor cousin. Too hard basket becomes very too hard and next minute the site is simply not performing – at all. We engineered the content that all our clients (and thats a great deal of you) put into campaignTRACK to automatically and efficiently update your site and every other portal. One click in C.T.
    CMS has revolutionised the mgt of ones site so much so it is expected that the site be worthy. A web sites CMS should be so simply, it is will be a no brainer for the office administrator to refresh your site when you want. Don’t rely on third party portals to do the job – make your site the first port of call……and sell it to your prospects!!
    I should come up and have a chat with you and Richard soon, Robert.

  4. Robert Simeon March 25, 2010 at 5:20 am #

    Thanks – many agents/agencies believe they have an online business when they don’t. Those that run high tech businesses they take a lot of work which is constantly in progress. Given the vast majority of agents and agencies appear to have absolutely no interest in driving an online business it will be a most interesting few years ahead.

    I received a letter from Google today offering their Adwords (which we thankfully don’t need) which is the first time I can remember receiving such an offer from them. So an agency can pay Google to appear on page 1 or get there organically through SEO.

    Simon we are happy to catch up whenever you have some spare time.

  5. Shane Dale March 25, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    Simon I can also agree with your points – its truly pleasing to see an agent writing this type of thing – having personally created hundreds of sites over the years myself. Often however the task at hand was doing what was asked, not what was best for the agent. There is saying about a horse and water that comes to mind…

    I would say the problem is also partly because the offices need a few culture changes to take full advantage of the benefits of using a website or a database. No point having one if your agents have never answered an email, used a browser or dont fill in buyer requirements to be added into an email database. If this happens – the technology purchased is never implemented effectively and just gathers dust. I have seen it many times.

    Usually its seen as to hard to get the rogueish agents to change their ways as it does require determination from the principal to see things through. I can sympathise with the principals here too, especially when IT is well outside their comfort zone. Its a tough task to do well, when you are busy running an office.

  6. Shane Dale March 25, 2010 at 5:51 am #

    Oops, sorry I meant to also say, Robert the article was excellent, keep them coming!

  7. Nick March 25, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Nice ad Simon. 😛

    Good point Shane. The principal is usually a hard sell.
    Its usually the younger receptionist who gets excited about the possibilities.

    And oh boy there are a lot of horses in real estate. 🙂

  8. Glenn Batten March 28, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    Great Post Robert.

    Just one point with adwords though.. don’t rule it out. I read a great article once that highlighted the importance of using google adwords to display premium pages on your site when they somebody searches for you.

    What I mean by this is if somebody searches for you business name google will often display your home page and one other page on website in the first 10 results. With adwords you can offer premium pages on your site such as your Virtual Realty Newsletter, your recent sales page or your recent pages.

    If you are not in competition with anybody for your business name as keywords then you could expect to pay just 6c per click. If you find people using your business name as keywords then register a trademark with Google. Either register Richardson and Wrench register theirs of you register your full business name. If R&W register theirs any offices will need manual approval to use the name for their own purpose.

    For a minimal cost using adwords can really provide an excellent ROI. Using adwords integration with campaign tracking in Google Analytics you can track your ROI on your adwords. For instance if you convert 4% of all those who search for your business name to click on your adword to signup for your newsletter and then just 1 in four signup for the newsletter each subscriber would cost you about 25cents. Given the success of your newsletter is a subscriber worth that for you??

    The good thing with using adwords that way is for the 97-98% of people that dont click on your ad most of them will still click on your organic results anyway.

  9. Greg Vincent March 28, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Great idea Glenn. Once agents have developed a website/newsletter like Robert’s that converts, it’s amazing how agents can use Adwords, etc to drive low cost traffic to the site on targeted long tail real estate keywords and build up their database of subscribers.

    Glenn, would you recommend Geo-Targeting the Adwords as well or leave them open to the more of the web in search of absentee owners/landlords?

  10. Glenn Batten March 29, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Greg,

    Using geo targetting or not will probably depend upon the nature of what you are trying to drive them to.

    Offering an ebook about moving to the Gold Coast from the Southern States would obviously be best geo-targetted to NSW and VIC.

    I found Geo-targetting best to change the ad for each market rather than restrict a specific area. I would think a lot of Roberts clients would come from Melbourne so he could write a tweaked ad just to be displayed for the Victorian market whilst another ad is displayed to Sydneysiders.

    The same goes for an overseas market which Robert might be interested in. Americans and the British use different terms for different building styles that we as Australians would not optimise our sites for. Americans want to live in a condo and brits will search for a semi detached house. If either of these markets make up a big enough share of your buyers using adwords to focus in on these keywords would probably be worthwhile.

  11. PaulD March 29, 2010 at 3:22 am #

    Yes, I guess it was like comparing apples and oranges. Still, another alternative that may weaken anyone’s grip on the “search for property” market.

  12. PaulD March 29, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    Wrong thread – damn it 🙂

  13. Robert Simeon March 29, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    Glenn – absolutely brilliant concept. Had never thought of that and another amazing feature that only Google can offer. This is exactly why B@ is such a unique place on the www given just when you think you know something somebody else offers an even smarter solution.

    Thanks Greg also – I see that Glenn has you thinking up an entirely new strategy for agents.

    I think Glenn should write an article on this as it has huge upside for agents.

    Cheers

  14. Steve Koerber March 29, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Hey Glen, could I register my name (not business name) as a trademark on Google. How does one register this with Google?

  15. Nick March 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Steve I dont have a clue what your asking exactly. :S
    Google has nothing to do with trademarks.

  16. Glenn Batten March 29, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Steve,

    You register your trademark… then if somebody is using your trademark you can provide the details to Google using this form. https://services.google.com/inquiry/aw_tmcomplaint

    How they block it differs from country to country and obviously depends upon the prevailing laws in that country but in General it appears they will block its use in ad text in all countries but they will block its use in keywords in only a limited number of countries. This is a list of countries which google WILL NOT block the use of your trademark as a keyword. https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=144298

    Australia and New Zealand are not part of that list. As long as you can get a trademark in your country for your business name you should be able to get Google to block its use. As Nick said, google has nothing to do with the registration of that trademark. You will have to track down how to do that in New Zealand yourself but I would think it should not be too hard. Whether you can register it depends upon a whole range of things and you are best to speak with a solicitor about the details and cost.

    In the case of the major real estate groups, most of them already hold trademarks however very few have Google blocking their use because it makes the use by genuine members more difficult and out of laziness they would rather make it easier for members and therefore let competitors also use the term.

  17. Steve April 2, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Thanks Glen, understand.

  18. Nick April 5, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    I dont see the point personally. If someone was bidding on Luxury Homes Australia, and someone searched for it, then they probably already know what they want.
    A ad like that isnt anywhere near as effective as a more realistic search like ‘luxury real estate’ and so on.

  19. SSU June 17, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Hi Nick i have just happen to bumped on this forum and i can see that this was a great post, I agree with you nick when you said that most agents often know that they need a website (or a better website). as we know that online market was the best way and a low cost to get costumer from outside of our country, I my self was a sales agent and i do also create blogs and promote as this is the best way to find someone out their who is interested on what am i offering and product that i have.

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