Tag: real estate marketing

5 Good DIY Search Visibility and Marketing Habits for More Real Estate Leads

Your business is off and running with a new website but the job doesn’t stop there. Want to attain and maintain good search visibility for your site?

Here’s a list of important tools, tips, and techniques for increasing leads from your website and growing search visibility.

There are many things you can make habits of in your daily and weekly routine that will help you grow and maintain your search over time. It’s a “help you help yourself” regimen that, when adhered to, pays big dividends.

The trouble is, most Realtors don’t or won’t take the time to do so. These are the ones who don’t dominate their digital “air space” and who will become increasingly non-competitive in a search, digital marketing, and mobile-driven consumer world.

  • Always name your blog or site images and add ALT tags – Google prioritizes indexing images and video, so the names (and relevancy of) should be appropriate to your blog post or page and be “human readable.” The best way to do this? Think of names that would map to how a user would search google to end up on your page. The best tutorial? Here: https://yoast.com/image-seo-alt-tag-and-title-tag-optimization/ Also, never forget to compress your images! Page speed is now figuring heavily into Google’s index. Use http://optimizilla.com/ to reduce the sizes of any images you upload so they don’t slow down your pages while loading.

  • You need video – Google also loves video when it comes to indexing.  Plus, customers find it more engaging. Just look at the results of many of your own Google searches and you’ll see that videos are starting to bubble to the top of entries. What do you need to do? Make sure you have good, relevant video on your blog posts and that you add all the proper metadata and info (e.g. title, description, thumbnails, etc.). We suggest buying 1-3 videos a year from a local marketing firm who can focus on neighborhoods, areas, and homes that will highlight your listings and also be re-usable. Drone video is huge for engagement these days as well in real estate. Learn how to use video in your pages from Google themselves: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/videosearch/intro

  • Blog at least once per month – Study trends and topics that are relevant to your customers, but, above all else, offer value. If you don’t words are just words and your customer engagement won’t be what you want. Your title is the key to SEO, then just write naturally and normally. Make sure to test your finished post for “readability” with the Flesch-Kincaid test. Don’t repeat or “overstuff” keywords; Google uses things like AI and Latent Semantic Indexing to try to actually “understand” your site.

  • Use landing pages and interactive popover – Users always say they hate those boxes that “pop over” onto a page, but – simply put – they work. If you offer value and highly relevant info or offers and don’t annoy, popovers can be a very, very effective force in lead generation. But, be careful! Google hates “interstitial” popovers that block indexing on mobile sites. Exit popovers work well and are unintrusive. We also suggest an alternative, banner info: https://www.hellobar.com/ As for landing pages, sites with landing pages generate as much as 7 times as many leads as those who don’t. Here’s how to do it: http://neilpatel.com/blog/a-brief-guide-to-designing-high-converting-landing-pages/ 

  • Build backlinks – Good backlinks from reputable sites is worth its weight in gold. Top ways to get backlinks without spending a ton of time? Get into a habit of “doing backlink building” once per week for an hour. What are the top things you can do in as little time as possible?
    • Fix broken links to your site from other sites
    • Comment in relevant and real ways on blogs and articles on sites with high authority (e.g. Forbes real estate, RealtyTimes, RealtyBizNews, and more)
    • Give a scholarship to a local college or university and have your link added to the donor page (huge credibility!)
    • Write reviews of products and services you use
    • Make donations to charity – helping others helps you too. And it’s the right thing to do.

Here are some more tools that help: http://neilpatel.com/blog/10-tools-that-will-get-you-more-backlinks/ 

Need a website with good SEM built into it? Get one for ONLY $125/month. Stop getting ripped off by local “SEO” and web experts. Did you know most Realtors pay over $5k for their site? Stop the madness.

Websites for real estate agents

Website not optimized for these 2017 Google trends? Kiss your leads goodbye.

As Published on ActiveRain:

For those of us in the web engineering and marketing business, 2017 is going to be a memorable year as far as Google search goes.

For real estate agents without websites that stay compliant with Google’s changes? They may well be forgotten altogether.

For starters, Google has already quietly altered their search algorithms a few times this year alone. What’s the Google search algorithm and what’s in it anyway?

Well, only Google really knows.

But, when they change the criteria they use to rate and rank your site for how it shows up when customers search for things you sell? Well, you feel it fast.

Or maybe you don’t.

You see, most real estate agents are paying good money for bad websites. Most pay a national or local hosting company to put up something that looks good, then they assume everyone can see them. In fact, many agents put up a website and don’t touch it again for years.

And therein lies the problem.

If you – or someone you hire – isn’t constantly tuning and optimizing your site to keep up with Google’s changes, well you might as well not have a website.

Think about it this way: If Google constantly changes the way they value the features of your site that make it show up in search and you haven’t touched your site in years, how many home buyers and sellers do you think are landing on your site?

For well over 95% of customers who we serve here at HomePocket with our Websites for Realtors and web Marketing Insights, the answer is……zero. No customers ever see their site.

And that brings us to this…

 

The Big Year Ahead

Over the course of this year, Google will continue to change the way it ranks and rates your site based on its features. This is especially important this year because Google has already made some very big changes that leave 99% of agent sites out in the cold.

  • Google’s index is now mobile-first: That’s right, more people are searching the web and visiting sites from their phones than desktops now (and doing so from Android than iPhone), so they’ve begun favoring websites with “responsive” features. That means they look – and act – the same on mobile devices as they do on desktops. In fact, if your site isn’t also built with “AMP,” or “Accelerated Mobile Pages,” you’re soon going to be like a Ford Model-T at in a race with a Ferrari. Not only will you suffer when customers get frustrated they can’t use your site on their phone, they won’t ever even see it from a search at all because Google’s going to factor this feature heavily into their new index scoring. Even if you’re site is brand new, chances are it’s not compliant.
  • Page loading speed – If your site isn’t fast, it’s going to drop way down in Google’s index. It’s just a fact.  That is if it’s in the index at all yet. Most bargain-basement hosting such as GoDaddy, Real Geeks, Placester and the like don’t optimize for the speed of your site or spend valuable resources making sure your site is on the fastest hosting. It’s just economics. If you’re paying $19.99 a month, do you think they’re going to make it a priority your site gets blazing speed? Nope. Not happening. Get fast or get gone.
  • Mobile display and AMP – How your website displays and acts on mobile are vitally critical now for good search visibility. Even if your site is brand new, I can almost guarantee you it isn’t built with “AMP,” or Accelerate Mobile Pages. It’s an emerging standard now for Google that ensures a good user experience when viewing a site from mobile. Why? Well, as of last year,  internet traffic from mobile phones and tablets has now exceeded that from desktops – and it’s growing.  Don’t have AMP and good mobile display? Well, you won’t show up anymore.
  • Your content matters even more than before – The writing on your page, your page titles, headings and other technical SEO writing has always been huge, but now it’s getting kicked up another notch. You see, Google relies in part on artificial intelligence technologies to actually “understand” in human-like terms what your site is saying and what that means. It uses this kind of semantic processing to categorize, rank and rate you based on what say you are and an automatic ability to understand that. If your site writing is bad (and writing for the web is an art and a science, folks!), Google doesn’t know what you are – and you lose out in their search.
  • Get social or become a “shut in” – To put it simply, sites without relevant social content linking back to their site won’t rank as highly as the ones who do. Don’t think taking the time to post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Instagram is worth it? Think again. It’s kinda like your health. Working out sucks, sure. But, if you don’t do it regularly, you get fat, slow and you’ll die sooner. It’s the same with social and searches. “Work out” your social regularly or, well, you get the idea.

Simply put, web search is changing. Largely, for the better of us all. Google’s aim is that people find exactly what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), that means if your site doesn’t keep up, you can forget customers finding you on the web through search.

Find out if your site is “up to speed” with a free scan and stay visible on search.

Realtors: want a site that has all of the above (and stays that way each month) for just $999?

Get a custom site in just a week with MLS listings. No strings attached, just a great site built just for you by a team of practical, talented software engineers who have been at this for over 20 years.

https://www.homepocket.com/get-real-estate-website/

Stay “searchy,” my friends.

 

Realtors: Hiring an illegal drone video provider could get you sued

Drone video for real estate is about as hot right now as when the first cars were mass-produced and made available to the public. And just about as risky.

Much like cars, it’s popular – and effective – for good reason. Drone videos and photos can:

  • Engage audiences better than low-quality photos
  • Fully showcase your properties in 3D
  • Highlight special locations that matter for a sale
  • Give 360-degree home fly-arounds
  • Deliver one-of-a-kind home “fly-thrus”
  • Set your brand apart
  • And much more…

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s new technology and a new business market. It’s also a service that has brand new (and often) confusing, ill-defined rules. Well, until recently.

The government sees people who fly drones “not for profit” as “hobbyists.” Wanna buy a drone  off amazon and fly in your backyard? You’re a hobbyist.

Wanna have local Realtors pay you to do video of their listings? Well, then you’re gonna need to be a regulated “commercial” drone pilot.

In fact, gonna post your “hobbyist” drone video to YouTube? Well the FAA may come after you when a legal “droner” turns you in.

“The emerging drone business is highly-competitive and cut-throat even,” says pilot Ben Polancich of High Country Drones in Boone, NC. “Legal drone providers – especially those that took the time and money to become actual airplane pilots – will turn other illegal drone video sellers in and their customers too. Happens every week.”

Over the past couple of years, the FAA has been slowly been bringing more regulation and control into sharper focus – and it will continue to do so.

Originally, to offer drone services, the FAA and all states required that drone pilots be, well, “real” pilots. You had to become licensed to fly an actual airplane.

Then, late last year, the FAA made it a tiny bit easier to sell commercial drone video by reducing the requirement to have all new operators comply with what they called the “Part 107.”

Now, all drone pilots who want to sell their services – i.e. not fly as hobbyists – must pass what amounts to the written portion of an FAA pilot’s license and comply with a full set of rules and regulations.

So what does that mean for you?

After all, you just want a drone video of a home listing. You can pay the neighbor’s kid down the street, right? Wrong.

 

The “getting-sued-for-having-a-pool-with-no-fence” analogy for Realtors

Back in the 1970s and 80s the news was full of stories about kids jumping into their neighbors pool late at night, getting hurt or drowning. Lawsuit after lawsuit ruined families and businesses whether it made logical sense or not.

As a result? Lots of laws and regulations came into being and everyone was required to put up code-compliant fencing, life saving devices and “no lifeguard on duty” signs to avoid getting sued for everything by people trespassing in the first place.

Nowadays, every Realtor is buying video and flying their own drones for agents and other customers for a fee. Yet the vast majority are not using licensed (for commercial use) drone providers or licensed themselves.

Simply put, using an illegal drone provider puts you and your business at risk.

Just like all those businesses ruined in the pool lawsuits (that still happen, btw), if you hire an illegal drone provider, you could be opening up your business to damaging and costly litigation from those hurt when a hobbyist (i.e. non-pilot) hits a group of people, damages property or – heaven forbid – kills someone by flying into a plane or moving vehicle.

Take the risk? I wouldn’t.

“Just hire a legal, commercial drone pilot with an FAA pilot’s license,” says Polancich. “Ask them to show you their license. If they can’t, move on and find another one. Don’t take the risk of losing your business.”

The gist? Always ask your drone provider to provide their license. Furthermore. ask them to provide an FAA pilot’s license if you really want to be safe.

 

How to boost SEO with video

Stats and Image Courtesy of MarketingProfs

 

Drone video can boost your websites search visibility. How’s your site doing in Google, Bing and Yahoo anyway? Find out now.

Learn How to Work Digital Real Estate Leads or Fade Away

Despite lots of technology scattered around everywhere, real estate today is still done largely as it’s traditionally been done. In fact, the majority of real estate pros focus on getting new buyers and home sellers using the same techniques they’ve been using for the past 50 years or so:

  • Local networking (i.e. “Shaking hands and kissing babies”)
  • Print ads/flyers/direct mail/local real estate magazines
  • TV and Radio ads
  • Billboards
  • Family and friends
  • Charity sponsorship
  • Giveaways swag (shirts, hats, cards, stickers, mugs, calendars, etc.)

The problem? Well, the internet. And mobile apps. And social media. And Alexa. And Siri. Accurate, easy web and mobile search have never been more important.

 

Leads, Leads Everywhere and Not-a-One For Me

These days, consumers want to use an app or the web on their phones to find what they want, research it, make decisions, buy and be done with it as quickly, efficiently and by talking to as few “real” people as possible. They want to talk to smart devices in their homes and just ask “Find me a 4-bedroom home in Fresno under $500K.”

What does that mean for real estate agents and their sites? If you’re not being found in search – and found well – you’re going to be in trouble. Especially as time goes on.

At any rate, digital searchers become digital leads. If you want to grow or sustain your business, you have to work them. The problem there is, digital leads can’t best be worked to a close like traditional leads from all those sources listed above.

 

Working Digital Leads Requires Changing Your Ways – And Learning New Ones

For the folks here at HomePocket, we’ve been compiling data on digital leads and conversion rates for several years now.

Like leads you get in other ways,  digital leads come in many personalities and require diligent work – and in the right way! – or you will not have success. Some things to understand about digital leads today:

  • Digital leads tend to be younger on the whole than other leads you get
  • High-pressure or “car salesman”-ey sales does not work – ever
  • Digital leads prize convenience and simple processes above all
  • Digital leads don’t like phone calls and prefer text, email, and chat
  • Speed of outreach is even more essential – wait a day or two and you won’t engage
  • Don’t ever “touch base” instead only communicate to offer valuable info or convenience
  • Kindness, gratitude, and politeness helps every time
  • Be simple and efficient, don’t waste time and be concise in saying what you will do
  • Always follow-up when/do what you say you will
  • Get tech savvy so you can speak their language – or they’ll bolt
  • Let them know you will handle all big and small details for them!

And, finally, one last bullet that’s the most important:

Digital leads expect to do almost everything online.

That means your web, your mobile apps, your contracts, your communications need to be as simple, fool-proof (i.e. “not broken”), up to date as is possible. If not, they’ll find a competitor who’s better.

What does that mean for you?

It means adopting tools like Snapchat or GroupMe or mobile apps with chat features. It means your website has to be more function that form (pretty does not equal effective, folks). It needs to be kept fresh and up to date. Forms and features must be simple and intuitive and….work every time.

Also, get as much of what you do with them as you can out of email and into a functional website or 3rd party tool (e.g. Docusign is a good example, as well as shared Pinterest boards for them to save and show you homes they like, etc.).

I could go on here for a small books-worth of items, but you get the idea. Well, maybe you do.

Understanding these kinds of concepts is easy. The hard part? Actually changing what you do to attract, work and acquire more digital leads.

The future is here. The old ways are dinosaurs and the weather’s only getting colder outside. The new ways are small, furry and agile creatures that will adapt and survive. Which one are you?

Other Helpful Resources for You

What is digital lead generation anyway? – https://www.marketo.com/lead-generation/

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing – http://seopressor.com/blog/inbound-vs-outbound-marketing-more-effective/

Why digital marketing matters more than ever – http://neilpatel.com/what-is-digital-marketing/

How Home Buyers Find Real Estate Today

A while back, here at HomePocket we decided to poll our registered users and anonymous web and mobile app visitors to find out how they started their search for a new home.

We placed a widget on our site and mobile web app using a service called Ramen (awesome stuff, btw..great work over there folks!). The way it works is simple:

A user visits our web or mobile web app and a little widget pops up in the bottom left to ask a simple question…

The best way to find a new home

In this case, we asked:

How do you start a home search?

The possible answers?

  • Search Google
  • Call local agent
  • Go to Zillow
  • Other Option (with response)

Here at HomePocket, we think the US is on the cusp of big strides in the real estate industry over the next 5 years due mainly to technology and its effects.

Yet, on the other hand, real estate – at present – remains a highly traditional and highly “technologically inconsistent” from top to bottom and sideways of the industry on both the consumer and business provider side.

Let’s just say, there are challenges and problems.

In particular. we wanted to find out if the way people start a home search is changing. Traditionally, people called a local agent and that’s how it all started. Is it still that way? If so, what does that mean for consumers? For Realtors? Mortgage lenders and more?

Some of us here at HomePocket had former (very low-paying) jobs in college and professionally as political pollsters and analysts. As such, we looked at this survey, if you will, as as simple “straw poll” using a healthy sample size of around just under 50,000 people.

Here’s what we found:

How do people find real estate for sale

  • 33% of home seekers search Google as their first step
  • 40% chose “other” then we asked them to say what “other meant” and 99% of the time they entered “Google” (not sure why they didn’t just pick it, but…hey, whatever)
  • 20% Chose Zillow
  • 7% Said they contact a local agent

Pretty interesting numbers that, to us, allow for some conclusions.

Interestingly, the single most popular way people start a home search is, well, Google. Around a whopping 73% start there. It seems most people Google things like “real estate in Atlanta” and make a choice from those results (usually of a Realtor’s site on one of the first two pages of results).

As well, the data allowed us to make some pretty (I’d say) decent assumptions.

Despite more than two decades of terms like “SEO” and “SEM” becoming more and more haggard around marketing circles, perhaps our current day mobile, social and media web habits are making search “hip” and important again? I’d argue it never left. Not for a second.

Some other hints?

HINT TO FSBO SELLERS:

Get digital exposure or don’t get sold. Period.

HINT TO SELLERS USING AGENTS:

Does your agent’s site have good search visibility? It matters. A lot. Check it out before signing up.

HINT TO REALTORS:

If you don’t have good search visibility, well, I’ll leave the conclusion to you….

 

Debunking Popular Myths About Real Estate Lead Generation

A Long(ish) Prologue (but it’s worth it…trust me)

I’ve spent my whole career in and around data analysis. Almost twenty years of it, in fact, building data analysis systems to target bad guys on the web for the government and private sector. If it has to do with website traffic, content analysis, social media data or network data, I’ve pretty much been dealing with it my entire adult life.

For the most part, though, I always left my work at work and never really applied my data experience or interest in any real way to my personal life.

Then, almost 10 years ago while waiting for a checkup with my doctor, I picked up Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Body and that set me off on a different course.

From then on, I started looking at my daily routine, my work, my exercise and more in a different way.

In Tim’s book about health and weight loss, one of the key emphasis points is to take the guesswork out of trying to lose weight – or don’t do it at all. In other words, if you can’t measure what you’re doing, you’ll never really know yourself or whether or not you’re wasting effort and drifting off-course from your goal.

Needing to lose a few pounds and intrigued by the prescribed, diligent and daily data collection and analysis, I decided to give it a try.

For 3 months, I used a spreadsheet to record my weight every day at the same time, wearing the same things. I recorded what I ate, how often and the caloric intake. I recorded my exercise volume and duration. And on and on.

At the 90-day mark, I had lost 20 pounds.

More importantly, I knew myself in a very different way than I thought I did. Subconscious and easy assumptions about how well or much I was eating or exercising were dispatched by the cold, hard facts the data thrust into the light.

Almost every assumption I had held was proven wrong.

Since then, I’ve applied this approach to almost everything I do, constantly challenging assumptions and myths by using simple data collection and analysis techniques to be more successful and less wasteful.

 

Trimming away the fat from your real estate lead generation and marketing diet

Almost on a whim at dinner one evening on a vacation, my wife asked me what I thought about the real estate market in the vacation town we were spending some time in. That led me to start digging into all sorts of data in my spare time.

Then a friend in the business asked me to help drive more leads his way via digital marketing and, well, a spark met tinder.

Three years later spent in the real estate marketing business and now my all consuming passion is HomePocket: my startup attempt to improve the state of buying and selling for consumers and Realtors alike over the next few years.

At any rate, after roughly three years and multiple real estate consulting gigs doing data-driven digital marketing, I’ve collected and listened to the data long enough now to debunk some long-held myths I hear over and over and over again each week as I try to help real estate agents get healthier in their digital marketing.

Every week, I hear the same things from Realtors who THINK they know how well their marketing or website or lead generation is doing, but don’t have the data diligence to know what’s really true:

  • Digital marketing isn’t worth it – it’s all networking and reputation – The entire world now finds what it wants online. With search, usually. Real estate services are becoming a digital commodity. If you’re not in the game – and in it well – you’re in trouble for the future and just don’t know it yet or are too obstinate to do anything about it. Just having a website doesn’t count. I could write a book on this issue, but I’ll leave you to get the point yourself with a bit of history. Take a look at who the Luddites were.
  • The more ads I run the more leads I get the more business I do – Since I’m already doing a bit of a history lesson, why not English too? This is what they call “specious” reasoning. It sounds right, but it isn’t. If all you want is digital leads, hand me $500 a month and I’ll fill that really pricey CRM you use only about 1% of with lead after lead after lead. Paying each month for indiscriminate, unfocused digital ads is kinda like dropping 25K on a MacIntosh sound system for your office and playing Tiffany’s “I think we’re alone now” non-stop, 24/7 and turned up to 11. The sound and volume is incredible, but it will destroy you. Most realtors who pay for ads get charged  for quick, easy digital display ads (cause it’s something to show) and get less than a 1% conversion rate on all those leads. Services like Boomtown drive clicks to you, force ’em to sign in quickly, you get numbers and equate volume with value. Volume does not equal value. Ever.
  • My website looks amazing so I am getting good leads from it – This is probably the most dangerous assumption in the real estate business today. Period. Weekly, I talk to Realtors who just dropped $15-20K on a website last year and…it.looks.amazing. And it does. Really. No lie. Except when I scan it for them with our set of tools, start collecting traffic and analyzing search visibility….no.one.is.coming. Ever. No consumer anywhere who searches for anything real estate related is EVER landing on the site. Based on my data collection over the last 3 years for real estate clients and at HomePocket, a Realtor with a solid marketable site can expect about .0015-.0018% of all page views from web searchers who end up on their site to become a lead.  That means, if you’re getting about 1000 page views from search per month, you can expect about 1.5 – 1.8% leads to come in. Well over 60% of realtors I talk to every week are getting search page view numbers like 12, 35, 100, 1 or, in many cases, 0 per month. Wondering why the firm across the street is doing so well? I’ll give you a big, fat hint: good search traffic.
  • I get lots of digital leads from paid lead gen but few of them ever pay off – Simply put, this is because you’re working them wrong – or not at all. From the data I’ve collected over the last 3 years, most agents truly “work” less than 1% of all digital leads that come to them. An un-returned email, a call sent to voicemail and they’re done. On average, it takes 8 distinct, “quality” communications with a lead to even get them to engage at all, much less become an opportunity to close. As well, most real estate brokerages are run and staffed by Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers who are not tech savvy and who don’t know how technology now impacts marketing and working leads. If you can’t get up to speed with concepts like inbound marketing and how to truly work digital leads AND you want to stay in business? Hire someone who really, really knows this stuff – and fast. Then, listen to them and let them do what they need to do even if it makes you uncomfy. Well, either that or go out of business over the next 5 years (or less). Working leads is hard work. Period.
  •  I’m on realtor.com, zillow.com and homes.com so my site is getting lots of traffic – Really? How do you know? What are your average page views per month? How many people search for real estate terms and land on your page? What are the terms? What’s your bounce rate? How many times are users getting referred to your site from each of these sites? Which referrer keeps visitors on your site the longest? Which leads do you get come from which sites each month? Which leads end up becoming a deal from which sources? Is one better than another? You get the idea. I have yet to meet a broker, team lead or Realtor who can answer these questions regularly each month. It’s not that they have to be able to, but someone in the organization should – and that person should be influencing your business strategy, marketing budget and more. Most brokerages, teams and agents are themselves small businesses. As such, they’re all like mini-CEOs. That means they don’t have to know everything, but they need to have people under them who know their jobs – and are accountable with data on success or failure.
  • If I don’t see immediate returns on digital marketing it’s not working – This way of thinking is like a pandemic disease across the real estate industry. Somehow, Realtors think there’s an infinite pool of buyers and sellers they can simply pay to convert. The truth is, in this day and age, it’s very, very challenging to get anyone to find you, become attracted enough to convert to a lead and then worked to a close. Sometimes, there’s even no one out there looking for a home in your area at a given moment. So what does that mean? It means the reason there’s a thing called “sales and marketing” is because you have to work every day, in a dynamically changing world, to continue to interest and attract lead based on data you’re tracking that tells you where the target is now and where it’s headed. Services like Zillow have negatively affected Realtors in that they’re like snake-oil salesmen peddling elixirs with cocaine in them. Drink a lot, feel great. Does it help? Nope – and it makes you an addict. These days? Real marketing means a long-term commitment to business health. Think of it like this: You go in for a checkup at middle-age, the doc tells you you’re out of shape, over-weight and have a bad diet that puts your health at risk. Can you walk out and pay someone a few bucks to “just cure you” or does it take a long-term change in your way of living to prolong your life?  No shortcuts folks. Make a change, stick with it or accept the (very likely) risks.

 

Kinda like pics of ghosts, bigfoot and those “Elvis is not dead!” photos, if you can’t clearly measure and get a pic of how your business looks to your potential customers, your business will be grainy, out-of-focus and, soon, just a myth.  Start looking at your business in a different light.

Most Real Estate Agents Infected with “Lead-itis”

Real estate professionals buy lead generation for many of the same reasons an estimated 140 million Americans spend over $70 billion on lottery tickets every year:

  • I really could get rich with just a few bucks per month

  • If I don’t buy, I can’t win

  • Everyone else does it, so I must be missing something if i don’t

  • I may not win millions, but I know someone who won $5,000 once

For buyers, the lottery is about hope; hope and a belief in the fairy tale of a magical event of good fortune for doing very little at all.

As Dr. Stephen Goldbart said recently in a Psychology Today article, ” When times are tough, and we are continually struggling to get in command of our financial lives, a little fantasy goes a long way to feeling better.” He calls it “Lottery-itis.”

For the majority of real estate pros who spend good money on bad lead generation, I call it “Lead-itis.”

 

What exactly is Lead-itis?

  • Paying a lot of money each month for the same lead generation everyone else in your zip code is using

  • Spending good money on indiscriminate ads for your services or listings in hopes of getting ahead of your most-successful competition in your area

  • Buying lead generation and getting leads that take a lot of time and money to work to a close (or even just a phone call)

  • Paying for lead generation without knowing exactly how well you’re doing for your money

  • Getting lead generation to “jump start” your new business

  • Buying lead generation because your website isn’t getting you many leads

  • Paying for lead generation because all your peers are doing it and you’ll be left out

Lead-itis is a chronic disease in the real estate profession right now, and one that could actually lead to the near-death of your business over the long haul. At best, it’s very bad for overall business health.  

So how can something that seems like the right thing to do be so bad? The answers are actually simple when you step back and think about it a bit.

 

A Little Does Not Equal a Lot

Did you know that the majority of people who buy lottery tickets earn the least annual income? Psychologically-speaking, lottery tickets play on the desire to get ahead of others, with little effort.

Bad lead generation companies play heavily to the same type of audience: those not doing well and who want to get of others ahead quickly.

And, like the lottery, most lead generation providers want you to keep buying.

The best way to charge you more is to show you some quick results from running lots of broad digital ads to give you a little taste, then ramp down the money they’re spending to get you those indeterminate quality leads and ask you for more cash to get more leads.

It’s all kinda like treating the symptoms and not the cause. As the months go on, you’re left wondering why do I still feel so bad?

Bad lead generation not only prolongs your illness – it spreads it to the people you’re trying to convert!

All of the most popular lead generation tools force users they DO drive to your site to login after a click or two. It’s a proven marketing fact: users don’t like being forced to give you their info.

Think about it. Which do you think is a better lead? One that chooses to reach out or one that’s forced to? This means customers get a bad taste in their mouths from your site and they remember it when it does manage to show up in ads or search.

 

Costly Distraction

But that’s not the worst of it. Perhaps the biggest impact on your business from buying bad lead generation? It causes you to ignore a marketing fundamental that makes you truly healthier over the course of your company’s life:

Your digital presence.

Meaning – how buyers and sellers find you as they search on the web, from their mobile and or on social media.

So, what does that mean exactly? Most real estate pros look at lead generation as a shortcut to gaining more leads.

After all, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and optimizing your website (SEO) is a hard, time-consuming effort that must be continuously monitored.

But the cold, hard truth is – with more than 90% of all buyer and seller transactions starting online via search – how easily and well you’re found by searchers will determine the health of your business more than anything else over the next 10 years as Millennials take control of more than $50 TRILLION in inherited wealth.

Turns out all that stuff your dad told you growing up is, well, true. Hard work always pays off; there are no shortcuts; there are no free lunches.

More importantly, all those successful competitors you’re using lead generation to catch up to? I guarantee you their SEM is tip-top.

 

Encourage People to Come to You

Your website should be your top lead generation tool. Period. It’s a key pillar of the most successful sales and marketing philosophy of our day – “Inbound Marketing” as opposed to most paid lead generation efforts which is the least promising type of marketing called “Outbound Marketing.”

With inbound marketing, you get leads based on a buyer’s needs and interests. Conversely, paid lead generation is equivalent to walking down to your street corner and screaming at people as they walk buy to “buy! buy! buy!”

 

If you don’t know how well your site appears in search, stop paying for that lead generation NOW and get a real (more on that in a future article) SEO/SEM expert to fix your site.

Then, it’s important to keep an eye on your performance over time.

SEM is a marathon and buyers and sellers constantly change their tastes and habits. If you “set it and forget it” with your site, I guarantee your search visibility is bad. It’s probably very bad. Which begs the question, if no one sees your site, why even have it?

Beware of Lead-itis. It’s costly to treat, dangerous and sometimes deadly. And it’s highly contagious.

Keep your business healthy for the future and break out of the crowd you’re moving in now, before it’s too late. As my dad was also fond of saying when I was growing up, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”

Other Helpful Resources for You

What is digital lead generation anyway? – https://www.marketo.com/lead-generation/

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing – http://seopressor.com/blog/inbound-vs-outbound-marketing-more-effective/

Why digital marketing matters more than ever – http://neilpatel.com/what-is-digital-marketing/

Most Real Estate Agents are Paying Good Money for Bad Websites

One of the first – and most important – things you need as a real estate agent is a website.  In fact, for most Realtors, web sites should be their #1 lead generation and marketing tool. After all, over 90% of all home transactions started with an online search in Google or Bing.

To get one, the vast majority of Realtors choose one of the following four ways:

  1. Pay a local or national web hosting or marketing company
  2. Pay one of the hundreds of real estate hosting/IDX companies
  3. Let their brokerage add their info to an agent page off the main brokerage site
  4. Create an agent profile on Zillow, www.homes.com, www.realtor.com, etc.

Prices can range from free (in the case of most brokerage site add-on pages), to $30-$40 bucks a month and all the way to $10K a year or more for website packages that have some sort of marketing features like IDX listings, robust forms or email campaigns. In fact, more than a few real estate pros pay $20K-$40K a year or more for well-designed and maintained websites.

It may sound expensive, but websites that drive lots of leads more than pay for themselves in just a few closes – that is, if they’re good. If not, they not only don’t justify the money you’re spending on them, they’re actually doing your business harm.

 

Do you know where your website is right now?

You see, if your site can’t “check the box” on all the items below, it’s actually lulling you into a  false sense that, because your site is “out there” and “on the web,” it’s doing a good job getting you buyer and seller clients:

  • Has a high number of monthly clicks from Google or Bing search for terms buyers and sellers would use to find you (e.g. “homes for sale in Glendale,” “homes under $300,000 in Peoria,” or “what’s my home worth in Orlando, FL”)
  • Has consistent and healthy local web traffic for the area you service with a low “bounce rate,” or number of users that come to your site then leave without clicking anything else
  • Has a high percentage of users visiting the site that click more than 1 or 2 pages and that spend more than a few seconds on your site before leaving
  • Has a high (and growing) number of other websites linking to it  (called “Backlinks”)
  • Has simple and attractive “call to action” forms and buttons that get used consistently by web viewers to send you messages, request showings or register to search listings

If you can’t simply and easily measure all the above and track these things to the number of leads you’re getting, well, why waste the money? It’s kinda like paying for an expensive billboard and putting nothing on it.

 

If you can’t measure your site, does it even exist?

Sadly, most Realtors simply pay for their site and forget it assuming that because they’re out there, they’ll get seen. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter which one of the ways you’re building and hosting your site, here’s a list of 3 things – at a minimum – you should make sure you’re getting for your money from the folks who do your site:

  • Details on how your site is built as far as relevant page titles, headings and other content (i.e. choosing good keywords and phrases such as “Homes for sale in Orlando, FL” and more)
  • Monthly reports showing how many visitors you’re getting and where you rank for important keywords that lead buyers to your door from search (how many people each month arrive at your site and how?)
  • Monthly reports on key metrics about how you stack up versus other local competitors.

 

Why? The web is a very dynamic place. Doing something right one day doesn’t mean it will be the same tomorrow. Customer interests change, technology changes, markets change and more. If you’re not getting these kinds of stats from your provider, chances are you don’t even know if your page is stale, not performing well and needs fixing.

Think about it this way: there are trillions of stars in the universe, but we only see a small handful of the brightest. The web is exactly the same thing. Your site is one of billions. You must always work to make it shine or no one will see it.

What does that mean for your real estate business if you don’t? Well, you get no leads. And your “brighter” competition gets more.

Learn More in this Video

Wanna find out if your site stinks? We’ll scan your site for free. 

HomePocket LeadWallet customers get high-performing websites with high search visibility included in their subscription as well as Marketing Insights weekly and monthly reports of our full scans of their HomePocket pages as well as their own websites and social media.

LeadWallet customers not only get the best lead generation in the business, they also get a continuous improvement of their existing websites outside of our network. It’s total lead generation.

Find out how to get it here:  https://www.homepocket.com/lead-wallet-marketing-insights/

Click here, scroll down to the button “Get a Site Scan Now” and we’ll scan and analyze how well your site is doing. Get your FREE report today.

www.homepocket.com/get-real-estate-website

Why Selling a Home in 2017 Will Be More Challenging

home selling

Whether you’re selling your own home as a “for sale by owner” or a Realtor helping your clients sell, chances are you’ll need to work smarter and harder in 2017 than you did last year to find the right buyers for your homes for sale.

Here are a few reasons why and what you may be able to do about it.

Escalating Mortgage Interest Rates

As Freddie Mac just noted, 2016 ended the year with rates at a two-year high. In fact, rates are up 85 basis points since early November. It’s a trend that is highly likely to continue through 2017, with many experts predicting the rise may reach historic highs over 5%.

Don’t think that means a lot for most homebuyers? Just to compare, a monthly payment on a $225K mortgage at 2016 levels of 3.57% is $1,019. At 5% where 2017 rates are headed? It’s a whopping $1208 per month.

Simply put, this means many homebuyers won’t have the budget to afford buying a first home or move up to a larger one. And that means fewer total buyers for the homes you have for sale – no matter what area you’re in.

mortgage shrinkage

Digging a little deeper, this trend is likely to affect home buyers (and sellers!) more in the lower end of the price range. It also means that, in very tight markets, it can take longer to get a mortgage and be much more difficult to qualify interested buyers for your homes.

That all means more competition for fewer buyers. Finding the right buyers first and fastest will be the key to successful sales.

 

Home Price Trends Spell Bad News for Buyers

Whether you think we’re headed for another real estate bubble or not, one thing is for sure: home prices have steadily been rising.

As The Wall Street Journal author Steven Russolillo points out in a recent article:

“The market is flashing warning signs. The homeownership rate still hovers near a five-decade low and it is tough for less-affluent buyers to obtain mortgages. Meanwhile, mortgage rates have risen substantially since Donald Trump’s election victory, which will affect affordability.

Even without that, historical trends suggest that housing prices aren’t likely to keep rising at their current pace. For instance, since prices bottomed in 2012, they have risen in real terms at more than 5% a year, according to data courtesy of Yale economist Robert Shiller. That is great news for current homeowners but bad for anyone looking to buy, particularly first-time buyers.”

Again, home prices coupled with rising mortgage rates means a shrinking pool of buyers – and more competition for you and your sale.

 

The Top Way You Can Overcome These Challenges

Despite rising rates and home prices, there is something you can do to improve your chances of a sale:

Consistently target the buyers most likely to be seriously looking to buy in your area.

Today, almost all home searches start online. By using the right digital marketing and advertising techniques designed to focus only on those web and mobile viewers interested in homes in your area, you can ensure you find the right buyers and find them faster than other competitors.

For FSBO sellers, exposure and affordable marketing is – simply put – critical. Most FSBO sellers convert to Realtor listings within 6 months because of low exposure (which leads to few showings and little interest). If buyers can’t find you, your home won’t sell. And, no, Craigslist does not equal good digital marketing, folks.

For Realtors, unfortunately, most digital advertising promises and “guranteed #1 search rankings” are just ways to separate your from your ad budget every month. Indiscriminate digital ads shown to whoever wants to click them and reports of millions of ad impressions only help these advertisers ask you for more money next month. Think about it…If they did their job as described, would be pay more each month to reach “even more” buyers?

Plus, the big guys add an extra layer of challenge to already-tough market conditions by selling marketing or leads to dozens (or more!) Realtors in one area. It all adds up to even more competition than interest rates and home prices can cause.

So, how do you target the most serious home buyers in your area? Get a great website designed to rank well in Google, of course.