Capturing buyer leads from portals

Our CEO, Gabe Gross, wrote a whitepaper published by some major real estate media outlets recently (Rismedia, Brokeragentnews, Inman News).

The concept described in the whitepaper and supported by RealBird for the first time in the industry is  the following: A large segment of online home buyers start their searches on major classifieds portals. By "pushing" your real estate services (e.g. IDX Search) with your featured listings close to these portals, you can create new channels for capturing some of this traffic and not only for your own listing (the original value proposition of listing syndication), but also for your local IDX  search services (the new value proposition). Some portion of these home buyers, once they arrived to your single property site, will continue searching for comparable properties on your own, private labeled tool embedded in your own featured listing website. Furthermore, since your RealBird single property sites are indexed by Google and other search engines while they are active, once the property is sold, you can still use your sold listing sites with the embedded IDX Search to continue capturing buyer leads. In other words, rather than waiting for home buyers to visit your website and eventually contact you for assistance, you create multiple entry points for your services via your own featured listings and sold inventory at high profile portals and search engines. The concept is very similar to the value proposition of real estate blogging. Blog syndication (via RSS, blogroll, search engines) enables you to capture visitors on remote online locations and after you "pulled" them back to your blog, you can provide additional real estate services (comparables, IDX search, market stats etc.) With RealBird's new listing publishing technology, you can use your featured listings and sold inventory to do the same: use it as a marketing vehicle to "push" some valuable content the meaningful online locations and "pull" visitors back to access your additional services on your single property websites.

Gabe's article is below.

-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com

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A Novel Approach to Lead Generation for REALTORS®

by Gabriel Gross, President, RealBird.com

A “virtual” paradox is happening in real estate: the Internet has become the major medium for real estate information, yet real estate agents find it increasingly difficult to generate good leads using their Web sites. The cause for this is quite simple: The majority of early-stage home buyers will start their search with the major classifieds portals and so individual agents rarely stand a chance to be even “seen” by these consumers. Yet, these are clients that could be the most valuable leads because at this stage they have probably not yet committed to another agent.

Another way of looking at this problem is that no matter how interesting or informative an agent’s Web site, it will be only as useful as the traffic it gets. This of course leads to the need to generate traffic to the Web site, and the options for this are limited and expensive: keyword advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads, blogging, e-mail farming, or “traditional” media advertising. In truth, agents will find that in most markets even these methods will only produce spotty and unpredictable results because the majority of agents and brokers employ those same strategies, and therefore it is increasingly difficult to achieve differentiation even with the best agent Web site.

Another problem with the traditional traffic-generation methods is the low quality of leads that they produce. The best leads for an agent are those consumers who are early in their home-buying process, the ones who have just started “looking,” as these clients have not yet committed to another agent. However, surveys show that the majority of consumers will start looking for listings that are on the market on the major online classifieds portals- Realtor.com, Craigslist, Google Base, Trulia, Zillow, etc. Most consumers will not start their home buying by looking for an agent to work with, and so they may end up establishing a relationship with a listing agent that they contact from a listing that they see and like on the classifieds portal that they happen to visit.

So what can a Realtor do to “fish” for leads in the big Classifieds portals pond? The obvious solution is to post (syndicate) featured listings to these portals using one of the several Single Property Web site services. These services allow you to create compelling Web sites for your featured listings, with photos, slideshows, even video, and then post them with a click of a button to several classifieds ad portals and search engines. Many brokers and agents already are syndicating their listings, either on their own, or using one of the many service providers available.

A common mistake that agents are making is to assume that their listing will be indexed by the search engines simply because they are available in the “featured listings” section of their own Web site. This is not the case. Another common perception is that simply because their listings are syndicated in bulk by their broker it is not necessary for the agent to promote these on their own. Listing syndication works just like advertising - the more the better, and given the low effort and cost involved this should be a “no-brainer,” must-do activity.

As with any marketing activity, the results achieved are usually depending on how unique your approach is, and how you stand out from the crowd. With listing syndication it is no different, and in most markets the majority of listings are already being posted on classifieds portals, so posting a few listings will not be as effective as it was one or two years ago. Also, it is quite unlikely that a homebuyer who finds your listing will actually consider it to be a good fit with their need, and if that is the case then they will just click on to the next listing and you will have lost them forever!

An out-of the-box, novel approach to increase the effectiveness of your lead generation using single property Web sites is to embed an interactive MLS search into each featured listings Web site. The resulting benefit is that if a home buyer finds your listing on one of the classifieds portals, they can immediately see MLS properties and start a full search, directly from this listing that they are looking at, instead of having to click over to your Web site, which they would never do because at that time they are in the frame of mind of searching for and viewing listings on that particular portal.

In other words, instead of just trying to “pull” potential clients to your site you are “pushing” your branded MLS search to the best locations where most early-stage home buyers go when they start their search for a home.

This ability to search the whole MLS with an interactive map focused automatically on the area of the client’s interest greatly increases the probability that they will contact you for more information for any of the listings that they find using your MLS Search and can produce dramatically better results.

For an example of such a listing, please see this Single Property Web site: http://www.58Northgate.com. Note the “Nearby Homes for Sale” button and “MLS Search” tab.

With each active featured listing that you publish to the major classifieds portals, you create several additional “touch points” on the Internet. Compare this with only 1 - your own Web site where normally the MLS search resides. What’s more, you can do this even if you don’t have any listings of your own - all you have to do is borrow some nice, sellable listings from a colleague (with the listing broker’s blessing) and ask for their permission to advertise those on the Internet (make sure that you have written and that you display the listing broker and that you comply with your local MLS’s rules). All this takes maybe 30 minutes to do, and you can do as many as you have time for, with each published listing creating multiple locations on the classifieds portals where they can find your own, branded MLS search.

But wait, there is more: once the listing is sold, instead of deleting it from your account you can change the status to “sold,” and so your “sold” listing Web sites which by now are already indexed by Google will accumulate on Google to a growing number of additional “touch points” for your active MLS search tool. Again, this cumulatively increases over time the likelihood that home buyers will find you and will also create an “organic” lift effect for your search-engine standing. If, for example, you sell 10 listings each year, then the number of Google-indexed “entry points” increases in one year to 10 and after two years to 20, in addition to the active listings to be found on the major classifieds portals, as outlined above. Again, each of these sold listing Web sites will have your MLS search embedded, and thus whoever finds these listings on Google or some other search engine will be able to search for active properties on the market from right there, each “sold” listing thus becoming a potential conduit for new leads.

For more information, please visit http://www.RealBird.com


Map-based MLS Search 2.0

Map-based MLS Search 2.0 Introducing the RealBird Map-based MLS Search 2.0

It's been a while since our last major update of the RealBird Map-based MLS Search service. I am pleased to announce that the new version is now available for real estate agents and brokers in our current MLS coverage areas. (More MLS coverage is added ongoing)

There are many, many new features and novel benefits of this new release. I am going to post tutorials on a regular basis of concepts and techniques about how to best utilize these features. At this time, let me  emphasize a unique marketing concept, which enables real estate agents to reach out for home buyers beyond their website, via syndicated featured listings, viral marketing and social networks.

The problem

Your IDX solution is only as good as the level of traffic you receive on your website. Unless you have sufficient traffic coming to your site, the most advanced technology locked up on your site will not bring you business, simply because nobody knows about the value it provides. One of the most powerful real estate marketing techniques is blogging and not just because you can show off your expertise and niche while building brand and trust (the content), but for being a technology solution which reaches out for buyers and pulls them back to your online presence, your blog or website, where you can provide them with additional services (the reach). Since blogs are syndicated by default, expressed via machine readable RSS and loved by search engines, your content (and online business identity) can go a really long way to reach consumers by feed readers, aggregators, fellow bloggers sharing and tracking back your content and most importantly by search engines. In short: you "push" your information via blogs to meaningful destinations where consumers search and research and "pull" them back to your website for more. This is very powerful, no question about it.

Following this marketing concept established by real estate blogs, we decided to port the technique to single property websites:

The solution

For the first time in the industry, the RealBird Listing Publisher enables you to create Single Property Websites with Map-based MLS Search embedded for instant, live showcase of nearby for sale properties.  Take the following scenario for example:

  1. You create a single property website with RealBird and embed the Map-based MLS Search application
  2. Your listing site is automatically syndicated to Google Base, Zillow, Trulia, Geebo, Oodle, Vast and more and you can easily post it to Craigslist, Kijiji and Backpage for even more traffic
  3. A home buyer finds your featured listing on any of those highly popular portals
  4. The home buyer clicks thru to visit your RealBird single property website
  5. If your featured listing is not a perfect match, the home buyer is provided with an instant option to see similar for sale properties without ever leaving your site. In other words, you capture a portion of the traffic of home buyers from major portals. That portion can be huge relative to your regular website traffic.

Your IDX search solution (the home buyer lead capturing tool) is pushed one click closer to high profile destinations, to portals where most of the online home buyers start their search. Similar to blogging, the RealBird Listing Publisher pushes your information to 3rd party sites with high consumer traffic (portals and search engines) and "pulls" home buyers back to your full IDX solution.

Since the RealBird Listing Publisher also allows you to manage and promote your pending and sold inventory, listings sites which are already indexed by major search engines will continue to bring cumulative traffic and leads to your IDX solutions via your single property websites even after your own listing is sold !

The Listing Publisher is available for agents and brokers in the US, nationwide. For the embedded MLS Search option, please check the coverage on RealBird .com (You can also request coverage there. We'll do our best to implement new MLSs as soon as possible, based on user demand)

Below are a few examples of live single property websites with the Map-based Search integrated:

Stay tuned for the upcoming tutorials on other new features such the visually stunning MLS Hotlist widgets.


-- Zoltan Szendro

RealBird.com


Sold Listings Map widget released

Based on the popularity of the RealBird Featured Listings Map widget (for showing your active listings on an embeddable map), we have released a similar tool for your sold listings. Showing off your sold listings on your websites and blogs are important to encourage seller prospects to trust their listing on you. Showing them your sold listing portfolio will ensure them that you can actually deliver on your promise of selling their listings.

The Sold Listings Map widget is a powerful visual presentation of this marketing concept. See the example below showing the sold listings of Roland and Linda Hauhe on this widget


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Rather than deleting your listings published via RealBird after they are sold, you can now update them with sold as the listing status and automatically show them via this new widget. You can of course enter sold listings directly by simple setting the listing status to sold, rather than active while creating the RealBird property website. Make sure, that you use the Publish feature for saving the listing. Sold listings are not syndicated to 3rd party classified sites, but setting the sold property site published will enable it on your new Sold Listings Map widget.

The widget can be scaled for any size via the configuration tool and can make a great sidebar widget on your blog or ActiveRain or a full screen map on your website or your blog post.

Stay tuned, some major updates are coming soon...

-- Zoltan Szendro

RealBird.com

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