Forget Volume - Focus on Quality
I 'm really tired of hearing how brokers and agents can't compete with Zillow and Trulia in terms of web ratings and reach. When I hear this it just reminds me about how much most people in the real estate industry don't understand what the real objective is in advertising on the Internet. In my opinion, they have made the mistake of competing with these portal giants on terms that really don't mean much to their bottom line, web ratings.
Internet Ratings Don't Matter
During my days with the WAV Group I was a subscriber to Experian Hitwise web ratings and it was an eye opener. We used these ratings all the time to show MLSs how poorly they were competing with Zillow and Trulia and how brokers rarely got close to the ratings of Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. Looking at how far behind real estate companies were compared to these monster sites made most people feel like the task was hopeless. The truth is, it is! It is hopeless if your goal is to win the rating battle in terms of page views and viewers on Experian. These portals are spending millions of dollars to attract millions of viewers and they are successful in that. At the end of the day, however, this isn't what you want anyway. The last thing you want as an agent or a company is an unlimited supply of leads. Does that sound crazy? It isn't. Getting more leads than you can manage is a waste of time and money!
Time is Money
Think about it, every lead you receive has a cost attached to in terms of time and energy, your two most valuable resources. Every minute you spend focusing on qualifying a lead is a real expense. If you were to have an unlimited supply of leads from your websites this would be a nightmare because either you would let many of these leads just die on the vine or you would do a very poor job working them as you tried to race through a number that was too much for you to manage.
Apples and Oranges
The reason you can compete with the giant portals in our industry is because what you are both looking for is totally different. Portals are all about volume. Volume fuels advertising and the volume of leads they get means that they can sell these leads via their "premium" packages to agents that haven't realized how poor the majority of these leads are. The real estate pros that are make the Internet work are doing it differently. They don't ever compare themselves to Zillow or Homes.com, or any major portal, it doesn't make sense. What they focus on is how many "quality leads" they get that they can convert to a buying or selling customer and the cost it takes them to do it! That's it! Period! Everything else in this conversation is meaningless.
Don't Use a Net - Use A Dart
If you thing logically about the type of person you are really trying to reach you will realize that the majority of people "playing" on the portals are not the type of person you are looking for. They are being captured by a huge net and just like fishing nets, a lot of things caught just get thrown back. You are looking for people that have moved beyond that broad look into real estate. You are looking for those that are really ready to focus and act. These people use the portals, along with sites like yours, for their initial research but when they get closer to the activities that mean money for you, they start behaving differently. This is point in their buying or selling timeline that you should be working. Your marketing efforts need to be focused on the keys they are looking for to unlock that special deal in your area. Your marketing efforts, both Internet and physical need to reach out and catch them at this critical point. That is what great SEO and PPC management can help with. SEO that works differentiates you from the field, it makes you stand out and it moves you to the top of the searches that really matter. That's the battle you need to win, not the Internet rating battle.
Work the Numbers
Remember, every lead that doesn't turn into a customer is just an expense. Work the numbers. You need to decide how many leads your company, team or you individually can really work each day. This doesn't mean one quick email. This means following up leads and finding ways to communicate value to them quickly and consistently so once you connect with them they don't need to go anywhere else. Your mission is to move that conversion rate of 1% or whatever your's is to 3%, 4%, 5% and beyond. This is being done today so this is not a pipe dream. The pros that are doing it spend serious dollars like any good company on their marketing and then they work on qualifying the leads they get. They tweak their marketing and their marketing costs to a level that they can manage realistically and don't go beyond unless they decide to add manpower or some other component that lets them really harvest their lead pool effectively.
So the next time you feel frustrated when you look at these portals remember you are doing two different things. They are all about volume while you should be all about quality. They are all about big nets and you need to be a sniper. Take aim!
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