Case Study :: Agent closes 10 deals in his first 12 months

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems, Real Estate Websites, SEO Tips

In this post you can download the audio file (MP3) of a very insightful interview of Anthony Gilbert by copyblogger’s Ricardo Bueno.

You will hear first hand how Anthony Gilbert, a newbie agent in the business for less than a year, used aggressive internet marketing campaigns consisting of; pay-per-click advertising, custom WordPress website(s), SEO, multiple IDX systems and a simple mantra of relationship building in order to close 10 deals, 7 of them from the internet, in his first 12 months as a Realtor.

Click the icon below to hear the interview!

Was Anthony’s success a fluke? Just dumb luck? Or does the promise of lead generation from the internet now seem possible or even probable?

Tell us your thoughts, leave a comment below.

IDX web sites, CMA software & CRM tools are the most important tools in the real estate industry with the highest overall usage

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems, Real Estate Websites

realestate technolog yinfographicA recent survey of more than 2,000 real estate Professionals by ActiveRain & Market Leader details usage and average price paid for real estate technology and marketing solutions.

SEATTLE, WA, Jun 26, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — A recent survey of more than 2,000 real estate professionals has indicated overall spending on technology and technology-related marketing services is increasing, especially among the industry’s most successful agents, but real estate professionals continue to invest in direct mail as a preferred marketing vehicle.

Collected from among the more than 220,000 ActiveRain real estate professional community members as well as Market Leader customers, the survey focused on measuring what software and marketing support real estate agents are using in their business and how much they are spending on these necessary tools of the trade.

An infographic and deeper summary of the survey’s findings can be downloaded at www.activerain.com/real-estate-marketing .

“Real estate professionals are accelerating their investments in technology-based marketing options, but there’s not always a direct correlation between where they’re spending money and where they’re getting value,” said Nikesh Parekh, chief executive officer for ActiveRain. “More agents are investing in the technology and pipeline management systems necessary to build successful, long-term businesses.”

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • IDX web sites, CMA software, contact management, and email marketing
    continue to be the most important tools in the real estate industry
    with the highest overall usage
  • Real estate agents earning more than $100,000 per year are willing to
    pay a premium for top IDX web sites, contact management solutions,
    virtual tour software, and team management
  • Most other categories of software / technology show a reasonable fixed
    price per month regardless of the annual income of the agent
  • More kinds of marketing and advertising solutions are used by agents
    with no single solution having dominant share
  • Online agents are spending the most on lead generation, national real
    estate web sites (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com) and pay-per-click
    advertising
  • Social media, blogging, and SEO have the broadest agent participation
    but low monthly spend, due to the predominance of free tools
  • Direct mail has the largest agent participation of any offline
    marketing & advertising solution, regardless of agent income
  • Top producing agents earning more than $100,000 per year spend more in
    general across all categories but spend more money on online lead
    generation, national real estate web sites, and search engine
    marketing. Top producing agents spend significantly more per month on
    marketing personnel and training/coaching

  • View the complete infographic here:

    Data provided by ActiveRain.com. Join 220,000+ Real Estate Agents on the world’s largest Real Estate Social Network.

How To Weave IDX Info And Page Specific Calls To Action

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems, WordPress

Calls to action exampleYou know that saying “the devil is in the details” well it seems appropriate for this post as we take a closer look at some subtleties that often make the difference between a good -vs- average real estate website.

This post highlights a very important aspect of creating page specific content in your WordPress sidebars to generate leads and increase your SEO.

Below is an excerpt here from a post on the Diverse Solutions Blog that goes into more detail…

Page Specific Calls To Action

The last major takeaway from Jesse’s site is his effective use of the right-hand column to generate leads. Apart from his homepage, each section of Jesse’s site has page-specific lead capture tools and widgets content in the right-hand column.

Buyers are interested in homes and finding that great deal. Jesse targets these visitors on his buyers-related pages by offering a search form and an ad-like button to jump straight to foreclosures, along with testimonials to help establish his credibility.

“Sellers” pages include a home evaluation form, a blog subscription form, and testimonials from sellers. Individual listings include his “Find a Foreclosure” ad, a listing map widget, and additional testimonials. The contact and about pages of his site follow this same pattern, with various contact options and forms in the right-hand column.

Buyers want to see homes. Sellers want to know what their home is worth. In every case, the calls to action are always specific to the page they are viewing. Jesse only shows visitors calls to actions that they will respond to based on what page they are on, and as with any other marketing, the more targeted you are, the more effective you’ll be.

You can recreate this effect by building alternate lead-capture sidebars for your site, then choose which sidebar appears on each page. You can create one sidebar to appear on property pages, another for buyer-related pages, one for seller-related pages, and one more for generic pages.

Alternatively, you can use a plugin like Widget Logic to enable or disable individual widgets from appearing on specific pages. With this method, you can specify which widgets will appear only on buyers pages, which will appear only on sellers pages, and which will appear on listing pages — without needing to create separate sidebars for each page type.

NOTE: When we develop real estate websites on the Warp Framework the Widget Logic plugin is not needed because this feature is included by default.

Here’s how it’s done with Warp:

    1. Navigate to the Widget Options page.
    2. Click on the sidebar / location to select the appropriate widget
    3. Highlight the page(s) and/or category(s) using the ctrl key on your keyboard
    4. Click save

Screenshot example:

Warp widget options

However you implement, be sure your site incorporates clear calls to action; ideally targeted for the right visitor at the right time.

Our thanks to Jesse for putting together such a great looking site that seemlessly integrates widgets and search tools from both our IDX products. Whether it’s the simplicity of colors and fonts, his above-the-fold -focused homepage, or his dense community pages, I’m sure everyone can find some inspiration from his site. If you have questions or need help implementing any of the tricks you see on his site, let us know!

As I mentioned above, page specific content is often subtle but hugely important. It’s something we focus on for our website clients and it’s something you should too. If you have any questions on how to implement page specific calls to action or IDX widgets, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, if you’ve recently implemented a good example of page specific sidebar content please feel free to share it with us!

 

Additional related reading:

Guide to IDX Listing Email Alerts
Strategies for Combining IDX Map Search & IDX Plugin Features

 

Market Leader IDX / Search Engine Marketing Solution for Realtors

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Market Leader is interesting, for somewhere between $249 and $399/mo they promise you a minimum of 100 visits to your website (they provide) and some good analytics and that’s that. Aside from a widget they provide there is no way to incorporate anything this system does with what you may already be doing or want to do (internet marketing related) in the future. It’s a turnkey PPC solution for realtors that operates with a standalone nature. With that said, you can manually add contacts to the back-end and apparently you can, with one click, add your listings to craigslist and they also have auto syndication of your listings to the major listing hubs like Trulia, MSNBC, oodle, homescene, justlisted.com and a few others. If only there was a way to incorporate the strengths of what Market Leader does with other valuable internet marketing strategies and platforms…but if you’re getting good results from a system like this than perhaps it’s a moot point(?).

Click to read the complete review of Market Leader at www.nofluffreviews.com

Read, write and comment on other reviews for real estate professionals here

Z57 IDX System Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Only five minutes into an agonizingly painful presentation from a Z57 “sales executive”, I was left with that feeling you get when meeting with the Finance Manager on a used car lot…”how can I get out of this!”. Well, I sucked it up and got through it and was left with some mixed feelings. The backend is fairly robust (though lacking some key features) and has a surprisingly strong email marketing capability, somewhat similar to
1parkplace.

The biggest problem is that you can’t integrate their system into your existing site, you have to go with their website. Also, they say you can require registration based on content type (ie. pictues, virtual tours, etc.) though this ability was not demonstrated. Again, 1parkplace is the only other provider that provides this type of functionality.

Click to read the rest of the review for the Z57 IDX System for Realtors at www.nofluffreviews.com

Read, write and comment on other reviews for real estate professionals here

Infinity Arts IDX System Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Nice looking system, well laid out with some nice features for getting listing data indexed. The custom subdomain feature is nice so you can achieve a more integrated look and feel and get mls listing data indexed. This requires more work, which is why it ends up being more expensive than other systems but you end up with a much more advanced solution when completed.

Read the complete review of the Infinity Arts IDX System; pro’s, con’s and a key features here.

Add your own review here…

IDX Broker Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

A review of the widely respected IDX Broker IDX system for real estate agents and brokers. Read my opinion on their strength’s and weaknesses. Weigh in yourself as well by joining in on the conversation.

Strengths

  • Fairly simplistic search with satellite map search capability
  • Ability to produce RSS feeds of listing data (your listings only – on the back end)
  • Captures referring url for lead sourcing at the lead/contact level
  • Analytics for key measurement criteria
  • Fairly inexpensive and feature rich
  • Customizable look and feel if your into editing css/html files
  • Basic customization of lead capture/ user registration settings (yes/no or # pre-defined # of search or detail views)

Weaknesses

  • Limited contact management ability, no emailing/drip email campaigns or email blasting
  • Can’t easily view listings viewed or saved by registrants (have to log in as them to see this data)
  • No RSS feeds of listing data (other than your own listings) to create indexable content

Summary & Conclusion

At first, I was extremely excited about this vendors IDX System because of the powerful customization options built into the back-end. You can really make this system blend into your existing website from a look and feel standpoint and even use your own search forms as long as you use the right css commands to interact with their system. The downside though is that the contact management portion of this IDX system is a little sub-par and in my view this creates an unavoidable problem. With the addition of some solid contact management abilities and a customizable user registration setting this IDX system could be a real force to be reckoned with. My experience in dealing with them so far has been fantastic, they are really a responsive and nice group people and that in itself should be valued highly. And, though their IDX system isn’t technically an iFrame based solution you or your web designer will simply be creating wrapper pages to integrate into your existing site/blog so unless you get into some creative workarounds, none of the MLS listing data will be getting indexed on your site.

Over To You…

Are you an IDX Broker customer? If so, leave a comment and tell us your thoughts

1ParkPlace Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

1Parkplace, based in San Diego, has long been a player in the real estate IDX space. I’ve taken a close look and have shared some important strengths and weaknesses to be aware of.

Strengths

  • User-friendly, graphical map based guided search
  • Agent configurable lead capture settings to require registration to see complete address, photos & property description
  • Solid back office system for contact management, automated and customizable drip email system and listing management
  • Ability to produce RSS feeds of listing data (from the back-end)
  • Captures referring url for lead sourcing at the lead/contact level
  • Solid analytics for key measurement criteria
  • High quantity lead generation (50-150+/mo) that I can personally confirm

 

Weaknesses

  • Cost:  can get expensive quickly
  • RSS feeds of listing data are proprietary
  • Service: Customer Service issues have and continue to be prevalent
  • Development Methodology: Proprietary, fairly non-interoperable and non-customizable
  • Style: Lacks web2.0 look and feel, generally looks old compared to others

Summary & Conclusion

Unfortunately this vendor hand-cuffs you to their proprietary (and new) blog platform in order to create and utilize the RSS feeds of the listing data for seo juice.  Also the feeds are only created on the back end so your site visitors don’t have an option of receiving listing updates via RSS (as opposed to email).  The IDX system by itself is an iFrame solution only making it non-indexable to search engines unless you also go with one of their blogs which will set you back a few grand.  Overall it’s a good effective system for generating leads but plan on budgeting extra $$ to drive traffic to your site in order to see some ROI.

Note: If you are into email marketing and want this ability integrated into your IDX system than you should take a serious look at this system. Comparatively speaking, it’s fairly advanced with pre-built (but editable) drip email campaigns. It also has email blasting and quick email abilities that send each email out on a generic / professional email template which of course has your basic branding elements and links back to your site (a customized email template service is also available as an upgrade).

The Broker Tools:
Leads are automatically routed to the listing agent assuming the listing agent has a 1parkplace IDX account. Lead routing can also be done manually again assuming the agent also has a 1parkplace account, and the system includes useful reporting abilities to track lead / agent activity. An intranet upgrade is available as well.

Over to you…

If you’re using 1Parkplace now, or used to, let us know your thoughts with a comment below.

Real Estate Webmasters Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Real Estate Webmasters, another long-time player in higher end real estate websites with integrated IDX, is reviewed.  There are some fundamental aspects of their technology that should be seriously considered if you’re a prospective buyer.

Strengths

 

  • Powerful, stylish and highly customizable search that includes satellite mapping
  • IDX & CMS is tightly integrated offering complete indexability of search results
  • Standard back office abilities for contact management, drip email and listing details
  • Offers a totally customized IDX option (if you really want it!)
  • Offers snippet ability to dynamically create search filters
  • Appears to have built in analytics for key measurement criteria
  • Technologically progressive
  • Appears to have high customer service remarks
  • Will integrate your local mls data at no charge

 

Weaknesses

  • Expensive compared to others
  • Agents ability to customize the IDX appears to be limited
  • Indexing ability of listing data requires you to use their website/blogsite platform
  • Search interface isn’t guided and can lose some (less internet savvy) people with all the search options
  • RSS feeds of listing data don’t appear to be available

Summary & Conclusion

Very expensive and back office may not be as robust compared to others (need more time to evaluate).  If you require a totally customized IDX for your project and have the resources to pay for it than they might be the right choice for you.  They do offer an iFrame version as well.

 

Over to you…

Are you a Real Estate Webmasters client? Let us know how their doing with a comment below.

 

 

Diverse Solutions Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Is Diverse Solutions the best IDX System out there? I’ve taken a close look and listed out what I think are some important strengths and weaknesses to consider.

Strengths

  • Powerful, stylish and highly configurable satellite map based search
  • Agent configurable lead capture settings to require registration after X number of searches
  • Solid back office system for contact management, automated and customizable drip email system and listing management
  • Ability to produce RSS feeds of listing data (from front end and back-end)
  • Appears to have analytics for key measurement criteria
  • Technologically progressive and interoperable
  • High value proposition due to feature rich-low cost base package
  • Appears to have high customer service remarks

 

Weaknesses

  • Search interface isn’t guided and can lose some (less internet savvy) people
  • Does not capture referring url for lead sourcing though the lead source could be achieved through effective use of google analytics

Summary & Conclusion

A value and feature rich web2.0′ish IDX system with open ability to utilize RSS feeds of listing data for seo benefit.  The base IDX package is very elegant and extremely configurable and is connected to a solid CRM for lead and contact management.  The fact that you get all this configurability and the RSS feeds and don’t have to use their website or blog platform is key.  Yes, it’s an iFrame solution like the others but proper utilization of the RSS feeds can generate tasty seo juice.  Also, if you’re in an area where they do not provide IDX service, and you want it, you might need to swallow a development fee if you go it alone.

Over to you…

If you are using Diverse Solutions weigh in with a comment and let us know your thoughts.