As I travel to seminars and speak to Realtors , I am running into a problem that I never actually considered. The REASON, I thought, that Realtors (in general) werent effective in realizing income on the Internet was that that they didn’t understand how. Understandable. Realtors should be good at selling houses. Internet marketing is a whole cottage industry away from Real Estate. Perhaps they were trying, but just missing the mark. The actual problem, I now see, is more systemic than that.
Most Realtors dont know what they dont know.
The Idea that a Website is should be built to create REVENUE and not a brand? I didn’t know that.
The concept that I can create a website that APPEALS to my searchers and creates a DESIRE to self-identify? Really, I didnt know.
The theory that I can actually track my visitors progress through my site and see which parts they enjoy and which they dont? and that I should actually build the site THEY WANT? I didn’t know that I didn’t know that, either.
So, lets take the next couple of weeks and set a plan in action to learn what we need to know… and then we will learn that…
Make sense? Who knows…. stayed tuned.
Apparently Google discovered Real Estate Webmasters “contextual linking” program and decided that it was not within the Spirit” of their Search Criteria. Frankly I am a bit surprised. Real Estate Webmaster got a pretty large boost of biz when Advanced Access got an IP level penalty from Yahoo for blatant reciprocal linking. Why would they take the same chances? Google makes it pretty darn clear that ANY linking practices that are designed to “game the system”are open for penalty assessment or worse. REWs linking practices seem to serve no other purpose. Months ago there was the “cross-linked” directory scandal… and now this? Lets put away our self-serving, over analytical SEO hats, step back and look at why Google would feel justified in assessing such a penalty.
What does Google do for a living? They offer a service. Simply put, Google offers the best case results for any search term you choose to enter in the Google search box. How do they do it? By creating a complex algorithm that measures MANY different aspects of a site and returns the best results. ( I know…highly oversimplified) What happens when you game the system? Google’s value is diminished. Would you stand for that if you were Google? of course not. and neither will they.
I read a lot of blogs. It is where I get most of my info, these days. And, unfortunately when reading 100s of posts a day (almost strictly on Real Estate Marketing) I skim until; I find a MUST READ, and then read. Si Fishkin, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz’s grandfather (how cool) wrote this article on Page Rank and the passing of Link Juice that is a must read. Most of these types of articles are only interesting to SEO geeks, but I think this article has merit for my Realtor readers, and clients. Read it and share your thoughts. I will post a follow-up in a couple of days…
Check out this article posted over at MetaToast.com by David Laferney. It is right on target for those who are using WordPress.
Return on Investment-101
For most Realtors, Marketing is far and away their largest expense. I have had clients that invest anywhere from 10% to 90% of their Gross Commission Income on Marketing. This can be A LOT of money. One of my clients was spending upward of $500,000 a year on marketing when I found him, and with very little feedback on what was, and wasn’t working. “We want to be everywhere” was his motto. He knew he was profitable, he just didn’t know exactly why…
Return on Investment is quite simple, really. Your investment is the money spent on any advertising piece or marketing campaign. The return is the incremental, attestable Gross Commission Income that the advertising piece or marketing campaign creates.
Simple enough, huh? But how do you collect these numbers. This is the quandary. Tracking ROI can be a simple or complex procedure depending on the contact point(s) within your organization. If ALL phone calls and emails funnel through one initial point (you ) than recoding the SOURCE of those calls can be done with a bit of planning and execution. If you have a larger organization, however, with a support team in place, each person who handles initial calls or emails must be trained to ask the right questions, and record the proper response. But how do you determine WHERE those calls and emails are coming from? There are a variety of methods…
1. Simply ask. This is the least high tech and seemingly easiest. Simply ask each inbound call or email, where they saw the property or offer they are inquiring about. This method, however takes diligence, and support staff must be trained to ask the right questions until they get a proper answer. All responses must be aggregated each month.
2. Phone numbers. Some companies, and Realtors have phone numbers set up that all forward to their main line… these phone numbers can then be strategically placed amongst your marketing ads and programs. At the end of each month, you simply determine the volume of calls coming from each ad my matching the ad with the incoming phone bill. You must also determine the initial call for each client whom bought a home or listed with you.
3. Source Codes. A small source code can be placed on each ad or marketing piece. An alphanumeric code can be placed in a small box (that matches your theme) in the bottom right of your ads or marketing pieces. Each point of contact within your organization simply needs to ask, “I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. In order to better help, I would like to look at the same information you are looking at, would you please tell me the number in the purple box in the bottom right corner?
With any of these data gathering techniques, you will be able to create campaigns that differ, either slightly or greatly and use this information to make educated decisions on which publications, ads, marketing offers, or mailers are worth your investment and which are not…