Browse Category by Tech trends
Getting leads, Tech trends

Mastering lead distribution and conversion

Lead generation is vital to your business, but once you generate leads, are you doing a good job converting them?

When a prospective buyer sends an inquiry via your website, if you’re not responding quickly (preferably within 15 minutes) to that inquiry, your chance of converting that lead suffers.

One of the most common problems we see with firms (or teams of agents) is a lack of accountability with lead responses.  Leads will get assigned and there’s no telling which agents are responding quickly (if at all).

With this in mind, we were thrilled to stumble on some really cool new technology: LeadRobin.  This product automates lead distribution and allows you to monitor agent performance.

LeadRobin allows you to set up rules for lead distribution, such as “Dilworth subdivision, price over $300k” and then set up lists of agents to receive those leads.  A lead is distributed to “Agent A” and if that agent doesn’t answer the lead within a given time frame (say, 15 minutes), the lead goes to “Agent B,” and so on.

LeadRobin lets you monitor your agents to see who is failing to answer leads & who is the fastest responder.

This is an indispensable tool in today’s market, when buyers demand FAST responses.  Even 1 missed lead could cost you thousands of dollars.  LeadRobin starts at $50/month, which is a small price to pay to ensure that no leads are missed.

Getting leads, Tech trends

The complete idiot’s guide to getting Internet leads in real estate

Over the past decade, we’ve worked with hundreds of agents and seen a whole lot of different tactics to get Internet leads.  Since “how do I get leads?” is the most popular question we hear from clients, we’ll lay everything on the table for you.

There are 2 distinct ways to get Internet leads and we will go over the pros & cons.

PROs CONs
Buy leads from sources such as Trulia/Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.
  • Fast results
  • No need to generate your own content
  • Expensive
  • Depending on your area, lead quality might be bad
Develop your own Internet content and attract organic search traffic
  • Sustainable long-term without spending big bucks
  • Leads tend to be higher quality
  • Harder work
  • Results can take time

As a general rule, developing your own content & getting organic traffic is the best long-term strategy.  It’s a LOT cheaper over the long run, and the quality of the leads are significantly better.  We asked a current client of ours to describe her experience buying leads and here’s what she said:

Trulia/Zillow was a huge waste of money for me.  I did a 6-month campaign and spent about $1500 and literally the only leads I got were for rentals or for homes that sold 2 years ago.  What you’re buying with Trulia/Zillow is placement on their property pages so that if a buyer finds the house, your name shows up in the top 3.  But for whatever reason, I didn’t get a single lead on a real house for sale in 6 months.

Realtor.com was a little better — they scrub their leads so that you’re getting a real email address & phone number and they guarantee a certain number of leads per month.  But it’s pricey and most of the leads I got were for houses under $100k.

Writing good, quality content (and lots of it) on your own website is definitely harder work, and quite frankly a lot of agents would PREFER to throw hundreds of dollars a month at Trulia/Zillow with the hope that they’ll get a decent lead or two.  But without any doubt, our most successful clients are the ones who put the time/effort into building their own Internet presence, with good local content.

So what do I do?

Believe it or not, about 85% of what you need to do is pretty much common sense.  Start a website.  Have an IDX/property search that captures leads.  Write blog posts with good LOCAL content at least 2 or 3 times per week.  Then use Facebook / Twitter to drive traffic to those blog posts.  Rinse, repeat!

There are certain techniques that can help raise your rankings but in general, it’s all about content.  CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!

We’ve said it again & again.  There is no secret or magic bullet to getting Internet leads.  It requires hard work & patience, and the agents who put in the time/effort to attract traffic are the ones who get the leads.

Tech trends

Beware the shark-filled waters of web development firms

Three years ago we wrote to be wary of tech-less tech firms. And today, we were again reminded how important this advice is.

One of our clients had recently contracted with a local web development firm to create a site for her. We often host sites for clients as courtesy and we agreed to do so this time as well.

Grumpy old man.
Get off my [digital] lawn!
We called the folks she’d hired and when we told them we have our own servers, without the typical “point and click” type interfaces you get with the major hosts (like GoDaddy, etc), there was silence on the other end. Sure enough, within an hour, they said they preferred to host it themselves (thereby incurring more charges for our client).

This might be sort of “get off my lawn”-ish, but our firm has been around 10 years & our head tech guy has been writing code for 20 years.  Look, we like new technology and love automation.  But at some point, SOMEONE has to know how a web server works.

We strongly recommend that before you hire anyone to build a website for you, ask them a simple question: DO YOU WRITE CODE?  If the answer is “uhhhh,” we humbly suggest you call someone else.   And if you ever want a sanity check, feel free to call/email us.  We are good at sniffing out the sharks. 🙂

Tech trends

‘Responsive’ IDX is live!

We have redesigned our IDX from the ground up, to be “responsive,” meaning mobile users stay on the same website rather than being redirected to a “mobile-only” search.

Responsive IDX Responsive IDX

We went to great effort to make sure this new design continues to have all the great localized data for Charlotte, such as Neighborhood Analyzer, DealSniffer, & GoGreen!

Tech trends

Spice up your blog with graphs

In this day & age, buyers and sellers want information, and lots of it.  And you have an MLS membership with ability to pull any sort of statistics you like.  So we now have a quick & easy way for you to transform those numbers into a neat & tidy chart, like this one:

Just go here:  http://www.davisfarrell.com/graph_creator.html

Input your data (up to 4 data points), and voila… a graph you can grab & use anywhere you like.

Enjoy, and happy blogging!

 

Tech trends

There is no such thing as an ‘incompatible’ IDX

We’ve had a couple clients lately who have told us that a web firm they were considering hiring told them that our IDX is “incompatible” with the website they are proposing to create.

Let’s make 1 thing clear.  An IDX is a property search.  There are many ways to implement it, but there is no such thing as an “incompatible” IDX.   So why are web firms saying this, then?  Well, 2 reasons.

  1. Some of our national IDX competitors offer affiliate programs.  Meaning, if your web firm gets you to switch to “Globo IDX,” they receive a chunk of your monthly IDX fees.  It’s the same as you steering a client to a particular appraiser or mortgage broker because you’re getting a kickback (except in your case, you have to disclose it!)
  2. A web firm might be fantastic at visual design or information architecture, but often they are operating with a “plug & play” content management system, such as WordPress, Joomla, etc.  These are great systems, and allow a “non-programmer” to configure a pretty nifty website.  However, they sometimes lack the ability to do much “out of the box” customization.  And so, not only do they want the affiliate revenue (see above), but they would just prefer a “push-button” IDX that they don’t have to tinker with.

Here’s the problem.  Real estate is, at its heart, a very local thing. No national IDX firm will offer the sort of Charlotte-specific data metrics we do.  They aren’t going to take the time to figure out that Dilworth is both in Area 5 and Area 6, or that “Ballantyne” isn’t a neighborhood, but a large area of South Charlotte.

We usually don’t use this blog to pimp our products, and we obviously have a vested interest here, but right is right, and some of these web firms are just not being honest.  Bottom line, any time someone tries to steer you to a particular product, ask if there is an affiliate relationship.  And if your new web guy can’t/won’t integrate a product they aren’t familiar with, ask us.  We’ll be glad to help.

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads, Tech trends

eValuator: real, accurate property values of Charlotte area homes

If you listen to listing agents these days, there is a common complaint about their competition – namely that they “puff” the value of a home during a listing presentation in order to get the listing.  Usually the home goes on the market at too high a price, and over time the seller either has to reduce the price, or ends up getting sticker shock when someone makes what they consider to be a very low offer.

And it’s easy to see how this happens — where is a seller to go in order to get an unbiased value for their home?  Most people turn to Zillow, but as great as that site is, it doesn’t tend to be very accurate in many cases.

We live, eat and breathe real estate technology, and after hearing our clients tell us these stories over & over, we thought to ourselves:

Why can’t there be a place for a seller to go to get a good, accurate “ballpark” value of their home, like they would for their car with the “Kelley Blue Book” website?

And so, eValuator was born.

We wrote a highly advanced, proprietary “formula” that scans the market and ranks comparable sales for a given property.  Based on those rankings, we produce a value range for a home, and a best guess at an actual price.  Click the screenshot below for a full view:

But that’s not all — with your special administrative login, you can actually create your own custom reports where you choose the comps and rank them yourself.  You can then email the report to your client!

Check out a sample report here to see how it looks.

We are very excited about this product, and our continued commitment to bring you smart, cutting-edge, local real estate technology.

Getting leads, Tech trends

Create content for readers, not for Google

We always like to share good ideas, and this article is full of them!  It includes 10 “no-nonsense” ways you can improve your search engine rankings.  It’s full of good info, but 1 paragraph stood out:

With Google recently making moves to punish “over-optimized” sites, you have to recognize that fact that a site built just to rank runs the risk of being penalized and losing all of its traffic.

Many tech consultants will focus purely on “tricks” to get you ranked for the short term, when the reality is that the path to long-term success is GOOD, ORIGINAL CONTENT that readers find useful.

Search engine optimization is a lot like weight loss.  Yes, there are crash-diets that can take weight off.  But study after study has shown that the only way to take weight off & keep it off is permanent lifestyle change.  But most weight loss companies aren’t going to tell you “eat a little less, move around a little more.” It’s the same concept.

So, get blogging!

Tech trends

Be wary of tech-less tech firms

Recent events reminded us how important is to ask any technology firm or consultant one simple question:

Do you have in-house developers?

It seems odd — you probably wouldn’t ask your automobile service department if it had in-house mechanics. But we are finding it to be entirely too common in technology.

Two recent events illustrate this need:

  • One of our competitors, a national firm offering IDX service (one of the better ones, actually) was exploited by hackers.  Data was compromised, including buyer/seller leads.
  • Several of our clients reported that their WordPress sites (hosted in various places) were hacked in a variety of ways — including redirecting all inbound traffic to foreign sites.

Picture it.  You have one or more of these products, are compromised, and you need resolution.  You call your tech consultant.  But that person isn’t actually “technical” — they can’t look at code and deduce/fix a problem.  Sometimes they have a freelance developer they can ask for help, but that person doesn’t have a vested interest in the product, only in working a bunch of hours to bill the consultant (and eventually, you).

In the past several years, technology has changed to the point that non-technical people can do things like set up a website, create/edit content, and install “plug-ins” that add cool functionality.  And this technology is great!   But beneath all of that point-and-click stuff is code — and when the doo-doo hits the fan, it takes a coder to fix it.

To be clear – there are many, many great tech firms out there.  We have collaborated with several really good ones over the years.  We just do “data,” so it’s very common that we work with designers, developers, copywriters, etc, whom our clients have hired.  The message here is to be wary and ask questions before you commit time and money to a consultant.

Getting leads, Tech trends

The secret of high successful agents

Recently, we reminded you that the #1 rule of websites is that content is king. We will now take it 1 step further and share the secret of our most successful clients (the ones who get tons of Internet leads).

This is a secret so big that most web/marketing experts will almost certainly not mention it in casual conversation.

Ready?

Wait for it…

The agents who get the most good Internet leads are the ones who work the hardest to post good content about their cities and neighborhoods.

Yep. The secret is there is no secret — it’s just a bunch of hard work.

We’ve been in the IDX business for almost 7 years, and we’ve seen countless approaches to getting Internet leads. We are obviously in a very different climate today than in 2005. There are fewer agents, but competition is stiffer to capture willing & able buyers. But the principle remains the same — those who work the hardest to post good content frequently will (usually) be the ones to get the leads.

If a web or marketing consultant tells you that simply by spending $X, you will be vaulted to the top of Google forever, be very, very skeptical. Our clients who get the most leads do all their own SEO work by posting good content frequently — in a variety of places.

Don’t be intimidated. If you’re one of our IDX clients, remember, we want you to be successful. Feel free to message or tweet us anytime for advice. We are happy to point you in the right direction!