Posts in POL Users

What’s new for you in 2015?

January has always been known as the month for resolutions. It is also a great month for predictions. I love seeing what experts anticipate for the coming year in areas like technology, marketing and real estate. Each new year is full of possible, and things unknown yet to come. So, what’s new for you in 2015? Where will your real estate business take you? Will you (continue to) embrace digital technology and social media marketing to better market and sell your listings? Will each of your listings have its own single property website? We’d love to be part of your resolutions.

January has always been known as the month for resolutions. It is also a great month for predictions. I love seeing what experts anticipate for the coming year in areas like technology, marketing and real estate. Each new year is full of possible, and things unknown yet to come. So, what’s new for you in 2015? Where will your real estate business take you? Will you (continue to) embrace digital technology and social media marketing to better market and sell your listings? Will each of your listings have its own single property website?

I’ve been scanning 2015 prediction lists, and when I do I end up smiling. Mobile, social media, video – they’re all buzzwords again. And we’ve got you covered in all directions.

We are looking forward to an incredible year. Before I go back to our more typical posts next week, I just wanted to take a moment to talk about what we’re doing and what we’re excited about at Team Properties Online. We live and breathe real estate and technology. Getting to put them together has been fun for over a decade now.

We are committed to a bigger and better 2015, and we’re excited to have you on the journey. One of our tasks as an online real estate marketing firm is to watch trends. Video is not a trend. Video was the future. Now it is the, well, now. In addition to our top-of-the-line single property websites and agent websites, we are offering new video solutions in a big way. In addition to our easy-to-use Video Builder solution, we are in love with Virtuets, our video marketing, website content and property videos solution. You can incorporate Virtuets Video for Real Estate into any of your Properties Online products or services, dramatically increasing their impact. Have a look HERE for sample content to see just what I’m talking about. You can be using these videos on your real estate websites right now! Articles and video are now the most popular formats for content marketing, and as you can see, we make sure you can do both.

Did you know that the 45-55 age group is now the fastest growing age group on Facebook, and that Facebook adds 600,000 new mobile users every single day? Did you further know how easy it is to put your listings on Facebook with our Facebook App? You see, we have everything you need linked to everything else you need.

A whopping 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, but only 11% of sales people ask for them. Crazy, right? Did you know that when you use Properties Online for your agent and single property websites, we have a feedback and referral system built right in? You hardly have to lift a finger to get the results and information you need. We like it that way, because we know you’re bending over backwards for your home buyer and home seller clients.

What I’m getting at is that I hope we are part of your New Year’s resolutions for 2015. I hope you want to join us on the fabulous journey that is real estate and website technology. We’d truly be honored to help your business grow this year.

5 Steps to Defining Your Unique Advantage

Standing out when there are so many others in the same profession is not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to find your unique advantage. Guest author John Rasiej outlines 5 steps to defining your unique advantage and making your mark.

With the number of realtors in the U.S. surpassing 1,000,000 (NAR) and further swelled by the number of real estate agents, most people are acquainted with at least one, if not several, real estate professionals. While referrals will always be a good source of prospects, most realtors realize it takes more than waiting for referrals to have a healthy business. They undertake strategies such as networking groups, business card exchanges and trade shows in hopes of standing out in a sea of realtors. But, standing out when there are so many others in the same profession is not easy. That’s why it’s crucial to find your unique advantage. Guest author John Rasiej outlines 5 steps to defining your unique advantage and making your mark.

The challenge for any business in standing out is the perception by consumers that they are all fairly similar. Many professionals fall into a trap of sounding like everyone else. It seems safer to say a lot of the same buzzwords or a cute tag-line, cite a lot of the same advantages and claim we’re better at them. Yet, to many prospects, it all sounds repetitive and unremarkable, and it leaves them wondering why to choose this particular provider over the others.

What this means is that many realtors are lost in a sea of sameness. They are in the same pool looking among many of the same prospects and hoping they will get a lucky break. That leads to more hours spent trying to land prospects, added frustration, lost opportunities and less income.

That’s why it’s crucial for a realtor to demonstrably stand out to achieve greater success. To do so becomes a matter of creating and conveying a clear impression of a unique advantage that would attract people looking for a difference-maker.

When asked what makes them special, many realtors will default to citing “great customer service” as the thing that sets them apart. As logical as that may seem, the words become meaningless when prospects hear them. The phrase ends up being dismissed for a number of reasons:

  • If everyone claims to offer it then every realtor is staking the same ground. With this claim bandied about by everyone, it loses any element of standing out from the others.
  • People will claim it whether it’s true or not. We are all aware when dealing with some businesses that such claims often turn out to be less than true. So after such a claim, it’s understandable that prospects would be skeptical and wonder, “How can I be sure?” or “Are you really any different?”
  • Today’s consumer expects good customer service, at a minimum, from any business, whether a discount store, a high-end merchandiser or a service professional, so citing it is seen as what would be expected anyway.
  • The phrase becomes subjective in terms of what each prospect considers great. To some it may be how quickly the phone is answered and promptness at appointments, others might feel it’s in only showing them the type of house in which the buyer has expressed interest, while others might feel it is having coffee and donuts in the car when the realtor picks them up to look at homes.

So if citing great customer service won’t get a realtor more visibility, how does one go about it? The answer lies into creating and conveying a clear, compelling advantage that stands out from others. Prospects will respond when they understand why doing business with a particular realtor is intrinsically better for them.

5 Steps to Defining Your Unique Advantage:

1. Understand the compelling story behind you and your business. What made you interested in homes? What made you interested in helping families? What made you interested in neighborhoods, in community, in financial security? People want someone on their side with whom they feel a connection and like to know that there’s a deeper committed purpose for you.

2. Develop a clear focus on who and what you are and who and what you are not. It’s self-defeating if you try to be all things to all people in hopes of appealing to everyone. If you have an expertise and understanding of the needs of families looking for homes right after the birth of their first child, focus on that and don’t bog down your message by also talking about helping people downsize. Rather than losing potential clients, you will gain more by becoming known and more fluent in the needs of the people you’re most naturally able to help.

3. Use inventiveness to develop some aspect of your business that’s unlike others. At some points in the process, realtors have to do many of the same tasks such as getting contracts signed, arranging inspections and so on. Yet, there can be many opportunities throughout the process that allow for something more personalized or outside the norm.

4. Look at interactions at every customer contact point and develop a buzzworthy customer experience—the kind that your customers would post to Facebook, tell their friends and remember for the next time. Ascertain what it would take to ensure this kind of experience every time.

5. Find ways to communicate that difference in ways that help ideal prospects understand the tangible benefit to them in working with you.

Best Practice: Take a look from an outsider’s perspective at the message when you talk about your business. Is it different than what another realtor could say? Even if you have a tag-line that gets smiles, is it saying anything different than what another realtor could? If your honest look leaves you sensing that other realtors could be saying the same things, make a commitment to develop an inherent difference in some aspects of your customer experience. Gain a better understanding of your ideal clients and what they appreciate, and then take steps to make those results happen for them.

Why You Should Send Video Email

2014 marked a significant change for us at Properties Online, in terms of our e-communications, because it’s the year we started sending video emails. We’re hooked, and being in the real estate world, we know that what works for us may work great for you, as well. So here are my thoughts on why you should send video email.

2014 marked a significant change for us at Properties Online, in terms of our e-communications, because it’s the year we started sending video emails. We’re hooked, and being in the real estate world, we know that what works for us may work great for you, as well. So here are my thoughts on why you should send video email.

Digital video has been called one of the greatest tools a marketer can use. Research conducted by Comscore revealed that video consumption increased by 800% between 2008 and 2014. According to Google, video appears in 70% of the top 100 search listings. What does this all mean? It means that when people are online, from their computers, laptops, tablets or mobile phones, they are looking for videos to help them make decisions. So when people move from online search to their inboxes, you can give them what they want. In a sea of emails, you can make yours stand out by giving them video before they even have to go looking for it!

We use BombBomb’s video email service. One of the great things about BombBomb is that they understand the needs of the real estate email marketer. The service even integrates with Realtors Property Resource (RPR), which means you can attach branded RPR Market Activity Reports based on city, neighborhood, zip code, region, etc., to your video email. Including valuable market activity information along with video in your email means you are addressing even more needs proactively and readily, boosting your chance of hitting your target.

Tracking and scheduling functionality are not unique to video email campaigns, but they are fun and they are important. No matter how you send your email communications, you should be sure to have tracking, analytics and scheduling set up. Add video, and you’ll be able to see not only who opened your email or clicked through to your single property website, for instance, but also who watched your video. Did the recipients who played your video have a higher rate of click through to your property website?

You can record video on the go, which means you can be at a new listing, record a clip on your smartphone or tablet, and send it to a client simply and quickly. You can get notified when a recipient opens your email, watches a video, or clicks a link, which means you’ll be able to follow up with the most interested people promptly.

Real estate is a business built on relationships. It’s a people business. Including video in your email makes your emails more relatable, more personable and more relevant. You can talk to your prospects and to your clients. Actually talk. And more people will be listening. Vidyard statistics show that content without video attrcted an average click through rare of 6.7%, while email with video averaged a 10.3% click through rate, which is an overall increase of 54 percent!

The Zillow-Trulia Merger & Your Real Estate Business

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will a Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will the Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

On July 28th, Zillow announced via a press release that “it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trulia, Inc. … in a stock-for-stock transaction. The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015.”

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, stated: “Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals. Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web. This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry.”

Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO, then commented: “Trulia and Zillow have a shared mission and vision of empowering consumers while helping real estate agents, brokerages and franchisors benefit from technological innovation. By working together, we will be able to create even more value for home buyers, sellers, and renters, as well as create a robust marketing platform that will help our industry partners connect with potential clients and grow their businesses even more efficiently. Our two companies share complementary employee cultures with innovative, consumer-first philosophies and a deep commitment to create the best products and services for our industry partners.”

By the (self-reported) numbers:
• Zillow reported a record 83 million unique users across mobile and Web in June 2014.
• Trulia reported a record 54 million monthly unique users across its sites and mobile apps in June 2014.
• Approximately half of Trulia.com’s monthly visitors do not visit Zillow.com
• Approximately two-thirds of Zillow.com’s monthly visitors across all devices do not use Trulia.com.
• “Maintaining the two distinct consumer brands will allow the combined company to continue to offer differentiated products and user experiences, attract more users and maximize the distribution of free content across multiple platforms, apps and channels.”

The Zillow-Trulia merger might not create the “pricing power” juggernaut that many people fear. We’ve been reading comments by agents and brokers all over the web, and the fact is that many MLS boards and independent agents are starting to pull their listings – they simply don’t want to have to pay to advertise next to their own listings. There are also frequent rumblings about the data and Zestimates on Zillow being inaccurate.

Citron Research cites a deal struck between Realogy and Zillow/Trulia. Realogy—the world’s largest real estate agency, comprising Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, ERA, Century 21 and Better Homes—secured a lucrative deal for its agents that “prohibits all other agencies from advertising on their listings” at a cost of less than 95% what any other agency pays. What’s more, Realogy is aggressively pursuing their own online offering that will compete head-to-head with Zillow-Trulia in the consumer-focused online real estate space, with a new product expected sometime in 2015.

“We believe that there is a space in there that we can compete in. It will have features like Zillow and Trulia. It will have features that you wouldn’t put on a real estate brokerage website. An example of that would be Zestimate that Zillow uses. There are certain features that we believe we can effectively do and be able to cast a net outcome, a consumer-oriented facing website arena and be able to capture leads, reviewing [scrub then] as I described, and then put them in the hands of our sales associates so we create the business opportunity,” NRT CEO and President Bruce Zipf is quoted as saying on May 9th during a Realogy Investor Day Q&A.

Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, has been quoted as saying, “It ought to be quite clear to a listing agent or a broker that it behooves their seller to have their listing displayed on Zillow and Trulia or sites that Zillow powers.”

Indeed, Zillow powers some of the internet’s major property search engines, and together with Trulia will indeed have a massive reach. But for how long, with competitors like Realogy making such significant strides, technologically and on behalf of its agents at the bargaining table? And how long before Keller Williams, Remax, Berkshire Hathaway, or other agencies demand and negotiate the same deals Zillow-Trulia have granted Realogy?

Many real estate professionals feel a loss of power in the face of the deal, which cements a growing resentment at having to pay Zillow to advertise their listings. Online forums reveal many of these agents calling for boycotts, while still others agree there isn’t another viable option.

Inman News contributing writer Joseph Rand writes in his Op-ed “Why Zulia doesn’t mean checkmate,” that: “The bottom line is that Zillow needs listings more than listings need Zillow. Which means that Zillow needs the people (brokers and agents) who take those listings more than they need Zillow.” I’d venture that he is bang on with that assessment.

Where does your business fit in? Do you use Zillow to obtain leads? One thing I can say with certainty is that this isn’t over, and we’ll be talking about the Zillow-Trulia merger for some time to come. How do you feel about all of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts from the proverbial trenches.

Your Audience on Facebook

Infographic: Your Target Audience on Facebook

Facebook accounts for half of the traffic single property websites receive. Check out Qwaya’s amazing infographic explaining how to understand and find YOUR audience on Facebook.

You may be wondering still if Facebook should be part of your overall real estate marketing plan. It should. Facebook accounts for half the traceable traffic to single property websites, according to our internal research. But, I’ll be the first to admit, Facebook can be a major time suck. You want to be able to focus your time and energy where it matters most. So, who is your target audience on Facebook?

Qwaya recently put together an awesome infographic that is all about “Finding Your Audience on Facebook”. This handy graphic shows you in clear terms all your options when building a Facebook relationship with 1/5 of the world’s population – or at least the percentage that matter to YOU and your real estate business (or any business!).