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AgentLeaf for consumers launched- thumbs up or thumbs down?

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Currently in beta in the San Francisco area, AgentLeaf takes a unique approach to helping home buyers and home sellers to connect with a real estate professional. AgentLeaf says they reveal “top local real estate agents using real, objective data from the MLS” and don’t charge agents to be listed.

Matthew Holder, CEO of AgentLeaf has an air of mystery about him because they are still in beta, but below is our interview with him that gives you an insight into how the site works. We’d like to know in comments what you think about the site.

What was the inspiration for Agent Leaf?

“The inspiration behind Agentleaf is the need to improve the public perception of the real estate industry. We want to cooperate with consumers and agents – helping consumers find the right agent on a hyper-local level and help agents leverage their personal brands online.
Through Agentleaf, we want to:

  • Give the consumer more tools to make an informed decision – and save a little money while they’re at it
  • Improve the standards of professionalism in the industry
  • Restructure the way new agents come into and grow within the industry
  • Help agents and brokers improve their business – whether it’s with their existing company or giving them more freedom to go out on their own”

How does the 15% rebate work?

“We cooperate with consumers and agents to provide a commission rebate. The rebate is provided exclusively by Agentleaf to customers who use our site to find and work with a cooperating agent. We enable consumers to be enthusiastic about finding their agent and, therefore, provide agents with consumers who are excited to work with them. It’s a win-win.”

What is the Realtor’s role in AgentLeaf?

“Agentleaf is here to improve the business of professional agents by increasing consumer awareness. With the influx of online brokerages beating down the door of the traditional agent, Agentleaf enables Realtors to fight back by showcasing local expertise and experience to consumers. Realtors will have a chance to showcase their value proposition, increase their personal brand, and legitimize their standing within the local real estate community.”

Holder kept his plans for the future close to the vest, so we cannot confirm the next cities in queue, but we are interested to know what the real estate community thinks of MLS data and a rebate combining to form AgentLeaf. We welcome your comments below.

AG is not affiliated with AgentLeaf.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Anonymous User via Facebook

    March 1, 2011 at 7:14 am

    My first thoughts upon reading this: Here we go again, more phone calls with the “We have buyers…” sales pitch. I also wonder how they will use MLS data to find buyers agents when many buyers agents (like myself) very rarely represent sellers, and therefore wouldn’t have any MLS data available on them.

    • matthew holder

      March 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

      No calls about ‘we have buyers’ unless we actually have one for you…or a seller for that matter. Either way, we do basic qualification of the leads before sending them your way and you don’t pay anything unless you close the deal.

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    March 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

    At last! This is exactly what RE needs to “Improve the standards of professionalism in the industry” and “restructure the way new agents come into and grow within the industry”. A website where agents can add a profile and get internet buyer leads with a 15+% referral.

    It’s such a revolutionary idea, I’m having trouble getting my head around the implications to our industry. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?

  3. Matt Holder via Facebook

    March 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

    No sales pitch since you don’t have to pay anything to get leads unless they end up using you to buy or sell a home. We take on the risk and you reap the benefits.

    Great questions and thanks for the feedback

  4. Bruce Lemieux

    March 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Matt, all snark aside, I just don’t see a business here. Here’s some of the challenges I think you’ll have:

    1. Get Buyers and Sellers. You are just like every other agent and RE web site in this regard – how do you connect with buyers and sellers? How do you market your services and cut through the considerable noise so buyers/sellers know you exist. Just having a website with ratings isn’t enough. Good luck winning the SEO game.

    2. Sell Buyers/Sellers on Your Value Proposition. It looks like you have two: 1. get 15% back, 2. see agent ratings based on MLS data. Why go with you when Redfin gives me an agent and gives up to 1/2 commission back? So maybe the 15% back isn’t as important as finding a successful agent. Your beta site just has rankings with no explaination or backup. In San Francisco, Mike Hirner is #1 and Gina W. Tse is #2. What does this mean? What’s #5 mean? As a consumer, you aren’t telling me anything. Click ‘next’.

    3. Connect with Agents. If you are giving 15% to buyers/sellers, I assume you are looking for 20-25% from Agents (assuming your goal isn’t to start a charity). Do you have any idea how many calls agents get from companies who have “a qualified buyer/seller in your area?” We all get *tons* of these calls. And we all hate them. If Mike and Gina do any business (which they should since the are #1 and #2), they won’t take your call. I try not to be rude, but I don’t go past one sentence with these guys. Don’t underestimate how hard it will be to hand-off a referral to a decent agent.

    If you really want to build a business promoting the best agents, then do just that. Find the 50 best agents in your target market, and then *you* profile them. Tell us why they are so great. Tell us customer stories of how these awesome agents actually added value to a purchase or sell. Do that *first*, and then contact the agent and see if they would be willing to take a referral for new business. If you did that with me (assuming I made the top 50), then I’ll take your call.

    Also – make sure you actually profile the best agents. If the foundation of your business model really is to “improve the standards of professionalism in the industry”, then do it. If your business is based simply on creating a referral network, then you shouldn’t waste your time.

    Good luck with the business.

    • Matt Holder

      March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Bruce.

      Thanks for your comments. I think you make very valid and important points, which i have addressed below. I think your feedback is great and there is much more in store that will go well beyond the current site.

      1. That is an issue we are aware of and are prepared for.

      2. You can join the site to see any agent’s sales stats for the past two years. The site is in beta and as such it is a work in progress – we are tackling those issues as we speak. Our goal is to give consumers a combination of choice and savings.

      3. If you don’t want to work with people who have specifically chosen to work with you than that’s your choice. There’s no harm in getting a lead in your email and added to your sales funnel – we’re here to help you get clients who excited to work with you…not clog your sales funnel.

  5. Christa Borellini

    March 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I think it sounds great. Don’t pay unless it closes. Can’t wait till it comes to San Diego! Let me know Matt!

    • Matt Holder

      March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Christa.

      Follow us on twitter, @agentleaf, for our latest updates and where we plan to launch next.

  6. Mike O'Hara

    March 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Hello Matt. I have not seen the beta site. You provide MLS closing stats, but do you ALSO include withdrawn and expired info? There are plenty of agents that are great at marketing themselves which leads to many listings. If I am a consumer, I would also want to know how many listings have been unsuccessful. This is especially important with the many short sale charlatans that are out there throwing 30 or 40 short sales against the wall in a year, when inevitably only a half dozen actually close. To me, this is a very important distinction.

    • Matt Holder

      March 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Hi Mike.

      I absolutely agree. If you join our beta, you can see we include a sales conversion rate for the listing side, which reflects that metric. Our goal is transparency and increased efficiency – so you can see agents who ‘throw [a bunch of] short sales against the wall’ but have a low conversion rate v. agents with maybe fewer listings but a higher conversion rate.

  7. Pingback: If you could see any real estate agent's sales stats and how they ranked compared to all other local agents, would that knowledge impact who you chose to help you buy or sell a home? - Quora

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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