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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

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject LinesThink about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?

    If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.

    The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.

  2. Nail the IntroNever take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.

    It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!

  3. Use VideoEmail might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.

    According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”

    This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.

  4. Keep Eyes MovingThe goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.

    One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.

    One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.

  5. Don’t Ask Too MuchIt can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.

    Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?

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A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.

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Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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