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I Will Not be Captured

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Fake Names

Many celebrities have signed up to view homes on my site in the past year, as well as some people with really crazy, unique names. I Curious and Just Looking have stopped by. Hey You and Bob Bobbing signed in, as did asdf Afsdf, whose left hand seemed to be stuck at the keyboard.

Some of the names and email addresses make me blush. Seriously!

Don’t Call Me

Another amazing fact, as evidenced by the forms submitted, is the number of people out there who have the same phone number, 555.1212, except, of course, if they are from a different state, they may have a different area code. Some times, though, they don’t offer an area code. Other times all their numbers are the same, i.e. 111.111.1111. I’ve never actually checked to see if 111 or 999 are true area codes. It didn’t seem to really matter.

My IDX solution does allow people searching for homes to come back and search, even if they do leave an erroneous email address and name. Most of the ones who leave bad info don’t come back though. They check in and check out quicker than if they found out they had just checked in at the Bates motel.

I’m Just Looking

I think some people come across the site and wonder if the site I use may have something other sites don’t have. Myself and a broker friend are the only agents in my area with this particular site and we share the cost and leads. Maybe that’s the reason people sign up at more than one site; to see if there’s something different. A better deal or more properties….

Many are just looking! There are people who actually signed up six months ago and still come back every few days or so. The most serious are the ones who are relocating or have future plans to move to Indiana.

No Return

Honestly, the return is not great for the price paid, about 1% of the people so far have actually converted to a client. It pays for itself, but I want more than that. Or maybe, my team and I are just not good at conversion. It’s a thought I’d rather not consider. I do stay in contact – no drip campaigns, just new emails with properties that match their criteria. They are automatically sent by the IDX system.

Please Unsubscribe

Maybe, I should be more “in their face”, but that’s contrary to who I am. I find the people who call me directly or respond by email usually become a client. I have been told to call three times before leaving a message, put them on drip campaign, and stay on top of them leads. It usually leads to “unsubscribe”. My experience tells me it irritates people. Like other relationships, I feel it takes time to develop the online relationship.

A Better Solution

Would it be the same if I did not require people to log-in?

Benn has given us his thoughts on the best IDX solutions. Since my IDX is expensive and would be counter-productive to not force a log-in, I am considering a change. I come to the Geniuses for advice.

What do you think about forced log-ins to access an IDX. Is it self serving? Does a forced log-in instill an initial frustration or distrust?

If you don’t use forced log-in, do visitors to your site log in when they feel comfortable doing so? What is your experience?

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.

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65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. Jamie Geiger

    July 5, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    I don’t believe in forcing registration- because the surfer/buyer will find somewhere else where they do not have to log in or register- I build my registrations, based on how I like to search “anonymously” When I am ready- I will call or give my correct information. I know some feel much differently, but my philosophy is “do unto others….” I have found that the people that are really serious about buying, pick up the phone and call, the others are still just “thinking and looking”

  2. Jason Sandquist

    July 5, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Paula-

    Personally, I come from Generation X and Y. I don’t give out any information what so ever and neither do my friends. We have grown up on the ‘I hate spam’ and don’t want to be bothered. I believe if you put out good information, truthful and speak a solid word, consumers will want to work with you no matter what.

    For me, it is a complete turnoff when I am bombarded with giving up my information (I even give out bogus information). It never ceases to amaze me with the amount of information that some agents blast at you, get this or get that, just give me your life story. Sure if I come across a consumer and they are waiting, I will keep in touch.

    I’d rather spend my $100 a month elsewhere. Sure sometimes on sign calls I am in your face, a lot of them don’t know what hit them when they called of a sign call capture anyways.

    Maybe I am missing out on a small segment, but I believe that is so small I need not worry. I am trying to work with people here, now and later down the road that actually want to spend time with me.

    Let them come and search, get a great experience or if not, it wasn’t meant to be.

    Thats just MHO, coming from the generation that people are trying to court the most.

  3. Patrick

    July 5, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    My IDX like yours requires a valid email address to deliver listings.

    I have asked my clients, family, friends, and myself. No one wants to register. They want the information for free, no strings attached.

    I have turned my registration off.

    Like you said 1% is about the norm on conversions. I think a No registration required will net you the same 1%. You and, or your staff can spend time doing some other form of lead generation.

    I have found the best clients, contact me when they are ready.

    Good Luck
    Patrick

  4. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 5, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Paula,

    Ditto: Jason on #2

    if you are keeping count – I don’t require a login of any kind.

    the perspective i’ve taken is if you are snooping around looking for properties just because – then knock yourself out.

    But maybe, just maybe, you might then decide to read a post or two and fall in love with me.

    Bingo!

  5. Frank Jewett

    July 5, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    The best way to get registration is to offer something of significant value. Most agents aren’t interested in taking the time to produce something of significant value, so they overspend for crappy “metoo” solutions like this.

  6. Erion Shehaj

    July 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Paula

    From personal experience, I can tell you that you can expect your conversion percentage to increase significantly if you stop requiring visitors to register. I understand you might feel like registration is the least a visitor can do since you are allowing them to use a system you spend money on, for free. But the truth of the matter is, visitors are almost never ready to “ask” to be contacted as soon as they come to your site. You have to allow them to get interested from the content of your site (i.e. homes) and then make it easy for them to contact you when they are ready to do so.

    Personally, I would rather get fewer high quality leads than a database full of tirekickers.

  7. Jay Thompson

    July 5, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Personally, I don’t like to register/give personal information to view a website, so I can’t very well ask people visiting my sites to register.

    If people want to save a search and get automatic updates emailed to them, then they have to provide a valid email address. (without a valid email address, it’s difficult to send emails…)

    But I don’t bombard them with drip emails. All they get is the updated listings they request. I’ve found when they are ready to reach out for additional info or help, they do.

  8. Rich Jacobson

    July 6, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I tend to concur with Jay. I don’t care for much for site registration myself, so I don’t like the idea of asking others to do so. I’ve seen some have success with a 2-step approach. If you’re just a ‘looky loo’ and you want to gaze at a few listings, it’s free and easy. But if you want to gaze at 6 or more, you’re gonna have to register. Or, if you want to save your listings, or be notified of new ones, you have to register. I share your frustration. I subscribed to an IDX feed with my last website, and paid through the nose for it, but didn’t receive that many leads as a result. There are so many other listing aggregation sites out there nowadays, you need to do something to distinguish yourself from the others….

  9. Russell Shaw

    July 6, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Like Patrick, my IDX vendor is now 1 Parkplace. I do use the forced registration feature and really like theirs. I am now getting fewer leads than when I was using an “immediate” forced registration and now much lower number of people with the name, “asdf”. The 1PP IDX search allows them to see all the houses without registering but if they want the addresses, Realtor comments and the virtual tours and the other photos they need to register.

  10. Candy Lynn

    July 6, 2008 at 6:24 am

    I don’t use a forced log-in but I do get daily inquires (using the contact me link) & many become clients. I’m also fortunate, our MLS is provided by FlexMLS & IDX solution is included for every agent.

  11. Teresa Boardman

    July 6, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Paula, about 5 years ago I ran a test. I worked with another agent and he wanted his site set up to “capture leads” I don’t believe in capturing them myself. They can search for homes most anywhere with out having to sign in. I ran the test for a year, two identical sites, just different agents and market areas. The site where people had to sign it go far more leads. My site that did not require anyone to sign in got the first two leads that became clients and resulted in closed deals. I managed both sites and spent a lot of time dealing with bogus leads and crack pots from the site where sign in was required. On my site they would use it for while and then contact me. They were ready to buy, or sell.

    All my sites are set so people can register, and they do, but I don’t “capture”.

  12. Reube Moore

    July 6, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Is there a correlation between forced registration and the public’s incredibly low opinion of real estate agents? Isn’t this just another example of how agents belittle the public and then wonder why we agents are held in such ill repute?

    Oh sure, a one percent success rate makes it all worthwhile. But, in doing so, how many people like Jason (No. 2, above) do you turn off? A few years ago, I had this debate with a colleague who has a large and successful internet presence. She pointed out that she gets enough business with that one percent that she does not care what the other 99 percent think, or do. Well, it’s hard to argue with success….

  13. Missy Caulk

    July 6, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Paula, I have 4 web sites and the one people have to register on is the best. Yea, some ask to unscribe that is the nature of internet leads. The ones that don’t hear from me on a consistent basis.

    When they are ready they raise their hand.

    Of course, you know my site, so you know they don’t register blind. They see an example of what they will see, and how many other listings there are that met their search criteria. So they either register to see them ALL or give a fake name, or their real one.

    Phone calls after they register are the way to connect with them. It is like the old floor calls, come agents are better at conversion than others. With having 6 buyer agents I can attest to that being true. Some convert easily and others are just not good at it. It is not that they are not calling, but it is the one of one connection on the phone that connects them to you, (or not)

  14. Chuck G

    July 6, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Great topic, Paula. I will be porting an iDX solution on my blog in the coming weeks, but I have no intention of making readers register just to use it. Why? Because for all of its cost, the iDX feature is NOT the reason they come to my blog. There are countless registration-free MLS search engines on the web, so why force them to register? They are return readers because they seem to like the insights that I provide, and perhaps the writing style that I employ. That’s why we blog, is it not?

    iDx for me is simply a way to add more value to my blog, and consequently give my readers another reason to hang out on the blog a little longer. From personal experience, I do business with people I trust and feel comfortable with. The more value people get from my blog, the more likely they will become future clients. It’s working quite well so far!

  15. Elaine Reese

    July 6, 2008 at 8:46 am

    My site doesn’t require registration. I personally don’t like to register on a site to get info, so I don’t make people do it on my site. I’ve had too many open house visitors (and clients) tell me that they really like my site because they can get the info without registering. Let’s face it, any info we provide is available in thousands of other places for free.

    As a result, I seldom get the bogus requests, in part because they “trust” me to not be a pushey agent.

  16. Jim Gatos

    July 6, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I have no choice with my IDX but to have people register first. 1ParkPlace and most of the fancy IDX’s you guys have still require us to have an email and preliminary info before we can provide addresses. I did have an idx a while ago where the addresses were given but I noticed no real difference in conversion. Most of them sign up and drop out after an average of a year or so.

    I have MLS Assistant. They are actually very responsive and seem to be up there with the advances.
    In a couple of months they are supposedly adding a LOT of new features, including RSS feeds and real time mapping.

  17. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Jamie – I have thought that myself, except here in Indy, my biggest competitors also force registration after 5-10 views. I have also found the ones who pick up the phone or even email directly are serious and become a client.

  18. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Jason – Had to respond to you independently – My three youngest children, ages, 22- 28 are the ears and minds I bounce things off of. They are educated and Web savvy and help me see things through the perspective of their generation.

    I have found they do prefer anonymity and control.They prefer independence to make their decisions in their own time. While they listen to input, ultimately, they will decide their course.

    You do have to be consistant in your message to initiate trust with Gen X and Y. I love your attitude about working with people who want to spend time with you. Gen X and Y will generally NOT work with people they don’t want to spend time with.

  19. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Patrick – I have three IDX solutions including the one supplied by ReMax. Two of them require log-in and the third I can set however I want. I am not seeing a difference in quality of leads by forcing registration.

    I’m with you, the best do contact me – I just wonder what motivates some to contact you, while others contact a different agent. Is it truly the one who contacts them first?

  20. ines

    July 6, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I’ve tried both methods – the first was having an IDX and requiring nothing of the viewer. The capture rate was extremely low and I had absolutely no control.

    The second method I started with 1Park Place back in November – it provides info to viewers and if they want to see more, they have to provide some contact info (which of course can be bogus). My capture rate is a LOT better and now have control of who stays, who unsubscribes, and who only visits once. The difference is that people who find value in my site, will have no problems signing up and those that contact us are immediate clients (not leads, not inquiries, but clients).

    I also wonder if we’re not being aggressive enough and actually contact those leads as soon as they sign up. I totally agree with you that it is not my style and I rather they contact me and that way I will know they’re ready.

    I know agents that are using my same system with better results than me – I say stay true to your style, tweak a little and learn from others (as we do here).

  21. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Larry – Went to your site, read a post or two and love you! You may have hit upon exactly what I need. My current IDX is combined with “pay per click” advertising. If I spent the same in pay per click to get them to my site instead of to the IDX, I may have a greater conversion rate…..or not. Depends on if they read and love me.

  22. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Frank – I have created buyers and sellers books on my static website. The site has good placement, but very few people sign up for the books.

    IDX is a necessity, not a “crappy, me too” solution.

  23. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Erion – Many here have made the correlation between content of the site and conversion. I too, am tired of managing tirekickers!

    Jay – You and I have had this converstaion and like others have said, I’m beginning to think it’s more important to get them to the site where they can judge whether or not they want to do business with you.

  24. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Rich – One of my solutions has the option of forcing a log-in after a certain amount of free looks. I don’t use it as my main IDX search solution. I use it for the benefit of it’s ability to break down the listings by neighborhoods, so when I write about a particular neighborhood, the readers can go directly to any listings available in that neighborhood or city. I also question whether they should only be allowed 5-10 freebies before being forced to log-in.

    Many of my competitors use the same system with the same log-in requirements. I need to stand out from the competition and maybe that will have more to do with getting them to my site than the IDX solution I provide.

  25. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Russell – I checked out how you use 1PP. I do like their interface and the ability to require different log-in features. I do have one IDX solution which I can set to force log-in for additional information or after a certain number of full-views. What i really like about 1PP and Diverse Solutions is the RSS feed. There’s power in that!

    Candy Lynn – I am continuing to receive confirmation the goal is to get them to the site so they can contact me.

  26. Barry Cunningham

    July 6, 2008 at 11:08 am

    No forced log ins..transparency rules! permission marketing rules! Love what Jason said!

  27. Chuck G

    July 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Amen, Barry!

  28. Bill Lublin

    July 6, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Paula: I am surprised to find myself disagreeing with Barry, but I am not in the business of providing information to consumers. I am in the business of listing and selling real estate. And though I understand the concern that a consumer will go elsewhere for their information, I’m not sure that translates to “They will buy a property from the person who provides them with information”. In fact, the last two times I was a consumer selling and buying real estate outside my market area, I did not buy or sell through the people whose websites provided the most information. Because information alone does not make the real estate transaction work well. I bought and sold with the agent in the marketplace who demonstrated the greatest knowledge and made me the most comfortable. And while my experience may not, by itself, be a norm, I am sure it is certainly not unique

    We have a number of websites, and my favorite is one described by Ines,It is a model where the consumer can search as long as they wish for as many properties as they wish, but when they want more infmoration, or want to save searches or get things emailed to them, they provide me with an email address and we ask for a phone number – the email field has to be filled in the phone number is optional. We do not verifiy either before allowing them further access. Many people fill in silly email addresses, and to me they were never customers. Some give us good emails and no phone numbers or bad phone numbers, and we respond to them . Some provide us with good emails and phone numbers, and those we call.

    I read a lot of opinions above, but does anyone have hard information that they have collected from a large statistical group, which would indicate the success of (1)registration VS Non-registration sites, (2)the number of good emails VS phone emails and (3)the conversion rate of good emails to actual contracts? We have followed stats (2) and (3) for two years at our company, but don;t bother with the first, becasue if someone is not willing to give us contact information, they aren’t a customer to me , even if they eventually buy something from someone, somewhere.

    I am a salesperson. I am supposed to follow up with potential buyers and sellers in an assertive yet inoffensive manner so that when they decide to do business, I will be a choice for them. Hopefully I will be THE choice for them.

  29. Dan Connolly

    July 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I do not require registration. My IDX (listingware) requires registration to save or print listings and obviously to get email alerts, but I have all over my site that I will not contact them if they register and they have to contact me if they want to see a house or if they have any questions. I really don’t contact anyone, never drip email (which REALLY IS SPAM), and I get between 5 and 10 calls and emails per day asking about specific properties. Yeah, on days like July 4th I don’t get any contacts, but other than that I am busier than I could possibly be. Conversion ratio? Depends on me and how much I follow up once they contact me.

  30. Jim Lee

    July 6, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t do forced log ins.

    I closed a condo last month with a couple that told me they had been using my website/IDX link for over a year to browse condos. They found one they liked and called me to write it up.

    The wife said she told her husband that when they found what they were looking for there was never a doubt that I would be their buyer’s agent.

    I hear stories like that all the time.

    I don’t force anyone to do anything on my website except if you want me to send you something. Then, I need your email or your mailing address.

    I get the vast majority of my business from my website.

  31. Jim Gatos

    July 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I have to agree with Bill on this one. Two sales I had (buyer controlled sales) came from buyers (who became buyer clients) who both used another real estate company’s website (One of them is VERY well known)…

    Why did they come to me? Well, in both cases, the money back they were getting wasn’t worth the service. Honestly. One of them spelled it out like that…

  32. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Teresa – Glad to hear someone has actually tested it. Although I have three IDX solutions, it’s hard to test one against the other unless you are using them in the same capacity.

    Ruebe – I believe there may be some correlation between forced registration and client perception of Realtors, which is why I ask the question. I don’t agree with your colleague; it’s a lot of junk to go through to get to the prize:)

  33. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Missy – It is a visually appealing site, no doubt. My concern is the public perception when we are trying to be transparent. Also, the time spent dealing with people who will never do anything.

    I, too, have people who raise their hand when they are ready, but wonder, would they do so anyway, regardless of whether I had a forced log-in.

    I do have to say, supplying leads to buyers agents if they do not follow up is frustrating, because the initial contact is important. I do think the connection with an agent could be made jsut as easily and maybe, more efficiently, through our blogs.

    On my other IDX solutions, the phone number is optional and very very few supply their phone number. It tells me people prefer to hold back some information until they feel the time is right and they don’t want to be contacted by phone. One interesting note – the ones who do supply a phone number voluntarily are the ones who are expecting me to call. They do become clients.

  34. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Chuck – Thanks for your input! You seem to know what you want from your IDX and how it will work for you and your clients. Everyone’s response here has provided great insight for me.

    Elaine – Exactly – I am not pushy either. I prefer to be a consultant, provide good information, prove my value and feel like it is contradictary to a forced log-in.

    Jim – I’m not sure how 1PP or Diverse Solutions works, but believe the consumer can search until they want more information. One of my other IDX solutions is Wolfnet and I can set it a number of different ways to get contact info. Of course, if clients want more information, to set an appointment, or want to receive new homes as they come on the market or save their searches, they do have to provide their correct information.

  35. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Ines – I have heard good things about 1PP. Again, I am hearing the return in conversion is better when the consumer finds your site, then signs up. They have acknowledged you offer value. I too, find those who call or email me directly become clients.

    I agree, whatever we do must be consistent with who we are, otherwise, we send a conflicting message.

  36. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Barry and Chuck – I got your message! loud and clear………..but, (there’s always a but) there has to be some way for them to log in if they want more info, save their searches and have additional listings sent? Ideally, any new listings would be automatically sent through the IDX, rather than setting each person up through the MLS system, The perfect IDX solution would have a list of criteria for the consumer to choose from, (on their own)…..land, fireplace, basement, more than the standard 4/2/2 in anytown.

  37. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Bill – I’m not sure you actually do disagree with Barry. Unless my idea of forced log-in is different than what Barry is saying. I’m talking about a forced log-in before they can see any homes based on their search criteria, is what I am having a problem with. That is how my current system works.

    Your ideal solution would allow them to search until they need additional information or want to save their searches; I don’t have a problem with that. I too, am a salesperson and following up with potential clients is part of the job, but when the conversion rate is 1%, you could spend a lot of time following up with people who don’t want to be followed up with. I’m talking about between 200-250 people a month. It’s a lot of wasted time on the 99%. 5% of 50 good people would be the same and allow for additional prospecting.

    Through the very nature of blogging, we are in the business of providing information to consumers. Hopefully, they find the information valuable and want to do business with US – the business of buying and selling real estate.

  38. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Dan – Now thats the type of business I want to see, I don’t mind a log-in when they need or want additional information.

    Jim – Like Dan, you have mastered what it takes to get the consumer to trust you when it’s time to buy. So, maybe it is about getting them to your site, so they get to know, trust and like you.

    Jim – I, too have had people who came to me to write the offer and show homes after they have used another agents site. I have also had people use my site to send listings to their agent.

    Still, is it more about getting them to the site so they get to know you, than it is capturing their information?

  39. Barry Cunningham

    July 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Paula we do as you mentioned..preview for free, look around search as you will but to see addreses or to save you have to register.

    As Ines, these people turn into clients..not leads! Yes we use 1PP as well.

  40. Bill Lublin

    July 6, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Paula:
    Of the multiple sites we operate several need to have logins to access the search page.
    Our main company site does not. We get lots of leads from both, and never broke down our stats to figure out if there was difference in the “consumer pool” we’re working with. (Though I just emailed my Internet person to do that – depending on how she has the incoming leads sorted, it may be difficult to do with our historical data, but we’ll start monitoring it as of 7/1/08 if not). I beleive without confirmation that the “forced registration” sites have always provided us wiht lots of contact info, and that the “non-forced registration” site has always had its share of superman and mickeymouse registrants.

    I still think that by the nature of internet use, lots of people who come to any site aren’t going to be customers or clients in the foreseeable future, some will be customers or clients much much later, some will be customers or clients in a long period of time, some in a moderate period of time, and some in a period of time that reflects more immediacy – but all of them are going to be on multiple sites – some better and some worse – so the job of my site(from the business perspective) is to generate contact information. That five letter curse word “Leads”

    I love the character Blake in the Movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” by David Mamet. The part was written for Alex Baldwin and is only in the movie, not the play. He’s a Top Sales Guy in land Sales sent to motivate/terrorize the salespeople in this grim little real estate office. He is incredibly harsh and not what any of us would want to be, but his speech is amazing best remembered by most I think for this line

    Blake:We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize?
    [Holds up prize]
    Blake: Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired

    But he also says something (a little more bluntly then you or I might say it), that really is what lead generation and acquisition is about

    Get out there – you got the prospects coming in. You think they came in to get out of the rain? A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy. They’re sitting out there waiting to give you their money. Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?.

    Remember, after they land on your site, whether they give you their contact info or not, they’re on to the next site , and then the next until they’re tired or they see an interface they like. And they stay there until they’re bored and then they go somewhere else. So the information you can obtain in passing is what you are left with.

  41. Jonathan Dalton

    July 6, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I received an e-mail the other day from someone complaining that I now require registration for a search, which was odd because I don’t. If you want to save your favorites or have listings sent to you – added-value services in other words, then yes I want you to register. And I still don’t bother you, not until you ask a question (except for maybe a thank you.)

    Last month I actually chased someone off by sending a personal thank you for registering. I kept going back, wondering why someone would stop searching because I thanked them for coming to the site (not a canned e-mail, one I wrote.) Then I had a better thought.

    Next.

  42. Reuben Moore

    July 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Bill Lublin (No. 40) – I have to hand it to you, it takes guts to use Baldwin’s monologue to make your point. I’m pretty sure whenever we hear (or read) people say things like, “Gosh, I hate real estate agents,” they are often thinking about that scene.

  43. Susan

    July 6, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    This is a great topic and there are so many points of view and ways to do it. I wonder if we will ever really know the answer. Personally I would not think its good to hit the prospect up right away wanting them to sign in. I do not require registration for searches, only if they want to save searches and receive emails (obviously I need their info) and also if they want to view details of a listing that came up on their search. One thing about my sight that bothers me is that the landing page has 3 featured listings that pull from the idx…there is a view details button and if someone clicks on it, it requires registration. I think this is probably something I should change as it hitting them for a registration right up front.

  44. Bill Lublin

    July 6, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    @Reuben; I actually think that they picture some unctuous salesperson – not that character, but if you really want guts, I know a guy who showed that scene to his office at a sales meeting – the reaction from the older agents was less then positive. 😉
    But the point is still the point!

  45. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I think if YOU would be comfortable doing a registration, you should have it.

    I think that if YOU would NOT be comfortable doing a registration, you shouldn’t.

    I think of it as an extension of your personality. You will attract persons that think/act similarly to you if you build it the way YOU would like it.

    For me, I personally don’t like registering, so I don’t have it. And I’m quite happy with my results.

  46. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Bill – It would be interesting to know the results of your data collection. My experience has been the opposite as yours. Last year I had less people sign up but a greater % actually led to clients.

    I agree the forced registration provides more info, but not necessarily better info.

    Many are long term contacts who, once they have signed up for info, may or may not turn into a client. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. I feel like the person who opts in for additional information is the most likely to be a client.

    For example – I have many people who are forced to log in, only to find out it doesn’t matter where they look, they are not going to find the home they want for $75,000-100,000.

    The more serious online client may have been to many sites. I’m not convinced they sign up at many sites. I don’t like to sign in. I’m pretty picky and will continue to look until I find a site that does not require me to log-in.

    As for the movie –

    Maybe this is why we get compared to used car salesmen.

  47. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Barry – Thanks for clarifying

    Jonathan – You really can’t please everyone and “next” is a great response 🙂

    Susan – You have a beautiful site – it looks like you have several places for log-in, maybe you can switch them out and see what works best, if you are able to track them separately.

    Jennifer – Different strokes aptly applies. I like your thought about attracting like minded clients.

  48. Missy Caulk

    July 6, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Paula, it is not about appealing, it is about “sticky”. Do people log on again and again, are they saving to their favorites?
    If so those are the hot leads, and the ones you have to stay on top of.

    If I didn’t have my site that requires registration, how would I know who was coming back, who was saving favorites, who was opening the new listings being sent?

    I wouldn’t.

    Remax.com is number 2 searched site, in most cases they don’t reguire a registration, How many Leads from lead street are you getting?

    I know there is 390 leads in Ann Arbor sitting right now because there is not a remax office here. Wow, but when I have 2000 plus it is hands down a better site.

    Expensive yes,

    Worth it?

    Every penny, most of our closed sales are from the registering site. Nothing from the other sites, with no registration.

    Great discussion…

    My daughter just closed with a physician, she called him. Shock, he said all I get from other agents is emails, you called, they connected and it is closed.

  49. Chuck G

    July 6, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    This discussion just shows you that one size definitely does not fit all. Some people like to be contacted, others don’t. Figuring which is which is the key to getting and retaining as many clients as possible.

    Chuck

  50. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Missy –

    It has been a great discussion.

    I’m not talking about “no” registration, only registration when they want additional information, not upon the initial search. Either would bring the same results, trackable contacts. There are IDX solutions which track when a prospect returns, their saved searches and send out automatic updates. Most do not have the back end system for managing the leads.

    My buyer’s agents closed as much as I did last month – but I do wonder about the transparency of it all and whether I would have better leads if I didn’t require log-in upon the initial search. I do have some buyers agents who work the leads hard and well, still, it takes a lot of time to work the 99%, even 98%

    I don’t get near as many from lead street – but convert enough to pay my yearly fees. I was out today with a lead street buyer. Lead Street here does require log-in for additional information.

    I just closed with a physician too, Sold his home and he bought another. Funny thing though, he raised his hand and asked to schedule a showing. That is the difference between those who are serious and the 99% we chase. When they are ready and serious, will they be the ones who sign up for more information?

    What would the results be if you could direct what you pay toward your blog, where prospective clients could get to know you, read great information about Ann Arbor, then decided to check out your IDX? Would you perhaps have more qualified leads? I don’t know the answer, am only asking the question.

  51. Paula Henry

    July 6, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Chuck – And that’s the truth:)

  52. Bill Lublin

    July 7, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Paula;
    I think the point I was trying to make with the movie quote was completely missed. It was, simply put, people that provide information are there to buy. If we don’t stay in touch with them, provide value, and eventually sell them, we have to accept the responsibility. It is possible that people that don’t provide the information have really low motivation or are just milking the site for information which they may then choose to use with someone else.

    You ask “What would the results be if you could direct what you pay toward your blog, where prospective clients could get to know you, read great information about Ann Arbor, then decided to check out your IDX? Would you perhaps have more qualified leads? I ” In my opinion these would be higher quality leads because they would have ahd a chance to spend time with you and become more comfortable with you as an agent, so they know who they are talking to when they “raise their hands”

  53. Paula Henry

    July 7, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Bill – You do say it less bluntly than the quote – I think it was the walk the lot statement which had me envisioning the salespeople at the dealership when we took our daughter to buy her car. Ikes!

    Thanks for answering the question – I think so too. I may be testing a new approach, one way on one site and another on my static site.

  54. Bill Lublin

    July 8, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Paula: My Internet person had the info for me – We convert the same oercentage of leads from both “landing page sites” and our “look and then register sites.” , so based on our 2 yeards of data, it doesn;t seem to matter to the consumer. They will either engage or not engage at will, and a registration doesn’t semm to faze them as much as we think.

  55. Paula Henry

    July 8, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Bill – Thank You! That’s good information for me to know. Do you utilize any direct advertising ( pay-per-click or adsense) for your sites?

  56. Susan

    July 8, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Chuck, it is true “one size does not fit all”, I guess we’d like to pick the size that fits “most”. This might vary depending on areas, price point, etc.

    Bill, that is interesting that you find it doesn’t make a difference.

    Paula, I would be curious to hear how your test goes with your two different sites.

  57. Paula Henry

    July 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Susan – It should be an interesting experiment! I’ll have to wait a few weeks until I get Diverse Solutions set up – I’ll let you know.

  58. Sue

    July 13, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Great! I am thinking that would be a good topic for a new “follow-up” blog. 🙂

  59. Paula Henry

    July 13, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Sue – I agree – it will probably take me a few months to collect the data. I’ll be sure to share my findings.

  60. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Dang! I go on vacation for a while (seriously, the first vacation I have had in probably 6 or 7 years) and a topic gets written about something I love with already 59 comments! What a great thread!

    For our team here’s the thing, we allow our IDX users to view 5 properties before registering. If they are looking at more than 5 properties then they are probably more serious about buying. If they are seriously just wasting time on the internet looking at homes, then more than likely they’ll give a fake name and number anyway. I agree with Bill Lublin – #28, I am in the business of selling real estate. Selling is the operative word there. We are sales people in fact aren’t we? One of the keys to successful conversion is immediate contact and follow-up. My theory is that if they are willing to give their actual phone number and email address, then they want or need something. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve made calls on leads that come in and the user says “wow you’re fast, we’re still on the site looking!” Another one we get regularly is (believe it or not) “we’ve registered on several websites in the last couple of days and you’re the first one to call”. From that point forward they are clients, not leads, because we were the first ones to touch them. But likewise, if we wait too long to call we get “oh we’ve already found an agent, it’s such and such (a direct online competitor)”. We knew at that point we waited too long to make the call and shame on us. Honestly, how long does it take to make a call to find out whether or not it’s Super Man or a true buyer? I contend that people that give their number want help.

    I used to have an IDX solution whereby there was no registration required, and for us, the number of quality leads is much greater with a required registration. I also use a form on the home page, not for registration, but specifically for people who want to give more information initially so that we can do the search for them. When I used a no-registration required IDX, we were getting many more forms filled out than registrations. Now that we require registration after a few looks our numbers for registrations have tripled the forms that get filled out. Given, alot of that has to do with SEO and a better IDX solution, but generally speaking the leads are better with registration than without. Although I have not tried no-registration since moving to Wolfnet. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl for a bit and see what the results are so that I can have a true comparison.

    We’re currently using Wolfnet for our IDX solution, but I am hoping to get Diverse Solutions here soon. They seem to offer more in the way of contact management. I haven’t checked out 1PP yet but will.

    Thanks Paula for a great thread!

  61. Paula Henry

    July 15, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Holly –

    Thanks for your input! You have provided some additional food for thought. I also have Wolfnet, as well as TigerLeads. TigerLeads is a forced log in and requires a phone number. Wolfnet does not require a phone number and I have mostly used it for the ability to narrow down and present homes available in specific neighborhoods when I post about a neighborhood or community.

    I have contracted for Diverse Solutions to replace Wolfnet and am excited about the features DS offers, especially the RSS feeds.

  62. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Like what your TigerLeads looks like. Nice to see a new featured property at every page refresh. Too bad there isn’t a way to not force registration right away.

    Also I really like that CommunityWalk you have. I’m looking at that site now and liking how you can use multiple points to define boundaries for neighborhoods. Very neat tool!!

  63. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Meant to say @ Paula there. Sorry. It’s late. 🙂

  64. Paula Henry

    July 16, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Holly –

    Thanks!

    Since TigerLeads is tied to pay-per-click, it would be counter-productive to not force a log-in, financially speaking. It is a sharp site and gives the comsumer all the information they want on one page. Forced log-in on the site is what prompted this post and discussion.

    Community Walk is fun – since I already had all the posts and tours for Avon -it was fairly easy. I’m not sure I could start a new one for another area, though. Maybe……. without the tours:)

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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