It’s the wrong question whether or not to require registration and my reasons for saying so are endless, but my number one response to this question is very often a question in return- what is your capture strategy? If your capture strategy is only IDX search capture, then you might as well let consumers have it for nothing. In fact, you might as well not have MLS search at all when you consider your website as a spec in the image of this article- tantamount to a font choice being hyper critical to the demise of your business.
I say this because no matter how fancy the search component on your website is, if consumers simply wanted to search homes, there are bigger and better solutions out there that do not require consumers to register. You cannot compete, you simply are not big enough to play the big media players’ game- why not stop now while you’re ahead if you haven’t yet figured out that what the local searcher is looking for really isn’t a home at this stage- they’re looking for something unique.
Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com et al.
Now that you have a bare bones assessment of where you stand in comparison to big media players and the real choice consumers have, surely you have a bigger picture image of just how ridiculous the conversation is if you’re not responding to the real reasons consumers are on your piddly little local website in the first place. In the eyes of consumers, if you’re responding to them directly, you’re not so piddly after all- in fact, having offered them the local value they’re desperate for you’ve finally given them something big media sites can’t and they’ll give you more than an email address and fake phone number to get it, in fact they’ll pay you a commission and referrals for an opportunity to get more of it, in fact, nearly $100 million dollars between just two media companies has been spent just to exploit “IT.”
Untimately the answer to the wrong question of IDX registration is yes, you should require registration after a search or two, but again, this matters not if you haven’t framed your IDX with value. They’ll simply click away in search of anything that feels valuable and unique to them, and you already know your consumer, so you know better than I what matters most in your hometown.
Building a robust capture strategy
You most likely have a self-hosted blog by now, and if you don’t you soon will because the type of value building I’m talking about is through local content. Writing content that is recognizable to locals is important as it instantly illuminates your vicinity to their immediate needs in comparison to large media sites. Also, you’re less likely competing with local agents when on your local domain in comparison to the Realtor orgy Active Rain and others have become. Whether you like it or not, you are in competition with your beloved network.
The folks you want commenting on your material is not other agents, in fact, you’re better off having no comments at all when you consider that other agents are commenting to link bait your consumers to their own sites– what, you thought the value they’re attempting to add is for you?
Building your own conversation with locals is important because you’ll want to address your valuable news letter to them, not to your competition. Your commenter (subscriber) base on your blog is your audience, and you’ve captured their attention, and should absolutely follow up with them not only with a newsletter, but also a thank you…
Thank Me Later WordPress Plugin: this plugin will send a one time only custom email to your commenters, thanking them for their participation, will allow you to input a few kick ass reasons they should return to your website, as well as provide them essential contact information. It might also be a great place to drop a nice incentive to select your service if you’re paying for inspections or appraisals, or even advertising lower commissions.
MeeNews WordPress Newsletter Plugin: If you’re looking for a robust newsletter management solution this is about as great and simple as they come.
Again, you will need the ability to upload plugins to your wordpress blog.
Making your website multi-deminsional
Surely you’re pimping listings on Craigslist, you have listings, and you share them everywhere. You also utilize flyers and other products that do little to inspire action or set your listing apart from their next click or view.
I recommend implementing texting features such as Drivebuy into your flyers, Craigslist ads, and even the last image of your virtual tours that prompt an action. Make it a valuable action. In fact, rather than just offer your contact information, why not respond with special buyer or even seller incentives in each text ad- for example, text AG1 to 88000 (this really works, try it) for special offers on homes purchased through our brokerage or text AG1 to 88000 for special listing incentives on our services.
Text ads could be used throughout your website for multiple reasons around content consumers are looking at, and can be a real value added component as well as create an opportunity for you to get in front of your consumer whether a listing consumer or a buyer. Don’t forget to add text features to listing flyers, Craigslist, and anywhere else you can think to use it including featured listing posts on your blog- for about $8 bucks per text number you can expand your opportunity for conversions right now.
Give ’em a shopping cart
Recently we tipped you off to a wicked new tool called Smarter Agent which gives you a mobile web application that works with just about any phone your consumer is using. Branded for your company, this application gives your consumer a mobile search they can use on the street while actually searching for homes and returns your contact information with each result they view- this is a great asset in your capture arsenal when you consider you just provided your consumer with a tangible product from your website to take with them to better their search experience with you at the checkout stand.
Whitepaper for different levels of buyers and sellers
Why not take some of your most compelling content around market conditions and other practical tips for buyers and sellers and create whitepaper? Value added content in your sidebar designed to entice information addicts that capture registration:
WP-Download Manager WordPress Plugin: Simply upload your pdf whitepaper and set it to capture registration. From this, you can learn what they’re downloading and follow up with an email response targeted exactly to this content, offering incentives and other reasons to return to your website or notify them of updates in the future. Add to your email the text feature mentioned above to get even closer to them.
Round robin customer service
I’ve written about this in the past and firmly believe that in this day and age that sales calls are frowned upon, BUT customer service calls are not. Round robin is basically a system of call routing that continues to ring as many numbers as you assign until someone picks up to make sure the call is answered regardless of the time of day.
As we all know, conversion rates increase when calls and text messages are returned and especially when a phone call from a consumer is answered, which is why if you’re not using a round robin mechanism for your incoming calls, you’re missing huge opportunities to convert.
If you’re on Twitter and attempting to look really important by only following 200 while 2000 are following you, you had better make sure those 200 are absolutely local to you. Why? Because if a buyer or seller is connected to you on Twitter and wants to privately message you to discuss their needs, they cannot. You must follow back your locals, and in fact you should use tools like Tweetdeck to manage these contacts under a category like “Locals.” This will help you continue to manage these warm opportunities and cultivate relationships in your local market. (click here to read more about connecting locally on twitter)
Facebook can be utilized in much the same way by creating lists of locals under your contact manager. This allows you to reach out specifically to your locals while excluding the hundreds of Realtors you’re probably networked with. So, when attending a meetup of some kind, or even hosting an open home, you can extend a local invitation to your local contacts especially for them.
Those extra seasoned domains you own
Surely if you’re like me you have a few domains you’ve picked up over the years and have little use for them other than pointing them to your main site. Why not utilize a free service like softRealty that provides free IDX search along with a built-in CRM to float organically in Google? It stands to reason if the domain ranks you should stick something of value on it that might generate opportunities.
These are just a few tips to get you looking at a larger opportunity for capture. If you’re working from a larger picture, you can see that driving consumers to MLS search is great and all, but it really isn’t enough to compete. What you need is a more robust plan of action- calls to value action that bring the consumer closer to you. If you’re implementing these simple methods, you eliminate the concern for do or die decisions such as registered or non-registered searches by creating warm reasons to touch the consumer… they are interested or they wouldn’t have taken an action.
The biggest misconception about Web2.0 as we heard it several years ago was that it wasn’t meant to disrupt your way of thinking or doing business. In many cases, none of the passive pull theories were yet proven good or bad, and still today we debate the merits, but one thing is certain- by framing your MLS search with value in the first place makes it irrelevant whether you force registration or not.
No companies paid for consideration in this article including current advertisers on Agent Genius.
Video is necessary for your marketing strategy
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!
As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.
Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.
The promotional angle
One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.
First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.
What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.
Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.
It’s all about strategy
However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.
Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.
It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.
Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations
(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.
The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.
As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?
Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020
When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.
How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.
Think Brick And Mortar
As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.
Reach Customers With PPC
Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.
While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.
It’s All About The Platforms
When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.
One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.
The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.
Advertising overload: Let’s break it down
(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.
If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.
Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.
In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.
“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.
This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.
It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.
Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.
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