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Real Estate 1.0

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…is Kicking 2.0’s Butt

real estate 2.0


Real estate 1.0 seems to be kicking real estate 2.0’s butt these days in California’s East Bay area. Keller Williams Realty in Danville, CA (the office I work out of) has about 200 agents; on average about 75 – 100 Realtors attend each week’s meeting of the Realtors Marketing Association (Alamo, Danville, San Ramon) and the Valley Marketing Association (Pleasanton, Dublin).In the last month, I haven’t heard from a single Realtor about any new business arriving via their website. Houses are still be bought and sold in this part of the East Bay. Here’s what is working:

  • Working Expired Listings
  • Door Knocking
  • Working the Database

I don’t claim this to be 100% accurate, but it seems that the majority of new listings and new buyer agreements are arriving the old fashion way in this slow market.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Danilo Bogdanovic

    January 27, 2008 at 10:18 am

    John,

    Glad to hear that the agents in your office are busy with clients, whichever way they may be getting them. But don’t count out real estate 2.0 and web 2.0. Here’s why:

    My business partner and I run three blogs – one is agent-centric and the other two are consumer centric. The two that are agent-centric are pulling in 2 to 3 ready, willing and able buyers/investors with lender letters in hand per week. An example of their email or phone call to us is, “We like and read your blog and want to buy a house. Can you help?”

    The blogs are also pulling in an average of one listing every 2 weeks. The same type of email or phone call listed above applies.

    Btw, we don’t do any of the action items you described in your post whatsoever and we don’t pay to advertise in print media. The way we get into print media is for free through quotes and articles on us by local newspapers as well as the Washington Post, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, etc. This is because the media reads and follows our blogs. And this happens with regular frequency. Consumers read this and then elevate the level of credibility they give us, which helps pull in buyers and sellers.

    This is not to say that the items you described don’t work. It just means that your claim that real estate 1.0 is kicking real estate 2.0’s butt may not be accurate.

    Btw, (static) web sites are real estate 1.0, not 2.0. You can’t clump blogs and social media sites into static web sites.

  2. Benjamin Bach

    January 27, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Interesting John… interesting

    I would agree that at my KW Market Centre (Kitchener-571) most everyone is getting business the old fashioned way – but most of my ‘new’ business (every sale so far in 2008) is now coming from people I’m initially meeting via my blog and other internet presence (facebook, among others)

    John what are you finding in your own business ?

  3. Lani Anglin

    January 27, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    John, I can’t say the same about our market (or at least our company). As always, out approach has been a consistent, delicate balance of 1.0 and 2.0. If you omit either, you may miss the business boat.

  4. Candy Lynn

    January 27, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    There were a few months that I was beginning to think my website was broken. The last 4-6 weeks both hits & info requests have been going crazy!
    Offers & listings produced from internet in last week.

    I use print to PUSH to website, I do not doorknock nor work expired listings. I do have a very personal high touch relationship with my clients. I work a niche market of horse properties so there is a great deal of common interest that results in clients not becoming just clients for life but friends for life.

    Is my marketing Web.1 or Web.2? I tend to think of it as just plain old fashioned professional service that just happens to use the tech tools of the day.

  5. Cyndee Haydon

    January 27, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    John,
    Maybe it depends on where your buyers are coming from – we find most of the people buying here are from somewhere else so we are seeing almost 100% of buyers coming from the web – now the listings are a different story – they seem to come more from the 1.0 way for us.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    January 28, 2008 at 1:20 am

    I’m seeing some business from hitting expireds, though I’m not as consistent as I ought to be.

    But given I’ve pulled in a solid lead a day off the various websites this past week (and going back for some time), 2.0 has its place.

    Actually, forget I said that. If you’re an agent in the Phoenix market, please do not bother with the web. it’s a fad and will go away. Knock on doors. Much better.

  7. Benjamin Bach

    January 28, 2008 at 5:46 am

    This may be what we call tunnel vision – it seems all of us commenting on blogs (i.e. and are ‘in the web 2.0 know’) are getting business from blogs, while ‘old school’ realtors may not be generating leads online.

    I had a realtor ask me last week how quickly would he get business from a blog if he paid me to start one for him. I chuckled.

  8. Chris Lengquist

    January 28, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I do both…with heavy emphasis on blog/web. And the leads/clients generated reflect that.

    The key is DOING SOMETHING.

  9. Port Orange Homes For Sale

    January 28, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    If it works don’t break it. Seems like that what works in his market and hey he is on this blog so he appears to be on the internet blogging that will bring more business. Good luck to all in these hard times with creativity and doing what ever it takes to sell real estate.

  10. Borino

    January 28, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    John,

    Your information confirms what vast majority of my clients from almost every US market confirm – expireds are plentiful, fairly easy to work, and can be one of the most profitable niches right now.

    Good ol’ fashioned work is back in style, it seems. And it’s profitable. 😉

    Borino
    http://www.ExpiredPlus.com

  11. Nouveau Riche

    June 15, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Very interesting blog you have here. I don’t know much about real estate and I had started to read about this subject a few days ago and I must say that your blog made me understand a lot of things about real estate. Thanks

  12. Pingback: Sacramento Real Estate Market is On a Roll...! | Realty World - Your Property Source

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Uh oh… User-generated content hikes your business insurance rate

(MARKETING) User-generated content is a tremendous marketing tool brands should consider, but it does increase your liability, thus your insurance rates, so choose wisely.

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The use of “influencers” on social media and the sharing of user-generated content (UGC) isn’t a new thing in social media marketing. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to generate excitement and curiosity about your brand. The best reviews are always those from real users, and the best advertising is the one you didn’t have to create: those are social media marketing golden rules.

The implementation of user-generated content however, is rife with some potential troubles, especially when added to your own website. A lot of businesses can operate under the idea that the average social media user is okay with the sharing of their content. While some of them will be, you run the risk of crossing an invisible line with someone who then generates negative press about you and/or your company. And of course, there is always the possibility of litigation.

It’s in your best interest to be above board on user-generated content and it always begins with the first step – asking for permission. How you ask for permission depends on the medium, but be sure to get a DM, email, tweet, or something that clearly shows the content creator giving you the right to use that image (and document that permission in a way that you can locate it in the far future). This prevents you from getting into a whole lot of trouble, and allows you to use user generated content most effectively.

Pro tip: If you’re going to be working with the same brand ambassador or influencer, make sure any contracts or agreements you have include a waiver that allows you to repurpose content they create that impacts your brand.

This is an easy thing to do, and it will help protect the integrity of your brand and your online presence – make sure it’s part of your social media strategy.

But it should be noted that there are merits to only using content that you create yourself – it’s more secure, more controlled, and it typically decrease the cost of your business insurance as it’s less risky. Because a lot of brands don’t ask for permission, UGC takes on some risk and skyrockets insurance rates.

The decision to use UGC should be a smart one, and if you do decide to use it, just follow the golden rules: ask nicely and keep a paper trail.

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Business Marketing

How to tell if your SEO campaign is actually working

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Search Engine Optimization is more complex today than it ever has been, and whether doing it yourself or hiring a pro, you need to know if your SEO is on track. Here’s how.

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex strategy, and one where there’s rarely a single “right” answer to any question. Your rankings are a the result of hundreds, if not thousands of interacting factors, and Google doesn’t disclose exactly how their algorithm works (though we have some good guesses based on its algorithm update history).

Measuring the results of your SEO campaign can also be challenging, especially for newcomers to the online marketing field. How are you supposed to determine whether your SEO campaign is actually working? And what do you do if it isn’t?

Before we get into how to tell if an SEO campaign is working, it’s important to define what “working” means for you. SEO serves many purposes for your organization; ranking higher can increase your brand visibility and your incoming traffic. But are you more worried about the sheer number of visitors you’re getting, or which pages are ranked number one? Is it better for your company to have 100 visitors with a 5 percent conversion rate or 200 visitors with a 2.5 percent conversion rate? There aren’t objective right answers to these questions—only what’s right for your brand.

You should also consider the peripheral effects that SEO can have. For example, most companies that pursue SEO invest heavily in their onsite content strategy, which can improve their brand reputation and help secure more conversions. How do these peripheral benefits factor into your judgement of your SEO strategy’s success?
We’ll get into the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) in the next couple of sections, but before that, take some time to clarify what your SEO goals truly are.

Typical KPIs for SEO – is your campaign working?

Let’s say you’ve been working on an SEO campaign for a few weeks now, and you’re interested to see if your efforts are making a difference. You’ve been producing onsite content, you’ve got your website’s technical SEO factors in order, and you’ve been building backlinks just as all the experts suggested.

What now?

There are a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs) that stand out as hallmarks of an effective SEO campaign overall:

1. Rankings. This is the most obvious factor, and the one most SEO newcomers gravitate toward, but it isn’t the be-all end-all measure of success for your campaign. “Rankings” are how the various pages of your site rank for your target keywords and phrases; typically, you’ll keep a list of all the words and phrases you’re actively targeting, and will use a tool like SEMRush to determine where you’re ranking (and where your competitors are ranking). Obviously, upward trajectory here is a good sign; if you’re ranking higher for all your targets, month after month, it means you’re making forward progress, and your tactics are making an impact.

However, these expectations should be tempered; some keywords are incredibly easy to rank for, allowing you to skyrocket to the number one position, without giving you much traffic or being especially relevant to your brand. The reverse is also true; you may spend a ton of effort increasing your rank only slightly for a highly competitive keyword, seeing only marginal bottom-line benefits from your efforts.

2. Organic traffic. Rankings are perhaps best held in consideration in the context of organic traffic, or the number of people who visit your site after discovering it in search engines. In some ways, this is the truer indicator of SEO success; regardless of how many keyword terms you’re ranking for, or how high in the rankings you climb, this number could be high or low depending on factors like click-through rates (CTRs), search volume, and your competition. You can find your organic traffic figures in Google Analytics, and tinker with the settings to see your traffic both for your entire domain and for individual pages of your site.

3. Domain and page authority. Google measures the trustworthiness of your site and its individual pages based on the quantity and quality of links pointing to them, eventually resulting in an “authority” score. The higher your domain authority, the easier it will be for all the pages of your site to rank. The higher your individual page’s authority, the more likely that page is to rank. Accordingly, you could use domain authority as an indicator of your campaign progress; a domain authority that’s growing is a sign you’re doing things right and a foundation on which you can create pages that rank more easily. There are a few ways to discover your domain and page-level authority, including through Moz’s Link Explorer.

There are a few other SEO-related metrics that warrant your attention, though they aren’t as direct an indicator of your progress as the aforementioned KPIs.

1. Referral traffic. Also discoverable in Google Analytics, if you’re big into link building, you’ll want to look at referral traffic. Referral traffic is a measure of how many people are visiting your pages from the links you’ve built. This metric doesn’t affect your search engine rankings, nor is it a byproduct of them, but it is a byproduct of one of the most important elements of your SEO strategy: your backlinks. Rising referral traffic is an indication that you’re getting published in bigger and more important publishers, and that you’re earning more authority for your work. Referral traffic is also a secondary way SEO provides value to your brand, since these visitors are as likely to convert as your organic traffic.

2. Click-through rates (CTRs). What happens if you’re ranking at number one for your most heavily favored keyword phrase, yet nobody’s visiting your site? This scenario is unlikely, but you might be getting less traffic from your rankings than you expect if your click-through rates (CTRs) are low. CTRs have a complex relationship with SEO, affecting it and being affected by it, but you can definitely improve your CTRs (and therefore improve the value of each search ranking) by tweaking your title tags and meta descriptions to better appeal to your target audience.

3. Onsite behavior and conversion rates. Even with tons of organic traffic, the value of your SEO strategy still depends on your ability to convert that traffic. Spend time studying how your incoming organic visitors behave on your site. Do they spend minutes on your best content pages, reading it and engaging with it? Or do they bounce almost immediately? Better onsite behavioral metrics, like lower bounce rates, may have a marginal effect on your search rankings, but more importantly, they impact the net value of each incoming visitor. If you neglect these factors, even thousands of organic visitors may not be enough to make your search optimization efforts “worth it.”

4. Overall return on investment (ROI). Adding to that, for most businesses, the true measure of an SEO campaign’s success is your return on investment, or ROI. That’s because all the nice-looking numbers in the world (like high rankings and organic traffic) won’t mean much if you’re spending more money than you’re seeing from your core tactics. If you’re earning more in new sales than you’re spending on all your tactics, and that gap keeps positively widening, you’ll be in a good place. Use your conversion rates in combination with your organic and referral traffic to estimate how much value you’re getting, and compare that to your expenses. Expenses are easy to calculate if you’re outsourcing your work to an agency, but you may have to get creative if you’re working with an internal team.

Why SEO takes time (and why not to bail out too early):

There’s one important caveat to all these considerations. Up until now, we’ve been covering key metrics and indicators that your SEO campaign is working; if they’re showing signs of growth, it means your efforts are worthwhile. However, SEO is a campaign that necessarily takes time, which means you may not see positive results in these areas in the first few months even if you’re doing all the right things. In fact, the majority of campaigns only start seeing the fruits of their labor after 3 to 6 months.
Building authority and developing onsite content often takes months, and you’ll have to wait for Google’s index to fully catch up to you as well.

More importantly, the rewards of an SEO strategy in its developed stages are much richer than the rewards in its developing stages; at a higher level of authority, all your links and pages will generate more traffic, and you’ll get more value for even trivial efforts, like writing a new offsite post (assuming you’re doing everything correctly). If you’re not growing quickly, do analyze and critique your own efforts, but don’t panic; if you bail out of your campaign too early, you’ll miss out on the best benefits.

Don’t be discouraged if you find that your SEO campaign isn’t working, or isn’t working the way you thought it would; in fact, this is to be expected. SEO is both an art and a science; the most successful practitioners aren’t able to launch a perfect campaign from day one, but instead are the ones able to recognize flaws and make corrections where necessary.

Diagnose your campaign early and consistently, at least once a month, and make adjustments so you’re always moving in the right direction.

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