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Opinion Editorials

Realtors, are you enraging consumers with your website?

Marketing pet peeves

Realtors aren’t the worst at having frustrating websites, but are pretty far up there. We’ve just shared with you a marketing campaign concept that effectively garners user information and interacts with them rather than the standard agent template that requires a home buyer or seller fill out a standard web form asking lead information like their name, address, phone number, date of purchase/sell, area interested in, Twitter handle, Facebook profile, home phone number, fax number, credit score, bra size, etc. You get the point.

In modern times, consumers are educated enough to know that a detailed web form means a lock and key mentality to information they can find elsewhere without detailed registration. If you want people to register before they see your secret IDX feed on your website, make it low commitment (ask name and email with phone number optional) or consumers will simply move on. We haven’t seen much in action in real estate, but Facebook Connect is becoming the more common and consumer accepted method of lead generating.

We’ve shown you the power of marketing on Facebook which applies to the log in feature of your own website. Using Facebook Connect, Realtors can ask consumers to log in to their real estate website with Facebook Connect and make the terms of use conditional on permission to garner basic demographic data (just don’t go overboard). Your web designer will know how to implement Facebook Connect (and if they’ve never heard of it, run away from them as fast as you can).

The privacy debate

Because the privacy debate rages on and many consumers are terrified of letting go of their information (and we wouldn’t argue against that, we are extremely private and suspicious of anyone wanting our personal information, especially via Facebook), you should always have a non-Facebook log in option.

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Facebook Connect isn’t the only way to achieve a more seamless website, but you are not the arbiter of the MLS anymore, no matter how badly you think that should be the case. If a user has to spend more than a few seconds accessing what they came to your site to get, they’re out of there and off to your competitor’s site (or an aggregation site), bye bye.

The takeaway is that you should really consider how you are treating your visitors to your website… think of it as a dinner party. You’ve put a lot of effort into menu selection, seating arrangement, cleaned the house and pulled out the fancy dishes, and you would never stop people in the foyer and question them about their social security number and jean size prior to allowing them in to the party, right? Just let people in, even if you have basic qualifying questions- use Facebook Connect or pare down your info request form.

A consumer’s perspective

As a Millenial, I’ll tell you that if I get to a site with more than one step, I get frustrated and quit. It’s a flaw, but it’s true and I’m impatient. If a website is a crappy template, I’m gone. If a website wants my address, I’m gone. If a website is choppy with links that don’t work, I’m gone. You’ll find more patience in other generations, but your next batch of buyers will resort to Google or a brand like Realtor.com that they recognize.

It’s not just your IDX, it’s your emailer, your Facebook welcome page, your newsletter and more. Here is a web designer (aka your consumer) who has a similar opinion on the matter. Read these comics and see if you don’t (1) laugh and (2) relate, then go to your site and objectively test the experience. Are you enraging consumers or are you being non-invasive and giving them what they’re there for?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    June 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Hit the nail on the head with this one, Lani – especially the comics!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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