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Homes.com launches marketing platform Homes Connect – what took so long?

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New real estate marketing platform

After much anticipation, Homes.com, a division of Dominion Homes Media, has launched their new real estate marketing platform Homes Connect as demonstrated in the video above. Because the company is no longer selling Advanced Access (AA) sites, the company says they have folded AA sales staff into the Homes Connect team.

The goal of the new real estate marketing platform HomesConnect.com is to “log in once [to] access everything” and is powered by Homes.com which claims 6.5 million homebuyers visit their site monthly.

Along with expected features like customizing flyers, syndicating listings, email campaigns and customizable websites, the platform allows users to import their Facebook and LinkedIn contacts into their prospect manager, and users can even view their friends’ connections. Homes Connect says they offer “nationwide IDX coverage” and that over 650 MLS systems load data every 30 minutes in many cases.

As part of the platform, they offer virtual office websites (VOWs) in 50 markets and they claim they will soon cover 150 markets. The VOWs are aimed to serve brokers and agents which is uncommon in real estate marketing platform VOW offerings.

Homes Connect says a major benefit is that MLS reports (like CMAs) can be generated directly from the Lead Manager and sent to clients rather than using separate systems for both. The dashboard has the look and feel of iGoogle with gadgets users can customize so they only see information at a glance that they’ve chosen which is a trend agents will see other companies follow in the next year, as customization is a hot trend in the user experience design world.

So what took so long?

We’ve been hearing rumors about this major rollout for some time now and asked the company what took so long, given that sometimes moves like these happen very quickly in the tech industry.

Dominion Homes Media (Homes.com parent company) Vice President and General Manager, Andy Woolley told AGBeat, “While other companies are quick to consolidate to bolster their bottom line, we chose not to do so immediately to ensure the best outcome for our customers. We have a large customer base relying on us, in fact larger than anyone in the industry, and while consolidating quickly might have saved us money, it would have risked the stability of the products all of our customers rely on. When we finally chose to consolidate, we did so slowly and carefully to benefit our customers. Homes Connect is the end result of this move, and I’m confident our customers will find tremendous value in using it to improve their real estate businesses.”

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Malcom King

    August 19, 2011 at 8:51 am

    To tell you the truth, homes.com sucks and its sinking faster than the titanic…

    this is another attempt to milk money out of their customers..

  2. Riverside Home Source

    August 19, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Look forward to seeing what's special about their platform, should at least be interesting.

  3. sfvrealestate

    August 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I attended the webinar yesterday. It sounds great, but are all the features really up and running? That's a lot of stuff to roll out at once. Although I've asked to be called by a "marketing specialist," I may wait for other Realtors to field-test it before I shell out.

  4. Patty McNease

    August 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Hi Malcom, The goal of Homes.com is not to “milk money out of customers”, but provide useful tools to real estate professionals and consumers that create connections which turn into leads. Homes.com continues to see dramatic growth in consumer traffic — as a matter of fact, our largest day for page views was just last Sunday. With our wide variety of mobile apps and the recent addition of Home Values, we are providing even more opportunity for consumers to connect with real estate professionals on Homes.com. There are several FREE features on Homes.com for you to take advantage of. We encourage you to investigate them by signing up free of charge at myhomes.com.

    Riverside Home Source, the Homes Connect platform consolidates most of the marketing tools agents use every day. If you missed the launch webinar, a recording of it is posted at s3.amazonaws.com/HomesMediaSolutions/HC_webinar.wmv.

    Thanks for the feedback, Sfvrealestate. Yes, the features demoed are up and running, but could be dependent on your specific MLS area. The Marketing Specialist in your local market can review the specific details and assist you with whatever you need.

  5. MyAtlantaHomes.net

    August 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    I watched the webinar, but most of what was covered was listing syndication. That is not my primary focus. Does the platform have a CRM with a link to email. Can it manage Buyer Leads obtained from multiple sources?

  6. Justin Baker

    October 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    To Whom it May Concern:

    Effective immediately, I want to cancel my Homes.com account. Reasons for cancellation: #1) My e-mail and template are not set up after ONE MONTH. #2) Without a VOW, many of the features 'sold' to me as a benefit are not effective for my business. #3) No increase in traffic nor lead generation from extra expense of the 'banner' and neighborhood sponsors. #4) The amount of MANUAL work has INCREASED instead of decrease with integration of data, web-site, campaigns, listings, lead generation, etc. #5) Lack of expertise and knowledge of my account executive to fulfill my needs as a top producing agent transition from a NUMBER 1 EXPERT site.

    I would assume that 'purchasing' the highest 'tier' for my area would have resulted in the best customer service and product. Unfortunately, I believe you OVER PROMISED and UNDER DELIVERED. MAJORLY! I am fairly pissed off at the time being. At this point in time, my NUMBER 1 EXPERT site is still superior in form and function. The product I was sold is not integrated properly and I have not even USED THIS ACCOUNT in the last month due to the above mentioned.

    With that said, effective immediately, I want to cancel my Homes.com account. This experience has been an extreme waste of TIME and ENERGY that has taken me away from productivity.

    • Patty McNease

      October 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      Justin,

      Thank you for posting your recent experiences with our new marketing platform Homes Connect. This type of feedback is vital to improving services for Homes Connect and based on the issues reported we have resolved several of these concerns. While we’re disappointed to lose you as one of the first Homes Connect customers, we are glad to hear that you decided to transition back to your previous, NUMBER1EXPERT product. We are also providing a credit for the Homes Connect hosting fees paid to date.

      Thanks again for taking time to outline your recent experiences and for continuing to subscribe to the Homes Media Solutions family of products.

      Patty

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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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