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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

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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