You’ve got a business site, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile — all of which are accurate, up-to-date, and full of interesting content. You’re good to go on the Web, right?
Maybe not. Unless you’re rigorously tracking metrics that matter to your business, you won’t know whether the time and money you spend on these platforms is paying off. That was the overarching message at a panel discussion yesterday afternoon at Inman’s Real Estate Connect event in San Francisco.
“You guys are doing a lot of marketing, but some of it is paying you and some of it isn’t,” said Jim Marks, co-founder and CEO of Virtual Results. “You’ve got to know which is which. You need to know the result of every dollar you spend. That’s called business.”
That means monitoring online measurements that actually bring you business, not just some nebulous concept like “eyeballs” or “Web presence.”
“What you need to look at is where the leads are coming from,” said Stephanie Streeter, lifecycle and ROI manager at Active Website. “What’s the best location to find those individuals? And keep revisiting these trends over time. The better educated you are on your site, how people are using the site, and where they’re coming from, the more power you’ll have in making decisions regarding lead generation.”
Fortunately, many of the tools needed to gather these kinds stats are free. Google Analytics is one of the more popular options available, but there are hazards with using it. If it’s not implemented properly, it may present misleading information about your site, Marks said.
“Setting up Google Analytics correctly is unbelievably tricky,” he explained. “Just make sure it’s set up accurately and you trust the data. Once you have that dashboard set up, you’ll be a much better Internet marketer.”
At the same time, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the tools you use, said Hiten Shah, co-founder and CEO of KISSmetrics. Your primary concern should be knowing which people are coming to your sites, how they’re engaging with the content, and how often they come back. That last one’s especially important, he explained, because research shows that people who touch your content five times or more end up becoming a lead.
“Sadly, most of the analytics discussions I get into are what tools people should use,” he said. “Whatever you use to measure, make sure you’re measuring what people are doing. Understand who they are and why they do what they do.”
Metrics will help improve your business because they’ll take the guesswork out of your marketing and confirm your hunches about what’s working online and what’s not, said Adam Wiener, vice president of analytics and new business at Redfin.
“You can use analytics to get a sense of how much activities are worth to you,” he said.
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
When I wrote a story in REALTOR® Magazine a couple of years ago about the realities of doing business in social media, I interviewed Jay Thompson, a.k.a., The Phoenix Real Estate Guy. Jay’s been blogging for years, and has generated a ton of business from it.
Back then, he described to me how his former broker didn’t take blogging seriously, dismissing it as playing around instead of conducting real business. While many real estate pros have since come around on the value of blogging, there is still a sense among many of them that it’s not a worthwhile activity, said Chris Smith, co-creator of Tech Savvy Agent, at Inman’s Agent Reboot in Chicago this morning.
“People tell me all the time, ‘I don’t have time to blog, and I don’t know how. I’m going to go be a REALTOR®,’” he said.
Part of the problem is the word itself. “Blogging” tends to conjure up impressions of amateurish writers getting online to flame a politician they don’t like, or provide updates on their cats, or post photos of their vacation to Branson, Mo., with a detailed account of how great Andy Williams was.
If that’s your hang-up, Smith said, just ditch the term. “Lose the word ‘blogging,’” he explained. “I want you to think of it as marketing your business on the Internet.” Continue reading »
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Brian Boero, a partner at 1000watt Consulting and prodigious real estate blogger, likes to fly Virgin Airways because it gives off a vibe that makes him feel cool just for being a customer. How do they achieve this? By illuminating the interior of its planes with purple lights.
Of course, that’s not the only thing Boero likes about the airline. But it’s an example of something unique that it does to positively distinguish its brand from its decidedly less hip competition (looking at you, Delta). “We all know that Virgin is sexy and unorthodox, and the airline reflects that,” he said.
With that in mind, Boero asked attendees at a Wednesday morning workshop at Inman’s Real Estate Connect conference in New York what their “purple lights” were — that is, what they’re doing to make their Web sites stand out in a way that reinforces their brands and builds business.
Here are a few more important site design and functionality principles that Boero and other Connect speakers covered Wednesday morning: Continue reading »
By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
The Federal Communications Commission yesterday issued rules to require all Internet content to be treated the same by the companies that control the flow of Internet data into homes and offices. NAR supports this so-called net neutrality issue to help ensure real estate brokers and others in real estate that make heavy use of the Internet won’t face disruption or changes in their services by Internet service providers (ISPs).
Under the rules, which have been some five years in the making, the ISPs (mainly cable and telephone companies such as Verizon and Comcast) are prohibited from blocking lawful content, applications, services, and the connection of non-harmful devices to the network. The ISPs must also create a level playing field for all providers of content on the Internet. That is to say, they can’t treat the flow of content of one Web site different from the flow of content of another Web site.
That’s not to say ISPs can’t change different rates to consumers based on the amount of bandwidth they consume. They can. If a consumer ties up a lot of bandwidth by, say, downloading a lot of video, the ISPs can charge that person more, because bandwidth is a finite resource. But the ISPs can’t discriminate against content providers (that is, Web sites) based on their type of content. If the ISP has one policy for Web sites that make video available on their site, they have to maintain that policy for other sites that make video available. The user experience must be the same. Continue reading »
HouseLogic, the National Association of REALTORS’® new consumer Web site covering all facets of homeownership, is a finalist in the 2010 Inman News Innovator Awards’ “media site” category. HouseLogic’s nomination places it in the running for Inman News’ People’s Choice Innovator Award.
The Inman Innovator Awards, launched in 1997, recognize companies that use technology and innovation to enhance the real estate transaction and experience for consumers and real estate professionals.
You can vote online through July 12 for HouseLogic, an NAR-branded site, against such competition as The New York Times online real estate section. Winners will be selected by popular vote and announced during the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference July 13-15 in San Francisco. Continue reading »
By Erica Christoffer, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Several bits of news have popped up in the past week, reminding us just how significant real estate Web sites have become in today’s market and in today’s online culture.
Last Friday, Time Magazine released a list ranking the 50 Best Web Sites of 2009. Several real estate-related sites made the cut.
This, coupled with recent findings published by the Nielsen Company that shows traffic to the top U.S. real estate Web sites is up, points to the continued growing interest in real estate on the Web. Continue reading »