Carolyne in Canada writes about driving people to a web site:
I have my phone system set so that if I am on the phone, and the fax is taking up one line, the computer another line, etc. No one ever gets a busy signal... the voice mail kicks in after the first ring with no response
And, the voice mail asks them to leave the required info, etc...and in the interim to please go to our web site, from which they can send us an eMail.
Then we've captured their return address. Our brief message also gives our eMail address, in case they just find it easier to send us mail.
The key to being able to market using eMail is having eMail addresses of clients and prospects. Wynne Achatz writes on collecting eMail addresses:
Iggy's idea of asking for an eMail address of callers as part of your voice mail message is a good one. Seems so obvious but so few people are actually building an eMail marketing data base.
I take it a step further, everyone that calls into my office is asked if they have an internet connection and if so could they spell out their eMail address for confirmation of their phone call into the office. A great way to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Then we eMail them a confirmation of their call into the office and reiterate the call purpose as well as what evolved from the call re next call or appointment time.
Another thing we do is make business cards of the home we listed and when we go on other prelisting presentations we pass them to the seller asking them if they know of anyone that may be looking for a home like any of these. (Of course we have about 10 of their home as well). Generally they call within a week and ask for more.
And Sherry Peters adds:
Several ideas for harvesting eMail addresses are - get them at open houses - people usually feel more comfortable about giving eMail addresses than actual home addresses and telephone numbers at open houses. Another good way to harvest eMail addresses is to send out a post card or letter promoting a contest for people to eMail you their entry to win your drawing for a free dinner for two, gift certificate at a shopping mall, movie tickets, etc. - whatever you want to offer. It's worked for real estate sales professionals that I consult with.
And Jean Allen adds:
I'm sure almost everyone does this, but just in case: we capture eMails as people sign in for open houses. It's printed on our guest register, along with name, address, phone. We get a good number that way! (To help it along, we always sign the first line with someone we know, and people tend to follow suit).
On using the Internet instead of the Classified ads to advertise listings for sale,Chris Newell writes:
We've started the process of removing property ads from the newspaper, and saying in their place "Visit http://Halton-PeelRealEstate.com for homes available". We are telling sellers that no-one buys from the ads, and that 70% of buyers come through other Realtors, and only 8% of homes are sold as a result of newspaper ads, whereas 46% of our listings are sold by a buyer finding the home on the 'net (we know this number because we always get to talk with the buyer when we attend the home inspection on behalf of our sellers). We cover this off in the listing presentation, by telling the seller that we won't be advertising their home in the paper, because it doesn't work and is only done to sooth the ego's of the sellers. They don't seem to have a problem with this.
We get a 1/4 page, process color ad for a whopping $52.50 per week (their billing department has been only charging us half the cost for the past 2 years, and I am not going to tell them!), in a paper with circulation of 40,000, so it wouldn't cost much, but that's not the point. We need to promote our services, and ourselves and drive the eyes to our web site.
And, before someone asks, no, I don't feel bad about removing the seller's property from the potential 8% of buyers. Our listings are typically taken at the highest price the sellers were given by any of the agents that were called in, they sell faster (33% faster than average), and at a higher ratio than average. When it is explained to people, they understand. A couple of video testimonials from past sellers really works well to help quash any concerns.
eMail Marketing may turnout to be more effective than web site marketing. Here are some tips from Chas Campbell of MNRealty:
Now that you've got your web page up and running, you're printing the web address everywhere, and some eMails are starting to come in. Now what?
It's interesting how experienced agents will make rookie mistakes when e-prospecting versus things they know cold about sign calls and open houses. When that lead comes in, here's a short list of prospecting pointers:
1) FAST response. - I can't tell you how much feedback we get from the public that Realtors just don't answer their eMail.... Most of the time, a prospect is eMailing MORE than one Realtor about listings, etc, and they pay attention to who gets back to them FIRST. If you don't see the need to check your eMail once a day and feel guilty if you don't check it twice... then consider putting your whole web operation on "hold" until your motivation improves
2) DON'T "give away the farm". - Just because someone anonymously eMails you for info about a home does NOT mean you should spend two hours doing printouts, relo packages, etc. for them. Answer their direct question with a direct answer, and then ask a small (qualifying) question yourself... "Do you have a timetable yet for your relocation?" or "Have you been comparing various Realtor web sites?"
ALWAYS have your web address as a clickable link in your signature.
THIS is when the prospect might check out your site for the first time if they are contacting you off of a listing who-knows-where on the web.
3) Expect a "Conversation" to develop. - eMail is easy to reply and send back and forth over several days or weeks. Do your "selling" by discussing local market conditions and community information. Ask questions just like you were strolling thru an open house. Send them related URLs of places (such as school districts) that might be useful to them. You can even design a multi-page "program" on your web site that you just use with visitor-eMail. Try your best NOT to directly solicit them except in a professional, light-handed way. Your goal is to try and become a "not-very-close friend."
4) Continue to ask and answer questions as your level of rapport builds. Make the questions more involved the longer the "conversation". It's funny how people will form bonds of friendship with individuals on the web BEFORE they ever meet the other person!
5) When you sense that the prospect is comfortable with you, ask them more directly and expect them to share phone and address info. CALL THEM and or SET UP AN APPOINTMENT ASAP. Cyberspace is NOT the place for the actual sale....
Saul Klein comments on Chas’s contribution:
We used to call it "building rapport"...it worked before the Internet and it works today as well. Building a relationship with a no commitment type of communication medium, eMail. The more communications you complete, the more promises you keep, the better your chance of turning a prospect into a client.
Make a promise and keep it...even if the promise is that you will call tomorrow at 4:00, not keeping the promise will cost you dearly...keeping the promise builds trust, no matter how small the promise.
Saul Klein GRI/CFP/JIM
On marketing your Web Site Address (URL),Jim Lee writes:
I ordered one of those nifty chrome plated URLs for your car. It came yesterday and I put it on where my car dealer's sticker used to be.
I see more benefit to me advertising www.KnoxvilleMLS.com on the rear of my car than GRAYSON PONTIAC plus mine looks better.
You can order one for only $29.95 at http://www.primelinx.com/ Their slogan is "Increase your web site traffic while in traffic".
On advertising, marketing and branding, Al Napier writes:
All you really need IMHO is to promote your company or personal "brand", in other words, yourself and your services. Property advertising of individual homes would not be necessary if no one else did it, everyone (consumers) would just go to the local real estate emporium to find out what's available.
But since we all need to keep up with the Jones's and also have to keep up appearances "to keep the seller's happy/show them that we are doing something" instead of properly selling our services, then we continue to waste money on property ads that mostly don't do all that much.
I'm sure in your case it's different, but here in central CT we have approx. 2,500 members in my AOR and about 500 agents in my local service area of about 50,000 households (in 4 towns) fighting over roughly 200 total (condo and single family home) listings at present.
Yet we continue to p*** away money on property ads. I'm just as guilty, I have 5 classified ads myself in this weekend's Hartford Courant and a combination of classified AND picture display property ads running in next Tuesday's Rare Reminder (local weekly rag). Plus The Real Estate Book, but those already sold before the book came out :)
Yet my best all time ad continues to be a generic "Terms" ad that is not specifically about a property..."Own Your Own Home for LESS than $3,975 Down. Several homes still available, many with 3 & 4 bedrooms. Call Al Napier for qualifying info. xxx-xxxx..........."
I get more bona fide buyers that actually buy because of that ad than any or all my other property ads combined, but the seller's keep wanting to see 3 bed 2 bath home on Lover's Lane... type of stuff, even if it doesn't work.
Same deal with my web site promo ads, they work great, get me clients, sell my listings, but the seller's don't understand nor like anything other than a plain description of their house.
Oh, and if that sign is not up in their yard FAST they have a fit.
Seems that perception is more important than RESULTS - Go Figure...............
Marketing your Web Site requires thinking about the things you are doing. Carolyne in Canada writes:
When we had our checks reprinted recently, we had the printer add our web site URL and eMail address to our company logo and address. And, a business card goes out with each bill paid, as well as a letter size color promo piece, advertising one of our listed properties for sale.
We recently had a sale where the lawyer handling the buyer's paperwork was located in the next town, near where Chris works... since we include a promo piece along with all the real estate information that goes out to the closing lawyer, too, the lawyer made a comment to the buyer, that we sure did know how to market our services. He had never had an agent send him anything along with the closing paperwork.
Although I had never heard of him, he told the client that he was going to keep that marketing piece to share with any clients who were relocating to our area. Of course I was pleased to hear that.
Marketing tip from David Swarat:
Every Monday or Tuesday, I send out an eMail newsletter update to my eMail database, which includes: current buyer and seller clients, people that have requested to join the eMailer, people that have made inquiries to me from my website, etc. I do not send to people I have not had previous contact with.
Anyway, yesterday I sent the following eMail update:
I certainly hope April is going well for you! The weather here in North Idaho has been absolutely gorgeous! Mostly sunny with only a couple days of rain. WONDERFUL! I'm ready for summer!
I have updated our website at http://www.nidt.com - especially the homes for sale section at: http://www.nidt.com/homes.htm
BUYERS SPECIAL: I am now offering FREE TO YOU, a personal website, updated on a weekly basis, with fresh new listings that meet your purchasing criteria. eMail today to sign up for this service: BuyerSpecial@nidt.com
Here is the GOOD news: a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that uniques and page views on my website sky-rocketed when I ran those ads that Al Napier tipped us on, well, yesterday I received even HIGHER statistics (65 page views more, and 10 uniques more than before) - as I referenced my site with a link, AND offered a FREE web page to buyer clients. I also received 4 requests (so far) to join this "special offer" by people that we had only received 1 original inquiry from.
Here is a link to an actual buyers site:
Norm Fehr asks [in part]:
Specifically, what is more important: 1. having a listing that the consumer wants to see, or 2. sending a prompt response with a quality message? Stated another way, if the property the consumer inquired about does not meet the buyer's needs, how frequently do you get to serve the buyer because you sent a prompt response with a quality message?
Lee Bowman answers:
Norm....it has been my experience that answering eMails quickly is more vital.I have found the overwhelming majority of buyers are "long-term" (defined as 3-9 months away from the actual purchase) and rarely buy the specific house that they eMailed me about in the first place. What keeps most of them coming back to my site is the property search engine with "automatic daily prospect alert" capability.
On eMail and marketing, Jeff Otten writes:
If your business website has POP3 mail (and it should...), set-up an eMail address for each client. A simple call or eMail to your web host company, and they can probably add an eMail for just a couple dollars a month.I can hear the talk now around the water cooler at their work, "My agent gave me an eMail account. I get constant updates . . . "
To which Jim Lee comments:
Great idea Jeff.
That's along the lines of a similar idea I heard at a seminar once.
Buy several digital pagers and give them to buyers you're actively working with. When a new listing comes along you can page them to call you to see it immediately.
I'm sure the very visible pager will cause some talk around the water cooler too. Like, "yeah my REALTOR furnished it for me. Whenever there's a hot new listing HE CALLS ME." Talk about your positive image creation.
And InternetCrusade’s Mike Barnett adds:
Jeff and Jim.... the POP account can be used for both functions as you suggested.
And if the POP account solution is your desire... please remember the InternetCrusade offers robust eMail POP accounts.... (and all other eMail tools and products ;-)
Jim.... in using the pager idea (which I like)... why not use an alpha numeric pager so you can send the message about the new listing by "eMail to the pager"? This can also be used for yourself where you can create 911@JimLee.com which will direct all emergency eMail communications directly to your pager as well...
Also Jeff.... I might suggest (to save a little money....) why not just use eMail forwarding for your customers instead of the POP account. With eMail forwarding (and without the POP account.... using SMTP forwarding... which stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) your eMail provider could forward the eMail to any ISP (or I-mail account)... saving you your $2 per month estimate per client :-)
Another feature to consider (if your POP account allows for this feature) is the "unlimited eMail addressing and forwarding" also known as "star-forwarding". With this feature in place... Anything@YourDomain.com will be forwarded to the eMail address (or I-mail account) of your choice... So when you are at your customers tonight... you can create an eMail address for the listing or buyer.... like 123RiverStreet@YourDomain.com ..... and it will be sent to you (and you don't have to call your ISP or IPP.... Internet Presence Provider).
Another advantage of the Unlimited eMail addressing and forwarding is the ability to track your advertising... You can create multiple ads and use different eMail addresses (StarLedger@MikeBarnett.com ..NewYorkTimes@MikeBarnett.com ... LATimes@MikeBarnett.com ) and as the eMail arrives, you can track your results based on who the eMail is addressed to....
Also, I use the Unlimited eMail addressing feature to help with "spam" control.... For instance, when I signed up for information at the Lexmark site yesterday (I was getting a new printer driver), Lexmark asked me for an eMail address.... Because I have unlimited eMail addressing and forwarding, I created the eMail address Lexmark@MikeBarnett.com.... Now when I get mail addressed to Lexmark@MikeBarnett.com I know who it is (supposed to be) from.... If I get an eMail addressed to Lexmark@MikeBarnett.com and it was sent from Compaq computers, I now surmise that Lexmark sold the mail list (at least my name ;-) to Compaq