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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Four Foundational Steps to Selling Homes Online

There used to be a question of how to sell homes on the Web.

It's one worth asking because, unlike with eCommerce websites, people can't directly purchase homes online.

But there are plenty of ways to start the sales process online, and there are critical, foundational tactics that are important to review or begin doing for those Realtors who are just getting started with their online marketing.

We've broken those into four steps that should be followed by all forward-thinking Realtors and brokerages, and anyone looking to remain in business as your clientele moves to more digital methods of real estate research, and away from the traditional platforms you might be used to.

1. Property Search
Your real estate website’s primary purpose is to provide customers an easy way to search homes for sale.

The easier the search, the better service you’re providing to your customers, and the more they’ll feel compelled to rely on your website for their real estate needs.

As Seth Godin recently noted, great design means getting people to do what you want. That doesn’t mean getting a user to want what you want, but understanding what the user wants and providing them the easiest way of accessing it.

“The goal is to create design that takes the user's long-term needs and desires into account, and helps him focus his attention and goals on accomplishing something worthwhile," Godin wrote.

A real estate customer's long-term needs are finding their next home, or selling their current home. Your property search can help the customer focus his attention on accomplishing that with you as his agent.

2. Call to Action
Once your customers are able to find what they’re looking for when using your real estate website, they should be offered the opportunity to connect directly with you.

That means you need a call to action that is as easily accessible as the property search that got them to the page they were looking for. But one call to action isn't enough. Different customers search different ways, and different styles of CTAs might capture their attention.

While one customer might find the home she is looking for and immediately request a showing, another might want to ask a question about the property before taking that step. Another might be earlier in the sales funnel, and would prefer to sign up for listing notifications or a Market Watch report before deciding to ask direct questions about, or see a listing.

Each step requires a different call to action that should cater to the customer's specific needs. One blanket email-based lead submission form won't cut it.

3. SEO
Catering to what a customer needs once they’re on your website is of the utmost importance.

But it’s also important to remember that most customers no longer start their search on your real estate website, regardless of how great it might be. They begin their real estate search through a search engine.

That could mean searching for a real estate website, searching for an agent, searching for a specific area or neighborhood, searching for a street or home, or several more options, from short to long-tail searches.

If you want to capture the customers searching in these ways, your site has to be optimized for search engines to find it. You have to rank highly for all these searches, or you'll be passed up for websites that do. Search Engine Optimization can be a tricky battle, but it's a necessary one if you hope to cater to the largest percentage of real estate shoppers.

4. Lead Distribution
Now you know what you need to get people to your real estate website, get them to search for homes, and get them to submit leads.

What happens next?

If you don’t have a means of distributing leads instantly, whether to yourself or to a group of Realtors in your brokerage, all the above points could prove useless.

The sale process might start with a lead, but it doesn’t end with it. Leads have to go to agents instantly. Agents have to respond to leads almost as quickly. Customers have to be secured, their questions need answered, and their showing requests need scheduled. Customers are engaging in real estate differently than they ever have before, which requires you to adjust your business to cater to their method of engagement [download our free White Paper: The Recent Shift in Real Estate Web Engagement to learn more].

If you sit on a lead thinking it’s yours, you might not realize it’s yours to lose. The customer might grow impatient, which means she’ll conduct another Google search, find another real estate website, and submit another lead there.

If that agent responds more quickly, he will earn the customer’s business. If he doesn't respond, the customer will move along to another agent.

Real estate websites can generate a tremendous amount of business. But online real estate sales aren’t about processing orders; they’re about earning, receiving and distributing the leads in order to create more business opportunities.

If you follow these steps and develop a marketing strategy that factors in current trends in marketplace technology & customer engagement, you have laid the foundation for a successful real estate business.

To learn more about how real estate online engagement: lead traffic, SEO, and lead distribution has changed the way Realtors are doing business, click here to download the free White Paper, entitled "The Recent Shift in Real Estate Web Engagement."

About Delta Media Group, Inc. 

Serving over 600 real estate brokerages, 35,000 agents and 225 MLS's across the nation, Delta Media Group is the enterprise marketing and business management solution for real estate professionals. Delta partners with companies and top-performing agents where marketing meets technology, helping clients efficiently grow their businesses from lead to close. For more information about Delta Media Group, visit   
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