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Hey Realtors! Yes, You Need a Website.

A rebuttal to Inman’s article Most Realtors Get Zero Leads From Personal Websites

Recently, an Inman article discussed whether or not realtors needed a personal website to generate business. The phrase, “Go big or go home,” was used and the article inferred that in order to reach that ROI in the sky, realtors must invest “considerable cash and effort” into a website or why bother having a website at all? While this article did a good job capturing our attention, we at Seventh Scout disagree with the overall message.

If you have a business, you need a website. End of story.

With a highly saturated, competitive industry, and tech-forward landscape, a website is essential for brand recognition and lead generation. But it is no longer enough to simply just have a “web presence.” We agree with Inman here. What we don’t agree with is having individual realtors believe they must invest substantial resources to generate any leads. You have to put work into your website, but it shouldn’t have to be exhausting nor drain your wallet.

The Reality

While Inman’s article is well-structured and well-researched, it’s in desperate need of clarification in some areas and merits a rebuttal piece.

It’s Not Just About Ad Spend

A big chunk of Inman’s article emphasizes that if you spend $$$, you’ll get a metric ton of leads through the door. The one success story talks about an agent team’s website yielding 80-100 leads a day and how the realtor has reportedly spent $5 million over the last 15 years of being in a business. It’s a pipe dream. Not every brokerage has this kind of money. Realtor professionals read stories like these and essentially get sticker shock. Many realtors aren’t able to write those big checks, especially those with smaller teams, so instead they end up spending little to no money at all.

Reality check: Paid advertising will get more eyeballs on your website and your listings, but you need more than that in your marketing mix; you need a greater SEO strategy. Paid advertising is only one variable in getting traffic to your site. You need to have rich, valuable content that makes you a trusted resource and expert in your industry. Take that content and post it on your website and distribute it on social media and email. It’s your content that helps your business rank better in organic search results.

Feed the content machine = Get found on search engines = Send traffic to your website = Increase your chance of capturing leads = $$$

Don’t Limit Your Focus to Hot Leads

Listing websites like Zillow and Trulia are great for homebuyers who are ready to move soon. We love this group; they’re hungry and are closest to the point of sale.

The problem with using listing websites as your solo marketing channel that you are only focusing attention on those ready to buy. We know those are the easiest sales. But, what about all of those other people out there that are in the early stages of the buyer’s journey? Or the ones searching for a realtor first? Or the ones unsure if they want a new construction home or a pre-owned home? How will you get their attention if your brand is only visible on Zillow?

This goes back to the point we made previously. Your brand needs content to nurture and build a conversation with these folks. The consumers that are going through the motions on the earlier part of the journey want to know why they should work with you. They want to know all of their housing options. They want you to be a resource and not just a transaction. Plus! Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)

Take Those Numbers With a Grain of Salt

We’re not discrediting the research from Inman and the National Association of Realtors. NAR is the best source for realtor news and statistics. However, those numbers are alarming and for realtors to have next to nothing in customer inquiries for the year, we have questions to ask to them:

  • Is your website optimized?

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate (Search Engine Journal)

  • Do you have an inbound marketing strategy?

Inbound marketing helps businesses attract, convert, and retain customers through a variety of channels like social media, blogging, SEO and email.

  • Do you audit your website routinely?

Website audits are an essential measure to improve the efficiency and search engine visibility of a website. Audits improve search ranking while increasing site traffic and performance.

If the answers to those questions are all “yes” then we’ll concede, but if not, then there are clearly reasons why you aren’t generating leads. A website is like bringing home a puppy. It comes with great responsibility and should be treated with TLC. If you have a website just to be able to spout off the URL to a potential customer or to use on your business card, then you cannot expect to yield any results. If you’re working with an agency (whose job is to throw those leads over the fence) and you’re not seeing any leads coming through your website, then you need to be asking for routine performance reports as soon as you get the invoice.

There IS a Middle Ground

Inman discussed two opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to a marketing budget. On one end it reads, “To yield 600 leads in a year, an agent must pay a setup fee of $5,000, a $499 monthly subscription fee and $6,000 to $18,000 a year on marketing (e.g. search engine or Facebook ads) .” Those numbers would scare anyone away, especially a smaller brokerage.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, realtors have access to a free template on Placester, yet one professional comments that the free versions “are horrible for traffic, let alone for leads.”

Is there something in the middle? Yes. Yes, there is.

First of all, know that in the world of digital marketing and website development, you do NOT get what you pay for. We’ve heard many a time that clients pour a tremendous amount of money into large conglomerate media agencies, yet get little-to-no return. Moreover, these agencies can’t tackle everything. For PR – they outsource it to an agency. For web development – they outsource it to another agency. Next thing you know, you’re cutting several checks to different agencies.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. There’s a middle ground. You don’t have to spend a CEO’s salary or “5 million in 15 years” to get results. And you should never DIY your own website, especially if you’re looking for a lead generation powerhouse.

Need help creating a new website or optimizing your existing one? Seventh Scout can find that middle ground and ensure your business gets the expected outcomes. Unlike other agencies we listen to your needs, craft a sustainable strategy, and deliver the results you deserve. Plus – we’re full-service, so we’ll guide you through the marketing process and fulfill the work your business needs to promote your brand—all in house. Contact us to get started.

by Vira Vielmann
Tags

Lead Generation, marketing budget, marketing strategy, paid advertising, real estate marketing, realtor marketing

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