Category Archives: Insider Tips

Create Your Own Real Estate Client Satisfaction Survey

  1. Navigate to the Google Drive homepage
  2. Click the red button that says “create”.  Then scroll down and Click “Spreadsheet”
  3. Creating the spreadsheet
    • Title the spreadsheet by Clicking “Untitled Spreadsheet” at top, then rename it to your real estate client satisfaction survey’s title.
  4. Turn your spreadsheet into a web accessible collection form
    • Click “Tools” on the menu bar then select “Create a form” from the drop down menu.
  5. Add your survey questions
  6. Get the form link
    • To get the link to the form so you can email it to clients Click “View live form” on the toolbar menu. A new window browser window will open displaying the form.
    • Copy the link from your broswer’s address bar so that you can paste it into an email that you send out to your clients…You’re Done!

Here is a short how-to video with more detailed step-by-step instructions.

6 Easy Steps To Grow Your Real Estate Blog

If you’re like many agents today, you realize how powerful real estate blogging has become.  Blogging gives you an opportunity to build an audience that you can translate into sales.  It also gives you the opportunity to improve your site’s organic search engine rankings through backlinking and content syndication.  In an ever changing SEO landscape, many experts agree that the most sustainable strategy to building and maintaining your organic rankings, is through content curation like blogging.

Before we can address the external factors of marketing your blog post we have to address a key element related to the post itself, a picture.  Every blog post, at a minimum, should have a featured image associated with it. The featured image is very important because when you post links to your blog on Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, etc. your user interaction increases dramatically if there is a picture associated with your link.  In another words, people click links more often when there is an associated picture with it.  When choosing an image be very careful when using “free” images because they could be copyrighted.  If you don’t have your own picture to use for your real estate blog post, you can use sites like istockphoto.com and gettyimages.com to purchase royalty free images that are related to your subject matter.

Once your post has gone live it’s time to announce it to the world. Here are 6 steps to help you market your real estate blog post:

 1. Tweets & Schedule Tweets

Send out your initial tweet announcing your new post.  Schedule a tweet with a link to your blog post every six hours for the first twenty four hours.  Make sure to include relevant hashtags.  Using a URL shortening service like Bit.ly is a great tool for not only shrinking long URL links for Twitter post, but it also gives you tracking analytics. Here is an example:

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2. Announce Your Post on Facebook

When posting to your personal or business page, make sure to write a short description with a strong call to action and include your link.  Facebook now supports hashtags just like twitter, so include those relevant to your blog’s topic.  In addition to posting on your own pages, consider posting in pertinent user groups.  Just make sure to review the Facebook Group’s posting guidelines so that you’re not spamming the members.

 3. Send A Broadcast Email To Your Followers

 Send a short email to your blog’s followers with a link to your post.  I recommend including a scaled down version of your featured image in the email to increase your link’s click rate.  Using an email marketing platform like MailChimp, InfusionSoft, or AWeber makes short work of this task.  These platforms also provide you with a rich set of analytics that you will not get otherwise.

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 4. Share On Your Other Social Media Profiles

So you’ve posted links to Twitter and Facebook, but don’t forget about all of your other social media outlets.  Make sure to post backlinks on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ too.

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5. Bookmark Your Post

Bookmark it on StumbleUpon, Reddit, and Digg.  These sites are a great way to drive more relevant traffic to your post.

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6. Ping Your Post

The last step is to ping your post.  Many blog specific platforms like WordPress have automatic pinging built-in, but if your site doesn’t have this feature you can use a free service like Ping-O-Matic.  Basically, pinging alerts search engines and other sites that you have made a new post, which can help with content syndication.

real estate ppc lead generation

DOMINATE Real Estate Lead Generation With An Advanced PPC Strategy

Have you wanted to DOMINATE pay per click real estate lead generation?  Well I’m going to pull back the curtain and share one of the techniques we use to generate real estate leads from Google PPC ads.  Let me digress for a second.  Why would you even want to run PPC ads, or furthermore dominate them?  First, according to a research study conducted by WordStream back in 2012; “Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!”  Based on our testing and experience we have found that the most common searched keywords buyers and sellers use are of “high commercial intent” too (e.g., chicago homes for sale).  Second, the organic results for high commercial intent real estate keywords are EXTREMELY competitive.  You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on search engine optimization (SEO) and wait months upon months, if not years, waiting to rank for just a single keyword.  You’ll also be competing with the likes of the ZTR powerhouses, which have far more SEO resources at their disposal than any single real estate agent, team, or independent brokerage.

After reading all of that are you still interested in generating a ton of real estate leads with PPC ads?  GREAT!  So let me layout in broad terms this advanced PPC strategy.  For any given Google search engine results page (SERP) there are up to 10 or more PPC ads.  Three at the top of the SERP, and 7+ down along the right side of the page.

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When you run an Adwords campaign Google limits you to running a single ad for a given keyword, but…but what if you could run more than one ad for a keyword?  Well, you would have a much higher likelihood of capturing a click, right?.  Especially if you were running two ads within those located at the top of a SERP.  Now for those of you who are seasoned PPC marketers you’re probably saying to yourself…yeah that would work, but you’d be competing against yourself, and potentially raising the cost per click (CPC) artificially, and you would be right.  No doubt, you have to be acutely aware of how each campaign is performing, but the management trade offs are well worth it in terms of the volume of real estate leads this strategy can produce.

To execute this strategy you are going to need to complete a number of steps.  You will also need to have a real estate website like BoomTown, TigerLead, RealGeeks, or MarketLeader already up and running to collect your leads.  A spin-off of this strategy is to use two or three of these portals as lead collection points and aggregate your leads using Follow Up Boss, which is an AWESOME service, by the way.  In any event, lets assume you only have one website and at least one domain pointing to said site.  That being the case, you have to purchase a number of additional domains so that you will have a 1:1 ratio of domains to Google Adwords PPC accounts.  In the example that I am sharing, it will require a total of three domains.

The next step is to navigate over to Unbounce and open a “New Business & Entrepreneurs” account.  Unbounce is a landing page builder/hosting service that doesn’t require you to code anything.  It’s all point and click, easy peasy.  Once you get your Unbounce account setup you will need to setup two unique landing pages.  Each of these landing pages needs to have a unique domain pointing to it.  These two landing pages will have a call to action button like “Start Searching” which when clicked should take the visitor to a search specific page within your real estate website.
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The last step is to set up three Google Adwords accounts.  Each will require a unique Gmail address (DO NOT USE EXISTING GMAIL ACCOUNTS, SETUP NEW ONES), you can however use the same payment method for all three accounts.  Within each Adwords account you will need to set up a campaign and within those campaigns a new text ad.  Your three separate ads need to use the same keyword(s) (e.g., chicago homes for sale).  Note, the ad copy you use for each campaign should be unique too.

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It’s safe to say that many nuances associated with this PPC strategy have not been covered here, and would require a book’s worth of information to do so.  However, if you are interested in setting up an internet lead generation system like this one, and want to avoid all of the headaches, we’d be more than happy to help you.  Setup a call with us now!

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How to create systems to grow your real estate business

If your goal is to build a successful real estate business, then it’s imperative that you make systems development a priority.  Owning a successful real estate business is really about developing and owning successful systems, then leveraging others to work within those systems.  Effective efficient systems make a real estate business highly profitable, scalable, and sellable.

When it comes to developing real estate business systems there are many approaches.  These are three ways to accomplish systems development:

1. Self Development

Working in real estate is a juggling act.  There are many aspects of the business that have to be balanced simultaneously.  Naturally, this causes agents to work intuitively to get things accomplished.  However, in order to have a system it’s critical that the steps and procedures used to accomplish tasks be documented from beginning to end.

A great way to get started is to pick a process that you could have someone else complete and write down step-by-step directions how to complete the task (e.g., transaction coordination).  Document everything regarding which software you use, how files are named and saved, and how decisions are made.  The more comprehensive you make your documentation the less time you will spend in the future answering how-to questions from employees or outsourcers.

Many processes in real estate can have associated problems.  If the process you’re documenting is problematic, make sure you develop a methodical set of problem solving instructions.  Don’t assume solutions are obvious (i.e., common sense), or that the person working on them has good deductive reasoning skills.  Spell it out very clearly for them!

2. Hire A Coach

Ever wonder why world class athletes and organizations have coaches when they already have so much talent?  They hire coaches because they realize a coach already has blueprints for success.  Coaches save you immense amounts of time and money, show you the pitfalls along the road to success, and help hold you accountable to your goals.  If you’re willing to follow the guidance of a coach, the time savings and intelligence they can provide you with is extremely valuable. If you’re interested in coaching you can setup a free call with us to see if coaching makes sense for you.

3. Join A Successful Team

If self development and coaching are not options that appeal to you, then joining a successful real estate team may be a good alternative for obtaining business systems intelligence.  It’s like one of my favorite sayings; “To get better, you have to play better.”  While you will have to give up part of your commission to the team, the value and education of working within effective systems, along with mitigating risk of all out failure, is well worth it.

Get Started Today

Creating successful systems can involve a lot of trial and error, and it can become very costly. What’s even more expensive is the associated opportunity cost from not taking action.  Developing systems for your real estate business is imperative to capitalizing on growth opportunities.  The great military philosopher SunTzu said “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”  By starting today you are proactively positioning yourself and your business to take the steps required to reach success.  At the same time you bring death to procrastination, a thief of your success.

real estate referrals

How To Get More Real Estate Referrals

The single most cost and time effective way to grow your business is through real estate referrals.  The latest studies show that real estate referrals are eight times (800%) more cost effective than other lead sources, i.e. cold calling, sign calls, duty, internet, and print advertising.  According to the National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2013 report, 80% of home buyers and 84% of sellers indicated they would recommend their agent to others.  That same report also found that 42% of home buyers and 39% of sellers found their agent through referrals.

Why are referrals so powerful you may ask?  The answer is simple.  People trust recommendations from friends or family.  This is substantiated by a recent Nielsen study that found 84% of consumers trust recommendations from friends above all other forms of advertising.  Naturally, when a prospect comes to you with a pre-established level of trust, your potential to convert them into a client rises exponentially.

So why do people refer?  First and foremost, because they trust who or what they are referring is not going to embarrass them by not living up to expectations.  This level of trust is developed or earned through:

  • Consistency of performance
  • Demonstration of proficiency
  • An overall great past experience

Second, people refer real estate agents because they genuinely want to help the person they are giving the referral to.

So, who are potential referral sources?  Just about anyone is a referral source waiting to be tapped.  These are a few to consider:

  • Current/Past Clients
  • Friends, Family, Acquaintances
  • Business Partners
  • Loan Officers
  • Home Inspectors
  • Pest Inspectors
  • Tradesmen
  • Advertising Representatives
  • Surveyors
  • Settlement Agents
  • Attorneys (Elder Law)
  • Financial Planners/Accountants

The million dollar question is how do you get more real estate referrals?  The first step is to develop a list of referral sources and place them into a contact database.  Your next step is to ASK for them.  Let’s face it, people in today’s society are very busy.  Even if they subconsciously trust you and believe that you are the best agent in the world, they forget about you if you don’t stay in their presence of mind.  One of the most effective systems to stay in contact with your referral sources is the Keller Williams 33 Touch System.  It’s widely popular, even with non Keller Williams agents, and many real estate database systems have an iteration of the system pre-built within them.  Ultimately, the easier (KISS) you can make your contact system, the more likely you are to use it and follow its guidelines for success.

With the growing popularity of social media, friending, following, and connecting with your referral sources can go a long way in helping you stay in connected with them.  At a minimum, you should have a personal Facebook page that you use in a professional capacity.  I advocate using a personal page rather than a business page because your Facebook friends will likely see more of your posts for free.  The latest changes to Facebook business pages have reduced their reach by more than 80% unless you pay to promote your post.  In addition to Facebook, you should consider having Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts, too.

Like any endeavor that increases your business, being consistently persistent and taking action is the foundation for success.

Increase Your Marketing Dollars with Marketing Service Agreements?

A frequent question asked by our clients is how to generate more incoming leads without spending more marketing dollars. The simple answer…offset a percentage of your marketing budget with a business partner’s support, specifically by utilizing a Marketing Services Agreement (MSA). So what’s a MSA you ask? It’s a marketing agreement that real estate agents can enter into with a service provider like a mortgage company, title company, home inspector, home insurance agent, or pest company where the service provider pays the real estate agent to co-market the service provider along with themselves.

As the agreement’s title implies, the Marketing Services Agreement is designed to reimburse real estate agents for real bona fide co-marketing, not a fee for referrals, which would be a RESPA violation. To that end, Marketing Services Agreement’s have several points to consider before deciding to enter into one.

  1. The MSA dollar amount must be commensurate with the amount of exposure a real estate agent is giving their MSA partner via their co-marketing efforts. For example, if an agent runs a print ad in a home magazine and pays for five column inches of advertising, and the agent devotes one column inch to their MSA partner, then the MSA partner would be responsible for 1/5 of the ad’s cost.
  2. Agents that already have a large marketing budget with many advertising outlets in place may never not be able to obtain MSA dollars equal to the amount of exposure they can give a partner. In those cases how do you decide what’s “fair?” Well, with mortgage companies you can start with 20 basis points of the total amount of funded loans the mortgage company closed with the real estate agent over the previous year. Note, it’s unusual to see a MSA where more than 30 basis points of the funded loans are being returned to the agent or team in the form of MSA dollars. In the case of settlement providers, a retrospect review of title premiums will help establish the right amount. Anticipating 30%-50% of the owner’s title premiums are what many settlement providers set aside for marketing.
  3. RESPA compliant MSAs do not adjust dollar amounts frequently. Anticipate that a MSA is going to be for a minimum of one year at a set dollar amount that doesn’t adjust. Frequent adjustments (<12/mos) to MSA dollar amounts are an indication that the service provider is reimbursing the real estate agent for referral business rather than paying for bonafide marketing, which is a RESPA violation.
  4. It’s incumbent upon real estate agents and their MSA partners to keep accurate records of all the co-marketing in the event either party is audited. The MSA should have reporting provisions for the agents to report back to the MSA partner on a monthly basis with copies of the co-marketing pieces that are in print, any links to online marketing pieces, and date stamped pictures of a partner’s marketing materials that may be posted within an agent’s office.
  5. If you have an MSA you must exercise a healthy amount of CYA (cover your ass) and disclose it to ALL clients, buyers and sellers alike. Even if there is no potential that your client is going to use one of your MSA partner’s service, you still should disclose the existence of the relationship to be safe.
  6. Ignorance is not a defense when it comes to violating RESPA, statutes enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or state laws. That being said, if you do plan to enter into an MSA make absolutely sure you have it reviewed by a local real estate attorney knowledgeable in this field who can advise you properly. Keep in mind that several states have enacted legislation that prohibits certain classes of service providers from entering into a MSA.

While we are not attorneys, nor do we give legal advice or practice law, we can answer general questions you may have concerning Marketing Service Agreement or forming Joint Ventures. Just give us a call at 757-550-0744 and we will be happy to help.

Cultivating online real estate leads

It is estimated that there are 50 million online real estate leads generated annually in the US. Recent consumer surveys show that 40% of home buyers search online everyday, and that 50% of real estate lead web inquires go unanswered. What this means to real estate agents is that there are abundant opportunities to cultivate more clients if they are consistent, persistent, and use the right tools. The majority of agents lack one or more of these key factors to successfully cultivating real estate leads into clients, which gives those willing to subscribe to a basic plan even more opportunities. Working with real estate agents and teams has shown us over and over again three fundamentals for real estate lead cultivation success that we want to share with you.

Be Consistent

Real estate lead cultivation is much like growing vegetables. They each require nurturing on a regular basis in order for them to grow. And just like a vegetable, stop nurturing your leads and all the time and energy spent will go to waste, and the whole experience will be discouraging at best. We recommend that real estate agents start with basic goals, and employ KISS (keep it simple stupid) methods whenever possible. This type of approach makes it easier for real estate agents and teams to manage their systems and tools consistently.

Start A Conversation

Probably the single largest determinate of successful lead conversion is how fast you can contact incoming leads by phone. Responses never cease to amaze us when we ask real estate agents what their ideal lead callback time should be. Answers range from an hour or two all the way up to one or two days. The reality is that you should be shooting for 60 seconds or less once you received notification of registration. In large part, because consumers work with the first agent they talk to 67% of the time, and conversion rates go up dramatically the quicker you reach them. Realizing that real estate agents have busy schedules, whenever a lead cannot be contacted immediately make it a priority to follow up with them as soon as possible.

When speaking with real estate leads focus on assessing their needs, providing value, and solving problems. Most calls are filled with many details which you don’t want to forget or overlook. We recommend logging into your real estate lead management system before making follow up or initial response calls. This will allow you to see your lead’s search behavior, capture pertinent details, and set important follow up reminders. If you are not in a position to log into your lead management system when making calls, make sure you always have a pen and paper ready to take notes . Having a buyer information sheet can also help you with asking the right questions, and capturing valuable information too.

Be Persistent

Persistence is what really separates the rookies from the pros in terms of converting real estate leads. A Leads360.com study conducted using 20 million leads shows that 6 or more contact attempts are usually required to reach a conversion. Many agents, if they even call at all, will give up after the first time if they don’t reach someone. Utilizing scripts and practicing through role playing can help you immensely in this area, and make the quality of your calls much more productive for the your real estate leads and yourself.

In summary, you will be well on your way to dominating your competition by following a KISS plan, master fundamentals, and utilizing highly effective real estate lead generation and management tools.

How Real Estate Agents Can Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

The productivity proverb Parkinson’s Law dictates that work expands to fill the time available for completion. If you are given a week to complete a short two hour task, then (psychologically speaking) the task will increase in complexity and become more unnerving. I experienced this phenomenon myself, and I see it frequently with real estate agents. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is more work added to the task, but rather the addition of stress and tension about having to get it done. By limiting the amount of time to complete a task or assigning specific deadlines, we get back more of the most precious resource we have: time. Taking this approach also reduces the task’s complexity, associated stress, and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Here are some personal tips I’ve learned over the years to address Parkinson’s Law.

Make a daily list of your tasks

I like to use a legal pad in part, because it can run away from me like an electronic task manager. Each day I identify the top three to five tasks that must get accomplished (no excuses). I also use this paper method to list my daily appointments, take notes from phone calls, and to document anything that prevented me from accomplishing my task (more on that later). Below is an example.

Give yourself deadlines

When starting out, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete a given task, but don’t go overboard. As you develop the habit of implementing time constraints with your task, the next step is to start drawing down on the allotted time for each task to increase your efficiency. Using the countdown timer on your smart-phone’s clock app can really help you with this.

Document barriers to completing task

Tracking distractions and barriers gives you insight into the activities, or lack thereof, that rob you of time. Documenting these daily will help reveal patterns that need corrective action to help you stay on task. One of the biggest distractions I’ve found is checking email, voice mail, text messages, facebook, twitter, etc while in the middle of a task. Each week review the barriers that you documented, so you will be aware of the time robbing bugs you need to squash.

Ultimately, your goal is to gain more of your time back by becoming more efficient, but be conscious of the fine line between ‘bare minimum’ and ‘not enough time’ – what you’re aiming for is efficiency and less stress, not a disaster that’s going to cost you transactions or clients.

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