I read an article on RISmedia (that was a total product plug) about Internet Prospecting that’s 16 times more effective… It got me thinking about forced site registration vs. free home searches and the debate that inevitably ensues. That article pointed out some amazingly ridiculous facts.
- 65% of real estate agents have websites
- 90% of those don’t bring a single buyer to the door
- thus, 90% of agents (the ones that have them) are not happy with their website
I’ll touch on one more thing from the article that bears mentioning then get on with it…
The goal of Internet marketing is to convert “unique visitors” (e.g., new people finding your site) into registrations and leads. That concept has largely been forgotten in most real estate sites that bombard a visitor with all sorts of information they neither need nor seek. The end result of all this unnecessary information is that even a well designed and optimized website only converts about one half of one percent of its unique visitors to sign-ins.
Very few Realtors actually take the time to blog and therefore “bombard a visitor with all sorts of information they neither need nor seek.” Also, most visitors to successful blogs visit the site because of the information (the posts). Not because they are immediately searching for homes. That’s what organic SEO is all about. But I digress.
The article is about the new wave (not new actually) of major website vendors that create client sites with forced site registration. Which begs the question… if forced registration gets you 16 times the lead conversion, why would you do it any other way?
So here’s the dealio. Forced registration works… in certain circumstances. Unlimited Free Home Searching works… also in certain circumstances. I’m going to show you why and tell you why you should actually do… wait for it… both.
Why forced registration works…
These companies doing forced registration (and you can do it with your traditional 3rd party IDX provider too) have a plan. Spend as little time and effort as possible to get as many leads as possible. Seriously, that’s their plan. You only need two ingredients:
- A kick-ass home search that looks nice and is usable to the general populace
- A PPC campaign that is razor focused and optimized to get only interested buyers to the site
That’s all you need. Now, RealtyGenerator uses a built in CRM application *insert shrug here* that’s neither awesome or super usable. I have a thing against most CRM’s out there. PROleads is similar… so’s Tiger Leads.
It works because the people coming to the site are looking for homes to buy. They aren’t searching for miscellaneous real estate information like how to properly purchase foreclosures or what to look for in a home inspector. They want to search for homes. Period. These sites send you to an already populated (usually) home search. When you click on a detail page you have to register to see it. That’s how they convert about 10% of the sites unique visitors…. oh yeah…
That also means you piss off 90% of the people that visited your site because they don’t want to register! That’s bad publicity.
Why free home searches works…
A free home search works on a blog for a very good reason. Not everyone that visits is really looking for homes. Or if they are, they aren’t serious enough about it to register. On a good blog with lots of good local content, a visitor generally ‘backs in’ to the site. Meaning, they click on a search result that sends them to one of your blog posts. They don’t visit the main page of your site first. These people may click on home search after they have read and like the article they came for. If they are forced to register at this point, they basically say forget it, and leave. Now, you can entice people to register by offering them property updates, an organizer, or advanced search functionality, but you will generally receive a much lower conversion rate on a free home search.
Bundle and Convert!
Here’s your idea to mull over… use both!!!
1. Have a site (separate from your blog) that is simply a lead generating IDX Squeeze page. Bam! Leads galore. It doesn’t matter if you use one of these lead behemoth companies or if you do it yourself. Just don’t forget to contact them quickly and stay in touch to maximize your conversion rate.
2. Have a great blog, updated regulary, make it local, make it interesting. Oh, and let people search for homes.
Here’s the big deal or whatever you wanna call it. On your forced site… for those 90% of people that are about to be pissed off… give them a link to your free home search. You can do that with a pop-up before they leave if you really want to get their attention or you could just put an inconspicuous link in the sign-up form. Either way, you’ll get some additional traffic to your blog. What’s the next think I’m going to say? Put a link within or next to your free home search on your blog and call it a ‘full featured’ property search or whatever strikes you as right. That link goes to your forced registration site. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down now?
Leverage both sites to maximize your leads. What do you think?