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2007-01-30 09:30:00

Confessions Of A Reformed Real Estate Webmistress

My year-end technology audit was full of FrontPage updates, new software, and a host of add-ons for my real estate web site. Each aspect of web authoring technology has a learning curve that involves time and labor. Each year the time and labor associated with a do-it-yourself web site grows.

T
he new millennium spawned a generation of do-it-yourself real estate webmasters. Unhappy with cookie-cutter template web choices, real estate agents and brokers and a battery of self-proclaimed "web site designers" loaded their computers with FrontPage and Dreamweaver software, bought domain names by the dozen, and created their own web sites. The advent of IDX brought local search functionality right to an agent’s home page. Automatic e-mail notification about new listings from the multiple listing service made contact with the prospect a no brainer.

The web sites worked. They delivered leads to agents with elegant and highly refined sites, and they delivered leads to agents with sites that violated every rule governing web design and typography. The web sites thar are the "front end" of the technology deliver results.

There is one problem with the leads – most of them do not translate to sales.

History shows that agents need more "back end" functionality to keep up with those leads. The National Assn. of REALTORS’ most recent survey of homebuyers found that most consumers expect an immediate response to a web inquiry; they expect to hear from an agent in less than half an hour. Almost half the buyers polled said they received NO response to their inquiries. Clearly, agents who develop effective lead follow-up and management strategies will reap the harvest of Internet consumer business.

A real estate web marketing platform developed in Canada has emerged as the pre-eminent leader in web technology. Point2 Agent offers a sensible alternative to committed webmasters and novices alike. A large selection of templates makes it easy for a first-time web entrant to establish a web presence. Graduated levels of service offer increased flexibility in design and use. Advanced users and web designers can bypass the look of existing templates and incorporate scripts for expandable menu options, and exclusive banners and graphics.

Here are some reasons that are leading many real estate professionals to retire their FrontPage and Dreamweaver programs and embrace the Point2 Agent web marketing solution:

Maintaining Listing Inventory on a Web Site Is Time Intensive

Agents who update their sites regularly with new listing content and other information find that webmastering can be a full-time job. Outsourcing is expensive. When the webmaster’s “day job” is real estate sales, geek duties can be a serious distraction to dollar productive activities. Entering listings and photos on Point2 Agent web sites is easier than MLS entry in many cases. The Point2 Agent handshake offers users a bounty of listings from other agents in their market area.

Webmasters Must Constantly Update Their Software

Agent/webmasters must update their web publishing software regularly and consider a raft of back-end plug-ins and add-ons to capture and manage their leads, and blogging platforms to maximize their SEO. Many of those programs work independently; separate platforms do not often interface. Point2 Agent is a constantly "evolving" product. It started at the product gate neck in neck with other template providers, but added features that expanded functionality exponentially over several years, leaving its competitors eating dust.

Blogs Are Built In, Existing Blogs Have A Place To Shine

Blogging is the buzzword for 2007. Real estate blogging communities count their members in the tens of thousands. Multiple author blogs and multiple blog community platforms have found a niche in the real estate web. Point2 Agent has two blog solutions.

First is the ability to run RSS feeds or external links from any blog to any page in the agent web, as a source of primary or secondary content. Second is a built-in blog that can be set to autopilot to post new listings as blog entries. Price reductions and changes to listings can appear automatically on the agent web in a professional format, complete with interactive comments and permanent link features.

The blog is fully customizable with an at-a-glance DIGG-like view of the number of views and comments for each post. Agents looking for ways to appeal to Generation "Y" buyers will optimize their use of the built-in blog on the Point2 Agent site

Search Engine Optimization Benefits

Every component in the design of a Point2 Agent web site spells "FOOD" for hungry search engine spiders. Each page and each content component is fully customizable, from text and graphics to the meta tags and headlines and descriptions that appear in the browser window and on search results pages. Blogs add another large measure of attraction for the spiders.

Design Customization Unparalleled

There’s already a cottage industry of web designers working with the Point2 Agent platform for agents who do not want to get involved in this aspect of web development. More savvy agents with experience on FrontPage and Dreamweaver will find the system user friendly. Tech support is quick to respond and savvy to the most advanced queries.

Predictive Marketing Tools Enhance Lead Management

Prospects surfing the pages of a Point2 Agent web site have numerous opportunities to nibble at lead bait – registration forms, listing notifiers, financial calculator results, reports, and more, give the prospect an opportunity to make his presence known to his real estate web host.

Another set of analytical tools give that host a chance to study the patterns of the prospect’s surfing habits, how often he visits, pages he views, listings he studies, route of travel, time spent, etc.

The real estate agent can assign the prospect to a drip campaign in the Point2 Agent lead management module for additional customized follow-up. There are numerous drip campaigns built into the program. Existing campaigns can be edited and new campaigns can be added at the user’s discretion.

Ongoing Training, Mentoring, Coaching

Online tutorials and teleconference webinars offer a level of support that is setting a new standard for web marketing products across the board. There are seven to eight hours of teleconference and webinar training for Professional and Premium Point2 Agent users. Classes cover design and back end functionality.

There is toll-free support during business hours and a roster of guest coaches from the real estate industry who address more general real estate marketing and training. That roster includes the likes of Michael Russer, Bernice Ross, and Joeann Fossland, all highly respected real estate industry notables.

There are agent and broker editions of the Point2 Agent solution. We’re phasing out our FrontPage site and moving its 150 MB content into a new Point2 Agent platform. The more we work with it, the more we like it! My seven-year affair with FrontPage is drawing to a close. 2007 should be a great year for real estate on the web!

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