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Seven Ways to Transition Your Marketing Dollars-and Mindset-Online

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Commentary by Kelly Roark

RISMEDIA, Nov. 10, 2007-”80 percent of home searchers conduct research on the Internet” (National Association of Realtors) is one of the most commonly quoted statistics today in residential real estate. Yet, despite this compelling data point supporting the value of online advertising, many brokers report a hesitancy to shift more advertising dollars online-largely due to agent pressure to focus on print media and other more traditional marketing.

Why? Because many agents are unfamiliar (and therefore, uncomfortable) with explaining the benefits of online marketing to homeowners so they can win the listing presentation. In addition, some real estate professionals indicate that they face the challenge of having to successfully “market” the benefits of online advertising to seller clients, who are less accustomed to online advertising being a key marketing driver that attracts home buyers.

The irony is that the vast majority of home sellers are jumping onto the Internet to conduct their own home research, given the robust broker, agent and third-party property listing resources now available for consumers to search online.

For brokers who are struggling to make the jump from “ink to links,” the key is to help more of your agents appreciate the incremental benefits of online advertising and arm them with the know-how to successfully market these benefits to their home seller clients. For agents, take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about these online advertising tools.

1.Understand the power of online advertising. According to NAR, consumers are five times more likely to buy a home found online versus in a newspaper, and 24 times more likely to buy a home found online versus in a home book or magazine. So if you already have an ample print campaign that is delivering results, think about the incremental impact that online advertising can add to your campaign-fully trackable, and at a fraction of the cost.

2.Get data from online real estate media sites on the type of serious home searchers who conduct their research online and share this with your clients. For instance, in a July-August 2007 user survey conducted by Trulia.com, 69% of users indicated that they were not yet working with an agent, and 81% reported that they were planning on buying a home within the next 12 months. In addition, 52% earn more than $100K per year, and 46% are pre-qualified for a mortgage.

3.Know where your online traffic is originating from-and get more of it. Brokers can start by testing real estate advertising sites that offer free traffic, and/or cost-effective paid advertising, and track the results. Take advantage of free analytical tools, such as Google Analytics, or more robust paid tracking services such as Hitwise, to identify your top online traffic referrers.

4.Get a head start with your clients by advertising on sites that offer daily, weekly or monthly reporting. In addition to third-party tracking tools, work with advertising sites that deliver ongoing traffic reporting so agents can easily assign a tangible value to your online advertising efforts and then communicate this value to their home seller clients.

5.Make sure your brokerage has a designated online advertising owner and budget. To ensure you are taking full advantage of your online advertising investments, your head of marketing should have a specific plan and line item in his or her budget for online advertising.

6.Apply your best offline advertising strategies online. Think about what advertising strategies have been most effective in building your offline business and adapt them to your online strategy.

7.Incorporate an e-business or online marketing class into your training curriculum. Whether a brokerage opts to administer the class or enlists a marketing partner to teach the subject matter, ensure that all of your agents know the fundamentals of how to leverage online advertising and how to explain its benefits to their clients-the homeowners. RE

Kelly Roark is VP of Industry Development for Trulia.com.

For more information, please visit www.trulia.com.

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