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Think You Know the No. 1 Way to Drive Consumers to Your Web Site?

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Commentary by Scott Dixon

RISMEDIA, Jan. 15, 2008-You might be very surprised. Listings are distributed broadly and indiscriminately to virtually every corner of the World Wide Web. A consumer can find a home listing on sites as broad as Realtor.com and as narrow as BobVila.com. Research shows that consumers are taking advantage of this information glut: More than 80% of home buyers use the Internet as an information source in their home search.

As a result, the industry has undergone a remarkable shift. Access to listings, which was once closed off, has become a basic expectation of consumers when they begin their search for a home. Yet, for real estate professionals, the goal isn’t to become experts in broad distribution of data: it is to create relationships with consumers that result in the sale of a home.

To do that, the industry needs to look at how they are investing their marketing dollars and what they need to do to make those dollars pay off.

As always, the answer lies in making personal contact with a prospect: either across the desk in your office, or across the table in their kitchen, signing a listing or pointing out homes to show. The investments that every real estate professional is making in the Internet age need to pay off in this very tangible way.

Brokers and agents, recognizing this broad adoption on the part of consumers, are investing billions of dollars to create state-of-the-art Web sites to satisfy the demand.

According to a recent report from Borrell Associates, the real estate industry spent more than $7 billion on Web site design and maintenance, an expenditure that is forecast to grow to more than $11 billion in the next three years.

What does that mean for your marketing?

First, it means that you need to understand the most effective ways to drive customers to your new interactive office-your Web site-and entice them to come visit in person.

According to insight from Jupiter Research, LLC, the best way to get a person to visit your Web site is to market to them in offline media. Jupiter’s findings show that two-thirds of online search users are driven there by offline sources. Jupiter also shows that 68% of people who do a search use a company name-a key indicator of brand awareness established by traditional marketing tools.

By limiting your advertising to the Web, you are significantly limiting the number of prospects that you will drive to your interactive real estate office-your Web site. In fact, research by Network Communications, Inc., the parent company of The Real Estate Book, shows that more than 70% of people searching for a home use a combination of Internet and print sources to gather information and identify specific homes of interest.

Over the past several years, The Real Estate Book has invested millions of dollars in the Internet, in order to give its advertisers multiple ways to drive prospective home sellers and buyers to their office.

The Real Estate Book recognizes that an integrated media strategy, one that combines the broad distribution of print with the rich listing environment of the Internet, creates the kind of lead volume and quality that helps its customers be successful in a challenging market environment.

Scott Dixon is president of the Real Estate Division for Network Communications.

For more information, visit www.therealestatebook.com.

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