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The Power of Web-to-print Portals in Real Estate

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RISMEDIA, April 11, 2008-Many growing enterprise-level businesses are turning to Web-to-print portal solutions to help centralize, control and disperse marketing materials to distributed sales networks. The real estate industry is no exception. For many major real estate firms, Web-to-print portals help agents and brokers keep in contact with their audience without putting pressure on tight budgets and already exhausted resources.

What is a Web-to-print portal?

A Web-to-print portal is an enabling-technology that centralizes and simplifies the process of creating, distributing, and tracking elements of cross-media, direct marketing campaigns. More simply stated, a Web-to-print portal is a single location online where brokers and agents can go to order marketing materials, customize them for their local markets, and print them on-demand.

Users of these portals can even create, deploy and track branded e-mail marketing campaigns targeted to their local audience. The benefits to organizations in the real estate industry that are using a Web-to-print portal application are monumental. For an industry that thrives on a network of distributed field staff and, for an industry where timing and personalization is critical, Web-to-print portals organize and streamline marketing efforts in a way that positively supports the agent and broker.

Benefits of using Web-to-print portals include:

- Ability to control branding elements and maintain integrity of brand identity
- Allows personalization and customization of marketing materials at the local level
- Streamlines the process of preparing and printing marketing collateral
- Reduces management, production, printing and storage costs
- Greater ability to track direct marketing expenditures and campaign ROI
- Using a Web-to-print portal offers a level of control over brand image. Pre-designed, corporate approved templates for various marketing materials can be made available online for agents to access when needed. This capability not only makes it easier for agents to quickly generate marketing collateral on the fly and customize marketing pieces for their local market, but also ensures that agents adhere to the firm’s branding guidelines.

Champion Realty, a rapidly growing real estate firm, chose Web-to-print as a turnkey solution for design, printing and mailing to help accelerate the marketing process, to better control branding and lower costs. “(With the Web-to-print marketing portal) we have all the templates and one process automation we need, but we can still customize as much as we need to. It’s just the right mix of flexibility and control for our organization,” says Lauri Ladd, Director of Marketing at Champion Realty.

Brokerages and real estate firms that are adopting the Web-to-print portal platform, like Champion Realty, are experiencing a faster and more efficient process for ordering and distributing direct marketing materials to their target audience. Whereas the traditional process for ordering printed material is often slow and laborious, with Web-to-print’s digital and print-on-demand format, it’s completely reasonable for agents to send a ‘one-off’ direct mail piece or automate personalized follow-up cards. The digital platform also makes it easy for brokers and agents to automate campaigns, such as lead generation and recruiting / retention programs.

Real Living needed an automated, technology-driven direct marketing system that allowed agents to set up mailings in advance. That’s when they selected a Web-to-print marketing portal offered by QuantumDigital. “[It] allows them (agents) to set their campaigns for a year and keeps their focus on acquiring new business, not running to the post office,” says Gretchen Bartholomew, director of Operations at Real Living. Since making the marketing portal available, direct mail usage rates have increased to 2.2 million pieces in 2007, an increase of 500,000 more than in the previous year.

Lori Wily, director of Customer and Agent Services says, “The number is continuing to grow.” That growth is an indicator that agents find the Web-to-print portal useful to effectively market their business.

Another substantial benefit of using Web-to-print portals is that the process of preparing and printing marketing collateral is directly accessible to agents. Rather than depending on office staff to place orders for marketing collateral, agents are able to select the materials they need, efficiently customize the pieces for their local market and move them into the mail stream – all within minutes, not weeks. And, since agents can easily go online and order marketing materials precisely when they need it and in the exact quantities they require, brokerage firms save costs associated with storage fees and reduces overrun of printed marketing material.

Finally, marketing portals offer brokers the ability to review reports so they can follow expenditures and monitor their offices’ and agents’ marketing activities. Real Living’s Web-to-print marketing portal features a Management Dashboard, allowing Real Living executives to keep a pulse on their company’s direct marketing activity. “Before the online Management Dashboard reporting tool, we had to try and track our marketing activity manually. Now I simply login and view an up-to-date snapshot on all direct mail and printing activity.” says Green. “I can drill down further to view detailed office or agent level reports. It has saved me a lot of time and effort.”

As technology advances, the popularity of Web-to-print portals continues to expand due to the ease-of-use and variety of features they offer.

QuantumDigital is an online service provider for direct mail, on-demand printing and eMarketing.

For more information, visit www.quantumdigital.com.

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