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By Paul Sheng

RISMEDIA, April 3, 2007-iHOUSE surveyed real estate agents who had taken a test drive of iHOUSE products. These agents were not iHOUSE customers; answering questions about their marketing investment plans, marketing focus, and best resources for lead generation. What was found will direct product developments or improvements in 2007/2008.

Respondents' Profile
The survey respondents were located across the U.S., with the majority currently experiencing buyers' markets with excess inventories. Almost 90% of the respondents have been in real estate for at least two years, and 49% have 10 or more years of experience.

Marketing Investment Plans
The survey began with questions about annual marketing planning and typical monthly marketing activities. Over 75% of those who responded do some type of marketing planning, although most do not create a formal annual plan. Typical monthly marketing investment varies widely – 61% of respondents fell within the broad range of $100 to $550 per month.

Changes in Marketing Focus
Online and offline marketing activities can work together synergistically. So, we probed agents' investment in online marketing as compared to traditional offline activities. While offline marketing is still clearly important, more than 50% of the respondents invest at least half of their monthly marketing budget in online resources. Over 60% of respondents are planning to invest more into online marketing than they did last year.

Here's the breakdown of what they plan to focus on this year:

Their own Web site (51%)
E-mail marketing (43%)
Posting listings on third-party online classifieds (29%)
Offer IDX MLS Search on their Web site (26%)

Best Resources for Lead Generation
When asked to rate the best sources of leads, the survey respondents ranked lead generators in this order:

Customer referrals
Repeat customers
Real estate Web sites
Professional referrals
IDX MLS search

While e-mail marketing and single property Web sites did not emerge as "core activities" for marketing listings today, over a third of the agents who responded are exploring adding these tools to their marketing arsenal this year.

Lead Generation via Personal Web sites
The majority of respondents already had a Web presence, mostly through real estate Web site companies (remember, the respondents are not current iHOUSE Website customers). The four most common lead capture tools were: listing inquiries, "contact me" forms, market analysis offers and MLS search inquires. Despite their addition being a proven winning strategy in both real estate and other business categories, only a third of respondents indicated that they offered some form of free information resource – for example, information guides, newsletters, or drip emails with helpful information.

It's not surprising that in today's wired marketplace, online initiatives are increasingly important to real estate agents. In a competitive marketplace, offline marketing maintains a strong presence. While Web sites and IDX MLS search are powerful tools, look for interest in e-mail marketing and single property websites as sources of lead generation and marketing to continue to grow.

Paul Sheng is CEO of iHOUSE Web Solutions.

For more information, visit, or call 866-645-7702.