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RISMEDIA, April 17, 2008-How do you know if your website is operating at peak performance? Are you converting a significant amount of online leads into meaningful conversations and transactions? Let’s find out if your site is achieving outstanding results by reviewing these five keys to online marketing success:

1. Have Them at Hello – Design

Is your website is more than just a pretty face?

A professionally designed website will strengthen your image and build brand recognition with prospects. Remember, in real estate, YOU are the brand. Make sure your website branding is consistent with your other marketing materials and places you in a professional light.

Choose a color palette that is clean and simple.

Use only high quality photos on your site and ensure they aren’t large files – nothing will turn away people faster than waiting for your website to load!

It should be easy for people to find what they’re looking for. Primary navigation on your site should be front and center. Use sub-navigation if necessary.

2. Keep Them Coming Back – Content

Is your website loaded with information that is valuable to your prospects?

Entice your visitors to keep coming back for home searches, instant home comparables, community info and valuable real estate tips.

Clearly state your value proposition. Tell your prospects what you will do for them and why you are the best person for the job. How do you sell yourself during listing presentations? Use this as a basis for your value proposition.

Get IDX (direct MLS feed on your website) – this can’t be stressed enough! Chances are that people who go to your website are looking for homes and if you can’t show them all the homes in your area, they’ll find someone who can.

Establish yourself as a local expert by demonstrating your knowledge of the area.

Update your website often with fresh information.

3. Make a Connection – Lead Capture

Do you connect with your prospects at every opportunity?

You need an extensive lead capture and contact management system to keep your prospects focused on you as their real estate expert.

Put lead capture forms in as many places as you can on your website without it becoming overwhelming.

Don’t ask for too much information. Name, e-mail and perhaps phone number is enough to establish initial contact.

Clearly state the benefit a prospect will gain from giving their information. Consumers know that if they want to receive something of value from you (help, information, listings) they need to give something up.

Keep yourself front and center. When you have IDX on your website, other agents’ information is not shown to prospective leads and you will be their contact.

Offer listing updates on your site. This is a great motivator for people to request information and give you theirs.

To get seller leads, use a tool that provides recent sales data in the area. This is a valuable service that sellers love.

Don’t make prospects wait for what they want. If they want to search properties or read mortgage tips, make it easy for them to do so.

4. Turn E-mails into Conversations – Lead Conversion

Do you follow up on leads effectively?

Robust lead conversion tools will take you one step closer to getting contracts and closing deals.

Follow up on leads as quickly as possible. Most consumers use the first agent who contacts them.

Make sure you have a drip e-mail marketing system with your website that allows you to automatically stay in contact and cultivate your leads.

Add leads to your contact database. You should have a database with potential clients, including your sphere of influence (friends, family, work associates, etc.). When you send out announcements for open houses, just listed or just sold properties, they will be reminded of your professional expertise.

A general rule of thumb for contacting leads – during the first week, contact them three times. During the second and third week, contact them two times and after that, once every two weeks.

5. Drive Quality Buyers and Sellers to You – Traffic

What good is a website if you aren’t attracting prospects to it?

There are many ways to drive quality buyers with sophisticated traffic tools – some free and some paid.

Set up your website to be search engine friendly. Regularly updating your content and making sure it’s relevant is a great start.

Your meta-tags and descriptions should match your business. These help determine where you will rank on the results page and also what will compel prospects to click.

All your marketing efforts should point people to your website. Place your web address on everything – business cards, letterheads, e-mail signatures, print ads, bench ads and your voice-mail message.

Use call-to-action marketing on all of your materials. For example, “See a virtual tour of this home or search all available properties in the area.”

Display your listings on websites like Oodle, Trulia, Googlebase and Craigslist. These sites get millions of people per month searching for homes and can drive that traffic to you. Some website providers will even automatically syndicate your listings to these sites.

Paid traffic programs, such as pay-per-click, are a great way to target your marketing efforts.

Paid search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website place on search results. A good website provider will get you near the top of search results.

Success on the Web is not out of your reach. Make a dramatic difference in your business when you put these 5 Keys into practice. Without spending more money on marketing, you will increase sales from your existing traffic, expand your sphere of influence and build clients for life.

To download the full white paper and get a free marketing analysis, click here.