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Internet Strategies by Saul Klein

RISMEDIA, Oct. 21, 2008-When the idea of online listing syndication (distribution of listings) surfaced a few short years ago, many failed to connect the dots and see the benefits. Concerns about releasing listing data to hostile websites surfaced and were even promoted by some with competing interests.

Over the last few years, the industry has caught on as agents, brokers and national franchises have worked to distribute their listing content to as many targeted websites as possible, realizing that “distribution trumps destination.” In addition, progressive MLSs are incorporating syndication into their strategies as an innovative approach to delivering value to their subscribers and participants.

Today, syndication is no longer an option. It is a must. The consumer is highly fragmented, researching real estate on a multitude of sites that are becoming increasingly popular. Listing brokers and agents must secure the highest possible exposure for the benefit of their sellers, their brand and their businesses.

While listing syndication takes online marketing to a new level, it is not an end in itself. There are a few key points to keep in mind:

1. Syndication should be free. If you are paying to syndicate your listings, look for another vendor.

2. Syndication through MLS results in a “single point of entry.” The fewer times you enter your listing data into a system, the less the potential for error and the higher the consistency of your data on the brokerage site, the agent site, syndication sites and potentially, other media. Spending time posting and updating listings on multiple syndication sites is also counterproductive. Syndication should be fully automated.

3. It’s not all or nothing. Your listing is a marketing asset you worked hard to secure. You should be able to fully control and choose where each listing gets published and where it doesn’t.

4. Reports and analytics. Syndication should be more than advertising. Demand access to dynamic, high-quality reports that illustrate the number of views and click-throughs each listing has generated on each of the sites to which you syndicate. This information is extremely powerful. It helps to demonstrate the value of your marketing to your sellers and can be used to convince new listing prospects to do business with you. It will also allow you to make more informed, important marketing decisions should you decide to purchase listing ads online.

5. Leads generated from your syndicated listings should go straight to the listing broker or agent-free of charge. The days of selling leads back to the agent are gone.

6. An effective conversion system is critical. Syndication has its place in terms of marketing. The ultimate benefit, however, is to turn the added exposure into revenue. Make sure you have an automated system in place to capture and communicate with hundreds or thousands of leads at the same time, while you concentrate on your day-to-day business. Remember, most online leads are captured and cultivated over a period of six to 18 months.

A final thought on successful syndication (the real untold secret) will be revealed in next month’s follow-up article. RE

Saul Klein is CEO, InternetCrusade, and CEO, Point2 Technologies Inc.

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