By Saul Klein
RISMEDIA, Nov. 11, 2008-The real estate industry has begun to embrace the concept of listing syndication…and for good reason. Distribution trumps destination in the age of “Wikinomics” and the “Long Tail.” We have gone from skepticism a mere 24 months ago, to large franchises, brokerages and now MLSs and associations moving to “single point of entry” syndication solutions.
The most obvious driver fueling the move is consumer fragmentation caused by the onset of increasingly popular real estate search sites. The answer to the proliferation of sites with real estate content is to be proactive, publishing listings on as many sites as possible, increasing visibility of not only the listing but of the firm or agent, too. This strategy has provided firms and agents with increased branding, a new source of leads and the ability to control the quality of their listing data online.
Previously in this column, we discussed key considerations in choosing a syndication solution. In brief, you should display your listing on as many sites as possible, so you need to subscribe to the largest network. Syndication should be free and must deliver leads directly to the listing broker at no cost. The broker should have control over where their listings are published and must have access to traffic reports and analytics, also at no cost. Finally, a built-in conversion system needs to be in place, in order to turn leads into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into revenue.
Publishing listings on 20 or 30 high traffic websites such as Google or Craigslist is a necessity and can deliver significant benefits. If your MLS does not yet provide this value-add benefit, ask them to consider doing so.
The untold story about syndication, however, is that as a strategy, it can be a listing differentiator. Agents need to include in their marketing materials the fact that they do syndicate, to whom they syndicate, and that for the most part, their competitors are lazy about exposure of listings on the Internet. Also, enhancing the listing with photos is simple and, studies have shown, increases interest in the listing.
Listing syndication covers popular consumer sites but not local real estate agent websites.
IDX technology is one way to remedy this inadequacy. When buyers visit a real estate professional’s website, they are usually looking for listing information. If they can’t find what they are looking for on your site, they will go to someone else’s site, or a consumer portal (Yahoo!, Google, REALTOR.com, etc.) to look for property. When they come to your site to search, you want to make sure you offer at least as much inventory as your competitor’s site. IDX enables this capability.
In summary, here are some action items:
1. Make sure your listings are syndicated to as many consumer portals as possible. Remember, “Distribution Trumps Destination.”
2. Include the Syndication Story in your marketing and listing materials.
3. Insist that your website provider or syndication provider sends analytics of traffic provided from those consumer portals.
Use syndication and the tools that surround a robust syndication product to differentiate yourself from the competition. As Seth Godin says, your choice is simple… “Be different or charge less.” The choice is yours.
Saul Klein is CEO, InternetCrusade, and CEO, Point2 Technologies Inc. For more information, please visit www.point2agent.com.