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RISMEDIA, February 18, 2009-It’s been written around the Web that over 90% of real estate websites and blogs are not effective at their intended purpose. This is assuming that the goal for your site is actual and direct generation of business. If all you want is a billboard to place your listings and show to your listing clients, then any site will do, and you really don’t need to get into lead capture as a strategy.

However, that’s a great waste of potential for a real estate website. Believe it or not, you can generate listing client leads as easily as buyer leads with the right website and tools. The trick is to entice your visitors to give you their contact information, not steal it from them with black-hat techniques. The right content, a great IDX search page, featured listings, and special offerings is the way to go.

Though there are ways to do it, you never want a site visitor to automatically get an e-mail because you somehow captured their address without their knowledge or approval. If you are capturing the contact information of a site visitor, it should always be with their full knowledge, and it should happen because they intended to give it to you. Usually, that will not happen with a simple “Please sign our guestbook” popup. Why should they? What’s in it for them?

You also do not want to make them jump through too many hoops to get to useful information or search for listings. It should be easy, and studies have shown that sites with a lot of useful information without login or requirement for contact information will get more traffic and page views. So, that gets them there, but how do we get that valuable e-mail address or even a phone call? How de we get the visitor to the next level?

– A very visible e-mail link on every page.
– Your phone number on every page.
– If you use one, have one of the services “Call Me” buttons on every page that connects them from their phone to you.
– Special reports delivered via e-mail. But-every template website in the world has “How to make your kitchen show better.” You need to do better than that, with useful locally-focused reports like “Negotiations in the YourTown real estate market,” etc.
– Statistics, statistics, statistics. Buyers want to know what the market is doing. Sellers want to compare their home to what has sold recently. Everybody loves statistics if they’re close to buying or selling real estate. You can offer useful general market stats for free, but offer in-depth stats and commentary as special reports by e-mail. They’ll give you their e-mail address to get them.
– If your IDX limits the information fields, offer a widget or other way to sign up for more detailed listing reports, more like the ones you see when you log in as a Realtor. They send you the MLS numbers, and you send them back detailed listing reports.
– You might offer the in-depth statistics as a weekly or monthly e-mail newsletter, rather than a special report. You just go into the MLS and generate a report of recent sold averages and that becomes the special newsletter with some commentary by you on your perceptions of what they mean.

Note the theme here. The Internet, and real estate even more so, is becoming very transparent, with great amounts of information freely available. If you try to force signup to get what they can get freely elsewhere, they’ll end up elsewhere. Actually, this goes hand-in-hand with positioning yourself as the local area real estate expert. You do that by providing this special information and extended reports and statistics.

I mentioned buyers and sellers. Too many real estate professionals think that a website or blog is primarily to attract buyers, and they may not even like dealing with them. The fact is that a really good website will attract listing clients as well. If your command of market knowledge, and your reporting of statistics, shows potential sellers that you’re on top of the market, they’ll want you to list their home.

It’s really not complicated to effectively generate leads from a Web presence. You provide information that visitors want, use marketing and SEO to get them there, then offer valuable extras to show you are the expert and to get that contact information.

Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design (http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX (http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions.

For more information, visit www.RealtySoft.com.

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