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online-wbeRISMEDIA, April 22, 2009-Melody Holder is the broker with Exit Realty Melody and Associates in Cadiz, Kentucky. She’s been a Realtor® for seven years. Cadiz is a town of 2,000-plus people located in Southwestern Kentucky, in Trigg County. The music there is country, folks go to church on Sunday, the GMC dealer is ‘Patriot GMC’ and the town is proud of its long and colorful history. Most big city folks would probably venture that no one from such a small and rural community could know anything about online marketing and wouldn’t be able to teach them anything.

Most big city folks would be wrong. Last year, Melody had about three times as many unique visitors to her website as the number of residents who live in the Town of Cadiz. Think of it: 400-plus unique visitors a month in a town with 2,000-plus residents. About 2,000 of those unique visitors found Melody with a major search engine. Thirty homes were sold from her website out of 43 homes sold-total-for a bad year. Buyers came from “anywhere there is a computer-I’ve sold homes to buyers in every state-from Hawaii to Maine,” Melody told me.

Amazingly, she actually had the largest number of visitors to her site from the State of Georgia-not her home market of Kentucky-proving that buyers may come from anywhere when you have an online presence and people can find you there. Obviously, Melody Holder knows a few things about online marketing.

Knowing your market is still the most important thing
“When my online marketing services company (CompassSearch) was working with me to choose my targets, they recommended focusing on my town and others near it. Just west of Cadiz is the National Land between the Lakes Recreation Area, and I told them I wanted “Land between the Lakes Real Estate” as one of my target phrases. (There isn’t a town or city with that name.)

They researched it and agreed to that phrase but they admit they wouldn’t have chosen it without my input. Well, as it turns out, I’ve been found over 2,000 times on the first pages of search engines for 440 different phrases, but the one I’ve been found on most is “Land between the Lakes Real Estate.”

Blackwater/Compass has been right about everything they’ve advised me to do, but it tickled me to show them that my local knowledge proved to be so valuable as far as targeting goes! Even in a high-tech world, people sometimes still know more than computers.”

There’s something powerful about a straightforward approach to things
If you were to go look at Melody’s website (www.melodyholder.com), you wouldn’t go “Ooh!’ Maybe, you wouldn’t even go “Ahh!” It’s a simple site with little ornamentation but good information. If, however, you could cash the commission checks on the 30 houses she sold from her site for the past 10 months, you might say something like “Way to go, Melody Holder! Can you help me do that?”

“I have found that the Internet exposure and placement has helped me a great deal, “Melody says. “My town is small and there are a lot of agents that grew up here and they have friends; there are some listings one’s just not going to get. While I know that listings are important, I also know that without the Internet positioning I have, I would not have the buyers calling me. When the search engines bring you up first when people go looking for homes online, those people will come to you. I also obtain many listings when I show people how my site ranks on the Internet and how many visits I get on a daily basis as well as where they are coming from.

It is extremely powerful to do that live with a potential seller. Likewise, I took the simple approach with my website: it’s not fancy, but it puts the information people want right there for them to obtain, and it also gives them the opportunity to register and become someone I can develop over time. Sometimes I used to think: Oh, ‘these people are not buyers, they are just looking on the Internet.’ But, I soon found out that if they are looking they will buy.”

Why won’t agents call leads back?

“If you are going to be an Internet Realtor then you better be ready to capture them within one hour of contact,” Melody continued. “People like it when you get back them quickly. Many times my buyers say, “we stuck with you because you responded.” With all the technology available today and a good cell phone I don’t have to stay by my computer all the time. I get right back to them and tell them I will be glad to send them a few available properties for them to look at right at home.” (NOTE: NAR tells us that 50% of agents call a lead back within 54 hours, but that 50% of agents never call the lead back. If you aim to be an Internet Realtor, you need to call them all back, as soon as you can!)

Melody told us this story illustrating her point: “About a year ago, a couple emailed me while visiting my website. I just happen to be at my computer when the lead came in and I responded within five minutes. They instantly emailed back and said that they had been looking at other sites and that they had emailed several other agents and not one of them had gotten back to them. I sent them listings and took additional photos for them and they bought a house from me, sight unseen. When we closed they came to town and they love it here. I am confident that we will be friends for life. It wouldn’t have happened had I not gotten right back to them.”

A few last words

“When I started in my town, nobody really knew what the Internet was,” Melody continued. “Without the Internet I would not be in this business. Now, everyone is trying to be there, but most still don’t know the right way to go about it and so they aren’t happy with the results. I get about 80% of my leads from my CompassSearch subscription. I believe in simple things and in doing the right thing. I researched them very thoroughly and found many people with many good things to say. I am the number one website on Google (and others) for Land between the Lakes Real Estate (and hundreds of other searches) and I can tell you that brings me success greater than I expected.

You may not know this, but the most important tab on any site-and the most popular-is “My Listings.” Keeping your site simple is the first rule to making people register with you.

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