Archive for September, 2009

A Website That Generates Leads

We received an inquiry through one of our websites last week. It read:

I want a site that generates buyers that want to communicate through email. I also want automatic email first contact.

We do receive inquiries like this all the time. I want to highlight a misconception that is evident in what the lead wrote to us.

Lots of new clients come to us thinking that a new site is going to be the answer to their prayers. A site that will generate leads. Now, websites do generate leads, but not on their own. If no one visits the site, then you’re never going to see any leads.

You can’t just build a new website and expect leads to just show up on your doorstep. You need to make sure that the site is part of an online marketing campaign. Thousands of realtors think that they need to have a site in order to do business these days. They spend little money on the site and they see almost no results.

You need to invest in marketing! Marketing should actually be the larger cost. i.e. your website should cost LESS than your marketing campaign!

Of course, we advocate investing in real estate SEO for the best long term bang for your buck. Building the right site will make your SEO dollars go farther.

As a final point, and one that we’ve made before, if you invest in SEO and your site isn’t built to convert users into leads, then your investment in SEO will really be a waste.

So, it’s crucial that you making both investments. Spend the money on a good real estate website design with great features and functionality and on a well implemented real estate seo campaign and the results will be extremely profitable returns.

Direct Mail vs SEO for Real Estate

I almost can’t believe that I wrote that headline?

Yesterday, I spoke with a guy who told me he wanted to run a direct mail campaign to drive traffic to his website and capture leads to “farm” (his word) into clients.

Now, first let me say that farming a cache of leads is a great strategy. You can source your leads lots of ways. We recommend a strong online marketing campaign including strong real etstate seo efforts, ppc, email marketing, and a highly accountable reporting system. direct mail

So, this guy isn’t completely off the mark. Yes, your database of leads and customers is gold. You need to nourish this list and grow it. The more qualified users you can drive to your site, the more leads you will generate. If your site is well built to convert real estate buyers, sellers, and renters into leads, then the more traffic you have the more leads you should have.

As we’ve mentioned many times on this blog, you need to consider the cost of each lead. What did you pay to acquire the lead? If you paid $4000 for 8000 clicks (that’s $0.50 per click or site visitor) on Google Adwords and that generated 400 leads, then you paid $10 per lead. Got it?

Well, let’s think about this direct mail campaign that the guy on the phone wanted to deploy. He’s going to spend money sending those mail pieces upfront. Let’s say he sends our 10,000 pieces at $0.40 each. That’s $4000.

Now, he told me that these mailings were going to direct the users to his website. So, how many of the recipients will actually go to a website on a postcard? Here’s where the plan falls off the tracks.

It’s not likely that many of the recipients will actually go to the website. I don’t know about you, but I toss those mailers in the trash. I pick up my mail on the way into my building and the next thing I do is filter out the junk mail straight into the garbage.

So, if our friendly realtor is lucky, he’ll get maybe 5 or 10% of the recipients visiting his site. If the site was fantastic and converted leads at 10% (which is pretty high) he’d have 10000 x 0.1 x 0.1 = 100 leads. That’s $40/lead. Honestly, the cost would likely be even higher.

Bottom line – For real estate marketing campaigns, SEM, SEO and PPC are far better investments than direct mail. And please don’t be fooled and think that you can generate web traffic efficiently using traditional marketing like direct mail.

Hopefully, we just saved you some time and money.

Real Estate SEO, the en vogue investment for the fall season

Every year we notice a trend. Real Estate brokers and agents from back from their summer vacation with new knowledge. They’ve been reading, we say. They’ve been thinking, we say. The result is that we get score of you great folks asking us for the same things.

Almost without fail, it’s something that we’ve been telling you to invest in for at least a year or two. This year, what are people calling us about? You guessed it Real Estate SEO!thinker

Now, this is not a great big ‘I told you so’ post. We’re not that kind of SEOs. I want to know why the real estate industry just woke up during the summer of 2009? Here are my theories.

Real Estate magazine published a cover story on Social Media. Yes, we got some calls about this, we’re even designing a class around it. But the ripple effect that this had was to send real estate professionals running to the web. There they noticed just how hard it was for consumers to find them. They reasoned that if they had better search engine placement, they’d sell more real estate. It’s not a tough conclusion to draw.

Here’s another theory: after a dismal spring, the real estate brokers realized that they needed to finally cut their print marketing budget and find a new horse to bet on. They’d heard of this thing called blogging and started to write. So, what do these realtors want to know? Why isn’t my blog ranking? Sometime we get, “My blog ranks, but my site doesn’t!?” Of course the answer to these folks is that their blog should be a part of their website. Blogging on or is fine, but it’s going to bring the users to those sites and not to your website.

Here’s my final theory. Every fall, real estate brokers and agents realize that they didn’t take initiative in the spring. They were too busy selling homes. They woke up on the first of the year and said, “I’m going to invest in real estate seo this year.” But one thing led to another another and they didn’t get around to it. Now, it’s time to act.

That’s ok, 8 months isn’t so long…

But really, this means that the message got across a long time ago. You didn’t need us to remind you. You just needed to remember that you wanted more leads all along.

Last word: Stay tuned for the new launching soon! You heard it here first!

How much does SEO cost?

I’m on a number of email lists. I get lots of newsletters. And I’m a member of a number of Google and Yahoo groups. Most of the time, I just skim. Every once in  a while, there’s a question posted to which I have an answer.

Yesterday, someone posted the question, “How much should I budget for SEO?” Here was my response:

That’s a very open ended question.

To bring this down to earth, you should look at SEO, or really your entire online marketing budget, as a percentage of your overall marketing spend.

For example:

For clients who have been using traditional media for some time, and are about to make their first investment into online marketing (including SEO), we recommend aiming to devote at least 25% of your marketing spend to online marketing. After some time, you’re likely to increase that percentage when SEO and online marketing prove to be the more efficient spend. So, if you’re grossing $2MM/year, for example, and your marketing budget is 10% of your revenue, then you should look to spend roughly $50k on online marketing. If that spend is all devoted to SEO, that’s about $4k/month, which is a realistic number.

If your business is all online, you’re probably going to want to allocate a larger percentage of your marketing budget to the web. Suffices to say, it’s important to start with your budget and not with a “what it is going to cost?”

I’m quite sure that whomever posted that question isn’t the only person pondering the same.  If you have other questions, send them to us and we’ll post answers. Thanks.

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