What’s new on the Web for real estate brokers and salespeople? Who’s doing it and how well is it working? Inman News asked Tim Johnson, VP of market development at Z57 Internet Solutions in San Diego, Calif., for the answers.

IN: How long has Z57 been in business?

TJ: Z57 has been delivering Internet-based marketing services to real estate professionals since its founding in 1998.

IN: What is the company’s vision?

TJ: To be the trusted Internet marketing partner of real estate professionals. This will be accomplished through the aggregated delivery of all services required to achieve success through an Internet presence.

IN: How did the company get started?

TJ: Founder Steve Weber and co-founder Dave Baird set out to deliver a best-of-class value proposition for leveraging the Internet to stimulate growth for the real estate professional.

IN: What is Z57’s business model?

TJ: Z57 has developed a subscription-driven model that grows through regionally targeted delivery of a turnkey service. In addition, Z57 has secured alliances with key industry partners to enhance its core service offerings.

IN: What’s your “killer application”?

TJ: Personal business consultants driving a territory-specific marketing strategy.

IN: What is your most popular feature?

TJ: The Agent Plus 4.0 Web site is our most popular product offering. Developed from years of monitoring consumer traffic patterns, the Web site is specifically designed for agent flexibility and visitor-to-lead conversion. In addition, we launched our Z mailer e-mail marketing service two years ago and have experienced dramatic growth as the necessity to deliver e-mail marketing campaigns has increased.

IN: What are the prices?

TJ: Initial development charges range from $199 to $799, depending on client requirements. Our service charges range from $19 for a basic starter package to $99 per month for a full personal consulting package.

IN: What cutting-edge things are real estate agents doing with their Web sites these days?

TJ: Realtors’ understanding of how to utilize the Internet has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 24 months. The days of just having a Web site have been replaced with “what is your conversion rate and which lead management package are you using?” In addition, we will begin seeing more tools to help the prospecting and buying/transaction process emerge. While all the new technology is great, we believe it will be more important then ever for the real estate professional to partner with an organization focused on bringing it all together. (That way) they can focus on what they do best, which is working with buyers and sellers.

IN: Are leads playing a bigger role in your Web business?

TJ: While leads have always been important to growing an agent’s or broker’s business, it is now becoming mandatory that the Web site actually produce leads. Converting visitors to leads and enabling the agent to easily follow up on the database that their Web site generates is critical to our clients’ success.

IN: How are leads playing a bigger role?

TJ: The growth in acquiring and managing leads for our clients has culminated with the development on an actual campaign management service and the partnering with industry lead generators.

IN: What changes do you see in the Web business in real estate?

TJ: A migration from Web sites to turnkey services for client acquisition and management. Also, a consolidation of industry service providers and a dramatic increase in the services offered by the top traditional brokerage firms.

IN: How has your business changed?

TJ: Z57 has grown from a company that provided real estate professionals with a Web presence and charged hosting fees to a full-service Internet marketing firm focused on providing regional solutions necessary to deliver success to its national client base.

IN: What changes does Z57 see in the Web business in real estate?

TJ: Personal coaches or virtual assistants, less cluttered, navigation-friendly, conversation-oriented Web sites, improved visitor databases and follow-up communication tools, integration of password-protected client and prospect extranets and transaction facilitation software to streamline communication.


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