(This is Part 3 of a four-part series.

(This is Part 3 of a four-part series. See Part 1: Online search to take real estate by storm; Part 2: Real estate maps go from bland to grand; and Part 4: Real estate’s future driven by Tablets, Dashboards.)

One of the greatest challenges Web marketers face is making their Web sites “sticky.” Now there is an entirely different way to regularly attract clients to your site while simultaneously motivating your Web visitors to use your services.

As I speak around the country, I’m constantly surprised by how few agents and broker-owners are using pay-per-click advertising. All of them use search, but sadly, yet few have capitalized on it by implementing pay-per-click in their business. In fact, even though 80 percent of the buyers and sellers begin their search online, the industry only spends somewhere between 11 percent and 20 percent of its marketing dollars online. Instead of matching where the consumers are going, we continue to pour money into advertising using paper. Part of the challenge with pay-per-click is the cost. The prime search words have become quite expensive. Furthermore, ad space is not much better than advertising in the paper. The major advantage, of course, is that you are only charged when someone clicks on your ad.

Aggravating this problem, agents and brokers alike continue to market online the same way they do on paper. Most agent Web sites have the agent’s picture prominently displayed on the front page, even though the research shows that this causes users to surf to another site. Consequently, pay-per-click makes little sense if the agent cannot motivate the user to scroll past the first page of his/her site. Furthermore, research from Realtor.com shows that consumers click past listings that have only one picture and focus on those that have multiple pictures and/or a virtual tour.

What does the next generation of online advertising look like? Inmanstories.com may hold the answer. “STORIES” is an innovative, online digital magazine, featuring diverse stories of life, told by people in their own voice.” Real Estate Connect was peppered with a host of 3- to 5-minute videos about different houses and lifestyles throughout the United States. These cutting edge stories were very compelling. When I discussed them with people who were outside the industry, they all told me the same thing. They would regularly return to a Web site that showed these types of video, especially if it was fun and engaging.

Pricewise, STORIES compares favorably with traditional full-page color ads in a homes magazine or newspaper. The typical full-page, color print ad can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousands of dollars. In contrast, you can now have a professionally produced 3- to 5-minute video story, viewable on the Internet with a single click. Imagine a screen that looks like a traditional homes magazine. You can then hit the “turn page” and the page flips on screen, much like it would if you were looking through a normal magazine. The video movie is embedded within the magazine. The difference is that instead of seeing a static silent picture, you will now see this amazing video movie of the property. This goes way beyond the typical virtual tour that lacks a sound track.

While this will not be appropriate for all listings, it may become the gold standard for agents representing luxury properties. These videos can also be the basis for a superb cable television commercial. Not only will the video showcase the seller’s property, it will provide you with extraordinary Web content for years to come. Furthermore, the video can also be a gift to the buyer. This gift makes a lasting impression when it comes time for the buyer to list the property at a future date.

Even if you don’t work in the high-end market, you can still capitalize on the individual films and stories that Inman is producing. These can be syndicated or co-branded to add content to your Web site. Each week a different featured video will be posted to your site. This means your users now have a reason to visit your site on a weekly basis. Each time a new video posts, you have a reason to contact your referral database with this week’s topic. This is an excellent way to prospect because it motivates people to visit your site and keeps them coming back. In fact, the stories are so compelling that viewers will tell others about them. Consequently, not only do you obtain stickiness (i.e. keeping visitors looking at your site longer), you also tap into word of mouth and viral marketing as well.

This vehicle can also be used as a resource in which to advertise. You can produce your own corporate film as well as creating a 15-second video commercial to run in STORIES, the online video magazine.

To see how this innovative magazine appears, click on www.InmanStories.com and click on the “Spaces,” “Places” and “Faces” tabs. To view an actual video, click on the “Who we are” tab.

Looking for more innovative ideas from Real Estate Connect? See next week’s column.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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