(This is Part 2 of a four-part series. Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.)

Think you know about Web marketing?

(This is Part 2 of a four-part series. Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.)

Think you know about Web marketing? You may be surprised by what the experts at Real Estate Connect had to say about obtaining the greatest return on your marketing dollar.

Last week’s article looked at how to generate more leads using multiple Web sites, blogging and organic search. Today’s article examines how to maximize your paid search.

Is there a relationship between paid search and organic search? The answer depends upon how effectively your Web site converts leads once people click on your site (i.e. the search engines monitor whether individuals clicking on your ad actually stay on your site once they reach it.) If Web visitors stay on your site, this helps your organic placement. If not, it actually harms it.

According to Michael Yang of Yahoo!, Web visitors use different search tools at different times throughout their selling or buying experience. Yang recommends placing your listings on as many search venues as possible. Once you generate a lead, however, you must have a Web site that will motivate that lead to do business with you. Here are Yang’s recommendations about how to obtain the greatest return from your Web site.

1. Gateway to all things real estate

Your Web site should provide a gateway to sites with information about all aspects of the real estate transaction. The more features your site offers, the better. This can include virtual tours, videos, mapping, mortgage, title, relocation services, community information, school data, etc.

2. Consumers want a personalized experience

Sites that allow consumers to tailor information they receive are in high demand. For example, consumers like sites that allow them to receive automatic e-mail updates when new listings come on the market that match their search criteria. They also like being updated on recent sales in their area.

3. Social search

Social search refers to a community of users that come together to share information about a specific topic. A good example would be many of the agent-hosted neighborhood Web sites that allow members of a given community to post birthdays, pictures, garage sales and other pertinent neighborhood information. Hosting one of these sites on your Web site is a great way to drive traffic. More importantly, it helps you achieve higher organic (free) placement.

4. Maps and home evaluations

According to NAR, the number one thing that visitors want from both agent and company Web sites is access to the MLS. A close second is access to how much a particular home is worth as well as the comparable sales that support that price. In response to the launch of Zillow, many Web sites now include comparable sales information. The more features that you provide, the more likely you are to capture business and good placement on the search engines.

5. Mobile Access

More than ever, consumers want data in the way they choose to receive it. As a result, you must use different strategies to reach different age groups. Boomers and traditionalists are more likely to want personal contact via telephone or face to face. E-mail is also important. In contrast, the under-30 crowd wants text messaging, instant messaging or a telephone call. E-mail is what “our parents use.”

A new buzzword repeatedly referenced at Connect was “mash-up.” A mash-up takes several of these different Web applications and weaves the applications together. For example, you may have multiple pictures of your listings on your Web site. A mash-up would include a map application, a video, and/or a place for people who have viewed the property to post their comments about the property online.

In addition to these points, here are some additional takeaways from the Real Estate Connect Internet boot camp.

1. Speed is the key

You are not the only person receiving the lead. Web visitors are hitting your company site, your personal site, HomeGain, HouseValues, free MLS sites, as well as a host of others. Approximately 68 percent to 70 percent of the Internet leads do business with the first agent who speaks to them.

2. Don’t drip unless people subscribe

Sending unsolicited e-mail is the best way to kill an Internet lead. Instead, offer the lead a chance to subscribe to your monthly market update for your area. You may want to invite them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog. In every case, however, be sure to prominently display your unsubscribe information.

3. Provide plenty of information

Web consumers are hungry for data. Don’t confuse facts and information with knowledge or wisdom. They are quite different. People hire you for your marketing and negotiating expertise, not because you gave them comparable sales information.

4. The best advertising opportunity is on MSN

According to Andrew Coleman of LeadQual.com, Google has raised minimum pay-per-click ads to 40 cents, regardless of whether anyone else is bidding against you. Yahoo! will follow suit in October. Another challenge is that Yahoo! rejects between 80 percent and 90 percent of the submissions. You cannot bulk upload data. In contrast, MSN.com offers a true auction based on bids with no minimum.

While these tips will help you generate more leads, the real issue is how to convert them. See next week’s article for more tips from Real Estate Connect.

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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