Editor’s note: In this three-part series, Inman News takes a look at how real estate professionals can use Web analytics tools to optimize their sites, learn more about online visitors, and increase traffic. Read Part 1: "Don’t send listings into the void," and Part 3: "RE/MAX gets a boost from Google."

One of the best-known tools for gathering Web site metrics is Google Analytics. But competitors such as Visistat and Woopra are targeting real estate professionals, saying they can provide more sophisticated analysis in an easier-to-use format.

Woopra’s founder and CEO John Pozadzides said that three months after launching, the company had more than 25,000 users and was monitoring 40 million page views a day.

"We’ve had a ridiculous adoption of our service, with thousands of people waiting in our queue for us to approve them," Pozadzides said. Woopra is approving new users in batches as it adds new server capacity, with waiting time ranging from one to two weeks.

Like Visistat.com, Woopra aims to make Web metrics instantaneous and simple to do, while still providing advanced users with lots of options for interpreting the traffic that comes to their site.

"I want to see things right now as they happen, not tomorrow or next week, and I want this in a way that’s easy to understand and act on," Pozadzides said.

With its stealthy dark-blue backdrop, the Woopra dashboard has a slicker feel to it than Visistat’s bright, report-oriented layout, although both services have similar capabilities.

One of Woopra’s most distinctive features is a live map, on which the locations of visitors are identified the instant they arrive at a monitored Web site by concentric circles that expand like ripples around a rock thrown into a pond. (Visistat also maps Web site visitors in real time.)

"There are a lot of people saying it’s addictive — that it’s easy to sit there and get lost in it," Pozadzides said. Demoing a beta version of the application that allows companies to custom brand Woopra’s live map, he adds, "People want to have this up and running on a plasma TV in their office, showing all the traffic that’s coming to their site."

Once users get over the application’s wow factor, Woopra, like Visistat, allows plenty of flexibility in analyzing traffic. Capabilities Pozadzides claims are unique to Woopra include the ability to tag visitors, set up notifications when they arrive at a site, and engage in live chats.

"If I’m a Realtor, that’s pretty interesting to me — to see my visitors and get instant notification when they visit the site," he said. "Depending on how you want to deal with that, you could open up a chat, or if I didn’t want to be invasive, you could happen to give them a phone call five minutes later."

Woopra users can "tag" visitors, turning what otherwise might be an indecipherable URL into a familiar name or nickname.

"If you have a blog or discussion forums where people log into the site, we are actually tracking real individuals," Pozadzides said. "We are the only ones on the planet who allow you to do that."

Not surprisingly, Pozadzides can run down a long list of real estate sites that have already begun using Woopra.

The site launched as a free service but will eventually charge users nominal subscription fees to cover the cost of equipment, bandwidth and other expenses.

"Our number one goal is to make Woopra as affordable as humanly possible" by charging a great number of users modest fees rather than the other way around.

Woopra is a side project for Pozadzides, whose day job is chief marketing officer for Layered Technologies, which powers Woopra.

"We are working on some funding, and I anticipate we’ll go through a period where we’ll provision a huge amount of hardware," he said. "We’d like to take limitations off and allow people to instantaneously receive their service."

Other tools

If Visistat and Woopra are relatively inexpensive ways to make the most out of marketing budgets, WAV Group founding partner Marilyn Wilson has some other tips for agents and brokers to navigate today’s slower housing markets.

During a panel discussion in January at Inman Connect New York City, Wilson said she was shocked to learn through an informal poll how many Realtors had purchased smart phones but had turned off their data plans to save money.

"It’s like, guys, you are so close," Wilson said. "If you believe staying in contact with your customers is important, you’ve got to spend the $29.95 a month" to have text and e-mail messages forwarded from their Web sites and lead-generation partners.

"The only way for you to use that tool is to be the first person to respond to that (customer) query," Wilson said.

Wilson said VoicePad is another useful application for staying connected to consumers and measuring the effectiveness of offline marketing campaigns. VoicePad’s automated HomeConnect system allows consumers to get more information on a listing by picking up the phone and punching in a unique identifying number from a yard sign, print ad or other source. HomeConnect then sends an e-mail, page or transfers the call live to the agent, tracking inquires by name, phone number and media source.

"From a consumer’s point of view, they get what they want when they want it," Wilson said. The ability to keep track of what ads are generating VoicePad inquires "allows agents to become better media planners. They are going to have to cut (marketing expenses) somewhere, and this helps you decide what to cut."

VoicePad is also a client of WAV Group. A WAV Group white paper on mobile search commissioned by VoicePad is available on the company’s Web site.

Wilson also likes Listingbook LLC for helping brokers, agents and their clients track comparable sales and market conditions by analyzing Virtual Office Web site (VOW) feeds.

"What I think is great about it is it takes what is arguably the most important tool for Realtors, the MLS (multiple listing service), and makes it work harder for them," Wilson said. The service is free to MLSs, with the company making revenue from premium upgrades on the back-end.

"What the Realtors who use this find is that consumers will call them, and say I’ve been watching the market, and I really think I should take the price down $10,000 or $15,000," Wilson said.

Tomorrow: RE/MAX gets a boost from Google


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