By Tres Labs
Some people find website technology to be a labyrinth of mystery and contradiction. The idea seems easy enough. You might start by asking a few colleagues what they recommend, talk to their tech guys and see what fits your budget. The research is going well until someone mentions something that you must have or doom will follow. Aghast, you call everyone back, asking about this doom thing. After a week or two on the phone, you either put the project aside, give in to fear or find someone who explains what you need in a way that makes sense.
This is a quick guide about how to cold boot your new real estate website in case you haven’t yet found a technology partner that you understand (or understands you).
There are three basic components: a website, lead management and the board software. Your first call should be to the board to ask if your MLS software has a “lead capture” for website visitors. Usually this is a copy-paste form people use to sign up for new listing alerts. Those form submissions are stored so you can send them more emails later. If the board doesn’t have lead capture, you will probably want to include it in the list of requirements for your new site. Sometimes realty websites have it. WordPress has forms that send data to Mailchimp or another mailer program.
The next step is deciding what sort of website program you want to use. All companies have a demo version, so don’t buy something without trying it first. All WordPress sites are the same, so if you like the platform, you can proceed to the content and design phase.
One of the most frustrating things when shopping for a new website is sales pitch semantics. In case you don’t know, semantics are the linguistic and philosophical study of meaning. Probe the salesperson to get beyond the bafflegab. If the product is so hot, so unique, that you must have it or doom will follow, then they’re probably using semantics.
Ideally, you should be looking for low or no-cost service until your marketing plan is settled. Avoid term contracts, if you can. Free website builders are common and you can always link to the MLS for listings. There are a number of flexible DDF solutions that are affordable. Consider alternative solutions like Facebook or forward a URL to your company profile page. If you’re ready to go and know what you want, then put the coals to a good thing.
We like WordPress. It’s free, it has a huge library of plug-ins to extend its usefulness, and it’s intrinsically connected to the search engines. Each time you add an article or page, the site pings them to come and have a look. WordPress designs are easy to switch, so the site will always look fresh without losing content. It’s a safe investment and easy to look after.
Content for your new website is critical. Not all agents are marketing professionals; some are outstanding in the fields of law, construction or land development. If you cannot write sales copy, find someone to help you and look to the training manuals. The Realtor brand is a tremendous asset and it’s helpful to remind your potential clients that you have a fiduciary duty, that full disclosure is your minimum standard, that you value their privacy as much as your own and that you are required to carry E&O insurance by law. This is your #instagood #coolness. Embrace it.
Personal email and business email are fundamentally different. A missed email from your sister is not the same as a missed email from a prospect inviting you to make a listing presentation. Domain-based email, like [email protected], is what everyone wants; however, ISPs are blacklisted more frequently than they will admit. One major hosting company told us that customers can have this type of email address but if they expect to actually receive the emails, an upgrade was needed. We recommend Gsuite or Outlook to host domain email. It costs a little bit more but the delivery rate is much higher. An added benefit is that your emails will be archived forever.
Finally, remember to submit a profile to Realtor.ca through your local board. This information is attached to your listings so a cell number, email and website address are the minimum; you may be able to submit social media links and other info. Check with your board to see what is available. They are always willing to assist and often will have some suggestions for newcomers.