UPDATED FEATURE: Agent Roster

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We’re gearing up for an exciting new year! As part of that we’ve been finishing up several refinements for our real estate website system. Specifically in this case our Agent Results pages for real estate team and brokerages. This updated layout features larger agent profile pictures (so be sure to login and update that photo to something new!) as well as a more streamlined and consistent data-set that put makes the pertinent info for each agent easy to read.

Next up you can expect to see improved agent profile pages as well as stunningly elegant property search results and details pages!
These sort of system updates have been part of our standard service protocol for years. We want our customers to be as successful as we can make them, so we don’t up-charge for every new function under the sun – we just keep making our websites better so that you can reap the benefits!

Are you a real estate professional who is ready to level up their game in the new year?
We can help! For over a decade we’ve helped shape the real estate technology industry; we have the tools and experience you need to seize your digital destiny!

A New Site Isn’t The Answer

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It’s a story we hear from time to time having worked in real estate technology for over a decade: an agent who has had a website for some time calls to complain about a lack of leads or to cancel their service just because they “aren’t getting anything out of the website”. There are even others still who are happy with their website overall but are easily lured astray by fast talking salesman with an arsenal of buzzwords and pockets full of urgency. While we’re glad to real estate professionals in whatever direction they are seeking success but it’s hard not to ask them out right: “Well, what have you been putting INTO your website?”.

See, it’s easy to complain about a lack of results from the work you didn’t do, and unfortunately more times than not the thing not working…is the website owner. You see simply having a site and just being online isn’t enough – it never really was – and just having a site that no one knows about ( that you’re also not actively telling people about ) is the surest way to get lost in the online noise.

We understand agents want to be selling real estate, not pushing buttons all day, but as a website owner and businessperson having at least some nominal involvement with your digital presence is a must. There are any number of systems that promise “set it and forget it” solutions to automate your advertising – but their quality is sub-par to say the least. And while there are any number of things you can and should be doing to promote yourself online the topic we want to touch on here is some of the reasons you may have not thought about in regards to switching your website to a new provider.

Change of Branding
Let’s change their coffee to brand x and see if they notice….oh believe me, they’ll notice! A sudden change in look or layout can be a real shock to website visitors who have visited your site lately, and for long term users of your site a change in the functions that they’ve come to depend on can also be a big disappointment. If you’re changing web systems make sure to keep your brand looking as consistent as possible – this is no problem if you’re migrating to TourRE as we offer excellent custom real estate web design to accommodate any need.

Loss of SEO
The age of your domain, and it’s contents play a large role in your search engine visibility. Sudden changes to your content, loss of data or meta-info, changes in link structures and other technical items in the code that makes up your website itself can really knock your SEO for a loop. If you’re changing web providers be prepared to not only disappear from the radar for a short time but possibly even having to start from square one in gaining good position in search results. This is even more true if you change the actual URL of your site.

Learning Curve
Even if you are fairly tech savvy there will always be a learning curve when you switch to a new system. No matter how intuitive a website is there is always a little down time involved in learning how to use the new tools you’ve acquired. Things that were once fairly easy to do like adding custom pages or links may now be unfamiliar.

Over-promising and Under Delivering
So you’re excited about your new site, you’re learning how to use it….three or four months go by…and the honeymoon is over…and you’ve got this great new site that you’re still sort of excited about, that may or may not do what your old site did, and may or may not cost as much or more than your old site — and! it’s performing just as poorly as your old site. What gives?! Well, in some cases you bought the sizzle instead of the steak and the new website simply does not do what the nice salesman promised – in other cases it’s the unfortunate fact that: you get out what you put in.

You’ve got to work the market for your marketing to work for you – let us help!
It may seem like strange to hear us not yell from the mountain tops “OUR WEBSITE’S ARE THE BEST!!!” ( and we believe they are ) but at the end of the day the website that does the best is the website you use and promote the most.  We’ve seen basic html websites outrank sites that people have thrown thousands of dollars at and it all comes down to how much promotion the website receives. Ready to get started? We’d love to talk with you about your ideas!

 

Real Estate Websites: Keeping Up!

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Today 9 out of 10 potential home buyers start their search for a home online. With the mega-budgets of big box real estate stores like Zillow and Trulia the individual agent – and even the larger agent real estate teams – struggle to compete and keep their heads above the waves, especially in regards to SEO and website visibility. The bad news: the search engines aren’t likely to stop playing favorites any time soon. The good news: there are things you can do to still remain viable and visible.

Be Mobile
As of April 21, 2015 Google announced that websites that were not mobile compliant would begin to be penalized — especially in mobile search results. Since over 45% of all website traffic these days comes from phones or mobile devices it is especially important to not only have a website that is visually pleasing but also easy to use on the mobile platform.

Tour Real Estate Inc offers several fully mobile responsive templates and we’re converting more of our classic designs every day; we also offer exceptional mobile responsive custom website design as well.

Be Visual
Humans are naturally visual creatures and it’s common knowledge that people online simply do not pay the same attention to text as they do images or video. So be sure to include plenty of eye-catching images in your marketing efforts both on your website as well as in your social media content. Videos are another great way to catch the eye; sites that make use of video tend to have longer “on site” times for visitors overall. Having a consistent and interesting youtube channel is an excellent idea also as it can give a healthy boost to visibility in general when done correctly.

Tour Real Estate Inc understands good design; we’ve been working in the real estate industry for over a decade. We can help you create a stunning custom look that will help you stand out from the competition.

Go Local
Again and again we have agents tell us “I want to be on the first page for Boise Idaho Real Estate” – which of course is the highest competition keyword on google – but what they really should be asking is: “What are my potential clients searching for?”. Optimize your website for local, lower competition keywords for better success. Fact is, unless you work with investors your potential clients aren’t likely to be searching for “Idaho MLS”, they will be searching for more common things that are relevant to them – maybe “affordable homes in Boise” or something along those lines. Be active in your local community also! For all the importance people put on social media one of the more powerful way to connect and get leads is still in the face-to-face world — so get involved in rotary, kiwanis or other local groups where you can shake hands and show your face.

Tour Real Estate Inc optimizes all of our websites from the moment they are launched, give you unparalleled content control,  and are glad to take extra time to talk with you about your specific goals and needs.

All is not lost! And while you may not have the budget to compete with the larger companies you can still claim your fair share of this market. It takes work and persistence but through using your website as the powerful tool it needs to be you can see results. Interested in standing out from the crowd and getting into the game? Let us help you create a dynamic online presence you can be proud of – contact TourRE today!

Real Estate Social Media Myths: BUSTED!

Although slow on the take up the real estate industry is finally catching on to the fact that social media is not only a viable means of marketing but also one of growing importance. This has lead to an influx of agents and offices who “absolutely have to be on such-and-such book”, which has in turn lead to an absolute flood of abandoned profiles and page owners frustrated by a lack of results for their efforts.

We’ll make some enemies here, but: Don’t Blame The Network. Like the old adage says you can’t expect results from work you didn’t do.

To help combat some of this frustration we want to offer a quick dose of reality in order to dispel some of the most common pitfalls and aggravations most real estate professionals run into when they do decide to put in the effort to run their own social media profiles.

All I have to do is post listings.
No. There is rarely a more poor way to run your social media presence. Your audience is exposed to thousands of pieces of “buy my stuff” marketing every single day; when they are on Facebook they very likely aren’t there looking to be spammed.

If you’ve branded your page correctly visitors will already be able to tell you are in real estate, and while it is fine to feature your listings having an endless stream of house pictures on your page not only does nothing to encourage fans to visit your website (where you hopefully have those listings in more detail) but it also discourages fans from caring what is on your page in general.  Solution: Post content relevant to your area, your fan base, or to showcase who you are.

Everyone I Follow Will Follow Me Back.
No. While it is good to like others pages and to interact with posts as your own business page as frequently as possible it is no guaranteed win. People sometimes will follow you back just because you followed them ( especially on twitter ), sometimes they won’t. Don’t rely on this happening. This is like showing up at a party where you don’t know a single person and expecting everyone to stop what they are doing in order to come over and talk to just you. Solution: Interact with other pages beyond just liking their page once. Frequent interaction can increase engagement.

I Shouldn’t Share Other Peoples Stuff.
No. Isn’t this SOCIAL media? Isn’t it supposed to be all about being social and sharing the great things you find? More than just a like or a plus one, sharing other peoples posts can drop the spotlight on you as someone who might be an online ally. It also allows you to more easily diversify your own content; after all, what’s more boring than someone who only talks about themselves all the time? Solution: Share! Share often!

Automation Is the Best!
Definitely NO. While automation can save you time your quality will suffer. There are even any number of services that you can pay to post content on your behalf – the drawback? It’s the same content spewed out on a thousand other pages. It’s not effective. It doesn’t show that you care about what you are providing your fans and even if that wasn’t true, particularly on Facebook, posts that are auto-generated from third parties can receive as much as 60% less visibility. Solution: Schedule your posts if need be, even hire someone to post for you, but make sure quality is maintained.

Pass Me My Blanket, I’m a Guru.
And it only took two weeks!
Yeah. About that. Not going to happen.
The internet is full of self-proclaimed gurus who know all the right buzzwords ,and even what some of them mean, but nothing worthwhile ever came easy or over night. Consistent effort will bring results, but don’t expect to have a thousand fans in just a few days without buying them. Beyond knowing how to use the tools within the systems effectively, and being able to create great content, there really are no deep dark secrets to mind blowing success in social media. Solution: It takes time; you’ve got to put in the effort – or pay someone else to – in order to see real results.

book1The good news?
None of this has to be hard! We’re glad to talk shop and offer great free tips and training to our real estate website clients. If you’re just getting started, or aren’t even sure where to begin, you may enjoy our Social Media Primer: Seizing Your Digital Destiny. We’d love to send you a copy at no cost or obligation, just send us an email and let us know you’d like a copy.

REALTORS: Reasons Why Your Social Media Falls Flat

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Social media social media social media – boy it sure it a hot topic these days isn’t it?! Guru’s and mavens popping up left and right, all experts – as of this month – in the great unquantifiable thing that is the silver bullet to kill your marketing monster.

We apologize for all of them. Fact is though social media is one of the most cost effective ways for you to get the word out about your services – especially if you’re bold enough to take it on yourself. To help you towards your goals we’ve put together  a quick list of common mistakes for the medium; feel free to pass them along to your page manager, guru, samurai, jedi WHATEVER they call themselves as they are likely making the same mistakes.

Not having a goal.
It’s hard to hit the mark if you don’t even have a target. Make sure before you begin your journey in social networking, or hire a ‘professional’, that you have an actual goal in mind. Whether it be simply getting more visibility, getting more sales, or increasing traffic to your website. It’s a lot easier to know if you’re getting there if you have an idea where there is.

Not using social media.
Kind of mind blowing isn’t it?! But if you’re not actually USING the platform how can you expect it to DO anything? Go to the store, buy some eggs, take them home and put them on the counter – now sit there and stare them and berate them for not becoming an omelet. Let us know how that turns out – same thing in social media.

Not understanding likes don’t equal sales.
Visibility is GREAT! People liking your stuff makes you feel happy and fuzzy warm that you’re LIKED….but it doesn’t sell a single unit. And if you’re expecting it to, you may want to refocus your overall marketing plan. Social media advertising is NOT like the advertising agencies of old. Marketing here doesn’t always equal sales, but it can build the relationships that drive sales and improve customer service.

Not shutting up.
B-But…you…you said I needed to post a lot in one of those other blog entries! Actually, I said you need to post consistently; there is a difference, but that’s not the point to this item. The one most common mistake users of social media make is only talking about themselves or their product. People are hit with thousands of pieces of advertising every day. I can assure you not one single potential customer wakes up in the morning looking forward to being spammed or advertised to.

Be sure to diversify your content, don’t just make it about you or your product. Mix in other inspirational, humorous, or interesting information. Be absolutely certain you answer and interact with every single fan that takes THEIR time to engage with your digital presence. There are a billion faceless companies they can look up if they are wanting anything less.

Not being consistent.
Mentioned this above, so this point will be quick. Setting it and forgetting it only works if you’re using one of those rotating ovens. When you post consistently you not only can more easily target your audience but you also are creating momentum for better exposure.

Not focusing.
Trying to do it all is the best way to fail at everything. Pick the social media platforms that best fit your marketing plans and your ability to manage. There is no value to being on 100 social platforms if you are only actively updating two of them. Nothing is more embarrassing to a page owner or disappointing to a visitor than getting to a page or profile and seeing ” Last Updated June 2011″.

You guys are big meanies!
Well…I guess you might think that, but really we just want to help you build real success through social media. Nay-sayers and smoke blowers are killing the industry; many professionals are beginning to simply opt out of it all together. We think that’s a real missed opportunity! Have questions about social media, your real estate website, or how to best use them altogether? We’re glad to help!

Real Estate Social Media: Selling Versus Serving

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If you’ve been using social media for a while now ( with any success) you’ve likely already noticed that as an advertising platform it doesn’t quite work the same way as traditional mediums have in the past. Call it information overload, call it saturated with sales, call it what you will: your social media audience doesn’t want to be sold to.

…but how are we supposed to SELL anything?!

A wizened social media sage once said:

“Social media isn’t about selling to the people you’re connected with, it’s about connecting with the people you’re selling to.”

The secret, like in many things in life, is finding the balance. Your marketing efforts must serve your success, but to be effective online they must also serve your clients.

Chances are the people in your sphere of influence, your fans, already know you are in real estate . Those who are newly exposed to your digital presence likely won’t have a hard time figuring it out, especially if your social media portals are properly branded.

So why are you selling selling selling so hard? And if social media marketing isn’t for selling what GOOD is it?!

Increase Awareness
With so many major national portals out there, and most agents, offering basically the same search capability on their websites the content you create on your website and social media portals may be the only chance you get to stand out from the crowd.

Shouldn’t you then do your best to show them who you really are and why they should choose you over one of the other nameless thousands?

If you specialize in a particular niche market this is especially important to focus on as even if your audience knows you are in real estate generally they may not know you have a special expertise they could benefit from.

Establish Trust and Become an Authority
People trust others that they know and interact with more often. By creating a page that is interesting, informative, and relevant to your audience you are establishing yourself as a source for quality information and as an authority in your field. Encourage fans to ask you questions; use them as status updates or blog posts.

It’s never bad to look like you know what you are talking about.

Both of these things together can boost overall brand recognition and keep your name in the fore-front of past clients minds – who as we know in real estate can become return clients! – as well as in the periphery of new fans as well.

BUT HOW DO I SELL STUFF?!
Patience grasshopper. The path to enlightenment is wrought with dangers and distractions on all sides. It is good to feature your services or product from time to time, especially if you have something worth tooting your horn about.

For best results follow the hamburger rule of social media: 80/20. You want 80% of everything you post to be interesting, relevant, humorous, or related to your audience or your community – the 20% that’s left?  That’s for your harder marketing. Give this technique a try and see how it works for you!

Working in this industry we see the best and the worst of what’s being put out there on the web by real estate professionals. We’ve got to tell you, there is no surer way to cause your fans to become non-fans or  even worse to have them just zone out of your efforts altogether by creating a stream of posts that is nothing but pictures of your listings. Face it, it makes for REAL uninteresting reading. Every once in a while take a look at your own page from an objective viewpoint.

Keep these things in mind when evaluating your impact:

Would YOU want to read the things you post there?

Does your content feature local area events or interests?

Are you establishing yourself as a SOURCE for what your audience needs?…or just adding to the noise?

When you DO market are you be sure to drive traffic to your main hub?

We’d love to hear the things YOU are doing on social media to be different and to better serve your clients rather than just trying to SELL to them.

Real Estate Website Myths: BUSTED!

extraWith the return of real estate this past year there have been website companies popping up left and right all offering the “best real estate websites” online. Despite the success of the internet as an advertising platform many real estate professionals still have preconceived notions on what can and cannot be done – much less what should be done – and unfortunately this can cause a lot of myths to be created and a lot of relationships to be destroyed.

We here at Tour Real Estate have had a singular focus for over the last decade: providing great, effective, real estate websites. So before lending an ear to the myths you’ve been hearing, or straight up falling prey to some fast talking smoke blower, consider these top real estate website myths and allow us to put your fears at ease.

A Website is Going to Change Your Life.
Uh, no. We stress this strongly in order to be fully up-front with our potential customers. A website is a tool. Nothing less, nothing more. If you do not use that tool by customizing it to your market, and advertising it to your sphere it is still fully functional but you simply can not expect to see amazing results. Like much else in life you get out of your website what you put IN to your website – this also means leveraging the visibility of your website by social and real world networking.

You Are Stuck With the Search MLS Provides.
In many systems this is true. It comes in pre-canned, framed in, and fairly awkward. The way we do things here at TourRE is a little different: We take the raw feed from MLS, reformat it, optimize it, and push it out to your website in a dynamic fashion. This allows us to provide custom searches instantly for out clients like: Today’s New Listings, REO Homes, HUD Homes, Searches by City, and just about any other criteria you will find in MLS itself.

The Free Site from my Brokerage Is Just as Good.
Big no to that. The old adage of you get what you pay for is true! That’s not to say you can’t have a free site and possibly even get some use out of it. A simple, free website is certainly better than no website at all. However we generally caution people to just be aware of what they are (or aren’t) getting as part of that deal. Most freebie websites offer very little customization or control – meaning that to your visitors and to search engines you look exactly like a million other real estate sites out there. What incentive does that give potential client to choose YOU?

Having a Website Takes Too Much Time.
You’re not a geek, you want to be moving real estate, not punching buttons – we understand that. No website is ever going to be brilliantly effective if you just set it and forget it, but thankfully our websites are very easy to get setup with very minimal effort. Once there the functionality of the site largely takes care of itself – your listings, your offices listing, and the entire MLS is automatically pulled into your site without any effort from you. We still recommend using the large number of additional marketing tools we provide at least once a week; for those who are really interested into taking their online presence to the next level we can gladly provide guidance and consulting.

It’s a Nightmare to Get Help.
Most other web companies are from out of state, and then have call centers in other countries. To even change your name or contact info you could be waiting weeks to even hear back from a tech. Tour Real Estate is proudly located in Idaho’s beautiful Treasure Valley. Our system allows you to control most every piece of text on your website; if you don’t have the time, or just can’t figure it out our customer service can’t be beat. We reply quickly and resolve issues fast. When you call us you’ll be talking to a real live person who can generally get your request taken care of immediately.

We excel at what we do because we care. We excel because we’ve chosen to focus on doing one thing, and doing that one thing very well, for over the last decade. If you’re unhappy with your current real estate web presence – or don’t yet have one – we’d love the chance to talk with you in order to show you how we can help you. Visit our website, or check out any of our social media portals below to find out more!