Technology for the ADHD Real Es…SQUIRREL!!!

Real Estate Agent & Trainer using the power of technology to achieve maximum productivity

Posting ads on Craigslist

I recently saw a question on a real estate website from a consumer who wanted to list her out-of-state property for sale (by owner) and was asking if it was safe to list the home for sale on Craigslist. I decided that the answer was one that could benefit more than just her, so I wanted to share it with you here.

One of the biggest scams going on right now is people stealing the pictures & addresses of homesPosting ads on Craigslist for sale and then posting a fake “For Rent” post with that info. They’ll usually seem very legitimate to the consumer at first, and then they ask for the first month’s rent and deposit to be mailed to a PO Box somewhere different – often out of state. One way to combat this is to add your phone number or email address to the picture by overlaying it in a way that the scammer couldn’t easily remove it. This can be done with very little skill required if you can use a program like PowerPoint. Simply insert the image to a blank slide and add a text box where you’ll put your information. Place the text so that it doesn’t obstruct the view of the home, and is still in a position that removing it would render the photo useless. I’m attaching a photo of some options I recommend (using stock photos).

How to protect a house listing online

Embed the text using PowerPoint

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Change your info

Can you tell me whose information is shown below?

No, you can’t. Because the agent hasn’t changed anything. Since search engines see this EXACT same content on 60,000-70,000 websites, it’s similar to you receiving 60,000-70,000 emails with the same content. What do we call that? SPAM! Do you want your website to be considered SPAM?

eEdge website with unchanged info

This is what your website looks like if you haven't changed anything.

Password Security

My friend Jason Alcock over at Kardon Technology wrote a phenomenal post about password security. The *only* thing I would suggest specific to real estate is making the password 8 characters. I’ve found several sites that limit the password to 8 characters.
 
In his post, Jason identifies several critical points which I have always encouraged friends & colleagues to consider, including:

        – Do you use regular words that can be found in a dictionary as a password?
        – Do you use only letters or only numbers as a password?
        – Do you use a child’s name or a pet’s name as a password?
        – Do you use passwords that contain readily available personal information that could be found on MySpace or another social site?
        – Do not use one repeated password for all access that you need. Split them up to separate your data. Use one password for the Windows login, one password for company logins, and one password for social websites like Facebook or email.
        – Last, but not least, be smart about password security. Do not keep passwords written down in open places. Do not talk publicly about passwords. Do not freely provide passwords through open communication like email correspondence. All of the above work can be undone through one sticky note left on a co-worker’s desk.

 

There is a 5-step process Jason lays out which I think is brilliant. Another option I would suggest to the “Do not use one repeated password…” tip is to have a ‘generic’ password you use on sites that wouldn’t ruin your life if someone logged in as you. The generic password I use (and yes, I’m about to violate Jason’s rule about talking publicly about passwords) is based on the website. I use the first 4 letters of the site and a consistent set of 4 numbers. It’s very easy to remember and using ‘targ2532’ on Target.com, ‘ajco2532’ on AJC Online, and ‘yout2532’ for YouTube adds an extra layer to your security. So that’s a Business password created from a word that relates to your business, a Personal password created from a word representing your personal life, and a generic password that is specific to the site.

Campaigns and Groups and Projects, Oh My!

Those of us who teach eEdge usually encourage agents to follow the KISS principle when launching touch campaigns. The problem is that we sometimes forget to tell you the why behind the what. Create a group named ”33-Touch,” select the 33-Touch campaign from the Design Gallery and give that campaign the name … hold onto your hats for this surprise twist … ”33-Touch.” Hopefully that shocker didn’t cause too much anxiety. This strategy does work great in a classroom setting and for agents whose attention span needs eEdge to shift automatically. Some of us, though, prefer the power and control of a stickshift, so allow me a moment and I’ll show you where the clutch is and how to throttle to higher speed when you are ready.

If you’re familiar with Top Producer, the eEdge ‘Group‘ field is basically the same as TP’s ‘Contact Type.’ You need a “33–Touch” group for contacts you want on your (brace yourself) 33-Touch program. Once you have that group set up and running, there may be subset groups you want to identify. For example, you may be a Starfleet Academy Devotee and alum, as are most of your ‘Advocates’ and many ‘Tier 1’ contacts. You may consider creating a “S.A.D.” group to make it easier when you get ready to send out the annual Starfleet Ensign’s game schedule. Lets face it, that would be a heck of a lot easier than trying to cross-reference for contacts whose address contains ”Mothers Basement” and whose company contains ”Radio Shack.” Maybe you’re farming an area with a vibrant community core, replete with spring flings and fall festivals. Perhaps they’re tight-knit enough to actually know the name of more than 4 people in the community. Create a group named “Kirkenwoodville” and add all of the residents of Kirkenwoodville. If you really get inspired, you might create a 12×12 to send out or to post on a domain you buy just for this purpose.

One thing I would highly recommend – in the way I recommend you be driving south if you’re on the southbound side of an interstate – is that you create your groups in advance of uploading your contacts. If, however, you already have your contacts in eEdge, its no big deal to create the group and add people to it. Its just easier to sort out your database into smaller groups and upload in chunks / groups. That method also makes it easier to clean up your database as you go and break the elephant into smaller bites (Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.).

Your client stays informed, so should you!

You’ve implemented touch plans. Market Leader / Imprev sends you an email in advance of your 33-Touch newsletter so you can edit and customize it. The only rub? It goes to your webmail and unless you happen to notice that little number beside “Webmail” on your dashboard, you may very well miss that 48-hour window to make it your own. And then there are the important notifications from Market Leader letting you know about updates and improvements to your account. How many of those back up before you notice that webmail count.

Resolution: Each database entry has three email address spaces. Since you’re already in your database (you are, right?) Open your contact record and add ‘imprevsupport@marketleader.com’ as your own secondary address and ‘info@info.marketleader.com’ as your third address. Now, when Imprev sends a notice that your touch is about to go out, it’ll come to you as an email alert just like an email from a client – and it’ll show up right there in the middle of your dashboard when you log in. The same goes for those Market Leader updates. Imagine! Now the product that was built to put you in control of your business & keep you informed ACTUALLY WILL!

Demystifying SEO Keywords

OK, those of you who like to keep the little man behind the curtain and believe in the Easter Bunny, stop reading now.

If you like to pull back the curtain and know the “How” behind the “What,” this entry is for you. Secrets behind the ubiquitous “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) are about to be broken down for anyone who can use Google. And if you can’t use Google, how the heck did you find my blog???

First, some ground rules:

1. There is a fundamental difference between zebras and horses. Just because it has black and white on it does NOT make it a zebra. If it’s a horse, you can ride it. If it’s a zebra, leave it to the professionals because you’re (probably) in real estate and not in web design / content management.

2. As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.” Don’t go overboard with your keywords and make your content read like an instruction manual for an Asian product so cheap they couldn’t afford to hire a real translator.

3. Blog. Period. Just do it. And when you do, the conventional wisdom (of this second, but hang on and it’ll change) is to keep your post between 300 & 500 words, with your keywords making up 2-5% of your text. In other words, a post of 500 words should repeat your keywords 10-25 times.

4. Keep your content fresh. You can write the perfect blog entries for a month, but if you don’t keep it up and those dozen blog posts are all that you have for the next year, you wasted your time.

5. Don’t get cute. Plastering your keywords all over your website in 4 pt type and in white letters on a white background will not help your site – it will get you blacklisted and banned from the search engines. I’m sorry, did you say you wanted to be on the FIRST page of Google or NO page of Google?

Now, with our ground rules in place, here is MY formula for finding the right keywords:

1. While logged in to your Google account (you DO have one, don’t you???), go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordTool.

2. To establish a baseline for how well your current website targets your pool, enter your website name in the “Website” box and click ‘Search.’ Are these the phrases used by people you WANT to attract?

3. You know who you want to attract, and you know what they would probably put into Google to find someone like you. Type those words / phrases in the ‘Word or phrase’ box, one word or phrase per line. For example, “find a home | homes in Chicago | real estate,” then click ‘Search.’

4. When the results come back, there will hundreds of them. Look at the first page and make sure you haven’t made a huge error in the keywords you used. If you are trying to market your Dallas real estate business and “morticians in Cheyenne” comes up, you might want to try again. Just sayin…

5. On the bar right above the results, click “Download,” then “All (###)” and save this file in the CSV for Excel format. Open the file in Excel, then save it as an XLS file (not CSV) in a directory that makes sense with a name that makes sense. In Excel, do the following:

a. Change “Global Monthly Searches” and “Local Monthly Searches” to GMS & LMS, respectively.
b. Move the LMS column before the GMS column.
c. Insert a column after LMS and another after GMS. Label these two columns “Local Rating” and “Global Rating,” respectively. Highlight these columns and click Format > Cells. Format these as Number with 2 decimal places (the default). Select all the columns after these columns and hide them.
d. Assuming that you still have a header row, Competition is column B, LMS is column C, and GMS is column E, paste the following formula into the first open “Local Rating” cell: =((1-B2)*(SQRT(SQRT(C2)))*3). Now paste this formula in the first “Global Rating” cell: =((1-B2)*(SQRT(SQRT(E2)))*3). Not to bore you to tears, but this is a formula I created inverts the amount of competition into the marketing opportunity, boils down the number of searches to a number to eliminates wild swings, and multiplies it into a number between 1 & 100 (ish).
e. Highlight the entire worksheet and click Data > Sort, sorting by Local Rating first and Global Rating second – both in DESCENDING order.
f. Pay attention to the top 20-25 results. These are the keywords / phrases that are being searched at a high volume and the competition for the user’s eye is very low in proportion.
When you create this spreadsheet, you’ll probably be amazed at some of the things you didn’t think about. For example, in my area, the phrase “property tax” is searched 823,000 times PER MONTH on average. In other words, every 2 minutes there are 3 people near me who type it into Google. For some reason, only 20% of websites comparable to mine have the words “property tax” in them. How fast do you think I put “property tax” in my META tags and wrote a page for homeowners wanting to appeal their “property tax” assessment???

What works for you?

Positioning eEdge to a skeptical audience

Our office voted ‘No’ on eEdge because the information our ALC received was very cryptic & because they’re admittedly a bit of a skeptical group. The way it came across (before I got involved) was that KWRI was going to provide us with a product we hadn’t asked for, provided by companies they wouldn’t disclose, and charge us for it whether we liked it or not. That was no fault of KWRI or our technology team, it was just a breakdown in communications. Since I know the people involved in our tech group at KWRI, I knew that anything they did was going to be first-class, a tremendous value, and any providers thoroughly vetted.

When the announcement came through that eEdge had been approved, I began looking at the service partners and realized that an individual agent would pay $20/month to sign up for DotLoop. Obviously a full office would get it for a bulk price that would break down to a significantly lower per-agent cost, but that didn’t help my cause – so I didn’t bring it up. Seeing the DotLoop price and knowing how ‘green’ the agents in my office are (plastic & aluminum recycling bins, paper recycling, etc.), I met with our leadership and informed them that we were going to position eEdge in this way:

“You, as agents, wanted to go paperless. It’s good for the earth, it’ll save you on printing, copying, & faxing, and it will save you time scanning and emailing documents. No more running around at the last minute because the lender needs an amendment. The cost for this service is $20 per agent per month. HOWEVER, KWRI has leveraged our agent count with DotLoop and gotten them to reduce it to $15 for you. You’ll save more than that not having to deal with the paper issues, and we can save money on our E&O insurance. Now, *if* you are interested in a customer relationship manager (CRM) that handles your touch programs with very little effort, KWRI has gotten that for you for free from Market Leader. *If* you are interested in some professionally-designed marketing pieces, they’ve also secured a relationship with Imprev at no cost to you. You can choose to take advantage of the services Market Leader and Imprev provide if you choose, or ignore them if you want, even though we believe you’ll definitely like what you see. The only thing that will be required to keep the office on the same platform is the $15/month for DotLoop.”

You’d be surprised how attitudes changed with this new positioning. It’s all about finding what is important to our ‘clients,’ in this case internal clients. If you’ve met any resistance due to lack of technical skills or any other reason, how did you overcome it?

eEdge vs eEdge with Professional Add-on

Should you get the Market Leader Pro Add-on?

Well, it depends on your needs and your web presence.

If you are ‘old-school’ and don’t really use a lot of technology in your touch programs, and you don’t necessarily want to drive traffic to an impressive, informational website, you should probably save the money and use it for stamps and stationery.

However, if you want to leverage technology in your touch programs, and you want your leads and clients to see your website as the only source they need for the information they need to find the right house, you should definitely consider the professional edition.

(Full disclosure: I’m a geek. I do not get any type of benefit from you choosing one option over the other. I simply want to convey why I chose to go with the Professional Edition.)

Differences visible to the public

When I first activated my eEdge account, I went with the basic account. While I was assisting another agent who had gone pro, I quickly noticed the visible difference. There are many things that aren’t visible from the public’s perspective, but the things that are visible definitely stand out. As for the visible difference on the website, consider these two property listings, with the changes that I can see bordered in gold:

Items not visible to your leads/clients

Allow me to translate “marketing-speak” to “agent speak.” I’m using Market Leader’s information, and interpreting the best I can, so please forgive me if I’ve misread something. The changes they highlight are as follows:

  • “Deluxe” listing packages, which have brochures, flyers, and postcards that have been coordinated to produce a consistent brand.
  • Unlimited virtual tours with text, photos and music. This is available ala carte for $49 (or maybe $99 – I can’t fully recall) each.
  • Extended library of eNewsletters and eCards.
  • The ability to create custom campaigns, in addition to the stock 33-Touch, 12-Touch, and 8×8’s available. This allows you to change the dates when your items deploy as well as what gets deployed.
  • Craigslist posting service.
  • The ability to embed a search widget into your other sites, such as your blog, email signature, etc.
  • Expanded list of available website themes.
  • Additional search fields and “search by map” options on your website.
  • A selection of vanity URL’s already secured by Market Leader. (personal note: I got “SearchAtlantaProperties.com” – HOW COOL IS THAT?)
  • The option to add “Featured Partners” to your website (translation: sponsorship opportunities!)
  • Customizable email templates.
  • The addition of an RSS feed alert for new leads,
  • The ability to access your database, schedules, tasks, etc. from your smart phone. (To me this is a HUGE advantage!)
  • Detailed customer information, including the number of times they’ve seen specific properties, when they last accessed the site, which ones they’ve saved, etc. (Personally, if I can see that a lead or client has viewed the same home 5 different times, I know that I need to be picking up the phone ASAP!)
  • Performance management allows you insight on your close rate, unsubscribe rate, etc.
  • Site activity monitoring, allowing you to see where your leads are finding you so you can better play “red-light, green-light” with your marketing dollars.

Have you discovered any other differences that I’ve missed? Let me know.

Acronyms

I’m just as guilty as anyone else of including an acronym in a post without spelling it out. In an attempt to help my dear friends & followers actually READ some of the things found online, I wanted to start a rolling list of frequently used acronyms. This will also (hopefully) help my brother, who periodically texts me with “What does ____ mean?” This post will be frequently revised – since new acronyms get generated every few minutes.

BF / GF – Boyfriend / Girlfriend

BIL / FIL / MIL / SIL – Brother-in-law, Father-in-law, … you get the picture

BTW – By The Way

B/W – Between

D/T – Due To

FTW – For The Win (Taken from a popular game show, it is commonly used to indicate victory in a debate, or to indicate that the referenced item is recommended)

IMHO – In My Humble Opinion. (Although, sometimes I’m being polite and my opinion is not-so-humble and more I-know-what-I’m-talking-about…but that acronym is too long.)

LMAO – Laughing My Arse Off

LO – Loved One

NP (or N/P) – No Problem. (Sometimes used as “you’re welcome”)

RTFM – Read The Friggin’ Manual! (commonly used when someone has asked a question that is answered on page 2 of the Owner’s Manual for the respective device.)

SO – Significant Other (aka – husband, wife, fiancee, partner, etc.)

T/Y – Thank You!

TTYL – Talk To You Later (aka “goodbye”)

Y/W – You’re Welcome

What others have you read that you don’t understand? What others have I not listed?>