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There’s always something to howl about

Ahem: Your goal is not weblog traffic, your goal is converted sales

It might seem like I’m shouting up the drain pipe, but I’m not talking to Dustin — I’m talking to you.

If you were selling a viral product like Skype, where for every 10,000 people with a casual interest in your product, one will turn into a paying customer — with the cost per conversion approaching zero dollars — what Dustin is saying would make sense.

But selling real estate is a direct marketing problem. If 10,000 people exhibit a casual interest in your product, you will have earned nothing, whereas if one person actually buys, you will have earned a huge pay-check.

There’s more: If you are spending some significant fraction of your time servicing inquiries from people who will not be buying your product, you will have less time — possibly no time — to work with the small number of people who will buy your product — from someone else if not from you.

Your goal is not weblog traffic. Your goal is converted sales. This is not news. This is me, from last March:

“Traffic is not about traffic. Traffic is about conversions.”

If you get 3,000 unique hits every day and convert one a month, you are an emaciated wretch with huge bragging rights. If you get three unique hits a day and convert one a week, you are constantly trying and failing to make time between appointments to get your Lexus detailed. Your goal is not traffic. Your goal is not even community, although this is a vitally-important secondary objective. Your goal is not forms filled out or leads captured or phone calls returned or listings emailed or showings scheduled. Your goal is conversions, as represented by a fat check from a title company. It does not matter how many shots you take at the basket. What matters is how many times — and how often and how regularly — you get the ball through the cylinder.

I pointed out that the False Dichotomy of schmoozing with the homies versus counting flowers on the wall is a logical fallacy. Your objective is not to be tripped-upon by accident by any one of Earth’s billions, but to be well-known — and well-trusted — within your target market.

And that goal may not be best-served by weblogging at all. Or, if it is, the best weblog for you to work on may not be your own. If there is a strong weblog — or Yahoo group or printed newsletter or whatever — focused on your targeted audience, you might be better off devoting most of your limited writing time there.

BloodhoundRealty.com, our brokerage, target markets by selling our listings in ways that attract the attention of other homeowners. Our on-line efforts support that marketing, but it’s the “Sold” sign that does the heavy lifting. Russell Shaw weblogs here and here only, talking only to other real estate professionals. Sixty-five percent of his mega-producing business comes from radio and TV advertising — the stuff we all insist does not work any longer.

But even if you insist that a real estate weblog is the only way to go, it remains that something like Jay Thompson’s “PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com” business cards placed in the actual hands of your actual targeted prospects is a lot more likely to get those people to your weblog that pursuing random search-engine effects. Your objective is conversions, not traffic and not mere leads. Ergo, one person putting your blog into his favorites menu or subscribing to your RSS feed or to your email updates is a lot more valuable than 100 people bouncing into and right out of your weblog — ferried in by search queries that may or may not have anything to do with real estate in your target market.

Dustin’s solution is not wrong. He’s just solving the wrong marketing problem. Your objective is not traffic, which definitely can be obtained by viral marketing tactics. Your objective is converted sales, the direct marketing problem. Relying on viral marketing strategies to solve direct marketing problems is an error.

 
Addendum: I posted this as a comment at 4Realz:

At the risk of driving poor Joseph Ferrara even farther around the bend, I will add this and then make my exit:

Inlookers: If, like Dustin and major brokerages, you are producing on-line content in order to attract leads that you will then sell to third parties, by all means go viral. Your acquisition cost is low, and the consequences of low quality contacts are borne by others.

If, on the other hand, you are a guerrilla, a grunt on the ground producing on-line content to attract clients to your own business, you are engaged in direct marketing. The quality of your contacts matters a great deal, since focusing your limited resources on the wrong people will cost you the money you would have earned by working with the right people.

And remember: Your objective in taking on your own marketing is not buying leads.

In the last 30 days, 2,197 unique souls visited BloodhoundBlog 200 or more times. It turns out they were all sellers! Who knew? 😉

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17 comments

17 Comments so far

  1. Dan Green January 20th, 2008 11:22 am

    I’ve gone on record enough times, but this time I’ll do it in syllogism:

    Blogging is marketing
    Marketing supports sales
    Therefore, blogging supports sales

    This is why I write my mortgage Web site for my clients and not for Google — Google will NEVER sell me to a stranger.

  2. Jillayne Schlicke January 20th, 2008 11:34 am

    I teach a real estate class on blogging that’s approved for continuing ed so I bring the perspective of having talked with thousands of Realtors over the past two years about blogging. This sentence says it all:

    “Your objective is converted sales”

    Realtors are hungry for leads to convert. Blogging doesn’t take the place of all other Realtor marketing. Blogging can be a part of an overall marketing plan that would include a blend of many different tactics, analyzed and tweaked based on many, many variables.

    One Realtor’s marketing plan may not fit everyone. There is no one magic diet pill that will help us lose those last 10 pounds and there is no one Realtor marketing pill that will convert leads to closed sales.

    It’s still: diet and exercise
    It’s still: making decisions on how to spend your time PLUS hard work.

    But Realtors still seek that magic pill. Perhaps it’s human nature.

  3. Greg Tracy January 20th, 2008 12:31 pm

    “If 10,000 people exhibit a casual interest in your product, you will have earned nothing, whereas if one person actually buys, you will have earned a huge pay-check.”

    Very well said. Some people think that having something free is better than anything that costs money. The reality is, it’s what you get for the cost (price, time spent, emotional investment) that constitues value.

  4. […] Greg says, “If 10,000 people exhibit a casual interest in your product, you will have earned nothing, […]

  5. Greg Cremia January 20th, 2008 1:05 pm

    If you have people bouncing in and bouncing out then you need to add an IDX search. After all, they are not looking for me or you, they are looking for real estate.

    Give it to them and they will stay.

  6. Bob in San Diego January 20th, 2008 1:27 pm

    I do not understand why you continue to beat up on traffic. It’s a numbers game. Develop systems that work and converting targeted traffic to income is not hard. We showed 6 different clients property this weekend (including this morning). All were SE generated. One offer is being crafted today.

    Why the attitude? You do a disservice to those who want to increase business from online sources without having to be Earnest Hemingway.

  7. Greg Swann January 20th, 2008 1:30 pm

    > If you have people bouncing in and bouncing out then you need to add an IDX search.

    I think maybe you need to take a few minutes to read the search strings that people use to land on your site. It’s amazing how many of them have nothing whatever to do with what you’re doing.

  8. […] 20, 2008 by Dustin …and I’m surprised that Greg has such a lowly view of Google’s algorithms. I’ve found that the traffic that comes to RCG from search terms like [moving to seattle] and […]

  9. Greg Cremia January 20th, 2008 2:18 pm

    >I think maybe you need to take a few minutes to read the search strings that people use to land on your site. It’s amazing how many of them have nothing whatever to do with what you’re doing.

    I study the search patterns all the time. I ask clients what they were searching for. My website has over 50 search terms with 1st page placement just on the homepage. This is not by accident. I have spent a lot of time and money figuring out what people are looking for.

  10. Greg Swann January 20th, 2008 2:23 pm

    > My website has over 50 search terms with 1st page placement just on the homepage.

    Good on ya. You’re the exception. And no weblog at all?

  11. Chris Lengquist January 20th, 2008 3:04 pm

    LOL. You said it perfectly. My traffic stinks compared to many. My sales are on target to my goals. And blogging is a big part of that.

    I write over and over and over again to my target audience…which isn’t other real estate agents. (Hint: There’s the first clue.)

  12. Greg Swann January 20th, 2008 3:16 pm

    > I write over and over and over again to my target audience…which isn’t other real estate agents. (Hint: There’s the first clue.)

    I just looked. Hard-headed advice and lots of it. I read you at Lenderama, but I’d never seen your local site. What you’re doing makes sense to me.

  13. Kevin Tomlinson January 20th, 2008 5:25 pm

    Great stuff here.
    Jillayne,
    >But Realtors still seek that magic pill. Perhaps it’s human nature.

    Man, aint that the truth!

    I have people in my office hawk me all day long expecting to set up a blog and have five sales in the first week.

    In general, most Realtors are lazy and got into real estate to “make a lot of money WITHOUT doing a lot of work.”

    Agents with that attitude wear me out. They always say to me, “Kevin, I don’t have time to blog,” and I look at them, head half-cocked, and say “and I do?”

  14. Jeff Brown January 20th, 2008 8:40 pm

    Greg — you already know my thinking here.

    I’d like to have 2,000 hits daily, but alas, I fall somewhat short. :)

    I will however, compare my blog-related conversion record with anyone. (That’s a lie of course, I won’t show anyone.) :)

    If time spent on my blog wasn’t producing results, I wouldn’t be spending so much time with it. Like Chris, I write to those interested in what I have to offer — not others in the business. I leave those posts for Bloodhound, because it’s appropriate here.

    The best of all worlds is for my traffic to increase while my batting average remains where it is. (Though an increase in batting average wouldn’t hurt my feelings either.)

    I want more traffic, but only if they’re interested in what we can do for them. The rest is just empty stats from what I can tell.

  15. Ben Bach January 21st, 2008 4:13 am

    I agree completely with Jeff and Chris, and I think in this case Greg :)

    I get far less traffic than many other blogs, about 30-50 unique visitors a day, but I am meeting a new client *every single week*, and we’re closing a sale with most of them within 3 months.

    Write for the people you want to work with, not google. Google will find you if you do that, and so will the people.

  16. Dave Shafer January 21st, 2008 10:54 am

    Thanks for the discussion. Being new to the blogging world, I am engaged in those discussions with myself (time v. results, target audience, conversion, marketing it, etc.) for the last few months. Still haven’t hit on the conversion ratio that is anywhere near what I need, but still have hopes.

  17. Tom January 21st, 2008 3:12 pm

    Greg

    Amen brother.

    I always wonder how real estate agents can spend so much time on their blogs, Active Rain, ect and still make a living. My site is predicated on traffic and advertising. That is where the income comes from.

    Real Estate agent sites should be on conversions to listings or buyers. Period. End of story.

    If you have the extra time and disposable income to join in the chatter of the RE.net that is not aimed at gaining the sales then more power to you, but that should not be the goal of real estate blogging.

    Brian Brady does it right because his target market is the real estate community. His networking is profitable if I had to guess as business rolls in through you all.

    My target market is the real estate community and the real estate consumer. For me getting 2,000 unique visitors a day pays many of my bills as that is how my marketing and advertising is aimed at. Yes, my drivel is tightly focused to bring eyeballs of real estate pro’s, buyers, and voyeurs. But my goal is never to sell a home.

    But if my goal was to sell homes, then an laser focus would be applied to my local community and developing traffic that would bring name recognition that way. Bawld Guy does a great job with this as he explained in his newsletter post of last year.

    Great post Greg! And if you are reading this post and you are a real estate agent, print it out and put it over your computer. Following it will double your income in the next year if you take it to heart.