It finally dawned on me. I have been grappling with the idea of single-property websites for some time. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Would a single-property website for a listing enhance the exposure of the home and therefore hasten a sale or would it simply serve to impress the seller? Would a single-property URL be detrimental in that it would cause brand confusion with our widely-promoted and established website which already provides all of the property information in what I consider a very comprehensive and compelling format? I could create a distinct site or blog for the home, but wouldn’t that drive traffic from my site? Conversely, I could create a domain forward and point the URL to the existing page in my site, but wouldn’t that in fact be redundant?
Yahoo! Today I’m on board with the concept of the single-property site, and I have Yahoo! and my real estate company to thank for my sudden clarity of thought.
Let’s Call Them “Prudential”
I happen to be affiliated with a company (who shall remain nameless) who negotiated an exclusive agreement with Yahoo! Real Estate. Without going into specifics, I will be the first to admit that there is great benefit to the agents of this partnership, but it comes with a cost. Agents pay to be included in the program but, more importantly, I fear that as many leads are being driven from me as they are to me.
We Want to Help You (Help Us)
Participating agents can assign a unique Yahoo! Search ID to their listings which, when entered in the Yahoo! search bar, will bring up the full property page. This page is branded with the agent’s information which, at first blush, sounds like a hell of a deal. Further, if a consumer happens upon the property during a search, they will be directed to this same branded page.
Let’s start with the obvious. This is a company branding effort in agent-branding sheep’s clothing. As an example, a client of ours who was relocating back to San Diego was using the Yahoo! site to search for homes. She innocently saved her search and within 24-hours received a phone call from another agent in my office asking how they might help her meet her real estate goals. If I may use a technical term, she was pissed off, not because this other agent wasn’t her agent, but because she had been contacted at all. It seems that “leads” are forwarded under referral fee agreements in which the company (and maybe Yahoo!) profit – at the expense of the agent.
Harnessing the Power (E Pluribus Unum)
Sorry, Greg. That is the sum-total of my Latin. In the case of Yahoo!, if a visitor hones in on a home which is not a “company” listing, any request for more information will be forwarded to a “company” agent under a referral agreement. And this affects me how? Well, by driving traffic to Yahoo!, I am driving traffic away from my site and myself.
We are encouraged to drive traffic to Yahoo! through the use of the sign rider bearing the unique Yahoo! Search ID. Until recently, I was happily on the bandwagon. The sales pitch initially had merit. A picture was painted of the drive-by shopper punching this ID number into their PDA, car idling, and immediately pulling up the property information. We are also encouraged to promote the unique ID in all advertising. It made sense until I realized that we aren’t quite there yet (the PDA scenario) and until I remembered where I am sending them (away).
You Can Find Us On the Web
I am “given” a web page within my company’s site, but it is forbidden to have this page link to my real site, the one I want people to visit. Now, enter Trulia. My company (and yours too, I bet) is feeding all of my listings to Trulia. This is great (I can’t argue with additional exposure), but any Trulia shopper who requests more information on my listing is directed to a nondescript page on the company website. If I am lucky enough to have them click the email button (firstname.lastname@example.org), the lead will come to me. If they dare to pick up the phone, however, off to a toll free number they go. Poof! Now you see them, now you don’t.
It’s 9:00, Do You Know Where Your Listings Are?
Just in case my Broker of Record is reading this, don’t get me wrong. I truly believe the tools you are providing your agents are superior. I just wish more agents would take responsibility for their marketing efforts. It is incumbent on each of us to fully understand where and how our listings are being advertised. I would confidently venture a guess that 95% of the agents in my office (I am being generous here) have absolutely no clue.
My company’s branding benefits me, but not when it comes at the expense of my own. So I am, for the moment at least, embracing the single-property URL. My sign rider promoting the site is now being placed where the Yahoo! rider previously resided. It is my one, small act of defiance to protect what I have worked so hard to build – My business.Related posts: