No one is talking about trying to attract irrelevant traffic…

…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 [agent recommendations] is highly relevant and RCG contributors get more than a few clients out of search terms like these each month. Having talked with many people who do lead conversion for large brokerages (including being on a panel at an Inman with a group of these people), I can confidently say that the conversion rate from leads to RCG blows away what any big company is doing today.  I attribute much of our success at converting leads to the fact that the users who contact us are highly relevant and seeking out exactly what we offer.

In terms of people who transact with us, there are two types of people (Note it is “people” not “traffic”):

  • Type 1: Those people who did a couple of searches on google, came up with are now looking for someone who can help them find a home.
  • Type 2: Those people who are soaking up all the local real estate information they can get and they contact one of the contributors when they are ready to transact. Google Analytics trending shows that in the past month RCG has had over 2000 people who have visited the site more than 200 times… Often when I gets emails from these people, they appreciate and feel like they know everything about the site.

Type 1 tends to be home buyers while Type 2 tends to be home sellers.

To reach the first type, you really need to do well in search engines (or by buy the traffic) because these users aren’t doing a lot of long-term research and are often making their agent selection in a matter of minutes (no kidding…. you get 10 minutes to get back to the potential internet buyer or they move on to someone else they find in a Google search).

So, I’ve always assumed that Greg’s “local” site is really a play after the second type of person… i.e. home sellers who generally do a bit more research before contacting an agent. To create real estate content that will inspire these people to return day after day (or better yet, subscribe to your feed) takes a tremendous amount of time. It could very well be worth it, but there’s no free cake here in terms of time.

There is a third option in that I’ve heard some people talk about being the local online newspaper for an area (i.e. reach everyone in a local farming area).  This appeals to a lot of agents (Blogging Systems has tried to made an entire business around this idea!) who haven’t tried it because it would be somewhat powerful to “own” the site that attracted a large swath of your local community.    However, if that means you’ll need to start answering questions about when the next community council meeting is, when little league start-ups are or what the best coffee shop in an area is, then we’re talking about hugely irrelevant questions to the process of transacting.   With that said, Marlow has done something similar to this in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, so she’d be in a much better place to talk about this type of site.  But even if she said it was successful, Marlow is no ordinary blogger and could easily be the exception that proves the rule.

Overall, I always recommend that agents create a place on their blog that is a great resource for the Type 1 person (i.e. buyers who are moving to an area).  While this may not be a majority of the people who transact in any given area, I’d argue it is the majority of people who are looking to the internet to help them make decisions before they contact an agent.   It should be no surprise that the best way to get in front of the Type 1 people is to rank really well in the search engines, which means you’ll want to seek out any and all quality links you can get to your domain.

The Type 2 person is tricky…   My guess (and I’ve seen data but don’t have it in front of me) is that most users will not bookmark a site (or subscribe) on the first visit.  It takes multiple visits before someone decides that a resource is really useful.   The most obvious way to get in front of someone who is interested in local real estate content multiple times is to show up well in the search engines when they are doing their searches related to local real estate.  There are many cases where word-of-mouth has been enough to spread a good site, but you’d better be one hell of a writer if you are going to get others to share your local real estate site with their friends/family/co-workers.  Again, it should be no surprise that the best way to get in front of the Type 2 people is to rank really well in the search engines, which means you’ll want to seek out any and all quality links you can get to your domain.

Either way, it would be a huge mistake to discount the value of people that Google can send your way just because there are a ton of them!   Google sends very relevant traffic from people who are looking to transact with a real estate professional each and every day.

5 responses to “No one is talking about trying to attract irrelevant traffic…”

  1. Hilarious… I noticed that the blog looked very different than the website that Marlow showed me a long, long time ago, but I just assumed that was because she had updated it.

    Interestingly, I was inspired to think about local niche sites after Marlow showed me something she was doing in the Capitol Hill area a long time ago… However, after some more searching, I simply can’t find this site and either Marlow took it down or I was remembering details from the more generic site: Seattle neighborhood Guide. Hopefully Marlow will stop by and clear up my memory of her sites.

  2. 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.

  3. From Greg Swann: “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. ”

    My reply: Yes, and certainly NO. Those who treat a blog like their website are engaging in direct marketing. If one uses a blog as a direct marketing vehicle on the road to success, it will indeed be a bumpy ride and you might better invest your dollars in traditional ad venues and a good copywriter. But this is not what I think successful blogs like RCG do. They are NOT direct marketing. They are “telling” not “selling” and that distinguishes their blogs from direct marketing venues.

    I would also argue the case for the indirect marketing benefits of blogging. This involves things like being linked to by A-list (well read & regarded) blogs which gives one access to their readers and authors. Also, being cited or featured by mainstream news media, being interviewed in trade journals, hired by big companies (like, speaking at industry conferences and a vast array of other venues by which one may become, and I hate to use the word, “expert”. People want to hire experts. Heck, you may even land a book deal. (I even heard 2 bloggers from NYC got paid to take a roadtrip across America.) In a way, it reminds me of building your resume in school, or the practice of realtors (like Greg) displaying their designation badges to consumers in order to get hired. Your blogging efforts may provide the credentials to set you apart from your competition. And I have not even addressed the educational or networking value of blogging as it relates to business success.

    Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid has often spoken on how blogs make good things happen indirectly– “becoming an authority on something, and using said authority to enhance your already-existing business”.

    So, rather than wake Greg Swann from his dream of a direct marketing blog utopia, I would advise real estate agents NOT to use their blogs to directly market to consumers who are wise to the plan and will see right through it.

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