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Real Estate Websites, the IDX, and Marketing in 2019 – Agent Redefined Real Estate Marketing


This blog article, podcast, and video are in response to a question submitted by Zeth Turner, a real estate agent in Utah.

Thanks Zeth for the question and I hope you get some good info out of this.

You can check out the original article where Zeth left us a question about Real Estate Websites and the IDX by CLICKING HERE.

Question Number 1:

Do I utilize the brand name of my brokerage which carries way more weight than my own?

I know I can be a brand but isn’t name recognition important?

My Response

I love this question, I get this one a lot.

First off, please make sure you comply with your state, local, and brokerage rules and regulations regarding branding requirements. I don’t want you to break any rules with my advise.

To me, a real estate agent’s true brand is themselves.

It’s your name and what you stand for.

It’s the experience you deliver to your clients and prospects.

Your personal brand is one of the most powerful marketing tools a real estate agent has in the digital age.

A brand is something so much more than just a logo or a name.

A brand is what a person believes in about you and your company.

It’s what that person expects will happen has an outcome by working with you.

I don’t believe that buyers and sellers are buying into your brokerage branding.

If that were true we would see buyers and sellers flock to companies with really attractive branding and avoid the ones with really unattractive branding.

I’m not going to name any names here, but you know who they are.

Buyers and sellers are not buying your companies logo.

They are not buying into Re/Max, eXp, Compass, or any other brokerage.

They are into buying YOU.

Therefore, I believe it’s in your long-term interest to be building YOUR OWN PERSONAL BRAND and not rely off of your brokerage’s brand.

In a few years you may not even like working at your brokerage any longer.

And then what?

If you haven’t been building your own brand, then you haven’t been building your business.

The real estate industry is being disrupted right now. And the brokerage model as we know it is being threatened and may become extinct in 5 to 10 years.

This means: Build your personal brand to protect yourself from the oncoming threat of our industry being disrupted.

The only agent’s who will still be able positively survive disruption when it fully hits, will be the ones who are able to build, attract, and maintain a vibrant local network of people who Know, Like, and Trust them.

Below is a video from Seth Godin, if you have the time watch the complete interview, it’s great classic Seth Godin content. But you can also go to minute 16:00 and get to the branding part.

Question Number 2:

In order to get my own leads I have been working on my Facebook business page with the intent of focused ads on FB and Instagram. When a lead click son my ad, it takes them to my landing page, I have only worked with buyers and haven’t done a lot of business. What can I offer or do to get their information and actually turn them into a lead, especially without an IDX? My MLS has an IDX plug in available for a one time fee. Is that worth it?

My Response

Another good question that gets into the areas of Content Marketing and Lead Conversions.

What I’m going to say here might sound off and there will be many disagreements about it, but here it is.

First, I would stop looking at people online or offline as “leads”.

And start looking at them as Humans.

The job of marketing is not to actually make the sale for you, it’s to put you in the right place and in front of the right people to be able to help and solve their problems.

So the first part of your question is “What can I offer or do to get their information?

To get an email address, a name, and/or phone number you need to offer something that is valuable to the person you are marketing and/or targeting.

IMPORTANT: If the value proposition that you are offering is focused more on the outcome that YOU will receive and not the outcome that the individual you targeted will receive, then your marketing campaign will be less effective and will not produce the results that you desire.

It sounds like your current value proposition to get someone to sign up with their email, name, and/or number was tied to the IDX. Maybe you were offering to view a listing or give a list of properties on the market?

Then you had a form in a landing page on your website, and this is where you ran traffic to from your Facebook ad.

Today, listings data online is a commodity.

You can thank your local MLS and the National Association of Realtors for that one.

Buyers and sellers are able to freely and openly search for listings data without any signing in or giving away any personal information to obtaint it. Most of the searches today are occurring on the top 10 real estate websites, such as, Zillow, Trulia, RedFin, and REALTOR.com.

Now let me try to bring it all full circle…

This is why you DO NOT need the IDX today on your website in 2019.

There is not a single IDX provider that can match and/or beat the User Experience that a buyer and/or seller can get from Zillow, Trulia, or RedFin.

It sucks, and I don’t like it, but it’s the truth.

Buyers and Sellers will not perform their home searches using your apps or websites (in like 99% of the cases)

Take a look at all of the homebuyers you have worked with in the past.

Where and how were they searching for homes?

Something I always found a little funny was that sometimes in working with a couple you’ll find that the wife prefers to search on one of these websites, while the husband prefers to search on an other.

When it comes to home searches online, it’s all about the User Experience.

Attracting people to your brand and getting them to take actions like filling out a form on a landing page will require you to begin studying and understanding how content marketing works.

Below are two videos from Jay Baer and he has a really unique way of explaining what content marketing is and looks like.

Running Ads on Facebook or Instagram for Real Estate Agents

So what can a real estate agent offer on a social media ad?

I believe it’s not an offer or a lead that you are trying to get on social media.

You want to create brand awareness on social media and not directly sell with it.

This means you want to become part of the community that you are serving and need to become the “Digital Mayor” of it.

Running ads on Facebook and Instagram for real estate agents is a Brand Awareness play and not a direct sales play.

You’re not selling yoga mats, pizzas, or cross fit gym memberships where the level of commitment is lower.

You’re selling the beginning of a new chapter in someone’s or a family’s life.

That’s what a new home purchase or sale really represents.

Below I added another video that will help better explain this point. This one is from Gary Vaynerchuk. Go directly to minute 5:40 where Gary takes a question from the guys at Mobile Agent TV.

If you want to really geek out on marketing from Gary Vee, then watch this. It’s his keynote address at Re/Max R4 in 2018. In this talk, he really breaks down what an agent should be doing with their marketing today.

Question Number 3

THIS IS THE BIG QUESTION. I haven’t seen this asked yet, but if Zillow, Red Fin etc are the Death Star and they get most of the online searches then ( I totally agree BTW), what do I do? What advise can you give me to work with those sites, not against them? I have seen agents pay to be listed at the bottom of Zillow listings. I am assuming it isn’t there listing, that they are paying for the spot. What can I do to hop on with these search engine giants? If everyone is using them to search for homes then how to I get any traction or notice?

My Response

Actually, the real death star is the leadership of our industry. They have taken a “let’s keep our heads in the sand” approach and hope everything will just turn out to be ok.

Just because these websites exist it does not mean that you can’t compete. We just can’t compete using listings data.

Look into content marketing and becoming the digital mayor of your town.

There’s also ton’s of niches.

If Veterans are your niche, that’s a great part of the market to work with it and target online.

If it’s the +55 crowd, even better. They are very engaged on Facebook, and tend to look and read more posts than younger people.

If you have a passion for other things local like HS Football, restaurants, outdoor activities, pet groups, workout groups, etc….

Then, this is where you can start mixing your personal passions in to your business brand to connect with more people.

For example, I love drinking margaritas and beer and all things that are “Mexican”. These things are interlaced into my own personal branding on Facebook, my website, and my content.

It helps me connect with real estate agents who find it entertaining and a relief that I’m not just another “social media guru”.

About Buying Advertising on Zillow

The next part of your question was about buying Zillow ads.

I break down Zillow like this.

It works for some agents, and does not work for many more.

The problem is two fold when it comes to Zillow ads.

First, buyers start searching for homes before they are ready to buy. They are searching 4 to 12 months in advance of a possible purchase date.

This results in not every “lead” being a very good one on Zillow.

Second, in most markets Zillow has over sold their ads and have too many agents on a single zip code.

We’ve seen 8 to 12 agents on a single zip code.

What this does is majorly dilutes the quality of those leads that are coming in.

To see if a zip code is oversold on Zillow simply go to Zillow, do a basic property search in a zip code, then refresh your web browser.

Each time you refresh the browser you’ll see a different set of agents pull up. Count how many agents there are until you start seeing the list repeat itself.

Your listing data is being treated as a commodity on websites like Zillow. The same way like gas prices, you don’t care which gas station you buy from, only that it’s not more expensive than the next station.

Now let’s do the full circle again…

This is why I believe connecting with people on Social Media with local content or engaging content is going to be more productive.

We are going back to the days of Zig Ziglar, build a network because…

Your Network, is your Net Worth.

Build your database, find ways to offer value to it.

Ideally you will have 150 to 500 people in your community who know, like and trust you.

Then use social media to help you maintain that community and grow it.

Final Notes…

I hope that helps.

There’s no easy button, but learning how to communicate online with people, and learning how to build a network of people who know, like, and trust you is something that can and will last forever as long as you’re committed to delivering value to it.

Let’s wrap up with my favorite quote from Zig Ziglar.

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want…


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