Archive

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Real Estate Online Marketing Class

November 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Real estate marketing training December 2, 2014.

Real estate marketing training December 2, 2014.

Worried how the Zillow/Trulia merger is going to affect you? I’ve identified 5 ways individual agents can compete online. Mixer with light refreshments starting at 5:30. Class starts at 6:00 pm. You won’t want to miss this!

RSVP here!

And I’ll be talking about Twitter

How to Choose a WordPress Plugin or Theme

October 27, 2014 1 comment

How to choose the right WordPress plugin or theme.

How to choose the right WordPress plugin or theme.

For small businesses wanting a website, WordPress is a cheap and easy to set up choice. With an open development language, it inspires themes and plugins that will do just about anything and look great straight out of the box. Please be aware this article is referencing the self-hosted WordPress, not WordPress.com. Unfortunately, this can create lots of problems too. Since there is no standard to adhere to, anyone can upload a theme or plugin and sometimes they don’t work. Or they don’t work like you imagine they will.

For this reason I don’t like to play around with WordPress very much. I can do a lot of coding, but I don’t do it enough for it not to be frustrating every time I try. This past week, I did get the chance and I discovered a pretty good way to find themes and plugins that work the first time.

I’ve been working on an idea for over a year. WordPress is great for startups to put together a workable prototype without having to sink a lot of funds into development. So I chose WordPress as my platform. I still don’t have a product. There are a lot of reasons for that, the biggest one being I didn’t find a workable theme.

Contrast that with another startup idea I had. I began work on it last week, finished a workable prototype last Sunday and am ready for a full launch now. The difference? I found a theme right away that did everything I wanted and was easy to use. I also found a plugin that provided the critical piece of functionality I wanted. Here’s how I did it.

Finding plugins

Do a Google search for what you want the plugin to do. You’ll get names of plugins in your search results. What you want the plugin to do may have a widely accepted industry name you’re unaware of. Now do a search for that product and include “review.” What you’re hoping to get here is an article with a five to ten plugin comparison. (Be careful of affiliate review sites that don’t offer any real value in the comparison.) Read that article and you should come up with two or three that really interest you. Now, go to the WordPress plugin finder and search for those plugins.

You’ll see an option to install or to read more. Click on read more. Take a look at the description on the main page, then look at the FAQ page. If everything looks like what you want, check out the review tab. If it doesn’t get consistently good reviews, don’t install it. You’re welcome. I just saved you hours of torment.

Finding themes

There are a million themes available for WordPress. The screenshots you’ll see for them will show them in their best light. You may have to do custom coding in the CSS to get it to look like the screen shot. Again, I recommend searching for the type of theme you want (two column, three column, responsive) and reading the reviews on them. You’ll get a better idea of what the actual work will be like from previous users when you install it.

I did find a theme editor plug-in, on a review site, that looks like it will solve some of the issues with setting up themes. I haven’t used it, but I will definitely try it on my next project.

Other considerations

Some plugins conflict with some themes, so you may have your theme setup exactly the way you want it, install a plugin, and have the whole thing break. That’s why it’s important to know the names of your theme and plugins. Again, do a search for the issue and some kind soul will probably already have a solution.

Be sure to check the last time the plugin or theme was updated and how well the developer responds to questions. I found the more active the developer is, the better the product is.

Real Estate Agents Should be Using Twitter Now!

October 24, 2014 1 comment

Get your listings found with Twitter.

Get your listings found with Twitter.

A few weeks ago I conducted a test to see if I could get a home listing ranked on Google with a Facebook post. The short answer is I could, but it wasn’t the Facebook post that got ranked, it was the tweet I have automatically sent from Facebook. Right now, I’m super excited about the search ranking capabilities Twitter has.

This is especially true for real estate agents. Agents have many challenges getting their sites to show up in search results. First off, many broker sites aren’t SEO friendly. Secondly, agents tend to move brokerages. If they managed to build any search rankings at their previous employer, it all goes away…unless the agent is personally branding instead of brokerage branding. Third, they lack time. Uploading a full real estate listing is time consuming. If they don’t have an IDX feed on their website, it doesn’t typically get done.

Let’s shift gears for a minute and think from the consumer side of things. Home buyers are much more savvy about searching than ever before. Realtor.org says 42% begin their search online. Over the course of their search 92% of home buyers will use the Internet.

Consider this scenario – A couple decides to buy a house. They do their research and identify say six properties to drive by. While at a location they see another house they like that wasn’t on their list. For whatever reason, there’s no pricing information. And they don’t want to call the agent on the sign because they don’t know the price. A quick Google search should bring up the listing and the price. Right? What if it doesn’t? How about that other search engine people use on their phones…Twitter? 2.1 BILLION searches are done on Twitter every day. That’s what I would do. The average age of first time home buyers right now is 31. They are connected wirelessly and they use Twitter.

Remember that address I used for my test? Here’s what the search of it looks like on Twitter –

twitterrealestate

My Twitter account is the top result. One real estate agent tweeted that listing and they’re not even the listing agent. Do you see the opportunity?

Let me demonstrate further. Here’s what Google looks like for this listing at the time of this post –

TwitterWFRMLS

My test tweet is on page one…ahead of the MLS. The listing agent at Coldwell Banker holds the top spot, Trulia is second and a handful of other Realtors fill in the middle. Agents relying solely on their MLS listings to sell homes are going to be disappointed. The WFRMLS is out of touch with their technology and their strategy.

This is why real estate agents should be using Twitter.

 

 

Marketing Analytics and Tracking – Do It Now!

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

marketing trackingThough I shouldn’t be surprised, I still am when I talk to a business about their marketing tracking. John Wanamaker is credited with saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With online marketing, that problem can be easily solved, yet many businesses don’t do it.

I learned early on with this business how critical tracking is. What I do is intangible until it produces results. That doesn’t mean I’m not working and doing things. Reporting gives my clients something tangible to see while the effects of my work build.

A huge challenge I keep running in to is the lack of existing tracking. Every thing you do online can be tracked, yet so many businesses don’t take advantage of it. You can track web traffic, keywords, search rankings. You can track traffic from social media. You can track phone calls. All of this is practically automatic! A little prep work and maybe a little money is all you need. Then you won’t waste half your advertising.

Now I’m going to share three tracking methods you should have in place right now.

Analytics

Analytics track everything that goes on with your website. From the number of visitors, to the pages visited, analytics tracking software will tell you everything about your website. Google Analytics is robust, easy to install and free. If you don’t have it, get it now.

Some businesses need better software than Google and it’s out there. The most used premium analytics package is Adobe’s SiteCatalyst.

Tracking Links

People often ask me how social media can be tracked. Using analytics is one way. You can see which social media channels are providing traffic. The tools within each channel are another way. Likes, comments, re-tweets and follows are all signals of engagement. But if you want to be more specific, you’ll want tracking links. I provided a pretty solid tutorial here.

A tracking link doesn’t even have to go to a page. It can go to an image or a file. You can place specific tracking links for each ad campaign you run. Tracking links are even usable for offline advertising! Do you have any print advertising or billboards? Use a specific URL like http://www.yourdomain/adchannel or a URL shortener that’s customized. You can track every bit of advertising you have!

What about phone calls? I’m glad you asked.

Tracking Phone Numbers

Phone intensive industries should have tracking numbers on all campaigns. If you have a phone number on your website, it should be unique so you know where that call came from. Dynamic Interactive offers customized 800 and local phone numbers for tracking. Their interactive menu allows you to track calls, record calls, offer voice mail and mark inbound calls so even the smallest of businesses can answer professionally. Any advertising you do with a phone number should be tracked in this manner.

Sales Tracking

Once you have marketing tracking in place, you must have a system to track leads. Otherwise true return on investment can never be calculated. It’s also helpful to figure out if you’re missing sales opportunities due to poor follow-up of leads.

A business really doesn’t know how its marketing is doing unless proper tracking is in place. Website tracking analytics, tracking links, tracking phone numbers and sales tracking are the foundation of measuring your marketing and advertising. You’ll never have to wonder what part of your advertising is being wasted if you prepare with tracking.

Social Media for Real Estate – Ranking Test

October 3, 2014 3 comments

The recent announcement of the merger between Zillow and Trulia has a lot of real estate agents concerned. So I did a little research to see if real estate agents could compete post merger. The short answer is they can. You can find the long answer and ways how here.

While I was researching the guide, I decided to do a little test. Could I make a real estate listing post on a Facebook business page and have it show up in a Google search result? My hypothesis was it would get ranked. A few days ago I checked Google to find out. Here’s what I found.

fbserp

I was a little surprised this site showed up. I have feeds set so when I publish something to Facebook, it also goes to Twitter. My Twitter feed shows up here on my right sidebar.

real estate marketing

The entire Twitter post showed up as well. So did another page from this site. That one post on Facebook got three search results on Google.

fbserp2

But I haven’t found the Facebook post itself to be ranked…and it was the source for the content.

My takeaways from this experiment follow-

1. My hypothesis was the Facebook post would get ranked. It didn’t…yet. (I’ll provide an update if that changes.)

2. Social media posts do get ranked. Even if I had no followers on Twitter, a thoughtfully written tweet would get ranked.

3. There is so much power in syndication. I made one post that went multiple places and got ranked at least three times. Every serious online business should be doing this! It’s one of the reasons I said in my guide that every real estate agent should be using an IDX feed.

 

 

 

Utah Web Marketing Company Celebrates Five Years

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment

5 Year BlogiversaryTo be honest, this milestone would have passed me by if LinkedIn hadn’t sent me a notice. At first I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!” Then I started thinking about the other things it means. It means this blog is five years old. It means I’m five years older. It means I’ve found a place for myself professionally.

When this business started, Utah was hit with the Great Recession. I wrote this blog for a month and then I started networking in person. That’s when I started getting business and this blog served as a resource to show people I knew what I was doing.

A lot has changed in online marketing over the past five years. Social media is a real thing now. Back then digital marketing practitioners had to persuade businesses to use social media. Now social media is just a given of any web marketing plan.

I became so convinced, I changed the name of the company from SEO by Swaby to Swaby Online Media. It was a move I believe reflected the diversity of what I did in online marketing.

I’ve been very blessed along the way to get help from different people. One early piece of advice I got was to be as specific as I could about who I wanted to work for. That’s difficult to do when you’re trying to keep up with the bills and any money that comes in seems to be the same. It’s not. Being specific about your client is probably the best advice I got. I tried to narrow things down, but it still isn’t narrow enough when your clients include a home builder, a doctor and a start-up designer blanket company.

So I’ve now decided I only want to work with service based businesses in finance and real estate. This makes my target client real estate agents and brokers, mortgage professionals and insurance offices. That’s still fairly broad, but much more focused. When you know who you want to work with, it becomes easier to find them!

Another lesson I learned is to network in person. As I said earlier, I spent my first month in business writing for this blog. Then I went out and networked. Networking got me business but it also got me some perspective. It’s lonely being a solopreneur. Networking got me out of the house, gave me fresh ideas, allowed me to speak in public and helped me establish myself as an expert.

Over the years, I did have regular employment in spurts. I had one gig that looked like regular employment, but they were still really a client. Another challenge in being self-employed is commitment. It’s easy to be committed when you have clients, but a lot more difficult when you don’t. One of the main reasons I started this business is I recognized the economy was changing. America is going to be filled with people who have their own businesses, consult or work multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. This was research I had done 15 years ago, so I was committed to the idea of working for myself.

However, working for yourself isn’t idyllic. It means chasing new business. It means chasing checks. It means criticism. It means losing clients. It means it can be a wild and crazy ride.

My life is a lot different now and more ideally suited for self-employment. I’ve downsized financially so my overhead is low. I have a family commitment that makes my time precious. All my circumstances compel me to be self-employed and keep this business going, so that’s what I’m going to do. I have a new client from my focused target market and I will continue develop business in those industries.

It’s been a great ride so far and I’m looking forward to the next five years!

 

Don’t Outsource Sales

September 5, 2013 2 comments

01_15_eset_robotI’ve said it before; the whole point of marketing is to get you, a.k.a. your sales team, in front of real, live decision makers. What happens if you outsource sales to technology or overseas? Here’s an example. My snarky additions are in parentheses.

Chat with: Visitor, Jeff
Jeff: Hello, thanks for contacting Preferred Law Team. My name is Jeff, may I have your name?
Visitor: Ben.
Jeff: Hi Ben
Jeff: How can I assist you?
Visitor: I was wondering who won the Alabama vs. Va. Tech game on Saturday? (A current event to assess who I’m really speaking with.)
Jeff: I see. Before we proceed, may I have your phone number and email to better assist you?
Visitor: Certainly.
Jeff: I see.
Visitor: Are you software or an outsourced, overseas agent? (When I first thought I wasn’t dealing with a human.)
Jeff: I am sorry as I am not allowed to disclose that information.
Jeff: Is there anything else I can help you with regarding our services?
Visitor: Are you human, or are you dancer? (Thanks Killers!)
Jeff: This is a real person
Visitor: So why didn’t you answer my first question?
Jeff: Our areas of practice include (but are not limited to) Real Estate, Finance, Civil Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Corporations, Partnerships, LLCs, Bankruptcy & Foreclosure, and Entertainment.
Jeff: Can you tell me a little about your case?
Visitor: Your response questions my belief in your humanity…
Jeff: I see. May I know about your legal matter?
Visitor: Can you answer my first question?
Jeff: I apologize, I don’t have access to that information
Visitor: It’s in the chat transcript. Hint…scroll up…
Jeff: Well, I’m not allowed to answer general questions. For more details you can also contact our office at: 801-727-4290.
Visitor: Can you help me with my delinquent mortgage?
Jeff: Would you mind explaining a bit more about your case?
Visitor: My mortgage is delinquent…and so is my child. Can you help with either?
Jeff: The attorney can help with this. Would you like to speak with someone on the phone?
Visitor: Why can’t you help Jeff?
Jeff: I’m sorry, I’m not an attorney and as such am not able to answer specific legal questions or give legal advice. May I have someone from our office contact you? They can assist further.
Visitor: So are you a lead gen bot?
Jeff: For more details you can also contact our office at: 801-727-4290. I’m sure one of our staff member will be happy to help you.
Jeff: Thank you for contacting Preferred Law Team.
System: The chat session has ended. (Way to hang up on your prospect!)

Powered by ApexChat

Admittedly, I didn’t know a thing about this company except for an email they sent me. However, what they sent piqued my interest and I responded…only to get the proverbial phone hung up on me when I asked too many questions.

Would you trust your marketing budget to a technology based or overseas team?

%d bloggers like this: