In this issue:
- Build a Network of Local Website Link Partners
- Grow Your Network with Email Marketing
- New Refer-A-Friend Program
- Seven New MLS’s for IDXPro
Networking is a fundamental activity for every real estate business. And the Internet has taken it to a whole new level.
A link building strategy for your real estate website is among the smartest things you can do to drive traffic to your site for two reasons. First, it will generate traffic from relevant links and, second, it will improve your overall search engine ranking.
It is important to realize that there are no shortcuts in a good link-building strategy. Avoid automatic, mass link exchanges. These will actually damage your search marketing efforts because your site can get penalized by the search engines.
You can facilitate the process by finding local link partners among other businesses or groups in your own community. You are already out there, building relationships within your network, attending regional events, participating in local civic groups, and networking at local business functions. Leverage these activities with a website linking strategy to help build your business. Here are some easy steps you can take to expand your number of link partners.
Begin by thinking of the most obvious categories of businesses or groups that could refer clients to you, and to whom you could refer people. List these categories. Examples are mortgage lenders, CPA firms, law firms, home improvement contractors, and local membership-based organizations. You will be inserting the partner links and descriptions within these categories on your website.
If you manage your own site, create a “Local Resources” page on your website, and type in the complete list of categories, in alphabetical order. Or instruct your webmaster to do this for you.
Identify Good Possibilities
Now you will identify specific businesses or groups that are good possibiilities for link partners. An easy way to do this is to go to http://local.yahoo.com. Enter a category (such as “CPA firms”) and your city. On the list that appears, notice which ones have websites. You may already know some of them.
Call each one on the list, introducing yourself if you are not already acquainted. Explain that you want to add a link to their website from yours, and that you have a category called “CPA Firms” on your “Local Resources” page. Ask if they are willing to place your company name and description on their website with a link to yours. Most businesses are happy to have link partners. Even if they do not have a page called “Local Resources,” there is probably another location on their site to place links.
After speaking with each link partner, exchange information. Email your company name, website address, and a one-line description to the correct link partner contact. Get the link partner’s short description, or simply use what they put into Local Yahoo. Insert the company’s name and description into your “Local Resources” page. If you are doing this yourself, and need any help turning the business name into a link, ask your website customer support team for help.
Call or email each link partner to let them know when the information and link to their site is posted on your website. Ask them to notify you when the reciprocal link is posted.
If you or someone in your office does this with all of the lists in all of the identified categories, you will gradually build a very nice online referral network. As you exchange business cards with new people that you meet, notice if they have a website, and immediately suggest being link partners (as long as they aren’t a direct competitor). As you know, you can never have too many sources for referrals. With a website and “link partners” strategy, the results are magnified.
More Link Partner Categories
Here are some more business categories that could become part of your “Local Resources” page. Find ones that have local or regional headquarters, rather than the big national chains.
- Landscape services
- Local hardware stores and building supply companies
- Roofing and fencing contractors
- Vacation property specialists (if it’s outside your specialty)
- Home cleaning services
- Furniture businesses
- Financial advisors
One more point. A link building strategy is a critial part of your website search engine positioning, and it works best when you have some incoming links from high-traffic sites. So in addition to local links, be sure to also build links with large online directories. This topic will be covered in another issue of Blueprint.
According to the National Association of Realtors, seventy percent of consumers will forget the name of the Realtor within the first year after buying or selling a home. Email marketing is a powerful relationship-building tool to remain “top-of-mind7rd . Providing consistent emails with valuable information will help grow your network and build your business.
Many of the same ideas you would use to communicate through regular mail and printed newsletters apply to email communications. But you can also do automated “one-offs” that are set up in a calendar. Here are some of the email campaigns that agents send to stay in steady contact with their existing and future clients:
- Information on new listings or just sold
- Newsletters with helpful tips for homeowners
- Quarterly calendars of community events
- Announcements of open houses
- Birthday greetings
- Home anniversary greetings
- Announcements of home repair lectures at local venues
- Local workshops on gardening or interior design
It makes sense to automate your email marketing efforts. iHOUSE MarketReach is a standalone email campaign and contact management tool that simplifies many of the processes in sending regular email campaigns, including list management and deactivating unsubscribes.
iHOUSE Web Solutions is pleased to announce the launch of its Refer-a-Friend Program that generates “thank you” rewards for both current and newly referred customers. The program works with referrals to iHOUSE Websites and to iHOUSE IDXPro. Current referring customers can choose from among $40 gift cards or credits to their accounts. The newly referred customers will each receive a $40 credit.
We now offer seven additional Realtor associations’ MLS data feeds for the iHOUSE IDXPro Service. These include:
- Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors in New York
- Coastal Mendocino Association of Realtors in California
- Cullman Association of Realtors in Alabama
- Valley Board of Realtors in the Anchorage, Alaska region
- Teton Board of Realtors covering Teton and four surrounding counties in Wyoming
- Lebanon County Association of Realtors/Keystone MLS in Pennsylvania
- Grand County Board of Realtors in Colorado.