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"Search and Destroy the Competition!"


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Joshua Konowe Photo
2/4/05 Interview with Joshua Konowe

e-Agent, Inc.
1889 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Biography

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The Importance of Effective Marketing

The need for agents and brokers to market individually and to combine their efforts is even more important than two years ago because competition is stiffer from more agents.

Responding to Search Engine Pressure

  1. Search engines have evolved to a pay-for-place situation; to make paying for real estate phrases an effective return on investment, you need to gather information on the consumers coming to your site and the phrases that make sense to your local market.
  2. Have data collection areas on as many parts of your web site as possible without their becoming annoying to consumers.
  3. Avoid making too many offers for freebies so that your site won't seem gimmicky; attracting people with giveaways may not build a clean database that will really benefit you.
  4. The key is leveraging use of the search engines so that you capture people's information in timely fashion; e-Agent focuses on accomplishing that for its clients-leveraging traffic, gathering data, and routing it to agents for their own effective use.
  5. The aim is to build a database that can be followed up in multiple ways-by phone, mail campaign and email campaign.
Search Engine Promises

  1. "Guarantees" of top-10 search engine placement have become the subject of spam and direct-call solicitations to agents; almost none of these placement companies can deliver what they say.
  2. The top-10 positioning guarantees are tricky because companies may guarantee one phrase but not another; they may guarantee positioning by paying for it, which you can arrange on your own.
  3. In reality, Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. use their own internal algorithm to determine what will be brought up and when-a 600 million combination string of code; nobody knows a secret answer as they claim.
  4. At this time, paying for positioning is the only guarantee of achieving visible placement.
Techniques to Enhance Placement

  1. Target phrases that are significant for your local marketplace-name of town, state letters or the state spelled out followed by words such as "real estate, homes, houses, property, REALTOR®, realty."
  2. When you sign up for paid advertising with Overture, Google and other paid venues, they give you tools to see who's typing in what and how often; before buying search terms for clients, e-Agent uses these search engine tools and also does its own market research about what consumers are doing.
  3. e-Agent encourages pay-per-click; the company even tells its clients how to go about arranging pay-per-click themselves for other web sites so that they can show up on the page multiple times.
  4. Pay-per-click needs to be evaluated on a return-on-investment basis; an agent may find that to remain competitive, the cost may reach a painful threshold; if the cost per acquisition exceeds other means of acquiring leads, then pay-per-click does not make sense.
How to Make Your Web Site Effective

  1. The most critical piece of information to have on your site is an IDX solution [Internet Data Exchange] or the public searchable MLS in your local market; this is the first element that an agent should be willing to spend money on.
  2. An IDX solution allows agents to buy into a local program to see the representing agent for all listings in the covered area; visitors to the agent's web site may also see the listing information; it expands agents' opportunities to sell listings besides their own.
  3. You should upload your listings to your own site even if they are automatically being listed at REALTOR.com; posting them to your individual site exposes them to additional local traffic, and that fact is a strong marketing point to raise with selling prospects.
e-Agent in a Nutshell

  1. e-Agent is a marketing company for residential agents that offers its client-agents exclusive support in a territory based on a town name; agents get a web site-including domain name and deep content-for every town or city they choose.
  2. The company pays to promote the site(s) it gives to agents on a search engine to drive traffic back to it; leads are generated when consumers decide to leave their information.
  3. Some e-Agent clients use only the site from the company, but others use additional sites and take an e-Agent training course on how to leverage the effectiveness of multiple sites with search engines.
Leads vs. Referrals

  1. A referral is a client who has been handed to you and is only yours to lose; leads are possible clients who require more persuasion and need to be handled differently.
  2. Agents without the patience to work with leads will have difficulty generating business from the Internet; the majority of Internet leads will not end up as transactions.
  3. Even with a poor closure rate (1 in 100), the cost for leads is usually favorable vs. the cost of referral fees.
The Competitive Edge

  1. The company is wrongly compared to lead/referral generating vendors such as ServiceMagic, AgentConnect or HomeGain; e-Agent does generate an average of more than one lead a day for its clients, but the leads are a by-product of its services.
  2. Companies that focus on lead generation promote their own sites and then route leads out; e-Agent follows an exclusivity model and promotes the sites given to its clients as a local portal in their markets.
  3. e-Agent applies its vast marketing experience to bring leads to its clients, but the company also offers a long-term marketing opportunity online via a stable presence that both agents and consumers can count on.
  4. e-Agent is meeting the needs of agents for having a web site and for promoting and distinguishing themselves; clients also benefit from the buying power and branding of e-Agent.
Favorite Spots on the Web

  1. Konowe uses search engines constantly-especially Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.
  2. SalesForce is a CRM tool e-Agent has integrated internally for monitoring client needs.
Anticipated Innovations

  1. Marketing will become wireless; search engines are already being integrated onto cell phones and PDAs; search engines have the best plan of attack because computers will become the most powerful way to meet consumers.
  2. The biggest psychological shift over the next 3-5 years is that consumers will gain more control over seeing advertising when they want to; they are already choosing to be presented with less advertising (e.g., opting out of pop-up ads); the Do Not Call list is likely to be broadened to other media.
Contact Information for Joshua Konowe:

(v) 866-324-3687
(f) 571-323-5023
(e) jkonowe@e-agent.biz
(w)www.e-agent.biz


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

e-Agent, Inc.

Paid searches:
www.content.overture.com

Top search engines:
www.google.com
www.yahoo.com
www.msn.com

www.salesforce.com