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"The Power of Stealth Marketing!"

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Rob Levy Photo
2/4/05 Interview with Rob Levy

The Rob Levy Team
9600 SW Barnes Rd, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97225

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Context for Levy's Web Site

Levy has had a web site for 10 years that works very well for him; he benefits from Portland, OR being a tech center; the Northwest has an Internet savvy population and a very high concentration of email users.

Viral Marketing

  1. An e-newsletter is the least expensive, most effective tool for online marketing; Levy began with a text newsletter but found that people were quickly deleting text messages (on average in 4.1 seconds); therefore, he converted to HTML.
  2. The advantage of formatting in HTML is that the viewer gets a stronger, more immediate impact upon seeing the message, even for a few seconds on a preview screen; it is comparable to a postcard making a branding impression even as the recipient throws it away.
  3. Recipients of an e-letter who find something they like in it are prone to forward it to a group, so the circulation advances geometrically without the agent doing anything more; Levy gets lots of leads this way from sources he is not aware of.
  4. Levy includes a statement in the e-letter authorizing people to forward it to others in its entirety and a place to click to add someone to the list.
  5. To track information on who reads what, Levy made articles and charts smaller so that viewers had to click on them to make them legible; 82% of people clicked on the charts and only 8% clicked on the article.
  6. The lesson Levy learned is to put the chart of the Portland average sales price right at the top of his e-letter with "The Rob Levy Team," logo and his photo.
Stealth Marketing

  1. The inclination of a growing number of people (especially young people) to search out information for themselves will have an increasing impact on how people buy real estate going forward; you need to brand yourself with a web site, but the site needs to focus more on offering service and selling consumers on you.
  2. If consumers access IDX listings directly from your site, you have no way to identify who the searchers are; Levy and a friend have developed a "stealth marketing" technique to capture information about IDX searchers.
  3. Levy has put a page between his site and the IDX; when visitors to his site click on "Search the MLS," they go to another page with its own distinct address (Levy uses that asks for the searchers' name and email address and then transports them to the Prudential Northwest Properties IDX search site.
  4. While they are searching the IDX listings, Levy sends an email offering to email appropriate listings automatically to them as new ones come on the market; the email directs them to
  5. is basically an input page for the searcher to enter name, email and search criteria; it says nothing about Levy as a REALTOR® until the bottom.
  6. Levy promotes the two pages with their own addresses, not his branded page; the more generic sounding addresses generate a much higher response rate from paid advertising; the conversion rate is about 2%-people who would not have come to
Bonding with Internet Buyers

  1. The challenge after capturing his stealth contact information is to sell Internet buyers on the service he offers; along with the listings they want, Levy sends a series of informative emails on buyers' tips plus periodic check-in messages-"Did you like any of the homes? Let me know."
  2. The simple check-in messages get a high reply rate; perseverance pays off because it takes an average of 16 weeks for people to finally be ready; after prolonged email contact, rapport with buyers is strong when finally meeting in person.
  3. At the time of the interview, Levy was working with 3,009 stealth-source people and expected to close 37 within the year; a virtual assistant sends all educational messages with her name as a real person to contact; she spends only about 90 minutes a day and flips buyers to a team buyer's agent when appropriate.
800# Phone System

  1. Levy uses an 800 IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system and lists that 800# instead of a local number in his advertising; his flyers list only bare bullet points about houses-no running text and no price; people are directed to call the 800# and push a coded extension for 24-hour recorded information.
  2. People must call to get the information they want; the pre-recorded format is non-threatening; about 60% of responses come in the evening and early morning.
  3. During the first 8 seconds of the message, the system pages Levy with the caller's number and emails him phone number and complete address; when people call an 800#, they cannot block their own number.
  4. Someone on Levy's team calls back to ask if the person's questions were answered and offers to show the house.
  5. Levy refers to the system in his listing presentations, having the prospect call one of the listings-it is impressive when a buyer's agent responds within five minutes; Levy also unrolls his list of 3,000+ buyers from his stealth system.
Levy's FSBO System

  1. Levy has developed a FSBO site,, that offers FSBOs the free opportunity to post a photo and description of their house for sale.
  2. To post a house, sellers must enter a valid email address; Levy uses it to send them a campaign about getting the house ready for sale and to send check-in messages to convince them to use him as an agent.
  3. Buyers coming to the site also must enter a name and valid email address; Levy follows up with an email campaign directing them to; he has a chance of working with buyers who don't find what they want from FSBOs.
Marketing the Sites

  1. To promote, Levy gets lists of FSBOs from title companies and services and calls FSBOs directly about using the site.
  2. The stealth sites are promoted by spreading small, simple ads throughout regional newspapers; pay-per-click if done correctly through a service also directs many people there.
Favorite Web Sites is one of the best sites in the nation for researching local home information, including maps, photos, sewer lines, crime stats, etc.; Levy links to it and other strong local sites on his own site; get an idea of what's available for you by checking your competitors' sites!

Contact Information for Rob Levy:

(v) 503-906-1444
(f) 503-520-2203

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Interactive Voice Response: 800 IVR system