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Is Online Chat Making a Comeback for Websites?

One of the things that we tried a few years back at our brokerage, was to provide “online chat” on our website for visitors who wanted some quick information. The thought was that it would provide the user a better experience and that we would get many more leads because of it. We thought that the ability to provide an “instant response” would engage customers in conversation. That did not turn out to be the case. So we let the project drift for a couple of years.

So what has changed that may make this strategy become a more effective experience, marketing wise? For starters, many more websites in other industries are using it, so customers are becoming accustomed to it. Customer service off of websites has taken two routes as the battle to balance customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing costs has raged. The first effort was to go offshore, but that has proven to be less than satisfactory to the user. Keeping a fully staffed 24 hour a day team here in the states was out of the cost range for the companies. Thus the popularity of online chat for support.

Add to that these following trends and we MAY have the making of a new option for real estate agents: Continue reading this post


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on September 9th, 2010 under Guest Bloggers, HomeGain, Technology


Find Your Direction … Magnetically

One of the shows that my kids and I watch together is The Deadliest Catch about crab fishermen up in the Bering Sea near Alaska. In their lives, their financial success is tied directly to their ability to find large “biomasses” of crab in the midst of a vast and forbidden ocean. They use charts and graph to guide their efforts, but in the end, they must set some “test crab-fishing-real-estatepots” to determine where the best fishing is. And it changes from year to year.

Lately I have thought of online marketing (and more especially blogging) in the same vein. So often, the biggest question that real estate bloggers have for me is: “What do I write about?”

When you write, you are sending a hook line and sinker into the vast unknown of the internet. So many time folks choose their blogging subjects based on how they feel at the moment, when they would be better served to purposefully cast a line in the water with the intention for catching something or knowing that the fish are not there and simply moving to different grounds.

That is the secret of finding your direction magentically.

Write about the subjects that your target audience is drawn to. Utilize Google Analytics and other tools to test the conversion rates of those readers… Continue reading this post


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on April 5th, 2010 under Blogging Tips


In SEO, Do Yahoo and Bing Matter? How to Tell.

One of the questions that I get from REALTORS all of the time while consulting is something like this…

“Do I need to worry about ranking in Yahoo and MSN as well as Google?”

“How much attention should I pay to Yahoo and  MSN?”

While the questions vary slightly, the meaning is exactly the same. Each search engine is different. It is one thing to rank really well on one search engine. It is another thing entirely to rank on two (or more). In the past (before Bing and Yahoo announced that Bing would be powering Yahoo), the answer was splendidly easy. Just worry about Google. The rest do not matter. They simply do not have enough market share to matter.

But what about after Microsoft has spent over $100 million advertising Bing as the “decision engine”? What about once Yahoo is powered by Bing? Will they have enough market share to matter then?

A couple of insights are helpful. The first of them is to know how to get a monthly snapshot of the search engine market share. Continue reading this post


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on October 14th, 2009 under Online Marketing, Technology


SEO Basics: 3 Tips for Realtors

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming more important to Realtors® each year. These lesson snippets, provided by Eric Blackwell, Director of Technology with RE/MAX Properties East, will help you understand the importance and how to leverage SEO to your advantage.

Let’s start with the TOPICAL INFORMATION. In seo-google-searchthe SEO business, this is what is known as On Page Optimization. Search Engines index your pages and the only thing that they can see is text so it is important to write/build web pages so that the text is visible to the search engines.

1. Provide QUALITY content.

2. Write search friendly titles for your posts, pages and articles that will attract readers and be something that they will search for. The title will show up on the search engine as a headline and that is what you need to keep in mind.

3. Avoid duplicate content. Why should Google, as the librarians of the internet, keep hundreds of copies of the same book or post or article on the front page? (Hint: They don’t.) When you write on your blogs, be original and unique. It will not only rank better, it will attract more readers.

To get the full lesson and receive the monthly SEO newsletter, sign up for AgentView.

Mr. Blackwell will be hosting a session titled “SEO Is A Team Sport” at HomeGain Live Nation in San Francisco on August 3rd at 2pm. Twitter @homegainnation


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on July 22nd, 2009 under AgentView, Online Marketing


To Force Registration or Not: My Decision

Let me start by saying that for the longest time, I was TOTALLY against “forced registration” (requiring visitors to provide their contact information before viewing the MLS). I not only did not force registration on our brokerage website, but I also wrote about why others should not do it either. In short, I was firmly planted in the “that’s a bad thing to do” camp.

Over time, I softened my position somewhat, when people would tell me that they were having success with it. I still would never do it, but I could not argue with their success.

First, Morgan Carey at told me that I needed to at least try it. Great. Nope. I still would not budge. In my heart, I thought that asking folks for their information

a) was unfriendly

b) it would drive traffic to competitor sites

c) would lower the quality of the lead

d) would result in more obscene emails from unhappy visitors

e) and any increase in # of registrations would be offset with an overall net loss in closings…well, you get the idea (grin).

As more and more people started reporting to me their successes (an example was Wayne Long, who was kind enough to share exactly what was happening on his site with me), I finally decided to TRY it. The folks that I visited with at the REW conference were helpful as well. Almost all of them had already made the transition.

How did it go?

Here are the results: Continue reading this post


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on November 16th, 2008 under Best Practices, Guest Bloggers, MLS, Online Marketing, Polls, Website Strategies


Multiple Streams, Diversification and ROI

One of the things that I often hear as a guy who helps guide people in their online marketing efforts is: “Help me get to the top of the search engines. I am spending WAY TOO MUCH on Pay per Click or (insert marketing venture here).”

That always concerns me to some degree. I want to take what I believe to be basic economics principles, throw them out here, and let’s see whether you agree.

Principle 1:

This is when a given geo-targeted market will have MANY channels that make up its online niche traffic potential. For example, the Louisville real estate market is accessed by MANY marketing channels (TV, radio, natural search engine optimization, Pay per Click, BuyerLink, etc.

Principle 2:

This is when the most effective first step in marketing to a geo-targeted market is to gain dominance of and HOLD a particular marketing channel WITHIN that given market. (Example: someone does PPC and gains a consistent and dominant presence there.) It helps them brand and has SOLID Return on Investment. That return on investment (since it is positive) may be higher or lower than another marketing channel, but it is YOURS. Continue reading this post


Posted by: Eric Blackwell on October 18th, 2008 under Online Marketing


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