This post is part of Union Street Media’s submission for the Forrester Research Groundswell Award.
I would love it if you take time to write a review at the Groundswell site.
Name of Groundswell Entry:
One-Click Real Estate Search Feature
Name of Company Entering:
Union Street Media
Dates available to users:
December 2007 to present
What is the audience for the One-Click Real Estate Search Feature?
Real estate professionals looking to attract attention from consumers by demonstrating the the professional’s knowledge of consumer needs and property on the market.
What is the environment in which the One-Click Real Estate Search Feature operates?
Real estate marketing online has changed significantly in the past four years. One of the developments has been the rise of competition from other real estate professionals as well as the rise of real estate data aggregation sites.
Real estate professionals would like to attract as much of the initial attention of real estate consumers as possible. One advantage real estate professionals have over aggregation sites can be leveraged by demonstrating their knowledge of local markets.
What business problem does the One-Click Real Estate Search Feature solve?
Real estate professionals want to use their knowledge of their market to deliver the most appropriately customized search results for their clients. Existing generic MLS sites (sites containing all of the listing data for a particular geographic region as entered by realtors but lacking visual style or other customizations) typically do not offer this capability. Existing aggregation sites may not contain the most accurate information.
What are the business goals of the One-Click Real Estate Search Feature?
This feature was developed to help real estate professionals attract consumer attention by demonstrating the depth of their knowledge about their local markets to consumers. As with any business, efficiency is important. Use of the tool should require as little time as possible to yield the greatest benefit possible.
How does this feature work?
The feature begins by pooling data from the real estate professional’s MLS (Multiple Listing Service, a database of property information entered by realtors and maintained by an organization of realtors). This gives their site an advantage over national aggregators as MLS data is often perceived as more accurate and complete than that of aggregation sites.
After the MLS data is added to the system, a real estate professional can then enter in specific search criteria which is run against the MLS data. It is easy to create searches such as whether or not the property is suitable for equestrian use, architectural style, proximity to sports facilities and so on as well as for number of rooms or pricing or other non-specialized information.
Introductory or explanatory text can be added to the search to further demonstrate the real estate professionals knowledge about homes within the One-Click search.
The search query can be given any name which the real estate professional thinks is relevant, and then saved.
Once saved, a link to the search results is available from anywhere on the real estate professional’s web site. The search results page displays the text as well as the listings which are related to the search.
It is important to note that the creativity and knowledge expressed by the real estate professional in using local language and expressions can differentiate them from their local and regional competitors as well as national aggregation sites. It is also important to note that this language and expression is accompanied by presenting relevant information to consumers.
In list form, because I love lists:
- Import MLS system for most accurate data (automatic from our CMS)
- From the admin site create search filter
- From the admin site name the search filter
- Save and go about your day
- Someone finds your search result page
Two examples of how this all appears on a site, for a consumer: Wright Realty’s White Mountains Ski Homes One-Click Real Estate Search and Patton Property Group’s Bring on the Horses One Click Real Estate Search.
Business results of the One Click Real Estate Search feature:
First, some qualitative results. Here is what one of the users of this feature, Sean Bossie of Wright Realty, has to say:
“The diversity of use for this tool is at first very subtle and admittedly I overlooked its true strength by the apparent simplicity of it.
The “One Click” customized real estate searches we create offer our users the online experience they want–speed in searching and clear, targeted results. If a potential client is interested in purchasing a “log home near a river in the White Mountain National Forest” we can now create that very specific targeted search–rapidly reducing the time it would take this user to dig through hundreds of listings in numerous towns in order to read the detail view and find this particular home.”
The effect of this tool is magnified when combined with existing analytics tools such as Google Analytics. Again, from Sean Bossie:
“The use of these ‘Long Tail’ custom searches now allows even small firms like ourselves to use Pareto distribution strategies that the mega-marketing companies like Amazon and Netflix do. Not only does this help us reach ALL our potential client needs but it also leverages our search engine efforts with new, increased exposure for those ‘One Click’ searches.”
I particularly like how the combination of using Google Analytics to listen can be combined with using the One-Click Real Estate Search to present the right listings.
Now for some numbers.
One way to measure the results of using the One-Click Real Estate Search feature would be to look at the number of landings the One-Click Real Estate Search generates and multiply that number by the cost for a keyword buy in the general area. This would give us a sense of the value of the real estate professional’s knowledge which is now unleashed by the feature. The metric could probably be improved or refined but should serve as a useful indicator nonetheless.
Last month, Patton Property Group received about 630 landings on pages generated via the One-Click Real Estate Search feature. The average cost of an keyword buy in the appropriate real estate market is about $3.25. It would cost about $2,040 per month to deliver the same targeted traffic via Google Adwords.
Note: These measurements do not calculate the value of pleasing a consumer who arrived on the site via another source.
The One-Click Real Estate Search Feature is available as a component of the Union Street Media Real Estate Web Design CMS.