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Check out the commentary. I got responses from agents with positive and negative commentary. John Boudreau the actual writer that prompted my original blog chimed in.
I would like to further the conversation by clarifying a few points.
I mentioned that a website does not sell a property. And of course it does not. And it never will. Not until you put a contract and ecommerce shopping cart on a Realty site. Try that one and wait how long it takes for the wrath of the State AG's to come down on you. It is not to say that someone won't call you to see a house off an open non-forced registration. They --MIGHT.
One reason, that I am against an open MLS without forced registration is that it imply's a free service of data that is not free. It is paid for with a heavy price by the industry. And as an ex-Realtor and vendor that benefits from this industry called real estate, I feel it necessary to come down on practices that I see counter intuitive to everything I know about Marketing.
It is not to say that the day isn't coming whereby I think there will be a shakeout of the industry. I do believe that we will see fee for service as more common practice some day. Heck, what is too stop Big Brother Google from creating MLS.Google.com? They do have a goal of indexing the worlds information. But that is a topic for another day.
The second reason is that an open registration is analogous to a person working up desk & giving out all the information on a property without any reciprocal information back in return. "Ya'll just feel free to call me back now". There are many styles, but the only successful people in real estate are those who know how to sell. And the only way to sell, is via some sort of communication. That requires interaction. Not what in affect is brochure marketing. Any sales class I have taken, Corporate or Private, has always laughingly reminded me that when I hand out a brochure, it goes right into the round file.
An open MLS is a passive process. You are waiting for a "prospect" to come back. Study after study has shown that loyalty is fickle on line. Again, when it takes up to two years to buy a home, I would rather not count on Joe and Mary home buyer's "bookmarking" system in their browser. It is for the same reason you make people register at an open house.
To call people smart who don't want to give up information is contrary to current trends. In fact, many sophisticated searchers are now looking for services to packet information together for them. As they are tired of having to package together information. This is why Google, Yahoo and to some extent, MSN, keep coming out with narrower forms of search. You have Local search, Blogging Search, Music, etc, etc.
So my experience tells me that people whom are serious shoppers don't mind opting into a follow up system and appreciate the service.
In fact, just recently DM news reported that 78 Percent Buy After Seeing Ads, Promotions ,"New consumer data shows that e-mail marketing works--quite well, in fact. Seventy-eight percent of respondents to DoubleClick's sixth annual consumer survey, "E-mail Solutions," said they've made a purchase as a result of receiving an e-mail, 59 percent said they've redeemed an e-mail coupon in a store, and nearly one-third said they've clicked on an e-mail and made an immediate purchase. Users are now comfortable with e-mail; the report says they understand and accept the fact that marketers collect and use data to send them relevant e-mails. "
The opt-in is the transaction of your website. There is not a sale, except of your MLS data. The purchase is when they give their information away, for the MR/MRS Realty's MLS data. Of course the above study isn't from real estate. But it does show a favorable behavior trend.
Now, by the same token, expecting someone to show you loyalty just because you showed them your listings after opt in, is still wishful thinking.
Now, after all that, I do not think it unreasonable to test partial information as a tease to tempt the visitor to opt in. We see this often whereby visitors will go to a real estate thumbnail page of listings, and then have to opt in to get more information.
Everyone is welcome to comment. As you can see from the previous posts, I listed positive and negative comments. One teetered on the edge of being more of a flame than a post. However, I chose to approve the comment because of the point the writer finally did make.Don't be afraid to list your company. At the same time don't make this into an advertisement without adding to the conversation.
Do you remember the Napster peer to peer sharing fight? The recording industry brought Napster down because they said that the open access of their data cheapens and belittles their proprietary information.
However, in a recent article in Rismedia the author pointed out that Realtors are mistaken for not allowing open access to their data.
"....in Entrepreneur Magazine, more that 70% of consumers say that they are unlikely to purchase from, or return to a site after encountering “register for more information” log-on pages that block access to promised content."
Comments: I have yet to see a Realtor Website sell a property. That is not the point of a Real Estate agent website. Or an ad, open house, or any other promotion that features a property. The point is to build a data base of prospects. Everyone should know that very few people ever buy a home off an ad. Especially as markets soften.
"...Often, Realtors require their potential customers to login in to get access to MLS listings and “free” information. ...we’re finding that a huge percentage of Web site visitors are just not ready to buy or sell a home right now. Asking them to login just drives them away. The key is to afford them access to information until their ready..."
Comments: Thinking that a consumer will loyaly just come back to a real estate website without prodding shows complete misunderstanding of the web. If you are driving down the street and want a Slurpee. On the right hand side is a 7-11, and on the Left is a Circle K, which one are going into. The most convenient one to pull into. Comparatively there is no unique difference from the two stores. The visitor knows that your listings are the same as the other sites listings.
"...Think about it. If you had a retail store that sold expensive cameras, would you stop your potential customers at the door and ask for their name, phone and e-mail? If you did, pretty soon you wouldn’t have any customers. The “I don’t want to talk to you unless you’re serious” attitude needs to stop if real estate professional hope to truly service this growing market."
Comments: Sales is about qualifying. And if I had a person come into my "widget" store, I would not spend time with that person at all if they continued to window shop. I can still be pleasant and humble. But if I place any value on my time, service, or product, I had better be picky. Any top producer in real estate that I have ever known is extremely particular about their time and who they are willing to expend that time with.
"According to Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards in San Francisco, “Before, the goal was just to get people onto their site. Now the goal is to offer them information, links and services that can help them.”
Comments: Information for a price. The transaction that occurs on a website is I have homes with extensive information. If you want it, I have it. The price for admission is your name, email, phone + or -. People by and large will not come back to your site because you were so kind to give out all the information. Study a great upcall Realtor in any office. They have this attitude that you will not find out all you want to know about this property unless the callers gives up some revealing informationabout their motivation. And they then go thru a dance of give and take.
"Realtors must go through a paradigm shift. A paradigm is “a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality”, according to dictionary.com. Reality had changed.
Reality has changed. More people than ever now use the web. If you the agent are to compete, you have to capture these visiotrs, then create loyalty.
There is no loyalty to a website in and of itself. Studies have shown that we typically can remember 9 websites. My site, and yours is not one of them. Thus, we have to make an offer and capture the visitor. For you the agent, your best hook is access to your listings.
To allow open access to the MLS is would create what I call the Napster affect. This is what the Recording industry sued Napster over. They said open access to their data ( records) would cheapen their datas value.
You are cheapening your only tangible assett. The MLS data that you and your fellow Realtors have worked so hard to compile. To give it away now would be ashame.
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