Inman’s 2021 Handbook On Realtor.com
Kick off the fall with Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. We’re going deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, realtor.com and more. Top marketing executives drop by to share their newest tactics, too. It’s all you need to take your branding and marketing game to the next level.
For many real estate professionals, realtor.com is the preferred portal for promoting their services, sharing links and checking out the public-facing marketing for listings.
Developed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and operated by Move, Inc., the platform has made the most of its captive COVID shutdown audience, with online traffic that shattered records, ushering in a period of unprecedented growth.
We published our first Inman Handbook on realtor.com last year, and now, we’re bringing you both an update, based on realtor.com’s current consumer and agent-focused initiatives, and the tried-and-true tips and how-to’s you need to set up and optimize your realtor.com profile — and get the most out of the portal’s consumer engagement.
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What’s new: Realtor.com growth and brand initiatives
According to Lexie Puckett Holbert, director of communications for realtor.com, the platform’s traffic records during fiscal year 2021 included:
- Growing its audience faster than its closest competitor.
- Averaging 106 million unique users per month.
- Increasing unique users per month by 32 percent year over year.
Holbert attributes much of this success to what she calls the portal’s “turbocharged” marketing approach, including new initiatives focusing on first-time homebuyers, one of the pandemic’s most active market segments. This, coupled with the higher rates of savings and active housing markets across the country, has driven record levels of growth.
During the same time, realtor.com realigned its business and brand “to deliver personalization, helpfulness, and humanness,” Holbert said. This has been evident through new product development, strategic mergers and acquisitions — including the December 2020 acquisition of rental platform Avail — and a new brand campaign titled “Homes for Every Buyer.”
As part of its commitment to confronting housing bias and helping to shrink the homeownership gap, the brand’s new initiative is focused on “empowering consumers with the options and expertise to make confident decisions.” Featuring the tagline “To Each Their Home,” the marketing push launched in the midst of one of the most competitive buying seasons in recent history.
The marketing initiative uses a family of cacti, a troll couple, and a vampire to humorously illustrate the unique needs and journeys of different types of homebuyers.
In addition to illustrating that buyer needs vary, the character configurations — a family with children, a couple without children and a single homebuyer — are more reflective of the different types of homebuyers who are active in today’s real estate markets.
Plugging into new consumer initiatives
According to Will Greene, realtor.com’s director of product management, one of the portal’s most valuable yet underutilized capabilities is its concierge network, ReadyConnect Concierge. Here, agents can use the Referral Manager to connect, communicate and collaborate with prospective clients and other stakeholders throughout the buying or selling process.
After prescreening interested leads, the referral manager conducts an introductory phone call to familiarize the agent and potential client with each other and with the client’s search parameters.
In addition, agents can schedule tours, send messages and track leads in the app, allowing them to be more responsive even on the go. In exchange, agents pay a referral fee only on closed transactions.
“Our referral model has quietly become an area of significant competitive advantage for the 190,000+ agents and 17,000+ brokers who participate,” Greene said. The service also has digital lending options and title providers to provide value to consumers from search through closing.
To provide added value to sellers, the Seller’s Marketplace includes brokers with iOffer programs, providing solutions that help agents and brokers offer more choice to their listing clients. “Rent-back and purchase options allow homeowners to sell their current home before they buy a new one,” Greene said.
In addition, the portal’s My Home experience builds on the Seller’s Marketplace, allowing homeowners to learn more about their home’s current market value and request an offer from participating providers. This takes them to the Marketplace where they can learn more about iOffers and connect with listing agents.
According to Greene, “Moving forward, we will continue to listen to listing agents as we explore tools and resources that will help these professionals showcase their value to sellers, market their clients’ homes more effectively, and share their sales success with potential clients.”
Optimizing your realtor.com presence
If you are an MLS member, you have a default profile at realtor.com that’s searchable through Google. If you are a member of NAR, you have a default profile that is searchable through realtor.com’s “Find a Realtor” search. These profiles are auto-populated and waiting for you to claim and optimize.
To claim your profile, go to dashboard.realtor.com, and select “Don’t have an account? Sign up.” At this point, you will be asked for the following information:
- The state where your MLS is located.
- Your MLS name.
- Your MLS agent ID, public ID, agent number or member number.
- Your name as you would like for it to display.
You will then click on “Verify MLS Information” if everything is correct, at which point you will be redirected to a “Welcome” page. Here, you’ll click “Sign into the dashboard.” This will allow you to begin to optimize your profile.
You can also create a profile for your team as a whole. According to Greene, all agents can subsequently use either the website or the realtor.com Pro mobile app to:
- Update their profile.
- Edit their listings on the go.
- Add a unique header image to their profile.
- Add links to their website and social media profiles.
In addition, for those agents to upgrade to the portal’s lead-gen products, the app provides a way to:
- Communicate with leads and clients via call, text or email.
- Receive push notifications whenever a lead comes in.
- Keep leads and contacts organized by updating their status in the app.
Agents also have access to on-demand training sessions and other resources through the platform’s virtual training center, according to Greene. Here, you’ll find both practical information about the portal and tips for optimizing your marketing efforts there, including profile development, improving SEO and creating winning listings on the platform.
Agents can register in advance for virtual training sessions hosted by realtor.com success coaches or take advantage of a library of on-demand sessions. This is a robust resource for everything from basic tips and tricks to more advanced topics related to the platform’s lead gen options.
Another level of platform utilization is provided by the Local Expert product, which offers targeting to in-market buyers within the platform, with retargeting across the Facebook network, including Instagram. Initial targeting can be by ZIP code for hyperlocal focus or by city to broaden your outreach.
Within the realtor.com dashboard, you can request reviews from your clients for recent transactions. You will provide information about the recent transaction, and the client will receive a fillable form to submit their review.
To ensure that your clients are ready and willing to provide reviews for your realtor.com profile, consider the following strategies:
- Begin early in the process, and let clients know you will be reaching out for a review.
- Gather feedback throughout the process to ensure the review will be a good one.
- Request a review, both from the platform and through follow-up by email or phone.
- Follow up, and thank clients for their reviews, perhaps with a handwritten note.
Optimizing your listing on realtor.com
Greene says that much of the platform’s growth is attributable to its focus on a comprehensive approach that solves fundamental problems for buyers, sellers and agents. This involves “building consumer confidence with an open marketplace where people can learn about their options, trust in the transparency of information provided to them, and get services and resources that are personalized to their needs.”
At the same time, realtor.com “wants to be the preferred industry partner,” Greene said, with a focus on a consumer experience that “reinforces agent value.”
To that end, the Advantage Brand marketing product enables agents to “prominently brand themselves on their listing for both the local search results pages and their listing detail pages on the portal,” including a link to the agent’s website along with their contact information.
In addition, the platform offers agents the opportunity to do all of the following:
- View activity, including how many times a listing has appeared in search results.
- View inquiries, leads received, response performance and profile visits.
- Send homeseller reports to clients.
- Fully customize and optimize listings within the realtor.com website, including adding, editing and removing photos and open house information.
The listing support section of the realtor.com site provides a variety of articles and videos offering guidance for creating 3D tours and adding them to the listing, livestreaming open houses and adding virtual content to the listing within the platform.
Realtor.com offers agents and brokers unprecedented access to a growing number of marketing services on both the buy and sell-side while putting their information and expertise in front of a massive online audience. With both a robust website and mobile app, the portal offers almost unlimited potential alongside industry-leading options for optimization and outreach.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.