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5 Best Practices for Advertising on Property Portals

January 18 2016

zillow boyengasHusband-and-wife team Eric and Janelle BoyengaEric and Janelle Boyenga were among the very first agents to start advertising with Zillow. A decade ago, portals were still new and agents were beginning their first tenuous steps into online marketing.

"Years ago, and still even now, we'd spend money in different places and just see what sticks," says Janelle. "If something stuck, we'd spend more money."

Zillow was one of the places that stuck. They joined the site in February of 2006 with an initial investment of $1000. In the 10 years since, Zillow has consistently been their best source of leads and business growth.

"Zillow really catapulted our business," says Eric. "We get a lot of leads--somewhere between 100 to 200 leads a month. If we had Zillow 20 years ago, we would be where we are today 10 years earlier because you can really speed up your growth."

Over the past decade, the Boyengas have perfected their Zillow game and they now share their knowledge with other agents as trainers in Zillow's Accelerate Program for Zillow Premier Agents. They shared their favorite best practices for leveraging Zillow during our interview.

Best Practices for Leveraging Zillow

Providing great customer service is the best way to make the most of your investment in advertising with Zillow, according to the Boyengas.

"A lot of Realtors don't understand what clients are looking for and don't take online client contact seriously," says Janelle. "They're looking for a Realtor that's professional, and so many times agents don't even respond to clients when they email them or text them--and all they want is your help!"

Janelle says that it's important to understand what the next generation of clients is looking for and respond to them accordingly. "If you don't, then you're not going to survive in this industry," she says. "If you're going to spend money on online marketing, you better know how to respond to and convert leads."

Beyond a foundation of strong customer service skills, the Boyengas also suggest the following for success with Zillow:

1. Fully build out your Zillow profile - This means a headshot, bio, past sales, and client reviews. "Find a way to differentiate yourself," says Janelle. "Show that you are proven and have a good track record."

2. Focus on small areas - A common rookie mistake is spreading yourself too thin. "Focus first on a very small area, maybe 100 to 200 homes," says Eric. "Don't just throw a pile of money into a pile of zip codes and expect that to be the end-all. Expect this to be just like a farmer planting seeds. You plant the seeds, you grow them, you harvest them, and then you get ready for next year. There's no fast way to grow your business at first, but companies like Zillow can be helpful to at least provide incremental business that you probably wouldn't be getting if you're just using the normal sphere-of-influence methods."

3. Avoid the "choice" communities - Don't advertise in the places every agent desires--the luxury or high-end neighborhoods--because your voice will be lost in all the noise. "Go with the condos, for example," says Eric. "Some of the people who've been most successful here in Silicon Valley here are condo agents. They'll sell 250 condos and make more money than any of the luxury agents. So really, find your niche, find what works."

4. Identify the areas ripe for advertising - It may seem counterintuitive, but the Boyengas advocate advertising in zipcodes where there's a multitude of agents doing business. "That means that no one really owns the area or really has a strong presence in it," says Eric. "Those are the best areas to enter. You don't want to be trying to enter an area with someone who's been there for 20 years and has a 60% market share."

5. Make a commitment - One of the most important things is to understand that success won't happen overnight. Don't be disappointed when you don't see the results you wished after a month or three. "You have to make a commitment," says Janelle. "A year is a small commitment. You really have to be on the two or three year plan, minimal, and then you'll start seeing results. You have to be patient and you have to keep pounding the pavement. It's really working hard and focusing on and having set some goals--big, big goals."

Delighting the Consumer

Janelle and Eric understand that a lot of agents are hesitant to advertise with Zillow, thanks to the belief that portals are "selling your listings back to you."

"Zillow is just an advertising platform," says Eric. "You can figure out where you want to spend your advertising. You can either go with a newspaper or magazine or a mailer, or you can find online sources. What Zillow does is provide a platform for buyers and sellers to get a better idea of what's going on in their marketplace, educating them. These are things that only benefit agents."

The couple says that the way Zillow "delights the consumer" by educating them and providing them a great online experience is why the portal is able to attract so many real estate leads and, in turn, pass those leads on to agents.

"I think that in the past, consumers have been in a fog and they have all these questions because the industry has kind of kept them in the dark," says Eric. "Companies like Zillow have put a lot of effort into really educating the consumer and providing agents with tools that will help them provide a better customer experience. Any business that helps create transparency in the real estate field we're big proponents of."

Agents, do you advertise with Zillow? If so, what are some of your favorite best practices? Share your experiences in the comments below!