Honesty is the Best Policy
Honesty is the Best Policy
Dear Mr. Internet,
I find that when my Web site visitors use forms on my site to request more information, they often give me false contact information. How can I encourage them to be more honest?— Kyra Waldron, Coldwell Banker, Los Angeles, Calif.
What you are experiencing is a common problem for real estate professionals with a significant online presence. Paradoxically, one of the keys to convincing visitors to your site to be more forthcoming is to assure them that they don't have to be!
It is important to remember that your online visitors are Internet Empowered Consumers ™ (IEC™), who are very different from the typical offline real estate prospect. In particular:
- They value their privacy. Before IECs give you personal information, they want explicit assurances that their privacy will be protected.
- They may not be ready to open up. Most online real estate consumers are in the information-gathering stage when they first visit your site. They aren’t ready to buy, and they don’t want you calling them. So they chose to remain anonymous.
- They want to be in control. Threaten their anonymity and/or try to take control of the situation by pressuring them to give more information, and you’ll meet with resistance.
Once you’ve recognized the characteristics of the IEC, the next step is to incorporate this knowledge into your online forms. When you do, you’ll see a big shift in the way visitors respond. Here’s how:
- Ask for only the information you really need. Don’t insist on full contact information if all you really need to send them what they’ve requested is their e-mail addresses. Make all other fields in the form optional. Ironically, you’ll find that more people are actually willing to provide correct information if they don’t feel pressured to do so.
- Give them something of value. Make sure it’s very clear what value the visitor will receive in exchange for completing the form. Whether it’s a new listing that meets a client’s criteria, a packet on how to make your home more salable, or a relocation package, the importance of offering valuable information as a way to induce prospects to provide contact information cannot be overstated.
One of the more successful online real estate marketers in the business is Alice Held. With her permission, I've taken one of her Web forms and modified it slightly to make it even more compelling. This form makes it clear that only the e-mail address field needs to be completed to receive the relocation package or the newsletter.
There are cases—such as virtual office Web sites (VOWS)—where the visitor must complete all the information within the form. In such cases, include an explanation with the form about why full contact information is required. (For example, an MLS often requires full contact information before providing access to a listing). And, once again, reassure visitors that their information will not be shared with anyone.
The Customer is Always Right
Regardless of where I travel around the world speaking to real estate salespeople, they all seem to have the same frustrations in working effectively with the Internet Empo wered Consumer™. But keep in mind that as real estate professionals, we need to adjust to this special kind of consumer, and not insist that they do business the way we prefer. If you take the time to meet IECs™ on their terms, you’ll find they will be att racted to you like a magnet—if only because so many others are pushing them away.
Tip of the Month
You’ve often heard me mention alternatives to Adobe Acrobat for creating PDF documents. There are probably a dozen such alternatives, some good, others not so good. However, I’ve finally found one that I'm truly excited about. It's called PDF995 . You can download this program and install it for free in a couple of minutes. There are no restrictions on this program, which means no " watermarks" within your PDF documents (something most other supposedly free PDF creation products do).
Once installed, the program acts as print driver, letting you convert anything you could normally print into a full-color PDF document. The program acts as one your default printers, so when you click on print, it creates a PDF. Then you just save it to your hard drive.
I viewed one of Judy McCutchin's virtual tours online that had an option to view a flyer on the property. Instead, I used PDF995 to create a PDF version in just a few seconds. PDFs give a much more professional look than just sending copy and a linked photo when you’re trying to interest a prospect in a property. And with PDF995, it’s almost effortless to send a PDF instead.
PDF995 is fast, friendly, and free. The only catch with the free version is that it will open several Web advertisement pages every time you create a new document with it. If you find this too annoying, just pay the $9.95 (hence the name PDF995), and the pop-ups go away. Either way, it is probably the best deal you will ever find for creating PDF documents!
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