Should You Give Away Your Listings Content On Your Website?

This article was originally posted on Active Rain in August 2007.

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 There seems to be two distinct, diametrically opposed schools of thought out there among web developers about what agents should do with their listings information on their website.  In one corner is the group that advocates mandatory pre-registration before a visitor can see even a hint of listings information and, in the other corner, is the group that says, “hey, give it away because consumers will never register anyway.”

I’m here on my soapbox to advocate for the Green Party.  OK, who could help dropping in a little political joke with all the politicos in the news right now, but I am perfectly serious when I tell you that there is another road less traveled in the online lead generation game.

As I’ve stated before, pre-registration is a turn off for consumers and a waste of your traffic generating efforts.  The big giveaway, on the other hand, is an utter waste of a unique opportunity to generate solid leads for your real estate business.

There is, I humbly submit, a middle ground.

A sophisticated IDX solutions allows you to “dance” with your visitors, keeping them on your site longer and ultimately getting a little contact information to start forging a stronger relationship.  These solutions let you give away a lot of great listings information, but they also let you trade a soft registration for extra value, like a place for the visitor to save his or her listings, the ability to get a listing’s address, the opportunity to receive daily new listing updates by email, and so on.

An IDX database is just that — a database.  Databases can be manipulated in creative and enticing ways to serve information hungry website visitors and encourage registration with extras.  I talk about this more in What Has Your IDX Done For You Lately?

 I absolutely agree with the giveaway crowd that an agent should be generous with information.  But I also believe that subtle lead capturing should be aggressively pursued wherever and whenever possible, as the fastest ticket to solid business growth.  Real estate agents have a unique online marketing opportunity because their stock in trade — listings — can be reduced to a manipulable database, and they should fully leverage this opportunity to grow their businesses.  Doctors, lawyers and other service professionals aren’t so lucky.  Why would you waste this opportunity?

What do you think?  Join me on my soapbox for a better way?

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