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REW Summit Toronto: Day One Speakers & Schedule

REW Summit in DenverREW Summit Toronto is two months away and it is my absolute pleasure to announce the schedule we've created for day one. The first day of Summit is action-packed and sure to inspire your next tech projects. Here's how things are shaping up:

Day 1 Schedule

8:00 am - 9:00 am
Registration - Sign in, grab your badge, and mix and mingle with staff and attendees.

9:00 am - 9:30 am
Welcome Address
- Opening remarks.

9:30 am - 10:30 am
Keynote Speaker
- TBA

10:30 am - 11:20 am
Jeff Turner, Immoviewer: The Spherical Future of Real Estate Media: Easier & More Powerful Than You Imagine
Join Jeff Turner as he takes you through the joys and opportunity of 360 and 3D technology. Get a sneak peek into this presentation in last week's blog feature on Jeff.

11:20 am -11:30 am
Break -
Grab some coffee, refresh your mind, and then settle in for another awesome presentation.

11:30 am - 12:20 pm
Tim Collins, REW
: Surprise & Delight Your Customers
REW's VP of Sales, Tim Collins, shares his insights and personal story on how to win customers through surprise and delight.

Restaurant in the CN tower12:20 pm - 1:50 pm
Lunch
- Grab new friends and network at one of Toronto's many fantastic eateries. There are dozens of great restaurants nearby to suit any craving or budget. Recommended spots within a couple blocks include:

1:50 pm - 2:40 pm
Google Cloud Platform Team, Google
- TBA

2:40 pm - 3:30 pm
Vy Luu & Morgan Carey, REW:
Technology & Success Talk.
Vy and Morgan will share insight on how technology fits into the overall success strategy of a real estate agent or brokerage. Find out ways to leverage your tech that will benefit your business the most.

3:30 pm - 3:40 pm
Day 1 Wrap Up
- Closing remarks.

Nichola meets with clientsREW Staff Meetings

10:30 am - 7:00 pm
At the last Summit, we tested the idea of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with REW staff members from a variety of departments. It was a smashing success and we are delighted to include these private meetings again for REW Summit Toronto. REW staff from SEO, PPC, Sales, and Support will be available throughout the day to discuss projects and share ideas.

RSVP for REW Summit

If you haven't RSVPed for Toronto's Summit, now is the time! To learn more or purchase tickets, visit the REW Summit site.


04/20/2018 08:09 PM

Quick Q&A about sitelink extensions for SEO

What are sitelinks?

Sitelinks are the smaller links that sometimes display below a site's primary link in the search results. Sitelinks are most likely to appear when someone searches for a specific company name or domain, offering quick links to the pages of the site Google thinks a user is most likely to be interested in.

Aaron Kirman's sitelinks

What is the benefit of sitelinks?

The biggest benefit of sitelinks is the amount of visual real estate they take up on the search engine results page (SERP). We've seen anywhere from 4 to 10 sitelinks, which represents a large portion of the overall results page. Studies have shown that when a user is presented with sitelinks, their odds of clicking through to the site increase.

The Agency's 10 sitelinks

How do I get sitelinks?

Sitelinks typically require an XML sitemap, which all REW websites generate automatically. While it isn't always necessary to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console, this is a good way to ensure Google sees it.

In addition, there are a few other things you can do to help get those sitelinks:

  • Rank #1 for your company name. Only the first search result will receive sitelinks.
  • Have a unique domain. Google needs to be able to quickly distinguish which company to feature and having a name unique to your brand helps with that. This is one example where "city + real estate" is actually an SEO disadvantage.
  • Clear navigation structure. A simple, straightforward navigation helps Google understand your site and trust its content.
  • Improve your brand recognition. If you have done all of the above and still don't have sitelinks, you may need to expand your general recognition within your community.
  • Refine your page titles and anchor text. Google uses titles and anchors to determine what your content is about.

How do I choose my sitelinks?

This is where things get tricky! Google automatically displays sitelinks and there's no clear control for determining what links display. Unfortunately, you can't choose which links display or how they look when they do. In the past, website owners were able to remove sitelinks they didn't want to display through Search Console, but Google has since rescinded this control.

That said, Google is most likely to display the content it thinks users are looking for. Beyond general company info and contact pages, sitelinks are often showcasing the most popular content. If you want a specific page to show up in your sitelinks, demonstrate its importance through your navigation, linking, and sharing choices.

"We only show sitelinks for results when we think they'll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn't allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don't think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user's query, we won't show them." - Google

How important are sitelinks in my strategy?

Sitelinks tend to appear when a lot of other best practices are followed. Rather than focusing on specific sitelinks, we recommend following SEO best practices and making your site the best it can possibly be. If you have a clear navigation, great content, and solid brand recognition, chances are good that you'll automatically receive sitelinks.

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Have questions about sitelinks? Ask them in the comments below!


04/18/2018 01:15 PM

What buyers & sellers look for in a real estate agent

We recently interviewed 300 active real estate agents across North America to learn more about how they conduct their business and drive success. But we wanted to take it a step further and also talk to buyers and sellers to get a stronger understanding of what they're looking for in an agent.

By understanding the mindset of buyers and sellers, real estate agents are able to better serve their clients and develop marketing solutions that will be more effective in converting leads into clients, and clients into happy referrers.

We conducted in-depth interviews with 10 randomly-selected people who had either bought or sold a home between $300,000 and $1.5 Million within the past year. These interviews took approximately an hour each and focused on buyer and seller needs, motivations, perceptions, and agent selection criteria.

Here's what we found out:

The ideal agent is experienced and has emotional intelligence

When we asked buyers and sellers to describe their ideal agent, nearly all respondents spoke to experience and know-how. Many also talked about the emotional nature of purchasing real estate and the perceived value of emotional intelligence in an agent.

Somewhat less frequently, buyers and sellers also mentioned two factors that Realtors often pride themselves on: strong negotiation skills, and advice and insight. This was an interesting disconnect between agents and their clients on what matters most.

Interesting quotes

"They need to be organized and punctual, and knowledgeable and experienced too. I would also avoid someone that's showing me homes I'm not interested in. They need to be listening."

"I want someone who's professional – they need to know the ins and outs and the technical aspects of the process. They need to be fairly tech-savvy, and they also need to be aware that it's an emotional process. I'm probably going to have a freak-out at some point, and they're going to have to talk me off the ledge, so I guess experience – seeing that before and knowing how to work with it. And they sometimes need to manage the emergencies without telling you everything – knowing too much, like a seller reconsidering or a buyer backing off, can sometimes be stressful and pointless. I'd rather find out about it after we close."

"I want someone who can get me the best price and provide the best value – and those are two different things. They need to be a good negotiator on price, and they also need to be able to tell me things about the house or neighborhood that I wouldn't know otherwise. They really need to care about me and look out for me."

The role websites play in choosing agents

Real estate websites played a critical role in the agent selection process, but not necessarily the one agents might guess. Instead of using websites to make their decisions, buyers and sellers generally use agent website to validate the opinions they were already forming.

Having a website—any website—is considered a cost of entry in the space. Buyers and sellers simply expect a real estate agent to have a website if they are going to take them seriously. In addition, respondents consider thoroughness and attention to detail throughout the websites to be key.

Interesting quotes

"It's important. If they're thorough on their site, you can bet they'll put in the effort to be thorough with you too."

"The one big flag would be if they don't have a site. I want someone who's reasonably tech-savvy, so I think not having a website would show me that you're behind the times."

"I think it's key. If I'm going to list with someone, I want other people to be able to find my property. I also think that if the site is well-maintained and has good content, it conveys a level of care and professionalism about the agent."

T he best real estate websites make it easy to search listings

When our survey respondents were asked about the value that agent websites add to the process, without additional prompts, respondents focused on four key components:

  • Ease of use
  • Search functionality
  • Professional listings with detailed descriptions
  • Customization

In other words, buyers and sellers are looking for websites that allow them to quickly find homes, which are customized with a high-quality look and feel. The appearance of listings was important and respondents put value in modern media options, including videos and virtual tours.

Interesting quotes

"Real estate websites need to work efficiently. I had a really bad experience with a website--it wouldn't click through all the pictures. It just kept going back to the first. They also need to be easy to navigate, flowing websites that make your search easier. There should be videos, good quality pictures, and good descriptions of the homes."

"If it's just a default RE/MAX website or something, then I'd assume the agent is pretty junior. But if they have their own customized site, that builds confidence. And having videos on the site is super important – it allows you to basically walk through and take a virtual tour. When the site's done right, it makes the agent look really professional."

The right information for keeping in touch

Most of the respondents shared that they only monitor their real estate market when they plan to be in it. This aligns with what our partner company Inside Sales Agents has observed in their lead follow-up calls, where approximately half of all registered leads want to buy or sell within 3 months.

As a result, one of the biggest challenges real estate agents face is maintaining relationships with clients in between transactions. Buyers and sellers can go years without needing a real estate agent, yet keeping in touch is critical for earning repeat business down the line.

To help Realtors keep in touch with better success, we asked what types of content would motivate our respondents to stay engaged or in-touch when "off-market." In the replies, respondents focused on:

  • Understanding the value of their own home
  • Learning about specific areas and trends
  • Appropriately-timed insight

In other words, respondents want to know what's going on with their home and in their community, keeping a pulse on their local market. The more the information relates to their specific circumstance, the better.

Interesting quotes

"I only really monitor the market if I'm in the process of buying or selling. I'm watching Redfin right now since we're looking in DC, for example."

"My interest ebbs and flows. Now that I've made this purchase, I'm a bit more interested but it's not something I'm going to put lots of time into in the future."

"You're always interested to know what your home's value might be, just to get a general idea of where you are in the marketplace. It's like your other investments – you want to take a peek now and then to see how it's doing."

"I'm always looking, even passively. I'm trying to help my daughter, so my eye's always on the market. I'm interested in seeing who's buying, where, and for what. I'd like to receive information about hot spots and pricing trends. It would be cool to get a no-strings-attached 'what's selling in your area and for how much' update."

"It's about the neighborhoods you want to specialize in. They should have content about those areas – festivals, new restaurants, and other things that might bring me back to their website and attract me more."


04/16/2018 08:27 PM

Marketing spend of top producing real estate agents

We hired an independent market research company to survey 300 active real estate agents across the United States and Canada. These agents were asked questions on a wide variety of topics, including their marketing and spending habits.

In this blog, we'll walk through the spend results and reveal the intriguing insights we saw about top-performing real estate agents. (Hint: if you think they spend differently, you're right!)

First, let's take a look at what the average agent actually makes in a year:

Realtor GCI

We simplified the categories so we could better analyze their marketing and spend habits, and observe behaviour trends that emerged within different levels of success. These were the three GCI groups we reviewed:

  • under $100,000
  • between $100,001 - $300,000
  • $300,001 and higher

One of the most apparent facts revealed by the data is that agents with a higher GCI also completed more transactions each year. In fact, 78% of agents with a GCI below $100k had fewer than 10 transactions, while 63% of agents who made over $300k completed more than 25 transactions.

This was interesting and it reinforces the data we see in sources like REAL Trends 500, where the number of transaction sides is considered a primary indicator of agent success.

We also wanted to see how much real estate agents are spending on their marketing each year, and where they put those dollars. As it turns out, 53% of Realtors actually spend less than $5,000 on their marketing.

Annual marketing spend

But when we broke it down by GCI, we saw another clear trend: top producing agents were spending significantly more on their marketing efforts. In fact, 52% of agents with a GCI over $300,000 spent over $20,000 per year, with 20% of these top producers spending more than $80,000 on their marketing each year.

spend by GCI

Of course, as a digital technology company, we were interested in seeing how much of those budgets were going to web platforms specifically. The trend was almost identical to generic marketing spends, with investments increasing significantly alongside GCI.

Real estate agents making less than $100k were most likely to spend under $2,000 per year, while the majority of Realtors in the $300k+ group invested at least $5,000 and 32% had spent over $10,000 on their platform.

Annual web platform spend

All in all, the market research was intriguing. We learned that top-performing agents had a higher volume of transactions and also invested significantly more marketing dollars into their business. When it comes to real estate, the old phrase "you have to spend money to make money" very well may be true.


04/13/2018 06:34 PM

Google changes to data retention in Analytics

Towards the end of the day yesterday, Google mass emailed all Analytics account holders to alert them of upcoming data retention changes. In case you missed it, here's a copy that we saved:

Email from Google

Ok, but what does that mean?

Put simply, Google is changing the length of time it will automatically store user and event data within the Analytics system. If a user doesn't return to the site within the designated time period, the user data is then purged.

Google uses a basic cookie to identify users and their correlated events, which helps provide more accurate data for:

  • sessions
  • new vs. returning users
  • frequency
  • event tracking
  • interaction tracking

These data retention changes were triggered by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but because of the global reach of the internet, Google has simplified matters by applying the changes to everyone.

What should I do?

Google is defaulting all Analytics accounts to store data for 26 months, which is quite a long time considering most serious real estate leads buy or sell within 3 months. If someone hasn't visited your site in over two years, you may want to consider them a new user anyway. That said, you can extend this option to 38 months, 50 months, or "do not automatically expire."

If you want to track users and events for as long as possible, you'll want to go into your settings and select "do not automatically expire." You can find this under:

Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Data Retention

Analytics data retention options

What if I have questions?

Post your questions about these data retention changes in the comments below and we'll be happy to answer that!


04/12/2018 08:23 PM

Sneak peek into Jeff Turner's upcoming REW Summit presentation

Jeff TurnerWe are delighted to have Jeff Turner join us at the upcoming REW Summit in Toronto, and we are even more delighted that he'll be sharing his infinite wisdom as one of our featured speakers.

As the former founder and CEO of J.J. Grace, Jeff Turner led the company on to Inc. Magazine’s list of the 500 Fastest-Growing Companies. He was also the founder and president of several real estate technology companies, including RealSatisfied, which was acquired by Placester in 2016. Today, Jeff is the captivating CEO behind immoviewer, a 3D virtual tour tech company that's taking the world by storm.

Using 3D technology to improve your business

Jeff is a master at taking technology and then applying it to real estate businesses. He's found creative and effective ways to make better buyer and sellers experience, without draining precious resources or time. To give you an idea of what I mean, here's a quick breakdown of Jeff's Summit topic:

The Spherical Future Of Real Estate Media: Easier, Faster & More Powerful Than You Imagine

Join Jeff Turner as he explains the new powers available to anyone with a $300 camera budget and a desire to wow. 360° and 3D technologies are innovating faster than the rest of the camera market and it’s set to have a significant impact on consumer real estate experience. This session will include live demonstrations.

Q&A with Jeff Turner

To get to know the man behind the mind, I had a quick chat with Jeff. Read on to find out what he had to say about 360° technology, REW Summit, and his previous experiences in Toronto.

What excites you about 360° in the real estate space?

There is so much untapped potential. I’ll share this in much more detail in my presentation, but the general population has a misconception of how simple and powerful this technology can be.

360° and 3D camera innovation are greatly outpacing the rest of the camera industry and we’re seeing new developments on an almost monthly basis. The capabilities these new technologies provide for the real estate space are quite impressive and quite affordable. It’s exciting to be a part of this innovation cycle.

What are you most looking forward to about REW Summit Toronto?

For me, a new conference is an opportunity to forge new friendships. I’ve never attended REW Summit before, so I expect to see a good mix of old friends and new faces. That makes me smile.

Have you been to Toronto before?

My first trip to Toronto was with the woman who is now my wife. We included Toronto on a tour of the New England States during peak leaf season. I remember looking forward to buying a Cuban cigar and enjoying it with a large glass of brandy. That was in 1996.

When was the last time you were in Toronto and what are you looking forward to experiencing this time?

Jeff Turner in Toronto

My last trip was in January of 2014 and I was treated with the opportunity to experience “bed and breakfast” at the home of Richard Silver and a great dinner with some friends in the real estate industry. I’m looking forward to the sound of French in my ear, some great food and building new relationships.

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Ready to join in on the fun?
Learn more about REW Summit in Toronto on our site or email rewsummit@realestatewebmasters.com to secure your spot!


04/11/2018 06:53 PM

Real Estate Webmasters Birthday - REW Celebrates 14 Years In Business!

REW's newest campus buildingThat's right, today is Real Estate Webmasters' fourteenth birthday!

It has been yet another amazing year here at REW and, as I sit here on a plane bound for the T3 Summit, I have time to reflect on just how far we have come. More importantly, I get to feel the excitement of what I know is yet to come in our future!

Here are some of the highlights:

In the past year:

  • Launched the industry's first 360 photo / video-enabled virtual reality website
  • Launched REW Leads iOS and Android full platform
  • Signed and launched #1 Team according to REAL Trends
  • Largest RFP - 150 pages
  • Largest Enterprise Customer - 10,000 users
  • Largest Project - 25,000 development hours (I believe this to be the largest undertaking for a single project by any real estate tech company for a client in history)
  • Completed New Campus Facilities for R&D, Marketing, and Finance (nominated for VIREB Building Of the Year)
  • Launched the new Customer Success Managers for all new sites

Most importantly: highlights of our community development efforts:

  • REW is a featured sponsor for the Nanaimo Silly Boat Races, one of our city’s greatest outdoor annual events, and a major fundraiser for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre. The centre helps children with developmental challenges and their families. On top of entering a very enthusiastic team of REW employees into the event, members of our leadership team have also committed to volunteering on the event planning committee.
  • We helped to send many awesome special needs children to camp and provided much-needed support and relief to their families in partnership with Easter Seals
  • Our employees led the charge and created events for the “Giving November” campaign. They raised funds for children’s charities in Vancouver and Nanaimo through bake sales, ping pong tournaments and a silent auction.
  • We provided gifts and food to hundreds of families through our Christmas Angels program. This incredible campaign sees REW employees go shopping for those in need in our community. REW covers the bill to ensure these families can have presents under the tree at Christmas time.
  • Sponsored Vancouver Island University’s Centre for Community Outreach and Care – an organization that not only helps youth in need, but also provides learning opportunities for university students who are studying to become child development professionals
  • REW has also become increasingly involved in mentoring students in the MBA program at Vancouver Island University and with advisory support for the schools’ Computer Science/IT Applied Studies programs.

It's been a great year! I am so very proud of the work REW is able to do in our community, and it must be acknowledged that no accomplishment is possible without our amazing and dedicated staff and the support of our truly awesome customers.

Where are we now?

Some REW Stats:

  • 14 years in business (founded April 9th, 2004)
  • Over 50,000 agents served
  • $100M+ aggregate revenue
  • 4 main campus facilities in Nanaimo and Vancouver.
  • 150 Employees in Canada and the US including Vancouver, Montreal, Denver, Nanaimo, New York, Quadra Island, and Toronto
  • World's largest custom real estate technology company
  • We control our destiny! We are still 100% founder owned/operated, making us the only large tech company in real estate that has not taken funding, been purchased or brought on financial partners

Where are we going?

This year we plan on launching the “New REW”. But ironically it is not new at all. We're headed back to our roots. These past few years we have taken steps to truly re-engage with who we are as a company and who we want to serve .

Real Estate Webmasters was built on serving the top 5% of the market. The people that understand that in this business you need to constantly invest and evolve. That your brand is everything and if you are not moving forward you are moving backward. There is no standing still!

We love the innovators, the risk takers, the builders! That is why we have been (and always will be) a truly custom shop where your only limitations are budget and imagination.

This has meant taking a long hard look at ourselves and at our client base and making some decisions based on our findings.

What did we find?

When we looked at our customer base, we realized that a portion of our customers simply did not fit the innovator/investor/builder and industry leader mold. They had not invested significantly or upgraded their platforms in many years, which was causing a serious strain on our support and product consultant resources (meaning less than ideal support for all customers) and did not fit the customer profile we are targeting. Quite frankly, we had too many of the wrong customers for our business and it meant we were not living our core values or delivering at the level we expect of ourselves for our customers.

What did we do?

We made the decision to focus on the right customers. This meant going to our customer base and asking them to upgrade their platforms and begin investing in a meaningful way in the online portion of their business.

  • We increased pricing for legacy customers to a more competitive price for today's market (we are still one of the least expensive premium vendors). This allowed us to have the resources to maintain our competitive advantage, which means a competitive advantage for our customers.
  • We deprecated extremely old software (5+ years old) to remove technical debt and major issues from support. This is a process that will now continue annually.

In short, we asked our legacy customers to re-engage and meet us where we needed them to be as, in their current state, they were affecting our ability to provide great service and grow in a meaningful way.

This, of course, meant saying goodbye to many customerssome that have been with us for a very long time, some that were past friends. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. To these customers that could not come with us on our journey, I do hope you know we are truly grateful to for your past support. I do hope that you can also say your time with REW was beneficial to your business as well. And I do hope that one day when you are perhaps a fit for REW again, you will consider us. But, more importantly, no matter what happens, I do hope we always stay friends.

Why did we do it?

I have said it already, but I want to be clear as we move forward. Our mandate is to provide truly great products, services, and support. We want to be innovators and work with innovators! Those driven to be the top 5% and those already in the top 1%.

With all the legacy software versions, antiquated custom code, non-functioning backends, and not profitable customers we simply could not provide the level of service and support to our customers that we know they deserve.

In asking those customers to participate or leave, it meant that what we were left with was a more engaged, upgraded customer base. It meant far fewer support issues from a far more current client list and it meant clients were contributing enough revenue to allow us to invest in new and innovative platform improvements as well as add programs designed to truly benefit all customers at REW.

As I said, we're headed back to our roots!

A smaller customer base per dollar of profit. This means more time and more resources for each of our valuable customers. Better service, better support, shorter wait times, faster results!

Engaged customers: Now that the vast majority of our customers are current (on REW CRM, The Vision Platform, REW Leads , etc.) we are seeing renewed engagement from our base. People are starting to share ideas on our Facebook group again like they did in the past. They are helping each other, and have time to focus on making their sites better, instead of focusing on why their old stuff is broken.

Accelerated R & D: With a more profitable customer base we can now afford to innovate even faster! We have monthly minor releases and a new major release every 90-120 days. This means our customers benefit from the kind of innovation that only REW can deliver in a far more condensed timeline. And many of these upgrades are now free!

Win, Win, Win: REW wins as we now work with profitable customers that are innovating in a way we truly love! Our customers win because their platforms are now more competitive than ever, driving more leads and revenue while making them look great! Our customers' customers (their site visitors) win because they get a truly high-end home search experience and amazing follow up. It's a virtuous circle.

Our promise:

As we move into now our 15th year, I would like to leave you with this, our promise:

We at REW promise to always keep our focus on innovation, always being awesome, and customer success (our 3 core values).

We will be relentless in our drive to maintain our position as the most innovative front-end & website company on the planet so that you always have the best platform in your market.

We will invest in the tools you need in order to be successful at the highest level.

Leads, Conversions, Efficiency. We will always be focused on your ROI as a customer.

Finally, I can promise you that we will not be perfect. This is the innovation game, the custom game. It can sometimes be trying (even painful) at times. But when it is, I can promise that we will always try to make it right and we will always make it our mission to be the best custom agency in real estate.

In the end, I can promise you this: it will be worth it!

We would never have made it this far without you, our valuable customers, and the amazing staff that support you. I do hope we can be together for another amazing 14 years of our journey as partners and as friends.

Thank you so very much for all you have done for REW, for me, and for my family. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Take care,

Morgan Carey, CEO
Real Estate Webmasters Inc


04/09/2018 05:03 PM