Weave Your Listings Through the Web

Online tools, many of which are free, can help you generate maximum visibility for your listings.

September 1, 2009

At a time when buyers seem to be hiding in the woodwork, you must be especially savvy about marketing your listings. To ensure that you leave no stone unturned, it's smart to post your listing on all of the online portals that buyers may be using to look for homes. The term for this strategy is syndication.

Lucky for you, syndication doesn't have to be a complicated process. In fact, there are a number of services that will do it for you for free or at a reasonable cost. 

Postlets.com: One Click, Many Destinations

Postlets.com is perhaps the best-known listing syndication resource that also happens to be free for the residential real estate industry. Once you set up an account, you can enter in as many listings you want via user-friendly forms. The information you enter includes descriptive text, photos, and external links. After you’ve entered the information, you can choose a Web page theme (there are 10 in the free version of Postlets) that best fits your particular listing. Each theme will automatically enter your photo and contact information from your account settings.

Postlets helps you distribute your listings in several important ways:

  • Syndication: Upon submission, your listing information will automatically be posted on 12 different online classified ad databases and search engines including GoogleBase, Trulia, and Zillow.
  • Manual Posting on Classified Sites: Postlets creates a Web page from the listing content you entered and the theme you chose. It allows you to easily copy and paste the HTML code from the listing page into sites like Craigslist and eBay.
  • Widgets: These small applets can be put on your Web site, blog, or Facebook profile, and allow visitors to instantly see the entire Web page for each listing you have uploaded into Postlets. (NOTE: Postlets hosts each listing Web page for free.)

Postlets helps you cover a lot of online territory with just a few clicks of the button. And it also allows you to insert your Google Analytics code in the HTML code so you can track visitor statistics for each of your listings. Postlets also offers a Pro version ($10 or less per listing depending upon the number you have) that offers greater features, eliminates third-party advertising from the listing Web pages and may, in some circumstances, allow the automatic upload of listing info from your MLS.

So what’s the downside? Well think about it; if you have a lot of listings it takes a lot of time to load, annotate, and post them, even with the help of a great tool like this. We’ll cover how to handle this particular issue after we look at a few other syndication options…

ListingsToLeads.com: Craigslist Supercharger

Putting your listings on Craigslist can be a powerful way to generate buyer inquiries, if your posting can stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. ListingsToLeads is a service similar in approach to Postlets, except that it allows you to create a richer listing template. The templates can be customized with your brand and they provide room for more calls to action — a very important feature if you want visitors to actually contact you — and link back to your own site. However, this is not technically syndication to Craigslist, because you have to manually copy and paste the HTML code of the generated listing page into a Craigslist ad.

Currently, ListingsToLeads works only with Craigslist. The pricing for ListingsToLeads is similar to the Pro version of Postlets. An account includes access to live weekly training about how to make your listings stand out on Craigslist, and if you are a broker looking to automate the process of generating a unique Craigslist Web page for each listing, you may find that ListingsToLeads can upload all your listing data directly from your MLS.

Other Ways to Syndicate Your Listings

In addition to the methods above, there are several other methods of syndicating your listings. For example, Web site template vendor Point2Agent.com provides syndication of listings manually loaded into the agent’s Point2 site. In fact, they claim to have the largest syndication network in the real estate industry, with full statistical reporting of visitor traffic to each of your listings, all for $9.95 a month. Also, it appears that some MLS providers offer syndication services as well. So check with yours to see if this service is available.

Getting your listings to as many points online as possible certainly doesn’t hurt. However, this is only half the battle if you want this effort to really pay off in a higher inquiry-to-listing ratio.

More Business, Less Effort

If you really want listing syndication to generate business for you, don’t bother doing it yourself. What does work is hiring a virtual assistant who understands the various syndication services and how to position listings so they stand out from the crowd and never go stale. This means creating great copy and lots of professional-looking photos and constantly paying attention to the statistical reports so your various listings can be tweaked for maximum inquiry generation. This is not an easy job, and it takes ongoing commitment and focus to really pay off. If you try to manage the listing syndication process yourself, you are only inviting frustration and the loss of revenue that could have been generated if you were out selling.

Listing syndication is a wonderful thing. However, like everything else online, there are no silver bullets to help you stand above the crowd. If there were, then everyone would start using it, and soon no one would stand out. The only way for your syndicated listings to really do their job of generating inquiries is to have someone constantly work to keep them fresh, eye-catching, and full of compelling descriptive copy. Otherwise, your listings will be just a few of the many waves on the sea of homes available online.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.