Piles and Piles of consumers are visiting Zillow every day to look at home values and browse listings.  Sounds like a great place to advertise if you are an agent or broker, perhaps?  Does anyone really know?

A long time ago I learned that simple logic often leads to bad choices.  In the simplest terms, if consumers are looking for real estate information on Zillow, and I advertise on Zillow, those customers will come to my website, convert into a lead, and use one of our agents to buy or sell their home.  Seems like a logical conclusion and we have confidence that the results will be good (since one of our broker friends is about to buy the zillow farm).

WAV Group is working with a midsized Century 21 brokerage with 10 offices for the case study.  This broker has completely withdrawn from all print advertising and is making the move to 100% online advertising…. living the dream!

We are in the methodology development phase right now, but if your listings are on zillow.com today, you may want to follow these tips from Sara Bonert.

Zillow is a media site, or a marketing platform for real estate professionals to utilize to connect with buyers, sellers, and each other.  Each month more than 5 million people come to Zillow with one common interest, real estate.

Here are the top 10 ways that real estate agents can use Zillow:

1) Post your listings on the site, for free.  There are three ways you can do this: manually add each listing, if you have the technical capabilities you can send us a direct feed (best for 200+ listings), or work with one of our syndication partners to populate your listings to the site (free service).

2) Create a free Profile. This is basically like creating an interactive business card online.  Not only can you display all of your contact information, but it also centralizes all of your contributions on Zillow and makes your photo appear on all of your listings.  Also, the profile gives you great search engine juice.

If you work for a company that is already feeding listings to us, make sure to set up a profile with the same email address your company has on record for you.  This too will ensure that your photo appears your listings that they are sending us.

3) Listing presentation fodder.  Include your listing distribution plan in your presentation to home sellers.  Another benefit to the seller is not just that you are going to put their home on the site, but that you are going to handle all of the incoming phone calls and emails for them.  We created this listing presentation piece to help articulate the value of being on Zillow.

4) Get involved in Discussions.  Zillow has a Discussions area of the site where every day buyers, sellers and other real estate professionals are asking questions and discussing various real estate topics.  Here is your opportunity to interject your voice in the conversation.  Tip: Don’t go for the hard sale here.  Simply by offering helpful information and being there for the user, you can win them over to advance the relationship.  There is a free-form search box in the Discussions area where you can search for topics of particular interest, such as “Wicker Park” or “Condos in Chicago”.

5) Home Q&A.  On Zillow anyone can ask or answer a question on any of the 80 million homes we have on the site.  On our home page, there is a link to “Answer Questions in your area“.  Click on it, and you are asked what area you interested in “farming”.  You will get attribution and a link back to your profile on any question you answer.  If you are the listing agent of a home, you will be emailed whenever someone leaves a question on one of your listings and you will receive special treatment in the answers area as being the person with the most authority on the home.

6) Discover the Make Me Move database.  This is a unique database to the Zillow site which represents a group of people who aren’t interested in actually going to market, yet.  However, if someone were to show up on their doorstep with a bag of money for the stated amount, they would consider selling.  This can be an alternate source of listings when helping your buyers.  But this can also be viewed as a potential list of future sellers.  Same tip applies here, where the hard sale doesn’t particularly work on these folks.  However, you could begin sending them useful information in the form of drip marketing (consider snail mail, you know their address) such as recent home sales or developments of interest in their neighborhood.  Internal research shows that 91% of homeowners who posted a Make Me Move price say they would consider paying an agent commission if their home were to sell, with 64% saying they would pay between 2-3%.  45% of the Make Me Move respondents said they would use an agent on the sell side to complete the transaction.

7) Co-Brand on links.  Imagine you are going to write a blog post or an email to a client where you were going to link to Zillow.  Instead of linking to www.Zillow.com, you can link insert the link www.zillow.com/?scrnnm=

[insert Zillow Screen name here] and the link will go to Zillow, but with your contact information at the top of every page.  For example, my Zillow screen name is sarab, so I would link to www.zillow.com/?scrnnm=sarab.  Click on the link to check out what it looks like online.  No special coding skills needed to get this extra exposure.

8) Free API and Widgets. The Zillow API Network can turn your website into a mini real estate portals by offering fresh and provocative real estate content to help keep people coming back to your site.  We have bundled up a lot of information found on Zillow and published the code so you can easily add it to a website, thus offering this content to your visitors, for free.  Please visit this information page about the API Network to learn more about how to do and what type of information is available.

We also have mortgage content you can use on your site, in the form of Widgets.  These are very easy to implement, all you need to do is create an account with Zillow (see number 2 on this list), chose the widget you would like, and cut and paste the code onto to your site.

9) Market Your Open Houses.  It is free to add any open house information to your listings online.  Once the open house expires, the information will come down.  The listings with open house information will also receive special treatment in the search results, drawing additional attention to it.  Looking for even more exposure for your open house event, see number 10.

10) Use Zillow Showcase Ads, an advertising solution.  Showcase Ads are a way to get even more exposure for your listings or yourself on Zillow, thru buying advertising on the site.  Specify ZIP codes where you want your ad to appear so only potential customers looking at homes in those areas will see your ad. Write your own headline and content, include an image, phone number, e-mail address, and a link to your Web site, which you can update at any time. Cost is based on how much exposrue for your ad you would like to recieve, purchase 25, 50, 75, or even 100 percent of ad view placements in the ZIP code you want.

Each month Zillow attracts millions of buyers and sellers looking for real estate information.  These ten tips on how to use the site will help you get in front of these people and begin to build relationships that can translate into customers.

Oh, and if you just want something fun to do or want some design ideas, check out ourDueling Digs!  Warning though, this can be addicting.