Every time we conduct a survey with agents they tell us how little they know about the number of leads or listing exposure they are receiving from their MLS Consumer Websites. Some agents know the sites exist-some don’t even know that much. It is pretty much universal that agents are not getting regular reports telling them how valuable their MLS consumer website is to their business. When asked how interested they would be in getting a lead generation report from their MLS, there is pretty much unanimous interest in receiving this valuable information.
In the most recent Member Customer Satisfaction Survey we just conducted for an MLS it reminded me of an important issue that has STILL not been addressed by most MLSs around the country. The most important way for MLS subscribers to appreciate the business value of the listing exposure and leads being generated by MLS consumer websites is to share those results on a regular basis. As this article goes to press I know of just a handful of MLSs that regularly push the results being generated by their site to their customers.
In a down market every assumption goes up for grabs. We hear these questions being posed by agents regularly…
”Do we really need to be a REALTOR®? What do I get out of it?”
“What does my MLS really do for me anyway? Couldn’t I get those services from someone else for less money?”
“The MLS doesn’t really care about me – they do nothing to help me grow my business.”
These types of sentiments are very dangerous for MLSs. When a viable alternative enters the market, at least a portion of the membership could defect and move to the new offering. With another hit to their membership numbers, some MLSs simply won’t be able to make it. They’re already dipping into reserves with their current membership levels.
It’s really important to take these complaints seriously and think about ways to overtly demonstrate that the MLS is a partner to their subscribers. What could be more valuable than exposure for their listings and inquiries to learn more about their properties?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I just don’t understand why it is taking so long for every MLS to offer a report similar to the STAR report(Strategic Traffic Activity Report) offered by the Houston Association of REALTORS®. The report, delivered monthly allows the MLSs to promote the fact that the site delivered over 69 millions view of their member’s listings as well as over 130,000 leads. HAR.com has offered this report for more than six years so there’s no reason why every MLS doesn’t have this tool in place by now. According to Taqi Rizvi, CTO for the Houston Association of REALTORS®, HAR has had the STAR report in place for more than 6 years. It’s time for other MLSs to figure out that this could be one of the most important ways to garner goodwill with your subscribers.
An MLS listing exposure report is not a complicated report, but it delivers VERY valuable information. The report summarizes the total number of leads and listing exposure being delivered at the MLS, brokerage, office and agent level. The report gets delivered monthly to broker-owners, office managers and agents. It’s an automated process where the data gets pulled out of the analytics of the site and then generates the report automatically.
I hear from some MLSs that they are concerned about sharing data at the agent level because the numbers are relatively small. They are also concerned about what they would share with buyer’s agents. These are valid concerns, but there are solutions that can be found. For example, for those that don’t have any listings, you could share the overall leads and listing exposure being generated from the site or you could show the exposure being generated by their office or company. For those that are active selling agents, this data can be very valuable to them. Even if you are just sending your members one lead per month and lots of listing exposure, the MLS can demonstrate tangible value to their members.
If your MLS does not have a report like this it’s really time to get it done! Ask your MLS consumer website vendor to make it happen for you or ask them to provide you with the data so you can build the report yourself. Listhub works with about a dozen MLSs around the country providing these types of report as well. With their reports you can track traffic, views and clickthroughs for each listing. You can also track additional information like registered into favorites and other features you may have customized on your site. Make sure the report is easy to digest, visually appealing and clearly includes your MLS branding, NOT the MLS Consumer Website vendor’s branding. Be sure it allows you to share information at the individual agent level. Listing exposure and leads for the entire MLS membership is interesting for the Board of Directors, but it does not help the individual agent or broker understand what the site is doing for them specifically. Also, be sure the reports can be mailed out monthly to your agents. Just having access to the stats so that agents can log-in when they would like to is not enough. We all know how busy agents are. They simply will not remember to take the time to go in and look at these stats unless they are pushed to them regularly.
These reports are all about you taking credit for the business you are helping to generate for your subscribers. While you’re revisiting metrics from your site, it is also important to be sure brokers understand how to direct the inquiries properly to match their business practices. For example, if a broker has a “lead desk” where they process all online leads, make sure they know it’s possible to direct the MLS leads to their lead desk as well. Many MLS consumer website platforms provide flexibility to brokers to send leads to their listing agents or to a centralized lead processing center.
If there are any MLSs who would like to share their version of a MLS consumer website activity report, we will be happy to publish them so others can benefit from their efforts.