April 19, 2022
Nearly 20 years after IDX was made available, it’s still more relevant than ever. And gone are the days that mandate a vanilla ‘boxed in’ (i.e. framed / I-framed) MLS search box. For many years the accepted paradigm for IDX was as a search tool to help a real estate agent’s site be found and capture leads by offering MLS searches on the website – and because of this, with the rise of listing portals like Zillow as popular search tools, it would seem as though IDX was rendered obsolete.
This view could not be more wrong.
The core benefit of IDX for real estate agents is that it has always helped address the biggest challenge for a service-based business such as real estate – IDX content makes an agent’s services tangible.
Today, IDX offers agents one of the most powerful and productive ways to engage their markets, demonstrate credibility, capture leads, incubate prospects, and provide services to clients
Analogy is one of the best ways to understand the power of IDX. Imagine an aspiring Lexus dealer – but specifically a dealer with no showroom and no inventory. Without a presentable inventory or showroom, it’s going to be difficult to attract prospects and sell cars. Imagine being a Lexus dealer with no vehicles to show off. The dealership would be out of business in a month. So, the dealer gets a showroom and fills it. He is able to start building his business. A little later, the Lexus dealer wants to grow his business by also offering GM Trucks – so another showroom is required.
For the Lexus dealer, having inventory and a showroom, or multiple showrooms for each market, is a vital part of business development.
These business and marketing challenges are the same for real estate agents.
IDX addresses these challenges. With IDX, real estate agents have the entire inventory of properties at their disposal. IDX empowers agents to build their own, customized sales showroom to help with marketing and sales to their own prospects and clients. But not just one showroom – any number of showrooms for any market! Showrooms can be created for marketing to luxury markets or for first time buyers, or for condos, or single family homes – or even homes with waterfront or mountain views. In fact, creating showrooms in any way can be done for any niche market with IDX.
Not only does IDX let every agent have infinite showrooms to help with sales and marketing, it should also be the foundation of marketing programs to automatically build relationships with clients, leads, and prospects. When IDX based MLS services are integrated with a lead capture and lead management / CRM system, it’s like having an infinite number of ‘sales reps’ working for a real estate agent in their showrooms, working with prospects, understanding their needs and constantly keeping in touch.
IDX is marketing magic. Using IDX content opens up a swiss army knife of marketing and sales capabilities. IDX is an amazing marketing asset that an agent has. IDX is properties – the actual product that consumers are interested in buying or selling!
IDX isn’t just for MLS search (the old paradigm). IDX empowers agents to showcase their specialization (their focus on niche markets) and establish credibility. When IDX is also integrated with a CRM, it’s also the premium tool for lead capture, lead incubation and lead nurturing (both for short and long term).
IDX gives real estate agents an unfair advantage by allowing them to exploit the full inventory of the MLS for their own benefit.
Using MLS properties for marketing allows agents to provide tangible evidence of actual-experience, knowledge and past sales success. This builds an agent’s credibility in the eyes of prospects. Creating curated presentations of properties supporting an agent’s marketing strategy is the best and most appropriate way for any agent to present their expertise online, all in their personal website.
Whether it be ‘sold’ properties, or ‘just listed’ properties in a small sub division, modern IDX solutions allow agents to slice-and-dice MLS data anyway they like. This capability makes it easy to create and market highly appealing and focused collections of properties using very specific local search criteria such as ‘Ski-In’, ‘Lake Name’, ‘Lake Depth’, ‘Beach Access’, ‘HOA Amenities’ to name just a few.
By exploiting the vast array of MLS fields, IDX makes it easy for agents to demonstrate their focus on and knowledge of (multiple) niche markets such as subareas, lifestyle communities, homes with views, oceanside properties, or specific neighborhoods. With IDX, agents can easily out-market national search websites that are restricted to generic presentations and standard search capabilities and can’t focus on niche offerings. It is a great way to either initially draw in prospects, or to provide a service portal for existing leads and clients.
It doesn’t matter how the engagement starts – Facebook, Instagram, the agent’s Website – or a lead from Zillow or Realtor.com, initial and follow-up sales and marketing initiatives can now benefit from these curated property resources. Whether it be part of an agent’s on-line marketing strategy for lead capture, or simply for sales support, those agents using IDX will have marketing content that is targeted, more appropriate and more appealing, will ultimately achieve better outcomes when engaging leads, prospects and clients.
Part of the magic of IDX emerges when it’s combined with a CRM. This is the cornerstone for creating a sales pipeline of leads for short, medium and long term business that other real estate agents can’t pick off.
Right at the start of the buying process, consumers will be looking at neighborhoods and properties possibly months or years before they are ready to move. This is research for future home-buying or -selling options.
At this early stage, maybe an agent receives an initial inquiry (lead) from Zillow etc, or maybe directly.
Regardless of where leads come from, agents have a perfect opportunity to capture leads many months or years before a closing occurs.
By incubating these leads with tailored property alerts throughout this research period (always bringing those future clients back only to the real estate agents website), a significant sales pipeline can be created – all automatically.
Most real estate agents only send their leads traditional, generic emails and texts. A CRM that is integrated with IDX can send these traditional messages, too. But, with IDX there is a secret superpower: contextual marketing.
A CRM integrated to IDX can provide insights to every aspect of a lead’s home search activity; their specific property searches, viewing activities and interests, all in the context of their ultimate desire to buy or sell property.
General CRMs often provide reports on whether or not marketing emails have been opened. But, with a CRM joined to IDX, the insights go much deeper; not just what emails have been opened, but also what properties have been looked at (and how many times), and all the other property search criteria, such as ‘city’ and ‘price range’ or even ‘master bedroom on main floor’, that define the specific property interests of every lead. An agent’s follow up call can be fine-tuned to be timely and highly specific. Agents using other CRMs don’t stand a chance. When IDX is connected to a CRM, it allows real estate agents to help prospects find relevant properties faster than any of their competitors.
In addition, an IDX based CRM can send properties and customized listing alerts to prospects that they actually look forward to receiving! Because agents are sending relevant properties in the context of the prospects’s actual interests (long or short term), these communications are perceived as high value by the recipients. Not only does this ensure that messages are opened, but importantly, every click to view a property directs prospects back to the agent’s website over and over again (not to Zillow, or Realtor.com or a generic MLS portal). This flow ensures that prospects constantly see the agent’s own branding and contact information, which constantly re-enforces loyalty to that agent, and develops the relationship further.
A service that sends prospects relevant properties (courtesy of IDX) that they actually want to see, builds- and adds value- to the relationship between prospects and the provider of the service (the real estate agent).
It’s this type of activity, this type of value-based service given to a consumer that fosters loyalty to the real estate agent, blocks competition, converts prospects to clients, and generates sales.
A virtuous marketing cycle is created, based on loyalty to value and services, that blocks other agents who are unable to snatch leads away.
If all you have is a traditional CRM, then your opportunity to deliver an engaging long term dialogue is limited to drip emails. Integrating IDX with your CRM will give you a distinct advantage as messages will be perceived as relevant and useful – and won’t be ignored!
IDX is as relevant today as it always has been. But with new ways to use IDX and the ability to combine IDX data with CRM solutions, IDX now offers agents one of the most powerful and productive ways to engage their markets, demonstrate credibility, capture leads, incubate prospects and provide service to their clients.
Of course Zillow and other major real estate portals play a major role in the way consumers start a search, but agents should not make strategic marketing decisions by just focusing on this one single event from the entire marketing and sales process.
IDX is a broad and powerful tool. By engaging leads earlier with meaningful property-based content, agents can capture and keep leads earlier in the sales cycle and keep other agents out of the relationship. While other agents use lead generation services and tools that capture leads only AFTER they are ready to look for a real estate agent, real estate agents using IDX with their CRM can nurture long-term leads on auto-pilot until they are ready to buy. By offering long-term leads addictive content they love and driving them back to the agent’s website, they ultimately become loyal clients.
As I learned when selling in IBM, creating relationships is at the heart of successful sales, and those relationships are developed over time (through marketing), based on the provision of value. If agents don’t use properties as a basis for demonstrating their knowledge and delivering value, then they will have to create and demonstrate this in different ways, which will (from a marketing perspective) take their time, or their money or both.
With IDX, every agent has been given the opportunity to use the biggest marketing value in real estate – to use the entire database of properties in the MLS in their own sales and marketing strategies!
Making IDX integral to an agent’s marketing plan is one of the easiest ways to build business and sales. But don’t just take our word for it, check out the demo, instead!
About the author: Paul
Paul Eastwood is the CEO of UltimateIDX and founder of it's parent company Blue Fire Group that has been helping Real Estate agents with online marketing for over 15 years.
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