Wisconsin’s Shorewest Realty Shows Up On Radar – Others Don’t

“Pulling out the stops”, sometimes that’s what it takes to break ahead of the competition. This morning an article over at Inman News tweaked my interest in a real estate company that may just be pulling those proverbial bonds of convention. Wisconsin based Shorewest Realtors not only released a cutting edge new website, but went to TV advertising to tell about it.

Joseph A. Horning & John P. Horning

Joseph A. Horning & John P. Horning

When first I read about a real estate company doing such, especially one in way up there Wisconsin, I thought, “Uh huh.” Writing this on the fly, You and I can discover the low down on this interesting branding and online engagement move. On landing at Shorewest, my mixed feelings came rushing in.

Site Design Takes Back Seat to Social

Shorewest’s new website is anything but ugly, but by the same token it is not exactly stunning either. The worst I can say for the landing is that 200 cities to scroll to to get to the end of the page, this is not what anyone would call “edgY” design or thinking. Aside this, the look of a decent realty site sinks in. What makes the site nice is what’s underneath, tabs lead to all manner of services and info, filtering types galore, and so on. Complete where function goes puts the Shorewest entry up there with the top ones, at least in Wisconsin.

Joe and John P. Horning are supposed to be Wisconsin’s biggest names in real estate. I guess First Weber’s 50 offices may take a back seat to Shorewest, but not in the online search positioning. What does matter for the latter group is that aesthetics and function wise, the Hornings just handed First Weber’s James R. Imhoff, Jr. (CEO) his hat. Imhoff’s site is bottom tier and his company’s only has a residual engagement in social media. This brings us to the next valuation for Shorewest.

Shorewest Real Estate site

Nice, but nothing out of the ordinary

Lined up across the Wisconin firm’s spanking new website, the developers have strung buttons for just about ever social media network there is. Clicking, and remember we are looking at this real time here, reveals online moves akin to…

  • Facebook – Very nice, 1578 likes, nearly daily engagement, relevant and interesting posts, good design
  • Twitter . Very good, nice design, daily tweets, relevant, but with only several hundred following
  • G+ – Shorewest dropped the ball here, but the profile is there plus not many care about G+ so much
  • LinedIn – Advanced, Shorewest has a super nice profile and value proposition here
  • Pinterest – Shorewest is one of only a few agencies that seems to understand “Pinning’s” value
  • YouTube Channel – Shorewest is not MGM, but they do utilize the channel

Bragging Rights

TV commercials about real estate website and channel resources to sell your home? I doubt Shorewest’s claim that no other agency in the nation has as many resources is exactly true, but it has to be for Wisconsin. And this is a bit of what matters. The video below, yodles the viewer into an acute sense of WTF! I must say, it is one of the most effective such ads I’ve ever seen, a bit like the “Go Compare” ones we all know.

Back to being critical of the website, the company probably needs to put the site on a dedicated server if it is not already, it loads very slowly in Chrome. Also, some of the function does not exactly work flawlessly. I tried to find a mini farm outside of Green Bay via the map search, it hung up in my browser. Add in tiny images of the home listings, and Shorewest could have done better design wise.

Has Shorewest got anything to brag about though? Well, they made Inman and our news, and that says a lot from a brand and visibility aspect. Add in some refinement of adjacent pages, bigger images, and a blogger that knows blogging, and maybe. Point is, Showewest got on the radar, their competitors did not really. So where are you going to house hunt online when you move to Wisconsin?


  1. I love the hype over social media being the end all of RE marketing. The data shows it is next to worthless. Don’t get me wrong, you have to have a presence on the web, but social media doesn’t sell.

    • @Steve. SM is just one component of what should be a balance RE marketing scheme. As for hype and data, these items blow in the wind as the hot air bags dictate. SM is a horrible marketing tool, in fact, when used inappropriately. And here is the rub. The real estate agents I am writing these to, want to know how to help their businesses. The real estate agents I am writing these posts about are generally pompous money bags who “THINK” they know something. At least this is my experience.

      In between, clinging to both ends of this Phil Butler perspective, there are all manner of folks in RE, gravitating toward one end really – buying and selling commodities to feed kids, or play another 18 holes, and/or both. What’s important, or what should be then, is considering that while ANY of these people were puttering about in the real estate jackets, counting their beans thisa way or datta way, me and my team were here. Right here. Analyzing, reporting, advising, and even in some cases creating the digital web you see.

      I am just trying to help, but I understand your chagrin. Maybe read mine and WIHP Hotels Paris’ Martin Soler’s piece on SM and marketing over at Search Engine Journal. Then the data makes more sense, at least for RE on Facebook. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/industry-discussion-the-true-nature-of-social-media-roi/39421/

      Meanwhile, we are working on a Marketing 101 for RE. It is a task, as you might guess. Coming soon.


  2. Shorewest is my go to local listings site. But, the new main web page from a desktop is a big hassle. You are correct in that the required drop down city list is way too long. How about start with zip and narrow down from there.

    Also, the required county, city and other fields slow you down. The old site wasn’t great, but I felt it was quicker to navigate. Once you get the search results, the listing pages are very nicely done and organized.

    You didn’t mention the mobile App. Shorewest has a good mobile App on the iPhone but sometimes the map pins get locked up. You’ll click on a pin and can’t get to the next one. Despite the quirks, overall I like it a lot. The lasso tool doesn’t work well. First Webers App was awful and I deleted it. Realtor.com App is no peach either. When you zoom in on the map and say search here, it brings you back to the entire US map. Frustrating indeed.

  3. Hello,
    I am curious why you consider firstweber.com bottom tier? What sugestions do you have for improvement? We do have numerous active social profiles as well.

    Thanks for your input.

    • @Katie. I was referring to the Fist Weber site as being in line with bottom tier sites. As for the social aspects, I said “residual” – not bottom tier. I will elaborate on the exactitudes here in another post, now that your state’s real estate engagement has come into view.

      Having social profiles, and using them, these are two completely separate things. I will explain in more detail.



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