Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful, and yet under-publicized states in America. Perhaps that fact has something to do with the Winters? But what of real estate and Realtors there? In keeping with our ongoing assessments of agencies online, we look at Milwaukee sellers to see how so called Cheese Heads use digital channels.
I must admit, Shorewest's announcement they launched a TV ad to promote their website at first made me cringe. I mean, unless you are Microsoft and you want to announce something like search engine Bing, bragging about such issuance is a bit of a stretch. As it turned out though, yesterday's mention of this Wisconsin agency did bear fruit (more on that later). Even though Shorewest brokers did not stop in here, or even retweet their mention, their online presence is felt. Still, it's not entirely fair to ignore other agents there.
Here are the Realtors most prevalent for Google searches for Milkawlkee Real Estate. Our methods exclude the aggregators and cookie cutter sites of players such as Zillow, Trulia, Century 21, and so forth. What you see below is a snapshot of what most house hunters would see looking at this city via search.
The aforementioned agent ranks third in the SERPs for Milwaukee Real Estate. Please read the assessment on this firm from yesterday. Clearly though, the Wisconsin sellers do sit atop the heap there in cheese country. Their Alexa score of 140,807 indicates their website actually receives a great deal of traffic when compared to the average realty website, and especially considering Wisconsin's relative remoteness. As for a rating, Shorewest's overall online engagement ranks up there with some of the best we have looked at. Rank: 6 of 10
Like any surfer looking for house online, I was taken not only by Google's having allowed the big online entities to take over the search results pages, but especially the weakness of a real estate niche online that shows the city selling houses on page one? Web 1.0 design, no social media buttons or engagement of any kind, an pretty much zero value user friendly or aesthetic wise. Just follow the link, you see what I mean. Rank: 1 of 10 (for whoever did the SEO originally)
I mentioned this Wisconsin company in yesterday's article, which prompted the group's Marketing Manager to comment here. I must say, her asking how come I found her company's website to be sub par prompted me to write this post in all honesty. I'll get to "why" at the end of this post.
First Weber does not have the most awful real estate brand landing in the world, the CondoMan below may vie for that honor in Milwaukee at least. FW does own a site that resembles one of those patchwork homes you may have looked at. You know, added to until it looks like shack of sorts. Tacking on social media buttons, a mention of video contingents, and in general "patching" one's website as the company goes along - what does this indicate?
One thing I will say before I go on here is that Katie Huebschen is at least more wired than her contemporary at Shorewest, she did note the online mention of her company. On to evaluating this company's engagement - Facebook (useful and organic growth) 4 of 10, Twitter (limited daily broadcasting - Klout 48) 4 of 10, G+ (200 something pals, relevance) 6 of 10, LinkedIn (upper percentile engaging) 6 of 10, video channel (custom with extensive resource allocation comparative) 4 of 10, and their website is horrible given the company's obvious abilities (3 of 10). So, given that any business' landing is twice as crucial as other brand elements online (for now), we have a Rank 4.3 of 10
Now. You will note I am going more in depth for this profile than for the others. This is what the company's marketing people asked me to do. It will help the reader to know the same variables were weighed in assessing ALL real estate company digital prowess. Here too, for the Wisconsin market, the relative weakness of the online competition should be factored in as well. Having considered this, let's just say First Weber and Shorewest can do a lot better in both extending client value onto the digital space, and as far as being more competitive within this market. Let's move on.
Okay, you have to exit page one of a Google search to find other than the aforementioned "big boys" of national real estate, and to get past some domains like the city one up there that are pretty indescribably and worthless. Then on page two, a site with a domain that is either Milwaukee Condo Man dot com, or Milwaukee Condom An dot com, depending how one looks at it, "arises?" I swear, this city tops Pittsburg for lame - O online visibility for brokers. I feel like somebody turned back the clock to 1999, wear protection when searching homes in this town. Rank: 2 of 10
Page two Google, third from the top, find Nancy B. Meeks' website memorializing the dot com era. Sorry, I think I may have assessed too many real estate websites and marketing mumbo jumbo. Interestingly, it appears Nancy here is one of Shorewest's top agents! Let me say this for Nancy's online brand here. She does have a lot of helpful content on the site. There, call me gracious. The fact the site gets zero traffic means Milwalkee's housing market does not get another black eye. No social, no design, no nuttin here. Rank: 1 of 10 (for all that content under the 50 tabs)
Most of these critique articles make me feel overly critical, even to the point of caustic. Soft soaping the story of real estate's entry into digital house selling though, how would that help anything? Real estate agents whine about the economy, their little ball of yarn being unwound, the gravy train ending, blah blah. When in fact 80 percent of agents just plain got lazy. Lip service once paid the bills, now it won't. Do you understand me now?
In cities across America, around the world in fact, companies in and out of the property business try and get a free lunch out of Internet marketing. Our PR company, marketing arm, news aspect, content production team, and our consulting people deal with the excellence and mediocrity businesses reveal online, all day and every day. 80 percent of the people we talk to, even CEOs, they are clueless as to how the web really works. Of the other 20 percent, 8 out of 10 of them are so cheap they squeak when they walk. Why rebuild a website when another cocktail party may do? Cemented in the old way of doing things, once forward thinking and often ingenious people sometimes just become mired in past successes, and so on.
Given all that, I understand why Katie Huebschen wondered how come I did not like her company's website, minimized their social media engagement. In her world, there in Wisconsin, First Weber is a veritable Hector battling Achilles. Epic is their effort to engage the online customer, comparatively. And therein that company's problem resides. To be the best any company has an obligation to clients to be better than spot 6 in the SERPs, and barring SEO resources, top dog on Twitter and elsewhere.