I came across an interesting concept today and thought it was worth sharing. Many real estate agents today have their own website and are highly involved with web- and search-engine marketing. In fact, it isn’t uncommon anymore for some real estate professionals to even have several real estate websites in today’s tech-savvy marketplace, so of course having your own personalized e-mail address isn’t an issue for such web-based agents.
So what about the agents who don’t have a website--what are they using for an e-mail address? Obviously, whenever a brokerage hires new agents, a new e-mail address is provided to them. The problem, however, is that should agents decide to leave a brokerage, your e-mail address is also now gone and there’s always a chance former clients may lose touch.
To counter such issues, Chicago.com, Inc. has launched a new product that now allows agents and professionals in various other industries to invest in a new e-mail address that is easily remembered by customers and helps promote the city in which you currently do business. All you have to do is log onto Chicago.com, pick-out an available e-mail address such as [email protected], and create an account. And although it really is that simple, is it actually worth your time and money? Let’s take a closer look:
1) Easy to remember. As long as you’re able to secure an e-mail address that’s simple and easy to remember, this is definitely a positive aspect.
2) It’s permanent. When I say permanent, I of course only mean it as long as you keep paying your monthly, quarterly, or yearly dues. But as mentioned, should you change companies at any point during your career, this e-mail address stays the same.
1) Bad Branding. While Chicago.com, Inc may argue this is a great way to brand your real estate business, I would disagree. A marketing e-mail I received from Chicago.com, Inc read:
“Chaz Walters, Coldwell Banker, recently purchased [email protected] as well as the domain hotproperties.chicago.com. Thad Wong, CEO of @properties, and his wife Emily Sachs-Wong recently acquired [email protected] and [email protected] respectively. Six of the ten largest real estate companies in Chicago are customers of our product, including @Properties, Habitat Corporation, ESW Properties, The Pritzker Group, and many more.”
If I’m Chaz at Coldwell Banker and I just bought a new domain name, the obvious goal is to generate as much traffic to my site as possible, right? So why wouldn’t I want my e-mail address to include @hotproperties.chicago.com? Sure, it’s a bit longer, but I still want my web address to be included in anything and everything I do, which involves the dozens of e-mails I likely send out a week if I’m a real estate agent.
2) Creates Confusion. Aside from being a great communication tool, an e-mail address also defines who you are professionally. If I send a message to someone from my e-mail address, [email protected], it shows that I either work for Real Estate Web Creation or am affiliated with that company in some way. If I’m not totally familiar with Chaz Walters’ business and I receive an e-mail or drip letter from him, there’s a good chance I might automatically think he’s with Chicago.com. If I’m a home buyer, I then might log on to Chicago.com to learn more about what Chaz can do for me or even search the Chicago real estate market. There’s only one problem: Chicago.com isn’t Chaz’s website and Chicago.com has nothing to do with helping find a new condo or rental around the Chicago area. There goes a potential lead.
3) Expensive. Chicago.com offers three separate e-mail plans: a monthly rate at $79, a quarterly rate at $199, and a yearly rate at $749. A 79 dollar per month cost for an e-mail address? Really? The average cost to host a website with an IDX is around $50 per month, so why not just start your own website and start branding yourself through your own domain name? Not only is this better branding, but as you continue to build your website over time, it will hopefully be generating some quality leads for you as well.
From a business perspective, I think this is a great concept from Chicago.com, Inc and will probably work for plenty of real estate professionals. Some real estate agents have such a broad client base that a lead-generating website with an e-mail address isn’t necessary. But is a Chicago.com e-mail address something I would have? In a word: No.
Joe Heath is a graduate of Indiana University and also holds a Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development from Drexel University. After working in the market research sector and authoring published Market Snapshots for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence, Joe now works as a Web Marketing Specialist and co-owns Real Estate Web Creation with his partner, Ted Guarnero, a 25+ year real estate veteran.