There are very few names in real estate technology that are as polarizing as Zillow. Agents have mixed opinions on it, but home buyers, sellers and investors continue flocking to it.
As a Realtor, whether you love it or hate it, if you’re trying to help your clients buy or sell a property, then you need to be using it. And not only do you need to use it, but you need to take advantage of every little opportunity that it provides.
In this article, we’re going to give you over 13 different ways that you can use Zillow for lead generation….without advertising. So, set your opinions aside for a bit and pay attention as these simple, free tactics could help you land your next few clients.
Zillow: Marketing Tool or Competitor?
To leverage Zillow you need to first understand its place in the real estate industry.
Let’s start with Zillow’s description of itself…
Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help.
This statement can certainly read like Realtors are an afterthought to Zillow, or at least a lower priority, compared to their other objectives. However, if you let the initial objective soak in a bit…
…dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge…
You can start to understand that their goal of helping Realtors actually parallels theirs of “empowering consumers”.
If you’re not following, then look at it this way…
The more data, information and knowledge that a home buyer or seller has the more educated they’re going to be. This isn’t a bad thing as many Realtors we’ve spoken with seem to think.
Instead of you, as a Realtor, having to spend your valuable time pulling comps, curating data or sending repetitive information back and forth amongst your multiple clients, Zillow lets the consumer do all of that themselves. It gives them even more buy-in into the process than they’ve ever had before. Engaged prospects become active clients.
And when it comes time to actually purchase or sell a property, your client will choose you based on your experience, local knowledge, responsiveness, reliability, negotiating skills and creative insights; not on your ability to send them data. Robots can do that. Robots will do that completely without you in the very near future.
So, back to our question – is Zillow a marketing tool or a competitor?
It’s an incredible marketing tool that only competes with Realtors in the search engines…when you let it. If you really want to outrank Zillow, you can. We’ll save that for another post, but you shouldn’t be getting hung up on that. Search behavior is not the same as it was a few years ago. Buyers and sellers are finding properties and getting connected with Realtors in all different ways now….not just through a Google search. Yes, it’s important but it’s not the end all, be all that it once was.
Zillow has a long future ahead of it, but it still needs Realtors to make it work. Most real estate transactions are emotionally charged. No type of artificial intelligence (at least not anything existing now) will replace a confident, trustworthy, personable Realtor who can execute their fiduciary responsibilities while making their clients feel like they put their money in the right place.
Embrace that and Zillow, or any other real estate technology, will become just another tool in your belt to help you grow your business.
Zillow Optimization Checklist
There’s no point in doing something if you aren’t going to do it right.
This especially applies to any type of real estate online marketing strategy or tactic. When used properly and completely Zillow can be an exceptional real estate marketing tool.
The following optimization steps, which are free and require very little time, will help you maximize Zillow. Make it a point to complete each of these steps. Your business and your clients will thank you.
#1 Setup / Optimize Your Profile
This is a no-brainer, but so many agents are still missing in action on Zillow. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have a profile setup on Zillow. More importantly, make sure that you’ve filled everything out with as much detail and care as possible. In many cases, this is your first impression to many prospective clients so don’t get lazy here – optimize it as much as you can.
#2 Use the Right Agent / Team Association
Are you part of a team? If so, then Zillow offers a specific association that you can use to communicate this to those viewing your profile and listings. We see too many team members improperly displaying themselves as one conjoined profile. This might simplify management of your account, but if there’s ever a case where you have a listing that your team member does not, then you might experience some data issues.
#3 Correct Your Listing Data
Familiar with the phrase “garbage in, garbage out”? There are few examples where this applies more than with real estate data. And with Zillow relying heavily on the data that it receives from its sources and its users, inaccuracies and incomplete data run rampant. Don’t rely on what gets fed into Zillow, specifically for your listings.
#4 Add Your Past SOLD Properties
Prospects, specifically sellers, like to see what types of homes a Realtor has sold previously. More importantly, they want to see what a home was sold for compared to its initial listing price. One of the biggest oversights we see on Zillow is a lack of historically sold properties – even from the biggest, most successful agents.
#5 Use Videos
We shouldn’t have to tell you how effective a well-shot video can be for selling a listing. If that’s not enough to convince you to use video with your listings, then this might…video listings display higher on results pages in Zillow. Interested in videos now? Zillow makes adding a video incredibly simple, like this example, so don’t skip this step.
#6 Get Client Reviews
As a Realtor you should know by now how important client testimonials are for your business. This is the case even more so on Zillow as agents with more reviews and higher ratings will stand out to Zillow users. Aim to get at least 5 reviews initially and then, as your business grows, make it a point to add 2-3 new reviews every month.
#7 Answer Some Questions
One of the easiest ways to build your online presence and generate leads from online marketing is to prove that you’re a resource. Zillow Advice gives you this opportunity by creating an open forum for just about everyone involved in a real estate transaction to ask and answer questions. It’s similar to ActiveRain, Yahoo Answers, Quora and other Q&A sites, but the advantage here is that your answered questions will be tied to your Zillow profile.
#8 Automate Some of Your Emails
Your time is limited and very valuable. Sending repetitive, redundant emails to prospects is not only ineffective, but it’s not the best use of your time. Fortunately Zillow’s Auto Actions lets you automate emails that don’t always require your personal attention each and every time (e.g. Send an email after a certain period when you haven’t received a response from a lead you’ve contacted).
#9 Sync Your Leads
Zillow has built a powerful CRM for its users, but if you’re like most agents, that’s not your primary CRM. You might be using something like Salesforce, Contactually or even your website to store and manage your leads. If this is the case, then make it a point to keep your Zillow leads synced with your CRM of choice. This will streamline your lead management processes and also allow for easier campaign creation.
#10 Use Widgets, Badges and APIs
If you’re interested enough to read down this far, then you’re probably spending a good amount of time building up your Zillow profile. If this is the case, then it makes sense to promote your activity on Zillow across your other web properties. Your prospects and clients are probably using Zillow already anyways so you might as well remind them that you’re active there too.
#11 Spend Some Time on Zillow Digs
Zillow Digs is basically the Pinterest for real estate, but built right into Zillow. If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest, then you probably know how engaging that platform can be. Couple that user experience and resource with a platform that is solely focused on a specific topic (real estate) and you have a captive, engaged audience that can be leveraged for growth.
#12 Repurpose Available Reports / Data
When done right, helpful market reports require a good amount of effort. By the time you add up the research, curating, formatting, writing, designing and sending, you realize that you could’ve been doing many other things. An under-appreciated resource that Zillow provides are their market data reports, usually released each season. These reports require you to download them first, but they’re openly available to agents and anyone else that wants to reference them.
#13 Install the Premier Agent App
You’re 12+ tips in at this point….all specific to Zillow. It’s a no brainer to get their agent focused app installed on your mobile device and desktop. This well-crafted app will allow you to manage leads, edit your profile and request reviews. These are all ways to save you time – something you probably need more of.
Prove That You’re a Premier Agent
As with any other online marketing strategy, tool or tactic, you cannot complain about lack of results when you haven’t put in the right effort, time and investment into something.
This certainly applies to leveraging Zillow in your real estate online marketing efforts.
In the case of our 13+ tips, you don’t need to spend $1 to start building your presence and capturing leads that you weren’t getting before. Anyone that tells you that you need to spend thousands, or even hundreds, of dollars on Zillow for it to be effective is someone that has certainly not read this article yet and has probably not completed even half of the things we’ve outlined.