7 Thoughts on Listings Syndication

One of the biggest issues I hear real estate brokers debating across the country lately is how to build an effective listings syndication strategy. By that, I’m referring to whether or not brokers should push their listing inventory to ad-supported aggregation sites such as Trulia, Zillow, or Frontdoor to name three.

I don’t believe there are simple answers to how to navigate this landscape, so instead of attempting to provide a clear-cut answer, I’ve listed the seven most common points I’m hearing from brokers along with some commentary.

1. Syndication drives traffic. This is true. If you push your listings to sites like Trulia, you will receive traffic in return if people click from your Trulia-hosted listing to your original listing.

2. Is the traffic we’ll receive any good? A recent post on Sellsius discusses a broker’s decision to pull out of syndication deals because they “never received any productive leads.” Based on our analysis of aggregate traffic to our client’s sites, we generally see the opposite results. The traffic arriving from syndicated listing clicks tends to be very high quality and converts to leads at a higher than average rate. This makes sense, since the person clicking over was just looking at a specific listing so is a highly qualified website visitor.

3. We’re competing against our franchise. In some cases, franchises have decided to syndicate all of their network’s listings to aggregation sites. When this happens, the “click for more info.” links on the aggregation sites tend to drive traffic to the franchise’s site rather than to the broker or agent sites containing the same listing. When faced with conflicts like this, the aggregation sites generally favor a broker’s link over the franchise, but only if the broker is syndicating as well. At Trulia, agents can pay to buy a link from their Trulia-hosted listing to their agent site. Brokers are faced with the option of competing with their franchises, talking their franchises out of syndicating, or conceding traffic on aggregation sites to their franchises (in some cases it may trickle back to the broker’s site from their franchise’s site depending on how the site is structured).

4. We’re making syndication sites rich. While not flush with cash yet (outside of funding), it’s clear that aggregation sites would have a hard time gaining traction if they didn’t have any inventory. Sites that run ads against content they acquired for free have a good chance to make money.

5. We’re creating another Realtor.com. In some ways, this appears to be the case. However, it’s possible that aggregation sites may actually be able to become larger than Realtor.com because they’re not bound by stringent MLS rules.

6. Sellers expect us to market their listings everywhere. Some, but by no means all, brokers have decided to embrace this position by taking a very pro-syndication stance. Done right, this can be a powerful differentiator in listing presentations.

7. I want prospects to come to MY site. Brokers everywhere seem to be in agreement that they have the best chance of earning a lead from someone viewing a listing on their own site. Does syndicating listings to sites where they’ll be displayed alongside ads for competing brokers and agents help or hurt lead generation?

That summarizes the seven most common topics of discussion I’m hearing regarding syndication.

WhereToLive.com’s Syndication Solutions

At WhereToLive.com, we create custom solutions that meet each client’s business needs. We also spend significant time helping clients analyze the return they receive from online marketing tactics including listing syndication.

Some of our clients syndicate their listings far and wide using our integrated syndication systems. This allows brokers to automatically push their current listing inventory to popular aggregation sites.

However, we also have clients who don’t syndicate to any aggregation sites.

Together, we navigate the ever-changing landscape of online real estate marketing in order to provide the best short and long-term solutions that meet our client’s needs.

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