Date Archives: February 2021

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February
23

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February
23

As the pandemic spread, few industries changed as quickly or as completely as real estate. In many areas, public safety protocols meant real estate was effectively on pause for several weeks. During that time, agents and brokers all over the country worked around the clock to figure out safe and effective ways to continue serving clients. Never before had there been so much risk.

And those professionals rose to the occasion. Real estate transactions have continued at a brisk pace, giving buyers the chance to access historically low interest rates. At the same time, sellers have benefited from rising home prices in some of the most desirable markets. Now, at last, there are optimistic signs of coming out the other end of the pandemic. But things won't simply go back to the way they were.

Many of the real estate trends accelerated by the pandemic were already percolating in the background. Virtual home tours and showings, remote work, marketing automation, and more have gained traction faster than anyone predicted. The benefits of these fresh approaches remain very attractive. Real estate experts often thrive on face-to-face interactions. It will be a relief to see clients in person more frequently. But the top pandemic trends have unlocked ways to get more done and serve more people — all without having to sacrifice the personal touch that makes relationships work.

Let's look at some game-changing real estate trends that have staying power:

  • Virtual Home Tours and Showings Are More Convenient for Everyone
    Virtual home tours arose out of the need to show property without gathering large groups of people together. But buyers have enjoyed the chance to peruse more properties with less travel — it allows them to widen their search. Sellers, in turn, don't mind not having to clean up after waves of guests. More agents are now comfortable on camera at a time when video marketing is becoming crucial to marketing success.

  • Remote Work is Helping Real Estate Teams Collaborate Effectively
    A striking 4.7 million people were already working remotely when the pandemic began. Working from home leads to lower overhead costs and can spark higher productivity: team members may no longer need to worry about paying thousands of dollars and wasting hundreds of hours in commutes. Yes, remote work is an adjustment and requires trust. With high-speed internet widely available, though, it is perhaps the best time for this trend to thrive.

  • Marketing Automation Means Real Estate Brands Stay in Touch
    How do real estate brands keep relationships going strong when a personal visit is out of the question? Today's internet enables marketing tools with incredible reach and sophistication. Agents can monitor all of their contacts with Delta Media Group's all-in-one solution for real estate professionals and launch personalized email drip campaigns at the touch of a button. Email newsletters, social media, open house management, and more can be achieved in minutes rather than hours.

  • Millennial Homebuyers Are Moving to Cities in Droves
    A mass exodus from expensive states like New York and California led some market-watchers to predict hot urban markets would soon be cooling down. That's not quite the case, further research reveals millennials are still choosing cities. Attractive interest rates, robust housing inventory, and low down payments are some of the main contributors to urban appeal. More than a third of Millennials still say cities are in their near future.

  • At the Same Time, Older Buyers Are Opting for Suburbs
    While younger buyers embrace the uncertainty of a fast-changing world, their elders are keeping more options on the table. Some have decided to move away from densely populated urban centers. Others are taking the opportunity to downsize or to consolidate into multi-generational households. Creative real estate pros will have diverse opportunities with older buyers in the coming years.

  • Now More Than Ever, Agents Need a Professional Real Estate Website
    As time goes on, buyers of all age categories become more likely to start their home search online. In 2018, 44% of all home buyers went online to start their home search. In total, 98% of older Millennials used the internet for home buying. Photography, detailed property information, floor plans, and virtual tours were among the top features they cited as useful. Real estate website design is now inseparable from your professional brand.

Real Estate Is Undergoing a Digital Revolution: The Right Technologies Are Essential to Success

The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. It will pass, but the lessons learned will endure.

Today's most effective real estate agents are using technology to adapt, overcome challenges, and add value to their communities. Modern real estate technology is the key to building a practice that lets you deliver sterling customer care while making space for the work-life balance you want in the long term.

To learn more from the real estate digital marketing experts, contact Delta Media Group today.

February
18

You hear the same thing every few years: SEO is dead!

SEO — search engine optimization — has been a part of the internet for more than 20 years. Ever since the first search engines went mainstream, they needed clear signals to help them categorize the content of websites. Despite how smart it might seem, Google can't read. It needs a lot of help to understand what a page is about. SEO is a combination of best practices that make pages friendlier to human readers and search engine "bots" alike. In the process, properly SEO'd pages are more likely to appear prominently in search results.

Saying "SEO is dead!" is a lot like saying "clothing is dead!" because fashion trends change. What's popular may vary from time to time, but people still need things to wear. Likewise, search engines regularly update their standards and wise SEO practitioners follow suit — but search engines still need SEO, and so do the businesses that want to succeed online.

In short, SEO is as vital as ever. In fact, there is no other way to consistently and positively influence your website's visibility in organic search. What has changed is the standard of performance, design, and usability a good SEO campaign should strive for.

Modern SEO is About Helping Website Visitors Reach Their Goals

You might think of SEO as a toolkit. It includes design techniques, technologies, and information architecture.

Take the most misunderstood concept in the SEO world: the keyword. A keyword is a specific phrase someone types in when looking for more information, such as "Atlanta homes for sale." The search engine's goal is to point the way to accurate, high-quality content so the user can find out more on this subject.

If you're in the business of Atlanta homes for sale, it only makes sense to use this keyword. Your blog posts, videos, and other content would be a lot less useful and a lot harder to find if you avoided saying "Atlanta homes for sale" out of a misinformed belief that doing so is somehow "cheating."

So it is with everything that has come to define modern SEO:

  • Mobile-friendly design is good for SEO because many people look at websites on their smartphone
  • SSL encryption is good for SEO because it helps protect users against having sensitive data stolen
  • Video content is good for SEO because it is more engaging and easier to remember than text
  • Fast loading times are good for SEO because nobody wants to sit and wait for a website to work

When real estate pros embrace SEO, they are choosing to align with the conclusions of thousands of hours of research into what makes a website helpful, useful, and effective. If they don't do so, they willingly yield the advantage to somebody who will — which is precisely the goal search engine providers have in mind.

A decade ago, boogeyman stories about the dangers of "black hat SEO" led many businesses to misunderstand what digital marketing is all about. Today's SEO is professional and precise: with tools such as Delta Media Group's all-in-one solution, you can centralize your efforts and see the impact of your work unfold over weeks and months.

Here are some essential ways to make SEO work for you:

  • Create Helpful, Informative Content for Your Real Estate Website
    Your blog is one of the cornerstones of your SEO strategy. Everything you post showcases your expertise, gives insights into your personality, and previews the value you offer clients. You can promote posts on social media or through your email drip campaign to extend their reach.
  • Focus Your Content on What Your Future Clients Search For
    It's easy to learn an SEO keyword tool that gives you real clarity on what topics people care about. You'll also get estimates of how many people search for a given term each month. Think about your ideal client: Buyer or seller? Millennial? Empty-nester? Then look for topics you can discuss relevant to their unique needs.
  • Design Your Real Estate Website to Be Easy to Use
    A well-designed real estate website demonstrates that you value others' time even before they become your customers. "Ease of use" has a number of factors. Navigation should be straightforward, making information simpler to find. Quick load times are a must, and your layout should adapt to mobile users' screens.

Combine your SEO with digital marketing automation — such as automatic social media updates — and you'll get results all the faster. Automation is the key to expanding your digital marketing without spending hours on the details. DeltaNET offers you a seamless, integrated solution you can trust. To find out more about real estate SEO and digital marketing that really works, contact us today.

February
16

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February
16

In March 1983, RE/MAX DFW Associates opened the doors to its very first office, serving a client base of only a few thousand people near the DFW Airport. And while the beginnings may have been humble, the potential for growth was obvious. Now, in the nearly four decades since those early days, RE/MAX DFW Associates hasn't just become one of the most trusted names in local real estate, but an integral part of the DallasFort Worth community and one of the top brokerages in the entire country.

For plenty of North Texans, RE/MAX DFW Associates is their go-to-choice, whether they're looking to purchase their first house, upgraded their living spaces, or find their forever homes. With knowledgeable and well-trained agents, locals know that when they turn to RE/MAX DFW Associates, they're getting a real estate partner who will work with them to make their dreams a reality.

GETTING TO KNOW RE/MAX DFW

Thirty-seven years ago, just after graduating college, Mark Wolfe, President and Owner of RE/MAX DFW Associates, began the process of building his company from the ground up. Long days and hours upon hours of work later, Wolfe has done more than simply create a lasting business. With over 300 agents, RE/MAX DFW Associates continues to grow every year, cementing its place in the industry and evolving into the de facto real estate leader in the area.

According to their website, in November 2020 alone, RE/MAX DFW boasted 596 new listings, up almost 100 from the previous month, while homes spent an average of only 72 days on the market. That number was down from 88 days in October 2020. DFW also ended 2020 with over $1.46 billion in closed sales volume, up 3.6% from the previous year.

Talking about RE/MAX DFW Associates' dedication helps them build long-term relationships with their clients, Wolfe says: The secret to our success, I think, the bottom line is that we absolutely care. I am involved seven days a week, almost 24/7 sometimes. It's not like so many other companies where you can't get ahold of the broker on the weekend, or you can't get ahold of the manager or whatever it may be. You can get ahold of our executive staff and our managers, seven days a week, and they're there to help, they're there to assist." 

ESTABLISHING SUCCESS & EMBRACING GROWTH

A Culture of Innovation, Education, and Change

Since its start, RE/MAX DFW Associates has invested in its sales team's growth, fostering experience, and a collective sense of industry knowledge.

When DFW first began, Wolfe says they weren't able to hire seasoned veterans from other agencies but instead had to "grow agents" of their own. That meant coming up with their own training programs — since RE/MAX didn't offer one of its own at the time — and creating an environment that not only attracted agents but kept them in house.

"We really mentored and trained agents," Wolfe says. "We have always had a balance of about two-thirds of the agents that come in our door are seasoned veteran agents, and about one-third are brand-new licensees that we train and mentor along the way."

Many of those initial hires are still with RE/MAX DFW Associates today. And many of DFW's executive staff, administrators, and loan officers also have multi-decade careers with the company.

But while longevity and consistency are both factors DFW prides itself on, finding new and successful agents has also become one of the company's calling cards. Marketing themselves is just as important as selling the latest listing, and in the last 30-plus years, DFW has become one of the premier landing points for future real estate stars. Finding new talent, and mixing it with experience, is the crux of DFW's boon of success and its longevity in the area. It's a fine line to walk, but one Wolfe believes the company has worked to perfection.

"We try to bring in young blood," Wolfe says. "Our average age in our company is about 49. In Texas, that's quite young, compared to what the other typical real estate companies have."

Adds Director of Marketing Services, Cyndi Cook, "[RE/MAX DFW and Mark have] been able to curate a team that nurtures and mentors agents to exceed in their goals, and to reach for the next level. Our managers, they're all very seasoned, very experienced. And because of that, they have been able to [help] agents, especially new agents, put them on the right path to their success and to achieve their goals."

Mixing consistency and fresh faces allow agents across DFW to find their niche and truly settle into their roles, no matter what that might entail. They're experts in their field, with enough experience to weather any obstacle — including, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic first hit last March, nearly everything in the Dallas-Fort Worth area shut down for several weeks. The abrupt change forced agents across RE/MAX DFW to shift their focus and pivot their mindset, which is precisely what they did. Suddenly, Cook was running virtual training sessions and working with Delta Media Group to help prepare for virtual showings, while agents settled into home offices and learned brand-new protocols.

Of course, revolving on a dime like that wasn't easy, and DFW is still navigating its way through the "new normal," but the company has confidence in its agents and their abilities. As always, it didn't take long for RE/MAX DFW to hit its stride, embracing the changes and settling into another routine that almost immediately led to success. Cook doesn't expect that to change any time soon.

"One of the things that I see is that more agents are embracing video," Cook says. "And also I'm seeing that even though you can do live open houses in our market now, about 20% of the open houses are virtual or Facebook premiere events. I'm not sure that's going to change." 

BUILDING TEAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS THAT WORK

Living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic is far from easy. Still, RE/MAX DFW is making the best of a difficult situation thanks in large part to agent ingenuity and a longstanding partnership with Delta Media Group®. In fact, despite the near-constant obstacles, RE/MAX DFW is posting some of its best numbers in years.

With agents who embrace every challenge presented to them, Wolfe says DFW wrapped up 2020 "having record months." He adds, "we will end the year, I think even above last year, which is quite phenomenal."

DFW also spent the last month of 2020 hosting weekly training videos as they launched their new website with Delta Media Group. Participation was enthusiastic across the board, with nearly 50 agents attending the initial class and almost a third of the company's agent base eventually joining.

"I think these trainings have been a huge success for us," Cook says. "And of course, the partnership with Delta, that to me is one of the keys of our ability to maintain an edge on technology. Our partnership with Delta allows us to be very competitive."

It's that enthusiasm and dedication to learning on the fly that has helped DFW keep trending upward because, no matter the time or the obstacles in front of them, growth is a constant trend for the company. When Cook first joined DFW in 1999, she says they "were doing in the 500 million to 750 million [range]" for revenue. Now, the company records sales volume in excess of 1.4 billion dollars, a number that both Wolfe and Cook credit their agents and staff for achieving.

As the real estate landscape continues to evolve, Wolfe doesn't anticipate much of a change in how RE/MAX DFW does business. While offices are once again open, most agents will continue to work out of their homes, still doing their best to provide the optimal home-buying experience for clients.

"You've got to give the very best services, you've got to stay in contact with your agents," Wolfe says. "Some of the things that have happened here in COVID, we'll never depart from." 

Top Sales Associates

The new-normal might continue to look a bit unfamiliar and occasionally even more challenging, but RE/MAX DFW's agents have high hopes of a prosperous 2021 — both for themselves and the community they work for. Buoyed by the collective confidence that's become the company's driving force, as well as an industry-leading website and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, DFW agents are ready to put their plans for the new year into action.

Some of RE/MAX DFW's top sales associates share why they chose this company to help set them on the path toward real estate success as they continue to prepare for everything 2021 has to offer:

"I joined RE/MAX DFW Associates after hearing about Mark Wolfe and RE/ MAX DFW for years from real estate friends and associates. They have a top-notch marketing department, and over the years, I saw many real estate associates move there. I was a 20-year agent with another RE/MAX office when I chose to move to the DFW Associates Plano location.

Mark and DFW Associates were more than welcoming. Cyndi in the marketing department is a great resource and extremely helpful with internet marketing as well as any aspect of growing our business. My first day at a DFW event greeted me with hellos and friendly faces, all with the same goal: to be successful and helpful to fellow agents.

The resources Mark offers and the overall support is a huge help in navigating the market. Mark sends relevant emails most days, updating the agents on trends, stats, and interesting information that affects our business. Mark is a very agent-friendly owner. From the first day I met him, he knew about me, my career, and my family. I feel very blessed to be a part of this great company and alongside such professional and hard-working agents." - Tina Crisp, RE/MAX Hall of Fame Agent 

"It was around 12 years ago a friend suggested I go meet with a manager named Steve Alcorn at RE/MAX DFW Associates. Astonishingly enough, I can say it was one of the best things I've ever done in my life.

This company and the people who make it work are unbelievable. They make you feel like family from the moment you walk in the door and every day thereafter. The level of technology, experience, and love this company gives is over the top. I'm proud to be a part of this team!" - Tracy Futch Peterson-McLean, RE/MAX DFW Commercial

"I have been a Top Producing Realtor for over 20 years with another RE/MAX [company] and was glad when RE/MAX DFW took over. I was apprehensive at first, not knowing what kind of change would take place, and quickly found out that Mark Wolfe and the staff were more than helpful and accommodating with my move.

Every time I had a question or concern, it was solved quickly and effectively, and the technology has exceeded my expectations!

The agents at RE/MAX DFW were warm and welcoming, and they are one of the best in the Metroplex! I can't wait to continue to grow my business moving forward as part of the RMDFW family!" - Von Truong, Certified Luxury Homes Marketing Specialist

"I had only been an agent for a few years when I joined RE/MAX. They were the number one company in town, and all the big hitters were there. I quickly learned why. Mark Wolfe was one of the main draws. He truly had the most professional operation of all the companies that I interviewed with. He and his staff were there with answers; the office was open for clients to visit, his office meetings had important information, not just coffee, donuts, and a pep rally. This was not anything that I had seen before, and it is still that way today.

Through the past 25 years, I have developed a profound respect for both Mark & Kay Wolfe and the amazing staff that they have hired. I have also been impressed that the services that we receive at RE/ MAX work out to be far less money than I would pay for them anywhere else. I get approached by other real estate companies all the time, and as I do the spreadsheet math, RE/MAX wins every time.

I believe that both the staff and the agents at RE/MAX DFW are top-notch. I am always amazed at their willingness to help others, no matter how swamped we are. It is a good group that you can call on for advice and counsel when you need it." - Laura Barnett, RE/MAX Circle of Legends

TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIPS LEAD TO LONGTERM SUCCESS

RE/MAX DFW Associates and Delta Media Group

RE/MAX DFW Associates first partnered with Delta Media Group nearly a decade and a half ago, and since then, the relationship has only grown stronger. Through the ups and downs of the real estate industry, the housing market, and even the recent COVID-19 pandemic, both companies have consistently worked to help one another for the better part of the last 15 years. That's especially true recently, as RE/MAX DFW Associates switched to a mostly-remote work environment early in 2020 and, later in the year, as the company merged two of its offices into one large space with over 100 agents.

"It is going to be a huge-volume office because we have some huge-volume agents there," Wolfe says. "It's been a great time to make all these changes, actually, during COVID, because the agents are so mobile now. Only about 25-30% of the agents want an office at all; they're good basically with the term home offices."

In 2020, RE/MAX DFW also acquired another office in the Dallas area, adding about 20 more agents to its total. The expansion meant deciding which tech company to use — either continue using kvCORE, which many agents had already been trained on, or help them switch to Delta. In the end, the choice wasn't all that difficult.

Agents almost immediately opted to switch to Delta, and Wolfe says, "They're excited about the change."

"I think that was an easy sell too for the agents that came over from the acquisition," Cook adds, "because once they saw everything that Delta had available, it was immediately, 'Sign me up.'"

The key to RE/MAX DFW's long-lasting partnership with Delta Media Group is also quite simple. In the end, it all comes down to relationships and trust. Wolfe and Cook both credit Delta's leadership — particularly CEO and Owner Michael Minard and President Noel England — for maintaining a sense of professionalism that regularly allows RE/MAX DFW to depend on Delta for any of their tech-based needs.

"Michael now being sole owner, that was a huge plus for us as I believe it allowed Delta to evolve its tech to the next level without being held back by 'the board.'

It made things much smoother at Delta; things are very easy to put into motion for us," Cook says.

Cook continues, "Michael himself has been a huge key to our relationship. Almost every year, we have our annual meeting, he comes out himself and addresses our agents. It's not often that you have the owner and CEO of the company that comes to do that. And I would say the other element in our relationship has been Noel. Noel has been a huge factor; she is a driving force at Delta and sincerely wants what is best for the customer and for Delta. And just in general, I mean, her personality is so outgoing, and she is very much a Delta cheerleader as well."

England comments on the importance of Delta's relationship with RE/MAX DFW, "When envisioning a broker/vendor partnership, you hope for honesty, trust, loyalty, and collaboration. The collaboration between RE/MAX DFW and Delta Media Group is just that! For well over 10 years, RE/MAX DFW and Delta have been working side-by-side, allowing for the best tools in the industry to be created that will, in turn, help agents manage their business and execute their daily routine.

"RE/MAX DFW's attention that they give to their agents, not only when they are onboarding as a new agent but throughout their career at RE/MAX DFW, is a step above many companies that I have encountered," England continues. "Cyndi, with the RE/MAX DFW team, personally sits with each new agent and walks them through the tools and technology that they use, sets up their whole website, and personally trains them. This allows agents to dive right into the bread and butter of their business, working with clients. Cyndi does such a great job — coaching agents to work smarter, not harder, and listening to their needs and wants on how they can perform better and give their clients more."

England summarizes the Delta and RE/MAX DFW relationship, saying, "Delta has come to rely on the partnership with the RE/MAX DFW leadership team and agents to be an intricate piece of Delta Media Group's development and ideas for innovative tools we offer to agents. Being a partner and working with RE/MAX DFW allows them to have the best technology in the industry and have a system that actually WORKS. It has elevated both of our companies to be the best in our industries."

Of course, RE/MAX DFW's own business philosophy affects its relationship with Delta. RE/MAX DFW is a company that prides itself on its availability, no matter the time or the situation. Wolfe says he's available whenever he needs to be, as are his agents and all of DFW's management team — because their job is to serve the community. And so, by extension, they expect the same of anyone they work with, including Delta Media Group. Luckily, DMG has a similar mindset.

"I am two rings away from Cyndi collaborating with me to alter a workflow, build a feature, or just talk through strategies," England says. "Our blossoming partnership has even landed RE/MAX DFW a seat on the Delta Advisory Council."

Issues with consistent availability have also affected RE/MAX DFW'S previous working relationship with other companies.

"That's huge in our relationship [with DMG], the support we get," Cook comments. "When we need to change something, it doesn't take six months for it to happen. It's very quick and very responsive. Delta has been so responsive to us, and that is hard to find. [With other tech providers], that was a problem. We couldn't get them to return calls right away when we tried to work with this other office that we acquired. And the level of assistance was definitely not there compared to what we received from Delta."

Wolfe gives his example of Delta's quick response, describing RE/MAX DFW's recent work to merge offices and how easily Delta helped facilitate it on the technology side.

"Effective January 1, is when we [merged] three offices," Wolfe explains. "And I had called Cyndi...saying, let's go ahead and get this done. And so she says, 'Let me give Delta a call.' Five minutes later, we're getting the work statement that it's in process, it will all happen, it will get done. You wouldn't have that with another company, and I appreciate that."

In such a competitive market, RE/MAX DFW must differentiate themselves from their competitors, particularly when it comes to website options. RE/MAX DFW currently hosts residential, commercial, and luxury property sites and plans to launch a career site relatively soon. All of them have been the product of DFW's partnership with Delta.

"[The new site launches were] a very smooth process for us," Cook says. "The way that Delta has worked with us to get everything together, they've appreciated that we're taking the time, and we have an agent task force that is providing input as well into what we think we need and want, and what will work best for the consumer. Delta has been very good about working with all of those ideas in the process."

Offering multiple sites — each with a specific focus — helps customers avoid combing through numerous listings, trying to find the perfect property for them. All of the sites also come with customization options and themes agents can choose for themselves. So, instead of merely putting out cookie-cutter sites, RE/MAX DFW agents can showcase their personalities, providing another way for those same agents to connect with their customer base. It also puts the agent front and center of the site, something Cook says is crucial for RE/MAX DFW.

"You see some of these other franchises out there or other real estate companies, and it's just 'This is all you get.' Most of the time, it's all about the company versus the agent," Cook comments. "We have our brand on there, but the agents, we really focused on them."

Cook says that late in 2020, RE/MAX DFW also acquired a team from local competitor Ebby Halliday, all of whom "loved the theme templates."

"They're very excited about it," she says. "It gives them the ability to highlight the team members as well as the team lead. We have a lot of teams at RE/MAX DFW. So the team sites have been a huge plus for us. And we have many agents that even though we did a custom template for RE/MAX, when DFW announces the new templates that come out each month, they're looking at those, and they're like, 'I like that one better.' They're choosing to switch over to the new look."

With fresh, clean designs, the templates play a large part in RE/MAX DFW's recruitment and offer new agents more control of their individual brand while also staying within the company's successful umbrella. In fact, before joining RE/MAX DFW, Wolfe says one of the company's most recent hires went through a must-have list of technology options. By partnering with Delta, RE/MAX DFW offered everything the hire was looking for, and he was quickly brought on board.

"He was already looking at us closely because a lot of his friends are with us," Wolfe says of the recent hire. "But he went through this checklist item by item by item, and the manager sat there and showed the DeltaNET™ item by item, here it is, here it is, here it is, here it is. So, it was sort of a show-and-tell, if you will. And at the end, he was, 'Okay, that's all I need. That's exactly what I need, and I don't need to look any further.'"

Of course, there's more to RE/MAX DFW's sites than simple customization. Working with a streamlined CRM is a huge benefit to every one of the company's offices and agents, making otherwise arduous tasks feel like second nature. Cook adds that recent RE/MAX DFW hires also note the search features and available files on the agent dashboard in DeltaNET.

With so many ways to do business — and do it easily, at that — Cook says that most of RE/MAX DFW's agents opt to work with Delta. Even those who try other technology options often come back to Delta, and as of this writing, there is approximately a 90% agent adoption rate for Delta products.

"We really have brought more agents back onto the Delta platform in the last three or four months," Cook comments. "In fact, our number one individual agent chose to come back to Delta Media just about a month ago because of the new CRM, campaigns, and templates."

RE/MAX DFW's numbers are all the more impressive considering that RE/MAX itself offers tech services — most of which are free. Still, agents decide to continue using and paying for Delta because of the services available to them.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR RE/MAX DFW

Now that the calendar is turning to a new year, RE/MAX DFW has its sights set on a handful of new endeavors, all of them exciting, and another opportunity for the company to continue its tradition of growth. RE/MAX DFW is especially pleased with its recent partnership with KNOCK.com, an iBuyer company that was previously in the same group as sites like Opendoor and Zillow.

Wolfe explains KNOCK's background: "It has all the money because it got it from the hedge funds and all the different investors, but it wasn't doing a good job at marketing. So, although they were part of the iBuyer field for about three or four years, they switched in June to a different type of system where they're no longer a real estate brokerage, but they will do a home swap program through their mortgage company. There are 11 cities involved right now, with two more cities joining in the first quarter that will have the KNOCK program, and there are about three real estate brokerages in each city.

"It really replaces iBuyers and is so much better. Your client can go ahead and purchase a home," Wolfe continues, "they can close on it, KNOCK will advance them 20% down payment. It will advance in $25,000 for home prep for their existing home and then pay their mortgage for six months, allow you to get prepped, staged, and then see. And there is no fee for KNOCK any of that."

As one of those three real estate brokerages working within the Dallas area, RE/MAX DFW had about 150 agents go through the company's certification program. For Wolfe, and RE/MAX DFW, KNOCK provides agents with the ability to help clients quickly become buyers, simplifying the entire process. It's what Wolfe calls "a huge initiative" for the company and a significant factor in their 2021 plans.

Besides their work with KNOCK, RE/MAX DFW is looking to expand its listing options. Of course, there are plenty of factors that go into that — inventory, available homes, even homes in the process of being built. But the key, Wolfe believes, is not merely being prepared to show those listings, but using every avenue, particularly on social media, to market them.

"I'm still a believer in some of the traditional stuff that we did years ago," Wolfe says, "[but] it's way down the list, and when it comes to social media, there are things we've got to be doing. People think about selling their home, and you've got to be Johnny on the spot right in there. And then social media is just where it's at. It's the future."

It's also a future that RE/MAX DFW is more than willing to embrace. If 2020 has taught them anything, it's that change is inevitable, but finding those little hints of consistency amidst it all helps maintain some much-needed stability and, even more importantly, success. Heading into the new year, RE/MAX DFW will keep its offices open. Still, both Wolfe and Cook anticipate most agents will opt to continue working remotely, providing them with more control over their schedules.

With plenty of ways to continue servicing their community and more options than ever to help clients find their forever homes, RE/MAX DFW Associates welcomes whatever comes next, preparing for another three-plus decades as the top real estate name in the area. 

February
16

With each day, more and more real estate clients find their next home — and their trusted real estate agent — through online sources. In fact, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, 52 percent of recent buyers found their home online. Without a dependable, high-performance website, it's more difficult to connect with the modern client.

And your website is so much more than a place for clients to shop for homes! The best websites provide a seamless experience, allowing clients to learn about you, find answers to their key real estate questions, fall in love with the communities where you sell homes, and connect with your brand on a variety of online platforms. In other words, it's a lead-generation machine. Still wondering if you need to invest in a website? Read on to find out why real estate agents need websites too.

  • Establish Your Brand and Online Presence
    When a prospective client wants to learn more about you, your brand, and what you have to offer, they typically start by searching online for more information. At its core, your real estate website is where people can find that information and so much more. Establishing your online presence is crucial because that's where most people will be looking for you. Without a website, it will be hard for prospects to find the information they seek, which means they're likely to move on to the next agent.

  • Connecting Buyers with Homes
    Once buyers have an idea of what you have to offer as an agent, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to take the next step. And that next step will almost always be starting to search for homes. With MLS listing search on your website, buyers can search for their perfect home in all of the neighborhoods where you do business. Adding virtual tours to your listings is another great way to accommodate clients, in an era when so many people are shopping for and selling homes online.

  • Become a Real Estate Resource
    If you want to win new business online, sharing your real estate expertise is the perfect place to start. There are countless potential clients out there looking for information on buying, selling, and maintaining homes. By including a blog on your website, you can become a trusted resource for prospects and clients alike. All of your real estate content can live on your website, making it easy for clients to find the information they need to approach their next real estate transaction with confidence. By providing that content, you build trust and show clients why you're the right agent for them.

  • Showcase the Communities Where You Do Business
    In addition to learning about homes and finding general real estate info, shoppers will visit your website to learn more about the communities where you sell homes. This is a huge opportunity to help them fall in love with neighborhoods by using your content to showcase what makes each neighborhood special. Savvy buyers know that finding the right neighborhood is a big part of finding the perfect home, and your website can help them do both.

  • Building Your Own Brand
    If you work for a larger real estate company, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle when prospects visit the company website. A custom, agent-focused website allows you to build your own personal brand while still remaining part of the larger company brand.

  • A Hub for Your Whole Online Presence
    A diverse online marketing presence is crucial for success, and your website ties all of your marketing together. When you make a social post, write a new blog, or create a YouTube video, it's great to include a link back to your website. And when clients visit your website, they should easily be able to find links to the rest of your online presence.

  • Share Client Reviews and Testimonials
    When a potential client is looking for real estate agents online, "social proof" like reviews and testimonials often play an important role in the agent they choose. Your real estate website is a natural place to share reviews and testimonials from satisfied clients, making it easy for prospects to see all you have to offer.

Whether you're new to the industry or an experienced veteran of the real estate world, an innovative, information-rich website is sure to help you grow your brand. With Delta Media Group's all-in-one solution, you can use custom domains on your own website and take advantage of dozens of reliable tools to help grow your online presence. Our team is here to help you create a dynamic website that flawlessly represents your brand online. Contact us to learn more.

February
16

In every issue of our magazine, one of our goals is to showcase Delta Media Group® customers who take a different approach to succeeding in the real estate industry, as well as those who have stood the test of time. Counselor Realty checks both of those boxes. Here, we'll look at what the Minnesota-based brokerage has done to foster over 50 years of business and how its agent -first approach helps separate Counselor from the rest of the real estate pack.

THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF LONGEVITY

A full-service brokerage and agent-owned company, Counselor was established in 1964. Since then, it's become one of the most trusted real estate names in Minnesota's Twin Cities and across the entire state with over 200 agents and 15 offices.

With a structure that President Andy Prashad likens to a co-op, or even similar to how an attorney would join a law firm, Counselor provides its agents with their own voice and the tools to use it. Not only for their success, but profit as well, even during the unusual circumstances presented by 2020. Prashad adds that Counselor prides itself on providing the best available "services to our agents...so they can, in turn, provide that service to their clients. We're all about agent support, very agent-driven, and agent focused."

While plenty of things have changed since Counselor Realty opened more than 50 years ago, the fundamental principles of the company remain as solid as ever. Throughout the ups and downs of the market, Counselor stays a strong, consistent presence across Minnesota, providing home buyers with a sense of confidence and security.

As a household name across the state, Counselor is also able to focus on opportunities for its agents. From shareholder options to sharing information based on a vast pool of experience, Counselor's continued success rests largely on their ability to foster collaboration and teamwork.

Says Marketing Tech Co-Chair Kevin Bumgardner, "You really do lean on agents around you. I recently told an agent, as a brokerage, we put agents first who put customers first. We are really geared toward the full-time full-service agent who plans to sell as their full-time job."

"And there aren't too many companies out there that one could say they have a voice," Prashad adds. I think that's pretty important after over half a century, still being able to continue that model. And a lot of folks have had a different take off of our model."

GROWING THE COUNSELOR REALTY FAMILY

Locally owned and operated, Counselor also offers opportunities to franchise. Although franchise ownership might vary, and even the internal structure of each may occasionally operate differently, there are still overarching similarities from office to office. Namely, the family-like feeling that defines the company, creating the sort of relationships that make agents feel welcome no matter where they're working or how they're training.

Even in today's era of online meetings and video conferencing, Counselor manages to keep relationships strong, something that's also helped the company weather the storm of 2020. Compared to 2019, leads were up 57%, total web traffic was up 74%, and organic traffic was up 73%. "The way [franchises are] set up, the family of Counselor Realty is very much the same, no matter where you go," says Bumgardner. "You're always welcome at one of the offices. You can practice real estate statewide, so wherever you go, you're welcome. And even during this pandemic, when we have online Zoom meetings, when we have online training, franchise agents are always invited as if they're a corporate agent."

More often than not, any franchise expansion is the product of people wanting to be part of the Counselor brand. Whether that's previous agents, who have seen what the name can do first-hand, or others who were simply attracted to Counselors' proven model, as was the case in the recently-opened Bemidji location, adding another office is always about finding the right partners.

Growing organically is critical for Counselor, particularly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. No one is looking to force a franchise, but if the chance to move into a new market presents itself, Counselor is anxious to seize the opportunity.

"I think we [aren't] necessarily looking at just growth for growth's sake," says Director of Operations Jennipher Reichert, "but forming relationships and partnering with people that are going to be part of our tradition and that we are going to be proud to say are partners of Counselor Realty."

Making it easy for franchises to join is also important for Counselor. With one of the lowest entry fees on the market, as well as an uncomplicated system once an office is brought in, and the opportunity to be part of company-wide training offerings, Counselor aims to make the process as streamlined as possible. That sort of give and take also creates another facet to the franchise relationships, helping them evolve past the brick and mortar of traditional offices and into something that benefits everyone involved.

"It truly is a family," says Franchise Director Dawn Jarl. "When I'm in Bemidji, for example, you're just invited to step in. When any of our franchisees come down to the Twin Cities, they call, they refer, and vice versa. It's just a really great system."

TAKING 2020 IN STRIDE

In a time defined by its new obstacles and constant challenges, Counselor continues to find new and innovative ways to meet each head-on, making 2020 one of its most productive years yet. Throughout the year, organic web traffic rose 70%, a number Counselor is regularly able to leverage into leads and a jumping-off point for agent productivity.

"Our agents have continued, in most cases, to do business, but in a very different way than it has looked in the past," Reichert says, adding that, as a brokerage, Counselor was considered a critical business in Minnesota, even in the early days of the pandemic. "I think the SEO program specifically has increased our online presence, and really provided a value to us."

With new developments to contend with seemingly every week, Counselor's agents have harnessed their creativity and their previous knowledge, continuing to serve their customer base while also staying safe. So, whether it's virtual open houses or providing consumers with alternate ways to view properties, Counselor's agents still performed comparable to 2019.

Both Bumgardner and Prashad credit that performance with agents' previous experience, many of them working with Counselor for decades now.

"Going back, some have been here since the '80s, maybe late '80s, '89 to '92," Prashad says. "So given their experience, their knowledge when the pandemic basically hit, this is something that they have experienced before, not to this level, but they are in a position where they have knowledge."

And when younger agents need help, those family-like traits that define Counselor prove as important as ever.

"We impart our wisdom to them, and I think that's been helpful," Bumgardner says.

TECH PARTNERSHIPS ENSURING AGENT SUCCESS

Counselor Realty and Delta Media Group

First partnering in 2007, Delta Media Group provides tools that are now part of the fabric of Counselor's everyday success. That includes company websites and a go-to hub where agents can develop unique marketing content, customer relationship management, social media engagement, and even automation that allows for more time to focus on clients. Although not Counselor's first tech partnership, Bumgardner says Delta's innovation has helped make it one of their longest-lasting partnerships.

"From our side, having that relationship with [Delta's] developers and other titles, we've been able to make suggestions and improvements and overall, things that help our marketplace, things that help our agents succeed with the website," Bumgardner says. "Together, we've been able to create a better product, hopefully for the industry. Hopefully, it competes against the new technology and Wall Street money that competes with us."

Counselor franchises also have some freedom when choosing website providers, but Reichert says, more often than not, locations stick with Delta.

"That says a lot," Reichert adds. "And it was great for us because they're now within our company structure, and we know that they are recognizing the value. With the relationship that we have with Delta and everything that you have to offer."

DeltaNET™ 6, as well as other Delta-provided products, including webinars, also prove consistently valuable to Counselor. In the last decade or so, the tools added another dynamic to Counselor's recruiting efforts. Online visibility and the potential for creating and maintaining leads make Counselor an appealing option for agents across Minnesota, while the ease of use with Delta makes those agents' jobs all the more efficient.

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

Despite the ups and downs of 2020, Counselor has no plans of slowing as the company turns its attention toward the new year. Expanding communications, coaching, and training will all be key aspects of Counselor's 2021 plan, while also offering agents the chance to join accountability groups and continuing to provide even more opportunities to learn from one another.

As always, the crux lies in relationships: fostering them, nurturing them, and growing them wherever applicable — both within the company itself and the communities Counselor serves. With a reputation that's only grown over the last five decades, Counselor is determined to keep building on a proven model that's both profitable and successful.

"I would say that over the last 56 years, of course, we have seen many models come and go, the shiny new object syndrome," Prashad says. "That's going to continue to happen. It has happened. But for us, it's a natural growth process. And that's our intention. And that's how we see ourselves growing."

February
16

More than 80 years ago, Shelley Johnson's great-grandfather founded the company that would eventually become Northwest Real Estate Brokers, selling farms in the Spokane and Palouse areas of Washington. From those relatively humble beginnings, the brokerage has blossomed into a multi-faceted operation, boasting 23 offices and a 1000-agent group operating under the Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Sotheby's International Realty banners with brands across eastern Washington, Idaho, and western Montana.

However, that kind of growth doesn't come without hard work, and what was once a single-family company is now a multi-generational brand, with several local families serving as owners. That includes Johnson, the current Chief Executive Officer/Member of Northwest Real Estate Brokers also known as The Tomlinson Group of Companies. In particular, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson has experienced continued success in the midst of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. From strategic mergers to digital partnerships to a positive corporate culture, CB Tomlinson met any challenges head on to become the go-to real estate agency in the markets they serve in the Pacific Northwest.

GETTING TO KNOW COLDWELL BANKER TOMLINSON

An independent for years, Northwest Real Estate Brokers initially affiliated with Coldwell Banker nearly a decade and a half ago. Since then, CB Tomlinson has become one of the most recognized and trusted real estate names in the area, working collaboratively with its agents and community, as well as Delta Media Group®, which they partnered with in 2018, while also focusing on meaningful growth opportunities.

"We've grown over the years through primarily strategic mergers and acquisitions," Johnson says. "When I say strategic, we think about markets we want to be in, and then we look for opportunities in those markets. And we're pretty thoughtful about who we are and who we aren't." In 2020, some of Tomlinson's biggest opportunities included a boom of city transplants looking to find their perfect home and a bit more space. 

WIDE-OPEN SPACES AND BRAND-NEW HOMES

Nothing about 2020 has been particularly easy, including the real estate market. As the COVID-19 pandemic began in early March, CB Tomlinson was forced to develop creative ways to continue business and, more importantly, grow it. And grow, did they ever.

In key markets like Spokane and Boise, website growth was impressive, with organic traffic up 155% for the Boise market compared to 2019.

"I've never seen numbers like this," says Senior Director of Marketing Kristin Whitaker. "A lot of it's due to COVID and more eyes being online and engaging in digital and social media. Part of it's also due to the market demand in our geographies and increasing home searches."

Moving or buying a home always presents plenty of challenges — and it's even more difficult during a pandemic. But as Tomlinson continues to see a rise in property interest and increased brand awareness, the company's partnership with Delta Media Group proves more and more important. Using DMG's search engine optimization, both Tomlinson's company and agent sites saw a jump in search results, making it simpler for customers and potential home buyers to find them.

Says Whitaker, "The sheer volume of agents using DeltaNET™ tools, such as the Facebook Connector and sharing everything with their spheres, especially on social media has really helped with brand recognition. We're everywhere."

Early in 2020, Coldwell Banker also underwent a global rebrand, making it even more critical for Tomlinson to get the company's logo and story out in the marketplace. Delta helped make that happen, as Tomlinson executed a large-scale advertising effort over the first quarter of 2020. Providing that backstory and familiarizing themselves with the customer base ensured that Tomlinson wasn't only a recognized brand throughout the year, but a trusted one.

CREATING A CONSISTENT CULTURE

With multiple affiliations across the company, Northwest Real Estate Brokers is part of several national Realogy franchises and one of the few brokerages in the country to have multiple realty brands under one umbrella. It's a unique position that Johnson calls "good for us and good for our agents."

And while the multi-affiliations do create differences between brands — including everything from the obvious, like location, to the less, like available property types — there are also answers to fit each brand's questions. This allows for hyper-localized focus at every location, with NWREB maintaining local control of each.

No matter where Tomlinson, or its parent company, is looking to expand, the key, Johnson says, is to find opportunities that mesh with the brokerage's overall cultural mindset.

"I would say culturally, what unifies us is the full-service brokerage atmosphere," Johnson explains. "We embrace that in all senses of the word. Full service to the public and full service to our agents. I would say, doing business with a high degree of professionalism and absolute focus on ethics."

These factors all recently came into play when CB Tomlinson acquired a previously independent brokerage out of Idaho Falls. Johnson says Tomlinson had long looked at the Idaho Falls market with interest and saw the entire state as full of potential, so the acquisition was truly a long time coming. Still, the fit had to be perfect, and several factors helped make the move possible.

"COVID has brought an interesting landscape of M&A opportunity," she says. "I think a lot of the volatility that's happening right now made people take a close look at what they wanted for themselves and their business. And think about market cycles and the fact that we're arguably at the top of a more than 10-year market cycle or close; who knows, we don't have a crystal ball. But this is probably a good time to take action. What should that action be? Are you going to double down on growth or maybe look for strategic partnerships? So, this is one that came our way, and we are absolutely focused on growth. And so, we jumped on it."

Adding the Idaho Falls branch wasn't the only change CB Tomlinson has undergone in the last few months. Michele Molitor, who Johnson calls "a force," joined the company as one of two directors of education in 2020, mostly working in and around the Boise, Idaho area. In her new role, which continues to expand, Molitor also helps Tomlinson operate a pre-licensing school, as well as in-house education for brokers.

MAKING THE CHOICE

Coldwell Banker Tomlinson and Delta Media Group

Going back to late 2018, Tomlinson began the process of researching and selecting a new vendor for its company website, individual agent sites, CRM, and a full suite of marketing tools. Working with David Gumpper of the Gumpper Group to comb through the landscape of potential vendors, the search ultimately led to a partnership with Delta Media Group, a process Johnson says she was "really pleased" with.

"[Gumpper] came back to us with a couple of vendor opportunities, several vendor opportunities. We ultimately received demos from two," Johnson says. "And, it was pretty clear to me that DMG was our platform of choice, pretty quickly. And that it ticked all those boxes for us."

Previous partnerships with other companies offered limited functionality for CB Tomlinson, with what Whitaker refers to as "technology that was presented to us in a box, rather than technology that was presented to fit within our business model."

That changed with Delta Media Group.

Now, Tomlinson can collaborate and provide feedback with DMG, helping facilitate even more growth and opportunities for both sides of the partnership. As Whitaker explains, "in this search, we really did prioritize the collaboration and support, communication, perhaps even over and above the specifics of the technology platform itself."

By partnering with Delta, Tomlinson isn't just able to work with a flexible and innovative vendor, but one that's helped make that all-important culture front and center on the company's website. In some situations, Tomlinson has separate websites for different geographies, and by working with DMG, each of those markets is represented.

Says Johnson, "The other vendors we talked to said, 'Again, here's the box and you can have more than one box, but it's going to cost you twice as much.' And so, we just needed somebody who had that level of flexibility and partnership with us. And [Delta] certainly do[es]."

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR TOMLINSON

Now that 2020 is in the rearview mirror, Coldwell Banker Tomlinson is turning its collective attention to what 2021 has to offer, with a plan that includes doubling down on the company's work as a full-service brokerage. Agent training and optimum usage of the resources and tools available in DeltaNET will take center stage, focusing on available automations as well as the value to be found in saved searches, market watches, and campaigns.

Tomlinson also hopes to expand its in-house marketing services by providing what is essentially a listing concierge program.

Whitaker details the plan, saying: "Our staff, who we affectionately call Agent Services Experts, will facilitate all marketing elements of new listings for our agents. So that includes listing input and syndication, but also ordering just listed postcards, social media posting, e-blasts to the MLS, and e-cards to agent spheres."

Expanding graphic design, as well as video and customer digital marketing services for agents, are also on Tomlinson's 2021 to-do list, providing multiple options for agents that will open up their schedules and allow them to do what they did so well last year — create relationships and serve their clients.

February
15

One thing I'll likely always remember is attending the LeadingRE annual conference in March of 2020. The conference theme was "Wealth, Wisdom, and Wellness," and Delta Media Group® CEO Michael Minard was hosting a seminar titled "Taking Advantage of the Roaring '20s." Why is this relevant to technology migrations? The world was caught off guard by COVID-19 the same way many brokerages find themselves caught off guard when their technology vendor suddenly decides to let their business be acquired.

If there's one major theme in the real estate technology sector over the last three years, it has certainly been mergers and acquisitions. One in particular, though, stood out from the rest. Booj, one of the industry's leading technology firms, who had made their name inside of the independent brokerage circles like LeadingRE®, suddenly became a part of the RE/MAX family. Over 60 brokerages representing nearly 100,000 real estate agents had the rug quickly pulled out from under them and needed to start reevaluating their options. That's not to say that wasn't the right move for Booj and RE/MAX, but it certainly created stress in the industry. 

We also saw other major moves such as PropertyBase merging into Boston Logic, Compass acquiring Contactually, and Inside Real Estate acquired by private equity firm Lovell Minnick Partners. The fact of the matter is that unless you have something in writing with your current technology provider giving you some kind of protection in the event of a technology acquisition — like many of our clients at Delta Media Group have — then you need to be prepared to evaluate the landscape of options in this space.

Any technology provider that has raised funding or is backed by Venture Capitalists has one simple objective above all others. Provide an ROI for the company who invested millions into their business. You can see how this story has played out over and over again in the last 20 years. A tech firm raises money, and within 3-5 years they have sold their business to repay the VC. It means that there is always uncertainty for real estate agencies. That's why truly knowing who you are trusting such a large element of your brokerage's business with is so important.

So, where should you begin? There are a million reasons why it's crucial to have a good understanding of the technology options available, but what I've found is one of the key takeaways for vetting all the options is knowing what tech-stack your competitors are using. Suppose you're in a competitive marketplace where many of the brokerages are using different technology solutions. In that case, you should take the time to sit through a sales presentation of tools other agents in your market are using. This will give you an idea of how your tech tools stack up compared to the broker down the road.

One of the biggest draws to strong technology in real estate is recruiting. If nothing else, be in tune with your competitor's marketing strategies, websites, CRM tools, and more. You don't want to lose out in a recruiting pitch because your company lacks the ability to have an integrated all-in-one solution for managing leads, email marketing, flyer creation, and even managing a sales funnel.

In my role with Delta Media Group, I am routinely handling very detailed "in the weeds" conversations with large Top 500 brokerages in the country, evaluating our technology and determining what is the most important feature or tool a brokerage could be leveraging in their business. Is it a more streamlined CRM? Is it ramping up lead generation to get agents paying more attention to the tools? One thing is always clear. Regardless of the market, regardless of the size of a company, you need to know what your agents are asking for. Having agent advisory councils or bringing in a third-party consultant to help you in the evaluation process can make your life much easier.

Okay, so now the time has come to actually sit down and look at options. There are a hundred different real estate website choices out there and dozens of CRM's. Where should you even begin? Sitting through a sales presentation for various technology products can be a huge time sink and isn't something you want to do every couple of years. So, I recommend conducting a thorough review of any "all-in-one" providers working as part of the LeadingRE Solutions Group. The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World is a network of more than 550 independent brokerages across the globe who sold a combined total of $257 billion in volume over the course of 2019. They strive for excellence, and any provider who is a part of their solutions group technology program is worth your time to investigate. One thing I commonly hear in my conversations is - "What are the questions I'm not asking?" Often you don't know what you don't know, and good sales reps tend to avoid areas of conversation where they know their product or company is weak. Here are a few good topics to make sure are addressed in any sales presentation or technology evaluation you are a part of: 

"Who actually owns your company?"

"What are your company's goals for the next 3-5-10 years?"

"Do you develop your product entirely in-house, or do you outsource work overseas?"

"How much have your rates increased over the last five years, and how often do you increase your rates?"

"Do you have guaranteed up-time for the website and Intranet? How much downtime have you had over the last couple of years?"

"How do you approach SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and are your lead generation strategies more focused on organic growth or paid advertising?"

Many of these questions will reveal the true culture and goals of the organization you are vetting. During an interview with another brokerage featured in this issue, the Chief Operating Officer of Northwest Real Estate Brokers Shelley Johnson shared that when they were evaluating technology partners in 2019, the most important thing they were looking for, above all else (even the quality of the technology solution) was a good cultural fit with their organization. If you are trusting the online presence for your brand, how you generate business for your company, and how your agents follow up on those opportunities with a single provider, then you better feel comfortable getting into a long-term, 10- plus year relationship with them.

Another organization that went through a technology migration in 2019 was Cutler Real Estate, a 500-plus agent brokerage that operates in many regions in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I sat down with their President, Andy Camp, as well as their e-customer Service and Business Development manager Suzi Stepanovich to get an idea of how their technology migration process played out.

Franklin: "In the past ten years, how many major technology migrations has Cutler Real Estate conducted?"

Suzi: "Just 2!"

Franklin: "What were some of the biggest drivers to making a decision to leave your companies previous solution for CRM, Website, etc?"

Suzi: "SEO and visibility of our listings on Google, the quality of Technical Support, and general ease of use of the CRM tools."

Andy: "For me, it was the amount of functionality and tools provided by our old system compared to what we have with Delta. Another important element was the collaboration we have with your team to help us implement different ideas we have."

Frankin: "What are some of the biggest challenges you've experienced with a major move, and how were you able to solve them?"

Suzi: "I would say the biggest challenge in any technology move is transitioning large amounts of data. Customer data, saved searches, agent information, and more need to be migrated to make these seamless for the agents, and our customers. Delta worked tirelessly to help us achieve the easiest data transition possible."

Andy: "I agree with Suzi, the other area we significantly underestimated was the impact on the overall SEO value of our website and what that meant for our lead generation when migrating from one platform to another. Always pay attention to how well your site is performing and take that into account when looking at other options."

Franklin: "When designing the most recent version of the CutlerHomes.com website what did you think of the overall design process with Delta and how was it different than other website redesigns you've managed in the past?"

Suzi: "The process was quick and easy! We were up and running within six months of signing a contract with Delta compared to a nearly 3-year build out with our previous vendor."

Andy: "We really wanted our website design to be intuitive and simple for the consumer to use. Delta helped us turn our vision into reality on time, and under budget."

Franklin: "When rolling out a new CRM to your agents, how did the initial rollout go and what has the reception been over the last year since you introduced The DeltaNET™ to your agents?"

Suzi: "We were definitely at an advantage, as we have been on the Delta platform for nearly 20 years. We switched for just over one year, and then quickly switched back! The reception from our REALTORS is one of thankfulness and relief! Any glitches - if they occur - are remedied usually within 24 hours, allowing our REALTORS to continue doing what they do best!"

Andy: "I will say that now that we have the confidence of a strong CRM at our disposal, one that we can incorporate custom campaigns, we have really focused on helping our Realtors get their client data into the system and help them use this amazing tool to stay more connected than ever with their Clients!"

Franklin: "Is there anything in particular that stands out from migrating to Delta Media Group® compared to other migrations you've done in the past?"

Suzi: "Certainly, as with all technology, you will have a glitch or two….you will be amazed at how fast this support team works to correct any issues that arise. Maybe, you just have a thought on how a certain process could be improved? Be prepared for how intently they LISTEN and are willing to improve or modify their product based on your needs."

Franklin: "Last Question! What would your last recommendation be to broker owners, and other MarTech individuals considering making a switch for their brokerage technology solutions in 2021?"

Suzi: "RUN - Don't walk - make the change! With technology as sophisticated as what's offered by Delta Media Group® you shouldn't settle for less in your business."

Andy: "If you are considering a change, really take the time to identify why that is. This will help you identify your current platform shortcomings and what you really want from a tech platform. In the long run this will help with so many critical decisions with development and launch!"

I hope this interview helped shed some light on what the migration might look like if you choose to work with Delta Media Group® as a partner in the future. In the meantime, any vendor who truly wants to work with you as a partner - not just a vendor/client relationship - should be willing to sit down with you for a consultative call to evaluate their technology solutions and see if they would be a good fit as a partner to your business. If you're curious about getting started with this process, please give me a call! 

February
15

It's a new year and, after the year we've just had, it couldn't come soon enough. Now that we've made it through all of the surprises 2020 threw at us, there's no better time to revisit and recommit to your marketing efforts in order to make the most out of 2021.

To that end, I put together this article to reintroduce you to some of the tools in the DeltaNET™ that you can use to help you make the most out of that SOI you've been building for years. There might even be a thing or two in there that can do all of that with just a little bit of setup, so you don't spend your days on the phone prospecting new clients as well. Let's start out 2021 right.

First and foremost, get that customer database of yours imported into the DeltaNET. There are plenty of tools in the system to help you organize your database, help you reach out to your customers, and even reach out to those customers on your behalf, but none of that does you any good if your customers aren't in there. It can hold a lot, too, so don't be shy about adding in every contact record you have. Keep in mind that, though the system contains a lot of functionality related to emailing clients, there's functionality for phone, text messaging, and even physical mailing as well. So, even if your contacts are just a name and a physical address — or really even only that address — don't be afraid to put them in there. You never know what contact could lead to a closing just because you got in touch with them at the right time.

Don't forget about the old, inactive contacts either. You might have filed them away years ago when you reached out, and they told you they weren't interested, but what was true five years ago might not be true today, and it might just take an automated Market Watch Report to get them interested again. At this point, it's worth it, in the long run, to organize them as best you can. You'll thank yourself later when you're setting up email campaigns or market watches and need those emails to go to the customers that are most likely to engage with them.

Once you have your customers in the DeltaNET, it's time to set up the system to do the time-consuming work for you. Set up the My Customer for Life (MCFL) system to automatically send messages to all of your contacts. This system will periodically reach out to everyone in your database with an email containing links to articles about buying, selling, or home improvement. What's more, it will keep track of the articles they click on so that it can send them more of that kind of article when it emails them in the future. After all, the more relevant the contents of an email are, the more likely I am to read it and remember who sent it to me. 

You can also make the most out of the ecard designs through automation. When it comes to the 'birthday card' automation, for example, there's no reason not to set that up to send to everyone. Who doesn't like a birthday card? I would be remiss if I left out there there's a pet birthday card in there too. I'm not saying I wish my dog a happy birthday every year (I do, but don't tell anybody), but I would still get a kick out of getting a birthday card for him. I like to think he'd get a kick out of it too. More importantly, that's exactly the kind of little extra that gets a client to come to you when they're looking to buy or sell a home. You're not always going to know your clients' pets' birthdays (or their own birthdays, for that matter), but that's ok. If you add all of your customers there, the system will only send out to those that have a birthday entered.

Next, you can add them to relevant email campaigns. On the Campaigns & Action Plans page, you'll find a wide variety of content we've prebuilt for you. Some of it is relevant to everyone — the Holidays Campaign, for example — while other campaigns are more specific to what a client is looking for, or whatever their situation might be. This is where organizing your customers into groups comes into play. If you have a good idea of what specific customers are looking for, organize them into groups that put similar customers together. You can then add those groups to the appropriate campaigns to make sure you're sending them the information they're most likely to be interested in.

If you set up buyer groups based on the areas where your customers are looking for their new home, you can also go a step further by setting up a Market Watch Report and attaching it to all of those customers in bulk. That will ensure that, by default, once a month, all of those customers will receive an email with information about the market they're interested in, as well as some properties that are currently on the market there. So, at this point, even with no customer organization at all, you can have those MCFL emails going out with your branding and linking customers back to your website. With some extra organization upfront, however, you can also have some market-specific information going out to the appropriate customers. The better you speak to what a customer is interested in, the more engaged they'll be. 

Effective marketing isn't all about email, though. At the end of the day, it's really just about getting the right people to see the right things. That's where Social Connector comes in. Using that tool can automatically post new listings, blog posts, reviews, and several other things to your Facebook business page or your LinkedIn page for you. More and more, consumers engage with social media over email, so this is the perfect opportunity to speak to that audience as well. All without doing anything more than going to the Social Connector page in the DeltaNET, connecting your accounts, and telling it what kinds of things you want to post to each page. Turning everything on is undoubtedly tempting, and, in some cases, that's the right way to go. However, don't forget that, above all, social media marketing is about being social. If the only things you ever post to your Facebook business page are new listings and price reductions, you're probably not going to get many likes or follows. It certainly takes more work to create your own unique and engaging posts in addition to the automated updates, but it will pay off in the long run by getting those automated listing posts in front of a larger audience.

2020 was rough for a lot of us, but 2021 can be your year. The sooner you get into these tools and reinvigorate your marketing efforts, the bigger and better 2021 will be. I don't know about you, but I'm banking on a really good year this time around. We're due for one of those.

February
12

While 2020 was a year of tough changes that were mostly forced upon us individually and as an industry, I see 2021 as the year the real estate industry embraces those same changes. A new chapter in the real estate story is about to begin, and I see our industry rising to the challenge.

It seems that nearly all the real estate firms we speak with are working on acquisitions and mergers, while also working on streamlining their business with office, technology provider, and marketing platform consolidations, and more workflow automation.

The change that excites me most is the workflow automation.

All the other changes have been very common in the real estate industry for the past twenty years, but, workflow automation, true workflow automation, has not been common to the real estate industry as a whole. In fact, it was only the "disrupters" in our industry that focused on workflow automation like Zillow, Redfin, Movoto, and other "digital" firms. 

  However, I would strongly argue, that true workflow automation is upon us in 2021 for traditional, brick and mortar real estate firms. And I think this is a very good thing!

While you could argue that the industry, as a whole, had access to utilize automations in the past, you would also have to admit that only a few really did it. As we change the calendar, and turn our attention to the new year, that's all about to change.

Before I go any further, I should probably discuss what automations I am talking about. So, let me go over just a few.

Marketing Automation

What is marketing automation?

If you search for a definition of marketing automation, you'll find options such as this one from Wikipedia: Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks.

All of that can get a bit confusing, though. So, let me try and define, in one sentence, how I see marketing automation for the real estate industry. Marketing automation is the integration of all business systems so that targeted marketing is automatically performed across multiple channels for the entire life cycle of a customer.

For years the real estate industry has had siloed marketing and, right now, you probably do as well. You would use a specific system to run ads to market your new listings. Then, you'll use yet another system to incubate active buyers and sellers, while you would use a different system to manage your transactions, and, you hope, that your sales associates do some sort of marketing to their past clients with another system.

This traditional approach to marketing is so disconnected and complicated, and it doesn't have to be.

The good news is that this is all changing now.

With DeltaNET™ 6, my primary goal was to connect all the pieces together so they could work cohesively in an automated fashion, all of it being centered around automation. 

I will give you one example of this with the integration we just launched with transaction management platforms in DeltaNET 6. (As of the time of this writing, we have SkySlope® ready to go and we are working on DotLoop, as well as others.)

The paramount reason I wanted to integrate transaction management into DeltaNET 6 is because I could seamlessly connect client data, including history, with the marketing platforms in DeltaNET 6. By making this integration available, I can seamlessly leverage the marketing automations.

For years I have seen real estate firms and sales associates struggle with executing effective marketing with their past clients. In nearly all cases, the largest struggle was having an insufficient historical database of past transactions that could be utilized.

Transaction management platform integration is just one piece of the puzzle for marketing automation, but if you can seamlessly have your clients automatically fed into effective marketing platforms it will clearly have a positive impact on current and future business.

Follow-Up Automation

This may not be a phrase you have heard before, and if you have congratulations because not many business people think about follow-up automation.

We all know the importance of follow-up in sales. We use CRM to follow-up with prospects. We also use transaction management to follow-up with customers, and all parties involved, in a transaction.

If we stop and look at successful businesses outside the real estate industry, we can see that, often, those businesses that thrive pay close attention to, and control, every step in the customer process. The key components include knowing what behavior is being performed by business operations and where the customer stands with the business relationship.

The real estate industry knows it also needs this, but has not yet really adopted a follow-up mentality throughout the client business cycle, let alone started to automate it.

Just a couple of years ago, you might have been one of the firms that licensed follow-up products to ensure your leads were followed-up on. You might have been a franchise that was promised a platform from your franchisor that could do this for you, but those promises never materialized. You might have even licensed a third-party to do follow-up for you and to incubate your leads for you all while giving up valuable commission splits.

Something that we had long toyed with and discussed as part of the DeltaNET is automated client and sales associate follow-up. We launched bits and pieces of this over the years, but with DeltaNET 6 we now have an automated follow-up platform that is beginning to expand rapidly.

This is one aspect of DeltaNET 6 that I am really excited about because this is something that successful real estate firms and teams pay close attention to. Unfortunately, until now, the follow-up automation tools were mostly disconnected from the other systems.

In 2021 DeltaNET 6 brings a new era of follow-up automation that will only continue to grow in flexibility and functionality.

The All-In-One has Become the Best-In-Breed

Before I get into this, I need to define all-in-one and best-in-breed.

An all-in-one platform is a platform that provides everything you need to run your business. Historically speaking the all-in-one platform usually didn't have as much functionality in specific areas as a standalone product would have. For example, a few years ago if you said that Contactually CRM is better than the CRM tools available in DeltaNET 5 you would be correct. However, the CRM in DeltaNET 6 is now on-par, or better than, stand-alone CRM programs.

A best-in-breed platform, or product, is a product that focuses on one specific piece of technology. In theory, since a best-in-breed product company focuses on that specific product, it should be better in functionality and features than anyone else. I've already cited my previous example of a CRM, but let me give you another example. Since 2009 we have been working on an AVM feature within the DeltaNET platform. Up until the end of 2020 you could have argued, and would have been correct, that a "best-in-breed"

AVM providers in the space did a better job with their AVM tool than the DeltaNET AVM. Again, you would have been correct but in 2021 this is no longer the case.

There are two factors that have driven this change.

The first reason is that real estate firms and sales associates are tired of being "nickel and dime'd" with technology. You either expect to pay less and get more or get the same technology for less. An all-in-one provider can spread those development costs of upgraded features across a larger base than a best-in-breed provider can with their limited client base. The second reason is that a true all-in-one provider is driven to develop new or upgraded tools continuously. Don't confuse technology firms that call themselves all-in-one providers when they do so by acquiring technology pieces and cobbling them together. That is not an all-in-one provider. An all-in-one provider is driven to develop new things. DeltaNET 6 is a 27-year effort of building technology for the real estate industry. We are constantly developing and will not stop. The DeltaNET will continue to get better and better. The maturity of an all-in-one platform like DeltaNET 6 is going to have a profound impact on the real estate industry in 2021, which is why I believe we are in a new era, and an exciting new chapter, in the real estate industry.

February
11

It wasn't all that long ago when being a real estate agent meant having a filing cabinet stacked with local market information and folders about each of your clients. Ideally, it was orderly. In many cases, it was overflowing. Need an important reminder? There was always the handy Rolodex. And if something was extremely urgent, it got moved to the "high priority" file: A Post-It note (or three, or ten) somewhere where you couldn't miss it.

It was a lot harder to stay organized in those days — and just as difficult to keep track of your contacts. Today, without up to date tools, you still might find yourself asking:

  • Are the people I gave business cards to any closer to buying or selling a home?
  • Are my open house attendees really serious about making a purchase soon?
  • Is my advertising (on radio, TV, and local print media) having a real impact?

In the past, it was a logistical nightmare to excel at these. But today, there's a tool that lets you easily manage and connect with your contacts on a regular basis.

One Simple Technology Replaced the Filing Cabinet — and It's About to Replace All Your Apps

If you don't stay up to date with the latest technologies, you're at a disadvantage. After all, few of today's top-producing real estate agents are in the filing cabinet era. They've moved on. As time passes, fewer tools can do more and more work because an app, even a decent one, rarely works seamlessly with the other apps you might use.

Luckily, there's a tool to synchronize all your contact data at once: The DeltaNET CRM.

DeltaNET is the first and most powerful Customer Relationship Management software specifically for real estate. Now in development for decades, it draws on a history of feedback from thousands of agents and brokers at all stages of their careers. And it solves the problems real estate pros have wrestled with:

  • It acts as a "single source of truth" on the origin and status of all your customers and leads.
  • It synchs with Google, Office 365, and more, ensuring accuracy and cutting down data entry.
  • It lets you view, edit, and interact with contacts seamlessly across your inbox and calendar.

With all this right at your fingertips, you can stay in touch with prospects, leads, and clients with one click. DeltaNET opens up one of the most powerful ways to do it: Email drip campaigns.

Email Drip Campaigns Offer Excellent ROI for Busy and Growing Real Estate Firms

The key to deepening relationships and cultivating leads into customers is consistent contact. But that contact must be relevant, personal, and infused with the human touch — even if you're communicating with dozens or hundreds of contacts at once. It's email drip campaigns to the rescue. With an estimated ROI of around $42 for each dollar spent, email marketing is uniquely effective in real estate.

Drawing on the data automatically collected and centralized by your DeltaNET CRM, you can quickly customize email marketing messages. Segment leads into useful categories such as "Buyer," "Seller," or "Past Client," or go granular to deliver a completely personalized experience based on a user's behavior and interactions.

Whether you send updates weekly or monthly, your email drip campaign positions you as a voice of authority:

  • It allows you to provide helpful, informative content that previews the value you have to offer.
  • It keeps you "top of mind" and allows readers to become familiar with your distinctive brand.
  • It expands the reach of your other digital marketing and accelerates the time to achieve ROI.

You already know that months might go by before a prospect commits to buy or sell a home. What happens in between? Before anyone will do business with you, they need to know, like, and trust you. Email marketing does all three by engaging subscribers in a long-term conversation focused on their needs.

DeltaNET grants countless opportunities to organically and persuasively turn contacts into subscribers, whether you met through your website, an open house, or a networking event. From there, it helps you monitor the relationship, follow up at the perfect time, and keep data up to date, so your emails keep getting delivered.

You'll save time — and when you leave old ways behind, you might feel like you're traveling through it, too. To learn more about all the useful functionality of our CRM, contact us today.

February
9

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February
9

Vaccination is underway, but virtual tours are definitely here to stay. It may be months before travel restrictions and social distancing rules are relaxed throughout the United States, and in that time, virtual home tours are continuing to gain traction. Although they started as a safety precaution, buyers and sellers alike are realizing the benefits.

Open houses have long been among the most effective ways to show off any home. They generate excitement and provide opportunities to meet qualified buyers. Virtual open houses have the potential to be just as effective. Plus, they have some advantages all their own:

  • Since it means no travel, more people can attend a virtual open house.
  • Sellers can hold more open house events without disrupting their lives.
  • In many cases, attendees can go back and review open house footage.
  • Buyers from out of town or out of state can be included more easily.
  • Participants can ask questions and zoom in on key home features.

Agents Open the Door to Success When They Master Virtual Open Houses

The virtual open house has been an unexpected hit with agents, too.

Giving a virtual tour draws on the skills you already have, but it also calls on you to grow and stretch. More agents are getting comfortable both in front of and behind the camera. This, in turn, equips them with more fluency in video marketing, one of the most powerful methods for promoting any practice.

While there are a few different ways to set up a virtual open house, live streaming video has become more popular than video filmed ahead of time. While static video offers more control and a strong environment for practice, live streaming video is the gold standard thanks to its interactivity and personal touch.

But how can you overcome the learning curve quickly? Use these tips to get it done the right way:

  • Get Familiar with Your Hardware and Software
    You don't need a fancy camera to give a great virtual open house. However, you should know exactly how it works and how to get the most from it. Get plenty of practice with your camera and streaming software before you plan your first event. Properties in Motion is an all-in-one solution you can use with confidence.

  • Stage the Home Before Your Tour Begins
    Yes, most of your favorite home staging techniques still apply. It's crucial to de-clutter, but no fresh-baked cookies are necessary! When staging, be sure lighting conditions in each room are ideal for your camera. This may sometimes mean bucking old wisdom — use a little less natural light to reduce glare.

  • Experiment with Tripods
    While many real estate agents are comfortable carrying their phone, tablet, or video recorder from room to room, some feel that this provides an unsteady and incomplete picture. Try using a tripod to stabilize panoramic shots of each room. You can carry a lightweight one or set up inexpensive tripods in each room.

  • Promote Your Virtual Open House Early
    Virtual events can feel less urgent than in-person ones. With that in mind, you want to leverage every tool at your disposal to begin promoting early. Start with the local MLS, but don't stop there. DeltaNET customers can automate email messages and target social media updates to prospective event attendees.

  • Make Time for Your Tour
    You should schedule at least as much time for your virtual open house as you would for a face-to-face event. Pencil in additional time to tour each room. Leave ample time to answer questions both during and after the tour, too. These conversations are crucial for building buyer enthusiasm.

  • Use Your Tour Footage for Video Marketing
    Not everyone interested in a property necessarily has the time to go to your event. That's fine: through the magic of video editing and platforms like YouTube, you can make it all available to them. Use your DeltaNET real estate CRM to quickly send out a post-event email linking interested subscribers to the videos.

  • Follow Up With Your Attendees
    While your no-shows review your video and get up to speed, be sure you reach out to those who had a chance to tune in live. Delta Media Group's Open House Connector is the best way to capture, centralize, and act on participant information. Find out what they loved about the home and keep the conversation going!

  • Remember: You Are the Co-Star
    The home may be the star in your virtual open house, but you are the co-star. It may take a few tries before you are comfortable, but always strive to bring all of yourself to the presentation. Whether it's your winning sense of humor or your unbeatable market expertise, build relationships by bringing your unique energy.

Contact us to learn more about virtual open house success from the real estate marketing experts.

February
8

Helping buyers connect with properties and neighborhoods is as crucial as ever in the COVID-19 era, but in-person tours simply aren't practical or possible in most markets due to the pandemic. As with so many of the unique challenges in the COVID-19 real estate world, technology is helping to bridge the gaps and allow buyers to fall in love with homes from a distance. Aerial drones filled a valuable niche in real estate marketing even before the pandemic, but their use has only grown more prominent during the last year. With creative use of drone footage, you can help buyers fall in love and help sellers show off their properties from a whole new perspective.

Highlighting the Use of Drones in the COVID-19 Real Estate World

Why Drones Have Truly Taken Off in Real Estate in 2020

The challenges posed by COVID-19 and precautions in place to prevent its spread have impacted every part of life, including real estate. Many markets have restrictions currently in place that make touring homes and neighborhoods in person impractical, or sometimes even impossible And while there are some more "open" communities around the country, many real estate clients won't be comfortable making tours in person. Virtual tours and online research have taken an even more important role in buying a new home than ever before, with drones providing valuable footage that simply can't be obtained in any other way.

How Buyers Are Adapting to Shopping in the COVID-19 Era

The good news is that even with all of the unique challenges we have faced in 2020, buyers are still very interested in purchasing homes and sellers still want to find the right buyer for their properties. Today, buyers rely on virtual tours for learning about the homes and neighborhoods that pique their interest. They are looking for detailed footage that really helps them fall in love with a home and neighborhood. This includes all of the photos/video that you're already used to gathering from ground level, but a view from above can really help tie the whole package together. That's where aerial drones enter the picture.

Normal Home Footage Is Great, but It Has Some Key Limitations

With a high-quality smartphone equipped with the right apps and accessories, you can capture great footage of a home from ground level. Drones don't replace that footage, but perspective and scale are also limited when capturing footage from the ground. You can show off individual rooms or provide an impression of how the home looks from the curb, but there's no way to get a holistic view of the property from the ground. So by all means keep creating those great, detailed virtual tours with your phone, but don't forget to include a view from above.

Drones Provide a Unique Perspective That Can't Be Captured Any Other Way

When you're trying to capture everything that a property has to offer, there's simply no substitute for the unique perspective that drone footage provides. It shows how the whole property fits together, and how it has been maintained. If the home is situated in an area with beautiful, natural views, aerial footage can perfectly show off that natural landscape around the home. If it's in a more densely populated, urban community, then a view from above shows how the home fits into the neighborhood.

Helping Buyers Fall in Love with Neighborhoods Is More Important than Ever

Savvy buyers know that they're shopping for a neighborhood just as much as they're shopping for a home, and that hasn't changed in the COVID-19 era. Of course, how buyers connect with those neighborhoods has changed a great deal. Traveling to visit a potential new neighborhood is challenging, and in many markets the buyer won't be able to see much even if they did make a trip. But they still want to get a feel for the neighborhood, find how close key services will be located, see what they'll do for fun, and discover how their potential new home is situated within the larger community. Drones and aerial views can help put that all in perspective.

How Drones Can Help Capture the Essence of Each Neighborhood

While virtual tours work great for homes, they are much more difficult to pull off when you're trying to showcase an entire neighborhood. Even if you get great footage of a few local businesses and attractions, it's hard to show how everything is connected within the neighborhood. An aerial view of the community provides a completely different perspective, allowing buyers to see how they'll move through the neighborhood, imagine what their daily routine would be like, and discover what they'll do for fun. For a home located in a rural area or deep in nature, an aerial view will highlight the privacy of the space and the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Drone Footage Is as Valuable for Sellers as It Is for Buyers

We have talked plenty about how drone footage can help buyers fall in love with homes and communities, but the other side of that coin is just as important. When you're selling a property for a client, you want them to know that you're doing everything possible to market their home and overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 era. Providing drone footage – in addition to new standbys like virtual tours – shows sellers that you will leave no stone unturned when it comes to marketing their home. A commitment to using the best marketing tools available is great for helping sellers find buyers, and for earning referrals from satisfied sellers once the deal is closed.

Getting Started with Drones Is Easier than You Might Think

Becoming an expert with drone photography/video takes practice and time, but it's not too difficult to get started. Just remember that before you film with a drone, especially in public, you'll want to check out local regulations for drone use. The first thing you will need is a drone, and there are entry level models with basic cameras, often available for less than $100, that are great for practicing. More advanced models – which you'll eventually want for capturing pro-quality footage – start at around $500 and rise from there. If you wish to use your own camera, you can also purchase a drone capable of carrying cameras of any size. Once you have the equipment, it's just a matter of practicing, reviewing your footage, and getting comfortable with the process.

When challenges arise, the most adaptable industries discover new ways to get things done. The real estate world has adapted in so many ways to COVID-19, and many of those adaptations will continue to provide value even when things return to normal. Drone footage is an excellent way to show off your listings/ markets now, and should remain a valuable tool well into the future.

February
5

What's the difference between going home and going to work? For many of us in 2020, the answer was "not much." Most of us have spent more time at home this past year than ever before, so it's only natural to be looking for ways to make that time at home more enjoyable and efficient. Smart home devices offer so many options for making life easier, more convenient, and more sustainable at home. Buyers, sellers, and owners are embracing smart home products like never before, and that trend is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Now is the time to turn the page to a new year and learn what your clients want in a smart home, beginning with our Smart Home 101 guide.

Smart Home 101: What Every REALTOR® Needs to Know

• Who Is Embracing Smart Home Products?

Like with many types of technology, you will see the highest adoption of smart home products among the younger demographics of home buyers and owners. But Millennials and Gen Z are definitely not the only ones embracing the convenience and connectivity of smart homes. Anyone who owns a smartphone can download apps to connect with their smart home products, and buyers of all ages are doing just that. Most smart home devices are designed to be user friendly, easy to install, and easy to connect with the rest of the home. Add it all up, and you have a very diverse group of clients who are embracing the smart home trend.

• The Internet of Things Grows Every Year

The Internet of things (IoT) is comprised of all the devices in the home that have online connectivity, and it's growing rapidly every year. Everything from light bulbs to toasters, TVs, and larger appliances can be part of the IoT. These devices often have their own software that allows them to be controlled remotely and have WiFi connectivity to exchange data. For people who already love smart features, IoT devices are a natural fit. These devices can also provide an easy entry point for anyone who is dipping their toes into the waters of smart home items for the first time.

• Voice Control and Smart Hubs Are Popular with Every Demographic

There are so many smart home devices that every client is likely to want their own unique mix, but there are also a few devices that you're likely to find in every smart home. A smart hub with voice control, like Amazon's Echo with Alexa, is a must-have because it functions as a hub for so many other devices. A smartphone with the right apps is also a must for maximizing smart devices' convenience and utility. In addition to improved connectivity, smart hubs offer voice control, allowing clients to seamlessly control their homes without scrolling through menus or taking time away from whatever they're busy doing around the house.

• How Smart Home Devices in the Kitchen Save Time and Make Life Easier

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any home and a very popular place for smart devices. Nearly any powered item found in a kitchen is now available with connectivity to the IoT, among other smart features. For larger appliances, smart versions are easily programmable and can even tell you when it's time for maintenance. Smart refrigerators have some especially advanced features, including some that help you automatically keep a shopping list or even look into the fridge without opening the door. Buyers will love the convenience of a smart kitchen, and sellers will love how much a smart kitchen appeals to those potential buyers.

• Why Going Green and Going Smart Go Hand in Hand

Today, many real estate clients are focused on sustainability, and a smart home makes it easier than ever to go green. Start with one of the most popular features, the smart thermostat, which saves energy by keeping your home comfortable when you're there while not wasting energy on heating/ cooling while you're away from the house. You can even program it so that your home will be just the right temperature when you come back from work. Really, any smart home device that can be controlled remotely allows you to save energy because you can simply turn it off with your smartphone apps when you're out of the house. There are also affordable devices like smart plugs, which allow you to put lights on a schedule so that you never have to worry about wasting energy on lighting when you're not home. Buyers interested in green living – and sellers who want to attract those buyers – will definitely be interested in smart, sustainable devices.

• Smart Security Systems for Peace of Mind

Security systems are one smart home feature that's popular with every demographic, and clients won't have to break the bank to have a high-quality security system that offers smart features. These security systems can be controlled remotely and allow clients to keep a close eye on their home even when they're at work or on vacation. Going with a monitored security system adds an extra layer of protection because security experts can check on the home when security sensors are tripped and send help if anything goes wrong. Smart security systems also offer convenient features like video doorbells, so you can easily see who's at the door before you answer.

• A Connected Home for Convenience and Entertainment

Last but certainly not least, there are the smart home devices that are just plain fun and make it easier to enjoy your leisure time. Smart TVs allow you to watch your favorite shows and movies on the most popular streaming services without worrying about a cable bill. Smart speakers are ideal for music lovers because they allow you to listen to your favorite tunes throughout the home and control everything with your voice. Modern gaming consoles aren't always listed among smart home devices but also fit the bill because they offer many of the same perks as a smart TV.

Smart homes are here to stay, and the start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity to begin embracing the trend. As the last few years have shown, you can expect new smart products to emerge regularly and change how we interact with our homes. However, unlike some design trends, smart home features also have extensive appeal, with options to suit buyers from every background. The home of the future is a place where every important device is connected, and clients have an unmatched level of control over the many devices in their home. With how quickly smart homes are progressing, that future is very much within view. 

February
4

In case you missed the latest webinar from RETechnology and Delta Media Group: "What's Your Zillow Plan," we have provided the video recording above for you to check out. 

Real estate agents have long looked warily at Zillow, a media company that aggregates data on more than 110 million American homes through its website. Since Zillow's launch in 2006, millions of home buyers and prospective sellers have diverted to begin their research on its website and app. Zillow's next move is even more disruptive: It has become a brokerage and is hiring real estate agents.

What can real estate agents do to prepare?

You can do what Zillow can't. This webinar takes a deep dive into actionable steps agents can take to Zillow-proof their business. In the process, you also will learn how to close more deals in 2021.

Marilyn Wilson (RETechnology) and Franklin Stoffer (Delta Media Group) walk you through, step-by-step, how Delta Media can help you beat Zillow – and other disruptors – in your local marketplace.

By watching this webinar recording, you'll get a chance to check out everything explained first-hand and try it free for 30 days. To learn more about the 30-day free trial, click here.

Interested in Zillow-proofing your business? 

Click on the following link to download the handout referenced in the webinar: http://dmgre.us/cdf/muy22nh.

February
4

Prior to the last year, video content was a powerful but (somewhat) optional tool for promoting your real estate business. These days, video content has become a necessity for reaching your target audience no matter the demographic. Real estate clients of all ages are shopping from the comfort and safety of home, whether they're searching for the right real estate agent, the ideal neighborhood, or the home of their dreams. No matter your experience level with creating video content, now is the time to think about making your videos more engaging, with a few key tips from our team.

  1. The Right Equipment Makes a Big Difference
    While you don't need the latest, greatest tech to get started with learning the basics of video content creation, it won't be long before you want to boost your production quality and give your finished product a professional shine. If you already have a smartphone with a high-quality camera, you're off to a good start. You'll also want a tripod for camera stability, some portable lighting, and a reliable microphone that makes your voice come through clearly on video.

  2. Planning a Virtual Tour? Start with a Great Script
    Virtual tours have quickly become a must for marketing homes, and an engaging virtual tour starts with great preparation. Even if you've done tons of in-person home tours and have a good idea of the key points you'll highlight during a virtual tour, a script will help you make the video more engaging for your audience. Start by walking through the home, noting all of the features that you'll want to touch on, and writing down some key talking points. You don't need to script every word, but a little planning goes a long way.

  3. When Possible, Keep It Short and Sweet
    The ideal length for your content depends on the type of video you're creating, but less is often more when it comes to driving engagement – especially for social media sharing. Clients are more likely to stay until the end with a shorter video and will be more likely to click in the first place. Scripting will help you focus on the talking points that matter most, and you can also trim out unnecessary footage during the editing process.

  4. Create Video Content That Answers Audience Questions
    If you really want your audience to engage with your videos, start by creating content that answers the questions that matter most to them. You can even put out the call for questions on your social pages, then share videos with answers! Even if you don't ask for questions directly, use your experience as a real estate agent to anticipate the questions that matter to your audience.

  5. Tell Your Story and Show Some Personality
    For clients, sometimes looking for a real estate agent online can feel like flipping through pages in a catalog. Video content is a great way to show the human side of the business, tell your story, build trust, and show clients why you're the right choice for their needs. Don't be afraid to show some personality, whether that means using humor, telling stories, or subtly integrating your own hobbies into your videos.

  6. Testimonials to Involve Your Audience and Create Social Proof
    What could be more engaging than involving your clients directly in your videos? Testimonials from satisfied clients can make for great content and will show potential clients why you're the right choice for their needs. When you reach out to past clients to ask them to review your business online, be sure to include a note to see if they would be interested in filming a quick testimonial.

  7. Cater Your Videos to the Platform Where They'll Be Posted
    The right length, format, and subject matter for your video will depend on where you plan to post it. A quick-hitting how-to or Q&A video can be a great fit for social, while a longer video might be necessary for a full home tour. Make sure that you understand the needs of your audience and the nature of the platform where you'll be posting videos.

It can feel a little bit intimidating to get involved with video content, especially if you're brand new to the process. That's why our final tip is a tried and true classic — practice makes perfect! It won't always go flawlessly at first, but that's okay. It won't take long before you feel comfortable behind the camera and can start putting our engagement tips into action. At Delta Media Group, our real estate CRM makes it easy for you to post videos on your websites, listing pages, and within your email marketing. Contact us to learn more.

February
3

With the ability to talk to thousands of past and current clients for a few dollars a month, email scales with your practice better than any other digital marketing technique. Sophisticated email drip campaigns that use data directly from your Customer Relationship Management suite can run 24 hours a day with little intervention.

Still, email has a learning curve to conquer before you'll be able to make the most of it!

There are two significant challenges when it comes to a flourishing subscriber list:

• Getting leads to consent to join your list
• Providing useful and informative content

Excited to get started? Don't forget: Before anyone gets to see your carefully crafted messages, they have to opt-in. Federal laws prohibit sending unsolicited commercial email, and many U.S. businesses strive to comply with the standard set by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which is even more strict.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways for real estate pros to give leads a chance to opt-in. For example, you could send an automatic invitation to prospective buyers who register for an open house. Many will join if you offer something valuable, such as inside information on the local market. The bigger challenge is keeping people on your list until they become confirmed customers.

From the time someone joins your list, it may take weeks or even months before they decide to take the next step. The truth is, you have limited influence in getting them to take action. But as challenging as it may be, your email list has the power to keep you top-of-mind and help future clients overcome any doubts that may hold them back.

While someone is on your leads list, your goal is to cultivate their trust with useful, relevant content. At the same time, you must avoid the missteps that cause people to unsubscribe. Once someone unsubscribes from marketing emails, you cannot re-invite them and are unlikely to get them back!

Keep in mind, though, an effective email list is a game of averages. You don't have to appeal to every subscriber every time. Your focus should be on maintaining a precise list, while your content also remains valuable enough for new subscribers to outpace occasional losses. As long as you're moving in the right direction, you're crafting a powerful asset!

An email list with hundreds or thousands of followers is a competitive advantage few can match. It allows you to draw attention to new listings or vital market trends at any time. And email subscribers are even more likely than social media followers to read your message and click through to your website.

THE BIG QUESTION IS THIS: What are the "DOS AND DON'TS" of email marketing that will keep you growing?

Based on years of work with thousands of real estate experts, here are our answers:

DO Share Valuable, Informative Content Aligned with Your Brand

Every piece of content is written for someone, so be sure you know who your best customers are and what matters to them. Content that's useful to a Millennial buying a first home might be meaningless to an empty nester downsizing for retirement. All content should showcase your knowledge and essential "brand promise."

DO Segment Client Types and Send Different Content to Each One

Segmenting your list is the easiest way to be sure the Millennial and the Boomer both get the content they want. A segment is like a mini-list where subscribers are further divided based on their interests and is a great way to appeal to a broad range of customers.

DO Personalize Your Messages as Much as You Realistically Can

First-name personalization – "Hi, Joe!" – is used everywhere because it's personable and effective. But in today's marketing world, it's only the beginning. Personalization can draw on data in ways that make content more convenient—for example, highlighting listings that are in a buyer's target area and price range.

DO Leverage Your CRM to Get More Data for Personalization

A Customer Relationship Management system provides total visibility into who your leads and customers are, how you met, and where they stand in their home-buying process. A CRM centralizes all the information that leads volunteer, so utilize it to look for meaningful ways to both request and use data as the situation warrants.

DO Automate the Process with Relevant Drip Email Campaigns

A drip campaign is an ongoing series of targeted emails made to inform subscribers, foster rapport, and move them toward the next step in their journey. Drip campaigns can be automated using your CRM's storehouse of data, providing a completely personalized experience based on user behavior and buyer persona.

DO Track Your Results and Continuously Improve Your Work

Each email you send yields an enormous amount of data in real-time. You will know how well your subject line worked by the number of people who clicked your message and whether the hook resonated by how many visited your site. Use data like this to send more of the messages your subscribers really respond to.

DON'T Talk All About Yourself in Every Email You Send Out

Email can equip you with many "soft" ways to remind people who you are, what you know, and what you can do for them. Every email should offer opportunities to move forward, but a hard sell betrays a lack of confidence. Use your emails to demonstrate your insights. Let your leads do the rest for you.

DON'T Scare People Off with Your Email Autoresponder

Every once in a while, people actually will respond to your emails. It doesn't mean they think every message is written especially for them – most realize this isn't the case – but they do expect a personal response. This is a terrific opportunity to start a conversation, so don't set up an automatic response that might turn readers away.

DON'T Get Stuck in the Spam Filter (Especially with Attachments)

These days, most people are aware of the risks posed by hackers and phishing scams. Networks are cracking down on dangerous or suspicious behavior, and that includes the big email and internet service providers used by your subscribers. Never use file attachments, as they are likely to get your message marked as spam. Also, avoid words like "free," "millions," and "deal" in subject lines.

DON'T Forget to Use a Mobile-Friendly Email Marketing Template

The total amount of internet traffic that originates from smartphones is trending toward 51%, with only a slight bump downwards due to a very unusual 2020. The majority of your emails will probably be read on the phone, so be sure you select an email template that looks great on phones, tablets, and laptops as well as desktops.

Done right, email marketing is the ultimate complement to your real estate website. While your website helps you attract potential customers, it's your email list that plays the biggest role in converting them into first-time callers eager to discuss your services. Put these two resources together, and you get a powerhouse: The ability to generate and convert leads any time of the day or night while you stay focused on what you do best. Many of your peers have already discovered email marketing – make 2021 the year you benefit, too!

February
3

2020 was a challenging year, and 2021 starts off with plenty of uncertainty. How long will it take for COVID-19 vaccines to reach the average person? What will the economy look like next quarter or even next month? How will the real estate industry continue to respond and evolve in a seemingly ever-changing world? These are all reasonable questions to have, but to position yourself for success in 2021, it's crucial to focus on the things you can control. Managing your priorities, schedule, and energy levels will get you where you really want to go. Speculation can leave you running in circles with no more clarity than before.

Luckily, the start of a new year is also a natural time to "start over" and focus on what matters most to you. Coming up with a plan and, most importantly, sticking with it can help make 2021 your best year yet.

Lasting Success Comes from Using Your Time Better, Not Using More of It

If you've been in the real estate business a while, you've probably heard of colleagues who are working 80-hour weeks to build their practice. We've all seen someone brag about how little they sleep. But a dash of time management know-how can help you get just as much done in a fraction of the time. Dedication counts, but you also can't sprint forever. Consistency is what truly sets real estate professionals apart from the rest of the pack, and that level of consistency only comes from defining the level of work you can do every day without fail. In turn, that comes from determining what you need to focus on to move your business forward the fastest.

Here are our tips for mastering your time and developing a winning 2021 strategy:

Start by Defining Your Goals for the Year

Everything you do starts with a goal. Big goals can be intimidating, but they also have the potential to be the most motivational. Remember, you don't have to have every step toward your goal planned out from the very start. Instead, look at where you are now and what would make your professional and personal lives better. What would it mean to you if you doubled your commissions this year? Or if more than half your business came from referrals?

Prioritize Your Daily Tasks

Once you have a handful of goals in mind, you can look critically at each demand on your time and ask: "Is this moving me forward?" In general, tasks come in four flavors: Important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither important nor urgent. Important and urgent tasks should be your #1 focus, while tasks that are important but not urgent, create long-term opportunities, like learning a new skill.

Get Rid of "Not Urgent, Not Important" Tasks

If something is not urgent or important, it's worthwhile to ask yourself why you're spending time on it. What would happen if you cut this task out? If there's a compelling reason to keep doing it, could you benefit from delegating or outsourcing it? Checking your social media notifications or browsing non-work email are two examples – but everyone is different. If responsive social media is core to your business, then it's important!

Begin Every Day with Uninterrupted Work

Whatever your most important tasks are, you should start the morning with at least an hour of uninterrupted focus devoted exclusively to them. That means no digital distractions, phone on mute, and others in the house fully aware you're not to be disturbed. Some real estate pros get up very early because distractions tend to increase as the day goes on. Investing your first hour into core tasks gives you huge momentum for productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Leverage the Power of Marketing Automation

No matter what your specific goals are, it's a virtual certainty you need to market your services to achieve them. It's easy to fall down a rabbit hole of digital marketing that leaves you spending hours every day on social media – but there is a simple way around this. Social media and email marketing, in particular, are easy to automate. Setting up scheduled posts can provide valuable, personalized communication to leads and clients while you focus elsewhere.

Set Reasonable Boundaries Around Work Time

Especially if you work from home, it's crucial to have boundaries clients understand. There is essentially no reason for a client to call you at ten o'clock at night, and if you allow yourself to take calls this late, then you're really never leaving work. Be sure your clients know precisely the best ways to reach you and what time you finish for the night. This gives you peace of mind and prevents work from expanding to fill up all your time.

Pay Attention to the Fundamentals of Wellness

Effective time management requires you to make quick, correct decisions multiple times a day. You'll be up against your own inner critic, who'll try to "negotiate" doing a little less or skipping a task entirely – often by telling yourself, "you've earned it!" Your overall health is a huge factor in navigating these challenges, so be sure you are getting enough sleep, do your best to eat healthy, and exercise at least three times a week.

Develop Relationships in Your Industry

Time management isn't just about how you use the days: It's also about accelerating the speed with which you can get things done. Many newcomers to the field find themselves reinventing the wheel in things like sales and marketing best practices, costing them hundreds of hours. Instead, seek experienced mentors who have been where you are and who are where you're going. They can help you brainstorm solutions and learn skills faster.

Invest Time in Digital Lead Generation

As a real estate expert, you understand investment: Putting in the time and money now leads to far greater results than doing so later. The same is true with lead generation. In time, your website can attract so many leads to your door that you'll save hours every month. But that starts with an upfront investment of time. If you already have a site, commit to a weekly schedule of helpful, informative blog posts that showcase your insight.

Revisit Your Goals Every Month and Quarter

A big goal could take hundreds of steps to reach, but nobody can possibly know all of them in advance. Instead, begin each month with your best estimate of the five most important ways you can advance toward your goal. That may mean networking with your peers, publishing eight blogs, or learning a new automation suite, for example. At the end of the month, reassess your progress with those sub-goals and decide what to do next.

In 2021, Abundant Success and Work-Life Balance Really Can Co-Exist

There may be no telling what 2021 will bring, but you can decide what energy you bring to it. Becoming a breakout success in any endeavor always goes back to managing your time, attention, and energy, then being consistent. Real estate is full of conflicting priorities, important new trends, and unexpected joys. Train yourself to "put first things first" by recognizing what's relevant to you. The reward isn't just commercial success, but the ability to reach that level of performance in a way that leaves your health, well-being, and important personal relationships intact. Follow these ten techniques, and 2021 could be the year your journey to fulfillment kicks into a whole new gear.

February
2

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February
2

Email marketing is essential to real estate success, and its importance is growing.

According to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials are now the cohort most likely to be buying a home. A full 73% of those surveyed said that email is their preferred approach for business communication.

Social media and text messaging are valuable methods, but email marketing remains the central pillar of relationship management. Real estate agents have learned to love email drip campaigns for two big reasons:

  • Email combines automation with a personal touch to build relationships over weeks or even months
  • You can reach thousands of contacts for pennies a month, giving email $42 ROI for each $1 spent

Of all the things to know about email marketing, the best one to focus on is simple: The subject line.

Why Email Subject Lines Are So Important

You might spend more time on your email subject line than any other aspect of your message. Yes, every part of an email works together to reach your conversion goals. But it all relies on the effectiveness of your email subject line. Experts have found anywhere from 35% to 49% of email recipients open a message based on the subject line alone. Your subject line leads to the click, the read, and ultimately, the site visit.

Luckily, you don't have to be Hemingway to craft email subject lines that work. Follow these best practices to get off to a strong start:

  • Use Your Contact's First Name
    Here's a trick if you're emailing a specific client. Subject lines that include the reader's first name — first name personalization in marketer lingo — are more likely to be opened than those that don't. Just be sure your email list reflects the preferred name the contact uses in day-to-day life. Even if you collect last names, they're not necessary for your email subjects.

  • Keep Subject Lines Short (Usually)
    About 46% of all emails will be opened on a mobile device, so it's a good idea to keep subject lines short: 5-7 words. When you are more comfortable writing subjects, you can bend this rule: Longer subject lines that trail off into the start of your email text can be enticing: "Bob, check out these homes that match your ..."

  • Use Past Conversations to Your Advantage
    Your leads and clients will provide plenty of data you can use to write helpful, informative emails. But there are few things more powerful than referencing past conversations and showing insight into your reader's needs and preferences. "Sally, this home reminded me of you" is an exciting subject line – if it is accurate!

  • Use (But Don't Overuse) Urgency
    Many leads will take months before they jump into a transaction, waiting for the best market conditions to come into focus. But we all know waiting too long is just as bad as jumping in too quickly. "These homes won't last long" or "Best mortgage interest rates in years" are subject lines that put this in perspective.

  • Ask a Question
    Questions are the most natural way to generate curiosity about your email. They're especially effective when they bring to mind something the reader wants to know but has been afraid to ask: "Do you know what your neighbor's house is worth?" Or prompt a response: "What did you think of [address of recent open house]?"

What to Avoid in Email Subject Lines

Mass unsubscribes after an email are more likely to be caused by its subject line than any other factor. Scrap any subject line similar to these:

  • "You forgot this"
    E-commerce brands in particular love "you forgot this" and variants as a way of getting people to return to their abandoned shopping carts. However, advice-centered professionals can be guilty of this one, too. Any subject line that implies a mistake or oversight on the reader's part is unlikely to make the right impression.

  • "My lawyer wants to talk to you"
    Yes, this is a real subject line from a real drip campaign — the topic turned out to be some deal "so good it should be a crime." It should come as no surprise that even if this achieves a 100% open rate, stark terror is no way to prepare someone for your message. Bait and switch subject lines can lose subscribers fast.

  • "[emoji] [emoji] [emoji]"
    Practically overnight, all popular email clients became capable of using emojis in subject lines. While some brands are using them to seem more relatable, the latest research suggests the opposite: Emojis "increase negative sentiment" and "do not increase the likelihood of an email being opened."

DeltaNET customers harness the power of our all-in-one, AI-driven real estate CRM to automate email communications. Even the most sophisticated campaigns can be launched at the push of a button — and you'll get instant insights on how each email performs. Contact us to find out more.

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