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Apps + Tech

We have the absolute, must-have real estate apps—and this one takes the virtual cake.

If you’re one of our followers then you know that we’ve already wrote about real estate apps—and about Cycloramic in particular…but it is SOOOO good we just can’t resist. In our opinion, every realtor should have this app. 

 

Real Estate Apps: Cycloramic

The Cycloramic app is the greatest app to happen in real estate since, well…ever. This is why we’re talking about it again. And in case that anyone missed it!
The Cycloramic is a photo and video app that wasn’t designed with real estate in mind but they quickly realized the important application within the real estate field. So much so that they created a Cycloramic website solely for real estate professionals, to show them how to best leverage the app within their business.

Cycloramic is pitching their app within real estate as a simple yet extremely tech-savvy way to offer an agent/owner photo and video solution—without scheduling photographer appointments.
real estate apps cycloramic

 

Real Estate Apps: Cycloramic FEATURES and BENEFITS

The Cycloramic app can offer you the following features and benefits:

  • 360-degree photos AND video
  • The ability to take panoramic photos from your smartphone
  • The ability to take ‘wide-angle lens’-style photos
  • The ability to upload pictures and videos to your website, easily
  • An extremely cost-effective solution (heck, it’s under $2!)
  • No need to buy any hardware other than your iPhone or other flat-bottomed smartphone (it has to be flat-bottomed for it to works)
  • It costs just $1.99!!!!! (At the time of writing this—this may go up in the future, but even if it was $10 it would still be the best app an agent could buy)

 

How to Use Cycloramic

The beauty of the Cycloramic app is that anybody an use it. No seriously, ANYBODY. All you have to do is download the app (and pay the $1.99). Then open the app, set it to either video or picture mode, then put your smartphone standing up on a flat surface. The app does the rest and seamlessly stitches the images or video. You can then upload the image or video to your email, website or other marketing material. Poof-easy as that!

 

Real Estate Apps Review: Cycloramic

Honestly, download the thing. It is phenomenal, and you’ll thank us. It is the best $2 you will have ever spent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

The real-estate web community seems to be split on whether a real estate website can benefit from live chat. We say….absolutely.

live chat for real estate websites

Even if you aren’t convinced by the end of this that a live chat would help turn your passive website into an active lead-collection tool—try it, it’s free.

 

Reasons YOUR Real Estate Website Needs Live Chat

1.    People are Afraid of You

Like it or not customers are afraid of contacting vampiric, shark-like real estate agents. Live chat is a very unimposing way of asking a question that encourages them to do so.

2.    They Can Multitask

We live in a society of multitaskers. How many of us even watch TV anymore without being on our computer, iPad or smartphone? A live chat allows them to open up a channel of communication without taking their entire attention span—which is extremely precious of course.

3.    Transcriptions

If you’re a busy agent and have trouble keeping track of leads, who they are, where they came from and what you talked to them about then a live chat tool (ahem—like the one we use) can help you keep track of all conversations. Not only does it track what you said but it also tells you how they found your website—an invaluable analytics tools to help you refine your marketing efforts to the highest-pay off campaigns.

4.    After-Hours Service

Many potential clients are hesitant—to say the least—to call a Realtor during off business hours. A live chat makes you available evenings and weekends. Our apologies to your social life, but hey—it’s the biz right?

5.    Increases your Productivity and Return-Inquiry Time

For someone to send you an email (if they actually do it), wait for a response, you to take the time to answer and then go back and forth—is a completely nonsensical waste of time. Cut out the in-between time by using a live-response tool like live chat. You may just get back to them quick enough to keep them from moving on to another potential agent.

6.    A Heaping Pile of Steaming Data

live chat for real estate websitesIf someone told you that there was a super-simple way to learn what forms of marketing are bringing you the most live leads, and it was free—and easy to use…you would do it. That’s what live chat is. It provides you with invaluable data to find out how to improve your online marketing campaigns, in an easily-measurable way.

7.    Pre-Emptivity

With our live chat tool, not only can people message you (which comes to you as a text message-like message on your smartphone)—but it also has the option to create an alert when someone enters your website. It will also tell you how they found your website and what page or pages they are looking at. This allows you to pre-emptively strike up a conversation, especially if they are looking at a listing. “Hi, I see that you’re looking at 123 Madeup Avenue…just so you know we’re doing a major overhaul of the kitchen to include granite countertops and cork floors—you absolutely have to see it if you’re an amateur chef!”

 

 

So…

So, live chat is a phenomenal tool to help build your online lead generation for your real estate website. But, of course—it isn’t perfect. It takes some time to figure out what type of responses and pre-emptive messages work for you. But, it’s free. And within a couple of weeks you could be…FINALLY, getting leads off your website.

 

Give it a try.

 

Ask us how.

 

 

Our real estate technology tip of the week is to make the best under-$2 investment you’ll ever make—buy the Cycloramic app. Cycloramic is an app that can turn any iPhone into a panoramic camera. It’s also great for taking wide angle-like photos. Perhaps now we should apologize to real-estate photographers everywhere…sorry dudes.

 real estate technology tip cycloramic

The Cycloramic app is perhaps the coolest app we’ve ever seen. It harnesses the vibration capabilities of your phone—without any additional equipment—to slowly turn the phone on its axis to take stunning panoramic photos. It then seamlessly stitches the photos together and voila: you have a panoramic photo of the interior or exterior of your listings. The genius of this app is that it doesn’t require a special base, just stand your iPhone up on its flat bottom (this only works with the newer, flat-bottomed models) and the app does the rest.

Cycloramic is getting some great press, in fact we saw them on the phenomenal American show Shark Tank—where the millionaire and billionaire ‘sharks’ were chomping at the bit to invest in this company!  And hey—5 super-rich-smart-people can’t be wrong!

 

In addition to taking simple photos this best-in-class photo and VIDEO maker (that’s right—it takes VIDEO TOO!) , it also creates high-res images, is easily exported to your social media profiles and comes with filters and stickers to highlight the images as well.

 

The Cycloramic app is also available on Android—for FREE (for the moment). The iPhone version is currently $1.99, but we expect that this will rise slightly…although even if it doubled or tripled in price it would still be a solid micro investment.

 

You can download the iPhone app here:

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id734076885?mt=8&&referrer=click%3Dd9794867-5935-4752-84f3-df9deb51b46c

 

And the Android app here:

https://itunes.apple.com/app/id734076885?mt=8&&referrer=click%3Dd9794867-5935-4752-84f3-df9deb51b46c

 

 

 

Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

If you’ve been considering WordPress real estate websites–the time has never been better! Seriously. There is a new WordPress dashboard that only reinforces why choosing WordPress for your real estate website is a solid, strong, dope, fly, crazy-awesome decision. 

 

WordPress Real Estate Websites: The Changes 

The changes in the new dashboard circle around an improved user interface. The new WordPress interface is extremely clean, and customizable with over 7 different colour schemes.

Take a look at the before and after…

BEFORE:
wordpress real estate websites old dashboard
AFTER:
wordpress real estate websites new dashboard

The new dashboard is easier to read, has a stronger menu both on the left-hand-side and on the top of website pages (when you’re signed in to the backend then surf your website’s front end) AND has a more user-friendly mobile version. The result: a great user interface for real estate websites.

 

WordPress Real Estate Websites Dashboard–the Real Differences

The new WordPress dashboard may circle around the obvious visual changes, but for those readers who are a little more technologically-inclined, here are the small-detail changes:

  • A greater contrast for improved visibility
  • A customizable dashboard with multiple skins
  •  A cleaner typography–again for improved visibility
  • A high-definition dashboard that loads even quicker than the old low-def dashboard–as they ditched some pixels in exchange for new vector-based icons
  • Colour schemes that allows you to customize, at least a little, the dashboard–so you can ditch the old pale blue and white
  • New theme management that helps you preview your themes better (without activating them!)
  • A better ‘widgets’ screen that makes selecting the widgets just a smidge more user friendly

 

If you’ve been wondering of WordPress real estate websites are the right path–they are. They’re more affordable, offer more free technologies and have a user-friendly existence. Want a demo of the new WordPress backend? Just give us a shout on our live chat, via email or via the old-school way…our 800-number.

We make WordPress real estate websites–because we think WordPress is simply the bee’s knees.

 

WordPress Real Estate Websites–What IS WordPress?

WordPress is a Content Management System that empowers the public to build super-cool-and-awesome websites. If you’re thinking, “but wait–isn’t WordPress that blogging thingamajiggy?”, then you would be right…sort of. WordPress is commonly used for simple blogs, but installing its powerful platform onto your own website hosting gives you the framework needed to create stunning websites, have cutting-edge features like Live Chat–all the while giving the user an easy-to-use backend. On WordPress you can install gorgeous themes to create a beautiful website, and then turn it into a lead-generating platform by using ‘plugins’.

wordpress real estate websites backend

WordPress Real Estate Websites Themes

WordPress is a CMS, which makes it a powerful framework–but it is still just a framework. Without a pretty ‘skin’ or ‘theme’ it won’t look like much. A theme is a set of graphics, designs and page layouts that creates an overall look. A ‘theme’ is different than a template as it can still be manipulated greatly. Elements can be moved around, added and removed, and there are still a great variety of design options within each theme. What this means is that a theme is like a designer framework on the WordPress framework.  As of the moment of writing there are 2,345 themes in the WordPress directory, and a few thousand more made my private publishers.
wordpress real estate websites themes

To see a few of our favourite themes, check out this list from our favourite web-design magazine:

http://www.designrazzi.com/2014/wordpress-realestate-themes/

WordPress Plugins

A WordPress plugin is a feature that can be easily added to WordPress real estate websites. All the world’s largest internet technology companies (and all the small ones too!) create WordPress plugins for their technology–as WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System.  WordPress plugins include those available from Zoho, Zopim, Google (actually they have MANY: Adsense, Analytics, Sitemap, Tag Manager and more), DropBox, ClickDesk, Yoast SEO, SalesForce and oh soooooo many more. If you’re curious if a technology that you’re currently work with has a WordPress plugin–just ask us! Email us or use our live chat (…which is a plugin!).
wordpress real estate websites plugins

So–What is WordPress to YOU?

What WP means to you is that you can have a stunning, cutting-edge WordPress real estate website, with all the latest technologies–at a fraction of the cost of our competitors (who have to develop all their technologies in-house).

 

Curious about getting a WordPress real estate website? Just give us a ring-a-ding-ding!

We love technology and we really ‘heart’ real estate technology tips. But, sometimes we focus too much on emerging technologies—which is why we want to get back to basics with this blog post.

How fast (or slow) is your computer?

Having personally worked with a number of agents, we have to say the average real estate agent computer is extremely sluggish. A slow computer means you either need to work longer to get the same results, or you get less done in the same timeframe. Speeding up your computer will speed up your production (or give you more time off!).

 

But—how?

 

Our simple answer is to make this the year you finally switch to a Mac computer. Here at Real Estate Websites Canada we’re huge Mac fans (well—Linux fans, but that’s another story). Mac computers don’t get viruses and they don’t slow down as quickly as PCs do. If you have a PC you can try adding a software to clean it up and speed it up, like TuneUp Utilities (http://www.tune-up.com/) although note that this isn’t a miracle worker.

real estate technology tips: buy a mac

Real Estate Technology Tips: Switch to Mac

Macs are extremely reliable computers—and they have the price tag to prove it. In our opinion they are worth the extra cost as they last significantly longer and offer increased productivity. In recent years Macs have become so widespread that the prices have been reduced significantly. Also, now every type of software is compatible with Macs (whereas 10 years ago it was a major struggle).

 

There are a number of reasons to switch to Mac:

real estate technology tips: buy a mac

  1. They’re faster—and stay faster longer.
  2. Apple offers exceptional service! If you need assistance just book a FREE appointment at their mac genius bar.
  3. They don’t get viruses and other harmful maladies like Windows PCs.
  4. The new notification tools in the latest versions of their software—which have a little pop-up window that shows new email, Facebook messages and more.
  5. They sync extremely well with iPhones…and we know how much Realtors LOVE iPhones.
  6. They don’t come with all the useless, pre-installed software that Windows does (which is one of the many reasons they are so slow).
  7. The details. Small details like a charger that has a magnetic attachment tool for easy plugging in and unplugging.
  8. Their design is simply beautiful.
  9. There’s only a small learning curve—with the average person taking less than a couple of hours to adjust to the system (which is similar-looking to Windows).
  10. Cache. Macs are not just great computers they’re also a style symbol. You look good picking our a sleek macbook from your bag instead of hauling out a clunky PC.
  11. They have the top security, which means they stay secure no matter how ‘insecure’ the user (you know who you are).

 

So—our real estate technology tips for this week: consider buying a Mac. If you’re a new agent and the price tag is simply too much for your current budget (we know starting out is hard), you can purchase a gently used one online for a really affordable price.

 

 

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Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

Real estate video marketing isn’t anywhere near as hard as you think! When we build our real estate websites we ask the agent if they have any videos that we can integrate into the website. Unfortunately, 9 times out 10—they don’t. While we don’t press the matter, we do let agents know what a difference to the website (and your authenticity) that video makes to their website. We also let them know how EASY it is.

What we recommend to agents is beginning by making a simple video with their smartphone. Most smartphones these days, like iPhones, have great-quality video. While professional-grade, professionally-lit videos are obviously better—give making a video on your phone first. If that goes well and the response is good then you will see the value.

 

Real Estate Video Marketing

There are a number of excellent ways to leverage video in your real estate marketing campaigns:

  • With an intro video that introduces you as an agent (and your specialized talents, verticals, skills and marketing efforts)
  • Listings videos that feature you walking through the listing, describing all the highlights (homeowners LOVE this)
  • Neighbourhood vignettes of neighbourhood highlights


How to Begin Video Marketing

For those agents who are a little intimidated by technology, video is a great place to start. It truly is super easy, and just requires 5 little steps:

  1. Take Video on Smartphone
    Your first step is to take the video. Ask a client, family member or other agent to hold the camera while you let your star power shine. You may want to find another agent to partner up with videos for, it will give you some support doing your videos and will help you both out.
  2. Turn on WIFI
    Before you download the video from your phone to the internet, turn on your wifi. Downloading a large video file will eat up your data plan extremely quickly.
  3. Download the YouTube App
    Downloading the YouTube app to your phone (either Android or iPhone) will let you upload a video in the click of a button. So, download the app, create an account and then follow the steps to upload your video(s). We advise you to use YouTube instead of the many other video companies out there as YouTube video are displayed high in Google search results (Google owns YouTube).
  4. Upload to Facebook
    After you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube it will give you the video’s URL address. Copy and paste this into your Facebook account to post it.
  5. Add Link to your Website
    If you’re using one of our WordPress websites you can add the video to any listing, blog post, webpage or featured listing by simply pasting the URL address into the page (on a separate line—not inline with other text). Then publish the page and the video will be embedded on your site.
  6. Done
    That’s it. Now that you know how easy it is, repeat the process for each listing.

Real estate video marketing is extremely easy. Once you’ve completed the process above you’ll wonder why you waited so long to do it. If you don’t have a website that allows you to easily embed your video in your website—give us a call.

real estate video marketing

An example of what an embedded video will look like (taken from our “Using ‘Em” page)

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As a real estate technology tip, here’s a great one. Did you know that you can very easily markup images on your iPhone to send to clients? Yup! With just the click of a few buttons.

With Skitch you can do the following:

  1. Add points of interest to a Google map photo
  2. Point out elements in a listing photo
  3. Highlight points in a contract
  4. Anything else you can think of pretty much!

Here is a great video that demonstrates how easy it is. It also offers a great real estate technology tips on how to easily take a photo of anything on the screen of your iPhone!

*Note: This is a video from RE/MAX’s technology group but we have no affiliation with them–it is just a great video! 🙂

 

 

 

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Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

Have you always wanted to be one of those techno-savvy real estate agents that truly leverages real estate technology but don’t know how? Well, we’ve put together a guide to the basics. And it will cost you zero money—and just a couple of hours to setup!
So, let’s get started…


Your Guide to Real Estate Technology—In 8 Easy, FREE Steps

Your first step to real estate technology is to implement a number of strategies that will set you up for success. Setting them up, initially, will take a couple of hours—but once they are in place all you do is monitor the new activity (which you can do from your smartphone):

  1. Smartphone

    You likely already have a smartphone and a data plan, but if you don’t—that’s your first and biggest step. All the technologies below will integrate into your smartphone, and will help turn your cellphone into an even greater business centre than it already is now!

  2. Zoho CRM

    Every busy agent (if you’re not busy, you will be!) needs a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to keep track of all their leads. A CRM will help you manage the lifecycle of your leads better, from initial contact all that way through to an active client.If you already use Top Producer or another expensive CRM great, you’re already used to the process. In case you don’t have one—or you’re sick of paying hundreds of dollars a year for it—then we have a great suggestion…Zoho CRM. The Zoho CRM is free for up to 3 users and allows up to 5,000 records/contacts. If you go above this, or want some of their advanced features then you can upgrade to their $12/month plan.

    Zoho will allow you to manage your leads, will integrate into your website contact forms and will funnel your leads directly into its system and it will integrate with your email to keep track of conversations. Zoho CRM is a phenomenal free real estate technology, but note that it doesn’t have a place in the CRM for property management. This of course is fine if you’re not on an extremely high-producing team that can’t remember the hundreds and hundreds of homes you sell each year.

    Like everything else on this list you can add the app to your smartphone for total integration.

  3. Zopim Live Chat

    Zopim is a free live chat tool (they have a paid version too—if you want more features) that empowers you to interact with your website visitors. They can use the chat window to ask you a question—or you can pre-emptively start a conversation. Setting up a free account takes less than 5 minutes, then you need to insert one line of code into your website to get it up and running. You then install the app on your smartphone and you will get your chat requests similar to the way you receive a text message.Using the app is quite easy, although learning how to actually engage with people may take some time. For example, saying “hi how can I help you?” is ineffective. It’s about as effective as a salesperson in a retail store saying it. But, looking at the page or listing they’re looking at and forming a custom message is good, like “I see you’re looking at 123 Deer Street—just so you know they are making upgrades to the kitchen!”.

    Here at Real Estate Websites Canada we absolutely love our live chat. Not only as a way to meet new customers and offer existing ones support, but also as a great analytics tool. Zopim allows you to monitor which pages your customers are going to the most often, which ones cause them to leave (you’ll obviously want to fix that page!), how long they spend on your site and much more! So you get a live chat AND a free analytics tool. Although the free Google Analytics offers you richer information.

  4. Mail Chimp

    Mail Chimp is a free email marketing tool that allows you to point-and-click to design a beautiful email newsletter and send it to the clients in your email and/or CRM. It is free and extremely easy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WDNrFctnEI

  5. Zapier

    Zapier is a sensational piece of technology that unites all your other real estate technology. This free tool automates all your services. So, for example, if you update your Zoho CRM it will automatically update your MailChimp. It works with over 250 web apps, and they are adding more every day. Unfortunately, so far it doesn’t integrate with Zopim live chat, but it does integrate with Olark—a paid live chat software. For a full list of apps, click here:

    https://zapier.com/zapbook/

    This tool can save you hours upon hours of updating your various real estate technology.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMW6RMABgdE

  6. Online Appointment Tool

    As a Realtor you’re undoubtedly sick of the constant going back and forth trying to schedule time with clients and other agents. Well—there’s a real estate technology for that now! By using an online appointment tool, like Simply Book Me. An online appointment tool will allow your clients, other agents—and even your kids—to book time with you by simply going on your website and reserving a time. So, no more “how about tuesday at 4?….no, wednesday at 1?…OK how about thursday at 8?.

  7. YouTube Account

    A YouTube account is a great way to promote both yourself and your listings. Since your fancy smartphone has videos in it, you might as well use it! Take video tours of your listings and do a promotion of yourself at the same time (if you can get your client to hold the camera).By installing the YouTube app on your smartphone you can upload these videos at the click of a button! But a word to the wise…if you don’t have an unlimited data plan then try to upload them while you’re on a wifi connection..otherwise you’ll burn through your data plan real fast—and it will take longer to upload.

    But seriously—if you could better promote both yourself AND your listings in less than 5 minutes time, why wouldn’t you?

  8. Time-Saving Apps

    There are a number of apps that, in our opinion, every Realtor should use to save time. Our favs include a scanning app that turns a smartphone photo into a document and DropBox—which allows you to save and share documents on the go.

 

If you can take a couple of hours out of your day to implement all the real estate technology listed above you’ll be well on your way to becoming the tech-savvy agent you’ve always wanted to be. The only thing left will be to get a flexible, technology-friendly, mobile-ready website. Hop on over to our other pages to learn about how you can get one for a one-time payment of….Ask us for a quote 😉

 

 

Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

In our last post we wrote about what WordPress’ Jetpack IS, including all the wonderful features bundled into it. However—we also said that not all of them are applicable to a real estate website specifically, but hey—nobody’s perfect right?

WordPress’ Jetpack tool is a kick-a** set of tools for WordPress-built websites that is 100% free and 200% awesome.

Here our favourites—and why we LOVE them….

real estate website jetpack 1
Why Your Real Estate Website NEEDS WordPress’ Jetpack!

  1. PhotonPhoton is a feature that allows you to load your images quicker, as they’re hosted on the WordPress network. This plugin saves bandwidth and helps your website load faster as you don’t have to store all those images on your website server. Think of it like your computer—when you use 80% of your memory your computer slows down.
  2. CarouselCarousell allows users to view yours images in full-screen view, while initially displaying your photos in a nice ‘carousel’-like appearance.
  3. Tiled Layouts Tiled layouts is a pretty way to display your photos when you have a number of images together on a single page.
  4. PublicizePublicize is great for people like you—who are busy! All the steps involved in uploading all your blogs is difficult enough, but to go through all your social profiles and post it yourself is irritating. Publicize posts every time with ‘Publicize’. It makes making your posts social—easy as pie!
  5. Sharing Jetpack’s sharing buttons mean your users can easily share your content. Anyone doing social media marketing will immediately understand why that’s important!
  6. Mobile Theme EVERY real estate website needs to be mobile-friendly. All of our are, but just in case your website theme in WordPress doesn’t leverage responsive design—then Jetpack’s mobile theme will ensure your website displays nicely on mobile devices.If you’re wondering whether your site is mobile or not—just ask us!
  7. Infinite ScrollIf your theme supports infinite scroll—then you’ll want this plugin. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with about 50% of themes, but for the ones it does it allows your pages to display an unlimited amount of posts or listings!
  8. Site Stats Sites stats is like a simplified version of Google Analytics, which is a free tool that tells you how many people are on your website each day, how they found it, what pages they visited, what pages make them leave, etc. Site stats is a simple version that takes only a second to setup, that tells you basic data. If you want to drill-down in your site data further, then ask us how to get Google Analytics.

 

So—if you’re already using one of our WordPress real estate websites but don’t have any of these setup, purchase our simple support ticket for $25 and we can activate them for you lickety split (generally within 48 hours).

 

 

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If you’re using one of our rockstar websites and have seen the ‘Jetpack; option on the menu—this post is for you.

 

Jetpack for Real Estate Website Design

Jetpack is a powerful set of tools all lumped into one installation that allows you to do a huge number of things with your WordPress-based real estate website design. These features are:

 

    1. WordPress.com Stats (helps monitor website traffic)
    2. Notifications (find out about changes and website stats in your browser toolbar)
    3. Publicize (send your new content automatically to your social profiles)
    4. Jetpack Comments (a system so users can comment on your website)
    5. Subscriptions (lets users subscribe to your website content)
    6. Post by Email (LETS YOU CREATE BLOG POSTS BY SENDING AN EMAIL!)
    7. Likes (helps you promote your content to get more Facebook Likes)
    8. Carousel (an awesome way to display images)
    9. Sharing (allows your users to share your content)
    10. Spelling and Grammar (not a well speeler?–get this feature!)
    11. VaultPress (online backup…but we can recommend a free version)real estate website design jetpack 5
    12. Omnisearch (a powerful search tool)
    13. Gravatar Hovercards (useless in our opinion)
    14. Contact Form (a nice-looking contact form option)
    15. WP.me Shortlinks (creates short links)
    16. Google+ Profile (link your content to your Google+ profile)
    17. Tiled Galleries (another beautiful way to display images
    18. Widget Visibility (more website widgets)
    19. Mobile Theme (a nice mobile tool if your website isn’t responsive to begin with)
    20. Shortcode Embeds (…this is a web design thing)
    21. Custom CSS (another web design thing)
    22. Extra Sidebar Widgets (even more widgets! Yay!)
    23. Infinite Scroll (instead of making peopel click “page 2” then “page 3”, they can just scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll)
    24. Photon (helps load images faster)
    25. Jetpack Single Sign On (a powerful sign-in tool if your website has a sign-in area)
    26. Monitor website stats (helps monitor your viewers)
    27. Mobile Push Notifications (if there are changes or notifications from your website—this tool will tell you)
    28. JSON API (cloud-based access)
    29. Enhanced Distribution (better share your content in Google)

 

So—some of the above functions are somewhat useless for real estate website design, but others are truly amazing. And of course…they’re all FREE, so why the heck not, right?

 

For reasons why you should use some of these features—and to find out which ones are our personal favs…click here.

 

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If you’re looking for a good way to make actionable, tangible change(s) this year–I think Google’s Matt Cutts (a brilliant guy in a number of respects) has some of the best advice we’ve heard yet…

 

 

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Posted by Robin in Apps + Tech, Uncategorized Read More

Many of the Realtors we talk to—as a 2014 Realtor resolution or not—want to leverage technology better.

Great…but how?

To help you guys out, here’s a 2014 Realtor resolution crash course to Realtor technology…

 

Realtor 2014 Resolution: 3 Technology Tips

Here are a number of ways to get the leg up on your competition, technologically…

 

  1. Get a Better Website
    Those 90s template websites don’t cut it anymore. The idea of just ‘having a website’ doesn’t work. A bad website is worse than no website, because a bad website indicates poor marketing. And poor marketing is the sign of a poor agent. So, this year—finally get a website that actually represents you. It’s more affordable than you think. Our websites will actually save you money, as they cost $2500 one-time (+$120 for hosting annually), and then just $120 a year after that. This is for a custom-designed, custom-branded website that won’t be cookie-cutter. I you’re asking yourselves why we’re so cheap and don’t charge $600 a year—it’s because no one should. If you’re paying $50 a month you’re being ripped off, as that company does nothing for you. We don’t charge that because there’s no need—we charge you ($89.95), once, and then we move on (–and show you smarter ways to spend your money).Our websites don’t just give you a custom-branded and designed website though, they also offer cutting-edge features. This includes live chat, CRM integration, email-marketing integration and more.
  2. Email Marketing
    Speaking of email marketing for Realtors. 2014 is THE year to finally do it. It is so much easier than you think, and we have two low-cost solutions for you. Our first suggestion is MailChimp—which is a FREE platform (up to 2,000 contacts) that is highly intuitive and insanely easy to use. It is literally point-and-click, and has phenomenal graphics that offer super-professional results.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WDNrFctnEIOur other suggestion—and the better option—is to use BombBomb video email marketing. This type of email marketing leverages video, which means it is easier for Realtors to create as all they have to do is talk. And if you can’t ‘talk’–you’re in the wrong business my friend. Being able to create it easily yourself is 1,000 times better than paying a company to send canned, irrelevant content (which is another ‘why bother’ technology). BombBomb isn’t free…but if you spend money on one technology this year….give serious consideration to this. 
  3. Social Media Market BETTER
    The backbone of a social media marketing campaign is having a helpful place to forward them to (as your posts aren’t enough to convince the online public that you’re legit)…aka your website (which is the backbone of ALL your marketing). 
    To improve your social media marketing you likely need to improve your engagement, but that advice could fill 1/5600th of the Encyclopedia Britannica. To get a good start click here for some great social media marketing engagement tips.

 

For more tips, on being a Realtor 2014, check out our other blog posts—or contact one of our sales reps today.

 

 

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Real Estate Technology — If your new years resolution is to (finally) declutter your desk…boy do we have the tool for you—NeatDesk. Now, we rarely recommend hardware beyond a great computer and an iPad, but this is a good one. The reason why is that we’ve been in Realtor offices that are covered in paper and it drives us nuts.

 

Real Estate Technology Review: NeatDesk

This awesome piece of decluttering hardware will scan all your receipts, business cards, documents and other hardcopy items and digitize them. It is more than a simple scanner though as its smart technology reads the content and helps you automatically organize it. Yup, this scanner can help identify, extract and then organize the most important information.

real estate technology neatdesk

What this means to you is that you can declutter your desk and file cabinet—while having the documents easily at hand as the hardware/software combination organizes your documents into an indexed file that allows you to easily find them on your computer. We bet that you’ll be able to find them quicker on your computer (after using the software a few times) than you can find the hardcopy.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBQfGwd8oqg

 

The ONLY downside to this real estate technology is that it is quite pricey at $399.95—however, if you’re a broker then this is a no-brainer as an investment to increase not only your offices’ efficiency but also your agents’. If you’re an agent who’s broker isn’t interested, consider compiling a few friends in the office to make the investment with you…if you can get 8 agents its only $50 each. The product will absolutely save you $50 worth of time in the efficiencies it offers you. Also, it comes with a 30-day free trial, so if you hate it, nothing lost.

 

This product can help you with:

 

  • Decluttering
  • Organizing your tax information
  • Importing contacts into your phone
  • Organize your contact’s information with their documentation
  • Information backup as you not only digitize your hardcopy files but you can also back it up on the internet to ensure even if your office explodes your information will be there.

 

 

NOTE: We have no affiliation with this real estate technology product—we just like it, and think a huge percentage of our customers could use it!

 

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There are two huge explosions in online marketing—video, and email marketing for Realtors. Well, BombBomb is a double threat. BombBomb offers email marketing with integrated video, which can help you take your video marketing to the next level.

Email Marketing for Realtors

 

Email Marketing for Realtors –with Video: The Reality

So, is BombBomb as fantastic as it sounds? Our quick answer: it sounds awesome. The only

caveat is that while we generally offer free or near-free technologies and this one isn’t free. BUT—if you do email marketing this is DEFINITELY worth the investment.

 

 

Coming back to price, the service costs between $25-37 per month (depending on how many users you send to and if you purchase month-to-month or a year at once). When you consider that the high-quality email marketing program we recommend to our clients (OK—to everyone, not JUST our clients) is free—and our clients aren’t paying expensive monthly fees for their website—they can have a rockstar website, an awesome video, email marketing—and integrate video for just $25 a month.

Bombbomb offers you the following features: 

 

  • Email templates for beautiful emails
  • Contact list management tools
  • High deliverability rates
  • Scheduled sending so that you can script emails when you’re not busy but send them one a regular schedule
  • Analytics to measure the success of your marketing campaigns
  • And a handy email editor

 

 

Oh, and by the way—we have no affiliation with BombBomb, it is just a great product at a very realistic price point.

 

 

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So, you’ve purchased one of our real estate websites–or you’re thinking of purchasing one of our customized real estate websites–and you’re wondering how the heck these things work, then you’ve come to the right place.

With the websites we create people ask us tons of use-related questions, often circling around what they will be able to do themselves. These questions include:

 

So, the quick answer is yes–you can easily update themselves.

Even though our websites are highly customized and look complex on the front end, they still use the relatively-simple WordPress backend. To teach you exactly how to do this we’re posting a great series of informative how-to videos from Duke University’s Center for Instructional Technology (CIT).

 

WordPress Basics: How to Create a Blog Post

 

 

 

This first video covers the super basics of WordPress, including:

  • How to find your WordPress admin section (hint: it’s always enter “/wp-admin” at the end of your URL)
  • How to create a new blog post
  • How to preview your blog post
  • How to save and publish your blog post

 

WordPress Basics: How to Add an Image to your Blog Post, Page or Listing

 

This blog post shows you:

  • How to add an image from the web
  • How to add an image from your computer

 

WordPress Basics: How to Add a Link to your Blog Post, Listing or Page

 

This video shows you:

  • How to add a link to any page, blog post or listing in WordPress

 

WordPress Basics: How to Style your Text for your Blog Post, Page or Listing


In this video you learn how to format your text, a process very similar to Microsoft Word.

 

WordPress Basics: How to Add a Video

Adding videos to your listings is a phenomenal way to highlight your listing–and it is an incredibly easy within WordPress:

  • How to find the url of your video
  • How to add a video to a blog post, listing or page

 

For further instructionals on how to use WordPress to accomplish one of your goals, simply go to www.youtube.com and enter “wordpress tutorial” and whatever keyword you’d like. For example, “wordpress tutorial adding a page to your menu”.

 

Stay tuned to our blog to learn intermediate WordPress skills and how to use specific functionalities in WordPress.

 

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They say that learning a new language opens up neural pathways and teaches your brain ‘how to learn’. And it does.

So does coding. 

Check out this phenomenal video from Code.org,  of a number of tech billionaires, entrepreneurs, coders and even an NBA all star. Coding teaches you critical problem-solving skills. It also sets you up for a lifetime of success. 

If you want to set your child up for success–teach them to code. Or, simply send them to Code.org (since, sadly, coding isn’t available in the majority of Canadian schools). 

Oh, and by the way–there are over a million high-paying, upwardly-mobile jobs in North America that go unfulfilled (or filled with applicants from other countries) every year. So, the next time you hear a hipster in a Starbucks complaining they can’t find a job–hand them a hand-written note with “Code.org” on it. 

 

 

Help us, share the message. 

 

 

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Tech Tips for Realtors:  Don’t Miss David Pogue’s TED TALK

If you guys haven’t checked out TED talks yet (TED= Technology, Entertainment & Design)–we highly encourage you to do so now. The ‘talks’ they have are short and highly-informative. 

This one below by David Pogue is especially informative–and his tips can save you hundreds of hours in your online life.

 

 

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How’s this for a real estate technology tip: get some one else to do the work…

You’re busy—we get it. (We’re busy too).

One of the biggest objections we receive when convincing realtors to move to the website-owning solution and away from their rented month-to-month solution is—but they do things for me. Oh ya? Like what? 

Well, they automate my email marketing and have ready-made templates I can use for my feature sheets and other marketing materials”.

Fair enough—but all those tools are available for free online. For example, MailChimp offers the top email marketing solution available on the market…and it’s free. BUT, you still have to create an email yourself with their point-and-click tools. That’s the downside. The upside is that it is free (and won’t cost you $50 a month), the downside is that you still have to create it as you won’t be on a service that will blast your contact list with the same email being sent out to a thousand other agents’ lists. So—how do you balance the two?

 With a virtual assistant—that’s how!

 

Real Estate Technology Tip: Balance Cutting-Edge with a Virtual Assistant

Leveraging a personal assistant will help you offload work, without the expense of a part- or full-time assistant. You can give them as much or as little work as you have that week—and you pay as you go.

A virtual assistant can help you with a number of technology (and non-tech work too), including:

  • Listing presentations
  • Featured listing uploads to your website
  • Creating feature sheets and other marketing materials
  • Blogging
  • Branding
  • Email marketing and drip campaigns
  • Lead management
  • Marketing coordination
  • Newsletter creation
  • Social media marketing
  • Website maintenance and management
  • And more…

If you’re thinking—gee, that sounds swell but I can’t afford a virtual assistant…you’d be surprised.

You can hire a professional virtual assistant in the real estate vertical from one of the following companies (note: we haven’t tried any of their services)…

http://www.realsupportinc.com/

http://agentsolutions.ca 

http://revainstitute.com/member-directory/certified-member-directory 


Or, for a better deal (although they will require more training) you can hire a virtual assistant on Odesk…

 www.odesk.com


What hiring a virtual assistant does, is empower you to explore and test all the forms of real estate technology that you’ve been eyeing—but without having to do the grunt work that has been keeping you from implementing the improvements you really want.

 

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For some of you old-school agents out there, Prezi is real estate technology which is doing for presentations in the Web 2.0 world what Powerpoint did in the 90s—it makes high-quality presentations (remember: back in the 90s, Powerpoint was cutting-edge stuff) with point-and-click technology.

Real  Estate Technology What Prezi Does

Prezi is a sensational free (with a paid version available) online tool that lets you build powerful presentations online. It has an intuitive platform that works much like Powerpoint in that you point and click on the items you want, but it adds voice, video and animation. Prezi is most beneficial for Realtors when used in listing presentations—although it is a great presentation tool for any presentation you make on your iPad. Signing up for Prezi takes, literally, 30 seconds as you simply enter your email, name and create a password and then you’re done. You’re then ready to create your first presentation, by following the giant, flashing blue prompts.

 

For the visual learners amongst us, here is a great 5-minute video from Breakthroughbroker.com about how to get started:

 

 

For specific videos on how to use Prezi software—just Google “how to do X in Prezi” and you’ll find great tutorial videos. If you want a real basic-level explanation and walk through, here is a good albeit dry video (with a Stephen Hawking-like presentor voice):

 

 

The Final Result

To fast forward through the real estate technology process and find out what your presentation could look like—here are a few sample ones:

http://prezi.com/rfatjjfqnmbi/copy-of-real-estate-agent-realtor/

 

http://prezi.com/-ann-kydpddt/why-sell-with-mike-oscarson-coldwell-banker-burnet-takes-15-seconds-to-load/

 

http://prezi.com/cwccosy77ful/realtor-presentaion/

 

How to Use It

Once you have made your Prezi presentation you can open it up on your iPad or computer during listing presentations. With the paid version you can download it to your device or host it on YouTube. You can also integrate it into your WordPress website with a simple plugin or addition—ask us about specifically how (or buy a simply support ticket for $25 and just have us do it for you).

 

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If you’ve experienced the dreaded ‘Business Card Overload’ syndrome—which is especially prevalent after open houses and showings, know that there’s a techy fix for that: CardMunch.

Actually, there’s a techy fix for everything now. (If you’re looking for a techy fix to another issue—use the live chat below to ask us—we’ve got endless techy-fix suggestions).

Enter CardMunch

Cardmunch is a FREE downloadable app from the networking geniuses over at LinkedIn that allows you to take a picture of a business card with your smartphone. The little gnomes on the LinkedIn servers then read the text on the card and then insert it into your smartphone. It can even read hand-written text that someone has scrawled as a personal note.

 

You can set a push notifications to give you a notice that the app has done its job and the contact information on the card is now available in your digital database.

Now, CardMunch isn’t the first—or only—business-card reader on the market, but it’s the best. For example, there is another competitor called Bump, but it requires both parties to have the app—which is like walking around randomly looking for someone with the same car as you, so hopeless. Competitors also aren’t as accurate as CardMunch…so just stick with the best.

The good news is that as-per-usual the iPhone crowd are well-served by the app as it is available for download in the App Store. Blackberry and Android users however are going to have to wait, as LinkedIn says they currently have those apps in development. As of right now there is no date that LinkedIn is planning on releasing the app.

 

Take CardMunch One Step Further: A Productivity Boost

CardMunch all by its lonesome is already an awesome tool, but we’ve got an extra tip for you. In the app’s settings tab you can create a sample email template that will allow you to send a follow-up email to contact that you meet. By setting this up you can make a follow-up hello your strategy after each and every time you meet a new contact.

 

Another productivity boost is to forward all your contacts to your CRM database, along with your notes from your initial meeting with the contact.

 

If you’ve been putting effort into your LinkedIn networking then use the app to send a “quick connect” request to connect to the new contact on your LinkedIn profile.

Final Tip

If you meet your new contact at an open house, use the initial contact email to send them a link to the property listing on your fancy shmancy new branded website. If you don’t have a fancy-shmancy new website…let’s talk.  
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Real Estate Websites: We’re so in love with WordPress for real estate  websites that it’s like we’ve got a school-girl crush on it. We want it to show up in front of our second-storey window with a boombox, rocking a super-romantic hit-of-the-80s song. 

There’s sound thinking behind this ridiculous crush though…


Why (We Think) Real Estate Websites Should use WordPress

Real Estate Websites

 

There are a number of reasons why agents should use WordPress as their Content Management System (CMS):

 

1. It’s Free—But Powerful

WordPress is what the tech community calls an open-source platform—meaning it is free. It was created by some geniuses a number of years ago, and is now updated and added to by hundreds of thousands of techies worldwide. It is now one of the most powerful open-source platforms on the planet and has created millions of blogs and websites. And it’s free.

 

Despite being free it is still extremely powerful. It comes with tens of thousands of free plugins (little pieces of software you install with a single click that give you extra functionalities) and tens of thousands of themes (kind of like a predesign template—but more powerful and customizable).

 

We’ll be the first to admit that there are more powerful CMSs out there, like Joomla and Drupal—but quite frankly they’re far too complex for real estate agents to use easily, and they don’t have as many free functionalities.

 

2. Free Functionalities

WordPress’ free functionalities are the only reason that we’re able to offer soo many amazing real estate website functionalities, like live chat, integrated CRM, integrated video and lead capturing—without adding any costs to the end user, or expensive monthly fees that generate profits over time. Since these functionalities are free with WordPress, we don’t charge you a ton of money to install them. In fact, nearly every functionality available with WordPress is free during initial installation. After that we charge a $25 support ticket fee to install additional functionalities (called “plugins” with WordPress)…which is entirely fair since we don’t charge an expensive monthly fee like our competitors (who charge you whether you use their services that month or not).

One example of this is one of the niche websites we run–condos for sale in Regina, a website dedicated to garnering leads in the Regina condo market. This website uses a number of pre-existing technologies with call to actions, listing comparisons and more–all of which wouldn’t be possible (without expensive custom development fees) without free functionalities.

 

3. Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Since WordPress is free, its plugins/features are free, and our ability to blend inexpensive themes with the free platform and free plugins is just $2500 without an expensive monthly fee—this mean a low total cost of ownership for your website. This frees up money to invest in other forms of marketing, while leveraging the best technology on the market (without spending tens of thousands of dollars of course—which could get you better technology, of course).

 

 

Are There any Drawbacks to WordPress for Real Estate Websites?

Yup. There’s a few ‘cons’ of WordPress—however, as a simple user you won’t notice them. They do provide some limitations on the design end, but since our websites don’t deal with tons of custom design work and coding (hence why we’re able to offer our websites at the price we do), it isn’t much of a concern to us either.

 

If you really, really, really want to know what the drawbacks of WordPress for real estate websites are, voila:

 

1. Some people consider open source a drawback, as not 100% of every single functionality works with every single theme, and vice versa. (We don’t consider this a ‘big deal’ as you can always choose from the ten thousand other themes or plugins).

2. There are security issues with WordPress for large companies adding proprietary information that shouldn’t be shared with the public. But, since you’re not a large corporation (and aren’t a target of high-level hackers) and are putting all your WordPress information out there on the web for everyone to see—this isn’t a concern for you.

3. It’s not designed to be used out-of-the-box for large-sized websites. What this means is that large corporations who try to use WordPress (and many do—including Readers Digest, CNN, National Geographic and many more) need to do a lot of customization to support the amount of graphics and interactivity. Your site will never have these types of issues unless you become the largest, nation-wide brokerage in North America that is hosting all your agents’ websites on it.

 

Curious what WordPress can do for you? Just hop on over to our portfolio to see what we’ve done for other agents—and what we can do for you.
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If you’ve been humming and hawing over whether to install live chat on your real estate website—our opinion is a resounding yes. A thousands times yes. Why wouldn’t you?

 

Our absolute most convincing reason to use live chat on your real estate website is that if you’re already a customer of Real Estate Websites Canada (REwebsites) then live chat is FREE. No seriously. Shoot us an email (info@realestatewebsites.ca) or give us a call  and let us know you want it—we’ll get you started with live chat today. Well, it might be tomorrow. We may be knee-deep in website development at the moment.

 

If it being free wasn’t reason enough—here’s 6 more:

 

  1. Insta-Leads Live chat is like the instant-coffee version of the internet. Leads are readily available for the picking, but many want the instant-gratification that live chat provides.
  2. Counter the Fear Many people are shy to pick up the phone and call you. Live chat is significantly less threatening.
  3. Monitoring The live chat tool we install on our websites empowers you to track your visitors as they move throughout your site. Noticing what page they are on can help you guide them through the content you’ve carefully created—and preemptively answer any questions they may have.
  4. First Impression By being so readily-available and attentive to their needs, through live chat, you create an unbeatable first impression.
  5. It’s Easy Using live chat (the one we use at least) is super easy. There’s an app to put on your smartphone that sends you alerts, just like texts. You can adjust your settings to alert you whenever someone hops on your site, so that you can offer them a preemptive hello and a welcome to your site—or, when they type a message into the live chat box. You then receive an alert to your phone and type like you would a text message. If you can text, you can use our live chat.
  6. It’s FREEWe know we mentioned this—but seriously…it’s free!

 

If you’re curious about live chat on your website. Give us a ring-a-ding-ding, drop us a line—or use our convenient live chat feature that should be hovering at the bottom right hand-side of the screen. If we’re ‘offline’ send us a message—because unlike Realtors, we DO sleep!

 

 

If you want live chat on your website–and want to save the expensive monthly fees you’re spending on your website now, click here to find out more about the services and products that we offer… 

Author: Robin

Plugins for Real Estate Webmasters

Alright peeps—we’ve put together a mad-wicked-terrible(?)-off-the-hizzle list of whack (is this good?) functionalities that your realtor website can benefit from. And all these functionalities are available with free WordPress plugins. Why all WordPress? Because we love them. They are fly, dope, fresh, chill and most importantly—easy enough for almost every (you know who you are) realtor to use.   Oh, and we’ve left out the standard I-just-need-to-write-a-blog-post-about-plugins suggestions that 57 websites have already all posted by copying off each other. You know the plugins for real estate websites that we’re talking about—IDX plugins, PropertyPress, Simple Real Estate Pack and 8 other functions that every real estate website already does.   Here is our fresher-than-Fresh-Prince list of awesome plugins for real estate websites:  

  1. MailChimp mailchimp plugin for wpIf you’ve delved this far into your realtor website then you’ve likely already tried some sort of contact form, sign up sheet or gimme-your-damned-email pop up. Well, if you’re already trying that then you’ll love MailChimp for WordPress. This plugin allows for customized sign-up forms, comment and registration forms that encourage people to subscribe. And the best part? They add them all to MailChimp which makes creating an emailing list/campaign super easy.
  2. Testimonials Widgettestimonials widgetThis obviously-named plugin creates an ability to preload pre-chosen or random customer testimonials on your site. And since here at REwebsites we’re huge fans of the legitimacy of well-displayed testimonials (although video ones are much, much, much better!) we love this plugin.
  3. Facebook Comments for WordPressfacebook commentsDon’t use Disqus. Why? Because why Disqus when you can integrate your website comments to Facebook. You likely don’t get tons of comments on your website anyways—but when people do comment it helps to get their social profile information—and to give them the option to share it on their Facebook page. This can interfere with certain DiggDigg plugins—but nobody uses DiggDigg anyways. (a bunch of you are probably Googling what it is right now).
  4. Yoast SEOyoastOK—this plugin you’ve likely seen on the other lists, but its just soooo good. It makes SEO easy enough for even the most technologically-inept agents to figure out (this isn’t an insult—they’re the ones out there actually selling instead of tinkering around on the internet). Excellent, excellent, excellent SEO tool. And if you’re putting this much effort into your website you should be doing SEO to get people to actually visit your site.
  5. W3 Total Cachew3OK so here’s another one on all the other lists (and the last one, we promise), but it too is an absolute must as it keeps your website from s-l-o-w—i—n—–g down with all those pretty property pictures you post (and never sacrifice the quality of your pictures—it is such an important property promotional tool).
  6. Print Friendly & PDFprint friendlyPeople are (hopefully) going to your website and looking at your properties. Well, give them the option to one-button print it—and have that print out actually look good. Small technologies and functionalities like this can be differentiators when people are sizing you up based on the quality of your website (and trust us—they do that).
  7. YouTube Sidebar WidgetyoutubeIf you aren’t leveraging video(s) on your website—we highly recommend it. But how do you post these to your website so they aren’t gaudily front and centre or on a lonely blog page? With YouTube Sidebar Widget. It only works if you upload your videos to YouTube…but they’re the best anyways.
  8. Click to Call Me
  1. click to call meHave your visitors be able to call you right from their computer, tablet, iPod, smartphone, or whatever other internet-surfing device is released with the Click to Call Me button. It looks slick and lets people call you without having to enter your number (which is hard to do if they’re viewing your website on their phone and have to remember the number while they move from the browser to their phone). People are lazy, make it easy for them.

  If there were things on this list that you said “ah ha” about and had a lightbulb-moment about—then you may need REwebsites. Give us a call to see how we can improve your website. It is likely easier, faster and cheaper than you think.   And of course–to get these plugins for your website you need to have a WordPress website–which we offer for just $2500, with no expensive monthly fee. Click here to find out all the free functionalities we offer…   Article Written By:Author: Robin

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