#227 Mail-Right Show With Jonathan Denwood & Robert Newman
10 Companies Making The Best Real Estate Websites in 2020
Each year in August (End of summer) I review and publish a list of companies making the best real estate websites on the planet. From August of 2018 through December of 2019 there has been a single change in my list of recommended companies. Luxury presence joins the list of the top 10 replacing Resi. There have been many changes in price and service options from the companies that remain in the top 10. Here is a brief list of the companies that had the greatest changes in price, service or company structure. Jump down to the company reviews to find out the full details of any changes.
Easy Agent Pro
Real Estate Webmasters
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the Male-Rights show. This is episode 227; it’s going to be me and my great co-host Robert Newman. And what we’re going to be discussing, listeners and viewers there’s a great article that Robert has published on his Inbound REM website and it’s 10 companies making the best real estate websites in 2020. We’re not going to cover everything in one episode. We plan to make this a two to three-part series. There’s so much to discuss. We plan to publish the other two in February, so this is going to be our starter episode on our voyage of discovery. So Robert, would you like to quickly, Oh, and by the way listeners and viewers, this month is going to be our record month for the Mail-Rights show. We’ve tripled our listenership and it’s been our biggest month and I like to thank you, listeners and viewers. So Robert, would you like to introduce you to the sustainable amount of new listeners and viewers to the show?
Robert: Wow. Yeah, I would love to. God John everybody that’s listening, first of all, my name is Robert Newman and I’m an inbound marketer. I’m a very long-term real estate marketing vet. I’ve worked for some of the biggest names and I’ve worked for two of the 10 names on this list and consulted with a few others in terms of the top 10 companies making real estate websites. And now I own my own company, which is also on the list. So I’m a founder as well. But before I get into all of that or after I get into all of that, I guess I want to tell John thank you and I hope that all of you will join me in sending him a comment because while I’m definitely a personality on the show, John is the guy that makes all the show mechanics happen. He arranges the interviews, he does the links, he message with iTunes, he makes sure the show notes are done and the list goes on and on. It takes a lot of work to get these podcasts up and doing them like we’ve done. So if we’re tripling our audience, I’m going to say that a lot if not most of that heavy lifting comes from John.
Jonathon: Well I think it’s a combination. I just think we’ve been producing some really good stuff and we’ve been blessed recently with some great guests, haven’t we?
Robert: Oh God, yeah. Yeah. I’ve got to admit that. Say so I guess our guests too, you’re absolutely right. Some of the people that have gotten on the show had been–
Jonathon: And I think since you’ve come on the show it’s been a bit more focused on the technology side, which is what I like talking about and we have occasional guests that are not in their area because sometimes it’s fun to mix it up a bit by, our main focus is technology and technology that helps real estate agents and it’s the big topic that most agents are talking about. Aren’t they Robert?
Robert: I hope so because I think they need to be talking about it. If they’re not talking about it and you and I are talking about it, then I’m super grateful if they’re listening to us. Because, every agent in 2020, except for maybe a small handful that have a black book that they’ve been doing business out of for 20 years, they need to be talking about technology and integrating it into their business in various ways or else they’re going to get left in the dust.
Jonathon: I mean, it’s online marketing basically. So Robert, how are we going to start this puppy, this massive discussion topic? I’m going to turn it over to you, give the groundwork about how we’re going to cover this too make some sense to our beloved listeners and viewers.
Robert: Well, first of all, we let me put it on my Facebook page, which is now happened with the misspelling as usual, but that’s okay. Okay, so the way we’re going to start this conversation, ladies and gentlemen, grab your notebooks, get ready to tune into these shows all the way through March, which is how we’re going to spread them out. We’re going to do two or three shows and the topic as John mentioned is we’re going to talk about the top 10 companies making real estate websites in the US. And I’m sorry we already covered this, but I am uniquely qualified to have this conversation with everybody because I’ve worked for some of these top 10 companies, Agent Image top on the list. I’ve worked for them for five years, consulted with them on and off again a little bit after that. And then, still have friends over there that work there very close to that team.
And then many of these other companies I’ve run into on trade show floors. I know the leadership, I know the owners, I know some of the sales guys. So when we start talking about not only what kind of real estate websites are they making. I can actually talk with a fair degree of expertise on who’s making these real estate websites and why are they making them, which impacts you as a real estate professional because the motivations of the producing company is going to affect the product that you get. Does that make sense to you, John?
Jonathon: It certainly does, yes.
Robert: All right, so ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, we’re going to get into what kind of real estate website should you be looking for. For a lot of this is going to be super basic, but even extremely experienced brokers and agents oftentimes don’t realize–
Jonathon: I think this is the key to it because I think this– if you’re going to listen to it, well you need to listen to all what we’re going to be discussing in these three episodes, but this beginning bit is really important. What Robert is going to discuss is, there are different types of websites for different types of agents at different times of their career, aren’t there?
Robert: Yes, very much so. And what you need is going to depend on one of those things that John just mentioned. He’s absolutely right, and I’m grateful that he’s hosted the show with me and read my content to the point and that we happen to agree on this particular point, which is–
Jonathon: There is no overall website that will be suitable for you at the beginning of your career, the middle of your career, the upper part of your career. Or if you’re moving into the luxury area, you’re going to need to probably change your provider, your website. There is no Swiss army knife that will cover. There are only recommendations, are they not Robert?
Jonathon: That’s absolutely true. So historically speaking, I’ve divided real estate websites into three categories. Now, I’ve recently added a fourth because my company Inbound REM is literally created a fourth category that didn’t previously exist with any major website company. So here’s what the categories are. You can have a branding website. These are luxury sites and a couple of companies on my list of top 10 that make exceptionally good real estate branding sites is Luxury Presence and Agent Image. Those two companies make a beautiful website. Neither company focuses on other elements that I think that real estate agents would be surprised by. They tell you that they do, but they really don’t and that is a real estate lead generation. Branding sites mostly have contact forms. They don’t usually have backup CRM or funnel systems. They’re not all in one. They’re usually just very pretty with some rudimentary tools to make other things happen.
Like Agent Image, you can do some pretty good content publishing because it’s on WordPress, but they don’t provide you any education and they don’t do anything to teach you how to do that. So unless you walk in with the skill-set, you actually won’t be able to use the tools that they have. All right, Luxury Presence is making their own content management system and I haven’t seen it but yeah, John’s making faces, which I know the people that are listening, you can’t see these faces he’s grimacing because he and I are tech guys. And if you’re listening to us that means you’re going to give us a little bit of credibility and trust us when we tell you building a CRM system from scratch is hard and even though Luxury Presence has big backing from Jade Mills and other top luxury agents, they’ve only been in business for three years.
That’s not enough time to build a really good content management system. I don’t really need to look at it to tell you that whatever they’ve got, it’s to be rudimentary so they have beautiful websites, gorgeous websites and all the top agents are flooding onto these websites like Joyce Red who’s a branding agent, like a big branding agent here in LA. And I watched her ranking that she’s had for years disappear, just disappear. All her organic SEO ranking that she’s built up over the span of 15 years and being one of the top agents in LA is gone because Luxury Presence also doesn’t focus on SEO and neither does Agent Image. They’re not going to build websites that are structured the right way, you’re right. Putting it into money terms, Joyce probably lost 250 $300,000 moving from one provider to the next. So a branding site focuses on the image and the branding. And for some luxury agents who are deep into doing listings and only doing two or three transactions a year and are selling $90 million in real estate off three transactions, branding sites are great for that audience. What do you think John? Do you think I’m off base here?
Jonathon: I don’t know what to say. I gulp smacked in 2020 I don’t know much about that company, you’re the expert on it, so I’m a bit reluctant to it. But the prior method, the description by knowing you, I can only say that I trust what you have said and written 100%. I know that’s the reality, but I am a bit gobsmacked by what you’ve just said in some ways.
Robert: Okay. So excellent, well thank you, John, I appreciate it. And so that leads us into the other categories.
Jonathon: If it hadn’t come from you, I wouldn’t believe that that was the situation in 2020.
Robert: Right, but it is.
Jonathon: Because it’s coming from you, I do believe it so I’m a bit gobsmacked.
Robert: Well, there are plenty of agents including some of the best in the world. Like Joyce’s, one of those ladies with the black book. I doubt she puts much value on our SEO. The conversation, the one conversation I ever had with her, which was like 11 years ago, she was not convinced that SEO was a major factor in anything. So maybe that’s changed. It has been 11 years and she’s on Instagram now, but that’s what it was then. So I’m making these comments as a professional who–
Jonathon: Actually that makes sense because there are loads of people, yeah, that makes sense.
Robert: Right. So lead generation, okay. Now, these sites are different than the other types of sites too. What are lead generation sites? Now, lead generation sites fall into a much broader bucket. More of the list of companies and the top 10 companies that we’re going to be discussing fall into the lead generation category. And lead generation is a little bit much of a broader, deeper topic, okay. So lead generation companies are like Sierra Interactive, Real Estate Web Masters, my company Inbound, REM BoomTown is probably the biggest, most well-known real estate website lead generation company that’s out there. Lead generation as it pertains to websites is an important distinguisher throughout this conversation.
Jonathon: I think you could even– I don’t want to confuse this, but I think you could even sub-divide that because I see your personal company, Real Estate Web Masters aimed at the higher echelon, where, and Boom Town, well they don’t know how to charge but they’re kind of, so yeah, maybe I’ve intervened and I’m talking nonsense. But in some ways, I see BoomTown a bit different to your company and Real Estate WebMaster, but I don’t know if I’m– it’s just that it came to me; how I think about it.
Robert: Well, it’s interesting because in this top 10 list, like I get asked a lot about [inaudible 13:05] which are not on the list, but they are real estate lead generation companies. And the reason I don’t include them is because they’re websites and [inaudible 13:14] too. Their websites are so limited; you might as well not even call them websites. They’re really just a framework that in cases an IDX search presentation. That’s really all it is. You’re not really going to get almost anything in terms of a unique experience on it. So yes, it’s technically a website, but really it’s just a search platform to generate leads off of and they only have one mechanism. One thing that they do, they don’t do any custom work. They don’t ever vary off their model. You buy their system, that’s it. Boom Town, Real Estate Web Masters, Inbound REM; we make changes, we have variations. There is some customization which makes it fall more into what I considered it to be–
Jonathon: Well, I suppose the reason why; hopefully, I’m not confusing the listeners and viewer. The main reason I’ve just realized why I chirped in is that your company is about utilizing the power of organic SEO content generation, and to some level, Real Estate Webmasters is about that. When it comes to BoomTown there notability is using Google and paid search, so I see that as a fundamentally different model to you and Real Estate Webmasters.
Robert: I would agree and you’re absolutely right, those are subcategories. So you have the broader category of lead generation, which to me personally, I would say all of those websites fall into that category. But then you say, how do we generate leads and believe it or not, there’s a massive distinction. You are absolutely correct. Real Estate Webmasters does more of an organic PPC blend; they just make good converting websites. We focus on both of those now as well, but we really try to talk about like inbound SEO much more than any other company out there by far; we focus on that.
And then you have the other companies which focus on direct marketing, like search marketing, where you’re always going to pay an additional fee and drive that traffic into the website platform. Like, Sync is like that, Bold Leads; they only have one way to get traffic to them. BoomTown does to their credit have two ways. Their websites are made so well that they actually get a very small trickle of organic traffic usually over like in the next like the second year or something. So, they actually do get organic but they don’t focus on it. They don’t have long conversations with their clients about it, nothing. So, it’s definitely not their primary mission to get traffic to their websites that way.
Jonathon: Hopefully I haven’t confused you, listeners and viewers, I’m sure Robert won’t, but I probably will. But we’re just saying that in this category, which is a slightly bigger category. They are sub-categories that you got to be aware of. And by the way, does Boom Towns CRM, is it their own built system or are they using something like WordPress?
Robert: It is.
Jonathon: Their own system?
Robert: They have their own system. And for those of you who are trying to get to the footnotes version of the call, I’m going to make this real simple for you. BoomTown has the best in class. Not only do they have their own built-in CRM, they have one that’s good for teams. They have a person that they assign to you. I do have to say this; I am not anywhere nearly as expensive as BoomTown. BoomTown is also by themselves in terms of costs. BoomTown and Real Estate Webmasters are at the top of the marketplace by a wide margin. You have people like me; I’m in the middle of the market and then you have them. I mean, it’s $1,500 to license the Boom Town platform; that does not count advertising or external expenses. That’s just to get you started. So everybody that’s– but they are best in class. You get what you pay for by mind measurement. And I think that they have the best CRM all-inclusive system and they certainly have the best team management system as it connects into that one.
Jonathon: I would say you have a lot of players. They’re one of the more reputable players with a decent reputation and I don’t think they mislead people and their business practices and the company ethos is one of the better ones. We’re going to go for our break, Robert, we’re coming back and we delve some more into this fascinating subject.
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Jonathon: We’re coming back. We’re delving into this very complicated, well not complicated but interesting article from my co-host Robert Newman. So I interrupted a little bit, hopefully, I haven’t confused things even more; back to what you were saying about BoomTown and some of these others in this category that you were discussing.
Robert: Well that category is lead generation, so now we’re going to stop that for a second. I’ve also told people who’s on the list and why and not, so Bold Leads could also theoretically. Bold Leads, Sync, Kavi Corp; they all fall into straight-up lead generation and I don’t consider them to be website makers. I consider them to be landing page makers, which is different than websites. So they’re not on my list of top 10 guys, even though they do fall into real estate lead generation. So the last two categories on my list are search IDX websites, and then, finally the content-driven sites of which I can also summarize it. There are really only two people focusing on making a content driven real estate website. And that’s Easy Agent Pro and Inbound, REM, the company that I founded. Those are the two guys or two companies that are out there trying to make it easier and better and more understandable for you to publish content for real estate specifically on a website, and that’s what we focus on
Jonathon: Yeah, I see why you’ve done that. My only feedback about that is that you’re in very different price. And a lot of my ad I’ve ticked off Robert because I know he hasn’t mentioned about Mail-Right. He says he’s going to change that, but the reason I see why you did that, but I really see the problem; it is not a problem, it’s just that you got to be aware of it. Easy agent pro, they provide a lot of education and say do you, and then they provide a fixed amount for the website and then I set it up and then they provide education. Some are of their clients, they will provide content. But when you read at the price level and when you’re aware, which I don’t want to that they are misleading people because they’re not, but that content which they provide in their providing to all the people of that pricing plan level.
Jonathon: So where you with your agents, your providing unique content that has much more value in SEO terms and also you educate and work with your client in a much more customized way which has to be represented in a much higher price level then Easy Agent Pro. Am I waffling or is that making sense?
Jonathon: It’s totally correct, but I just want to give the guys Easy Agent Pro a prop where they deserve, which is one thing that they’ve done and I feel like they’ve done better than me, John is. When you log in to their dashboard and you look at like the WordPress dashboard, you see all these; they branded their own categories like they call things like Insta pages and they have these little brand names for doing something that you and I would find quite common. However, what they did that was really intuitive is a lot of real estate agents, unlike you and me, have never logged into a real estate like WordPress dashboard; never, not once, not ever. So when they log in and they see something that’s a little bit more clearly identified than a page or post, it’s like, the first time I walked into WordPress I was like, what the hell is the difference between a page and post for crying out loud? You see there are things that aren’t intuitive that you and I have gotten used to that I don’t think that the common user has gotten used to. And the Easy Agent Pro guys get a real good job–
Jonathon: I think you’re spot on there. I think the two areas is the customize is the one area I was going to use the word dismiss, but that would be [inaudible00:23:00]. I just wasn’t really aware of my consciousness which you’re pointing out, which is the customization when you log into their system; they’ve spent time customizing that and making it more friendly. But the main thing that they didn’t creed us about is that Taylor and his team have produced enormous amount of educational content; pretty high standard. Taylor has been on the show being that I built Mail-Right really as a competitor, he would feel probably that he wouldn’t want to come back on the show for understandable reasons which is not to wish him or his team ill because it’s a big industry, so there’s room for multiple players. They have done a fantastic job and normally the quality is pretty high about what they’re talking about, isn’t it?
Robert: It is. It really is. I’m a huge fan of Taylor Zay and his team. I’m a huge fan of the content they produce. I’m a huge fan of the level of education that they provide. I would put Easy Agent Pro into a beginner’s website extraordinaire. And honestly, I refer many people to it that want to work into a product like Inbound REM.
Jonathon: I think what you got to be aware of listeners and viewers, it’s a good product from a respectable team, but you’ve got to understand what you’re buying into. And what you’re buying into is WordPress, a customized back-end system and a lot of education. But, you’re going to have to educate yourself and you’re really can have to dive deep into the Easy Agent Pro’s educational resources and really have the time and commitment to educate. Where I feel they fall down a little bit is that on their upper plan levels, the content which they are providing will not be unique, will not have a lot of SEO value, will not drive a lot of traffic to your website, but on the more basic pricing levels, I think they do offer a lot of value. But you got to be aware that you’re going to have to do the donkey work.
Robert: Yeah, I agree. I agree with everything that you just said. So just to recap guys, and then we’re probably go– do we need to go to bonus? Are we good? We’re still good on time?
Jonathon: We’ve got another five minutes.
Robert: Okay. So the four categories again are lead generation, branding, search IDX and content guys. So I’m going to just for those of you who are stuck with us this entire time, I’m going to read off the name of the top 10 companies and put them into these categories so that you can start to do a little bit of research on your own. We’ll do some bonus notes and probably start to get into deeper discussions in each one of these companies. But here it is to start with, here’s the list of the top who I feel are the top 10 real estate website companies making real estate websites in 2020.
And mind you, there are qualifications to get on this list. You have to have a lot of experience; you have to build a certain number of websites. I, for instance, have 12 years of experience and I’ve built a few hundred, maybe a few thousand websites over my career. And most of the people on the list are the same way. Agent [inaudible 26:37] has 30,000 websites and they lead the list. They are the number one real estate website maker by a million miles, so they’re top on the list. Number two is BoomTown number three is Denko and [inaudible 26:50] which is interesting because John had said he had never heard of them, but yeah.
Jonathon: I think I know a few of these players and Denko has never come on my radar.
Robert: And they’d been making real estate websites for close to 15 years and they’ve got quite a few thousand installs and a lot of people who have been with them for a very long time. Easy Agent Pro is on the list, which a lot of people know because Taylor has done such a great job at representing their company online. So, most of you will have heard of them and that’s because–
Jonathon: I would say he is one of the– I think when it comes to knowledge-based on a wide spectrum; he’s one of the top people in the industry that understands digital marketing on a broad level. Would you agree?
Robert: I’ve totally, totally. Inbound REM is on the list which is my company. You have Placeter which is the biggest company out there.
Jonathon: Do you think they were built in that app or they were backed by VC money, wasn’t it? They’re based in Boston; I forgot the name of the founder. He was a bright guy, although I think there were two founders.
Robert: Three founders.
Jonathon: They really seem to gone quiet, do you think they were building it out when they were hoping for a [inaudible 28:14] because it is VC based. Do you think they’ve lost their way a little bit?
Robert: I think that what happened was they expanded so fast that they did not at all build up their infrastructure to match their install base. They even acquired companies and acquired thousands of customers by acquiring these companies. But then all of like, I started to see so many terrible reviews about service, can’t get ahold of people getting bad answers because they’re probably expanding a service team without educating them. Like, just terrible, terrible, terrible reviews and not just one or two; hundreds. And so I think that what happened was they probably slowed everything down so that they could build up their internal infrastructure.
Jonathon: and their pricing model was, you know, the prices were ridiculous for what they were offering. I presumed they were just using their VC money to try and build up market share. So I’m not surprised what you’re telling me because I understood what they were trying to do, but I saw what were the problems that might occur about them going down that road.
Robert: Yeah. And some of those problems definitely occurred. Playster does not get a strong review from me, but in terms of start a website, you can buy for $5, if you’re a member of NAR, you can still do that, which is incredible. So yeah, but you’re going to pay 80 or $90 a month and you’re not going to get great service. So actually they don’t make like they’re on my list, Jonathan because of how many installs they have. That’s really it. They have 10 installs.
Jonathon: I totally understand.
Robert: There are a lot of places for websites out there. So the next on the list is; look like I was actually reading my own article again, which I’ve done like a thousand times, so Real Estate Webmasters, Real Geeks is on the list. A new company for 2020 is on the list, which we’ve already mentioned earlier, but most people will not have heard it. The people listening to our show, this will be their big introduction; ‘drum roll’ Luxury Presence located here in California, in Santa Monica. Also backed by VC money, but this one is backed by Luxury Real Estate Agents who were looking for another solution to a branding website other than Agent Image because they had a lock on the market for like the last 15 years.
There’s been nobody that really, and or you could go find somebody to build your custom website for an extraordinary amount of money that most real estate agents would not consider spending. And then last but not least, which has been on my list now for two years and it’s a rock-solid company as far as I can tell, is Sierra Interactive. So those are my top 10 companies; Sierra Interactive has made a lot of movement because they’re taking over all the unhappy customers from Real Estate Webmasters. So actually Sierra Interactive has grown quite a bit, but they’re really just-
Jonathon: Sierra, they are not based in Northern California.
Jonathon: Right. To finish off, well actually we got to 31 minutes so we’re just going to have to continue the discussion in part two, which you’d be able to see sometime in February. We’ve got a lot to discuss. We’ve only scratched the surface, this surface in this discussion. Hopefully, my interruptions haven’t been too confusing. So Robert, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to?
Robert: They can find out more about me and they can find out more about this article on inboundrem.com.
Jonathon: That’s great. And if you want to find out more about the Mail-Rights system, it’s really easy. Go to the site and you can book a demo with me or give us a call and you will get through to me if I’m available and we can have a chat. We’ll see it next week where we probably going to have a guest. I’m pretty sure we got a great guest next week. We got some great people coming on the show in February and March as well. It should be fantastic resource for you listeners and viewers. We’ll see you next week, bye