Everywhere today there are signs of failure, countless articles on various ideas for motivation, reaching more customers or just staying in business. Along the same lines it is important to note where companies, marketers and salespeople have gone wrong even with the best intentions. Starting this online illustration off is a group of Coldwell Banker offices within a particular region who were sold the idea to ‘turn off’ all of their websites and individual online marketing to use only one website they could all share.
In terms of search engine marketing a website should be considered an online billboard where a single billboard is only capable of reaching a small target audience on a specific location of the road. If buyers drive home on the road your billboard happens to be located then you have the opportunity to present your message to those buyers. Anyone who drives home another way or lives in another part of town will never see the billboard nor will they ever have a chance to see your advertising. A website works much the same way in that a single website will never rank very well or be listed very high in a wide range of buyer search results.
Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) rank websites higher or lower based upon the content, traffic, number of links and related websites and even website locations. Thus a single website will never be ‘everything to every search engine’ and will never rank highly for more than a few specific search terms or keywords. With Coldwell Banker offices abandoning ten (10) individual websites for the local offices that previously contained specific information for each region or area to all share a single template website the local offices lost the ability to prospective reach home buyers, sellers and relocation customers on search engines. The intention may have been to share resources or lower marketing costs but the result was a loss of 90% of their potential online reach within all search engines.
One of the specific Coldwell Banker offices hosted the website at our website hosting facility with an average monthly Unique Users (unique visitors or prospective clients) of 4,400 and 882 active home buyers who had created accounts within the website to search for or save homes for sale in the local market. The monthly investment to maintain the website was $150 which equates to 3 cents per unique user (potential customer) per month before considering the 882 active buyers who created an account on the website.
The website was ranked # 1 on Google and Yahoo for specific search terms pertinent to the locations of offices such as ‘Coldwell Banker Overland Park’ or ‘Coldwell Banker Kansas City’ branding the company to thousands of home buyers and sellers every month (important to note there are several Coldwell Banker offices in the area but this website showed up #1). The website was turned off, all 882 active customers with home search accounts on the website were kicked off without notice and the website is no longer ranked on any search engine within the first two pages.
Somewhere along the way a salesperson from a website design company sold a local Coldwell Banker Relocation office on the idea that they should design a single website for all of the local offices to share. Maybe the idea was to save money, maybe they wanted to try and compete with Reece and Nichols who typically has 50% of the local market listings and uses one website or maybe it was just so the relocation company could get a fee for every single home sold by any local Coldwell Banker office. Whatever the reason was the local Coldwell Banker offices lost a tremendous opportunity to reach more customers through their individual websites (online billboards) and proved there is more than one way to lose business in a tough market.
Robert ‘Dot Com’ Jackson
Internet * Technology Expert