Have you been wondering about what your return on investment would be from the Zillow Premier Agent program? Is it worth your time, money and effort?
The short answer is: Yes. It is.
But there’s a catch. Zillow Premier Agents are only going to see that sort of return if they possess three particular traits critical to success.
Before we get to what those traits are, let’s talk for just a moment about what Zillow Premier Agent is, how it works, and of course, how much it costs. After all, if you don’t know what you get and what you’re going to pay, it’s hard to determine whether it will be worth it, right?
Zillow Premier Agent: What It Is & How it Works
We all know that Zillow is the dominant real estate platform on the internet. Love it or hate it, each month, close to 200 million unique visitors spend time on Zillow’s website looking at homes, reading content, and searching for professionals.
Zillow Premier Agent is Zillow’s answer to local agents who want to advertise on this platform. By paying for branding and exposure across Zillow’s network of websites, primarily next to properties in zip codes they have chosen, Zillow Premier Agents are positioned to be contacted when Zillow’s website visitors have real estate questions or want to set up a showing.
Zillow harnesses the power of exposure from its vast audience and translates that into leads that Premier Agents take and convert into sales.
Though there are negative feelings from some members of the real estate community about the quality of these leads, and some debate over Zillow’s long term role in the real estate process, on one topic there is no debate: During at least one point in their home search, most buyers visit Zillow.
What Does Zillow Premier Agent Cost?
The cost of Zillow Premier Agent is determined by two major factors: The average home price in your chosen zip code and the number of other agents competing for space. Using Zillow Premier’s cost estimator for Michigan, for example, we found monthly ad budgets ranging from just shy of $150 to close to $1,000.
If the average home price is high, Zillow charges more (since the expected GCI is higher.) As interest from real estate professionals in a zip code grows, so does the cost.
We used one of Zillow’s tools for helping agents determine where they want to advertise and how much they want to spend. The table below outlines what various budgets would be necessary to acquire five monthly leads in five different communities in the state of Michigan.
If this is still feeling a little confusing, try thinking about the Uber model. If it is 1:30 AM on a Wednesday and nobody is looking for an Uber, you won’t have much competition from other riders, so your costs will be low. But, if the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just let out and it’s raining, you are going to have LOTS of competition, so prices are going to be much higher.
What Do Zillow Premier Agents Get For Their Money?
Zillow Premier Agents enjoy lots of benefits by being a premium member. Yes, leads in your inbox, but in addition to that you get a bunch of other perks. Fantastic exposure on ZIllow and other Zillow platforms, an IDX website, a CRM, and exclusive ad placement options, just to name a few.
The primary deliverable on the Zillow Premier Agent platform is leads. Now that we understand the ZPA pricing model a little better, we know that the exact number of leads is going to depend on market, competition, and budget.
Based on the table above, we can see that agents in Michigan who are looking to add five new leads a month can typically expect to pay anywhere from $29.40 to $182.60 per lead.
Clearly, there are multiple factors that determine your lead volume. But, Zillow’s estimation tools are intuitive and easy to understand, so making a game plan is easy. This starts with a phone call to a Zillow sales rep to talk about options available in your area. From there, the sales rep can unlock all your planning tools in your Zillow Premier Agent account, and you’ll be on your way to Zillow Premier Agent status in no time.
In addition to lead generation, Zillow Premier Agents also enjoy a number of premium benefits. Below is an overview of eight additional benefits.
Benefit #1: Market Presence
The number of monthly Zillow users is staggering. According to the Zillow Investor Analysis, there were almost 200 million unique monthly visitors to Zillow in the third quarter of 2018 alone.
Such a dense population of your target audience makes being a premium service provider a valuable and visible asset. Just about every realtor working today has at least a free profile; it makes sense to consider a premium presence.
Benefit #2: Zillow Premier Agent Reviews
Even as a non-Premier member, real estate agents can collect reviews on Zillow for free. However, Premier Agents have positioning on the site that highlights those reviews and makes them easier to get to, upping your social cred among users.
Reviews consistently rank near the top of the list of reasons why consumers choose a particular realtor.
Benefit #3: Exposure on Other Zillow Platforms
In addition to Zillow’s flagship site, Zillow Premier Agents also have premium placement on Zillow’s network sites: Trulia, StreetEasy, and RealEstate.com. Though the traffic on these sites is considerably lower than Zillow’s, they do offer further exposure and more bang for your Zillow buck.
Benefit #4: You Can Study Your Zillow Premier Agent Competition
Unlike other premium services, Zillow Premier Agents have access to their competition’s profiles AND how much they are spending in each zip code. Is there someone in your area that is absolutely crushing it? Head over to their Zillow profile and then into the ad tools to see what they are doing!
Imitation is the purest form of flattery, and also could make you some extra bucks. You don’t have to rely on the Zillow help sections to craft a great presence. You can study EVERY great profile on the site and figure out what will work for you.
Benefit #5: An IDX Website With Custom Domain Name
Even though most agents who are considering Zillow Premier Agent already have a web presence, getting additional, *ahem* real estate on the world wide web is never a bad thing.
If you aren’t happy with the performance of your current website, you can easily migrate your domain name over to your Zillow site and take advantage of the Zillow branding and SEO work to drive customer traffic.
Benefit #6: Featured Exposure in the Agent Finder
Many consumers use Zillow as a place to not only look at homes, but to look for an agent.
The Agent Finder is so important to Zillow that it has its own spot in the top navigation along with the likes of Buy and Sell. Premier Agents enjoy premium top line profile placement in searches for their community where they advertise.
Benefit #7: Access to the Zillow CRM
The Zillow CRM isn’t going to blow you away with its form or functionality, other than its ability to seamlessly integrate with the Zillow Premier Agent App and flawlessly transfer all your Zillow leads into its system, every time.
As a Premier Agent, you get access to this system.
Benefit #8: Enhanced Ad Options on Zillow and Facebook with Premier Agent Direct
Enhanced ad options, available only to Premier Agents, allow you the opportunity to place ads directly in the search results when someone is searching for a property on Zillow. These ads are then coordinated with Facebook ads for those same users.
Ever wonder why you see ads for blue jeans from The Gap after you’ve browsed their site looking for new pants? Same technology, just put to work for you.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits, let’s get back to what traits are essential to being successful on Zillow.
3 Essential Traits of Successful Zillow Premier Agents
The Zillow Premier Agent program clearly delivers a lot of benefit to its users. But, not everyone is going to be successful with ZPA.
Remember earlier, when we said that in order to succeed, you needed to have the three traits critical to Zillow success? Let’s dive into those right now.
1. Critical Mass Budget
Unfortunately, while there is no real ceiling to investing in the Zillow Premier Agent platform, there is definitely a floor.
Depending on where you are looking to advertise, the average home price, and the agent activity, there is a minimum amount that you can spend, and even that minimum amount might not get you the results you want.
It all comes back to the expected lead volume for what your budget will afford you. For instance, let’s say you can only afford an expected one lead a month in your preferred zip code. If you are only receiving 12 leads a year and your expected conversion rate is 5%, it is questionable whether or not you will close a sale from Zillow.
That being said, because of the flexibility of the Zillow pricing model, there is usually a way around this roadblock!
Try building your Zillow business in a different zip code first, one with some lower prices and less realtor demand. Your GCI may not be quite as high, but as long as your ROI is positive, you can take the cash flow from this new area and use it to continue to build, or save it until you have enough to wade into the waters of the more expensive area.
For example, in the Northern Michigan town of Traverse City, it takes an estimated $743 per month to acquire five leads in the zip code 49686. However, in the neighboring zip code of 49696, five leads would take only $672.
2. A Great Profile
In a lot of ways, the Zillow Premier Agent program is like online dating. People are searching for others in a particular area, they arrive in a list, when someone catches your eye you click on them to learn more. But, when you get to their profile, if there is nothing that impresses you, you move on to the next.
This is why a fantastic profile is critical to success. Complete, dynamic profiles rich with information, reviews, and content consistently outperform those who can’t find the time to complete this step.
So, what makes a great profile? Let’s take a look at one together.
Meet Craig Hartranft. Craig is from Lancaster County, PA, and his Zillow Premier Agent Profile is KILLING IT.
Craig’s profile has got a number of great things going for it.
First of all, he and his team have taken the time (a lot of it from the looks of it) and claimed ALL their past sales. With more than 2,000 transactions listed on Zillow, his track record of success is easy for consumers to see.
Craig has also made soliciting great reviews a priority, as evidenced by his more than 300 reviews, none of them less than four out of five stars. In many cases, Craig has responded to these reviews, thanking the reviewer, further demonstrating his commitment to engaging and connecting with his clients.
Craig’s profile narrative is well written and has a clear message. He talks about numbers without getting bogged down by them. He takes full advantage of formatting options, strategically bolding text he wants consumers’ eyes drawn to, and uses hyperlinks well, including linking readers to his own external website.
Finally, Craig supplements his profile info with high quality video content complete with the Zillow branding throughout. This reinforces his image as not just an expert, but an expert partnering with and implicitly endorsed by Zillow.
3. Excellent Follow Up Skills
We are in a new age of customer service, and the cornerstone of that new age is stamped with the words “ON DEMAND.” Gone are the days when a customer could write an email with a question about something and be ok with an answer twenty-four hours later.
We now live in a world of AI chatbots, where cellphones are always on, and email is always within arm’s reach. Most real estate professionals are trying to return calls and messages within the hour, the best are talking to clients within five minutes of their inquiry.
Using Zillow’s Live Leads Feature
Zillow has embraced this culture of immediacy with their new LIVE LEADS feature, connecting potential buyers or sellers in some markets directly with Premier Agents over the phone, taking out the pesky communication in between.
You may be thinking, “I’m a WORKING agent! There is no way that I can drop everything and consistently return calls in five minutes!” Don’t worry, there’s an app for that.
Companies like Ruby Receptionist provide virtual assistance to agents who can’t always answer the phone. Sure, there’s a cost to this (Ruby Receptionist has plans for as little as $10 per day), but if you build that cost into the requirements of success for the platform, it can be a viable option.
Email and Text Leads
Many of your Zillow leads are going to contact you via email and text. If you happen to be with another client or simply can’t respond right away on the phone, there are lots of email and text options through some great real estate focused CRMs. Tools like WiseAgent and BoomTown offer a way to get back to those leads right away with pre-prepared email responses and even automated texting services.
These services let your prospective clients know that you and your team value them and will be in contact soon, even when your focus is elsewhere.
Is Your Lead Ready to Start Looking?
When you do have someone who is ready to buy, or at least ready to look, moving them from from the prospective to the active category is a critical step.
Scripts are a great way to save time, hone your communication skills, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and make every call a little better than the last one.
Lucky for us, Zillow provides lots of these scripts in the Agent Toolkit area of their Resources section. Here’s a little snippet of one from their “first contact” section:
Agent: Hi, it’s [your name] from [brokerage name]. I just received your inquiry about [address] on Zillow. Are you interested in looking at this property?
Buyer: Yes, I’d love to take a look.
Agent: Excellent! How far along are you in the buying process?
Buyer: [Provides some details]
Agent: That sounds great. [Provide some details about your background and expertise] When are you available to take a look at this property?
Buyer: [States availability]
Agent: OK, [day, time] works for me. One more thing, just so I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes. You aren’t working with another agent right now, right?
Agent: OK, see you then.
Luke Warm Leads are Still Leads
Remember, Zillow leads are typically luke warm. Lots of sales professionals would scoff at the 5% conversion rate we’ve mentioned in this article, but many of the agents we have spoken to have echoed this same number back to us as consistent with their Zillow experience.
This is why your lead nurturing skills are equally as important as your follow up speed.
The Best Way To Nurture Your Long Term Leads
You’ve worked hard for your leads, you’ve paid good money for them, are you just going to discard them if they aren’t ready to buy or sell immediately? Definitely not.
Nurturing these leads is also critical to your Zillow success. Email drip campaigns can be originated in the Zillow CRM or another external CRM we’ve already mentioned, schedule times to reach out and touch base, put them in contact with others in your professional network to start talking about financing, moving costs, etc.
Not everyone arrives at your doorstep at the end of their buyer’s journey, so up your salesmanship game and keep them moving down the funnel.
Bringing It All Together
The landscape in real estate marketing is constantly changing. There are always new players, new approaches, and new ideas, but Zillow has remained a visible and important part of this conversation.
Until Zillow’s dominance as the go-to consumer real estate source wanes, a presence in the Zillow Premier program is a valuable asset for any serious realtor. As long as you have the critical mass budget to get started, an impeccable profile, and the follow up skills to convert your leads into clients, investment in Zillow Premier Agent is a no-brainer.
Ready to make the leap? Visit Zillow Premier Agent’s website to see what zip codes are available in your area, and how this lead generation platform can fit into your marketing strategy for 2019.