Our Favorite Tools
Technology is changing every industry. It’s no longer an option whether or not to use tech tools in your business.
At some point, we will stop talking about “technology” as even being technology, they will simply be part of everything we do.
While the tools I use in my Las Vegas real estate business change and grow, there are many that have been with me year over year.
I’m always looking into and test driving new tools. I adopt what I love and that’s what I bring to you. As a real estate trainer, speaker, and marketer, it matters that I can bring you proven methods I use in my businesses on a regular basis.
Real Estate Agent Website
What it is: A place to attract customers, list services, and validate a brand
What it Does: Answers Questions, Provides Information, Solves Problems, Offers Products and Services, Captures Leads
Where to Get it: Check out this list of real estate website developers and products, and contact Ballen Brands, My company, to discuss how we might help you with your goals.
My Las Vegas real estate website is built on WordPress. Like many Realtors®, I went through many websites before finding one that worked well for me.
The challenge I had with broker provided websites was the fact that they were owned by the brokerage, and if I ever made a change, the website wouldn’t go with me.
I experienced this when I left Coldwell Banker in 2010 and joined Keller Williams.
Boxed solutions, I was finding, were limited. There were many real estate website designers that offered their platform that didn’t really grow as I did.
Even the WordPress websites were limiting how many pages and plugins I could add. [A plugin is an
At Keller Williams, I jumped on board with a few of the providers they were working with, and found the same challenges.
Today, Keller Williams is operating as a tech company building and acquiring their own software brands. It will be interesting to see where they go with websites.
There is no word on that just yet.
As my skills as a Search Engine Ranking focused content creator grew, I became more frustrated with the limitations of 3rd party websites and began to build my own on WordPress.
Along the journey of building my own, many other agents began learning my method and wanted similar websites.
This led to build my BREW and offer it to other real estate agents through my real estate marketing company, Ballen Brands.
BREW stands for Ballen Real Estate Websites and is a WordPress powered website offering IDX home listings for buyers and instant home values for sellers. [IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange and is the tool that displays real estate listings on our website. ]
We built the drag and drop block editor for convenience to the real estate agent that wants to create clean, easy to digest content that appeals to the web visitor as well as the search engines.
Some of the features include:
These headings automatically become part of a table of contents when you drop in the content block. While you can select to have them not included, generally these headings make for a great experience for the user.
They are often used as a best practice for search engine optimization and can include important keywords.
With the new gutenberg editor, we can now select multiple sizes for our fonts. [Video Link will open a Youtube Video] with a sneak peek into this platform.
Here’s an example of the H2 tags from this blog post.
Instead of reading the entire article, they can choose the item they want and go right to that segment of the content.
This is a huge win on mobile. We have tested and measured these elements with our heat maps.
This content block allows you to automatically add a Google Map or Video etc. that will publish in the correct size for your page.
The new Gutenberg editor also offers the use of html and embed codes.
Dynamic Table Menu
These tables are created from your page hierarchy and the category you chose. You can select how the tables appear including a drop-down or selectable list instead of columns.
My experience in creating online leads for real estate shows that buyers appreciate these tables when they show homes by price, location, feature etc
We simply integrate the tool for you as it is something I teach in my trainings. (This is the free version. You can upgrade your own YOAST account if you would like premium features).
Yoast, or WordPress SEO is a WordPress Plugin that adds an SEO guide offering hints to best practices for those that want to rank on the search engines.
Intro to Excerpt to Meta
We found much of the SEO or standard WP theme best practices to be repetitive. We added a simple intro box that automatically inserts the words into the excerpt and then to the meta description creating a unique meta description for each.
We tested many IDX providers and eventually chose IDX broker for its robust customization options, and lead registration settings. We also chose IDX Broker because it shared the IP address which is important for tracking sources of leads and our top lead generating pages.
The features of IDX Broker are limitless and you can learn more about them on this page with “how to” style links and videos.
⭐️ Get IDX Broker and Save the Sign Up Fee
Instant Home Valuations
As much as we want to “boo” Zillow for creating the zestimate, we can’t change it. Sellers now know that they can go online to see what their home might be worth.
It’s a value item, and they want it.
We chose Listings To Leads for our home valuation tool. While you need to have your own licensed account with ListingsToLeads, we integrate the tool for you with your BREW.
We integrate analytic tools such as Clicky. You will need your own licensed use of Clicky. We integrate it with your BREW and show you how to use it in our training curriculum. You’ll learn more about Clicky Below.
Reviews are important for any brand, and for real estate agents, it’s not any less true. While reviews can be collected and displayed in many locations, having reviews on your own website should be a priority.
Whether or not you appear on the search engines by keyword search, you must appear for your brand. You can imagine that a seller who needs to sell his home interviews more than one agent quite often.
During this process, they may visit your website to learn more.
Most likely, they will do a simple Google search. What shows up when someone Google’s your name or brand? Are you appearing? Are you appearing WITH other real estate agents (like Zillow) and Yelp?
While those can be helpful, it is always better to work on ranking your own website higher. This is where you control your brand.
The BREW has a review element where you can collect and display reviews. Look up Lori Ballen Team and take a look at our reviews page for example
What it is: An Analytics Tool
What it Does: Reports Website Data in a Dashboard
Clicky is an analytics tool that is great for a quick glance or deep dive into how your website’s content is performing. It reveals user information based on the IP address.
It measures traffic, reveals some of the keywords people are finding your website with and offers much more data such as:
- Bounce Rates
- Visitor Location
- Visitor Device
- Time spent on the website
- Entry and exit pages
- Lead Source
- Heat maps
- Top Visited Pages on your Website
- Referrers and Links
While Google Analytics shows a much larger picture, we find most real estate agents don’t care to pour over that much data.
At Ballen Brands, we use Clicky to collect data for reporting important lead generation information.
For my real estate team, Clicky is how we track where our leads are coming from, which content performs best, and where we can improve and scale.
What it is: An Automation tool
What it Does: Creates automated Processes from your formulas
Zapier is an automation tool that allows you to create “zaps” with “if this”, “then that” formulas.
You set up your desired channels you will be using on Zapier. Once they are connected, you can build your zaps. Keep in mind that you will need a zap for each individual channel.
There is a free version, and you’ll need to upgrade when you need more zaps than the free version offers.
Examples of How we use Zapier
- If Youtube Video, Then Facebook Business Page
- If Youtube Video, Then Create a Blog Post on WordPress
- If WordPress Published Blog, Then Share to Twitter
- If Youtube Video, Then Publish to Pinterest
- If Photo on FB personal page, then publish to Instagram
- If Youtube Video THEN Temi (automatically orders a transcript)
- If Temi (Transcript in), then Email (assistant) (Then she knows to create content etc. )
- If FB business page Post, then Tweet and include these hashtags
- If WordPress Blog then
poston Blog on additional WP, Blogger etc.
- If WordPress then Buffer
- If Youtube then Email (this would go to your team that is doing other things with the video)
WordPressDRAFT blog post, then add to spreadsheet
- If Facebook Ad Lead, then Infusionsoft
What it is: A CRM, database, email platform, Sales Funnel – What isn’t it?
What it Does: Collects data allowing you to work best with your contacts
Infusionsoft is much more than a CRM, yet that’s where it begins. It’s a robust customer relationship manager and database. It integrates with 3rd party developers allowing for much more than just email.
Our Infusionsoft campaigns are triggered by user actions or tags that important from the lead registration directly.
They incorporate automated emails and text messages through a 3rd party text dialer integration (Turbodial).
Based on how the customer responds to the text or email, they are moved into additional campaigns, unsubscribed, or sent to a our sales team through an opportunity and task – all automatically.
The platform includes sales pipelines. Each user has a fully customized dashboard catered to what’s most important to them including appointments, contacts to reach out to, and tasks as well as important numbers.
With Infusionsoft, forms and landing pages become lead funneling tools.
All emails and text messages are stored in the account manager.
What it is: A data reporting tool
What it Does: Works with Infusionsoft data to create data dashboards
The only way to scale a real estate business is to know what is working.
What it is: An Auto Dialer
What it Does: Works with software such as Infusionsoft to send text and voice blasts to the customer. Provides multiple phone numbers for teams.
What it is: A Search Engine Tool featuring SEM and SEO tools
What it Does: Tracks and reports traffic, ads and content performance
This is a tool for those that love SEO. Ranking on the search engines is a lot harder today than it was several years ago. While I never “gamed” the search engines, it was done and is harder to do today.
Today, ranking on the search engines has a lot to do with your content, on and off page.
SEMrush is a tool that tracks, measures, and inspires!
- website audits
- backlink strategy
- SEO suggests for content
- Keyword research
- Pay per click research
- Tracking SERP features such as rich snippets
- Organic traffic ideas
💡 Try SEMRush for tracking and monitoring your website rankings
What it is: A video search engine
What it Does: Displays Videos
How to Get it: It’s Free! Youtube.com
All of my brands incorporate YouTube in our content marketing strategy. I’d say we are less active today on the real estate estate side as we have been actively building the marketing company.
In 2012, when Short Sales were taking over Vegas, we took to YouTube and built an information channel all about short sales.
This helped us with several things
- Gained Trust
- Built Brand Awareness
- Generated Leads through Calls to Action
- Got our message out
- Videos became part of our email campaign
- Videos became part of our blogs
- Videos became part of our pre-listing presentation
- Generated traffic to our website
- Generated traffic to our social pages
- Helped Google figure out what our website was about
- Ranked on the search engines
- Videos used in PPC campaigns
- Attracted more clients
I’m a believer that video is necessary
Here are some ideas on videos you can create on YouTube
- Hyperlocal Information about your area
- Real Estate Listings
- News and Updates
- Real Estate Market Reports
- Story Telling (Talk about how you solved a problem for our client
- New Hire Introductions
- Interviews: You can interview your preferred partners AND have them interview you!
- Videos that would interest your clients, attend a local meeting, HOA, election, class, school event etc. and share to YouTube (where permitted)
- Fun family videos (show you are human)
- Informative “Here’s what an appraisal is” etc.
- Drone Videos of communities, neighborhoods
- Voice over to Blogs
- Podcasts (Audio) with transcripts
- Quick information
slide showstyle videos (Lumen5)
What it is: An optimization tool for YouTube
What it Does: Provides tips and suggestions for optimizing videos on
As our YouTube channels grow, we find the need for more tools. Back to my SEO roots, I focus on ranking my YouTube videos as well as blogs and website pages.
I added TubeBuddy for:
- Tag Data
- Thumbnail Creator
- End Screen Import from other Video
- Card Templates
What it is: A tool to measure user interaction with content
What it Does: Shows scrolls, plays, and clicks
We have played with a variety of heatmap tools. This is something we use frequently across all businesses.
Heatmaps allow us to see how a user is interacting with our pages. We can measure clicks and where they scroll.
This allows us to remove under performing calls to action, images, videos, and text and improve the overall user experience.
Heatmaps have been essential in my design of our BREW websites. Knowing exactly what visitors on our real estate websites like or don’t like led me to our ideal features such as our dynamic link boxes (tables).
Google My Business
What it is: A Search Engine Branded Opportunity
What it Does: Displays information about your business
Every real estate agent should have a Google My Business account set up. It works with your regular google log in. This is where you collect reviews.
Many real estate agents collect their reviews on Zillow. We prefer to collect them on Google and Facebook along with our own website, of course.
Google My business does more than potentially display you on a local MAP of real estate agents.
When someone google’s your name or brand, A panel will appear on the SERP (search engine results page). This panel will tell a story about your brand including:
- Your Review Score (aggregating with FB reviews)
- Your Location
- Images and Descriptions
- POSTS (Yes, you can post here. You can change your post every 7 days or leave up an event until it occurs. Think about an open house or client party!)
- Questions: You can post your own Q & A or answer questions others ask about your page
- Social Links
- Website Link
When we get a review on Google, we are notified of the review. We add it to our website and share the review on social media channels.
We get these reviews through our Infusionsoft text / email campaigns as well as creating a culture of reviews.
My sales team is clear that a 5 star review is the best thing that can happen during or after a transaction and that it’s expected. I don’t ask my team for much, this is one thing that I do.
What it is: A graphic design tool
What it Does: It’s a space to design ads, flyers, covers and more
Canva is a great platform for designing images, banners, YouTube thumbnails, listing marketing, flyers, infographics and more.
Note: Keller Williams is bringing Canva to it’s agents through KW Command for marketing listings. I’ll bring more training on this once we have access.
Thumbnails for blogs and video are what I use Canva most for while my team gets a bit more creative with marketing pieces.
I love Canva for it’s brand boards where you can preset your brand colors and font you frequently use allowing you to keep your content cohesive to your brand.
What it is: A document editing tool
What it Does: Suggests spelling, grammar edits and more
I’ll be the first to admit that I push out a lot of imperfect content. I’m fast and am not a perfectionist. I care more about execution than perfection.
This is where Grammarly comes in. It’s a copy editors tool looking for spelling and punctuation errors along with more advanced tools such as passive voice and potential copyright infringements.
Grammarly also has a chrome extension which allows me to spot a typo an correct it in real time while I’m writing, regardless of which
What it is: Spreadsheets that live in the cloud
What it Does: Offers a shared workspace accessible from anywhere on the web
How do I get it?: It’s Free
We are all spreadsheet junkies. If it’s tracked or listed, it’s probably on a google sheet.
I appreciate that we can share the docs in the cloud, comment and leave each other notes.
Before I got SEMrush, Google Sheets were my
I still use it when I need a better look at only certain data used together. It gives me the glance I need.
When I was losing 50 pounds (in 6 months I might add) through the keto diet (ketogenic lifestyle), I used it to track my weight and measurements. My coaching clients use it to track food, macros, calories, weight etc. in place of or in addition to their food app.
Screenflow for Mac
What it is: A screen capture tool
What it Does: Captures screen activity, Provides Editing Space
This is our video editor. We use it to record screen capture. It has a simple editor built in, as well.
Honestly, we don’t use it for all it has to offer. The latest update includes many new features and transitions for your videos.
What it is: Facebook Live Software
What it Does: Allows you to go live with
Software that allows us to record live interviews, screen capture, and videos all live-streamed through Facebook.
Once the live stream is over and the video is recorded, it can be shared on social, saved and posted
The ability to show comments on the screen is cool although the Facebook integration does not allow the name to appear next to the comment.
What it is: An audio transcription software
What it Does: Provides written transcripts for your videos and audio
Temi is an automated transcript service. It is from the creators of rev.com and is a more
Instead of having a person transcribe the video or audio as Rev did, Temi uses a computer.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with the output although there is more “cleanup” required, especially where it comes to .com addresses, phone numbers, and personal names, slang or niche terms.
It also includes the “so and um” words where those are removed in Rev.
The cost of a Temi subscription is only 10 cents per word where Rev is $1.00 per word. Compare a 10 minute transcript at $1.00 vs $10.00.
I transcribe all video transcripts for our blog content. Sometimes, it’s a simple addition with the title “transcript.”
What it is: Copyright Free Stock Images and video
What it Does: Offers a library of stock photos and video footage
While there are many ways to get photos, we chose an enterprise software that would allow us to use many stock photos for our brands.
While I’m not as much a fan of stock photos today, they still have their place.
We frequently use Canva to add filters, text, logos and so forth.
This is a subscription software or you can purchase one photo at a time.
Listings To Leads
What it is: A listing marketing and Landing Page Tool for Real Estate
What it Does: Provides templates for marketing listings and services within a real estate business
I mentioned Listings to Leads in the first section where I explained the features of our BREW (Ballen Real Estate Websites).
While this tool is great for it’s instant home value estimator, it’s listing marketing tools and additional landing pages make it a full marketing suite.
With Listings to Leads, you can have your listings imported automatically or add one manually. From here, you, or your admin (even better) can access the checklist and market your properties on a blog, youtube, through email and more.
Create a Facebook ad using the proven landing page promoting your upcoming open house.
Launch a just sold campaign from a recently sold listing.
You can use the custom landing page to create an offer unique to you.
Example: Get your Free Vegas Homeowners Guide
The landing page has a pic of the guide, a few features, and fields to collect the data.
Your leads are collected inside of Listings to Leads.
Bonus: If you have an Infused BREW from my company, we set up your lead flow to funnel from Listings to Leads into Infusionsoft where your Auto Pilot Campaign fires automatically helping you cultivate the leads through email and text!
What it is: A paid advertising platform
What it Does: Allows you to create ads that run on the search engines and partner networks
My first love is organic SEO, earned in search engine rankings. And that being said, there is also room for some paid marketing. With paid marketing now taking the main “real estate” on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), it’s worth looking at.
While my real estate marketing company, Ballen Brands, manages pay per click for real estate agents, I manage a few accounts for my own brands. I do this because I teach it and I want to stay in the game and be able to test and measure best practices.
Google AdWords isn’t an easy platform to use in my opinion. And it’s very easy to get lost and lose a lot of your marketing budget without return.
In real estate, if not done well, Google AdWords can be a drain. It’s really not only about who has the most money to spend, there is strategy.
Buying popular, high priced cost per click keywords may not be smart for a real estate agent. I focus on the longer tail keywords, myself, and work to draw in very specific audiences and niches.
For my real estate business, I find I can get a lot of clicks for less when my competitors budgets run out, and I count on that. I get clicks for pennies sometimes instead of dollars during these times.
I focus on neighborhoods, condo and high rise buildings, and long tail searches such as “homes for sale by the lake” or “homes in North Las Vegas with a Mother in Law Quarters” or “new homes under $________).
I also take my top seller blogs and run ppc campaigns around the keywords that those blogs rank for but don’t have a featured snippet (0 position) or appear in the top 3 results or above the fold.
Retargeting is a great strategy for showing ads to people that have already expressed interest in your brand or website.
Let’s do some conversion math. Here’s where it can tricky.
Let’s say you pay $2.00 per click. You spend $500 per month and generate 250 Clicks in each.
From those 250 Clicks, 10% become leads (this is generous). You now have 25 Leads for the month.
If you are fitting the industry standards, 1% of those leads will become closings.
You would need 100 leads to close that 1 house. That’s 4 months of spend which is a total of $2000.
Now, let’s say your commission for that house was $9000. Was it worth it? Absolutely. If that were a referral, you would happily pay $2500 all day long.
Where people get stuck is getting to that 4th month. You have to invest in Google AdWords for a while before you will see return.
Most turn it off 5 minutes before the miracle happens.
If you are going to do Google AdWords, know your budget and commit for at least 6 months.
If you hire a company to manage it for you (like us at Ballen Brands), communicate on a regular basis to measure growth and results. Most will provide analytics or a digital report of some sort.
NOTE: Keller Williams has added Google AdWords as a component in the Lead Accelerator inside KW Command. I will bring you
What it is: A social media posting tool
What it Does: allows you to post to multiple channels and measure performance
I’ve tried a lot of social media posting tools from Hootsuite to Co-schedule to Sprout Social and now to Buffer.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve decided on what I’ll keep long term or if any of these have everything I want.
I like certain things about all of the tools and would love to find something that integrates them all into one tool.
Buffer is what we have chosen at this time based on it’s ability to post from and to multiple accounts, change the post for each channel, and track and measure the results.
Buffer is also a preferred social tool of many blogs and websites which making sharing curated content easier.
What it is: A social media platform for personal and professional use
What it Does: offers an online interaction for engaging with friends and customers
While Facebook Ads can be great for generating new customers for a real estate business, I believe Facebook is better used for cultivating and building relationships.
This is a channel for learning more about your customers and clients, connecting through emotion, and staying in touch.
For me, I have chosen Facebook to be a referral center. Rather than focusing a lot of my time generating new leads on Facebook (buyers and sellers), I use it to generate and grow connections with real estate agents who send a referral to Las Vegas, Henderson, or North Las Vegas.
I’m fortunate enough to be in the referral capital of the world here in Las Vegas, so it makes sense.
For others, it may not.
I’ve had good experience with hyperlocal Facebook groups although they require a lot of attention.
I started a Facebook group for my community. While it’s small compared to the Greater Las Vegas Area (nearly 3 million residents), it still has more than 40,000 residents.
It’s small enough to focus on the niche and large enough to do a big business.
I started by building the Facebook Group and then running an ad to the group saying “Hey Summerlin, This Group is for you”.
I used FB targets to focus on the zip codes in the Summerlin area or a radius around an address.
When the users would come in, I would verify through county records. Now, we have the ask a question feature. Today, I would simply ask:
“Which Village do you live in” or something of that nature.
Once the group was created, I began creating and curating content I believed that group would find valuable:
- Local Business lists “Top Nail Salons, Dog Washers, Mechanics”
- Best lists: Best Happy Hours, Best Steakhouse, Best Park
- Local Lists and Guides such as: Summerlin Medical Directory, Pet Guide, Things to do during the holidays.
I would watch questions in the group and create content around their questions and answers.
For my directories, guides, and lists, I often used a form to register and download so I would have their information to create local campaigns around in infusionsoft.
The Challenges with this:
- Requires around the clock Attention
- Gets Spammy quick and you have to be the Police
- Neighborhood Cranks that always complain about everything
- Group members heavily promoting other real estate agents
Even with the challenges, I highly recommend this strategy to someone wanting to build a hyperlocal farm.
Add in other channels with this such as Youtube, NextDoor, Pinterest, Instagram and so forth.
How I Use Facebook
- Brand Awareness
- Story Telling
- Offering Value
- Connecting with “me too” style communication
- Creating niche groups and offering value
- REVIEWS!!!! (missed opportunity)
- Build Relationships
Facebook Message BOTS. I’m testing software and will be bringing you the best practices in Facebook Message Bots. It will be what email was in the beginning until it gets oversaturated. Early Adopters will receive the benefits here for sure.
Note: Keller Williams has added a Facebook Advertising element to lead accelerator. I have been testing and measuring the beginning phases of this and creating training videos. I’m excited to bring you more on this as it grows.
Note: Keller Williams offers SNAP which is a local snapshot of a zip code or neighborhood. It’s powered by NextDoor as well.
Note: I tried NextDoor advertising and got literally nothing after several months of spending. Even a bite would Have kept me going for 6 months, yet it didn’t happen. Most