IDX feeds into CRMs are Trending

CRMs are all about making us more efficient in what we do. The more you can do from within it, without having to go out to other programs, the more efficient you are.

So we’re clear, let’s define what an IDX feed is. It is part of your MLS database being fed to your web site. It is what enables your web site visitors to search for listings. There are many IDX providers but if you have property search capability on your own site, odds are that it is provided using an IDX feed. Traditionally your web site is the only place that IDX feeds to.

But you do your searches and automated follow-up with buyers in your MLS. You get a buyer, you add their criteria, set up an automated search, and they get any new listings that become available.  If you are in your CRM and you get a call from your buyer, you have to go into your MLS, find that buyer and look up what you’ve sent them. Typically it does not show you what you actually showed them. How long does it take to do that? Not long but…

Historically, we:

  • Get a buyer prospect
  • Add them and their preferences to our CRM
  • Go into the MLS and add those same preferences and set them up on an automated search
  • We then show them some homes and record what we showed them in the CRM, manually.

Anything wrong with this picture? It’s the back and forth between the CRM and the MLS. Not a big deal but wouldn’t it be sweet if you could do almost everything MLS related right in your CRM instead? No more back and forth? And have more features and options to choose from than your MLS?

That’s exactly what has been happening lately. Some CRMs are having the IDX feed directly into the CRM. When you view a buyer in your CRM you see what you’ve shown them, what you’ve sent them, and much more. If you get a new listing, you can do a quick search for buyers in your CRM that may be interested in that listing and send it out to them, branded to you, not your MLS! This is something that agents have been asking me for for years. It addresses one of the last major inefficiencies when having to use multiple programs to do our jobs.

It seems to me that in the relatively near future all the better CRMs will be going this way. It’s long overdue and more than welcome. So who has it so far? Masterdigm, Propertybase and Tribus. So far, out of the three, Masterdigm is far and away the most cost effective and it will be interesting to see what new CRMs coming in with this feature will charge. If you’re happy with your current CRM, then this one feature should not typically be enough to change CRMs. But if you’re already sniffing around for a new one this can be very interesting.

IDX versus Auto-population of Leads

I decided to write this because I get many calls from agents requiring the CRM they choose to have IDX integration.

Another way it is often asked for is they want “web site integration”. The vast majority of the time, that’s not what the agent really wants. What they usually want is for the CRM to add new leads automatically, saving them the time of having to key in the information.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange) is the ability for a web site visitor to do an MLS search.

There are a variety of features that come after that but that’s the primary function.

Auto-population of leads is the ability of the CRM to automatically add incoming leads from a variety of sources including web site contact forms directly, or emails containing the lead information.

While there are some CRMs that incorporate IDX solutions into them, they are typically only available in broker level or more sophisticated and expensive CRMs. They’re a time saver because instead of having to go to your web site to see what the prospect is searching for, that information can be contained within the CRM right with the contact’s record.

So the point is that if what you are looking for is a CRM that has the ability to automatically add leads, you don’t need the CRM to have IDX capability, just the ability to take a lead from a web site, lead generation solution, or an email. At this point most of the better CRMs do this. How they do it, and what kind of leads they are capable of adding vary significantly.

A detailed description of each method is fodder for another article, but I’ll summarize the primary ones here.

1) The first method most had was for the CRM to enable you to create a contact form from within the CRM. It then provided  the HTML source code. You then replace your existing web site contact form with the new one. The downside is that many template sites are not capable of allowing you to replace the contact form, or if you do replace it, the follow-up capabilities on the site may be negated.

2) The next method that came into common usage was for  the CRM to have a relationship with the lead provider so they could “talk to each other” and add the lead automatically.

3) The newest method is “Email lead parsing” – the ability for the CRM to receive an email from any lead source, analyze the content of the email and add the information as a new lead. This is probably the best overall because it doesn’t matter where the lead is coming from. All it needs to have is a consistent format. By that I mean it has to label the information by preceding it with a consistent name such as “Name:  John Buyer”.  The vast majority do this. The downside is that if the email is HTML instead of plain text, which the vast majority are not, it can confuse the lead parser utility.

The bottom line is that you can require IDX integration in your CRM, but if what you want is for the lead to be automatically added into your CRM’s database you don’t need IDX. What you want is simply the ability to auto-populate new leads into it.