How Much Content is Too Much Content?

I was asked an interesting question the other day by a Realtor who is part of my real estate newsletters program.

He wants to include much more content on his website, but he wonders: is there such a thing as too much content? "I’d love to hear your suggestions on where to draw the line of bringing value vs. giving so much information that visitors never make the call," he asks.

This is what I said. Do you agree?

Thanks for your email. This is an interesting question – I don't think you are alone in asking it.

Here's what I think (but you should find out what others say too…): In most situations you should lean towards having more content rather than less. I don't think you can give visitors too much information.

Let's think about two situations: my business and yours.

With my business, I give away pretty much all I know about newsletters on my blog. I figure that, over time, I will show that I know what I am talking about and get myself a reputation as an expert in the area. If my information helps some people do their own newsletter better, then that's fine. They weren't going to use me anyway. But if any of the information persuades someone to choose me rather than a competitor to provide newsletters, then it will have paid off.

I think the situation is similar in real estate. You want to give enough information to show that you are a trustworthy expert, but you worry that by giving too much information you will be helping people go FSBO or buy without an agent.

In my opinion, the benefits of making you the #1 expert in your niche far outweigh the dangers. Here's why:

1) Most real estate agents have pretty lousy websites, as you know. Most of them look the same and contain the same information. There's nothing much to distinguish one from the other. Few agents have their own USP. So anything you can do to add content will put you ahead of the others.

2) When choosing an agent, people are looking for a Realtor they can trust and with whom they can build a relationship (imho). This is particularly true right now – in recessionary times, trust is at a premium. By providing plenty of useful content that makes your clients' lives better, you are starting to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. By demonstrating an abundance of proof (through your written expertise), you help them trust you. And by providing information that is unique (and that perhaps share some of your personality, as you do with your masthead, for example!) you are able to start building a relationship.

3) I figure that most people who are going to go FSBO are going that route anyway. You might be helping them a little with some inside knowledge – but they were a lost cause. There's a chance, maybe a small one, that if you talk in so much detail about the market, the realities of a real estate transaction, the way that you as a Realtor help the process, that you will persuade some people that hiring a Realtor is the wisest choice. I don't know.

4) Following on from point three, you can of course write on topics that demonstrate that hiring a Realtor pays off financially. You could give examples where you have saved clients money (as well as time, stress, hair, etc).

4) Perhaps the main point is this: where any Realtor adds value is not so much in general information about real estate transactions (you can find that easily) or about neighborhoods and even house types (many of your clients will be locals, perhaps) but it's really in the individual, personalized attention you give them. It's about applying your knowledge to their particular situation right now in this market, with their budget, their house preferences, their financial situation, etc. That kind of expertise can't be put on a website, but you can use your website to indicate that you add that kind of value. And the way to do that is by lots of high-quality content that shows how much you know and how much you can help.

So that's what I think.

The whole issue of what seems to known as "content marketing" is quite big these days. Online, having lots of content gets you points with Google, of course. But right now, demonstrating that you are a trusted expert is probably the number one way to getting more business. This could be a big shift that is being applified by the current economy: it's almost as if we are going back to the old days by doing business with people we know, like and trust rather than choosing a big brand or glitzy marketing materials.

That's just what I think.

It might be worth checking out the blogs by Joe Pullizi and Newt Barrett. They've just published a book called Get Content. Get Customers. I've only just become aware of their work, so I can't yet speak to the blogs or the book, but they are worth checking out.

Anyway…hope this helps!


PS. Of course, your website content can do double duty because you can drip-feed it in your newsletter.

Do you agree? Or is there a danger of putting too much content on your website?