Update an outdated and underperforming customer-facing website to track qualified leads, offer superior search functionality, and serve members better
IMPROVE SEO ranking
ELIMINATE time-intensive updates
CUSTOMIZE property searches
most-visited MLS site in Alabama
Site earns non-dues
“In my 39 years of IT experience, Constellation1 is one of the best vendor partners I’ve ever worked with.”
Technology Director, Valley MLS
Better visibility through high-ranked website
Qualified lead delivery
Automatic website updates and enhancements
Measurable ROI on tech investment
Multiple listing services (MLSs) have to contend with a particular set of technological challenges. Many MLSs are running on legacy technology and lack the internal technical expertise to update their systems. The patchwork of MLSs across the United States and Canada—each with their own associations or boards and their own unique rules—complicates effective collaboration. And yet, they are part of the backbone of the industry, providing the data behind every single real estate transaction.
Each MLS is unique, from the market it serves and the types of data it collects to the technology it uses and its strategies for growth. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in all aspects of real estate, and MLSs are no exception. The MLSs that are making smart tech investments now are the ones leading the pack in terms of growth and value-adds for their members. Valley MLS, formerly the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service, has partnered with Constellation1 since 2014 and has seen their own investment pay off in spades.
Valley MLS, officially ValleyMLS.com, is the leading MLS in northern Alabama, serving nine counties and covering an extensive area in the north of the state. Thanks to its many partnerships with other Alabama associations, Valley MLS has become a model for MLS collaboration and is a testament to the power of these collaborations, which wouldn’t have been possible without the team, technology platform, and continued support provided by Constellation1.
Identifying the problem
“We began to realize that the site was underperforming. It had disappointing visitor traffic and lacked even basic features, like counting and tracking leads, which are super important for MLSs to be able to do.”
Technology Director, Valley MLS
Valley MLS has been serving northern Alabama since 1967. Prior to 2014, Valley MLS’s customer-facing website was powered by WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. For many businesses, WordPress is an ideal solution. But for Valley MLS, there was a big problem: WordPress isn’t optimized for real estate. As Tammy Owen, ValleyMLS.com’s technology director, puts it, “Our previous website was made using WordPress, and we were working with a different front office provider. We began to realize that the site was underperforming; it had disappointing visitor traffic and lacked even basic features, like counting and tracking leads, which are super important for MLSs to be able to do.” To stay ahead in their market and provide top-tier service to their members, they needed to make a significant technological shift to upgrade their provider and their website. Their wish list for the upgrade included tracking leads, improving their SEO ranking, customizing property searches—their main lead-gen tool—and generating ad revenue.
A strategic, long-term partner
Valley MLS decided to form a task force to discuss their options and vet potential vendors that could help them achieve all their goals. After a lengthy review process, they finally settled on Constellation1, whose Constellation1 Websites solution is designed to serve as an MLS search portal. After a comprehensive rollout phase, the new website was officially launched in 2014. From day one, Tammy was thrilled. She says, “Our account manager was incredible. The site was up and running according to our initial timeline and since then, the team has been amazing with providing enhancements and taking care of any issues. Our customer support and vendor support have been excellent. We have never, ever looked back or had any regrets about our decision to go with Constellation1.”
Thanks to their decision to invest in the right technology early, Valley MLS has been able to grow steadily since the day they switched.
Thanks to their decision to invest in the right technology before many of their counterparts elsewhere, Valley MLS has been able to grow steadily and consistently since the day they switched. Now, their site boasts an excellent SEO ranking and has attracted more than 1.2 million users. Their ranking and impressive visitor traffic demonstrate what a smart investment they made and have since attracted the interest of other MLSs in the region. Today, Valley MLS collaborates with six other associations in Alabama and showcases listings that cover much of the northern half of the state. These partnerships have proven to be mutually beneficial for everyone involved and may lead to even more partnerships down the road.
“We can’t say enough good things about Constellation1.”
Technology Director, Valley MLS
Leveraging industry expertise
By partnering with Constellation1 and leveraging more than 20 years of front office expertise, Valley MLS now has a website that checks all their boxes, and more. Better yet, it has become more scalable and easier to grow, which has fueled their many valuable partnerships with other regional associations, now totaling six.
With their former website platform, Valley MLS lacked the property search capabilities that are so important to its members. For MLSs, making the wealth of data at their disposal searchable and available to members is paramount. Valley MLS also wanted to create customized filters to make their data highly searchable. Constellation1 worked with Valley MLS to customize their search and create more than 100 custom filter options to allow homebuyers and members to narrow down listings with incredible accuracy. Once users search for properties on ValleyMLS.com, they realize that no other website offers the same level of customization. For example, users can search for a vacation home on a specific body of water or any body of water in northern Alabama, then narrow down their results based on driving time from their current home.
Top search engine visibility
Having the best website in the world doesn’t mean anything if no one can find it. Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be surprisingly complicated. Constellation1 has SEO strategy and tactics covered for Valley MLS. The Website and account management teams pride themselves on the back-end work they do to guarantee customer websites are highly visible in their markets and rank at the top of every search. Search engines can change how they rank sites and modify their algorithms without warning, forcing web pages to catch up to keep their rankings at the top. Constellation1 stays on top of these developments and regularly releases free enhancements and updates to ensure page rankings are always improving. This means Valley MLS’s well-equipped internal marketing team can rely entirely on Constellation1 to manage their SEO, freeing up their valuable time to focus on local marketing efforts and other lead-generation channels.
Before switching to Constellation1, Valley MLS couldn’t even track leads. Now they know exactly how many leads they are generating.
Powerful lead generation
In real estate, the axiom is usually location, location, location. For MLSs, it’s actually leads, leads, leads. By having a highly ranked site with an unbeatable property search, Valley MLS generates better, higher-quality leads for free, as opposed to paying for leads from other sources like national real estate database websites. A single site for searching all the inventory in northern Alabama means better searches, more leads, more buyers, and more business for agents. The more high-quality leads it delivers, the more valuable the MLS is for members. Because Valley MLS leads are already qualified and have used the custom filters to pinpoint the properties they are interested in, agents have access to a stream of better potential prospects they could never have sourced with just their local reach. Before they switched to Constellation1, Valley MLS couldn’t even track leads, but now they know exactly how many leads they are generating. This has been a major value-add since the switch.
“We had a vision for what we wanted to offer, and Constellation1 worked with us to make that happen.”
CEO of ValleyMLS.com
When Valley MLS was dreaming about their ideal website, their vision included strategically placed and relevant ads that wouldn’t affect the visitor experience. “We had a vision for what we wanted to do, and Constellation1 worked with us to make that happen,” says Josh. Displaying ads would allow Valley MLS to bring in non-dues revenue by working with their trusted ad partner, Cordless Media. Constellation1 was able to work with Cordless Media to design pages that incorporate ads that augment the visitor experience, not detract from it. Cordless also included a monetized Mortgage Calculator and Home Services section that both provide valuable services to users and significant earnings for Valley MLS. Constellation1 is always willing to collaborate with existing vendors, especially when it means ensuring customer satisfaction and success.
Strong customer service
Rollouts are nerve wracking. As the day to switch over to their new site approached, the Valley MLS team was understandably nervous. What if something went wrong? What if their members couldn’t access their site? What if it was impossible to search listings? When the site went live, the team’s fears evaporated. Tammy describes the experience like this: “Constellation1 delivered everything on time and did a great job, with no surprises. They called several times per week to make sure everything was up to standard and working the way we wanted.” By setting realistic expectations and nurturing proactive customer relationships, all parties were able to address any challenges as they popped up. Constellation1 partners can rest assured that there is someone behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly, allowing them to focus on running their business instead of stressing over their website.
Growing towards the future
Thanks to exceptional data services and an intuitive and powerful website, Valley MLS has become a valuable partner for other MLSs in the region, including Greater Alabama MLS, which partner with Valley MLS to share data, capture more qualified leads, and serve brokerages, agents, and homebuyers better. Instead of searching multiple platforms, anyone looking for listings in northern Alabama can see them all on ValleyMLS.com. As more MLSs recognize the value of these partnerships, Valley MLS’s network will continue to grow. And Constellation1 will be behind the scenes, helping them scale their website to accommodate their growth.
Parting advice from Valley MLS
“Constellation1 is one of the best vendor partners I’ve ever worked with.”
Technology Director, Valley MLS
Choosing a tech partner isn’t a decision MLSs take lightly. Tammy Owen explains Valley MLS’s decision-making process this way: “I have been working in IT for 39 years, and Constellation1 is one of the best vendor partners I’ve ever worked with. There are so many value-adds for us: great customer service, a dedicated account manager, proactive enhancements and updates, and best of all, these enhancements come with the website. Constellation1 is always researching and embracing new technologies, and for us that was really important. If you’re looking for a new website partner, make sure they are committed to that, too.”
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