Real estate marketing brings to mind vivid images of open houses with the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air. While open houses (and baking aromas) are still firmly entrenched in the real estate professional’s toolkit, their marketing arsenal has widened to include tools that reach users in their new native environments – online.
For a quick appraisal of how online friendly your real estate business is, answer these 10 questions with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Give yourself one point for every ‘Yes’ and none for a ‘No’.
- Does your real estate business have its own website?
- Does your website showcase all your properties in the best possible way?
- Does it let potential sellers/buyers contact you easily?
- Is your website optimized to be easily findable on search engines?
- Do you have content online promoting your business, sharing your know how on real estate etc.?
- Do you reach out to customers on a regular basis via informative (not salesy!) email newsletters?
- Do you have separate online advertising your real estate business?
- Is your business active on social media?
- Are you active on real estate directories?
- Do you devote at least an hour per day to promoting your business online?
If you scored between 6 and 8 you are on track to becoming a digital marketer. A score of 8 or higher and you’re a real estate rockstar online. But anything that’s 5 and under, underscores your desperate need to brush up on the fundamentals of marketing real estate online. Read on to get your grip on digital marketing for real estate 101.
Real Estate Search Engines
A real estate search engine like Trulia, Zillow or Redfin has GOT to be your first port of call online. These are sites that act as virtual marketplaces for real estate buyers and sellers showcasing properties by location, budget, house type, and more. With handy features like mortgage calculators, free home estimates as well as expert advice on real estate shopping, they are a great resource for potential buyers. And buyers are lapping it all up too. According to research, 42% of all real estate buyers today first check out properties online on search engines before hitting the road with an actual agent.
No matter how big or small your marketing budget, getting on one of these search engines lets you showcase your properties, get more leads than through one on one meetings or cold calls and helps promote your brand in the market. Most sites charge a monthly fee for advertising your business through your dedicated agent profile, listing promotions, lead alerts, and more. To get the best out of real estate search engines, make sure you put aside at least thirty minutes of every day to refreshing your listings, adding or improving data offered and interacting with potential buyers and sellers to increase your ROI.
Google Organic Search
So you’ve built the perfect website that flaunts all your listings, highlights your contact details, and captures leads. But for users to see this beauty of a website that you built, they have to first find it on the World Wide Web. With over one billion websites to choose from, getting the right target audience to land on your website is a tall order indeed.
Make your website easily findable online by users by optimizing it for search engines. This processing of optimization involves making the content of your website as relevant as possible to user searches regarding real estate in your area. Zero in on keywords used by your target audience to search for properties to buy or real estate agents to contact with free tools like the Google’s Keyword Planner. Use these keywords across your website to make it easy for search engines to identify them and list your website high on search results pages. There’s tons more to improving a site’s SEO and conversions that I cannot do justice to here. But I’d highly recommend using Google’s own advice on the important dos and don’ts for SEO in this great official guide to SEO.
Besides optimizing your site for search engines, create content that will be useful for your target audience and which will lure them on to your website with interesting information. Your content needs to be original, engaging, informative and most importantly, center around your critical keywords. Post this content on your blog, industry blogs, and other industry-related websites that are frequented by your target audience to improve the odds of it being found and read by the right audience.
Think there’s not much to write about real estate? Think again. See how Inman News provides a steady stream of news, analysis, and information about brokerage, events, technology, and regulations in the real estate industry.
Pay Per Click Web Marketing
Paid search marketing is another important way of reaching out to users who are searching for property and real estate related information. With Pay-Per-Click ads, each time a user searches for a specific query that contains your keywords or is related to your keywords, an ad for your business shows up at the top of the user’s search results. You pay the search engine each time a user clicks on the ad and lands on your website.
Local Search and Listings
Real estate agents know the value of “local” – if it wasn’t for specialized knowledge of the local market, they’d have been rendered redundant by real estate portals and firms with a nationwide or international presence.
Before you spend huge resources on pay-per-click advertising, bear in mind that as a geography specific industry, you need to carry out the right level of geo-targeting for your campaigns. There’s nothing worse than an ad for a real estate business or a specific property in New York being displayed to a user searching for homes in Florida. Don’t know the first thing about geo-targeting? Here’s an extensive guide to local search targeting for beginners.
Going local is not just for your ad campaigns. Offering detailed directions, maps, and showing off your properties on a local map on your website are easy ways to build awareness and attracting organic visitors to your site.
One of the most overlooked online marketing tools, email marketing has the power to turn around brand fortunes, when done right. Email marketing offers your real estate business many advantages – a captive audience that has signed up to hear from you, a platform to educate and engage your customers with everything to do with new listings, real estate news, buying tips and tricks, and more.
Email marketing is one of the most cost effective ways of marketing to customers with a ROI of about 4300% according to the Direct Marketing Association. Use email capture forms on your website to grow your database of customers who can be reached on demand. Create and send out targeted communication via email marketing software like Mailchimp or GetResponse to maximize returns. Here’s a starter’s guide to email marketing to help you set up your own effective and personalized email campaigns.
Unlike what popular wisdom may suggest, social media is a fabulous place to promote your real estate business. With social media’s unique ability to put you face to face with your customers, social media marketing is a fantastic opportunity to build personal relationships with users and gain their trust over time.
Unlike other forms of marketing, social media has a different set of rules to live by. Instead of going red in the face talking about your brand on social media, and promoting your properties at every given opportunity, use social media instead as a tool to offer value to customers in the form of informative, engaging, even entertaining posts. Address users’ concerns on social media, get them to share their own thoughts with you and lay the foundation for a win-win relationship using the various social media platforms out there. Moz offers a detailed guide to social media marketing that I’d totally recommend to every social media marketing newbie.
Any savvy marketer will tell you that the first rule of marketing is to be where your users are. With all sources stating loud and clear that your real estate audience has shifted online, it only makes sense that you switch lanes in your approach to marketing real estate as well.
Use these tips as a starting point to build online campaigns that are not just memorable, but also extremely effective from an ROI perspective.
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