Traditionally, there is some friction between marketing departments and sales departments. Typically, there is also finger pointing and blame to the other department when results are disappointing. Aligning the goals of both departments is key in creating synergy to make both areas function at the top of their game.
In smaller realty firms, many times the agent is responsible for doing the marketing. The temptation is to skimp on marketing as an “unnecessary” expense. It is a bit unfair to expect an agent to be a marketing expert. Today’s real estate marketing is a lot different than only a few years ago. Gone are the days where a newspaper ad and an open house was the extent of the marketing effort for real estate sales.
It goes without saying, a real estate agency must have a website. Over 90% of consumers begin their real estate quest online. The difference for real estate agencies is their website must attract multiple types of personas looking for different content. A first time buyer will need different content from a seasoned seller. The marketer has to balance all these interests to create content to attract both buyers and sellers as well as different levels of experience.
The real estate website is a hub and of central importance to the agency. Spending more on building a solid professional website is a sound investment. Having a responsive website is a necessity. Buyers and sellers are frequently mobile and if they can’t view your website from a smart phone or tablet you may not receive any further consideration.
The real estate marketer creates white papers, blogs, videos and infographics, among other types of content, to provide information to visitors of a general nature. Examples of this type of content is: how to qualify for a mortgage, types of insurance required for the geographic area and local interest / area events. This type of content is necessary for google ranking and search engine optimization. It is marketing content created, not for one particular home or property, but as an asset to attract new prospects and to keep prior customers interested; so your firm remains top of mind for their next sale or purchase.
A real estate website is not very useful if it does not have listings. Integration with MLS is required, so that buyers know they are not missing out on any new properties coming onto the market. The MLS and search capability on the website should be ungated and “call to action” buttons placed throughout to be available to answer questions and provide additional resources.
The agency’s website is also a platform to showcase the featured listings of the firm. A dedicated page for each listing is highly recommended. The professional marketer can create an impressive story for the home on this page that can’t be compared to a MLS listing. The web page is where the best features of the home can be up-played and emphasized. This is where professional photos, videos and even aerial shots should be used to “wow” a potential buyer to be compelled to see more. The written text must be persuasive and appeal to the buyers emotions. This is where the marketer can add value to the salespersons listings. Some creativity can make the listing stand out from the crowd.
The marketer positions the agency website and its agents as a local authority. This requires a multi-pronged approach with the website as a hub. It is not enough anymore just to build it and wait for them to come.
Zillow is the real estate marketer and sales people’s friend. I should repeat that. Instead of being threatened by the national firms like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and the like, use these sites as a source of leads. The typical buyer and seller tends to visit these sites first. A seller may be curious what the Zestimate says. A buyer may just be beginning their search and these national ranked sites tend to appear at the top of generalized search engine queries. Therefore, advertising on these sites will expose your firm and agent to a large number of eyes interested in your local market. Zillow is the largest real estate website with over 130 million visits per month. It is estimated that advertising on Zillow generates $2.60 for every dollar spent. These days, marketers care about numbers and require a strong ROI.
There are so many ways to advertise on the internet. Google Adwords is popular and certainly has a place in the marketing mix. Regardless of the site, the marketer constantly tests multiple advertising graphics, text and targeted keywords to provide the greatest ROI. It is a continuous cycle of trying to improve on past results.
There are also retargeting advertising companies; AdRoll is one example. Retargeted advertising is shown to prior visitors of your website or to contacts in your database when they are surfing the web at other websites. It is not the best choice if you are just getting contacts and visitors to your site as there are fewer prospects to target. Retargeting advertising can also be used on social media platforms like Facebook. A tracking code is used to measure the results of your campaign.
Advertising on social media platforms, like Facebook, can be quite sophisticated and can be very targeted. The criteria available to segment and target your ad is just amazing.
Email is a highly effective medium. Stories that say “email is dead” are wrong. People still rely on email to communicate and inform. The real estate marketer knows the database of contacts is the golden egg. This database has taken years to develop. It includes all the market intelligence the firm has about the client. This intelligence is also used to segment the list. When new content is added to the website, it can also do double duty as a targeted email to past or prospective clients. The key is to target what content gets sent to what client using data from prior interactions, social media interest and how the client has engaged in the past.
“Big Data” is becoming more assessable to smaller firms daily. Customer Relationship Management systems bring this data to one place and make it more manageable. The smart marketer will use this system to send automated and scheduled messages to clients that can appear very personal and are relevant. A birthday message is a small gesture likely to be remembered by the client. A job promotion announced via Linkedin, can also be used to send congratulations to the client. A birth announcement on Facebook and your congratulations may make you the first call when the client needs additional space.
The real estate marketer knows that prior clients are the source of repeat business. Keeping in touch around life events and providing useful information throughout the year will keep the Agent top of mind the next time the client is buying or selling real estate.
Open Houses & Events
While open houses are not as popular as they used to be, there is still a place for them in the marketing mix. The marketer can assist your open house by promoting it on social media and to potential buyers and prior contacts before the event.
The open house also provides a personal connection and an opportunity to collect more emails to continue a drip marketing campaign to attendees.
The Marketer can make an open house more of an interesting event. Perhaps a first look for agents only; with a twist of a poolside party theme for a home with outstanding entertaining spaces. Consider a contest combined with an open house. Selecting an unusual feature of the house to format the contest around will make it memorable. The first person who finds the secret passage way in the house would be sure to spark interest and have lots of people intrigued.
Supporting local community events will earn goodwill and increase name recognition when the time comes to seek out an agent. Of course, having a genuine interest in the event or activity makes it more believable and allows you to connect on a personal level with members of the community. This can be applied to charity events, sporting events or what is appropriate in your area.
Reviews & Testimonials
Ratings or testimonials is an important part of agent marketing. New clients frequently read these and select an agent with the best or most impressive testimonials. Using a strong testimonial in advertising can be compelling and frequently result in higher click through rates. Having testimonials on a dedicated page on the website or sprinkled throughout lets your clients and customers say what may be considered bragging coming from the agent or agency.
Agents can request testimonials at open houses or directly to clients once they finish a deal. The marketing department can make this easier by sending an email with a link to complete the testimonial with a few clicks. Making a habit of asking for testimonials is a great practice and increases the credibility of your profile.
On the opposite end is how you react to criticism or a negative review. The marketer can provide the proper tone, rather than a defensive stance. If one tries to get to the heart of the problem and remains helpful, a negative review can turn positive because of how it was handled. I would venture to say, including some reviews that are not stellar but show how you respond to problems can make the difference in how you are perceived. If all your reviews make you look like you walk on water they can be less than believable. Marketers can help agents to be human.
Inbound Marketing is not part time
Real estate in most markets is highly competitive. Any edge over the competition is to be pounced on. Today, having a marketing team supporting the agents is a necessity. No longer can agents be as well versed in all the media options, social platforms and technology to exploit the tools to obtain the highest sales return.
A marketing team to support a group of agents can provide the expert support needed. There are a lot of pieces to making a successful real estate agency. Having top selling agents do what they do best is a better use of their time than trying to stay on top of a rapidly changing marketing environment. A lead generation and internet marketing team is an asset for any real estate agency. Let Paveya show you how. From solid website design, SEO, social media management, content generation, email marketing and analysis, we get results that make a difference to your bottom line. The days where agents do their own marketing is like the age of the dinosaurs and just as dated.