The 3 Essential Real Estate Marketing Strategies: Owned, Paid, and Earned Media
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Ask most professionals how they build their online presence to generate new business and they’ll tell you they use organic marketing through search engine optimization (SEO) and paid marketing through pay per click (PPC) and other digital advertising mediums. But what many of these pros don’t realize is SEO and PPC fall into just two of the three primary marketing buckets.
As a real estate agent with a modern real estate marketing strategy, it’s imperative to understand the three avenues in which you can earn website visitors, viable leads, and new clients. Learn about how you can create digital traction for your brand via owned, paid, and earned media tactics below.
Owned Media: Building a Foundation with Your Website and Social Media Accounts
Simply put, without an organic real estate marketing strategy, there are no paid or earned strategies. You need a stable, comprehensive foundation online in the form of your website and social media channels — in other words, your owned media channels — to get the ball rolling with other digital marketing plans.
In fact, nearly all brands focus on owned media before all other marketing activities, so getting your site, Facebook Business page, and accounts on all other big social networks set up first and foremost is paramount. This means:
- Creating a backlog of relevant and interesting content that you can regularly publish on your website
- Adding IDX to your site so you can display listings and create dedicated pages for different neighborhoods and home types
- Developing other landing pages (like area and community pages) for your niche buyer personas so you cover all of your SEO bases
- Automating all of that content to your social presence (after all, promotion is the backbone of any successful real estate agent’s marketing plan)
One element of your real estate marketing strategy that can considerably enhance your owned media presence is your YouTube channel. Producing videos for an array of different topics your audience will find irresistible, posting them to your YouTube account, and optimizing your page and each recording for search can help you stay in Google’s good graces, which just so happens to own the behemoth video network.
Email is technically another component of the owned media sphere, in that it’s one of the best outlets to share your content and connect with your audience. The trick to mixing email into your overall real estate marketing plan is to get your audience to “buy in” — that is, become loyal visitors to your site, consumers of your content, and evangelists for your brand — by keeping in touch with them. The only way this can occur, though, is naturally. You can’t force your buyer and seller audience to check out your blog and listings frequently. What you can do, however, is get your messaging to the right people within your audience at the right time.
Beloved marketing guru Seth Godin coined the phrase “permission marketing” a number of years ago, and it’s something every agent should apply to their online strategy. Godin defines this as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” That means if you’re pushing your collateral onto people who have little or no interest in you and not carefully promoting your content to the people who have shown interest, your marketing scheme will fall flat.
The bottom line when it comes to owned media marketing is this: It’s vital to build and expand upon your digital presence on a daily basis, but it’s equally as important not to overwhelm your audience with a barrage of messages that many of them likely won’t find useful or appreciate.
Paid Media: Spending Money to Target Your Audience
Whereas your real estate SEO efforts are meant to drive traffic to your website and online presence over the long run, even the best search optimization strategies take several months to produce results in search engine results pages (SERPs). Paid marketing allows you to target your audience instantly. Arguably the most popular means of paid online media in the past decade has been PPC, especially with Google Adwords.
Since the advent of Google AdWords, millions of professionals and brands — including those in the real estate industry — have taken advantage of AdWords to set up campaigns that target the keywords their niche audiences search for. Just as you might incorporate long-tail terms buyers and sellers search for routinely in the various pages on your website, you can also use these exact same phrases in your PPC ads, along with some brief explanatory copy and a link to your site, but instead of waiting months for your work to generate leads, they can start to pour in after just a day or two … as long as you’ve set up your campaigns appropriately, of course.
Research firm Borrell Associates discovered agents and brokers were forecasted to spend more than $10 billion on digital real estate advertising during 2015. That’s because the instant, quality leads online ads can generate are too good to pass up. Sure, setting up campaigns requires a fair amount of time and money on your part, but when you consider the sheer number of clicks on paid ads has grown markedly in just a year’s time, it’s evident paid ads can be a boon for your bottom line.
AdWords isn’t the only real estate advertising avenue you should take to improve your paid media strategy. Don’t forget that Facebook has evolved into one of the foremost online advertising spaces on the internet. Similar to how you need to spend time researching keywords and adding in targeting info to reach the right people with your Adwords ads, Facebook’s ad platform requires some attention to detail as well. Specifically, you need to determine three things with ads for the social network: what your objective is (site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation, page engagement), what your budget is (how much you’re willing to spend to get found), and what content to include in your ads (written copy, images, and links).
The results will vary when it comes to garnering more brand awareness, earning more website visitors, and generating new leads, but agents using Facebook’s advertising platform — and burgeoning ones for other social media sites, like Twitter and YouTube — have a wealth of potential:
- Promoted tweets on Twitter have increase offline sales for brands by 29%. — SMK
- Click-through rates (CTR) for Facebook ads doubled from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013. — Salesforce
- Facebook ads’ average CTR hit a new high in Q2 2015, reaching 0.88%. — Nanigans
Beyond these popular ad types lie even more advanced advertising channels and techniques that fall under the paid media umbrella.
For instance, retargeting allows you to stay in front of your audience by showing ads for your business on other sites to users who have previously visited your site. This helps ensure you stay top-of-mind with those who have shown interest in you and, in turn, get them to visit your site again down the line.
While this can certainly prove beneficial for just about every real estate agent, your best bet is to master AdWords and Facebook advertising first, and once you’ve done so, try your hand at some more sophisticated paid tactics.
Earned Media: Getting Content Shares, Online Reviews, and Positive Word-of-Mouth
The cumulative effect of consistently growing your website and social presence and running real estate advertising campaigns is gaining new fans, followers, visitors, and — if all goes as planned — leads and clients.
Whether from buyers and sellers you help or people you simply inform with your online content, you will gradually get positive attention and praise based on the value you offer. This favorable word-of-mouth marketing is your earned media.
This type of media comes in a number of different fashions, as some of the marketing industry’s best and brightest have shown. The main ways in which you will likely accumulate earned media include:
- Detailed real estate agent reviews on Google+, Facebook, Yelp, and similar review-based channels
- Comments on your blog posts that thank you for educating your audience and start a conversation
- Social media shares and comments that get word out about your content and drive engagement
- Mentions on other websites and backlinks that lead to content featured on your website
- Press deciding to cover your business
There are numerous ways in which you can get commendations from your audience online unprompted, but you can maximize the power of your earned media by leveraging it.
A prime example is making the most of online reviews: Reach out to those who provided the evaluation of you and your business and ask if they don’t mind having their comments featured on your site on a dedicated real estate testimonials page.
While interested parties can certainly find assessments of your brand on the previously mentioned review outlets, if your primary marketing goal is to drive all of your audience members to your site, then getting those reviews turned into testimonials (and even long-form case studies) will help showcase your praise to the right people even more.
Not all attention your brand garners will be positive: Even if no clients express dissatisfaction with you, there’s always someone online looking to bash businesses. This means that some of your earned media will need either modest or significant damage control.
The best way to rectify any negative comments someone makes in a forum like Reddit or a Facebook Group is to figure out who the person is, what your relationship is to them, if there is any merit to what they are saying, and if it’s worth it to respond.
Reputation management is a serious thing — brands large and small have been adversely affected because of chatter like this — so allotting time and energy to reply to certain messages that appear to need clarification or even an apology is merited more often than not.
Of course, if you get praise via these outlets, it’s just as imperative to say thanks for the shout out and to note how your main goal is to help your audience out in any way you can.
Want to enhance your earned media marketing? Learn how to get real estate agent reviews in the form of testimonials you can use for your website, social media accounts, and email campaigns.
How do you balance your owned and paid media marketing? What real estate marketing strategies do you put into place to generate leads from your organic tactics and real estate agent advertising?
Published on October 30, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.