Email. Social media. Smartphones and tablets. Innovations like these have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for real estate agents. But with new opportunities come new demands and responsibilities that many agents have trouble fulfilling. If you’re struggling to keep your online marketing machine running, you may want to consider getting help in the form of a marketing assistant.
Many real estate technology providers will tell you that the only assistant you need can be downloaded on your computer. (Indeed, plenty of software developers slip the word “assistant” into the names of their products). Still, according to the 2014 NAR Member Profile, 16 percent of Realtors employ at least one real-life assistant. Are these agents wasting their money? Or do they know something you don’t?
What does a marketing assistant do?
Marketing assistants have a broad range of responsibilities that vary depending on an agent’s individual needs. Some agents use their marketing assistants for administrative tasks they would rather not have to do themselves. Others give their assistants more creative responsibilities. Here are a few things your assistant can offer.
- Content creation. Writing well is a difficult skill to master. Marketing assistants can help you bridge that skill gap by planning and generating daily or weekly blog posts, crafting email newsletters and marketing campaigns, and even writing marketing copy for your real estate website.
- SEO and finishing. Successful digital marketing isn’t just about writing great content: It’s also about getting found and ranked in search. A marketing assistant can take care of all the little technical tasks and details associated with optimizing your posts for search engines and visitors alike, including crafting search-friendly titles and meta descriptions and finding great images.
- Public relations and lead management. Agents have more ways than ever to find new leads — so many, in fact, that it can be hard to keep track of them all. A marketing assistant can help by handling the widest parts of your sales funnel, running your social media accounts and following up with fresh leads via email.
- Data monitoring and analytics. Data is the greatest blessing of digital marketing, but for agents with limited time and experience, it can also be a curse. With tools like Google Analytics, a marketing assistant can gather and interpret data on everything from website traffic to email opens, helping you hone your content to engage more and better prospects.
- Advertising. Many agents don’t bother advertising online, either because they’re unfamiliar with the process of creating digital ads, or because they simply don’t have time to invest in a new format. A marketing assistant can remove these barriers to entry by researching target keywords, writing ad copy, and managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for you.
- Audience expertise. A marketing assistant may offer special knowledge of your target audience. If, for instance, your community has a substantial immigrant population, an assistant with relevant language skills and cultural ties can help you reach new markets you couldn’t tap into on your own.
“The noblest search is the search for excellence.”
— LYNDON B. JOHNSON
How much will it cost me?
Obviously, all of these benefits come at a price. While there are other compensation structures, including a percentage of commissions, most marketing assistants are paid either an hourly rate or a salary. As of June 2014, the median pay for marketing assistant is $14 an hour, or $34,640 a year. Still this is only a median, and your investment will depend on many factors, including whether you plan to hire in or outsource your labor. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
There are lots of options out there for contracting your marketing work out to “virtual assistants.” Some marketing services hire locally, while others are based in places like Indonesia and the Philippines. In most cases, the service takes care of administrative tasks like hiring and compensation, allowing you to focus on more important tasks.
Still, there are certainly drawbacks to outsourcing. For instance, virtual assistants are better suited to repetitive administrative tasks, rather than creative and interpersonal jobs, which require a closer working relationship with you and a firm grasp of the local market. While assistants in the developing world can be had for less than half of the median hourly rate of American candidates, cultural divides and distance often result in lower quality work.
If cheap and easy are the key virtues of outsourcing, then quality and accountability best describe the in-house marketing assistant. Because they’re working side by side with an agent, on-site assistants are often more adaptable, more detail-oriented, and more teachable than an outsourced assistant. They’re also more invested in the day to day of your business and able to take on a wider range of responsibilities. Naturally, all of this leads to better quality work.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that your in-house assistant is an employee, which makes you an employer. That comes with extra responsibilities. For instance, you have to invest time in recruiting and interviewing candidates, as well as creating a job description and setting clear expectations. Your new assistant will also need a few months of mentoring before they’re fully acclimated to the job. Finally, all of this comes at a higher price.
If you want an in-house assistant, but need to keep costs down, you might consider hiring someone on a part-time basis. Just be sure to scale back on goals, as you won’t get the same results as you would with a full-timer.
Is it worth it?
It’s clear that hiring a marketing assistant isn’t a decision to make lightly. For many agents, particularly those from smaller markets and with lower sales volumes, the costs will outweigh the benefits. But if you’re a successful agent looking to take your real estate business to the next level, hiring a marketing assistant is a great way to make it happen.
And once you have your marketing structure for your business in place, consider 75 innovative ways to promote yourself online.
Considering a marketing assistant to help you tackle your marketing needs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!