Back to School: 10 Lessons to Improve Your Real Estate Marketing
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
No, there are no tests to take or reports to create, but there are activities you can do to educate (or reeducate) yourself on the art of digital marketing, like optimizing a fully fleshed-out real estate website, drafting a social media strategy that earns you fans and followers, or enhancing your email marketing campaigns.
Becoming an A+ real estate marketing student doesn’t happen overnight, so start with the basics and gradually move on to more advanced marketing tactics.
Real Estate Marketing 101: Learn the Bare-Bones Basics
Even if you’ve adopted all of the latest tactics for your real estate marketing strategy, you can always benefit by going back to the basics and accounting for all of the moving pieces. Specifically, go all the way back to your initial planning phase for your marketing — before you created even one piece of content or got your website up and running — to gain an understanding of where you can improve your regular activities, along with the tools and resources you use to conduct them.
1) Establish daily, weekly, and monthly marketing processes and ideate specific tactics.
Like a musician preparing to record their next album or a football player getting ready for next week’s game, maintaining a high-quality online presence requires practice. Get into a routine with your marketing activities so they become second nature and, in turn, don’t seem like chores. A routine will help you know when to write blog posts, update your website, post to social media, send email, create videos, and perform any other tasks you undertake for your real estate marketing plan.
There is no one correct way to begin your digital marketing strategy. Just list all of the ways in which you wish to promote your brand online and the activities associated with those outlets and tactics. Ask yourself questions like:
- What are my goals for using this marketing channel/activity?
- How often will I need to measure the performance of the channel/activity?
- What resources can help me best use this channel/activity?
- How have other real estate agents implemented this channel/activity?
- How much time do I need to allocate to this channel/activity each day, week, and month?
Again, you will develop good marketing habits over time, as you become more adept with each medium and method, but this is the optimal starting point for any successful online marketing campaign.
If you want to make sure you don’t forget your high-level goals for your marketing, do as Content Marketing Institute Vice President of Content Michele Linn advises and set up a concrete marketing mission statement that clearly outlines your audience, value proposition, and what you hope to achieve with your promotional plan.
2) Find and implement software that will streamline your online marketing.
What good are your real estate marketing ideas if you don’t have the right tools to help you easily execute your activities? Nearly 90% of agents’ time is spent prospecting — working the phones, sending email, showing listings, and meeting with clients — so maximizing your time on your digital marketing plan is a must.
Keep in mind that while there are certain real estate agent marketing activities you should definitely automate, some need to be addressed with a hands-on approach, like providing customer service to your leads and clients. But as long as you have some software in place (much of which is free, or available with a free trial for a few months or so), you’ll find hours are saved each week — and days are saved each year — on performing marketing duties.
3) Just start writing: Create a significant backlog of content for your website pages and blog.
In an ideal world, you’ll craft dozens of unique webpages and original blog posts in the month or two leading up to the launch of your website … but we unfortunately don’t live in that world. Planning and creating pages and posts takes time. This can be an overwhelming aspect of your real estate agent marketing plan whether you’re a first-time agent or an older agent, but once you realize the content types home buyers and sellers consume, you’ll breathe a lot easier.
Most buyers and sellers turn to real estate websites to find out who an agent is (e.g. education, sales history, career background, certifications, designations), what distinguishes them from the pack (what they specialize in and what past clients have to say), and information about their markets (how safe the area is and what local commerce is like). So, as long as you know your audience and what drives clients to work with you, you have your content marketing strategy essentially planned out for you.
Aside from these specific preferences among your buyer personas, some of the best webpages and blog posts you can produce are the ones you most often read on other agents’ websites, including (but most definitely not limited to):
- Community and area pages: You likely already keep up with the latest goings-on in your market, so why not share information on events, news, and trends with your audience with community and area pages. Similarly, discuss what you know about specific facets of your housing market, like ideal neighborhoods for high-end buyers and where the best parks for families are located.
- Educational blog posts: Even beginner real estate agents should realize that many buyers and sellers have limited knowledge regarding home transactions, what they need to know to be prepared, and the other aspects that go into purchasing and selling properties. So, share your buying and selling expertise with your audience.
- List-based articles: Everyone loves a good listicle article, whether it’s the top 10 retailers in your market where your leads and clients can find the best decor and furniture or the 10 best restaurants to open over the last year. Ponder what elements of your market most interest people and you’ll figure out what’s worth writing about.
Even if you only have a rough idea as to what pages you want to include on your site, writing your thoughts down ensures you have plenty of content inspiration for later, when you can develop more concrete ideas into informative pages and posts.
Real Estate Marketing 201: Make the Most of Your Website
Now that you understand the foundation of thriving real estate marketing strategies, turn your attention to the center of your marketing universe: your website. Without your site, none of your other marketing activities will make much of a difference in establishing yourself as the go-to agent in your market, so direct your energy toward making yours as optimized as possible.
4) Optimize your on-page real estate website elements.
At first glance, it may seem like all you need to do to make your real estate website adored by search engines is to add a handful of keywords related to your market. This strategy worked … around 2003. Today, a more intricate strategy is needed to get your site in the top few pages of search results and it all starts with your site’s on-page elements:
- Distinct copy that educates: Search engines are smart enough today to understand when sites provide real value to readers with their content versus just stringing together keywords or pitching services. This isn’t to say you can’t sell on your site — it just means you need to provide explanatory, helpful content and not just sales heavy content.
- Create user-friendly navigation and design elements: If your audience can’t easily navigate your site and find what they’re looking for, they’ll abandon it almost immediately. Make sure your navigation bar includes all the pertinent links your visitors will need to get the information they want and, just as importantly, convert into leads.
- Keywords are implemented in prominent areas: From header tags to URLs to content titles, your keywords need to be included in notable aspects of your site. So carefully craft your content to incorporate the appropriate keywords for each page and post.
To ensure your site is Google- and Bing-friendly and is as enhanced as possible to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs), use one of the many on-page ranking tools recommended on the HubSpot blog, each of which can tell you where you’ve done well optimization-wise, which parts of your site need more work, and a score or grade as to where you stand at the moment.
5) Develop many pages to showcase listings, company info, and housing markets.
There’s no limit to the number of pages you can add to your website. A common myth is that having a couple landing pages is all an agent needs to win over visitors, but this is unmerited. The more pages you have, and the more information you offer your audience, the more likely you are to get found.
Webpages also need to be optimized to convert visitors into leads. Calls to action (CTAs) with a clear value proposition and pleasing design need to be added. Strong copy that positions you as a wise and all-knowing agent needs to be included atop each page. Social proof, like reviews and testimonials, have to be included to show you have a great track record.
All in all, you need to relay as much about you, your brand, and your market as possible without coming off as too promotional — certainly a fine line to draw, but one that can be accomplished with some practice.
6) Enhance your site with imagery, videos, and other multimedia elements that wow.
Your most noteworthy listing, interesting homes for sale in your market, your headshot, client reviews, and testimonials: What do they all share in common? None will be promoted most effectively without visuals. Whether it’s stock photos, professional pictures, or video footage, some form of multimedia should accompany each page and post on your site.
As long as your photos and videos are relevant to your business, you significantly improve your website’s lead-converting ability, so take time to source ones that can be used across your digital presence. For example, if you take photos of the most popular neighborhoods in which you work, use them on your community pages to relay what makes each one interesting or customize some of them with text overlays to use as featured images within your blog posts.
The point is imagery can play an important role in making the most of your website, so brighten it up with amazing-looking pics and clips and consistently add new multimedia elements to keep your site fresh.
Real Estate Marketing 301: Focus on Off-Page Engagement
Your website is good to go, and all that’s left is to optimize your off-site channels. This may sound easy to accomplish, but to complete this activity, you first need to list every single digital locale in which you have a presence and figure out which need to be modified for your real estate marketing plan first. One place that makes the most sense to begin this effort is on social media.
7) Converse with fans, followers, and favorite-ers on each of your social media channels.
“Social is the way our work gets discovered. Content that is truly exceptional, unique, and useful can earn tremendous awareness through social media, and that social amplification often leads to great links, which leads to great rankings.” This tidbit from Moz Founder Rand Fishkin epitomizes the mentality agents need to have with their real estate social media marketing channels — but it’s only half of what’s needed to truly succeed on social. The other half entails reaching out to those who engage with your brand: from ardent fans and followers who comment on your status updates and pins to the occasional retweeter who messages you to ask a question.
Start your offsite marketing optimization by making sure your social media presence is strong, both in terms of the content you share, which should be enticing and interesting, and the engagement levels you have on each medium. Be thorough and prompt with your responses to those who reach out to you. Also, don’t forget to take initiative and message those you think would enjoy your content (for instance, those who may have shared some of your blog articles on Google+), and friend request/connect with others who aren’t yet in your social network circles.
8) Produce Oscar-worthy videos to publish on your YouTube channel.
One thing many agents forget is YouTube is a social network — one that’s home to hundreds of millions of channels and receives billions of views monthly. As renowned marketer Amy Porterfield notes, social media and video go hand in hand: Your YouTube account can drive more traffic to your other social profiles, while sharing your videos on social networks helps garner more traction to your YouTube channel. Moreover, social media posts with videos are shared 12 times more often than updates with just text and/or links.
The evidence is there: Video marketing is not only here to stay, it’s a growing factor in practically every brand’s online marketing plans. While it may take some time to learn how to produce stellar real estate videos — or, at the very least, find the right third parties to create them — map out how you can fill web pages, blog posts, and social media messages with videos so you can enhance your digital presence. Moreover, don’t forget to optimize your YouTube channel, which entails more than publishing a regular stream of videos.
9) Make your online presence known on other prominent and pertinent sites.
From guest posting to content syndication, there are a wealth of content promotion opportunities at your disposal — the trick is building the right network of influencers and industry connections willing to share your content with their networks.
This marketing approach requires first reaching out to dozens of people to gauge their interest in sharing your content and researching those who regularly share others’ content to see what drives them to do so. Sometimes, these promotion partners ask for something in return, like promotion of their own content or products and services or an IOU for a spot on your blog at some point down the line. The bottom line is that getting others to spread awareness of your content requires some give and take.
Read what more than a dozen marketing experts told BuzzSumo they do to ensure their content receives considerable amounts of promotion to get the most mileage out of their content. For instance, SEO marketer Steven Sparber noted, “Original, creative observations will generate content that resonates with people.” In other words, make your content unique and intriguing to a wide audience and you vastly increase the odds others will share your content online.
If promotional share requests don’t pan out, you can simply interview well-known personalities for your real estate blog. Since you’re giving them a platform to speak their mind, you don’t have to convince them to share your content: They’ll do that on their own.
10) Develop drip real estate email marketing campaigns to nurture leads.
Three-quarters of marketers believe email marketing will offer excellent return on investment for their brands in five years. The primary reason for this widely held belief is simple: Email — and, more specifically, email drip campaigns — prove more and more effective in nurturing leads through the marketing funnel. Real estate lead generation is every agent’s focus, but many agents forget once they secure those leads, the job is far from over.
Manually sending email to each and every lead is a thing of the past. Nurturing leads with real estate email marketing drip campaigns allows you and your brand to stay top-of-mind with buyers and sellers as they wade through their options and consider hiring an agent or searching the market for listings. If you have a group of leads who fill out a form to access your home buying or selling checklist, for example, you can set up an automated workflow of email to these prospects, gradually offering them more relevant information and, eventually, offering your services to help them.
Create numerous email messages — or use a service that offers them pre-made — to implement and send over time to engage your leads and influence their decision-making.
Published on August 18, 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.