The Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Marketing and Tech Terms
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Technology adoption is a must to become a successful real estate agent in this day and age — and we don’t just mean the newest popular devices. We mean adopting tech practices related to your real estate marketing. From search engine optimization to marketing automation to segmentation, you need many technological skills to be a modern real estate agent. Many real estate pros have recognized the need to spend on tech: 42 percent of agents, in fact, spent at least $1,000 on technology for their businesses in 2013.
However, many beginner real estate agents (and some veteran agents) haven’t bought in to the tech craze that helps agents everywhere stay competitive and build their businesses. Since it can be a challenge to master online real estate marketing, we’ve develop a glossary featuring all of the most important tech terms you need to know to achieve real estate success.
This is the act of testing changes to your real estate website, email marketing, or social media accounts to garner better marketing results. Common A/B tests include altering text, imagery, colors, or shapes of buttons on web pages to determine if those alterations make a difference in what actions visitors take. The best practice is to test two options (A and B) side-by-side to evaluate performance.
To effectively measure the performance of your real estate marketing tactics, you need to monitor them via analytics. Analytics software, like Google Analytics, allows agents to track how specific web pages and social media channels perform in terms of clicks, click-through rate, pageviews, sessions, and more (which we explain in detail below). Compare and contrast the analytics for your marketing efforts against one another — like how one blog post performs against another — to determine how you should adjust your marketing.
For Further Reference: How to Manage Reports & Dashboards in Google Analytics
Agents can’t spend all of their valuable time on real estate marketing — and thanks to automation, they don’t have to. Numerous tools exist that offer agents the ability to automate everything from blog posts to email marketing to social media messages. Scheduling your marketing efforts in advance using software means you can take care of all of your major real estate marketing needs for the week in just a couple hours.
This is the percentage of website visitors who leave your site without visiting more than one page. Common reasons for high bounce rates include a lack of website navigation, poor site content, and high page load times. A bounce typically occurs when a visitor clicks the back button or simply clicks out of the page. Give them a reason to check out more pages on your site by optimizing your real estate website with great content.
For Further Reference: 5 Ways to Use Metrics to Improve Your Website with Google Analytics
Call to Action (CTA)
The ultimate point of having a real estate website is to turn visitors into leads and those leads into clients. To make it easy for visitors to learn more about your business or secure your representation, place calls to action across your website. Include phrases in your CTA links and buttons, like “Download now” for content-based CTAs, “Subscribe here” for email sign-up CTAs, and “Buy now” for commerce-based CTAs. Make your CTAs stand out by providing succinct but clear copy explaining what visitors will get by clicking. Make it as enticing as possible so you can secure their info and turn them into viable leads.
For Further Reference: Calls to Action That Generate Real Estate Leads
Click-through Rate (CTR)
Posting ads on social media and other websites can help agents secure more traffic for their real estate website. The CTR of your ad is the ratio of clicks to impressions (in other words, how many times it was clicked for every time it was displayed). This rate also applies to email and landing pages. For email, the CTR is the ratio of the number of clicks on links included in a message versus the amount of times that message is opened by recipients. Regarding landing pages, the ratio is the number of link clicks on your landing page against how many pageviews that page receives. The higher the CTR, the better.
Saving thousands of documents on your computer is no longer the only option. Cloud-based technology has made it simple for real estate agents to save files remotely in a secure manner. Documents, listing information, image files, financial records — they can all be stored in the cloud. Services like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive allow for significant amounts of data to be stored for minimal or no cost. A major pro of having files in the cloud is the ability to access them on the go: at open houses, when showing listings, and when meeting with clients and leads.
For Further Reference: Why the Cloud Will Make Your Real Estate Clients Happy
Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system houses and organizes all of the text, images, and pages used in a website. This type of software is used by practically every website these days. CMS applications like WordPress, Joomla, or SquareSpace power most professional blogs and websites. There are plenty more available to real estate agents, and many of them make publishing content and developing websites a cinch.
There are countless types of content professionals and brands share with their audiences. This is called content marketing, and it’s the present and future of marketing (and for good reason). Creating relevant, consumer-oriented content is the key to success in just about every industry today — including real estate. Agents can use content marketing in a variety of ways, creating blog posts, ebooks, and other content types to show off their listings, company history, and value proposition.
For Further Reference: [Infographic] The Science of Content Marketing for Real Estate
While this may have a different meaning for real estate agents, conversion rate in the world of online marketing is defined as the ratio of those who become leads through your website (generally by filling out a form) versus the number of total site visitors you get. You can track this metric in Google Analytics and pinpoint the performance of specific content pieces, web pages, and ads for converting visitors to leads.
For Further Reference: How to Measure Conversion with Google Analytics
Instead of creating content for the general public and hoping it resonates with a lot of them, create a uniqely defined customer persona: the ideal person you want to sell to. Having a persona for different segments of your audience can help you better develop content marketing that will lead to more closed deals. A primary way to get the information needed to form distinct personas for your real estate marketing is to interview leads and clients. For instance, their demographics (like age and job), what they look for in a home (i.e. big living room, multiple bathrooms), and what they deem important in a community.
For Further Reference: How to Create Customer Personas for Real Estate Marketing
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
All of your leads need to be tracked somewhere, right? Customer relationship management software is the answer. These applications not only help you keep tabs on contacts, but also automate your marketing to them and remind you what next steps to take with each contact over time. You can classify your leads lists in seemingly endless ways, but the best CRMs make lead tracking and nurturing easy. If you haven’t chosen one yet for your real estate business, now’s the time.
For Further Reference: CRM Software: 12 Perfect Options for Real Estate Agents
To secure your domain name for your real estate website and email address, you need to find a registrar. These online website services manage a database of all Internet domain names (e.g. Placester.com), but they’re not all created equal. GoDaddy is probably the most widely recognized domain registrar and one of the cheapest. There are other popular ones like DreamHost, Hover, and Namecheap that vary in pricing options.
For Further Reference: 6 Essential Tech Steps to Launch Your Real Estate Website Fast
As briefly mentioned above, a drip campaign entails sending automated emails to your leads and clients based on certain actions they take on your real estate website. For example, if a lead signs up to receive a free eBook from you, you can set up a drip campaign using systems like MailChimp and InfusionSoft so they receive an email with a link to download the content, followed by a “thank you” email a week later. Drip campaigns shouldn’t make up your entire email marketing efforts, though. Personalized messages are still needed often. Send too many drip emails, and you’ll end up with low open rates — people can sense when they’re being mass-mailed.
Internet Data Exchange (IDX)
You can display listings on your real estate website thanks to the IDX, which makes feeds of MLS data available in a standardized format. All you need is an IDX provider that can help you import listings to your site. The IDX allows consumers to find the best properties in their markets.
For Further Reference: IDX Explained: The Differences Between an iframe, FTP, & RETS
Inbound marketing is the strategy of advancing your business by engaging with consumers who are already seeking your type of services, as opposed to the traditional method of proactively seeking them out. Content marketing is the backbone of inbound strategies. Nine in 10 consumers head online to find homes for sale, but also the right agent. You can convince them you’re that agent by using content that is most relevant and valuable for their needs.
For Further Reference: A Day in the Life of an Inbound Marketing-Savvy Real Estate Agent
Keywords are how you can target your audience and get them to your real estate website via search engines. In the old days of search (meaning just a few years ago), short-tail terms were the rage. These are short keywords — one or two words — like “real estate” and “homes for sale.” Not very descriptive, right? That’s when marketers realized long-tail terms, ones that more specific to what searchers were looking for, yield more relevant results. Thus, long-tail terms with three or more words, like “one-bedroom Charlotte homes for sale” and “luxury condo in downtown Los Angeles,” became more widely used. Include these terms across your website, and you’ll be on your way to SEO success.
For Further Reference: The Real Estate Marketing Guide to Keyword Research [eBook]
Lead generation has existed well before the advent of the Internet and online marketing, but it’s changed dramatically thanks to these technologies. Cold-calling is no longer the viable choice for real estate agents to find leads. Creating content, engaging on social media, and performing other inbound tactics are how you can best secure leads.
Lead nurturing means providing leads with pertinent content and messaging over time to move them through your sales funnel: from when they first learn about you to when they consume content and interact with you on social networks and email to when they show interest in your business and, finally, to the day they sign on to have you represent them.
Your homepage, “About me/us,” and your blog are all vital pages on your real estate site. It’s your landing pages, though, that will convert visitors. Landing pages should offer a precise description of your value proposition: what you can offer buyers and sellers. You can typically build landing pages through your web hosting service. These platforms offer different templates and widgets that make it simple to develop high-converting landing pages. It’s on you, however, to optimize landing pages accordingly.
For Further Reference: How to Use Landing Pages to Convert Visitors to Leads
Link building involves getting other online resources to link back to your site. A popular way to build backlinks is to identify which websites are referring the most traffic to your site in Google Analytics and ask to guest blog for them. You can also offer insights to other online blogs and publications and ask that a link to your site be included in their content. While there are plenty of white-hat ways to build links to your real estate website, be sure to avoid black-hat backlink methods which can get you in trouble with Google and get your website dropped in search results, well, at the drop of a hat.
Meta Data is information on a web page that visitors cannot see, but which tells search engines what is on the page. It may include things like a short description of the page, the date it was published, or keywords the page is targeting. Many CMS platforms have plug-ins, like Yoast for WordPress, that help you optimize your meta data accordingly.
For Further Reference: SEO: Get Found Early, Get Found Often
Pageviews and Sessions
In Google Analytics, you’ll see two categories that seem similar, but are actually different: sessions and users. Sessions refers to how many visits your website gets. A session is started when a user gets to the site (whether organically or via an ad) and expires if the user is inactive for more than 30 minutes. They can leave and come back to your site, and that visit will be part of the same session. A pageview, meanwhile, is a view of a page on the site. If you go to a site, leave, then come back seconds later, that counts as two pageviews.
For Further Reference: Understanding Basic Analytics Metrics
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Some real estate agents know this term and are afraid of it, since it pertains to spending money advertising online. But there’s nothing to fear regarding PPC. Basically, PPC entails bidding on keywords, creating ads based on those terms, and paying each time a viewer clicks on the ad.
More than 90% of marketers have deemed PPC an effective or very effective lead generation tactic, so there’s a reason AdWords and Facebook ads are so popular among real estate pros.
For Further Reference: How to Use Google AdWords to Grow Your Business
Ever go to a website on your smartphone and you can barely read the content? And not only are the fonts too small, but you can’t even find the navigation bar? Responsive design takes care of those issues for you. With responsive design set up, the desktop version of your real estate website is automatically adapted for the best results when viewed on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This provides a better user experience (UX) to your audience. To set up responsive design, get a website with a responsive theme. WordPress offers several gorgeous themes, though there are many other services out there that offer themes specifically tailored for agents.
For Further Reference: 11 Must Haves for a Responsive Real Estate Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In a nutshell, SEO is … important. It’s how agents get their real estate websites found online, secure leads, and close deals. On-page SEO refers to all of the on-site elements under your control. Optimize these with your keywords to rank for organic search — in other words, so people searching terms related to your business in Google, Yahoo, and Bing see your webpages listed on page 1 of their search results. Off-page SEO pertains to getting links to your site from other sites, which results in better rankings for your site in results pages.
For Further Reference: 7 Keys to Local SEO for Real Estate Marketing
Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
As you’ve likely figured out based on the previous entry, search engines control which pages end up where in their SERPS. The better optimized a site is, the higher it ranks … but it’s not entirely that simple. A variety of other factors affect how high a site ranks, including:
- The quality of your content: You need to create relevant, informative content that doesn’t force in keywords
- Your social media reputation: The greater your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like, the better off you are for SERPs
- Your website’s HTML: Your meta data needs to be filled out accordingly and the titles and headers for each page need to be optimized
No two leads are the same, but it is possible to target leads with your real estate marketing by grouping them together based on certain commonalities. Often, agents separate leads based on geography, income, and how often they communicate with them. For example, leads that don’t need much nurturing could get one email a month (perhaps just a blog post roundup), while better qualified leads could get the same email along with ones that show them listings, since they’re further along in the sales cycle. Having organized lead segments will allow you to focus your energy on ones who are close to selecting an agent or conducting a transaction.
For Further Reference: Common Rookie Real Estate Marketing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
Thank You Page
Whenever a visitor fills out a form on your website, an automated thank-you page should appear afterward. The copy on this page should be short and sweet, but it should include a next step for visitors. Provide a link back to your homepage, your blog, or some other page to keep them on your site. You could also include listings on this page. The whole point of a thank you page, though, is to make sure your visitors (now leads, thanks to filling in their personal info) understand you appreciate them visiting your site.
Time on Page/Site
Getting visitors to your site is one thing — keeping them there is another. Most internet users abandon websites after less than a minute. That means it’s imperative for you to develop content that keeps them on your site and returning. Educational and entertaining blog posts are your best tools for doing so.
Beginning a real estate website requires attention to many details, but the first and arguably most important one is where to host your site. A website host is the service that publishes your website online. These companies’ servers store all of your website’s files and data. When someone types in your URL and clicks enter, your web hosting service connects them to your site. In other words, without website hosts, no one would have a website. Their servers allow for seemingly endless amounts of site information to be stored.
There is no shortage of website themes you can choose from for your site. A theme is the templated design structure for your site. Instead of having to learn how to code HTML and CSS and design your site from scratch, themes offer you a outline of how to set up your real estate website. Most themes allow you to make changes to the look and feel of your site, such as changing background colors, feature images or menu items.
For Further Reference: 5 Features to Look for in a Real Estate Website Theme
Small applications with minor functionality can be added to the top, bottom, and sides of your site’s pages. These widgets have numerous purposes, but they should all have one thing in common: They enhance users’ experiences on your real estate website. For instance, you can get widgets that:
- Show recent blog posts you published
- Allow you to create polls your visitors can take (great for engagement)
- Give you the chance to promote an offer with a display image
- Enable you to post YouTube videos
- Track how many social media shares your site has gotten
Learn the basics of the real estate business by reading our eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Being a Real Estate Agent.
What marketing or tech terms do you want to know about? Share them with us below in the comments.
Published on September 10, 2014
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.