The Best Real Estate Technology for Top Producers in 2017: Part 2
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Real estate technology, like that in just about every other field, is rapidly changing and growing. New tech — in the form of everything from modest apps to full-fledged software solutions — seems to emerge daily, thus making it pretty difficult for your average REALTOR® to know what’s what and, more importantly, which options to test for their businesses.
Below you’ll find Part 2 of our top technology series, featuring five types of real estate apps, platforms, and programs that super-successful real estate agents need to know about to build a more sustainable and profitable business. If you missed the first half, check out Part 1 of our top agent marketing tools roundup here.
6) Use a digital ratings and reviews platform to secure client feedback you can leverage as social proof.
The sheer number of kinds of social proof you can create for your digital marketing is pretty staggering. This can include short-form video testimonials, long-form written reviews, presentation slideshows featuring client headshots and quotes, or publicly viewable ratings on the most popular real estate platforms (and agent review platforms, like RealSatisfied). These are all effective means through which you can tell your leads, “See how I’ve helped all of my clients achieve their housing dreams.”
Here’s another way to put it: Even though other marketing activities require modest amounts of your time and resources, you only need your customers’ insights about your agency to develop a great social proof plan. All you need are the right solutions to secure that feedback.
Once you collect their reviews, you can leverage their thoughts and opinions in a variety of mediums (blog posts, about page) and channels (social media, drip campaigns) and, eventually use that review content to both generate and nurture leads.
Specific Features to Look For
- Ready-to-send client questionnaires/surveys: There are numerous online survey tools modern REALTORS use to obtain information from their clients (and buyer personas, in general). The problem with many of these solutions is agents are tasked with coming up with questions to send their audience. With a real estate-oriented reviews platform, such as the aforementioned RealSatisfied, you can get pre-made survey templates featuring only questions that apply to buyers and sellers.
- Online embed capabilities: The whole point of getting testimonials and reviews from your past clients is to spotlight that social proof on your website and other digital channels (Realtor.com, Facebook, etc.). So, find a real estate app that syncs with these other popular online destinations on which you have a presence, so whoever visits your profiles and pages can see all of the wonderful things Stan Seller and/or Barbara Buyer have said about your work.
7) Leverage an intuitive and effective online advertising platform to bolster your targeted lead gen.
A far-reaching organic marketing strategy is always the first and foremost approach to bolster your online foundation and, in time, secure new leads and clients — but don’t forget the power of paid advertising, as well.
Google AdWords, Facebook for Business, YouTube Director — there are quite a few adoptions at your disposal, each of which offers a unique set of benefits that can help your brand awareness, website traffic, and lead gen. The trick is trying each of these platforms to understand how they work — and how they can work for your sales and marketing needs.
If none of the three ad platforms above catch your eye, there are dozens of other, lesser-known ad networks you can add to your repertoire of real estate marketing tools to spread word about your firm and accomplish your many business objectives.
Whether you sign up for a subscription with the major ad solutions or take a chance on the more obscure, not-as-popular software options, it’s vital to at least give one of these ad avenues a chance so you can determine if any are worth your marketing spend — and earn you lots of leads in the near-term while your SEO efforts help your long-term lead gen goals.
Specific Features to Look For
- Hyper-targeted ad filters: No real estate professional wants to have their ads shown to everyone. Rather, they simply want them displayed to their niche demographic(s). Practically every big-time advertising software platform understands this today, which is why they all offer filtering options for advertisers so their ad spend isn’t wasted and their ads actually reach the right people. Though these filters vary from platform to platform, typical demographic filters include location, age, gender, interests, and income.
- Variety of ad types: Plain text ads aren’t always the most effective means to reach one’s business audience … and it’s fairly evident why: Would you rather click on an add with just 20 words of copy and a meager “Call me” CTA or an attractive banner or video ad that brings your brand to life online? The answer is obvious, so sign on with ad networks that offer different types of visual-oriented ads you can create with relative ease.
8) Use a content management system that integrates with your IDX real estate website.
To maintain an effective real estate website, you need to be able to quickly and efficiently add content to your agency website, incorporate the right keywords and natural-sounding copy, and optimize those pages as needed over time.
You need to secure a site from a provider that includes an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) that gives you complete control over all content implemented site-wide.
Some agents and brokers prefer to hand over the reigns of their digital presence to a real estate marketing services firm — and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that (well, so long as you choose the right company to work with). Many industry pros today are simply too busy to spend a significant amount of time producing, editing, and publishing content for their sites.
If you fall into the other category of real estate pro, though — that is, one who prefers a far more hands-on approach in which you totally own every aspect of your website: from page publication to IDX integration — then you need to get a site that comes chock-full with all of the modern CMS features and functionality.
Specific Features to Look For
- Templated page development tools: The entire point of using a best-in-class real estate website provider, such as Placester, is to be able to update one’s site in minutes. To accomplish this time-saving task, you need templated pages that tell you where to put all of a given page’s components: the header, subheader, body copy, page title, meta description, and other SEO elements.
- Custom URL creation capabilities: Another such element that’s essential to have in your website’s CMS is URL customization. To make substantial headway in Google’s search engine results pages (a.k.a. get all of your pages to rank on page one over time), you need to infuse market-relevant, long-tail keywords in each page’s URL. Assuming your CMS offers this feature (which, to be honest, most do), you have the ability to incorporate an essential building block for your SEO efforts that — assuming your content is strong — can help you climb in search engine results over the long haul.
9) Make the most of transaction management software so you can track all of your closed deals.
The average REALTOR had 12 transactions during 2016, according to the National Association of REALTORS’ latest Member Profile survey — meaning one closed deal per month. That’s a lot of sales to account for over the course of a year. If you finalize that many transactions (or more) annually, chances are you’re in considerable need of real estate software to help you track and organize your financials. That’s where transaction management software comes into play.
Paperwork is — or at least should be — a thing of the past for your agency. There are too many free and affordable tech tools out there today to not have a paperless business document organization system by now.
From Dotloop to Docusign, you have a bevy of attractive real estate transaction management choices available to your business, many of which offer features that benefit both agents (manage essential paperwork, like e-signatures, mid- and post-transaction) and brokers (track team members’ progress during the life of deals and eventual closings).
Specific Features to Look For
- Desktop and mobile functionality: Just like you need a real estate CRM that works on your PC and smartphone, you also need software that makes it simple to collect fiscal details and signatures from your clients wherever and whenever. Research transaction management solutions thoroughly to find options with this dual functionality in and out of the office so you don’t have to keep going back and forth just to keep moving the logistics of your deals along.
- Data storage and backup: Cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) is both the present and future of running an efficient real estate business. If you haven’t hopped on board the marketing and sales automation train, it’s time to do so — and one place to start is with your transaction management app. Get a platform that saves every piece of deal-related information securely so you can access it with ease and rest easy knowing you won’t lose a vital document that could ruin deals.
10) Employ inbound marketing analytics software to track your online content’s performance.
The plain, hard truth of marketing today: You can’t improve the core facets of your strategy if you don’t know which aspects work and don’t.
Google Analytics is arguably the most popular and widely used content and campaign data platform used by brands small and large (and countless in between) — and this is for good reason.
The software offers innumerable reporting tools that allow professionals to quickly ascertain their digital marketing effectiveness, discover which website pages earn the most traffic and convert the most leads, and what steps ought to be taken to better elements of one’s pages or campaigns.
Having said that, there are other analytics programs that can aid your online approach and continue to better your internet presence and business goals.
For instance, the real estate website provider you decide to work with should make it easy to view visitor and/or lead activity so you can evaluate each page’s potency (i.e. which help you fill your leads database to the brim and which need to be modified in one or more ways to transform into the former category of successful pages).
Specific Features to Look For
- Rich, visual-oriented reporting: Spreadsheets are fine and dandy for those who crunch numbers for a living — but you’re a real estate pro, and time is money. That means you need an analytics dashboard that presents all of your pertinent website and campaign metrics in one, intuitive location that visually showcases your data. This may not seem like the most important factor for an analytics tool, but when you want to compare and contrast one page versus another (and another, and another), charts and graphs can greatly aid your site audits.
- Specific website activities conducted: As noted, you need to be able to discern which leads are taking which actions on which pages of your IDX website. Otherwise, you can’t nurture your home buyer and/or seller prospects to the best of your ability and you’re left in the dark when it comes to setting up things like drip campaigns for different lead buckets. Secure an analytics solution that highlights this activity (e.g. heat map of where they click on your site; time-on-page info denoting how long they stuck around; which listings they viewed most; etc.).
Learn all about Placester’s all-in-one real estate marketing tools for agents, brokers, and teams in our walkthrough webinar:
What are other types of real estate apps, tools, and software that help your agency’s marketing? Share your favorites below!
Published on June 19, 2017
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.