Most home buyers – 92 percent – used the internet at some point during their search for a new home and nearly half said using the internet was the first step they took (July 2014-2015 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). The Internet of Things (IoT) culture we live in ensures that this is a trend that will only increase, especially as younger generations join Millennials and “digital natives” make up a majority of U.S. adults.
The 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers also notes that a majority – 51 percent of home buyers said they found the home they purchased on the internet (vs. 34 percent who said they found the home they bought through their real estate agent or broker).
Not only do home buyers and sellers use the internet, they trust it, too. While 78 percent rated their agent as a useful source of information, even more, 82 percent said the internet was. As a real estate agent, it’s vital that you understand how buyers and sellers are using the internet so that you can position your digital presence to be present when and where they are.
4 Digital Real Estate Marketing Musts for Agents
1 SOCIAL MEDIA
In the top spot on the list of ways buyers found agents, 42% of home buyers chose to work with an agent they knew, or one that was recommended to them by someone they knew. Social media offers realtors the ability to meet and connect with people online long before a home buying or selling process ever begins.
Just being “on” social media doesn’t help you connect with prospective clients. You must be active on networks where your ideal client types are, in ways that work on each network. Each update you make should speak to goals like:
- brand awareness – adding followers; i.e., “meeting” new people
- brand authority – leading followers to believe you’re an expert
- brand connection – giving followers reasons to feel inclined toward working with you
- brand convenience – making it easy for buyers and sellers to get in touch to ask questions or when they’re ready to make a move
When you look at your activity on social networks, are these things happening? We recommend that every professional or agency work from a social marketing calendar, scheduling posts ahead of time ensuring a consistent publishing schedule, where each post is aligned with one or more of these as well as your own unique goals. (And if you want, we would be happy to help, with social marketing services that start at $100 per week.)
2 EMAIL MARKETING
Email is the top performing tool in business for return on investment, lead generation and conversions. If it’s right there in your prospects inbox week after week with intriguing headlines, interesting and helpful content and an “easy button” where a simple reply gets them in touch with you, who do you think they will reach out to when it’s time to make a move?
Building an email marketing contact list and sending content they actually want to read is a must for agents who don’t want to have to start all over again when it comes to marketing. It can help you get more people into the pipeline long before their home buying or selling process even starts. It can help you get more referrals when they forward your emails to friends, colleagues or family members who are looking for an agent to work with. It can help you establish yourself as an industry leader in your region, which can be additionally helpful as the means of attracting more quality agents to your team.
The flip side of the email marketing coin is that you’ve got to be available by email. It’s probably on your business card already, but if you aren’t great with words, type at a snail’s pace or simply don’t enjoy working this channel, results may suffer. Don’t be afraid to team up with people who are great with the written word and available to monitor incoming emails, respond to those they can and forward those that need your attention directly to you.
3 SEARCH MARKETING
Home buyers and sellers search online. They search for homes to buy, they search to see how other homes in their area are priced, how quickly they are selling, how their home compares. They search for realtors and agencies. They search for reviews and ratings. Understanding how to get found when your ideal client types search online is invaluable. This includes both technical and creative aspects of content and imagery used in listings, proactive reputation management (are you reaching out to happy clients for reviews?), strategic inclusion in directories and listing services, and much more.
Success in getting found online through SEO (search engine optimization) and engagement (are people actually interested in what you’ve published online once they found you) is both art and science. Each web content type (web pages, blog articles, directories, listing sites, social media, etc.) has its own nuances. The more you master, the more times you win when buyers and sellers search online for someone like you.
4 CONTENT MARKETING
You can’t win online without quality, search optimized content. This means a website that’s meets Google, Bing and other search engines for quality both technically (architecture, code, etc.) and in the quality of content published (i.e., original content, on topics that satisfy your readers desire to find something or learn something), and for quantity (the more pages and articles you have published, the more search engines tend to reward your site).
The content you publish on your website, blog, social networks and other digital “real estate” can act as a magnet, helping your agency get found by buyers and sellers and as a conversion tool, winning them over when they do. It can establish you as an expert and give people reasons to feel personally inclined to work with you when it’s time to buy or sell. And if you suspect that we’re back to brand awareness, authority, connection and convenience, you’re absolutely right. We’re back to strategy. Because as with social media and email marketing, each piece of information you provide should be helping you achieve one of these four goals.
For better or worse, technology is firmly entrenched in the home buying journey in nearly every phase of the process. Gone are the days when buyers, sellers or agents have to rush to and from homes and offices to get the buyer’s offer in, sellers response back or wait on inspection reports, appraisals and addendums. Thanks to technology, nearly every aspect of the home buying process can be accomplished with a few mouse clicks and keystrokes.
You can keep doing what you’ve always done and keep getting what you’ve always gotten, or you can embrace the Internet of Things and adopt a digital strategy that helps you get more. Get your digital real estate marketing strategy right and you’ll be poised to attract more buyers and sellers so you can grow your agency more quickly, earn more money and become a leader in your field.
We would love to be part of your story.
Take advantage of our new real estate marketing calendars and get a ready-made strategy planner every month that delivers on the digital real estate marketing musts listed here or reach out to us for a free, no-obligation proposal for services.