Ten years ago some entrepreneurs asked: “Does my business really need a website?” Five years ago, some were still wondering: “Does my business really need to be on social media?”
And as recently as two years ago, businesses of all sizes were not always sold on the merits of investing heavily in digital content.
Today, only convenience store owners and the most contrarian entrepreneurs would ask the first two questions, while the enormous benefits of content are no longer in much doubt.
With the internet now integral to the global economy and digital ad spending expected to surpass TV for the first time in 2017 (according to eMarketer), digital marketing continues to grow in importance.
And real-estate businesses are more internet-centric than most when it comes to advertising.
When people start scouting properties to buy or preparing to sell their home, they invariably turn to Google first. There they can quickly find out typical prices in their target areas, compile a shortlist of properties and compare real-estate agents by price, reputation and services.
Real estate is a competitive market, so here are some digital marketing tips to get an edge on the competition if you own – or want to buy – a real-estate business.
1. Identify your target audience
The first logical step is to identify your target audience and get a clear picture of their online habits: where they get their information, how they consume that information, and what questions they’re likely to ask during each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Distil this information into unique buyer ‘personas’ and you can tailor digital content, social media conversations and special offers to appeal directly to specific groups. It can also help you decide which platforms to use and prioritize.
Don’t try to ‘be all things to all people’ – an impossible task; consider the following targeting criteria instead:
- Buyers versus sellers: Is one group consistently more profitable than the other? Do you really need to go after both – or both with equal vigor?
- Commercial versus residential: See above
- Demographics: Depending on the demographics of your target areas, do the greatest opportunities lie in seniors, millennials, first-time buyers or asset-rich boomers?
- Geography: An especially important constraint for relatively small agencies with a more limited geographic reach.
- Income bracket/property price point: Is your agency geared more toward a high volume of smaller sales or a few huge sales?
Anything you can do to narrow down your audience(s) will help you tailor your digital marketing strategy effectively.
2. Establish and promote a ‘content hub’
It’s true that setting up a Facebook page is quicker and easier than building and maintaining your own website. However, it’s risky to entrust your agency’s digital identity to a free service run by a for-profit corporation that can and will change their rules and algorithms on a dime whenever it suits them.
It can also convey the impression that you’re a small-time operation that lacks professionalism.
That applies equally to Tumblr, Medium or any other free social and hosting services that promise that you can get your online presence up and running in seconds.
It’s actually never been easier to get a professional-looking website operational without spending a fortune. Many firms of modest means set up a shared hosting account and install WordPress – an intuitive website builder and the most popular platform of its kind.
Once your site and branded domain name is established, you can start creating all those social channels you’ll need and from which you’ll direct prospective customers to your website.
3. Create targeted content
The simplest method of creating content is to write blog articles, house them on your own site and distribute this content via your social channels.
By centralizing the source of your content, you accomplish a few things:
- You build your agency’s brand as a source of useful information
- You develop your authority as a thought leader in your industry – thereby burnishing your expertise in providing real-estate services
- You can readily access analytics data – which tracks overall site traffic and for particular articles, the source of that traffic and dwell time, among other things – using platforms like Google Analytics or Omniture, because you have ownership of your site. You can then use this data to fine-tune your content strategy.
Use this opportunity to answer every question your target audience may have as they move through the sales funnel. This content will serve as an educational ‘magnet’ that organically draws the right people to your digital doors through the power of SEO and the modern consumer’s tendency to self-educate long before speaking to a salesperson.
4. Be active on social media
The real marketing power of social is how you can categorize people by their preferences, interests and immediate information needs. By analyzing the major social networks – using tools like Hootsuite, Socialbakers or Buzzsumo – you can gauge how your target customer interacts online as they pursue the services your agency provides.
By entering conversations in their social circles in a non-pushy, helpful way, you can put yourself on their radar and make a positive impression.
Set aside some time each week to engage with your audience and, without explicitly seeking their custom, some of them may later get in touch and appoint you to buy or sell their real estate.
Social media platforms continue to proliferate, so resist joining the next big social network until your target audience does so first.
If you’re a real-estate agency that’s doing great things online, we’d love to hear from you! Share your experiences and advice in the comments section below.