Are you a real estate agent looking to expand beyond circulars and bus benches and into the somewhat intimidating world of online digital marketing? Even with a little tech-savvy, the suite of options for online marketing can still feel overwhelming, which is why we’ve created this user-friendly list of tips and first steps to help guide you to digital marketing success.
Whether you’re just starting out in the real estate game or you’re an old hand looking to expand, we can help you find your brand, create a blog, get an email newsletter going, master social media to expand your client base, and, most importantly, get those houses moving.
1. What Is Your Story?
What is your brand? What special message are you trying to communicate to potential home buyers and sellers? How are you different from the other real estate agents or sellers in your area?
Digital marketing isn’t just a question of leveraging the newest technology. Before we dive into how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to social media, blogs, and your website, we first have to figure out what your story is. “I help people find houses” is a great job description, but it isn’t a brand. It doesn’t have a hook.
Don’t overthink it: stick to your strengths. Are you naturally funny or witty? Lean into it. Make that the voice of all of your communication. You don’t have to tell jokes or be a clown, but spicing up advertisement-speak with a light tone can help you stand out. Are you an expert in real estate law, even more than the average agent? Lead with that; make your brand about expertise, facts, and authority on the legal entanglements of real estate.
Are you handy? Great at fixing things around the house and helping clients make connections with the inevitable fixers and renovators all homeowners need? Make that your calling card. Attack all real estate topics, emails, and social media posts from the standpoint of a handyman or handywoman.
Get creative with it, have some fun. There’s actually scientific evidence that novelty triggers dopamine and helps to form longer-lasting memories, which is why it’s so important to show a little flair when marketing.
What, exactly, your brand is doesn’t matter — just make sure you have one, and focus on it. You can’t be everything to everyone, so stick with what you’re best at.
2. Making Real Estate Connections Through Social Media
The reach of social media is simply too long and the grip too fierce for any business to ignore. Did you know that over 2 billion people use at least one social media account on a regular basis?
You don’t have to be on social media every moment of the day, but remember: your customers are. While dreams of “going viral” are almost always overly optimistic, building even a small following with useful content can pay dividends for years to come.
What is a Hashtag?
Don’t forget your hashtags. A social media post without hashtags goes only to your followers, and when you’re starting out, you probably don’t have many. A hashtag like #realestate will toss your post, picture, or tweet into a pile of like-minded tweets that are being read by industry professionals and curious homebuyers. Whether you choose to post on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (though you should do all three), include at least three hashtags at the bare minimum. Here are a few real estate hashtags with popular followings:
But your social media feed can’t be just listing blasts. Social media is about conversation, and if you’re not interacting with the community, you’re just writing a diary.
Be Part of the Conversation on Social Media
Comment on things you’re interested in, even if they’re only tangentially related to real estate. Share and reblog posts you find from other thought leaders, and share interesting news articles that may relate to real estate or your other pursuits.
Your job is to become a resource and a voice for your community and potential client base. Share home-repair tips, fun facts about owning a swimming pool, home-finance blogs, news articles about the market — anything that others might then like, share, reblog, and comment on. And when someone does comment, make sure you respond in some way. Social media is a dialogue, so get chatting.
Lastly, think beyond the home. Consider the community, town, or county: you’re selling the area as much as you’re selling the physical house. Share fun events from your town, holiday gatherings, positive changes or statistics, community events, and local news interest pieces.
3. Starting Your Real Estate Blog
Assuming you’re not a one-time home seller and you’re looking to stay in the real estate game, a blog attached to your website or hosted on its own has become a necessity. First, it’s a great way to share long-form thoughts with potential home buyers and to communicate your philosophy beyond the short advertisement-flavored bursts they see in flyers and on social media.
Secondly, a blog can draw people to you and your website and establish you as an authority on real estate. Buyers are looking to trust their real estate agent; a home is a major purchase that isn’t made lightly. This combination of quality content and authority, used to draw more attention to your website, is called content marketing and is one of the most effective methods of audience expansion out there.
Even if you’re not a big writer or your typing skills aren’t up to snuff, there are plenty of tools that allow audio recording and transcription for your blog. Just talk right into your smartphone, transcribe the audio, and paste it right into your blog editor.
To give your blog a head-start, you may want to look at renting an already existing blog. Learn more on this page.
The Basics of Blogging
Where should you host your blog? Well, that’s a question of personal preference, but you really can’t go wrong with WordPress or Blogger. Both are popular and easy to use and have tons of tutorials and support for novices.
Once you have a platform, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of blogging. For real estate blogging, consider the frequently asked questions you get from clients, and turn each of those questions into a blog. “How Are Closing Costs Calculated?” or “What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?” would make great blog topics. These are the questions your clients will be asking their search engines; why shouldn’t you be the one to provide the answer?
And do make sure to create content that’s real and useful, because search engines, and Google especially, have extremely sophisticated tools to determine if content is low-quality or not, and will actually penalize you for what is called “thin content.”
However, even the most well-written, insightful blog can fall flat without a little SEO — or search engine optimization. These are little tweaks you can make to your blog to draw the attention of search engines, such as Google and Bing.
Take a look at the editing side of your blog, especially at those sections on the side marked “Categories” and “Tags.” Those aren’t just for organization; they’re one of the fastest ways Google’s crawlers can find your site. Make sure you complete those sections every time, using all of the relevant keywords in your post. Tags for the “How Are Closing Costs Calculated?” blog might include “closing costs,” “escrow,” and “mortgage,” for instance.
Don’t Neglect Images
Always include images in your blog, even if it’s just one “featured image” for search engines and another in the middle to cut some of the wall-of-text feeling.
The image itself is unimportant, though it may be wise to grab any photos you didn’t take yourself from royalty-free sites like Unsplash and Pixabay to avoid any future legal entanglements. Once you have the images, make sure you fill out the “description” and “alt text” boxes. The alt-text section is great for keywords, which Google checks for, and the description area does the same thing, while also making your blog more accessible to the visually impaired.
4. Using Video and Virtual Walkthroughs to Transform Your Listings
Hopefully, you’ve already taken plenty of high-quality, well-lit photos of every space in the house from attractive angles. But have you recorded a video walk-through or a 3D tour? Have you considered panoramic shots of important make-or-break rooms, such as the kitchen and the master bath?
Selling a home without photos is a nonstarter: no one is even going to think of visiting a property without seeing snapshots first. Seeing a home allows potential buyers to start imagining what their version of the space would look like. Now imagine how much more effective a video would be in sparking imagination.
A Brightcove survey on video engagement found that 85% of millennials and 76% of adults, overall, put down money on products and services only after viewing a video from said brand. This is simply an area you can’t let slide.
Luckily, it’s never been easier to make high-resolution videos and 3D tours of your listings. If you’re more DIY, you can make your own virtual tours with smartphone apps like LookAround, StreetView, and even Google’s native Camera app.
If that sounds like a pain, or you just don’t have the time, there are plenty of professional photographers and videographers who offer the service; you may already be working with many of them if you’ve had professional photos of your listings taken.
5. Email Newsletters
There’s a reason why every business in the world is paying huge amounts of money to get customer contact information: having the email addresses of potential clients in your demographic is the internet equivalent of gold. Averages across the industry put email newsletter open rates at around 20%, making them extremely effective marketing tools for even a small to medium-sized client base.
First, discard the nightmare of spreadsheets and notebooks full of email addresses. Instead, make use of a wide array of email newsletter services that can do the job far more efficiently. Mailchimp is one of the most popular and is simple to use; it not only organizes the emails for your newsletter but also helps you make custom email campaigns using an assortment of premade templates. Postcards, Goodbits, and Sendinblue all offer similar email newsletter and marketing platforms.
Once you have a platform in mind, you’ll need to consider how to best acquire email addresses. Giveaways, announced at events or in your social media feed are a fantastic way of acquiring email addresses from interested parties. Just remember to disclose what those email addresses are being used for, and leave an option for users to opt out so you don’t run afoul of web legislation.
Lastly, make sure you set reasonable email marketing goals before you send out your campaign. It’s difficult to measure success if you haven’t defined it in the first place. Start small with your goals: maybe set a goal for click-throughs or engagements, and build from there.
Real Estate Digital Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
Most of these strategies are absolutely free, requiring only a bit of time and an email address to set up. But the effect they can have on your real estate success has virtually no limit. So remember — there are a few easy steps you can take right now to expand your digital marketing presence:
- Find your brand, make it personal, and stick with it.
- Engage social media every day, and be helpful.
- Blog with authority.
- Use video to make your digital walk-throughs more interactive.
- Collect emails like a magpie collects shiny object.
With these straightforward tips, you’ll transform into a digital marketing expert in no time.