I have a confession to make. When I was practicing real estate, my marketing plan consisted of passing out my cards, sending out postcards, doing floor time, cold calling, and praying for referrals. This was in the earliest days of the Internet, a medium which intimidated me but which changed the nature of real estate forever.
Flash forward to my current profession, that of web designer, content creator, and social media marketer. I’m going to give you a few straight facts that pertain to your Internet branding because these are things I wish I had known while I was practicing real estate and that would have made a significant impact on sales.
If you are one of the few top agents who can afford to work by referrals alone, you need not read any further.
YOUR INTERNET PRESENCE
Whether your client demographic is the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, or Millenials, the statistics indicate that over 44 % of consumers began their initial search online. That percentage increases drastically among younger generations. All consumers profiled have come to expect photos, detailed property information, interactive maps and neighborhood information to be available in their searches.
Realtors cannot afford to ignore the Internet, so let’s take a look at how to maximize your online presence.
Love it or hate it, until Google changes their algorithms to favor local over national listings Zillow and its ilk are going to get top ranking in any search. We all know the information Zillow provides is inaccurate and that Premier Agents pay hefty fees to dominate zip codes. So what you should do? If you choose to have anything to do with Zillow, maximize your profile. Your biography needs to stand out above the competition and grab consumer attention. One of the most common complaints I hear from people is that Realtor photos are out of date. It affects your credibility when you are using photos from years ago, so please update them. Clients are going to see you in person eventually, so be upfront and authentic from the start.
Your website and social media pages are part of your brand. Your brand is what distinguishes you from the competition. It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable, skilled, or great you are if people can’t find you and read about the services you provide.
WEBSITES/ COMPANY AND PERSONAL
Your brokerage house provides you with a generic page, but what happens if you leave that particular company? Moreover, why would you want to be lumped in with every other agent in your firm? Sadly, I have noticed that many agents don’t even bother to develop their profiles on company pages. When I ask them about it, they claim they work exclusively through referrals. That statement alone makes me wonder how many chances to connect with potential clients (who might otherwise contacted them if more information were available) they have missed.
Your own website makes you stand far above the competition. One of the top agents in my town, Evanston, ranks on the front page when I Google ‘Evanston real estate brokers’. I happen to know he is great because I once did a difficult deal with him. Now, imagine you are a stranger looking for homes in Evanston and his very attractive website appears directly underneath the Zillows and local Brokerage houses. He’s not competing against those sites, he’s competing against the other Realtors in our town. How does he achieve rankings, aside from having a numerous listings? I’m certain that consistent blogging over the years has boosted his ranking considerably.
Blogging: by using pertinent keywords and giving valuable information to sellers and buyers in the areas you cover, you can reach that coveted front page ranking over time.
SEO Optimization: again keywords, links, and blogging all contribute to your ranking. See my blog post 8 CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THINGS SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WEBSITES
WHO SHOULD YOU HIRE IF YOU OPT FOR A WEBSITE:
If you go for a big company that specializes in developing Real Estate sites, this might happen:
- They will make a big deal out of SEO and charge you for it. SEO is not difficult. It doesn’t require a mastermind. It takes a bit of effort to Google what keywords consumers are entering when they look for your business or service and apply them to the back end of your website. What you need to spend money on is great writing or content, as it is termed nowadays. On page SEO, your story, the emotional connection you make with potential clients, and the valuable information you provide to them is much, much more important to have. If you do that, you will see that search engines will rank your website higher – and that will create more visibility.
- Despite the fact that they are using their own templates, you will wait in queue for months prior to getting your website.
- They will make a big deal about IDX Features. This is a simple plugin that takes a few minutes to install and gives your visitors access to to the MLS and allows them to see your past sales and current listings.
- Analytics- this is a tool to measure the effectiveness of your website and how much traffic it gets. For the purposes of real estate, you might simply want to see how many visits your website receives daily, how many page views, which pages get views, and then track how many of those visits convert to calls. Here are also plugins which will make that information visible to you -and easy to understand- on the back end of your website.
- Content -As I mentioned already, good content is critical. You only need to read reviews of the big boys to see how troublesome getting well -written, personalized content can be.
- Your website might look generic.
GOOGLE BUSINESS LISTINGS
List your business with Google business- go to Google Business and follow the easy steps to list your business locally. You can link to your company page if you don’t have a website, but make sure your page is developed. Your name, phone number, and address will now show up when a potential client is looking for local Realtors.
You need to pick a couple of sites you will be active on, so that you don’t over extend yourself. Remember you can link Instagram to Facebook and Twitter; or LinkedIn to Twitter to get more traction for less work. Additionally the posts on your website can be automatically shared to any social media that you choose to be on.
Social media has tens of millions of users and you could potentially get in front of consumers easily making use of it. Facebook is dominant and many small business people have created Facebook business pages. However, with the algorithm changes Facebook has rolled out, organic, that is unpaid, reach has fallen to less than 1% of a page’s total fan base. So does it pay to invest your time in creating a page?
I think it does. You needn’t spend hours on it, 3-7 posts a week is sufficient for your purposes.
What you need to know:
Consumers will judge you by the number of fans you have. Never purchase fake fans. T- If having a large but relatively un-engaged fan base is important to you, there is a way to grow your local fan base quickly and inexpensively. If you go global with your first ad set before switching to local zip codes, you will be getting local fans for much less money per like.
You can schedule Facebook posts in advance. Posts should be visually attractive and informative with no outbound links. Additionally, you should upload videos directly. Do not link to Youtube. You will probably not get much business from organic posts any more. However, Facebook ads are relatively cheap compared to print media and you can target consumers by special interests or demographics.
You know Facebook collects our data. Now you can use that information to place inexpensive ads increasing your visibility in the zip codes and to the demographic that you want to target. Keep in mind that advertising is an art, not a science. Don’t get fooled by slick marketers. Just because they succeeded with certain campaigns does not mean that they will know what to do with your ads. Trial and error is key, though there are a few tips you should know about prior to posting an image, such as choosing colors that stand out from the blue feed and human faces that express emotion.
Here’s where you can go organic. I know hundreds of Realtors. Only one uses LinkedIn to post regularly. Think of it as a moving billboard where your name is seen repeatedly. Don’t just post your listings or tips on how to prepare a house for sale. Anyone can Google that information. Look for or write very short informative articles about what is going on in your area. New restaurants, new business, a local ordinance, concerts or social events-the public will love you for being helpful and come to see you as a local expert. Then you can show your listings off, but do it occasionally without bombarding the feed.
A funnel is what you will use to build up your email/client list. It consists of your ad, then a free offer, such as 10 tips to Winning a Negotiation Every Time. The interested party will have to give you their name and email to get your booklet. You can then follow up and nurture the relationship, for example, with weekly e-blasts or a newsletter giving out more information that is helpful.
Reviews are critical to the health of your business. Ask your past clients to leave reviews on Yelp, Google Business Pages, your LinkedIn page, or your Facebook Business page. Put those reviews on your website, as well.
Tip: For Yelp reviews to show up and not be grayed out, the reviewer must have left previous reviews.
I hope this has been helpful. If you would like to schedule a meeting with me and get started developing your Internet strategy, please message me or give me a call.