How to Really Reach Today's Real Estate Consumer


 Craig Grant  |    May 07, 2014
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Since the inception of the industry, real estate practitioners have relied and built their businesses on a collection of marketing techniques that focused on one-to-one relationship building. Some of these techniques included phone blitzing, canvassing an area and knocking on doors, direct mail and print advertising. I am not here to tell you that those strategies should no longer be used, but I am definitely going to preach that if you have not done so already, you need to start implementing ‚Äúnew school‚ÄĚ techniques. In fact, any marketing expert will tell you that to succeed in today‚Äôs real estate world, a mixture of old school and new school techniques is key. Despite the fact that numerous studies each year show that 89 percent of consumers use the internet in their research process and 90 percent of leads in real estate involve the internet, the reality is that many REALTORS¬ģ continue to be absent on the Web: they have no website and fail to use the internet as a business-building tool.¬†

So when it comes to the new school marketing, you have several options, which can all be successful for you. I suggest that you choose the marketing option that aligns with your personal marketing goals. So let’s take a stroll through technology lane to help you discover which new marketing techniques are right for you.

Brand equity or top-mind awareness (TOMA)

If your challenge is that you are new to the market and no one knows your name, or maybe your company is currently No. 6 in the market but would like to be No. 4, then internet banner ads are your best option. 

These animated graphic ads are very similar to buying a billboard, but instead are housed on the internet. And while many web users may find banner ads annoying at the time they appear on the screen, the ads are remembered positively after the fact. The key is, though, that you have to run banner ads on a website people go to every day for a long period of time, such as a local news or community-oriented website. Don’t run banner ads on real estate websites; people don’t typically visit these websites often enough for your ad placement to be the most effective. 

A newer spin on banner advertising is called ‚Äúre-targeting.‚ÄĚ In this method, a cookie ‚ÄĒ which is a file that allows a website to track your activities after you exit that site ‚ÄĒ is dropped on a user‚Äôs computer and your banner ad is displayed on other websites that user visits from that point on. So essentially, your ad ‚Äúfollows‚ÄĚ that user around the internet and gives them the impression that you‚Äôre a big player and you are everywhere.

Lead generation

If your goal is to get more leads, either by phone or email, your best option is to purchase some of the upgrade options on the major real estate network sites, which include Zillow/Yahoo Real Estate, Trulia, Realtor.com and Homes.com. Over 70 percent of the total real estate web traffic navigates across these websites, so these sites have the traffic and the demand to drive leads your way.

Some of the upgrade options include:

  • Featured property: Your listings are highlighted and displayed prominently on any searches done in your purchased zip codes.
  • Featured REALTOR¬ģ: You are displayed as the featured REALTOR¬ģ if someone searches either for a REALTOR¬ģ or for property in your desired market area.
  • Listing display enhancement: Upgrade the display of your listings with additional photos, virtual tours or contact information for example. These additional features display in both the search results and in the listing detail display, making your listings stand out from the competition and allowing consumers to directly contact you if they are interested in your properties.
  • Unclaimed leads: You can pay to receive any leads that are intended to go to other agents in your area who did not do the listing display enhancement upgrade.
  • Mobile: All of those features are sold separately for mobile devices because the big real estate websites realize that people using their sites on mobile devices are much more likely to act than users on traditional computers.

Traffic

If you have a good website and your goal is to drive traffic to it, then you need to explore pay per click (PPC) ads on search engines like Google or Bing. PPC ads can be highly effective because they are the only form of advertising in which the advertiser has complete control of all aspects of the ad campaign. 

For example, you can pick the exact keyword phrases that will trigger your ad to display. You then can determine the cost of your overall ad campaign budget, and you can bid how much you are willing to pay for every transaction, or cost per click (CPC), of your ad. In other words, you don’t pay every time your ad shows up in search results; you only pay for the clicks to your website from the ad. 

PPC advertising is free of projections and guesswork. It‚Äôs the only form of advertising where you know your results before they even start. And you can even add demographic, geographic and device time settings to your ad. For example, not only could you buy ad space with the search ‚ÄúMilwaukee, WI Homes for Sale‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ you can reserve your ad to only display to females older than 50 within a 300-mile radius of Milwaukee and only serve the ad to mobile devices, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
PPC is by far the most precise form of advertising available. The key is to be sure to do some research and pick smart cost-effective keywords ‚ÄĒ ones with good traffic and low CPC ‚ÄĒ and that your website has good related content and lead capture. If you do this research and ensure that your website is ready, PPC advertising can be highly effective.¬†

Another avenue to explore with PPC advertising is on social media sites, specifically Facebook. While Facebook has many of the principles of traditional PPC, one of its differentiations is the fact that Facebook not only knows a lot about your personal likes and interests, but also your friends. You can apply this demographic data to your ad campaign and the invaluable information tracked by Facebook. For example, Facebook’s relationship status can be a great tool for real estate marketing. If you know someone was in a relationship and is now engaged, or was married and is now changing their status to single, they could be preparing for a real estate transaction. Similarly if someone announces they are about to have a baby, it could mean they need to upsize their property and so on. 

Relationship building/long-term client acquisition

If you are looking for a new way to network and build relationships that will lead to potential clients, don’t ever forget the value of social media. Social media is free, and if used right, it’s easy and not time consuming. Keep in mind that each social media platform has its own demographic and its own personality, so pick the one that’s right for you, your personality and the client you are trying to reach.

Education

YouTube is not only the number one video website on earth but also the number two search engine behind Google. So YouTube is more than just a bunch of videos of cats playing pianos; millions of people every day access YouTube, looking to learn new ideas. And real estate is a business that requires a lot of education. So if you have targeted knowledge in a certain area, say home staging or simple renovation tips, create videos about that area and post the videos on YouTube for free. 

And if you are thinking about posting property videos, you definitely should! A recent study from Postling showed that 73 percent of homeowners expect their REALTOR¬ģ to shoot video of their property, but only 12 percent of REALTORS¬ģ currently are. With today‚Äôs mobile devices, shooting video is easier than ever ‚ÄĒ and posting a video online is simple because anything that deals with video these days has YouTube functionality built into it.

Retention/repeat business

Look to your database for generating future business out of your past clients. A recent study showed that 82 percent of consumers forget their REALTOR¬ģ‚Äôs name within five years. Additional studies have shown that content-based drip email campaigns are becoming increasingly less effective. So the challenge becomes how you can personalize your marketing and have a more meaningful touch to your client base.¬†

Look to these companies that are doing it right:

  • BombBomb.com is a great program that allows you to quickly and easily shoot professional-looking videos that can be sent personally to individuals or blasted out to many.¬†
  • HappyGrasshopper.com is an email marketing company that curates interesting or quirky emails that are sent to your userbase and make your clients feel like you are personally trying to keep in touch with them.
  • Website vendors like YourMLSSearch.com and BoomTownROI.com track cookies and provide personalized experiences to website users by recommending listings based on prior search habits, communicating with the site user while on the site, and so on.

Niche targeting for farming

Direct mail has grown up ‚ÄĒ gone are the days of blanketing a neighborhood with traditional postcards. SmartZip and Listing Grabber are marketing vendors that combine data, predictive analysis, direct mail and online tracking to be much more effective than traditional, old school methods of direct mail marketing.

As you can see, there are many ways to promote yourself in the digital world ‚ÄĒ you just need to figure out which one matches up with your marketing needs. But the key is, if you haven‚Äôt done so yet, take the plunge and start shifting some of your marketing dollars to online, and you will be happy you did as the waters are full of your potential clients!

Craig Grant of The Real Estate Technology Institute and EasyRealtySites.com is a national speaker on all aspects of technology, marketing and risk management as well as a top consultant for REALTORS¬ģ looking to run their business more productively and cost efficiently using technology. For more information, Craig can be reached at 352-400-4857 or by email at Craig@RETI.ws.

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