We have all heard the old adage about working smarter not harder. Nobody sets out to work harder, that would be ridiculous, right?! Often it is simply a matter of having the right tools to help lighten the workload. In the sales world, we are always looking for better ways to reach new potential customers faster while keeping the customers we currently have longer. And if possible, to spend less time doing it while reducing operational costs. That’s a tall order.
Digital marketing is that work smarter not harder resource….
Digital marketing is the silver bullet for the luxury real estate market. Yet according to a 2018 study, realtors are simply not effectively engaging the potential of digital marketing. When was the last time you went to the movies, out to dinner, the mall, or even the grocery store where you didn’t see literally everyone, age 10-80 on some form of electronic device? We all live on our phones. And when you go home or to work, our electronic connections only get bigger and more powerful. That’s marketing power waiting to be harnessed!
According to the National Association of Realtors, there are roughly 1.3 million realtors in the United States, each working hard for their piece of the real estate market. So, when you look at the numbers, the question is not how you benefit, but how could you not benefit from having an effective digital marketing plan?
Digital marketing is an excellent tool that can broaden both reach and exposure to more customers than traditional marketing. It fosters endless opportunities to find and engage with a targeted audience with the right message. But as important, an often critical but overlooked piece, an effective digital marketing plan has the power to lift you about the pack. To make you that “go-to” person, that trusted name in the industry.
But it will require planning, focus, and concentration on getting your business’s online branding assets; your website, digital advertising plan, email marketing concepts, online brochures, among many other factors working together as part of an overall digital marketing campaign that supports your goals and allows the growth you need.
What is Digital Marketing?
Welcome to the new age and a new way of doing business! For those of you who can, think back twenty or so years ago when dinosaurs roamed the market place and marketing strategies were based off cumbersome, expensive, and now wildly outdated models. Print, commercial airways, and the telephone were king, all chaotically wrapped up in a nonstop hustle to stay in contact with potential clients.
Digital marketing is not your grandfathers pet dinosaur! It is powerful tool with nearly unlimited potential! Digital marketing is about using the right tools to filter out the clutter and getting your message to your ideal client. Information you can use to build excitement, create that buzz, built relationships, and close the deals! It can reach vast new markets while maximizing the potential of every advertising dollar spent or keep every minute saved focused on the next sale. But a world of caution, if done incorrectly, your company could be lost in the vastness of the internet never to be seen again.
Digital Marketing Training for Realtors: 11 Types of Online Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
Digital marketing is at the forefront of the advertising industry, that is an undisputed fact. Depending on whose numbers you use, conservative estimates for 2018 place the value of global digital marketing at roughly $192 billion. And that is expected to increase to over $300 billion by 2020.
According to Digita Global Marketing, 2017 statistics show that every minute an estimated 650,000 searches were made on Google, over 700 videos were hosted on YouTube, over 700,000 status updates and 500,000 comments were posted on Facebook, over 65,000 tweets were made, and approximately 180 million emails were sent.
A National Association of Realtors Report, Real Estate in a Digital Age, dated 2017 made some rather alarming findings. One of the biggest being that only 36% of realtors consider themselves comfortable with social media and only 26% have their own website. And of those that do, they are not considered adequate. What this means is that realtors for the most part are sitting on the bench watching others play the game.
It’s time for some innovative thinking! Let’s explore some aspects of a digital marketing strategy that can get you established as an industry leader and expand your business opportunities in ways that previously seemed unobtainable.
1. Email Marketing
Love them or hate them, statistics show that email marketing campaigns work if done properly. But be smart about it, know your audience. Do your homework, make sure your message is clear and concise. Additionally, make sure it represents who you are and supports your overall brand. Spam filters work and you may only get one shot at a good first impression. Provide valuable information that a potential customer wants.
The goal of an effective luxury real estate email campaign is to successfully drive traffic to your real estate website, social media sites, or directly to you.
Here are a few things that you will need:
- A click-worthy subject matter
- Utilize your research, and personalize your approach
- Get to the point right away
- One consistent message: What do you offer, and what differentiates you?
- Reveal your value: Who are you, what can you offer, and why you should be chosen to deal with?
- Call to action: Give links to download, sign-up, or register to your website, or check out the latest listings that you carefully handpicked for your potential new client (engage on a personal level)
If you have real estate partners that have similar interests, go ahead and group them. Competing emails mean they all end up in the trash. Just don’t forget to change the recipient’s name in the email.
With a lot going on, learn to organize your contacts and be proactive in replying. Build your digital marketing skills by starting with these Relationship Management (CRM) apps:
- Premier Agent allows realtors to manage leads, schedule e-mails, and meetings on the go.
- OpenHome Pro, which is an amazing iPhone app that helps luxury realtors like us with lead management. It captures leads and sends personalized follow-up e-mails with your contact information. It also helps with social sharing which is what you need now that you’re trying to grow traffic for your website or social media channels.
2. Invest in Social Media Marketing
“Building the know, like, trust factor” starts on social media.
Priority one for realtors for 2019 should be to become familiar with the various social media platforms. As you see in the figure to the right, most of the more popular social media platforms are being ignored. They are a digital marketing gold mine!
The strategy behind social media is to open up more ways of communicating, engaging with a wider audience, providing information, and even helping people beyond your target market. Not every post should be about the next sale, but every post should in some way contribute to your overall brand. It is important that you put some thought into your overall social media image, work it to your advantage;
- Get recognized as an expert in the luxury real estate arena
- Honest, knowledgeable, dependable
- Willing to help everyone
- Project your image as a cut above the rest
Engage, engage, engage! Information flows like water on social media if you know where to look. Take the time to learn as much as you can about your community. Become involved on as many of the online platforms as possible such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, among many others as they can cast very wide nets. In a very short time you should be able to see trends that can help you focus your efforts into particular groups or areas. Then armed with your customized content, engage. Provide value, get people talking and sharing your content, and try to engage with people on a personal level. Listen to feedback and continue to build relationships.
Each social media platform can give you a different point of view that can all be shared with a touch on the screen. Here’s a quick sampler of what each medium offers:
- Facebook hosts many kinds of content from status posts (no character limit), viral (popular) videos that, apps, games, as well as event invitations and birthday reminders. This also includes ads, which are delivered through Facebook’s audience groups. These are segmented by age, gender, preferences (based on their likes), among many others, allowing you to target specific communities.
As an advertiser, you can use the audience network’s targeting tools to define your ideal lead by location, interests, age, wealth, homeowner status, lifestyle, and more.
- These can be shown not only on Facebook but also across thousands of popular apps and sites (Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, WhatsApp, etc.). Defined targeting and broad reach make Facebook ads a powerful tool for agents looking to increase traffic, maximize exposure, and generate new leads.
- Selling real estate predominantly comes down to aesthetics, use strong, high-resolution imagery across social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Complementing Facebook posts are the more popular Instagram and Twitter, which deliver bite-sized learning with a punch!
- Instagram is a more visual medium that features a big photo with a very quick caption. Posts can be classified with hashtags that will bring up all similarly tagged photos. This can be a great marketing tool for you—study and learn from posts that are relevant to you, and get that hashtag mix just right! You can also utilize hashtags that relate to the location of the property and its selling points to help people view your listings.
- Twitter brings you and your uptown multimillion-dollar real estate offerings to the world in 160 characters or less! This is great for posting quick updates or calls-to-action, such as link-backs to your new content like blogs, videos, virtual tours, and even links to other online resources that you find interesting and useful to your audience.
3. Looking Good is Half the Battle in Your Online Presence
Depending on which so called expert you ask, it takes the average person somewhere between .05 -15 seconds to click onto your website, take that mental snap shot, and determine whether they are going to stay or not. That’s not a lot of time. Now image that same person is interested in spending thousands of dollars to purchase their new home. That first impression had better be great!
99% of millennial’s will use the internet to search for a house. 58% will do so on their mobile devices. Whether through a search function or one of your other supporting marketing strategies, email campaign, social media, etc., without a doubt, at some point, any potential client is going to end up on your website. Will you be able to reflect your brand personality through your website?
Be the luxury real estate professional you are meant to be by presenting a crisp and clean-cut online presence.
- Be big and bold!
- Game-ify the experience of property searches.
- Immediately communicate price and primary benefits.
- Publish your latest best deals and recommendations on dedicated pages on your website. Featured listings pages work very well for potential clients who are on the lookout for something specific.
- Showcasing the best luxury estates in your portfolio.
- Highlighting up-and-coming projects.
- Customize hot sheets that summarize relevant information such as acreage.
Well-captured images have the power to communicate not only what the property looks like, but also its potential as the next big investment for your potential client. This means showing ideal living scenarios and lifestyles that commonplace listings often do not fully capture.
While stock photos and video footage are always a cost-effective and convenient option, investing in professional photography and videography can give very good returns on creating a more authentic, trustworthy and personalized feel.
- Go for what works! As an example, look at the following luxury websites to see how they feature a big photo of the property with the price on it? Learn by observing…
(Photo Credit: https://www.tollbrothers.com/)
(Photo Credit: https://lasvegasluxuryrealty.com)
(Photo Credit: https://www.luxuryrealestate.com/)
4. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When was the last time you typed something into Google or your favorite search engine then waded down through all the results to page two or three? The answer is most likely never. And while there are those dedicated few, the truth is most folks don’t take the time to dig for information. Or there is the perception that the “good stuff” is what can be found on the first page. So, what’s the answer, make sure you are on the first page!
As of January 2018, there were 1.8 billion active websites on the internet and that number grows every day. When your next potential client searches, you need to be in the top five, if possible. Typically, SEO is based on key words; or words that help search engines filter out the clutter to narrow the search parameters down to specific content.
It takes preparation, a good understanding of the message you are trying to deliver, and a basic understanding of how search engines function to achieve the desired benefits of good SEO.
SEO can help you focus on growing your visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results, utilizing both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.
Initially you may want to consider hiring SEO consultants to work their magic for you. They can upload your content with the necessary support and monitor their effectiveness through online tools such as Google Analytics and other online tracking measures. With time and experience, you will be able to easily create, implement, and track effective SEO strategies.
SEO is a very important part of your overall digital marketing strategy!
5. Explore Paid Advertising
You can’t turn on anything electronic these days without seeing some form of advertising. Some are quite subtle, some more overt, and recently, like magic, everything that “randomly” pops up seems to be stuff you are interested in. That’s not by accident.
Nearly all of the large online players, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc., have created effective paid advertising platforms as an extension of their other services. While not always needed, they can be a cost-effective addition to any digital marketing plan if utilized correctly. And it is widely accepted across nearly every digital platform. In the first quarter of 2017, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest saw a 61.5% increase in paid media spend. That number has steady increased since and is expected to climb throughout 2019.
By expanding your digital marketing plan to include paid digital advertising, you can boost the reach of your posts, display ads, videos, virtually all content as part of a comprehensive digital advertising strategy. With this, you will be in a position to drive more traffic, create more brand visibility, and sell or lease more properties.
So where can you start?
Here are three places to get started in using paid digital advertising to help market your property:
- Display ads are the paid advertisements that appear in front of users on website pages in the form of graphics. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio, and video to communicate an advertising message. Display ads are commonly referred to as banner ads, but they don’t always take banner form. They can come in all shapes and sizes and can appear anywhere on a web page.
- Sponsored social media posts include other ad opportunities like Facebook like campaigns, website click ads, and lead ads. Social media is a natural place to begin if you’re looking to get into paid digital advertising, particularly for the real estate industry. Running paid social ads allows you to reach a large audience at a low cost. You pay based on the type of ad you’re running. For example, if you’re looking to drive brand awareness, you’ll earn a CPM (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions). And not only are the ads relatively inexpensive to run, they’re not expensive to create and target towards your target audience.
- Google AdWords places your website as one of the top results on a search engine results page (SERP) when a user searches for certain keywords of your choice. When a user clicks the AdWords link or calls your business using that link, you incur a charge (pay-per-click). Otherwise, impressions are free. The biggest benefit of Google AdWords is its speed. You appear in a top spot in a user’s search results, meaning you are one of the first things a user sees when searching for a specific location or property keyword. It also gives you real-time reports to track your ad’s success. A dashboard shows information related to each campaign, such as the ads clicked, keywords entered by website visitors, cost of clicks and much more.
6. Set Your Sights on Content Marketing
The concept of content marketing is not new. In fact, you may be doing it now in your non-digital world, or you may be doing some form of it as part of your normal business practices under a different name. The strategic goal is to bring all of the tools that are currently available across the various platforms into a mutually supporting digital marketing strategy to relay a particular message, to a particular group, in a particular manner.
Content marketing is a way to educate and engage with your client community. You want to put out educational information that is truly informative and helpful. You were a client once, what helped you? Do your homework, find what kind of information people want and become the person people go to for answers. There are numerous formats that you can use within your digital marketing structure, blog articles, videos, podcasts, social media marketing, emails, webinars, infographics to get your content out. The ultimate goal is to provide them with something they can’t get somewhere else.
Content marketing is not the face of your brand, but it is a part of your overall brand. Content marketing is also not where you post listings or other products the company may sell. But this will become a valuable tool for building interest with your community. Your content and community will help you find the right people and new customers. Solid engagement will help you improve customer loyalty and keep existing customers longer. And do so at reduced costs.
Look at the Kim Garst digital marketing model as an example. This model is built on value-based content delivered in as close to a personalized format as digitally possible. And every day, thousands of people log in simply to see what she has to say. Most, even though many have never actually met her, consider themselves friends, and they, for all practical purposes are friends. That is marketing power at your fingertips!
7. Go Farther Together with Joint Venture Marketing
When you say Joint Venture (JV) in the business world, it immediately brings to mind different concepts depending on your previous business experiences. For purposes of this discussion, we want to try and break away from that more traditional definition of long-term business relationships. We need to reframe it as Joint Venture Marketing; still an agreement between businesses but for a much shorter period and generally for a specific event such as a digital marketing promotion.
Now right up front, Joint Venture Marketing is not for everyone. If used properly and all of the parties involved have the capabilities or can provide the services needed to make the JV both complimentary and beneficial, then it is worth investigating. Trust with a reputable business partner here is key.
Typically, joint venture marketing starts when with both parties have something to gain by combining assets for a promotion. Can be a simple as one partner having something to sell and the other partner having a large client list or a means to reach a large client list. The ultimate goal is to combine resources in order to reach previously unobtainable potential clients and drive those clients to a common landing page. Once you have made contact, you can then share necessary business tools and workflows to close the sales.
8. Flaunt Your Assets with Influencer Marketing
Your first question may be, what is influencer marketing?
Think of it as old school celebrity endorsement meets new order content-driven digital marketing strategy. Throw in the potential for collaboration between the two and you have it. Except in todays world, the influencer may not be an actual celebrity. It can be literally anyone who has a connected following in the digital world. People follow them not so much because they are famous, but because they have credibility and some form of genuine authority over whatever is considered to be their particular area of expertise. Consider them king or queens of their digital marketing worlds.
As masters of their digital marketing worlds, most are very protective of their content and brand as that is their livelihood. Influencer marketing tends to move slower but that is not to say it is without benefits. They most likely will not let you “sell” anything directly on any of their sites. What they can do is promote you and or your brand. Introduce you to their community, which if you have selected your influencer correctly, is already serving your ideal client. They can promote your content and position you as an active member of their community. The influencers community trusts them, and through their endorsement, will build trust with you faster.
Be sure to exercise caution when selecting your influencer. First, make sure that they are the genuine article and that their followers are real. Make sure that you can trust your influencer as a business partner. This really goes without saying but it never hurts to remind everyone. And finally, keep in mind that over time, your influencers brand and reputation can become yours. If your influencer should do something that is offensive online, that could have negative consequences to your brand.
9. Live It Up with Live streaming
Live streaming is a powerful tool with potential that is limited only by your imagination. It could revolutionize the industry in ways that were not thought possible even a few short years ago. Later, we will highlight proven techniques to get the most out of your live streaming efforts. Then we will discuss effective ways to incorporate them into your overall digital marketing strategy.
Tech companies are pushing hard to improve the ability to connect with your audience across the various social platforms over the past year. Here are a few of the more common tools available to you today:
- Facebook: Facebook wants you to Go Live and they are making it easier every day for you to do so.
- Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories are growing fast in popularity and are great way to build relationships with the younger generations.
- YouTube: With notifications to your subscribers when you go live, the live stream feature is built into your channel and will notify your subscribers when you go live. Your live videos can be saved to your channel and are great for ranking in the search.
- Periscope (Twitter): The app’s search and “near me” features are useful.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently shared how the Facebook news feed algorithm was prioritizing video and more importantly pushing Live Video content to the top.
10. Show More with Virtual Reality
Like live streaming, the use of virtual reality is another powerful tool with potentially unlimited opportunity.
For many people, virtual reality is associated with video games and entertainment. This technology, however, has huge potential in the real estate industry. Virtual reality capabilities continue to grow and expand and they will become more adaptable and user friendly. This will ultimately give your clients a better house hunting experience.
Currently virtual reality offers a variety of options for higher end realtors. Clients now have the ability to not only see their potential new home, but to take a stroll around the house in an accurate three-dimensional depiction of it. With some systems, you can add or subtract furniture, or make other basic changes to the structure, called architectural visualization. Clients can visit multiple listings virtually from the comfort of their current homes as they refine their searches, saving both time and money. This can be done through a variety of touring options that could include 360-degree tours or interactive visits where they can click on hotspots and get views from that location.
Virtual reality will be a must for your digital marketing toolbox.
11. Strengthen Your Brand with Online Public Relations
Remember back when we talking about your grandfathers marketing dinosaur? Well, he has a brother call Public Relations and he disguises himself as traditional media; television, radio, magazines, and of course newspapers. Now that’s not to say you won’t need to take him out for a walk every now and then, but he’s not quite as easy to work with and a whole lot more expensive than your newer digital marketing strategy.
The key takeaway to this may or may not be that the real estate community is moving away from the tradition public relations format, but the online community is making the shift. As such, your digital marketing strategy must move with it as your customer base will move as well.
12. Automate Touching Base with Bot Marketing
First question, what is a bot, and why would you need one? In simple terms, a bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. It is very likely that you may not have even noticed that Chatbots are rapidly taking over the market place. Reducing wait times, taking over mundane tasks, personalizing customer experiences, even doing customer service. Facebook Messenger Bots are most frequently used by real estate agents.
It will be a long time before a bot can replace the human emotion that goes into buying a home or property, and we are not recommending that it should. Bots are simply another tool that you can use to get the most out of your digital marketing strategy, maximizing both time and money.
It’s not an easy way out: A chatbot can’t replace you, but in can assist in handing relevant information about properties. It can assist website visitors more easily, simplifying property searches, and even initiate a conversation upfront with the visitor and interact with them while asking and answering questions.
Each time someone has a conversation with a chatbot, it is collecting information. It has the capability to easily generate a lead while collecting information in the database for the realtor. For example, if someone is searching to buy/sell a property, it will ask for a preference in location, and listing information such as type of house, number of bathrooms, and more. This data can then be analyzed by the realtor for future marketing campaigns. At the end of the conversation, a chatbot can also provide information about the assigned realtor of the interested property and take a request to schedule appointment. It will note the preferred date and time and notify the real estate agent. In case the chatbot is unable to answer any particular question, it will easily direct the inquiry to a customer service or sales representative to take it further.
Chatbots are always online, therefore, no matter which hour of the day you receive a new inquiry for the property, your chatbot can provide reliable information round-the-clock. It is very useful, as it can handle frequently asked questions (FAQs) and is one of the best options outside normal business hours.
13. Hire Social Media Professionals
Chances are your current social media presence falls into one of two categories. The first being you have one, but it needs to be grown and be developed to reach its potential and have the positive business impact that you hope to achieve. The second is that you already have an established social media presence, but it may not be reaching its full potential due to simple personal bandwidth. One of the biggest challenges to broad active engagement is simply time.
Either way, help is available. You can outsource your social media activities to a reputable company or you can bring your own social media manager in-house. There are pros and cons to each and at the end of the day, that will be a business decision based on what works best for you and your company.
Your social media plan is a part of your overall digital marketing strategy and should be mutually supporting across all platforms. Have a plan for what goes in but also have an idea of what you would like to get in return and be sure to discuss that with your social media professional.
Before You Dive into Digital Marketing: A Few Reminders
- Serve first, and the sales will come
- Be prepared to talk with people on social media
- It can be work but it’s worth it!
The big takeaway that we hope you will walk away with is that digital marketing skills are becoming more and more necessary for real estate agents. By choosing to invest in social and digital media marketing, you can ensure that you will stand out from your competition.