A big part of our business is getting people to pay attention to us. To earn that attention, there are all kinds of tactics and trips, but if I told you that sitting on your rear end and writing 300 words could generate new clients, would you do it?
OK, I’ll get to the point; this blog is about, well, blogging. More specifically, it’s about blogging to increase awareness and make you more attractive to more potential clients. Let’s start with some compelling numbers about why blogs can be an effective tool for achieving these goals:
These numbers paint a compelling picture of why you should blog, but even these stats don’t provide the whole story. Blogs have become an attractive way to tell stories about ourselves, our businesses, and the services we provide. They can be visual and written in our voice, and can tell stories about a house and its character, an undiscovered neighborhood, or even the dream of homeownership. Stories click with people and make them want to learn more. In our business, we can use blogs to tell those stories and engage with people who want to find a Realtor® they can trust.
The beauty of blogging is that in addition presenting a very approachable, human picture of ourselves, they are also among the most effective digital marketing tools for increasing awareness and driving qualified prospects to us. As we know, before a customer can work with you, they have to be able to find you. The statistics about blogs helping with your search engine success cannot be ignored if you want to show up in search results and maintain a sustained digital presence. This comment from digital marketing expert Jes Gonzalez explains this very well:
“…having an online presence can make or break a business, especially for small business owners. Because I was able to find the website and all the product and service information effortlessly, I was happy to book an appointment. Further, I booked my appointment online, at a business I’d never heard about, in a building I’d never seen. That day, the owner secured a new customer that she wouldn’t have had otherwise…”
The message is loud and clear: you need to do things that will improve your odds of being seen and seen in the right context, and blogs are an important tool in doing that.
You should know that blogging, while cost-effective, does take some effort. You’ll need to maintain a continuous effort to make it successful. Note that 47% of people will read 3-5 blogs before taking the first step towards engaging with a service or product. Blogging doesn’t need to be hard, but it does require some discipline. There are some important best-practices to follow in order to get the most benefit from your blogging effort; these tips in particular, should provide some tactical help:
- Publish at least one blog per week.
- You can likely use the blog capabilities that your website host service provides. If not, consider using WordPress to publish blogs.
- Push your blogs in your social media channels. Our blog about increasing engagement within your own network offers some insightful, actionable tips.
- Use a scheduling tool to plan out when you will publish blogs. A spreadsheet works, but I use a free service called Trello, which is clean and easy to manage.
- If you have a hard time writing, consider different formats. Maybe you can interview clients about their experience in their new homes. Or maybe you summarize data about neighborhood restaurants and shops.
- Brevity is preferred. Keep your blog to about 300-600 words.
- If you’re strapped for time (and you probably are), you might want to consider contracting with a ghostwriter who can help you maintain a regular cadence of blogs.
But before you get started, consider how to approach your blogging so you can ensure a consistent, interesting, compelling experience for your users: Writing can often be an exercise in staring at a blank screen waiting for the words to pour forth. Like anything we do, we’re more likely to be successful at it if we have a plan and stick with the things we know well and really enjoy. With that in mind, start with an outline, and know that you’re going to likely go through multiple iterations and editing rounds until you get your blog just right. When all else fails, remember this formula: tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em; tell ‘em; tell ‘em what you told ‘em.
It will help if you make a list of the things you know and like about your business. Maybe you specialize in relocations or know a few specific neighborhoods really well; emphasize those in your blogs. If you like those things, you’ll do a better job writing about them because you’ll be engaged in the topic. But also keep in mind that if you are terrible with numbers or don’t have a good track record with connecting clients with mortgage brokers, don’t use the blog as a place to try to demonstrate a fake love of interest rates. You want to be authentic and informative, so make sure you know the topics and themes that are meaningful to you. Your readers will recognize and appreciate that authenticity. Most marketing material uses a certain type of voice; in our business, it tends to stick to the facts. But with a blog, we can use a more informal voice. For most of us, that conversational tone is actually easier to write, but it’s also easier for our readers to read. One of the reasons blogs are so successful is that they are a departure from the standard marketing material we encounter every day.
One way to get this style is to speak, out loud, the things you’re trying to communicate. Talk them through and listen to the style you use. Look at successful bloggers and copy their style. James Altucher is one of the world’s most popular bloggers; his style is very casual. Brene Brown is fairly informal, but more traditional in how she writes. Take some time to search for bloggers in topics you like and try out their style and tone. Writing isn’t always easy and the creative juices don’t always flow. However, after enough practice, you will find that it becomes easier and easier. You’ll also discover that your blogs and stories connect you with new people and help you generate more potential revenue. Once that happens, you’ll realize that getting out 300-600 words every week ain’t so bad!
Long term nurture is a crucial strategy in real estate because those who are “ready” to buy a new home are often ready to begin their search –meaning it will likely be a while before they actually go through with their purchase. Studies suggest that 50% of people looking to buy a new home begin their formal search process anywhere between 6 and 12 months before actually purchasing their home.
That’s a long cycle to take advantage of as a real estate agent. However, it certainly gives you plenty of chances to reach out to these potential leads throughout the year. The problem here is many agents don’t use this statistic to their advantage. The industry average for lead response attempts is a lousy 1.3 attempts. This number is far too low–especially when considering you’re likely going to need to nurture that lead for 6 months, at the very least.Taking all of this one step further, 72% of shoppers will do business with the first agent they speak with.
We maximize return USING a proper lead strategy when generating leads, you need to be the first agent someone speaks with and you also need to be contacting that person half a year before they are ready to sign on the dotted line. You must be building a relationship from start to finish. Top performing real estate teams are building long-term relationships. They are leveraging their network. What are their past clients up to? Keeping an eye on positive experiences of the past is a great way to help leverage future referral business. They understand that from start to finish, the lead process is a marathon that involves different strategies at different points in the process. The end goal though is to build a genuine relationship with these leads so that you can score them as a client. So how do you get to that point? The key is keeping in mind this is a long process. Remember that it won’t be productive to give these prospects the hard sell throughout the entire buying cycle, especially if they’re taking the longer 6 to 12 month journey. Let’s examine further the different stages within this year long journey. At this stage, home buyers are thinking: What can we afford in our area? What are the demographics, schools, etc. like in the area? Leads in this stage have started to browse listings, but not yet ready to buy. According to MarketLeader.com, 90% of home buyers searched online during the homebuying process. Of those people 85% of them visited the website of an agent and 75% of those visitors registered on the website to receive listing alerts. Plain and simple, if you are not making yourself visible, you are losing business. Make sure your website is up to date and communicates your brand and the unique value you offer. Once they’ve made contact with your site, send them relevant, helpful information to establish a connection, and start building trust. This juncture marks the moment when home buyers are ready to start touring homes with an agent. They’ are thinking:
- How many homes have you sold this year?
- Do you know the area of interest?
- Will you help make this process easier?
Real estate leads in this stage are aware of what they want and can afford, and want specifics about the buying process. As an agent, you should make yourself available for showings and offer recommendations based on their criteria. Timely response in this stage is crucial, so be prompt in your communications. Here is a point in time where home buyers need an agent to negotiate contracts and guide them through the purchase process. They are thinking: How much should we offer for this home? What are the contingencies? Are we competing with other buyers? This is your chance to shine. Provide exceptional service and guidance, resources, and referrals. It takes on average 23 days to negotiate a home purchase, so be upfront about the timeline and logistics. By establishing trust, you are giving them a reason to work with you again and refer family and friends. An effective real estate lead management and long term nurture plan for your brokerage and team should be thoroughly planned ahead. Engage in the customer journey, not just the transaction. Too often a lead is responded to and you never hear back. Generally, it is considered dead and a waste of time.
As we see above, however, hearing no response isn’t the whole story. Like any relationship that never fully developed–sometimes it’s due to poor timing…
What if you could have converted that lead and your lack of response allowed some other agent to swoop in a few months later and take what you saw first? Adaptive Top Teams, however, are well aware of this and have systems in place to counteract this issue.
Are you well enough equipped with a set of tools that can help you capture this opportunity? Make sure you have a long-term follow up process in place, or risk having your leads slip through the cracks.
Don’t be just another statistic that sees opportunities get snatched up by the real estate team down the street.
If you’re trying to promote yourself to the world and grow your business, you have no choice but to market to audiences on mobile devices. Your customers are mobile– this is the way the world is, as mobile usage is now surpassing that of at-home internet access worldwide.
The biggest illustration of this impact is clear when looking at millennials–a demographic of people who represent the biggest generation in U.S. history and overwhelmingly prefer to communicate via text message over a phone call.
Expanding beyond generational segmentation; compared to an open success rate with emails (20%), text messages far outweigh any other means of communication with an open rate at 98%. Specifically, in real estate marketing communication, text messages open rates beat email by 28%.
While the relevant data can be utilized to increase the success of your business, one must tread lightly. This isn’t an invitation to start firing away “gr8 thx bai 🤙” text messages to your existing and future clients. In fact, that approach would be discouraged, for more reasons than the simple fact that it would make them seem like the awkward dad trying too hard to be hip.
So all of this considered, below are the do’s and don’ts in formulating the perfect SMS strategy for your real estate business. SMS is about immediacy. You are sending a well-crafted message to someone and within a split second, they are able to receive and read said message–even if they are on the other side of the country. Whenever a client has a question or requires any type of assistance throughout the entire process, they are able to reach you immediately. On the flip side, you must always be available for their needs.
In order to maximize your communication potential through your SMS marketing strategy, the most important facet is to be persuasive and implore your client to be responsive with your messaging. Luckily, there are lead engagement services that can manage this frenetic back-and-forth, so you don’t always have to be glued to your phone. A proper SMS marketing strategy doesn’t just involve collecting a bunch of phone numbers and then firing off spam. There are permissions that are required in collecting and implementing a strategy you should be familiar with.
Before you send anything, make sure you are GDPR compliant (for business dealing in and with EU countries). Hefty fines can be incurred if you haven’t received the permission to receive texts/marketing material from your clients.
There are a plethora of compliance contingencies you should be well versed with. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available for you to use in order to study these legalities. There are a myriad of marketing methods you should employ in order to build your database full of valuable contacts.
- The most basic method is to get contact information through referrals. When you prompt a past satisfied client with a referral and they oblige, have them provide their referral’s full contact information.
- Live video marketing through social media is another great outreach method to gather potential contacts. Live video marketing on social media generates a 1200% more exposure share than text and images combined.
- The future prospects of real estate technology is mindblowing. Your marketing will elevate to new heights with AI-powered personalized nurture email drips, targeting only the most viable prospects. In conjunction with your SMS strategy, targeting only the best prospects will help your business tremendously.
- Even modern day tech like Nextdoor can be a tool to gather valuable information. Nextdoor allows you to create a digital “neighborhood” with potential clients. This allows you to put your information out into a specific neighborhood and subsequently gather the neighborhood’s information.
- A unique tactic many agents have been implementing into their strategy is blending the old with the new. Many are including “text for more info” snippets on their real estate signs which include the appropriate “opt-in” prompts.
You might be biting your nails and knocking your knees together thinking to yourself that there just isn’t enough time in the day to implement something like this into your daily grind.
There are plenty of SMS marketing platforms that are simple to use. Most (if not all) of these marketing platforms have the required “opt-ins” as well as compliance built into their systems. Some of the best include:
All of these platforms are automated. You can build your directed strategy and they work with trigger-flow operations; when certain criteria are met (example: contact added) a specific campaign via text is sent out (example: welcome promo). PsychologyToday notes that 55% of human communication is through body language. Even with all the technology at your disposal, it is still very important to keep that “human touch” when using an SMS marketing strategy.
Always be revising your content. Always be making sure that your triggers have variables that aren’t sending robotic, repeated texts to someone over and over. No one likes to feel like they are a cog in your machine. Even worse, no one likes to have the embarrassing autocorrect message sent that completely changes the intended message.
The information within the text should be tailored to the specific individual it’s being sent to as much as possible. Similar to retargeting ads, SMS marketing should reflect the client’s wants, needs, likes and dislikes as much as possible. Recognize the style of the client in question: do they prefer short and sweet messages or do they like long diatribes (spoiler alert: they don’t)? Know when to end the conversation or when to keep it going.
The technology is here to set you free. If implemented properly, your SMS marketing strategy resembles the “set it and forget it” mantra of those cheap mini-ovens of the early 90’s. As a business owner, you probably toil with the idea of not being 100% hands-on with all of your processes. With SMS marketing, however, you are able to remain in constant and intimate contact with your clients so you can grow both your relationship depth with these people as well as the financial growth of your enterprise.
Remember the important facets: keep your messaging direct, persuasive, and responsive. Make sure you are communicating with people who have given you the consent to do so. Always retain that human touch when engaging with these people–people want to be helped and not sold.
Contrary to what you might believe, direct mail marketing is anything but extinct in this day and age. In fact, $46 billion dollars is still being invested in direct mail marketing by major corporations. Even with the advent of modern technologies that spread awareness of company promotions like email and social media; direct mail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Direct mail has too many marketing benefits that the new kids on the block just cannot compete with.
For starters, think about the hassle a consumer has to deal with when being flooded with spam email. There are:
- Newsletters that you used to read 7 years ago.
- Promotions from companies that you never intended to see or receive.
- Status updates from what your once-upon-a-time high school friends are doing during their trip to the Ozarks.
- The tenth “forgot password” request that pushes you oh so closer to throwing your laptop out the window.
All of these emails are the same: they are an Arial-font request asking you to buy or do something you have little interest in doing.
Compare that with this year’s birthday card from Grandma. Outside of the intimate family connection you have with this individual, what does the direct mail card look like? What does it feel like? What meaningful message is in there? What’s the psychological connection that is made knowing they went out of their time to pick a card, write in it, seal it and send it with postage?
It’s more than striking a few keys and pressing “send”– it means something.
Even within all the physical mail you receive, this sticks out. It seems in 2018 the only letters you receive in the mail are the various bills you’re obligated to pay (unless of course you opted for “paperless”).
All of this plays into a hefty advantage in your favor as a real estate agent. Here’s how. Consumers like direct mail more. A recent study indicates that 73% of your customers actually prefer to receive direct mail over other marketing mediums. This is even more pronounced with millennials where 90% of them reported to responding favorably to direct mail when making their purchasing decisions.
Direct mail allows for easily tracking ROI. At first glance, it might seem like tracking ROI would be in depth and time-consuming.
On the contrary.
The ROI of direct mail is measured simply by choosing your sample size of the direct mail campaign, calculating costs for sending the campaign out, providing direct responses in your campaign, and tracking the rates of people sending back the responses. It’s that simple.
People love tangible, physical objects. We can see this prevalence for “the physical” in both the book industries (physical book sales consistently outselling kindle and digital) and music with vinyl albums hitting record highs in 2017. Even with being in the digital age, people love to hold, touch and experience “real things.” With direct mail marketing, you are able to set yourself apart from the competition with uniqueness.
- You can choose a striking color for your envelope.
- You can choose an interesting shape for your card.
- You can include personal graphics of your team.
- You can include a physical call to action within the content of your mail.
Any variable you choose to implement into your strategy further bolsters your uniqueness in reaching your customers and keeps you at the forefront of their mind–something of dire importance in the real estate industry. One study, “The neuroscience behind the response-driving power of direct mail” found that,
“Brand recall was 70 percent higher among participants who were exposed to direct mail ads rather than to digital ones.”
Direct mail also builds trust, maybe the most important facet of this job. Studies indicate that 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.
As an agent, you are overseeing and working with a specific geographic location. You are the real estate arbiter of a neighborhood. An effective method you can use in optimizing your direct mail marketing strategy is to implement it in conjunction with Nextdoor, the social media platform that allows you to touch and impact a given neighborhood without physically knocking on their doors. You might be thinking that with all these benefits direct mail marketing can bring you, the upstart would be labor intensive and take a decent chunk out of your marketing budget.
Wrong and wrong.
In 2018, there are plenty of companies that specialize in equipping you with everything you need to develop and implement the best direct mail marketing campaign to fit your business.
- Postcardmania is a great business to employ if you are looking to spread brand awareness. They are low cost and offer a bunch of customizable looks to help get your brand into the hands people are looking for.
- Mail Shark is a company that is specific for the real estate industry. They offer three different products that are solving three specific needs: Targeted Mail to specific types of people, Saturation Mail to people in a specific area, and EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) for people who want to hit a specific area and prefer to do the mailing themselves.
Open Letter Marketing is again another company geared specifically for real estate that offers a menu of different options from handwritten letters to professional letters that help generate exposure and also offer a call to action and lead generator tools for your given market.
While technology is always innovating and changing, there are some tools that remain constant.
These tools pass the test of time and remain in the marketplace because they work. If you aren’t using them, you are missing out on effective ways to grow your business and enterprise. Direct mail marketing tops this list of “old dog“ tools. The tools that have remained viable even though many people have forgotten their effectiveness. What many people forget, you can use to your advantage. Be where others aren’t and see the success of your business rise.
Videos are the future – a notion that is backed up by a natural disposition towards flashy visuals (the many sequels to Fast and Furious and Transformers can attest to this). If Michael Bay isn’t your thing, then there are also stats to provide it, courtesy of the renown IT authority –
Cisco: “Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021”. If you’re more driven by what’s happening in the here and now, Hubspot states “that 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI”.
This means that as a discerning agent you should leverage every advantage to boost your real estate lead conversion.
What’s worse, by NOT deploying a strong content and video strategy, you’re ensuring that your competition will leave you in the dust. Instead, use videos to engage with your customers. Garnering more eyeballs to bolster your social media presence also works as a way to frame yourself (literally) as a source of expertise.
Videos are the perfect vehicle for you to promote your brand and product. As the old adage goes: Seeing is believing. So if you’re able to demonstrate your company’s values via video, then your potential clients will more readily “buy what you’re selling”. Be sure to slap some captions on the video and boom – you have all of your bases covered to ensure that your client can consume your content while on the go.
It is a fact that videos are taking over. According to Forbes, 90% of reported customers confess that product videos help with their purchasing decisions. Now, this can clearly apply to any of your listings, showcasing the home via virtual tours or even aerial drone footage. Yet, more applicable, this notion can be applied to your most important product: yourself and your brand.
Again, if what you’re “selling” is yourself, then videos will aide prospective clients in their decision to “purchase” you and your services.
Videos are also easier to share, and could potentially earn you some self-sustaining, word-of-mouth marketing. In 2016, we released Zillow, It’s Me, a parody of Adele’s critically acclaimed comeback anthem Hello. Keeping our finger on the pulse and capitalizing on what’s hot, this video was created with the hopes of creating our own buzz within the real estate space, while connecting with potential clients through empathy and levity. Over 200k views and counting, we continue to attract new agents to our service with the help of this content.
Of course, all of this is only possible if you’re using actively using social media channels to build your business. We’ve covered extensively how to boost your engagement on these platforms, how to advertise, and even use your social data to garner more clients/success. Even tips on setting up yourself up profiles for each platform.
As far as including videos within your social media strategy, you don’t need fancy editing or high-end production value, just something that is quick and engaging. For example, if you stylize yourself as a neighborhood expert, why not shoot a Facebook Live as you run errands around local establishments. It would present you as approachable, authentic, and knowledgeable. Do you have a new listing? Take your audience on a tour of the neighborhood and showcase some of the best features. Or maybe just shoot some videos during your next outing – demonstrating your value and appeal by showing off the fruits of your labor.
Thankfully, as with all things, there are many services that are willing to help you get started (or even do the work for you). A couple of them are:
- Fiverr: From animations and live action explainers to short video ads and product photography, Fiverr is a great channel to outsource any of your video needs. If you’re looking for an affordable freelancer, check them out.
- Craigslist: A tried and true resource where budding or expert videographers are offering their services at reasonable rates. Here you can also find local companies in your area, which allows for continued business that will continually adapt to your needs, vs. the impersonal singular nature of freelancers.
Whatever you decide to do, videos should have a presence within your real estate marketing, as it will take your lead conversion to the next level.
Did you know that customer referrals may be the most effective tool in your marketing bag?
As a matter of fact, 42% of home buyers were referred to their real estate agent by an existing or previous client, and 74% of clients will provide a referral if their agent has stayed in touch with them. Referrals are inexpensive, produce results, and helps generate an incredibly powerful network effect. Your network, therefore, becomes critical to your success, and with the help of a smart strategy you can create an ever-growing network that will deliver a continuous supply of high quality leads.
“I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like.”
-Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
The importance of networking
We are all bound by the laws of human nature, and scientific studies demonstrate that humans crave connections with other humans. Those laws translate into a world of business where we instinctively prefer to do business with people we like and have an affinity for. Those people mould our network, and if we treat them well, they help us expand it. Therefore, the bigger the network, the bigger the pool of potential clients becomes.
Consider that networking is the single biggest source of leads for real estate agents; 34% of all actual closed business comes directly from an agent’s network. The second most impactful lead source is from paid digital advertising, but that only delivers 19% of all leads.
What’s especially compelling about these types of leads is that they are among the highest quality ones you’ll ever get. People in your network either already know you, or they have a connection with someone who does and can validate your credibility. That immediately breaks down the awkward part of having to sell yourself and go through the back and forth dance of proving yourself. You always need to deliver for your customers, but referrals are a core part of your network because they get you closer to actual business than almost any other marketing tactic.
By definition, networks are always growing. That growth delivers you more connections and strengthens your reputation among people you already know and vouch for you. This is an especially important thing to understand in an environment where people are busy and are constantly seeking ways to reduce the burden of assessing and interviewing potential service providers. Once inside your network, the hassles of vetting a Realtor® are essentially solved for them, which gives them even more affinity for you.
Referrals are your network proof-point
Let’s think about it from a practical point of view: if you were in the market to buy a house and make one of the biggest decisions of your life, would you choose your Realtor® based on a trusted friend’s advice, or pick the first name that shows up in a Google search for local agents? We trust our friends and we rely on them, and if they have had a positive experience with a real estate agent, and then pass that recommendation to us, there’s almost a guarantee we’ll go with it. It’s just a natural progression of the relationship because satisfied customers are usually happy to refer you. In today’s market consumers have more choices than ever before, so they increasingly rely on proof points and validation from people who are like them.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 62% of all home buyers choose their agent based on some form of referral. That statistic speaks volumes about the need to service clients, maintain a connection with them, encourage them to promote your name, and continue to deliver such excellent service that you are THE go-to person to help with real estate needs.
Growing your business and brand obviously takes a lot of smart marketing, but a vibrant, growing network will deliver referrals at a much faster paced and with overall greater consistency than any other method. Most importantly, these leads will be high quality and more prepared to buy.
Agentology has created an impactful solution for lead generation and sharing called the Agent-to-Agent Referral Network. It enables agents to refer qualified leads and receive a payout for every closed deal. Major real estate firms like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Berkshire Hathaway, and others are currently using it as a way to help their agents get greater impact from their networks. It’s also a roadmap to help agents generate better leads and be rewarded for providing others who are likely to close.
We encourage you to try our Referral Network to see how the power of networks can not only deliver qualified leads, but can begin to generate a sustainable, growing channel.
You’re already doing two things at once: working on behalf of your clients and trying to get new clients, but it’s a delicate balance. Using your network effectively changes the dynamic of lead generation so you can focus on building your business in a cost-effective way, while also closing more deals, faster.