Digital marketing has been around for quite some years now. Media have literally been turned upside down by their digital equivalent. But how can real estate agents implement these digital channels? In this article, I’ll explain 5 ways to implement digital marketing as a real estate agent.
1. Local SEO
Oftentimes, real estate agents are limited to the physical location of their office. For that reason, it’s crucial to rank high enough in Google whenever someone executes a local search query. Thankfully, Google has the right answer to this phenomenon: Google My Business. Whenever you apply to Google My Business, you’re getting the following local SEO advantages:
1. Knowledge graph
The knowledge graph adds additional information whenever someone is searching on your branded search term. This can be website, driving navigation, street view, pictures, phone numbers, opening hours, reviews etc. The biggest advantage of the knowledge graph is that it’s presented above the fold in the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page), thus drawing a lot of attention to your brand.
2. Local pack
The local pack is a summary of all companies within a certain location that qualify for your search query. Within the Google SERP, you get a Google Maps view showing all companies that match your search query with links to the website, phone number and driving directions.
3. Google Maps
Last but not least, Google My Business enables you to list your agency within Google Maps with added information about your company (location, website, phone number, driving directions etc).
Website optimization for local SEO
Thanks to Google My Business, you’ve already got a good shot at ranking high whenever someone executes a local search query in Google. However, local SEO isn’t all about creating a Google My Business account. Your existing website needs to be optimized for local SEO as well.
Let’s say your agency is active in Shoreditch, London. That means you’ll want to rank high whenever someone searches for “Flat for sale in Shoreditch” or “Real estate agent in Shoreditch”. Google knows these are local search results, so you should grab this chance to position your website as the perfect answer to this person’s question.
When optimizing your website for local SEO, there’s a few options you need to look into:
· Page title: whenever you’re optimizing a website, you need to keep the search term you want to rank on in mind. Is the title of the page you want to rank on matching with the search term you’ve got in mind?
· Page URL: just like the page title, the more you can match the URL with the search term you’ve got in mind, the higher you’ll rank on that term.
· Internal linking: one of the most important factors of ranking a specific page is linking. You can see a link as a vote. The more votes, the higher that page will rank. In most cases, for a real estate agent, the homepage will be most important. However, if you’ve got other pages you want to rank, adding them to your navigation bar is a good way to start.
· External linking: next to internal linking, external linking is a good way to push your rankings higher in search engines. Think about where you can score some links back to your site (technical term: backlinks). Maybe you can get a link from your local authority? Or maybe there’s a directory of all businesses in your town / city? Possibilities are endless, however, please bare in mind to look for relevant backlinks. If you’re gaining irrelevant backlinks to fast, Google might kick you off their index. So be cautious whenever implementing this tactic.
These are only a few ways for improving your local SEO. There are thousands of tactics you can apply to increase your rankings. However, you can rest assure these tactics will yield immediate impact.
2. Social media
Social media yields huge opportunity for local real estate agents. Think about local Facebook groups where people are helping each other with finding a new home. This is your opportunity to engage these potential home seekers with your offering. However, it’s important to be aware of the do’s and don’ts. Don’t spam these groups with your listings.
Only engage in a conversation whenever you provide value to a home seeker. Use groups to interact with home seekers by asking relevant questions. What type of house are they looking for? What price category? Do they have a specific neighbourhood in mind? Are animals allowed? That kind off thing. When you’re 100% aware of what type of home someone’s looking for, you’re able to provide value, rather than just advertising your latest listings. Next to that, you look way more professional when you’re able to match the right home with the right audience.
Next to groups, Facebook pages are also an excellent way to drive traffic to your website. Try to position your Facebook page as the local authority when it comes to real estate. That way, you can use your page to inform followers about new properties hitting the market and you’ll attract a more qualified audience – users who are actively searching for a new home.
The public character of Twitter lends itself perfectly for looking for a new home. It’s up to the real estate agent to monitor these conversations on Twitter and engage when relevant.
Since real estate agents are bound to their location, Snapchat geofilters are an excellent way to build local awareness. For example, you could use Snapchat geofilters during local events. Such a geofilter should have a catchy tagline or call-to-action, with messaging that’s associated to your company. That way, you make it easier to recognize your company.
3. Online advertising
Do you want direct impact of your marketing activities? In that case, online advertising is the way to go. You’re in the driver’s seat, you decide how much you want to spend and what you’re spending it on. Do you want to have as many eyes on your ads as possible? Then you should advertise on a CPM (Cost Per Mile) basis. If you prefer getting traffic to your website, CPC (Cost Per Click) advertising is most appropriate. Some advertising channels even allow to advertise on a CPL (Cost Per Lead) basis, giving you the option to pay for each potential home seeker.
Eventually, it’s up to you to decide on where and how you advertise. The most suitable options are:
· Social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc)
· Search Engine Advertising (Google, Bing, etc)
· Portal sites (Realo, Funda Zoopla, etc)
When advertising on Facebook, you’ve got plenty of targeting options to choose from. For real estate, it might be appropriate to target based on location, interest and age. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent in Shoreditch, London. For you, it could be interesting to advertise on location (all districts of London) with an interest in real estate and flats and between 25 – 50. That way, you’re optimizing your ad spend, as you’re targeting people who could be most likely to rent a flat in Shoreditch. Of course, since the vast targeting opportunities on Facebook, I advise to save some budget to test different targeting options.
Next to targeting, it’s also important to look at what type of ad you’d like to serve. You can choose from:
· Carousel ads: create a picture of each room within the property.
· Video ads: create a quick walkthrough of your latest property on your smartphone and use that as a way of advertising.
· Image ads: you’ve got a beautiful property where one image says it all? Go for the image ads! Because you only got one image, make sure it’s engaging enough to create an interest and allow click-through.
· Form ads: if you prefer to build your e-mail list of potential home seekers (or sellers), Facebook form ads are exactly what you’re looking for.
Advertising in the Google search engine is done through a platform called Google Adwords. This type of advertising is totally different from Facebook, as your ads are shown in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). This means, someone is actively looking for what you got to offer.
With AdWords, you decide on what keywords to show your ads, how much you want to pay per click and if you’d like to pay more (or less) for mobile users. If someone’s searching for “Real estate in Shoreditch” you want to be number 1 for that search query, and that’s exactly what Google AdWords allows you to do.
Pro tip: as AdWords is so different than Facebook advertising, I’d advice a different geo targeting strategy. With AdWords, you can actually add geo targeting in the keywords.
Example: “Real estate in Shoreditch”. Someone already specifies the location he’s interested in this search query. In other words, you don’t need separate geo targeting. If someone from Manchester would like to move to Shoreditch for example, you’d want him to see that specific ad. So you don’t want to limit your ads only to London, for example.
Creating a stunning ad and applying excellent targeting is one thing. But all of that is pointless if you don’t have any tracking in place to measure your ROI. The most popular way to measure ROI is a free tool called Google Analytics. You can setup Google Analytics in literally minutes and I suggest every real estate agent to implement this tool right now to understand what ads / portals are driving the right traffic to your website.
4. E-mail marketing
The best way to convert visitors into leads for your listings is through e-mail marketing to your database. Luckily enough, agents don’t need to go through their contacts one-by-one anymore. Nowadays, there are tools to automate e-mails based on what part of your website someone subscribes on. Let’s say you’ve got 4 specific pages on your site:
- · House for sale in Shoreditch
- · House to rent in Shoreditch
- · Flat for sale in Shoreditch
- · Flat to rent in Shoreditch
Depending on how you’ve setup your website, you could automate e-mails based on the RSS feed of these pages. So whenever a new property is listed on your “House for sale in Shoreditch” page, a new e-mail would be sent to a subscriber. An e-mail flow like this is literally setup in minutes with tools like Mailchimp, and it won’t take you a lot of technical skill.
Yet the greatest advantage of e-mail must be relevance. Because someone subscribes to a specific flow, you know that person is interested in receiving more listings that match that category. Combine relevant content like this with a clear call-to-action and you will be converting leads like never before.
5. Virtual reality
Last but not least, we couldn’t leave out virtual reality, probably the biggest buzzword of the last few years. Yet you don’t have to think very far to recognize companies that are already experimenting with this technology. IKEA for example already implemented virtual reality as a part of their catalog. However, since virtual reality is all about experience, it lends itself perfectly for real estate. Here’s two ways:
1. Virtual reality at home
Your prospects don’t actually have to leave their old home to look for a new one. Think about Facebook’s 360 videos or 3D pictures of a property on your website. Using these kinds of technologies, a website visitor can almost walk through your listing while they’re on the computer. Not only does it wow your potential customers, but you’re giving website visitors a first “real” impression of a property. As an agent, that means that if you receive a lead on a listing, they’ll be more likely to be qualified.
2. In your office
Do you want to see the full first impression of your potential buyers? Then give them a digital tour right in your office. It doesn’t even need to be expensive. With a Google Cardboard and a smartphone, you’re already set for a great virtual reality experience.
Of course, this piece of technology is still fairly new. Yet agents who experiment with this right now are bound to have a competitive edge, so definitely watch this space.
Grab the opportunity
There are definitely still ways for real estate agents to grow their digital marketing strategy. Now that you know what works, it’s up to you to grab this opportunity and turn it into result. However, don’t start with everything at once. Go through each tactic one-by-one to insure full impact. Good luck!
This article was written by Maxim Baeten, digital marketer at Realo, one of Europe’s fastest growing real estate startup.