I don’t need to tell you that driving a beat-up, squeaky little Hyundai Excel to meet homeowners lowers your chances of securing the right to sell their house.
What you may not know is that your online presence could be preventing you from getting the meeting in the first place.
In the digital age, there are so many opportunities to attract and convert vendors and buyers for your real estate business.
But where to start?
The ideas I want to share with you should not form your entire online marketing plan, nor should they be all that you do to boost business. They are ideas to help you plan your real estate marketing strategy.
They are not hacks. They are not short-term wins. But they are rock-solid tactics to help your agency project an innovative image, improve user experience, and drive more website traffic.
1. Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
By now, you’re fully aware that internet usage on mobile devices has surpassed that on a desktop. This begs the question, how important is a great mobile browsing experience for your real estate website?
Buying or selling a home is a significant life milestone, and the decision-making process is lengthy. It involves a great deal of research conducted—much of it on a mobile phone. So it makes sense to not only present users with the content to inform their decision but to do so in a friendly manner.
There are a couple of options here if you’re looking at a mobile website.
- An alternative version hosted at m.yoursite.com.au
- The same version that responds to the size of a screen
The latter choice is named responsive website design, and this is our suggested approach. It’s also backed by Google.
The launch of Google’s mobile-first indexing does make the decision all the more important, and it reaffirms our preference for responsive web design.
Further Reading: Check out Yoast’s post “How to optimize your real estate site.”
2. Build A Strong Reputation Online
Unfortunately, real estate agents (in general) don’t perform too well in the Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey. Only 5% of respondents rate real estate agents “very high” or “high” for their “ethics and honesty.”
However, real estate agents are considered more trustworthy than advertising professionals and car salesmen. This fact may bring you little comfort for now, but there are several opportunities to increase perceived trustworthiness, though.
You need to be proactive about your reputation and your agency’s overall reputation. If you’re not demonstrating how you’re different from traditional agents, then the consumer will revert to the default expectation—that real estate agents are all the same.
That is, not very trustworthy.
Think of it this way. Your online reputation is a snapshot of what people can expect from you and your agents. If you didn’t appreciate that before, I’m sure the success of RateMyAgent and similar online resources has convinced you now.
Your first step should be to conduct an audit of your online reputation. This begins by searching Google or other search engines for your agency name and each of your agents.
How do you fare? Do the same for your competitors. Understand how this search will influence potential clients and their research.
A simple query on Google for “Thornbury real estate agents” produced the following local pack.
There are two clear standouts. Love & Co and Collings Real Estate both have 90+ reviews at an average of 4.4 and 4.7, respectively. This means that the user will be confident in either.
However, Woodards with 41 reviews with an average of just 2.2 has little chance. This agency needs to invest in its online reputation.
Steps for improving online reputation
- Addressing any negative feedback online in a rational, respectful tone.
- Implementing a feedback system and encouraging online reviews. Provide clients with a few ways to leave a review, and you should choose these strategically. RateMyAgent is a great choice. Your Google Business Profile should be another.
- Monitoring online mentions of your agency and your agents. This will ensure that you can address any issues promptly before they gain traction and hurt your reputation. This process can also help you identify positive mentions that are not being leveraged yet.
3. Be Strategic About Your Search Engine Optimisation
The websites realestate.com.au and domain.com.au dominate search results for buyer-related search terms. This makes it incredibly hard for individual agencies to compete, yet there are still avenues to attract buyers and vendors from search engines.
A content marketing strategy for real estate agencies will help you attract and engage home buyers during their initial research. More on this below.
Potential vendors are a more traditional target in search engines for the real estate agent.
Here are a few basic results from keyword research (Australian search volume per month):
- Real Estate Agents (6,600)
- Real Estate Agent (9,900)
- Real Estate Agents Melbourne (1,300)
- Real Estate Agents Sydney (1,000)
- Real Estate Agents (1,300)
These are the high-volume, high-quality search terms, of course. But it gives you an idea of the volume of searches out there. You will want to target the more local searches, while also aiming to compete for searches involving the words “best”, “reviews,” and “trusted.”
From the same “Thornbury real estate agents” search from earlier, here are the next four organic listings placed under the local pack.
At least in the Australian marketplace, realestate.com.au will dominate search results, and never far behind will be domain.com and ratemyagent.com.au. For Love & Co to feature this prominently is a great sign for them.
4. A Content Marketing Strategy May Be Your Secret Sauce
A content marketing strategy identifies your audience, their needs and wants, what obstacles they have to buying or selling, what information they’re searching for online, where they find it, and much more.
As noted, content marketing presents an opportunity for you to attract potential buyers. In fact, this might be your most significant search engine opportunity.
Look for specific search terms that correspond to clients’ priorities when looking for a new home. Perhaps they’re looking for a tree change or a sea change. Where are they getting the info?
Here’s a perfect opportunity.
Provide the most valuable resource (blog post) on the web for people considering moving to your area. The competition will be a lot less intense than for the typical “real estate agent Geelong” search for example.
By engaging with your potential clients early, you can nurture them along their journey, and this will put you in the best position to convert.
Other content ideas might include:
- Property hotspots in your area
- The ultimate guide to the local schools
- Local events by season or month
- Local property taxes or mortgage trends
Each piece of content is strategically created to fulfill the needs of a specific target audience. You can nurture this need (answer to a question), and these site visitors can turn into serious leads (sells).
I should also note that your audience will enjoy and consume visual content, so it’s important to complement your blog with infographics and videos. Lifestyle shots or other visually attractive content are great additions to more sales-oriented content.
Further to this, a blog provides you with the content that people share on social media, and this can then help promote your business. Still not sold on content marketing? I’d encourage you to check out the latest content marketing statistics.
5. Site Retargeting Is Likely Your Best PPC Bet
Retargeting provides significantly higher ROI than traditional banner advertising.
Here is an example:
A visitor in ABCRealEstate.com.au has a look at a couple of property listings and then leaves—to cook dinner, maybe.
That visitor is then served your display advertising when they’re looking at other websites for the next 30 or 45 days, for example. For real estate, this is a fantastic opportunity to advertise a new and relevant property listing to a person who visited your website two weeks earlier.
They may have left your website two weeks ago without inquiring about a listing, but now, site retargeting is reminding them about your agency even when they’re on a different website.
6. Affiliate Marketing Is a Genuine Left-Field Opportunity
Affiliate marketing has been around for ages, but it seems for many industries, particularly in Australia, it is under-utilised. From a real estate agent’s perspective, you’re not going to sell advertising space on your website, but you can create an affiliate program to serve your advertising.
Let me explain.
Affiliate marketing will help you display advertising around the web and to the people that matter to you. While it’s not Google Ads, and it doesn’t allow you to advertise to someone actively searching for a relevant term, you can still target a demographic.
This tactic helps to build your brand.
Create a suite of display ads promoting your agency, and sign up with an affiliate platform that allows you to create your custom affiliate program or affiliate marketing campaign. Offer websites that serve your ads an incentive based on impressions, clicks, or registrations of your email newsletter, for example.
You can review applications from publishers, so your ads are not serving on sites you do not approve and are serving only on sites that reach your target audience.
It is an affordable method of driving traffic and leads if you get the incentive right.
You could aim to sign up local bloggers who have an active local community or provide a range of valuable resources featuring the local area.
7. Get Ahead of the Trends and Investigate ChatBots
Chatbots are gaining a lot of publicity as experts see the opportunity to provide more interaction and a better experience for users browsing a website.
How can you implement a chatbot on your website and why?
Mobile Monkey is one chatbot tool that is winning a lot of fans and for good reason. I encourage you to check out their post “ABC Guide to Chatbots For Real Estate Pros.” It dives into how you can get, nurture, and qualify your leads.
Chatbots can have a conversation with your user. These automated customer service reps respond to users based on pre-determined answers you’ve fed them or on previous discussions with other users.
That’s right. If your chatbot is utilising machine learning, it will get smarter with every interaction!
What sort of conversation, you ask?
Let’s look at the standard real estate website experience from a buyer’s perspective. I search for the suburbs I want and add the filters. There might only be five search results, or it could be 100.
If it’s on the larger side, I’m going to be browsing through pages.
Now, this is where the Chatbot can improve user experience and set you apart from your competition.
Here’s a hypothetical conversation:
Chatbot: Hi. Can I ask for your name and email address? And where are you looking to buy?
Me: Sure. I’m looking to buy in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.
Chatbot: Nice choice. So much of the region is nestled between beach and bush offering an idyllic lifestyle. The most recent sales report has many suburbs showing strong growth.
Me: Really. What suburbs have shown growth?
Chatbot: Suffolk Park had a 44.1 percent change with the median house price now $1.625 million. You might want to check out this article on Nine.com.au.
Me: OK great. Can you show me some properties for sale in Suffolk Park?
Chatbot: Of course. Did you have a budget in mind? How many bedrooms?
I cut this hypothetical conversation short, but you can see where it was going. As a user, I could chat with the bot during or after office hours and immediately receive valuable info. The user experience is infinitely better.
There will likely be a point where every conversation will need human interaction, and when it does, the chatbot will know which member of your team is best qualified to answer and redirect the query to them.
Of course, you can have a live chat function, and while we encourage you to do so with your website, it is hard to scale as it will always rely on someone being on the other end, only ever being able to chat 1:1.
Taking Charge With Marketing
As you can see, many of these suggestions are not just following marketing trends, but following marketing trends that have been proven to work. Standard practices like making sure your website is mobile-friendly and cultivating a strong, trustworthy reputation should be the foundation of your strategy.
Next, get down and dirty with targeting local search terms and crafting a content strategy that includes useful information such as local mortgage trends and local events instead of just promotional content.
You can also consider site retargeting if you have the financial resources.
Lastly, experiment with new innovations like affiliate marketing and chatbots to revamp and streamline your real estate marketing strategy. Remember that one of the ultimate goals in real estate marketing should be to prioritize the user experience—this helps build the rapport and trust you need with a life-changing decision like buying a house.