As the last few weeks of the year quickly approach, many real estate agents are busy thinking about how to leverage marketing more effectively in order to grow and boost profits in the year ahead. If you didn’t have much time to think strategically about marketing in 2017, or if the strategy you were executing on didn’t yield the kind of results you were hoping for, now is the time to think about what you can do differently next year.
This article will provide you with 11 tips that you can use to create a clear, actionable, and growth-driven real estate marketing strategy for your business in 2018.
1. Know your audience
When building a real estate marketing strategy for your business, the first thing you need to do is compile information about your target audience. In order to make informed decisions about which campaigns and efforts to invest in, you need to first have a firm understanding of who it is that you’re trying to reach.
In order to build an effective strategy, you should know:
- Basic demographics about your target audience (age, location, income, education, family size, etc.).
- Information about their hobbies and interests
- Where they spend their time online
- How they prefer to be communicated with
- What other local businesses and organizations they support and frequent
- What type of homebuyer they usually are (first-time homebuyer, second home, downsizing, single parent, military etc.)
- What questions they usually have for you throughout the entire process of buying a home
This customer information should be organized and kept updated within a spreadsheet or CRM tool that you can easily access on a regular basis.
2. Sell experiences, not houses
When building a marketing strategy that serves homebuyers, it’s also important to understand one key concept: you’re not in the business of selling houses. Instead, you’re in the business of selling experiences. As we’ve mentioned before on this blog, people don’t get excited about a new house—they get excited about what a new house means for them and their family. Understanding this concept is a crucial part of being able to develop marketing campaigns that make an impact.
To sell experiences and connect on a personal level with your target audience, you have to know who they are and what they care about. That’s why the previous tip in this article is such a crucial step to take before you get too deep into the development of your marketing strategy.
Selling experiences over houses also means working to become a trusted resource in your community and among your target audience. In order to be successful as a real estate agent, you can’t just be an expert on houses—you also have to be an expert on your community. For example, if you typically work with young families, you should have a good understanding of all the parks, play areas, and kids’ activities that are close by to any house you’re selling.
To be successful as an agent, build marketing campaigns that illustrate on how you can help people gain experiences and create memories that you know will matter to them.
3. Play where your target audience likes to play
In the early days of social media, it was tempting and even common for businesses to create a presence on every social media site that existed in order to connect with online audiences. That meant trying to pay attention to and engage with people on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and others still.
As many business owners have learned from experience, it’s not a sustainable or realistic way to invest your time. Instead, you’re much better off focusing on the one or two platforms that you know your audience spends the most amount of time on. The problem is, before you can make an informed decision about which social communities to invest all of your time, money, and energy into, you have to know where your target audience is spending their time. It shouldn’t be a random guess, so the question is, how do you find out which social sites your clients and prospective clients care about most?
You have a few options:
- Option #1: Survey your existing customers and ask them which sites they use most frequently, and which sites they prefer to interact with businesses and brands on.
- Option #2: Leverage research from the Pew Research Center, which compiles reports on how people in different age groups are using social media sites. For example, according to Pew, 65% of people between the ages of 18-29 are actively using Instagram to engage with friends and brands, but it’s only 5% for people aged 65+. Pew also found that 45% of those making an annual salary of more than $75,000 are using LinkedIn, compared to only 11% for those making an annual salary between $30,000-$49,000. These findings might seem obvious, but in order to build a stronger marketing strategy in the year ahead, you need to get into the habit of validating all your assumptions and backing every decision up with data.
Leveraging insights in this way can help ensure that your time on social media is being well spent, and that the opportunity to connect and engage with the right people does exist.
4. Use live video to connect and engage
In 2017, more businesses and brands invested in live video as a way to connect and engage with their target audiences than ever before. It makes sense when you consider the following statistics on how social media users tend to engage with live video vs. other types of content being shared on social media sites:
- Facebook reports that people spend, on average, more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video than a video that’s no longer live.
- The social media giant also says that Facebook users comment 10X more on live videos than they do on regular videos.
- According to Livestream, live video is more appealing to brand audiences: 80% would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.
If you haven’t tried going live on Facebook before to connect with and engage with your audience, give it a try in 2018. Not sure what to talk about on your live? Here are a few ideas:
- Give a live tour of a home you have listed
- Answer common FAQs about home buying
- Interview a happy client and ask them to share their experience of buying a home (what did they learn, what was challenging, what was exciting, what tips do they have for others, etc.).
- Feature other local business owners in the community
- Take participants on a tour of the city or a popular neighborhood
Going live on Facebook can help you build trust and nurture relationships with your target audience, differentiate from other local agents, and help you position yourself as an influencer and value-provider in your community.
5. Allocate budget for social ads
In the last few years, the social media space has become increasingly competitive for businesses and brands who are all trying to connect with and serve the same audience. As a result, it’s no longer possible to get traction from organic efforts alone. In order to get any sort of ROI from your efforts on social media, you need to be willing to pay to play. What does that mean? It means allocating part of your monthly marketing budget to create, launch, and optimize social advertisements. Social ads on sites like Facebook can help you boost personal brand awareness, target ideal customers and clients, leverage yourself as a resource, and close more deals.
If you’ve never launched a Facebook ad to promote a listing before, spend some time exploring one of these resources:
- Getting Started with Ads: a Help Resource from Facebook
- The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Advertising from AdEspresso
- Why Facebook Ads are a Gold Mine for Real Estate from our blog
If you want to invest more in Facebook advertising, but you just don’t have the time, let us help. Our product, Boost, can help you automatically promote listings and open houses on social media by creating a beautiful ad, optimizing the copy, building the audience, and running the campaign for you, giving you full control if you want any changes.
6. Leverage yourself as a trusted resource
In order to effectively connect with your target audience in both offline and online environments, you need to leverage yourself as a trusted resource. I’ve mentioned this a few times on this blog before, and within this article already, but I feel it’s important enough to highlight here: the real estate industry is incredibly competitive and saturated. In addition, there are now more tools than ever that make it much easier for people to navigate through stages of the homebuying process. As an agent, it’s your job to help people understand why they should work with you and not someone else. You have to focus on providing value and help to people—help that they can’t easily get from anyone else.
To leverage yourself as a trusted resource for your audience, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Figure out what makes you different. How do you differentiate from other agents in your area? What knowledge and experience do you have that others don’t have? Why do people work with you instead of someone else?
- Step 2: Figure out what specific value you can offer to your target audience. What knowledge can you share? What specific niche can you own within the real estate industry? How can you help make the homebuying experience better or easier for people?
- Step 3: Decide how you want to share that value with your audience. It could be by creating original videos for your audience and prospective clients to consume. It could mean going Live once a week to answer questions. It could mean investing in content marketing. It could mean sending emails to your list with tips on buying homes. Figure out a content type and channel that works best for you.
- Step 4: Be consistent. Build editorial calendars and stick to them. Once you start creating and sharing content for your target audience, don’t stop. The more consistent you are, the more trust you’ll build with the people who ultimately want to work with.
Leveraging yourself as a resource that people can rely on will help you boost your reputation, establish more relationships with people, capture more leads, and sell more homes.
7. Blend traditional with digital
Digital should be an important part of your marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore traditional marketing tactics that have worked well in the past. The trick is to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that blends both traditional and digital tactics and opportunities.
For some agents, that might mean:
- Using email and Facebook ads to promote an open house
- Going live on Facebook during an open house to show the house to people who weren’t able to make it
- Launching a marketing campaign that leverages print, social ads, and website banner ads
- Live-tweeting while you participate in local events or festivals
The key is to serve your audiences from everywhere. Some people that you work with are going to spend a lot of time online and want to interact with you there, while others will want to interact with you in more traditional settings. Cover both bases to ensure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities to reach and engage with people who might want to work with you.
8. Support local businesses, causes, and teams
To build trust with people in the community that you’d like to work with, you should also set aside part of your marketing budget for supporting local businesses, causes, and teams. When it comes to buying houses, people want to work with agents who actually care about the community and neighborhood they sell homes in.
Show people you care by picking a few high school sports teams and nonprofit organizations that you can support throughout the year. Don’t go out of your way to promote the fact that you’re supporting these organizations—you don’t want people to feel like you’re only doing it to drum up business and leads. Instead, be genuine about your participation, and interact with people at events when it makes the most sense to do so.
9. Build your list (and do something with it!)
Another important piece of your real estate marketing strategy should be email. As mentioned, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach target audiences on social media, at least from an organic perspective. Email provides you with a unique opportunity to directly communicate with leads and nurture them down your funnel.
In 2018, work to build your email list. You can do it by creating opt-in forms on your website or blog, or asking people for permission to add them to your email list when you meet with them in person. Don’t just send people on this list marketing messages or updates about listings. Take the opportunity to share value with them (blog posts, ebooks, links to videos, tips) and continue to nurture relationships by leveraging yourself as a trusted resource.
10. Recognize the power of word-of-mouth
In real estate, word-of-mouth is everything. Your business can thrive or die based on the reputation you establish for yourself, and what people say about you to their friends in both online and offline settings.
Instead of wondering what people will say, or wondering if people are talking to their friends about you, be more proactive about leveraging your happy clients and customers to drive more referrals to your business.
How do you do it? Here are a few ideas:
- Delight happy clients with housewarming gifts
- Take the time to actually reach out and ask happy clients for testimonials and referrals
- Share testimonials from happy clients in your marketing campaigns
- Incentivize referrals with gifts or money
Use these ideas to transform your happy clients and customers into loyal and active advocates for your business.
11. Automate whenever possible
To build a scalable real estate marketing strategy in 2018, you need to automate whenever possible. Think about the marketing tasks that took up most of your time in 2017, and look for tools that can help you streamline efforts. Here are a few ideas:
- For launching social ads, try Boost from Homespotter.
- For scheduling social content, try Buffer.
- For sending email campaigns, try Mailchimp.
- For building content editorial calendars, try CoSchedule.
- For creating graphics, use templates provided by Canva.
Your goal should be to free up your time so that you can spend more time executing on and optimizing your marketing strategy month-to-month.
Over to You
What marketing strategies are you planning on implementing or testing in 2018? Tell me in the comments below.