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A Real Estate Agent’s Definitive Guide to Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

The success or failure of your digital marketing efforts relies heavily on your ability to create a compelling strategy that not only helps you to focus your marketing efforts on attaining your marketing goals but also helps you build a sustainable business along the way.

Digital marketing is simply the process of advertising any product or service using digital channels such as social media, email, Google search etc. As a real estate agent, you can use digital marketing to your advantage. Here are five advantages that digital marketing offers real estate agents:

  1. Digital marketing is affordable, compared to traditional marketing channels such as radio, television, and newspapers.
  2. Digital marketing provides a level playing ground with other big players in the real estate industry.
  3. Digital marketing provides a means to reach a larger audience, engage with them and build a profitable relationship with them through lead nurturing (more on that later)
  4. Digital marketing provides measurable results and returns on investment (ROI) can easily be tracked.
  5. Digital marketing can be automated and scaled for success. You can easily nurture an email list of thousands of people effortlessly thanks to digital marketing automation. When compared with traditional marketing, this advantage really packs a punch.

Real estate agents obviously have a lot to gain by including digital marketing in their overall marketing mix which usually includes cold-calling and networking at industry specific events. And even though these tactics don’t yield much ROI, it still has its place in an integrated marketing plan. But for the sake of clarity and focus, this guide is aimed at helping you create a successful digital marketing strategy.

Types of Digital Marketing

Unknown to many real estate agents, there are types of digital marketing. Many assume that digital marketing simply means marketing and promoting your brand and listings on digital channels, and even though this is true to an extent, it is the strategy behind the usage of these channels that determine the type of digital marketing employed.

There are basically two types of digital marketing, namely:

Inbound Digital Marketing: This can simply be defined as using valuable content such as Blog Posts, eBooks, social media posts, videos and infographics to attract, engage and convert prospects into customers. Key components of Inbound Marketing are:

Outbound Digital Marketing: Outbound marketing is the exact opposite of inbound marketing. It is the digital version of traditional advertising – a one-way communication marketing. Outbound marketing has a lot of disadvantages such as it being expensive to practice and annoying to prospects at the same time, another thing to consider is that the ROI is relatively low compared to Inbound Marketing. Key components of Outbound Marketing are:

  • Cold-Calling/Cold-Emailing
  • Google Adwords and Website Banner Ads
  • Paid Directories

Now, this is not to say that using Google Adwords or other online advertising platforms is a bad idea, what it means, in essence, is that unless these advertising campaigns are backed by a solid digital strategy, it’s most likely going to flop.

Digital Marketing Framework

Before crafting your marketing strategy, you need to lay the foundation on which you will build your entire marketing campaign. As a real estate agent, you need to focus on three key aspects when planning your digital strategy. These key aspects represent a framework that has been tested and proven to achieve exponential results. These are:

  1. A professionally developed website and blog.
  2. An inbound marketing campaign targeted at potential home sellers or buyers in your area with the goal of driving traffic to your website.
  3. Create mechanisms for lead capture and prepare an email campaign series to nurture and follow up on those leads until they are ready to buy or list a house.

This framework can further be expanded to get a better understanding of how these steps can work together to create a successful campaign:

Create a Real Estate Website

This is the foundation of your entire digital marketing campaign. You cannot really do much without a website – and not just any kind of website for that matter; a very professionally designed website. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your real estate website:

  • Ensure your website is mobile responsive i.e. it can be viewed using either a Smartphone or a tablet. This is especially important considering that recent statistics prove the growing usage of mobile phones globally.
  • Make sure your website is optimized for search engines by creating a sitemap and submitting to search engines. Also, include relevant keywords into your website and don’t neglect all the necessary SEO tags. For a quick how-to guide on optimizing for SEO, read this article.
  • Another element to consider when designing your real estate website is site speed. The real estate industry is a show and tell industry which means your website is most likely to have a lot of images and videos and this tends to slow down your website. If you currently have a website, there are tools you can use to check how fast your website speed really.
  • Finally, consider implementing an Internet Data Exchange (IDX) application on your website. This allows your website visitors to easily search for Multiple Listing Service properties within your target area. You can set up your property search using an IDX provider like Showcase IDX.

Create an Inbound Digital Marketing Campaign

The second step towards a successful digital marketing campaign is to create a content marketing strategy that involves creating high-quality content offers, such as eBooks, Whitepapers, Webinars, and Industry Reports, and promoting these offers through several blog posts. Social media marketing is still one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog posts and content offers. Platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn have especially been proven to help real estate agents generate leads.

Capture and Nurture Real Estate Leads

The final steps towards a successful real estate digital marketing campaign are to capture AND nurture the leads you’ve generated through your content marketing campaign. But how do you capture leads? By simply adding calls to action telling your website visitors to give you their name and email address. Below are few simple ways you can easily capture leads through your website:

  • Create and design landing pages which will be used to capture your visitor’s information. Ensure that your landing pages are optimized for conversions by removing every other page navigation.
  • Offer lead magnets in the form of a high-quality content offer like a home buying/selling guides, whitepapers, and webinars. This should complement your landing pages and persuasive copywriting skills will come in handy here.
  • Also, consider using pop-ups and email opt-in forms on your blog posts to increase conversion rates.
  • Another lead capture trick that you can use (which is also good for qualifying hot and cold prospects) is to set up a “Click to Call” button on the mobile version of your website. This provides a way for you to convert prospects quickly.
  • Finally, a lot of IDX providers will allow you to set up “Delayed Forced Registration” which forces your website’s user to enter their information when trying to search through your property listings.
  • After capturing leads, the next and final step is to nurture these leads until they become customers and finally your brand advocates and promoters. When you get a lot of brand advocates, you will begin to see a lot of your new customers coming through referrals.

In order to nurture your prospects effectively, you will need to set up a drip email campaign to help you connect with these leads. Your real email marketing campaign must be about educating your leads and leading them down the funnel of listing or buying a home. You will need a comprehensive content marketing strategy to nurture your leads throughout your entire sales funnel.

Real Estate Digital Marketing Strategies to Consider

There are various strategies that you can use for your digital marketing campaign, but the most successful ones are those that use a combination of each or all of them.

One thing all these strategies have in common, however, is valuable content that solves the needs of prospective customers. This is still the best foundation to lay your entire campaign upon. Below are strategies that you can consider implementing as your digital marketing strategy.

Inbound Content Marketing

All the content you post on your website, such as blog posts and content offers are forms of inbound content marketing because they are hosted on your website and traffic comes from various sources such as social media marketing and organic website traffic.

This provides numerous benefits such as keeping your audiences more engaged with your brand and on your website and also provides content for your social media posts and email nurturing campaigns.

Outbound Content Marketing

This follows the same rules of creating highly valuable content for your targeted audience, but the only difference is that instead of posting it on your website, you’re publishing on another (hopefully better established) website.

The benefits of this include giving your content more exposure with an audience who may have otherwise never heard of you. An SEO related benefit would be inbound links coming to your website from these established platforms will give your website more authority and you will rank higher in organic search engine results.

Pro Tip: Consider reaching out to bloggers who write in a niche where a large number of your target audience cluster and offer them guest blogging opportunities on your website.

Search Engine Marketing and Optimization

Search engines play a large role in the way people use the internet these days. Before people contact an agent, they’ve already spent days, sometimes weeks and even months, researching the kind of property they want, the neighborhood they want to live in and finally, real estate agents within their target area who have good online reviews.

This is where content marketing really shines because by providing informative blog posts that cater to all of the needs of your target audience as they move from one phase of their research towards the next, you are building yourself as an expert in your field and when these prospects you’ve “nurtured” with your content are finally ready to buy, you’re the first agent that will come to their mind.

By incorporating your content marketing strategy with search engine marketing (buying website traffic through PPC campaigns) and organic search results (SEO), you can greatly amplify the strength of your content and get a high conversion rate on all your efforts. The most important thing is to produce quality blog posts consistently.

Social Media Marketing

Another digital marketing strategy that you can utilize to build brand awareness, generate website traffic and establish a two-way communication with your target audience.

Another benefit to consider when using social media for your real estate marketing is that it is a great way to collect reviews and testimonials that people can trust. Depending on the kind of reviews you’re getting, however, you may either be getting referrals or turning away clients immediately. By monitoring your reputation online, you can quickly jump into conversations about your brand and try and resolve any client displeasures and generally get a positive review. Potential clients look at reviews when considering which agents to choose for their needs.

There are various social media platforms you can use for real estate marketing, but the most popular ones for real estate agents (and those generating the highest ROI) are:

Facebook: This is still the largest social media platform in the world. Real estate agents can leverage the large numbers on Facebook for their social media marketing activities by using visually appealing content such as images and infographics. Videos also have a high engagement rate on Facebook, especially if the videos are short and have a viral effect. Finally, Facebook offers one of the best advertising services with a very robust targeting option – which will come in handy when you’re trying to set up your Facebook page’s core audience.

LinkedIn: This is the world’s largest professional social network and it is best used for generating leads and establishing your brand as an expert in the real estate industry. LinkedIn is a perfect opportunity to collect endorsements and reviews which could client testimonials or from agents you’ve worked with in the past. LinkedIn Pulse is also a great place to share your blog posts (or variations of it) and link back to your website. This is good for search engine optimization.

Twitter: A fast-paced social network with real-time conversations that you can tap into, Twitter offers real estate agents a way to connect with potential clients through relevant hashtags and trending topics. With a limit of 140 characters, you need to be creative with your updates and don’t forget to include a lot of visuals.

Google Plus: This a social network owned by Google and its biggest strength is the SEO capabilities it offers to your overall digital marketing strategy. Read our comprehensive guide on how to leverage Google Plus and Google My Business for your real estate marketing strategy here.

Instagram: This is a picture sharing social network owned by Facebook. Instagram allows you to share images and video tours of your listings.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a very good way to establish credibility and brand awareness faster. In order to generate a high chance of digital marketing success, leveraging the influence of influencers within your target niche is still the best way to go.

Simply put, influencer marketing means targeting individuals such as bloggers, reporters, analysts or similar people who have a large social influence and engage them in your brand marketing efforts.

The hardest part of influencer marketing is identifying and connecting with these influencers. You need to target only individuals who will give your marketing a boost in traffic and referrals.

Email Marketing

This is the number one tool for lead nurturing. Email addresses are personal and people rarely ever change theirs. Email marketing provides you the opportunity to build valuable relationships with your leads until they’re ready to buy from you.

Pro Tip: Read our complete guide to email marketing for real estate agents here.

Personal Branding

Finally, personal branding gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand online. Ensure all your blog posts have your name and image on them and make sure all your outreach marketing efforts have your personal branding attached.

Pro Tip: Read more about how real estate agents can leverage their personal brands to generate leads here.

These strategies work very well independently, but their real magic is only evident when you combine these strategies together to make your marketing campaign a success.

When used well, these strategies have the power to enhance and complement each other, thereby increasing your total return on investment across all your marketing channels.

Need help crafting a compelling content marketing strategy for your real estate marketing or do you need a high quality blog post to make your content marketing run more efficiently, contact us today for a FREE consultation.