The technology-driven trends that are shaping nearly every industry have not skipped us in the real estate world. Buyers are purchasing homes differently than they have in the past, and digital platforms are playing a much larger role in the market. Whether you’re a new agent establishing your business or an established real estate pro who’s retooling, it’s more crucial than ever for real estate pros to have a robust online presence in order to connect with clients.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, the first step taken in the homebuying process is an online search—and this is true for nearly all generations of home buyers. Your digital marketing techniques don’t need to be complicated or expensive; in fact, there are several free tools you can take advantage of to start building an online presence.
1. Create your own user-friendly website.
There are many platforms that allow you to build your own personal website with a small budget and no experience in web design. REALTOR Benefits® Program partner Placester offers free mobile-friendly websites for NAR members that include contact forms, prewritten blog posts, IDX listing integration capability, and more. Building a website to showcase your listings will give clients a one-stop shop where they can browse homes, learn about the homebuying process, and easily contact you for more information. Be sure to keep your website looking clean and organized, and include attractive photos of each listing to generate interest.
If you can put more of your budget toward your website, the easiest way to ensure a high-functioning presence is to hire a web designer. Professionals will be able to integrate search engine optimization practices, particularly for mobile devices to make sure you’re generating traffic and quality leads. Nearly half of web browsing is done on mobile devices, and close to 60 percent of mobile users will abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Consider these additional customizations on your websites to generate more viewers:
- Professional photos
- Videos and 3D walkthroughs
- Client reviews
- A live chat feature
2. Expand your reach on social media.
If you’re not already using social media to connect with clients, it’s time to start. Social media is a powerful, mostly free tool to use for advertising and engaging with clients and colleagues. If you’ve already created social media accounts for your real estate business, but you’ve found it difficult to post regularly across all channels, then create a social media strategy as part of your overall marketing plan and stick to it. Of course you want to use social media to share your listings, but you also should be sharing a variety of content that will be useful to your followers. Relevant blog posts, local events, positive reviews, and other related content will help you tell your story on social media.
Make sure you are active on a variety of different channels, but understand that the tools for each social media channel can vary. Facebook is a great place to take advantage of advertising and other real estate marketing tools and to market your homes to relevant Facebook groups to reach new clients. Set up a YouTube channel to increase online conversion rates by providing home videos and virtual tours to prospective clients. Instagram is currently the fastest-growing social media platform, with more than 800 million monthly users—use this channel to experiment with hashtags, captions, and photography styles.
3. Create content beyond your listings.
Not only will fresh, relevant content help potential clients find value in your business, it will also give you substance to use in your other digital marketing efforts. Blog posts, newsletters, webinars, visuals, reports, and other informative content will help drive traffic to your website, build SEO, and help you appear as a thought leader in your space. You can then use the content you create on your social media channels, email marketing campaigns, and other initiatives included in your marketing strategy.
When a home buyer is purchasing their first home, they’re not just looking for the perfect listing, they’re also searching for information on the homebuying process and trying to learn as much as they can. Answer the questions that will be most useful to your buyers and sellers so they will come back to you even after they have completed their transaction.
These are just a few very basic tools you can use to start boosting your digital presence. Technology is continually giving us more and more ways to connect with our target audiences; these three things will help provide a foundation for your online client communications strategy. As you start to grow your basic presence online, you can move into more advanced techniques like a concerted digital marketing campaigns or personalized, data-driven advertising outreach. The foundation of a solid website, engaging social presence, and basic content marketing can help you reach your target demographic and increase the odds of clients discovering you during their own research.