Even before the coronavirus crisis, real estate pros have increasingly adopted video tools to boost business and connect with clients. Now they’re more relevant than ever.
woman recording video to clients

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For 10 years, Michael Nathanson has been sending video emails to his current and potential clients. But with shelter-in-place orders across America because of the coronavirus pandemic, these videos are providing his clients with a new sense of comfort and security.

“People get so many emails these days. But the videos make it more personable,” says Nathanson, team leader of The Nathanson Brothers with RE/MAX Services, in Boca Raton, Fla.

Emailing a video in the context of today’s strange and stressful circumstances can help ease customers’ fears. “I sent a video yesterday talking about life, business, and how coronavirus works with it,” Nathanson adds. He received several positive responses, including comments such as, “You made us feel more comfortable.”“I think that if anyone had any doubts about video emails, they will most likely change their minds now,” Nathanson says. “This is here to stay and could and should be part of everyday life.”

Research from WireBuzz, a video and online marketing firm, shows that viewers retain 95% of a message if it’s watched in a video compared to only 10% from text.

For Jay Macklin, broker-owner of Platinum Living Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz., adding videos to emails has been a significant resource for building and humanizing his brand. “Calming fears and relieving uncertainty are the most important things we can do right now while we’re going through an actual crisis,” he says. Macklin realized during the 2008 mortgage crash that lifting spirits is something you can accomplish even when everything else might be out of your control.

Getting Used to the Camera

Nathanson admits that being on camera can be uncomfortable. He’s still feels a little awkward even after doing it so many years. “I get a little stage fright,” Nathanson says. “No one likes to see themselves on camera. But I make my team do it."

Ever since his first clients received his video emails a decade ago, they’ve continued to be “blown away" by it.

“They can’t believe I would take the personal time to make a video for them. It’s so simple, but so powerful, like a handwritten note,” he says.

Especially now, that personal touch can mean a lot to people who feel isolated.

Macklin began using video emails to recruit agents, and he’s received many comments over the years from people saying they have never seen anything like it. But the issue of camera fright is alive and well among his agents because they don’t want to be judged by the way they talk or look.

“I’m old enough now that I couldn’t care less what people think. I was very sensitive at first, but the younger you are, the more it affects you,” he adds.

The key, Macklin says, is to be prepared enough to speak effortlessly in the video without sounding scripted. When he first started created videos, he’d read directly from a script, but he says it came off as disingenuous.

The goal of the video is to be authentic, so figure out what your message is going to be, and then started having a conversation with the camera, he suggests. “You are going to make a mistake,” he adds. “No one is perfect.” But small mistakes and little stutters humanize who you are, he says.

“People crave authenticity,” says Ethan Beute, chief evangelist at BombBomb, a video email marketing platform that was included in the National Association of REALTORS®’ Reach Class of 2013. Macklin and Nathanson both use the company for their video emailing.

Beute, who co-authored the book, Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience, says videos show transparency. “People are tired of the polish and posh,” he says.

BombBomb tracks the number of recipients who open the email and click on the video. An engaging video can be an agent introducing himself or herself when someone inquires about a listing online, a thank-you for coming to an open house, or a follow-up video after a client appointment. Videos can be shot from an agent’s home, outside a listing, or even in their car.

Nathanson shoots monthly “evidence of success” videos where he talks about something great that happened, such as a happy client, a situation where an agent at his office helped someone out, or a shout-out to someone who gave him a referral. “It makes them feel special,” he says.

Through the years, Nathanson estimates he’s produced tens of thousands of videos. Some days he shoots 10; other days, it’s more than 30. Depending on the subject, these videos may be used in group emails or one-on-one emails.

Bottom Line for Business

“Video plays a part in every single deal we do,” says Nathanson.

Macklin says his video emails help him convince potential clients to choose him out of the 74,000 agents in the Phoenix area. “They see your face and your demeanor. That is important, especially in this marketplace.”

He also believes there is no better time in history to stand out than during a crisis.

“Use video to be different and showcase your leadership skills,” Macklin says. “But, more importantly, use it to show your compassion and help others get through this crazy time.”

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Video Production Tips

Beute’s advice for shooting a successful video (and it’s probably easier than you think):

  • Don’t buy special equipment. All you need is your webcam or smartphone.
  • More light is better.
  • The closer you are to the microphone, the better.
  • Smile before you hit record. It puts you in a better frame of mind and makes you feel more attractive.
  • Keep it short—like 20 to 30 seconds. This gives respect to the customer or viewer.
  • The more you can make the video about the people watching, the more engagement you’ll receive. Give them a reason to open the email.