In today’s digital era, it’s essential for real estate agents to have an online presence. According to the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 50 percent of buyers found the home they purchased on the Internet. Agents without a website risk missing out on gaining new leads and growing their business.
Many agents rely solely on using their real estate firm’s website as their online presence. However, a single-page profile isn’t sufficient, because buyers and sellers are seeing only a real estate agent’s umbrella brand. This places independent practitioners at a disadvantage as they aren’t in control of the incoming leads, and they end up competing with other agents within the same firm.
A personal website is an essential tool for marketing a real estate agent’s brand rather than their firm’s identity. It can help agents increase brand awareness and attract more quality leads—people who want to do business specifically with them. Also, if an agent chooses to leave their brokerage, they must create a new website and build their online presence again from scratch. Instead of waiting for the burden of necessity, an agent should build a personal website and manage its search engine optimization today; it will stay with them no matter where they decide to hang their license.
Here are some tips for getting started.
Prioritize a Personal Website
A website should serve as an agent’s primary online presence. Think of it as a marketing hub that allows agents to funnel traffic from all their other online profiles and social media pages to one place.
Agents who have individual websites set themselves apart from competitors and are in control of creating their online brand. This proves to be important as most home buyers and sellers want to work with someone they can trust. According to NAR, 39 percent of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agent through a referral by friends or family, and 24 percent used the agent they previously worked with to buy or sell a home.
Buyers and sellers are likely to follow up with referrals by researching them online. Agents who have a personal website and excellent online presence will undoubtedly build credibility with potential clients.
Provide Education and Resources
A website is an ideal place for agents to educate clients and provide valuable resources. It’s vital that agents provide information beyond themselves and the services they offer. They should focus on delivering content that can help guide potential clients throughout their buying or selling process.
Tools like a home buyer’s checklist, mortgage calculator, a guide to loan programs, and access to MLS listings will make an agent’s website the go-to resource for clients. FAQs, virtual tours, community resources, and current listings are also valuable resources agents can add to their website.
Take Advantage of Analytics Reports
Agents who own their website have access to rich analytics reports, which they most likely wouldn’t have access to on a brokerage website. They can get valuable information about how visitors reach their website, keywords used in searches, pages visited, and what content drives the most traffic.
Agents can use this data to better understand their visitors’ behaviors and make changes to their website content as needed. For example, if the topic of renovations to increase home values is popular and attracts a high number of visitors to the website, then agents can use that information to inform their content decisions and publish related articles, videos, and other pieces of content to gain more traffic.
Other Accessible, Economical Options
It’s a great idea to prioritize a website. However, building and maintaining one can require a lot of work and resources that agents might not have. Fortunately, there are other, less expensive and less demanding alternatives agents can use in place of a website.
For example, agents can use a Facebook page as their central site. Unlike a traditional website, a Facebook page is free and comes prebuilt so agents won’t have to invest much time into setting one up for their business.
Facebook also allows agents to put a chatbot on their page to answer general client questions. According to Social Media Today, people and businesses use Facebook Messenger to send 20 billion messages per month, and 300,000 Messenger bots are active on the platform. A bot can answer questions 24/7 and can significantly reduce an agent’s workload.
Additionally, agents can set up an Instagram business account as another point of contact. As a highly visual platform, agents can use Instagram to showcase their listings and increase client engagement. Once agents have set up a business profile, they should claim their Instagram local business profile page as well.
The bottom line is that real estate agents who have a personal website or active social media accounts will be able to market themselves more successfully. This will allow agents to track leads and analytics to better serve their target market. It will also give them greater control of creating their online brand, thus building trust with clients, and ultimately growing their business.