This presentation was prepared for a session at REBarCamp Vancouver 2015.
I’m Ceilidh MacLeod, VP Growth at RESAAS. For those who don’t know, RESAAS is a global social platform for real estate professionals to connect, share listings and exchange referrals. I’m here today to try and unveil the beauty of online marketing. Quite frequently I hear people talking about it as if it’s a scary foreign place, but hopefully you’ll leave this room with a new perspective (unless you’re already hooked like me) and a desire to explore online marketing even more.
My job at RESAAS is to acquire traffic to our platform, convert them to users, get them to engage with our platform and keep them retained.
This isn’t all too different to what a REALTOR does right? You want to acquire leads, convert them to clients, maintain a relationship with them and then hopefully convert them to a repeat customer.
In order to accomplish these things in the Growth Team at RESAAS we use a new marketing technique called growth hacking. Growth hacking combines creativity, analytical thinking & social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.
So, when I was asked to talk today I immediately thought to myself, how can REALTORS start growth hacking?? Clearly our goals are in line – we want to sell products (for you, it’s houses) and we want to gain exposure.
So, I’ve been asking myself, why hasn’t anyone growth hacked real estate before?? Getting an answer to this isn’t actually too hard for me. That’s because my Mom is a REALTOR.
This is my Mom. She just moved to a new brokerage and is much more independent than she was in her previous one where they shared all clients and deals. She’s basically starting fresh and is building a new client base from scratch. I’ll admit she’s pretty much nailed the offline strategy. She’s great at networking, always on the phone, she’s rocking the newspaper ads… But, when it comes to online strategy she begins to look a little less like this lovely lady…
...and a little more like this terrified baby.
So, when I ask her what her barriers are I get the same general answers –
It takes too much time and too much money. However, I believe that with the right plan and strategy in place you can actually end up saving a lot of time and money.
Today I’m going to sharing 6 recommendations to getting started with online marketing and one formula to maintaining an online presence. I hope that you walk away from this presentation with some actionable items and feeling unintimidated by online marketing.
92% of homebuyers use the Internet in their home buying process. Real estate is the 2nd most searched thing online (after porn), in fact Google searches for real estate related terms has increased by 253% in the past 4 years. So, you want to make sure that you’re hogging all the search result space possible. First things first. You need to have a website. You’re website is your home within the Internet world. It’s the place where you can control all your content, your brand, your contact details, and any other personal information.
72% of agents say they have a customized personal website. That’s up 21% from the year before. Clearly agents are moving in the right direction, but if you don’t get on top of this early enough you could find it even harder to compete later on.
If you don’t already have a personal website then I highly recommend you put this at the top of your list of things to do.
There are website services available for everyone, depending on the level of customization or control you’d like to have. There are agencies that can build a customized website with MLS integration for anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars. There is other software out there with listing integration that can provide you with templates that are more self-serving as low as $50 per month. And if that’s still too much you can setup your own website on Wordpress for free.
Here's my Mom’s website. We bought a template for $70 and monthly hosting costs $3. Not too bad for a decent looking website. The best part about her website though, is her blog.
Blogging is my 2nd recommendation for all of you. Having a website is great - you’ve built your home, but to get your home on the map (ranking high in Google search results) you need to keep it up-to-date. Adding a blog post every 2 weeks and keeping your listings up-to-date will help significantly in ranking higher on Google searches. Google’s algorithm now puts even more emphasis on up-to-date content.
If you don’t believe me here are a few stats. 90% of consumers find blog content useful. 78% believe the person behind the content is interested in building good relationships. 53% of website owners found blogging to be the single most effective SEO tactic.
Here are a few examples of what my Mom has on her blog. Keep the topics engaging such as this one about how “Almost every housing prediction was wrong” and become an industry leader by providing market updates - these can be taken from your local real estate board or any other market analyst.
What good is all this great content you’re creating if you aren’t sharing it?
Twitter has 228 million monthly active users, Facebook has 890 million daily active users and 70% of consumers are utilizing social media throughout the home buying & selling process. So having a presence in the top platforms can be very beneficial. There are many social networks out there where you can set up a business account, however, at the minimum I suggest setting up a Facebook business page and a Twitter account. Having these will also mean that you can fill out and rank higher in Google search results.
My 3rd recommendation is to create a Facebook business page.
Check out Ronnie’s page for example. Over time she’s managed to gain thousands of followers and her page doesn’t only act as a channel to push her listings and blog posts. It’s a place where people can rate her service and ask her questions. I also love how she shares personal experiences with clients - demonstrating that this isn’t just a real business, but there’s a real person behind it too.
Once you’ve created your Facebook page make sure you invite all of your friends and clients to like it - these are the people that will be your biggest advocates and having them engage with your content will bring you exposure to all of their networks too. This is a powerful word-of-mouth technique to gaining referrals.
While Twitter is another great platform to share your updates, it’s also a place for you to connect with local people and businesses. Twitter isn’t really a place where people plan to find an agent or listings, but if you maintain a presence you can find clients in unexpected areas. That's why creating a Twitter account is my 4th recommendation.
Take Ricky for example… Ricky sent out a tweet about a great pizza he had in a local restaurant in Toronto and a chef in Nova Scotia saw this tweet, responded and they started a dialogue. It just so happened that the chef was planning his move to Toronto and Ricky ended up selling him his home. Perhaps this is a rare example, but such an easy thing as a tweet can result in new clients. By sharing all your local expertise you can stay top-of-mind to those who are ready to make a move.
Again, there are other great platforms out there like Instagram and Pinterest, but I’ve picked these two as platforms to get started on.
So, now that you’ve got custom content on your website, you’re sharing it on social media, & you’re getting traffic back to your site, what’s next?
You want to make sure that you’re capturing leads coming to your website. This is my 5th recommendation.
You can do this easily by setting up a popup or widget somewhere to ask for visitor contact details in exchange for market and listing updates. This could look a little something like this one on my Mom’s website.
Ok, so there is something big I want to emphasize here. Your email list is your gold. It is extremely valuable. Your website is a great place for you to display your listings & knowledge, your social accounts are key to getting new leads to your website, but your email list is your database of warm leads. This is the most likely source for getting new or repeat clients.
Emails are 40x more successful at acquiring new clients compared to other online marketing tools. Emails also generate 6x the clicks compared to posts on social media. In addition, they generate a 66% higher purchase conversion rate when compared to social media, direct mail & more. I’m not trying to undermine the value of the other recommendations I’ve made, because they are all necessary to complete your online marketing funnel, but your email list is definitely the most important component.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, newsletters are still considered a great way to grow or maintain relationships, even during times when people aren’t actively making purchasing decisions. So, if you’re wondering what to do with your email list then my next recommendation is to create a monthly newsletter.
Mailchimp is a great email marketing tool and is free up to 2000 subscribers. They allow you to easily build beautiful emails that are optimized across devices and platforms.
You can even setup your email popup on your website to feed that data directly into a list in Mailchimp, so they’ll be in your monthly campaign automatically.
Here’s the newsletter I set up with my Mom using Mailchimp. There were 3 key things we wanted to provide in my Mom’s newsletter. The first was a personal message like this one...
...the second was updates on all her listings...
90% of consumers find custom content useful, 78% believe the organizations behind the content are interested in building good relationships.
Content creation ranked as the single most effective SEO tactic by 53%. And website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters.