The days of buying grocery cart mini-billboards, bus stop bench placement, and annual calendars for your neighborhood are over. While those tactics are still effective, there are far better, more cost effective ways to maximize your marketing budget as a real estate agent.
From email lists, to an automated greeting card & gifting service, to on-line reviews, here are our top ways to grow your business using online strategies.
1. Grow Your Email List
Email is such an important tool for your business for two reasons. First and foremost, unlike social media platforms, you own it yourself. It doesn’t matter where you work or what social media is trendy or not, email is here to stay. With email, you have a direct line of communication to people you already know.
You could use a free email system like Mail Chimp, but using a truly professional email autoresponder like Aweber will take your business farther, for literally pennies a day.
Secondly, with a robust contact list, you can take the information anywhere and plug it in. Looking to find all your connections on Twitter or LinkedIn? Upload your contact list. Want to run an ad to your clients? Create a target audience on Facebook.
The stats back it up:
• Marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention.
• 70 percent of people say they always open emails from the companies they love.
• Email marketing yields an average 4,300 percent return on investment for businesses in the United States.
As with any business, referrals are the lifeblood. The National Association of Realtors backs this up, reporting that 75 percent of a real estate agent’s business is derived from word-of-mouth and referrals. Keeping in touch with past clients will help keep you top of mind (referrals/repeat business) and having an easy way to contact them is key (we’re looking at you, email).
2. Website Lead Capture Forms
Let’s talk about how we get those emails in the first place.
Lead generation for real estate agents is a key component to success. With countless search results, links and notifications fighting for your client’s attention, you’ve got to make sure your website is doing its job. One of those jobs is turning website visitors into potential leads by capturing their name, phone number and email address on a form.
This is where website lead capture forms come in. These forms allow you to turn website visitors into leads and use that information to follow up with someone who is already actively seeking you out. You can search “opt in forms” of “lead capture page” and you’ll find plenty of options to integrate with your pre-existing website.
3. Build a Referral Program
You already know one of the best avenues for securing new business is referrals from your past clients. And that’s backed up by a Nielsen study reporting that 92 percent of people trust earned media, or publicity like recommendations from friends and family, more than all other forms of marketing.
Referral and repeat business make up 82 percent of all transactions for real estate agents. And if that’s not reason enough to set up a referral program, then you should also know that while 91 percent of consumers are willing to give referrals, only 11 percent of salespeople ask for them.
Offer a $50 or $100 gift card to a local restaurant for referrals and watch your business boom!
4. Get More Reviews
Close to 88 percent of consumers seek out online reviews before making a purchase decision, so make sure your online presence represents you.
You want to not only manage your past and incoming customer reviews, but also actively seek out feedback from your clients via online review sites like Zillow, Yelp and Google+.
You should first make sure that your review pages are claimed and up to date with the information your clients are looking for, including contact information and the services you offer. More often than not, if you didn’t take the time to set up the business page yourself, someone has already added it for you. Take ownership of the page so you have some level of control.
Not so different from the way you’d ask a happy client for a referral, you can also ask them to leave a recommendation for you in a review. The next time a client gives you positive feedback via email, phone or in person, mention that you’d appreciate if they would share the same sentiment in an online review. Many clients understand what an important role your online reputation plays in growing your business, and the majority will likely be happy to help you out in that way.
Remember this: It’s easy to get discouraged when someone promises an online review but doesn’t follow through. Think of it this way: How many well-intentioned promises have you made over the years that you never followed up on? Everyone forgets. Sometimes a gentle email reminder or a mention in passing conversation is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling again. It never hurts to revisit the ask.
Incentivize: Good service and a polite ask are usually incentive enough to get online reviews, but we also know that everyone loves a reward, right? If your industry allows it, make online reviews worth your customer’s while! To be clear, we’re not suggesting you offer to pay for positive online reviews. What we’re saying is to have fun with the process. Reward reviewers, both positive and negative, with $5 gift cards from Starbucks or iTunes, or hold a monthly drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. Whatever you choose to do, it should be easy, fun and tailor-made to your specific audience.
Respond: If someone leaves you an online review, take the time to thank them. They’ve done you a tremendous favor. Even if the review is negative, you can still thank the reviewer for bringing the problem to your attention and take the opportunity to discuss their concerns, especially those that would worry potential leads. Fifty-three percent of people reported that a message from a company directly to a client positively influences their view of the company. By responding to online reviews and resolving issues in a public forum, you not only nurture existing relationships, but you also build your reputation with potential customers.
5. Provide Long-Form Content
As a real estate agent, you no doubt understand the value of using LinkedIn as a networking tool, but did you know that it’s also a great channel to showcase your industry expertise? The LinkedIn long-form posting feature lets users write and publish their own original content to be featured across the site through its curated news feed, Pulse.
Publishing original content is a great way to get exposure for yourself and your business, but without an active audience, your work has a short life span. With Pulse, you’re piggybacking on the world’s largest professional social network (more than 380 million users), giving you instant access to an active audience of content consumers.
You could also provide helpful content on your own blog, or in mini-form as tweets. The more helpful content you provide, the more you’re known.
6. Add Tracking/Retargeting Pixels to Your Website
What is retargeting? Retargeting converts window shoppers into buyers. It’s a strategy that works by keeping track of people who visit your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online. Retargeting is most effective if you segment your visitors (for example, people who looked at condos vs. family homes) and tailor your retargeting ads to each group.
There are simple tutorials in youtube showing how to create and install your Facebook ads manager pixel, as well as your google tracking pixel.
There’s about a two-week window when consumers research homebuying-related activities, be it for listings, movers or school districts. In that time, they may visit your site, but only 2 percent will actually “convert,” or contact you. You need to encourage the other 98 percent to come back. Pixels and ads do that.
7. Be Thoughtful and Show Appreciation
Annual calendars are great, but recognition for other holidays will really set you apart. Get your clients birthdays, and better yet, their kids birthdays! Mailers are common for real estate agents, but most consider JUNK mail, set yourself apart. Let your clients know you’re thinking of them..
Let’s face it, people don’t care what you know, until they know you care! Having a Relationship Marketing strategy of showing appreciation and gratitude to your contact sphere is one of the most overlooked techniques in the sales and marketing industry. For as little as six dollars per year, you can show your appreciation with a nice picture of the recipient with fun picture from Facebook or Instagram with a greeting card and gifting service like SendOutCards…
Now is the best time to introduce creative marketing to your real estate business. Standing out as an expert real estate agent will keep those referrals coming all year round.