A 2016 survey by the National Association of Realtors confirmed what many agents have long suspected: Technology is driving some big changes in the real estate market. While agents and personal referrals helped 34 percent of home-buyers find the house they eventually purchased, just over half of all buyers (51 percent) instead used the Internet to find their new home.
Throughout the home-buying process, more and more buyers are taking to the Web first before contacting an agent or using other channels. Traditional channels like realtors and broadcast advertising can still reliably drive home sales, but any effective real estate strategy must account for how technology has disrupted the market.
Whether you’re a big firm or an agent flying solo, here are some surefire strategies for improving your real estate marketing game in the Digital Age.
Create a landing page and build your contact list
In today’s real estate industry, one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal is a comprehensive list of contacts, just like the Rolodex of yore. A contact list has several advantages over social media — no company or platform can own your contacts, and they can be used across multiple channels.
Once you’re equipped with a contact list of phone numbers alongside physical and email addresses, you’ll have a variety of channels available for your targeted marketing. If you haven’t already, drop what you’re doing right now and set up an individual web page — also known as a landing page — so you can begin collecting contacts. (We’ll be here when you get back.)
Once your landing page is setup, add a form to capture contact info from your new prospects like their email address and phone number. To entice leads to fill out your form, consider offering a whitepaper or sales brochure as a reward. Some affordable, easy-to-use services that offer both landing pages and capture forms are Wix, Unbounce and Leadpages.
Start a referral program, keep in touch with clients
Although tech is becoming a bigger part of our day-to-day lives, forging human connections with your clients and leads is still key to any effective real estate strategy. Don’t underestimate the power of the personal touch — the Web may be top dog, but referrals and personal associations still drive a large chunk of overall real estate transactions. In many ways, the shift to digital has made agents and realtors more important than ever.
According to a 2015 study by the news and analytics firm Inman, referrals and repeat customers account for 82 percent of real estate transactions. Earning referrals can be as simple as making sure to ask for them from your clients, but you should also consider placing a separate form on your landing page for referrals. If you’re an agent who delivers solid value for your customers and has helped happy home buyers achieve their dreams, your clients will often be more than willing to reciprocate and refer new customers to you. Of course, don’t forget to properly compensate clients who provide referrals — cash or gift cards are an easy way to say thank you, and the promise of a reward can drive even more referrals your way!
Another critical part of generating positive word-of-mouth is having a review system in place. A 2014 survey by BrightLocal confirms that 88 percent of consumers read online and offline reviews before making a purchasing decision. This means that actively soliciting reviews from satisfied customers is critical to solidifying your reputation and delivering positive ROI.
Take a comprehensive look at your digital presence and make sure you have review pages claimed on sites like Zillow, Yelp and Facebook. Once they’re up and running, ask your clients to show you some love — odds are they’ve checked online reviews themselves, so they’ll understand how customer testimonials are critical to growing your business.
Pick up the phone
With your contact list assembled, you can start making calls to spread your firm’s message and attract more business. Phone calls are a reliable way to drive referrals and sales — much like having a face-to-face sit down, a personal call from a realtor can leave a lasting impression. With the near-ubiquity of mobile and smartphone tech, calls are a key part of the savvy marketer’s playbook.
With your contact list in hand, give your current clients and prospects a call to inform them of new listings that might interest them. Or, if you see a promising property put up for sale by its owner, call and see if they need help drumming up interest and closing the sale.
Another great approach is to call recent clients and make sure everything is proceeding smoothly with their move-in — conversations like this are an opportunity to solicit more referrals and reviews.
Attribution for Calls
Tracking online activity for your real estate marketing can be easy with free tools like Google Analytics. But if someone decides to call a number you’ve printed on a direct mailer or used in a PPC campaign, how do you attribute the lead back to channel that drove it?
Call tracking makes it simple to view which offline marketing channels (like listing sites and direct mailers) are driving calls to your company. With call tracking, you can monitor form submissions so you are alerted by phone if someone makes an entry online — this makes it easy to quickly follow up with potential renters. A call tracking platform can also help you more efficiently manage your phone desk through easy-to-setup call flows that send incoming callers to the right agent at the right time, along with other features like call recording for quality assurance.
One real estate client, Evolve Vacation Rental Network, wanted a way to attribute calls from their online PPC, direct mail and print ads. By implementing CallRail they were able to view where their leads were coming from and get a true understanding of acquisition cost.
Stay social (Do it for the Gram)
These days, it practically goes without saying that social media should be front-and-center for any real estate marketing strategy — you should always be maximizing the available avenues of communication with customers and leads. You’ll definitely want to have a Facebook Page with basic contact info and property listings, but one of the hottest social networks for realtors right now is more readily associated with snapshots of brunch than pictures of property: Instagram.
Instagram now boasts more than 700 million active users and has a feature-set that is particularly valuable for location-based businesses like real estate. On a basic level, Instagram allows you to connect with prospective buyers and show off your properties, complete with flattering filters to give your pictures an extra edge.
But more valuable to realtors are Instagram’s location services — you can geo-tag posts to a specific area, and have that feed into a map of other geotagged posts for that location. So, if you have multiple listings in a city or region, Instagram is an excellent way to provide prospects with a simple and easy-to-use map of available properties in their area.
If you’re an agent or realtor looking to boost your marketing game, call tracking and analytics can help you earn more clients and close more deals: Start your 14-day free trial with CallRail today.