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Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

You’re a REALTOR®, you know you’re in the business of real estate property transactions. You also know you need to market yourself and your business. You know the traditional ways of marketing: direct mailings, signs and business cards, sponsorship of neighborhood events, referrals, advertisements, etc. 

But are you missing out on another way to market because either you don’t know what you would say, or you think it’s a waste of time? Here are some thoughts from a fellow REALTOR® in New Hampshire. http://actvra.in/4Wkk

Always remember, you are an expert in your field and your field expands far beyond “just houses” into the neighborhoods and local news of your niche market. You know things from schools, local events, to local policy. Share these things and let your potential clients KNOW through your knowledge that you are the expert for them.

Sleepy beagle dog in funny glasses near laptop
Take an hour or so every few days to share your knowledge in a blog

Low-Cost Lead Generation Activities for Real Estate

Published: 07/17/2016

Posted by: RET Staff
By Kyle Strohschein on The Paperless Agent blog

Last week, we talked about the three different types of leads:

  • Low Cost / Low Intent
  • Medium Cost / Medium Intent
  • High Cost / High Intent

And we also asked you to find out how much website traffic you’re currently getting. Why? Because according to research done by Google, only 2-3% of people who visit your website will convert (take some sort of action and give you their contact information).

Which means, to capture a significant number of leads, we need a lot of monthly visitors to our website:

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Most of us can’t get the number of visitors we need from organic traffic alone (people who find your website through a search portal or other referral). We need other ways to drive people to our websites, get in front of people actively looking for a home, or generate leads from our networks.

So today, we’re going to give you some campaigns you can use to find leads of each type. These are campaigns we use in our brokerage, GoodLife Realty, and the ad examples you see are from ads we’ve used and tested.

Low Intent / Low Cost: Home Search PPC Campaign on Facebook

When someone is looking for a home, what are they interested in seeing? Homes for sale! This campaign promotes the home search feature of our website to potential buyers.

Facebook Ads are one of the most effective ways to get in front of buyers. With Facebook Ads, you can target people likely to move in the zip codes or areas you focus on. Here’s an example:

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This ad then takes them to page on your website where visitors can search for properties:

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These lead are generally going to fall into the “Low Cost, Low Intent” category. They’re only giving you their contact information so they can get more information or browse homes on your website, so follow up accordingly.

Low Intent / Low Cost: Home Value PPC Campaign on Facebook

This campaign is similar to the Home Search campaign, but targets potential sellers. If someone is thinking of selling their home–even just toying with the idea–they are going to want to know how much their home is worth. With this campaign, we use Facebook Ads to find people who 1) Own a home and 2) Are likely to move, and then offers them a free estimate for their home.

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The ad sends them to a landing page where people can enter their address and contact information in exchange for a free report that provides a brief home valuation.

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We use a “What’s My Home Worth?” tool to provide an automated report. If you’re interested in that route, there are many services that offer this feature. However, you can also just produce a quick CMA yourself and send it to people who request a home value analysis!

Remember, with both the Home Search and Home Value campaigns, you want a system for following up with individuals who take action. You need to to establish a relationship and build trust over time so that when they become a high intent lead, you’re the agent they work with.

Immediately after someone takes action, you should follow-up with an automated email that introduces yourself, lets them know you are available, and then provides value.

And then you need to stay in touch. After the initial email, shift to sending information that buyers or sellers would be interested in. We start with a 12 point email sequence for both buyers and sellers that delivers information about the buying or selling process.

Medium Intent / Medium Cost: Just Listed Campaign

One way to attract the Medium Intent / Medium type of website viewer is with a Just Listed campaign.

The basic principles of this campaign work just like the Just Listed campaigns we all know, just updated for the digital age. By using digital marketing, you can get your listings in front of the right people at the right time, making your Just Listed campaign more timely, targeted, and ultimately effective.

Here’s how it works: You use Facebook Ads targeting features to find people who are likely to buy a home. The ad promotes the property:

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The Facebook Ads drive people back to a property page on your website.

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If possible, you should host the property page on your website. That way, you get the benefit of the traffic to your website, people seeing your brand, people browsing your website, and so on!

This campaign is incredibly cost effective, as well. We spend around $50 or $60 per listing (just a couple dollars a day).

High Cost, High Intent: Marketing to your Network on a Regular Basis

When you look at hard costs, marketing to your network isn’t that expensive. However, when you consider how much your time is worth, and then you think about everything that goes into building your network and keeping in touch–meeting these individuals, building the relationship, calling, creating marketing materials to stay in touch–the cost adds up.

To simplify the process of marketing to your network, we use a digital monthly campaign that looks like this:

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We begin by writing a blog post on a topic useful to homeowners, buyers, or sellers, such as amplifying the value of your home. The information should be highly relevant, and something your network would be interested in. We also promote the blog post across our various social media platforms to get more traction from it.

We then take the information from the blog post and have it designed in a PDF report. Studies show that people perceive designed PDFs to be of more value than a simple blog post.

After we have the PDF, we email it to our network. It’s a relatively easy was to keep up with your network without bugging them.

Additionally, you’ll be providing your network with an arsenal of tools they can use to promote you. When someone in your network comes across referral opportunity, they are going to have a lot of resources they can use to refer you. Sending information like this also gives you something to talk about when you pick up the phone to call your past clients.

Now that you have some campaigns to start generating traffic and leads, tomorrow we’ll focus on how to follow-up, nurture, and convert the leads you generate!

Real Estate Blogging Tips for Beginners

While some want you to believe that blogging is an art, it really isn’t. Anyone with thoughts in their head and a keyboard can construct a blog post. Being a successful real estate blogger, however, requires being mindful of the topics you choose and the construction of your blog posts.

Blogging is time intensive. But then, so is mailing out 1,000 postcards, cold calling or door knocking. If you’re considering ramping up your blogging efforts to reel in new clients, read on for some helpful tips.

Why Should Agents Blog?

The biggest advantage to blogging is that – aside from what your time is worth – it’s free. If you waste that time by publishing garbage, or not posting on a consistent basis, then maintaining a real estate blog is actually quite expensive. This is why it’s so important that when you commit to the process, you follow through.

Once you’re up and running and consistently posting content about your local market, whether strictly real estate-related or not, local consumers will begin to visit your blog. You’ll also be able to show them your personality, so that they get to know, like and trust you.

If you’ve been in the real estate industry for over a week, you should know that there is no such thing as an overnight success. The key to blogging, as in most real estate lead generation techniques, is consistency. New leads probably won’t appear after your first post, but keep plugging away at it. It will take time for blog posts to generate web traffic – and leads. Be persistent and your efforts will pay off.

Basics of Good Blog Design

How many times have you left a website because the information you wanted was presented in a tiny font and one great big block of text? What your brain says is “Whoa, it’s a lot of work to read that.”

You’re in a hurry. You don’t have the time or desire to read all those scrunched-up words, and so you click away, knowing you’ll find the information somewhere else.

This is why the structure and design of your blog posts are just as important as what you write about. Concentrate on giving your reader lots of white space with short paragraphs.

Sub-heads are your friend. They act as a roadmap for the harried reader so that he or she understands what is coming next. They also add valuable white space. Consider breaking up long posts with bulleted lists and sprinkle the text with graphics and images.

Learn more reader-friendly formatting tips here.

Punctuate and Capitalize Correctly

Dump the exclamation points, please. “Get pre-approved for a loan!” is far too mundane to be considered an exclamatory sentence. Take a tip from the Associated Press Stylebook, every journalist’s bible. “Use the mark to express a high degree of surprise, incredulity or other strong emotion.”

Real Estate Agent shouldn’t be capitalized, nor should Listing Agent. In fact, your biggest worry should be to remember to capitalize the word REALTOR®, and then you need a cap for every letter.

If it’s been awhile since high school or college, brush up on basic punctuation and grammar. Check out Grammar GirlPunctuation Made SimpleCommon Errors in English and the Guide to Grammar and Style if you need quick refresher courses.

What Do I Write About?

If you actively work with clients every day, keep track of questions they ask and problems they have. Answer those questions and solve those problems on your blog.

There’s no law, however, that says you have to write about real estate, as Elizabeth Newlin, agent with Realty ONE Group in Mesa, Ariz., well knows. “I write a humor blog,” she told RealEstate.com.

“People think that a real estate blog should constantly be showing your knowledge of the market and I never do that,” Newlin continued. “I’ll write a couple of posts about things you should know about real estate, but I always do it tongue-in-cheek. For the most part I just write ridiculous stories.”

Those stories may be “ridiculous” to Newlin, but her audience hangs on her every word, and they’ve helped her build a real estate business based 100 percent on referrals.

Put a New Spin on Popular Topics

OK, so you don’t fancy yourself a funny guy or gal. If you’ve been blogging for some time, why not update some of your older posts that are proven traffic magnets?

“You can gather all the newest information on the topic, write a new post and then link back internally to the original post. It gives you both a brand new article on something formerly well received, and directs new readers (or old ones) to the first post you did on it. It’s great for traffic,” says Ann Smarty, brand and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, writing at Basic Blog Tips.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

After writing a post, put it away for a while. When you return to it, read it aloud to get a feel for how it sounds. If you like it, proofread it for spelling and grammar errors and you’re almost done.

Write With SEO in Mind

ml_real-estate-blogging-beginners_2How will you ever show up above the fold on the first page of a Google search? I’m no search engine optimization (SEO) expert, but I have spoken with many specialists on the topic.

One thing they all agree on is to be cognizant of the placement of your keywords. “Keywords placed in important areas like titles, headlines, and higher up in the main body text may carry the most weight,” according to Cyrus Shepard, senior content “astronaut” at SEO and software company Moz.

Most also agree that you need links in your blogs. These links should be both internal – linking to other pages on your site – and external. The latter not only helps your readers find more information on the topic, but search engines will see these links as useful as well.

Final Touches

Finally, push your blog posts out to social media to boost your readership. The more people who share your posts, the better your chances.

There’s a rumor in the real estate industry that 2015 is the year agents will finally get it. They will finally and fully “embrace content and inbound marketing,” writes Seth Price at Placester. “It’s still difficult for many in real estate to perceive the value in creating utility for consumers without turning that utility into an advertisement.”

“Publishing high quality content is the new equivalent of driving a Mercedes,” adds agent Anne Jones at Windermere Professional Partners. “You may not be selling million-dollar homes (yet!) but your marketing should look like you do.”

By Shannon O’Brien on the Market Leader blog