Content Marketing for Real Estate Agents
Then and Now
Real Estate and Marketing Have Changed Significantly in the Past 10 Years
Real estate is, above all else, a relationship driven business. Whether you’re out there prospecting leads, conversing with past clients, or advising a current client, establishing trust, authenticity, and authority are core principles of a great real estate agent.
Historically, agents have had success using traditional (aka “outbound”) marketing strategies: leveraging ads across bus benches and newspapers, printed mailers, and open houses. The advent of the internet and the rise of Zillow changed this slightly, allowing agents to include digital forms of similar marketing strategies.
An advantage agents have is the lack of necessity to market to a nationwide audience. Playing up local knowledge and forming a referral network in your backyard are still the best paths to success. How this is being done in the modern age is quite different across most industries, and the most successful agents into the future will leverage what is known as “inbound” marketing: crafting marketing strategies around your clients and using tools and techniques to draw your audience to you, as opposed to pushing your product (i.e. yourself!) to them.
Today we’re going to discuss what inbound marketing looks like and how real estate agents can successfully implement a full inbound marketing campaign to tie into traditional marketing methods that are still effective!
Real Estate Marketing Cocktail: Inbound marketing with a splash of traditional marketing
Besides significantly lower costs (pretty close to free these days), inbound marketing has several added advantages: blogging tools, social media, and content sharing platforms provide feedback that mailers and printed materials cannot.
Simply having an online presence is not enough. Zillow reviews and profiles are dandy, and certainly buying and using lead acquisition tools are helpful and worthwhile, but they’re rarely helpful in differentiating yourself, which goes a longer way in actually converting that lead into a client. What’s great for the real estate industry is traditional marketing is still very active and successful; however, shifting those strategies to complementary efforts to inbound marketing is likely to yield more significant results over the long term.
A word of wisdom: Inbound marketing is a long game. It can take months to establish your brand, build your community, and see significant results. This is why I recommend, besides starting immediately, to continue to mix both traditional and inbound marketing strategies.
What Really is Inbound Marketing?
Successful inbound marketing results in the creation of a brand and a community. Inbound marketing places the consumer at the center of the strategy, not the product. From this vantage point, companies focus on developing products that truly reflect what the consumer needs. In order to do this, brands need to establish themselves within the fabric of the community.
Think about this: How often are clients repeatedly using your website to search for homes? How much data about search behaviors can you get to really qualify leads well, as opposed to Zillow? Why then, do agents focus so much on promoting their own website and content on their website? Agents need to promote themselves and their brand where their clients are!
The Customer Decision Journey is a different way of approaching the traditional sales funnel. Instead of a linear decision path, firms should engage with customers in a ‘loop’ manner, and this can only be done by placing the customer at the center, not the product. What this means is that brands need to understand where they’re most likely to be seen, and when and how customers make their ‘buying’ decision. For real estate agents, it’s less likely that exists on an agent’s website, it’s more likely it exists on Zillow, but it’s even more likely that it exists in discussions with friends regarding referrals, searching for knowledge experts, remembering that really informative article you wrote, or watching the well-crafted neighborhood video series on YouTube.
So how the heck can you create a content marketing strategy as a real estate agent?
The 1–7–30–4–2–1 Content Marketing Strategy
The “1–7–30–4–2–1” content strategy lays out ideas for what to publish daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually. It’s a great framework that agents can easily adopt. At the heart of it is creating a voice in the relevant places that is consistent, knowledgeable, personable (read: be you!), and trustworthy.
It’s very easy for real estate agents to lose prospects. Once someone connects with an agent, it’s just as easy for that prospect to head back to Zillow and connect with another Premier Agent. Being known in your community as an influencer allows prospects to find you. Developing regular, genuine, and insightful content will add another incredible asset to your sales pitch and ability to develop your business.
How to Use for Real Estate Agents
1 = Daily (Social Media and Forums Engagement)
Social media! Engage with your local community on Twitter. It’s not always about just posting open houses, but create original content, offer real advice in the form of answers, congratulate and promote success stories, retweet interesting content and use Twitter as your social voice.
The best part about Twitter is it’s free. Yes, you can pay to promote your posts, but if you’re active on Twitter and let it reflect your own personality, you don’t need to pay to create ads. Similarly, Facebook can act as a modern website for agents. Cross-post content that is geared towards your target audience. Do you specialize in first time buyers? Luxury market? Define your audience and craft content towards them.
Forums such as ActiveRain, local Reddit subs, Quora, and many others offer agents a chance to offer advice and answer questions, with a profile that can define who you are. How great is it that you can reach a home buyer with a specific question in your neighborhood and show them who you are and build a report online?
The daily tasks should focus on establishing your online voice and personality, curating content, and establishing you as a trusted resource.
7 = Weekly (Informative Blog Posts)
Creating blog posts is one of the simultaneously easiest and hardest things to do. Technically speaking, signing up for a Medium account is super simple. Crafting original content is a bit harder. What are your clients always asking you? What are common questions you see on Twitter and Quora? What are larger publications talking about? All of these ideas can be used to create commentaries and original thought pieces to go alongside “10 Things To Ask Your Agent” type posts.
Writing about success stories, interviewing colleagues, comparing neighborhoods are all great ideas. Videos are also another great way to reach your audience. The Matt Laricy Group in Chicago has an excellent YouTube series about Chicago neighborhoods!
30 = Monthly (Comprehensive Market Coverage and Thoughts)
What happened in the market last month? What are some client success stories and highlights? Any new hires? What is a regularly recurring series you can blog about? What’s the temperature of the housing market around you? InmanNews creates content written by agents, and links back to the agent’s website. Writing an interesting article for Inman could be a great opportunity to build credibility with a link to the article on your site.
Monthly content should be a bit more comprehensive and can build off prior months. Keeping track of trends among your clients and publishing that for other agents to use could be a great tool for both agents and clients.
4 = Quarterly (Events and Traditional Marketing)
Start hosting events in your market. Offering folks a couple rounds of beers and an opportunity to meet you and ask questions about how to buy a home is a great way to meet potential clients in your neighborhood. Invite speakers from the mortgage industry, managing brokers, new agents, etc, to come tell their story and offer advice. Last night I attended an event, dubbed Sip & Learn, in Chicago that did just that. These events can be a great way to meet prospects and build a relationship off the bat.
Here traditional marketing works well, too. How much more valuable would your postcard to prospects be if it contained a link to your blog and a signup for your quarterly newsletter resulted in a discounted meal at a local restaurant?
2 = Bi-Annually (Business Growth and Public Appearances)
Attend and speak at a large conference, create a podcast, or get creative. How has this season compared halfway through the year with your predictions?
1 = Annually (Thank You’s and Predictions)
Respond to industry developments, summarize your year, make predictions for next year.
Agents should reach out to past clients at least once a year with a personalized note. An Australian group studied 772 patients who had been admitted to a hospital after a suicide attempt. In the months after their release, half of them received a personalized note wishing them encouragement and checking in. Within the group that received the postcard, the readmission rate was 50% lower than the control group. Following up can be incredibly powerful.
Last Steps: Measure Your Progress Against Predetermined Goals
Similar to transaction and income goals, dedicate time to educating yourself about inbound marketing and creating goals to track your progress. These goals should align with your current sales goals (prospects, leads, conversion rate) but reflect activity on your inbound marketing materials: page views, blog reads, tweet engagement, etc:
The graphic above is an example of Inbound Marketing goals covered in this HubSpot guide for more details.