No one ever gets up in the morning and says, “I want to buy a house today.”
Real estate is part of a journey that ebbs and flows with life as issues like debt payoff, confidence in the economy, and jobs allow for a purchase or sale. So for 2015, do something different and consider being life-centric in your marketing.
Look at the stats. Real estate buyers and sellers are starting their home research earlier and earlier, according to data from Google, which means that the lead-generation game is going to be even more prolonged in the future than it is now. Real estate search tends to go up from December to January, which makes tons of sense. People have down time and are surrounded by family, all looking at houses online together as they plan for the coming year. A smart lifecycle-centric content strategy can help to take advantage of all that traffic.
Gather your year-end stats now and post them to your website. Scour your MLS and write about why the “Top 10” neighborhoods in your market performed the way they did. Write about why neighborhoods 11 through 20 will be hot in 2015. Get in the habit of exhibiting your expertise now so that you can capitalize on it when buyers and sellers start pulling their contact triggers as the season matures going into spring.
Third party websites aren’t your problem. No real estate portal will ever trump the number one real estate search site on the web: Google. Being relevant there should be your top priority. That involves answering two questions: Can people find you online? And once they do, is the information you’re sharing relevant and trustworthy? These questions can be answered separately but are best answered together as doing so will lead to sustainable business.
Ensure that you’ve nailed your online presence and reputation and do what your competition isn’t doing in your marketing to differentiate yourself in the sea-of-sameness that makes up the real estate web. Post a blank contract or HUD statement onto your website and demystify it line by line. Make sure your “Glossary of Real Estate Terms” and “25 Steps to Buy/Sell a House” is up to date. Get your raving fan clients to shoot you a 30-second video of why you were awesome for them. Be buzzworthy, be trustworthy, and give people something to browse, talk about, and share. In the online real estate battle, trust and value equal confidence and business.
Mobile rules all. Nothing has changed the way people live and work more than mobile technology. The time people spend browsing the web on mobile devices is now greater than the time they spend browsing from a desktop or laptop. “Mobile tech” can mean many things depending on your market, with handheld tools being more common in urban areas and car-centric larger devices in the ‘burbs, but it all boils down to this: As humans living in a connected world, we’re looking for short bursts of information, on-demand, wherever we happen to be at that moment. The on-demand relevance and trust factor you display can mean more here than at any other time in a client lifecycle.
Think “mobile” with everything you do in 2015, like making sure your website is optimized with some fantastic Google tools, for starters. Be short, sweet, and visual in your marketing to take advantage of the limited space on a mobile screen (tools like Canva.com are fantastic). If you have “buy versus rent” tools, mortgage calculators, or anything else optimized for mobile, market it as such. Even posting app links on your website to your (or better yet, your clients’) favorite mobile house hunt and research tools can go a long way toward making sense of the online noise for people.
Whether your next client is referred to you or stumbles onto your website, being life-centric — both short and long term — is the most sustainable business practice you can put in your arsenal today.
I'm director of digital engagement for the National Association of REALTOR®. Former REALTOR® with Edina Realty in Minnesota. Geek. Alaska and Minnesota have been home. Now I'm in Chicago or on the road meeting with REALTORS® and association executives to talk about NAR, their business, and the integration of digital technologies in our industry.