Let’s see what is the difference in the process of buying a home between the old way as it was 15 -20 years ago and the new “digital age” way.
Process of Buying a Home the Old Way:
1. client gets real estate agent’s contact information either from friends, relatives, newspaper ad, brochure or another direct mail marketing material or through a phone call to the agency, then real estate agent shows client properties;
2. client buys the property;
3. client is either happy with transaction and the service and recommends real estate agent to friends and family or unhappy and the agent is not getting any referrals from this client.
Process of Buying a Home the New Way:
1. client does research on properties, neighborhoods, Realtors via search engines or social networks;
2. client contacts several real estate agents doing more research at the same time;
3. client buys the property;
4. client reports his/her experience with real estate agent to friends through social networks, blogs during the transaction tweeting his frustration or satisfaction, posting photos and getting comments on his new status on Facebook.
Recently Google published a series of research articles about phases of consumer decision journey where they identified one new phase which they called the Zero Moment of Truth. Google’s research team says that it doesn’t matter what kind of product or service the consumer is going after – it all boils down to the following basic steps of every purchase:
The second step is not a completely new marketing phenomenon but it recently became a somewhat permanent step in pre-purchase decision-making due to easy accessibility of all kind of information on the web.
For Real Estate ZMOT often starts when somebody goes to Zillow, posts a question on Facebook: “Does anybody know a good Realtor in Atlanta?” or simply types: “Atlanta homes for sale” into a search engine.
Does your website come up on the first page of Google search results? Are you actively present on Facebook – posting new listings, answering questions, etc…? Are you tweeting your buyers’ needs or commenting on new listings that just came up on the market?
Why is this so important? To stay competitive you need to be tapped into the source of these free real estate leads! According to joined study report from NAR and Google, 90% of home buyers searched online before and during their home purchasing process and 88% of buyers used an agent! Yard signs, open houses, newspaper ads and billboards are becoming less and less important as traditional offline channels.
The question is: “What should Real Estate agents do in order to be on the top of Google search results?”
The answer is pretty simple: “Get your own Search Engine optimized website with interesting and unique content!” But what if you already have a Facebook page and a generic website provided by your Real Estate brokerage? Unfortunately, Google does not favor cookie-cutter Real Estate websites, even if they have some good content and optimization, and Facebook traffic according to NAR/Google research is 3-4 times less than search engines traffic. Facebook has password protected content that doesn’t come up on searches and someone has to be already on Facebook to have a chance to see your real estate page.
The only way to get ahead of the competition and start receiving a constant stream of real estate buyer leads is to have your website with unique domain name (not your first and last name), structure and content (a lot of interesting articles for sellers and buyers that you personally wrote – not copied and pasted from some website or another blog). There are a few really good examples of the best real estate websites where you may find out how others are implementing many of real estate marketing ideas that we will be discussing later.
Your website should become the central point of your Real Estate Business Plan where all possible questions from potential clients should be answered on the website without going too much to outside sources. As you may expect, it involves a bit of planning and work, especially with data integration and creating content but it has to be done and done very well on a consistent basis, otherwise your website has no chance of being noticed and used by clients and you won’t have a steady flow of quality leads form your online presence.
The next very important step should be creating incoming links to your website from Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Squidoo (these are called Web 2.0 properties) and links from high traffic Real Estate related forums and blogs. Link building is super important and should consist of online methods that were mentioned above and offline ones – we will look into these details later as they are often completely forgotten. Don’t trust the companies that offer automated link-building and promise hundreds of links to your website overnight – Google is aware of the scheme of “un-natural link-building” and will punish you by lowering your rank which will hurt your position in search results.
Are there any secret Real Estate marketing ideas that successful agents are using to get ahead of the competitors? The answer is: yes, although individually they are not secrets by any means but the trick is in using them in the right combinations for the correct groups of potential clients – like secret family recipe from well-known ingredients.
In short, all of your Real Estate marketing ideas and methods must serve one goal: to redirect all visitors and clients to your automated website, let them do research and reading, and then, if needed, contact you directly. This is how most of the best real estate websites work and this is how their owners get numerous real estate buyer leads without wasting extra hours on phone calls to “maybe” prospects.