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The only thing that remains constant is change. And the real estate market is no exception. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a novice to the field, it’s imperative to keep a pulse on these changes.
While traditional practices of hand-shaking and door-knocking remain important, today’s market demands a digital presence. A 2017 study by The National Association of Realtors reported that Generation X, otherwise known as Millennials, make up 34% of today’s home buyers (NAR 2017 Home Buyer and Sellers Generational Trends Report). That same study showed buyers’ first approach to the home buying process with these results:
- 44% of all home buyers approached the Internet to look for properties as their first step in the home buying process.
- 17% contacted an agent
- 13% visited the web to educate themselves about the home buying process
- 95% collected information during the home search from websites throughout the home buying process
- 51% of all buyers ultimately found the home they purchased on-line
A large chunk of the real estate market are digitally engaging. So, what are the stats telling us? The market is younger, tech savvy folks who are engaged in the digital world on a continuous basis and these trends will continue to grow.
Now that you know how buyers and sellers are engaging, let’s talk about three things you can do to increase your chance of them engaging with you.
Build a good website and invest in content marketing.
In a 2017 article from Forbes, building a good website was featured first on their list of marketing ideas because subsequent ideas are implemented based upon digital presence (23 Bulletproof Real Estate Marketing Ideas, Forbes, March 2017). Determine exactly what you want your website to do, and build it around those objectives. A lack of foresight in the purpose of your website could potentially hinder how profitable it will be. In addition, remember your website will be the digital storefront of your business and first impressions can sometimes be the last impression, so build one that communicates trust and credibility.
Google has become extremely sophisticated and favors websites that provide users with creative, original content that will benefit them. Take advantage of blogs and videos and publish original information, written by you, about topics that buyers and sellers will find entertaining and appealing. And do this on a continuous basis. This will help you build authority and credibility within the real estate industry and on search engines. Include infographics that you can easily share through your social media accounts linking back to your blog.
Remember, 44% of home buyers approach the internet as their first step in the home buying process and 13% visited the web for information about the home buying process. If your website has information on that process in the form of a blog or video post, along with current listings, you increase your chance of potential leads. Content marketing is important no matter what your career field, and optimizing your website to work for you and your users is imperative. For a beginner’s guide to basic search engine optimization (SEO), visit here.
A good tip: capture potential leads is by building a free offer to capture those lucrative email addresses, but make sure the offer is worthy of users giving up their email address. Maybe a cheat sheet for both buying and selling a home or a cheat sheet for commercial real estate.
Your website and your brand are things you can take with you throughout your career and will remain consistent if you chose to work for an agency or change agencies. Ensure you are communicating the right message.
Set up a local business page on Google.
Doing this is one of the most important things you can do for your local SEO. You and/or your business might not show up in a local search for your services if you skip this process. Furthermore, you can begin to collect reviews and integrate your Facebook business profile to link from your business page. Unsure of how to ask? Zillow put together a great article addressing just this – to read it visit here.
What if you work for an agency? It is still important for you as an agent to do this, especially if you have a website outside of the agency. It is imperative that you do not list the agency in the business name – only list your name and list your personal real estate website. If you use the agency name in the business name section, Google may delete you per it’s business page policy. You can list the agency you work for in the “About” section. Another tip is to use your head shot as the logo. You can visit here for Google’s official guide for representing your business on Google.
Local search engine ranking is determined by the following: relevancy, distance, and prominence. Make sure you are clear and concise about what services you offer and chose more specific terms rather than broad sweeping terms. Moreover, ensure that you list the correct location for your business address. Prominence refers to activity surrounding your profiles; reviews, events, local content, etc. Keep things updated (such as photos) and monitor reviews for opportunities that require service recovery.
Last, ensure that your name, address, and phone number are correct across any mediums that might list you. Correct information across all listing services will lend you credibility in terms of SEO. Visit google.com/business to begin establishing your Google Business Page. Learn more here about how to setup your Google Business Page or visit here for a simple step-by-step guide for real estate professionals.
Install Google Analytics and use it.
Why put all this effort into your digital presence if you do not track your visitors? With Google analytics, you can review what methods are working and what are not. Double down on what you’re doing right, and fix what is not working. Google Analytics provides information on where your website traffic is coming from and the behaviors and trends of those visitors. Then, use this information to increase leads coming from your website by making adjustments and additions. Visit here for a guide to setting up Google Analytics for real estate professionals.
There are seemingly unlimited ways to track visitors, but some basic and important metrics include:
Website Visits – Track weekly, monthly, or quarterly by new or repeat visitors.
Traffic Sources – How are visitors finding you? Sources include: Direct (when your traffic comes from direct browser hits), referral (when your traffic comes from another site), organic (when your traffic comes from a search engine), social (when your traffic comes from social media).
Top Page Views – Are you investing time into a blog or videos? See which pages are attracting and keeping viewers.
Average Session Duration – The longer the better. Generally, the longer a visitor stays on your site, the more serious they are about doing business with you.
Bounce Rate – The number of people who left your site after only viewing one page. Your blog pages should not have a high bounce back rate, since you want people to stay and browse after reading.
Conversion Rate – Conversions are configured when you set goals. This metric tells you how many people followed through on a call to action, such as a contact form submission. This is arguably the most important metric as it could have a huge impact on your website’s profitability. To learn more about setting goals, read this article.
Site Speed – This affects SEO and the overall success of your website as users will leave if the load time is too long. Page load time should be no more than 5 seconds. For a more complete look at these metrics, and for a beginner’s guide to Google Analytics take a look at this article.
To wrap-up, these basics all work together for you! Don’t stop shaking hands and knocking on doors, but save some of the effort to put towards your online presence. There is a vast amount of helpful information on the web with how-to guides and tips. You can learn how to navigate the digital world with grace and capitalize on the untapped potential of leads and sales.