Google held another great Partner’s Connect event on March 15, 2017 focused entirely on real estate. Guest speakers Tom Ferry, a real estate training coach, and Google Strategic Partner Manager Raluca Monet, shared their best ideas about digital marketing for real estate. There were some great suggestions in this presentation that apply to most service-based businesses. Read more about Google’s suggestions for reaching potential clients and winning new leads online.
Digital is the new Reality in Real Estate
As you would probably guess, the Internet has become an integral part of the homebuying process for most consumers. According to Google, 90% of home buyers use Google Search as some point during the homebuying process, and 2 out of 3 buyers researched their realtor extensively online before contacting them. Google estimates home buyers look at approximately 19 sources of information online before purchasing a home. All this data suggests that any realtor who wants to be competitive in 2017, must have a digital marketing strategy.
Digital Marketing Tips for Realtors – Tom Ferry Real Estate Training Coach
According to Tom, most service-based business follow a similar path to win new customers:
- Attract customers at the beginning of their purchase journey (top of the funnel)
- Get them to book an appointment or request a quote
- You make a professional presentation
- They become a client, or they don’t
Tom made several great suggestions on how to make sure you attract those customers at the top of the funnel, and get them in front of you to pitch your service.
Marketing is Math
To be truly successful with your digital marketing you must understand its value. Unlike other marketing channels, digital marketing approaches like paid search campaigns, social advertising and video advertising, offer instantaneous data on your marketing success. Reverse engineering your marketing spend to understand your cost per lead, cost per appointment, and cost per sale can allow you to adjust and maximize your marketing budget and overall strategy. The data from your marketing efforts can also be used to understand your ideal client’s online behaviour and intent, which can be used to further optimize your marketing approach.
Stream Economy & Multi Channel Approach
According to Tom, whoever develops the best content, does it the most frequently, and across the most channels, will win the most leads. In order to be successful in this very competitive atmosphere, you must distribute your content across as many channels as possible. When you create content, share it everywhere you can:
- On your website
- Through your Email List
- Across your Social channels
- Make successful content into ads to display on Search and YouTube
Content is King
The best way to reach your customers across all channels is to create content that is compelling to your target audience. Google data suggests 85% of customers do not have a realtor in mind when they begin searching for a home – good news if you are looking for new leads. However, the same data also suggests that potential home sellers only considered an average of 1.7 agents before hiring one. This means, to reach those potential clients, you must be visible online, and you must be there first.
How do you reach those people? You must create content that reaches people really early in the buying funnel. Tom suggests the best way to do this is through videos or blogging:
- Your video doesn’t have to be very long – a few minutes, or professional. Just informative and sincere
- Answer questions you know are on the minds of your customers (Can I get a mortgage? What is this neighbourhood like? How much can I afford?)
- Identify your ideal client and address their specific challenges & struggles
- Make regular, snackable content so people get to know you. When they are ready to sell, they will call you, not the other guys.
- Shooting videos of listings to share on YouTube and your social channels is a great idea, but remember that people who are looking at listings are often not looking for a Realtor (either because real estate is just a hobby, or because they already have a Realtor and are ready to buy)
Ads to Landing Pages
If you are running paid digital campaigns, consider using landing pages, rather than your business website. Your website is probably not designed for conversion. Using landing pages allows you to align your content with the specific ad you are running. It also makes it easy to test what is working in your ads, and what needs to be changed. The best landing pages are highly focused and capture leads quickly, using a simple content form or click-to-call phone number.
Make it Easy to Book an Appointment
Tom suggests appointments are the leading indicator of a healthy real estate business. Many of you probably spend a great deal of time chasing leads from online form submissions. With newer appointment booking technologies, it is easy to avoid that chase altogether. Have your developer add a “Book an Appointment” option to your website or landing page, so potential clients can skip the hassle of scheduling over the phone or via email.
Once you have automated appointment bookings running, follow up with a pre-qualification phone call. Staying top of mind will make sure your competitors don’t steal your client before the meeting takes place.
Understanding Online Behaviour of Home Buyers & Sellers – Google Strategic Partner Manager Raluca Monet
At Google and Ontario SEO alike, the question we most often get asked is, “How Do I get on the first page of Google Search?”. Strategic Partner Manger Raluca suggests that this is the wrong question to be asking. Online behaviour has changed so dramatically in the last couple of years, that focusing on a single digital marketing tactic will not lead to much success. You should be asking, “How do I leverage people’s online behaviour to drive more conversions”
According to Google Data on US Real Estate trends, there were 13 Billion Real Estate Search Queries on Google last year, and 741 Million search ad clicks! The number of people who are searching for Realtors online is also growing quickly:
Mobile has completely changed digital marketing in real estate. In this modern digital search landscape, consumers (especially ones on mobile devices) are more loyal to their need in the moment, than to any brand. Add to this that most people consider an average of 1.7 realtors before hiring someone, this means you need to show up when people are looking, and you need to be first to reach them.
Raluca recommends you spend you digital advertising dollars to focus on these three things:
- People trying to learn something new (what neighbourhoods can I afford?)
- People making a decision (where should I buy a house?)
- People trying to get something accomplished (I need to hire a realtor)
How do you focus on these? You need to consider Intent, Context and Immediacy:
Intent in Real Estate
Focus on understanding what you customer is trying to do, and address what you can for that customer. Many forms of traditional marketing do not take intent into consideration. In real estate, where for many looking at house listings and going to open houses is a hobby, distinguishing potential clients from hobbyists is critical for spending your advertising dollars wisely.
There are many online behaviour data tools that can be used to understand your target clients’ intent. Google Analytics is a free tool that can help you begin to understand your ideal client’s online behaviour.
Search Context in Real Estate
In real estate, where a person is searching is a critically important consideration when allocating your advertising budget. Where someone is searching influences how long they will spend on their device and the way they need information delivered. For example, consider the person who is standing on the street outside before their home-viewing appointment, who many be trying to understand the amenities in the neighbourhood. They are looking for information quickly, in a format that is easy to read on a mobile device. What they need from you is very different than a potential buyer who is browsing listings at home on their laptop. The person at home may be more willing to read through detailed information and click through multiple pages to get what they are looking for.
Because of mobile devices, people are always connected. That means, now more then ever, immediacy is so important. You must be available whenever and wherever your customers are. Make sure your digital marketing strategy uses all the tools that can make this possible in your advertising and on your website: click-to-call phone numbers, easy to fill out forms, mobile-friendly web content etc.
Digital Marketing Opportunities for Realtors
Win in the mid and upper funnel moments in the research phase of their purchase journey
- Create snackable content
- Create educational content
- Avoid forcing a hard sell
- Understand intent & context to reach customers at the right place & at the right time
- Understand that looking at home listings is one of the last steps in the purchase funnel, not the first
- To reach customers at the beginning of their journey, start with a consumer need and figure out how to be useful to your consumers. Answer their questions:
- Can I afford to buy?
- How do I get a mortgage?
- Where should I look for a home?
- How much house can I afford?
Do Fewer things, but do them well
- Build a defined digital marketing strategy
- Measure everything you can – across devices and across channels – Be as stringent your non-digital media too
- Target people by intent
- Measure ROI, not cost
- Don’t spend money on leads just because they are cheap
Think Beyond Search
- Leverage video content
- A great way to reach millennials (68% of first-time home buyers)
Build Amazing Mobile Experiences
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile users
- Optimize your site load times – pages should load in under 3 seconds!
- Eliminate unnecessary steps in the online conversion process; use one-click functionality, make your forms more efficient.
- Provide multiple alternatives to finish the transaction (click to call, submit a form, book an appointment now)
- In AdWords: use mobile bit modifiers & ad extensions to improve click-through rates by 10-12%
If you would like to watch the full presentation, watch the video below:
While much of this data applies specifically to real estate, the core recommendations can be applied across most service-based industries. Try implementing some of the recommended tips above and let us know how it goes! Need help with your digital marketing strategy or paid search advertising management? Call us at 647 361 5144 or book a consultation.