SEO or Social Media – Which Investment Will Give you a Record Year?
2011 is winding down and you’ve got some time to contemplate your career and how to boost sales for 2012. So how do you go about determining what you should do? Do you check the CREA housing sales and forecasts in Canada, or Realtor.org forecast in the US and look for trends you might exploit? Do you focus on specific neighbourhoods, streets, or areas of the city? Are you going to increase direct mail and do more cold calls? How has that gone in the recent past? How about expensive magazine ads and newspaper ads? And the old reliable real estate newsletter, print version, sent by postal mail? Then there’s Google adwords, SEO and even Facebook, but it seems no source can generate enough qualified traffic or leads.
Agents are still using marketing channels that are geotargeted yet they’re just not working well anymore. Truth is, each is losing marketshare so they’re not reaching overmarketed consumers and are not effective enough in and of themselves to build leads.
My clients are receiving excellent traffic but every real estate agent or real estate broker needs to think ahead to what’s coming in 2012. Even if you have a successful sites, your top competitors could turn it on and move ahead of you in any offline or online marketing avenue. The key to success is always to think like a market leader.
When you’ve got a set budget, it’s a tough decision to choose one over the other. What I’ve seen with most real estate agents is that they don’t spend enough on marketing, and too many are stuck on old channels such as print, and relying on leads from their mls system. Research suggests the average agent spends between $500 and $800 per listing. That’s really not enough today. If your commission on a $400k home is $20k, then why wouldn’t you spend $5k to build up buyers for your client? Top agents do spend $5k per month and that kind of investment can build impressive results.
Creating a Buzz about Yourself means Showing You’ve Created some Worthy Successes
With so many properties available, it’s a long shot that you can rely solely on your mls, free craigslist ads, or facebook pages to create leads and new clients. Going cheapo is really disrespectful to yourself, and clients will see that they’re not getting good enough value or results. You need to build up a few “sold over asking” successes to really make you look good. How about bidding wars for a home? How many will you generate this year? A home seller has to have these key bragging opportunities as they create excited, satisfied clients who give you glowing reviews. And they’ll be reviews regarding price and not just “customer service.”
Paid Advertising Does Have its Place
Although some believe rumors about Google’s death, let’s be reminded that Google just another record profit quarter amidst a devastating US recession. Why wouldn’t a realtor want to leverage their extensive exposure. Few real estate agents use Google adwords on an extensive basis, yet adwords has incredible reach to active home buyers. Yahoo real estate is huge too and advertising with Yahoo and Zillow might be a wise choice.
Billboards and bus advertising can generate excellent agent brand awareness and shouldn’t be ignored. Like any marketing campaign, it’s how you combine your channels and funnel the prospects to generate a real lead.
Top Real Estate Websites 2011
Here’s the top real estate sites in September, but think for a moment where these sites get their visitors.
If you’re going to have a good year, you need to assess the best marketing and advertising venues, which are cost effective, and estimate the quality of leads they generate. Assess each of these for their lead generation value:
Craigslist – Do good quality homebuyers use Craigslist or those looking for the absolute best bargain? If you’ve got a foreclosure or reno project flip home then Craigslist might get you in front of some relevant buyers.
Kijiji Canada – Much like craigslist but views rarely convert to website visits or leads – free or small price and you get what you pay for.
Postcards – Well geotargeted but how many people in a neighborhood are looking to sell in down market? How many will go to your website because they got your “junk mail” stuck in their door?
Magnetized business cards – Why would anyone want a magnetized business card to stick on their fridge?
Magnetized reminder pads – These aren’t a bad idea because they’re functional, but the expense might not justify it.
Street Billboards – Wow, pretty expensive but they do create brand awareness. Could be part of an integrated campaign.
Google Adwords – Well targeted at the right time – buyers are looking for a home but the price paid per click could eat up your budget. The key here is whether your website converts really well and whether the prospect gets enough encouragement from you to make the call. How you write the ads and how your landing pages are optimized for conversion is critical. Many realtors point their ads to poor quality pages and see high bounce rates. That’s money down the drain.
Yahoo Real Estate – Good exposure with a pretty good audience however the price can be scary. Their silver program only costs $79 a month. You need an SEO to figure out how to write your ads to ensure they good exposure.
SEO on your Realtor Website – Here’s the one that costs to get started but the ongoing, long term value is excellent. Your website continually generates leads, however it does need some ongoing care to ensure you get rankings on those keyword phrases to serve your current listings. Do you know how to power up rankings and traffic from Google? Ranking number one for all phrases is unrealistic, unless you’re doing SEO extensively and professionally, but ranking when you need to is possible. SEO can create high quality leads and help get your properties sold. Remember that visitors want to see listings and you need to have a good brand image to get them to return.
Television ads – most cities do have cable tv ads and it can reach buyers but here you really have to weigh cost effectiveness. Homebuyers are active and TV is a passive channel. People won’t sit there waiting for an appropriate home to appear.
Facebook – Really, how many people are turning to Facebook right now to buy or sell homes? You can definitely use Facebook to build brand image and putting your listings on your facebook pages isn’t a bad idea but where will home hunters come from?
Real Estate Marketing Strategy
So, lets say you’ve chosen your marketing channels. How will you combine them to generate the best effect? How will you convert leads from search engines (coming from your online ads, billboard ads, google rankings, or direct mail flyers)? What makes a great landing page?
If you’re spending $5k on flyers and promotional gimmicks every month, or on newspaper ads, you’d be wise to redirect your marketing dollars to developing your website and maximizing ways to drive traffic to it. SEO is powerful solution but do it yourself SEO is awful. If you’re going to do it, do it right.
Looking for help with your 2012 real estate marketing strategy? Realty Market Leader is a great choice. Leverage the most effective and dedicated help you will find anywhere. Realty Market Leader works with ambitious agents and brokers who understand the value of dominating their MLS and their city markets. Why be an underdog when you can be top dog? Contact them now about helping you plan for 2012.