How Realtors Can Drive Organic Leads With Content Marketing
Anyone in real estate will tell you that finding sales ready leads can be one of the most difficult, but critical parts of the job.
To us outside the industry, movies like Glengarry Glen Ross have painted a picture of relentless salesmen cold calling while vying for the chance to get a crack at a few decent warm leads. This sales approach may have been the best option in the past, but today's customers approach purchasing decisions differently.
The more I read about trends in real estate marketing the more it seems to parallel the B2B technology marketing trends I've experienced. Nobody wants to rush into buying a home or office; the same goes for a business investing in a software or technology.
The Information Age has dramatically changed the buying process as people now trust online research above an individual's pitch. In response to this, businesses have to build an online presence, engage customers on their terms, and adapt to the new buyer journey. Real estate appears to have caught on to this trend, but is missing a large -- and effective -- piece of the puzzle: content marketing. According to Inman, in 2014: "Less than half [of real estate marketing spend] went to display advertising. The rest of the money was devoted to email (28.9 percent), paid search (13.8 percent), streaming video (6.1 percent), and "run of site" display ads (5.7 percent)." But what about content?
We seem to be on the brink of a big movement towards content marketing for real estate that mirrors other industries. If you're not sure which strategies work and don't work, here are some that I've found to be effective.
Local content is content pertaining to services, news, or information about a certain location, city, or community. This is particularly exciting for real estate as it has exploded in other geo-specific industries like travel, lifestyle, entertainment, and more.
Why is it important? As more than 50 percent of all searches are done on a mobile phone, the importance of relevant local content has increased. Google search interest in "near me" search queries has increased 34X since 2011. Local content designed for your audience such as "Guide to finding an office in Austin, Texas" or "Best neighborhoods to raise children near Chicago" can give you a big edge in search while also engaging your audience with useful information.
Blog & Publish to Social Consistently
This one might seem to be common knowledge today, but between improving quality of content and increasing conversion rates just about every company has an opportunity to improve their blog and social efforts. Companies that blog receive 67 percent more leads and 97 percent more links to their website. Same goes for social with a 100 percent higher lead to close rate than outbound marketing.
But when I say be consistent, I don't mean force a blog post or 10 tweets every day. Bad writing, poorly formatted, uninspired content is a great way to lose your audience. Be sure to try and find a balance between regularity and ensuring quality.
Include Fun Visuals
People are going to want images along with your blog and social posts. In fact, Facebook posts with a visual get 53 percent more likes and visual tweets get twice as many retweets.
Include a Strong CTA
For increasing conversion through these channels, make it clear and easy for your readers to convert to leads or customers. If someone just enjoyed one of your posts, make it easy for them to sign up for your email newsletter or register for your website with an overlay or call to action button. If your blog just inspired them to hear more about buying a house then make it easy for them to write in to an agent. Establish your goals and define a conversion from blogging and social media then make it as seamless as possible for a reader to take that action.
Publish Long-Form Content
This could include anything from articles to white papers to e-books. Long-form content -- depending on your audience, of course -- has proven to be more successful than regular blog posts.
First there's the search ranking impact: the average length of the first three search results is approximately 2,467 words. Longer content is also socially shared more often. Buffer placed the ideal blog length at 1,600 words for maximizing social shares. Third, long-form content is ideal for lead capture. Gating content (asking for information like name, email, phone number before providing the content) can be tricky but an excellent source of leads if done correctly.
The key is that the content must be worth it. If you ask for a reader's information before they get access to an uninspired 400 word blog post, they won't be happy about it and definitely won't want to hear more from you. However, if you put together a great piece of long-form content, written with your ideal customer's needs in mind, then you have a great lead generation tool.
This is truly an exciting time for marketing in any industry as new digital channels, strategies, technologies, and trends seem to emerge daily. It can seem overwhelming, and I was only able to cover the tip of the iceberg in this piece, but content marketing can be incredibly rewarding for your business. It's especially exciting for the real estate industry as adoption seems somewhat slower but the industry as a whole could definitely benefit from it.
Realtors, what success have you found with content marketing? Share your thoughts and stories with us below.