How do you reach home buyers and sellers that are choosing the internet as their most trusted resource over getting in touch with a realtor? How do you find just the right moment to offer a partnership with them?
Answering these questions can be difficult. In the real estate industry, audience behavior is rapidly changing. As Homes.com points out, millennials now represent the largest share of home buyers at 32%, and they don't go through the process in the same way their predecessors did:
Millennials are more likely to have fully researched all possible homes, comparable homes, and more on the internet and via word of mouth before stepping foot into a home.
Unfortunately, real estate has not always kept up with these changing behaviors. Strategies still tend to consist of billboards and other types of 'push' advertisements designed to get your name out, rather than to draw in your audience.
Fortunately, new technology is beginning to enhance your possibilities to be successful in marketing your real estate business. If you know how, a number of options stand at your disposal to reach an audience that would rather not be sold to. Enter Marketing Automation.
10 Marketing Automation Tips to Optimize Your Real Estate Marketing
1) Schedule Your Social Media
The first mistake most marketers think is considering marketing automation to be limited to email. In fact, as the name suggests, the concept applies to all marketing activities that can be automated — which includes social media.
As a realtor, you probably already have a social media presence. But you might also suffer from an industry-wide problem: a 2015 study showed real estate businesses receive the lowest engagement rates on social media of any industry.
Through marketing automation, you can change that. A key part of successful social media marketing is making sure you provide consistent, relevant content. Schedule your posts in advance to make sure even as you're showing houses, your social profiles do the marketing work for you.
2) Build Your Leads Organically
Real estate is one of the many industries in which buying leads for email marketing has been a long-established practice. But it's also costly, and not very effective.
Simply buying leads through sources like Zillow and Realtor.com can cost you thousands of dollars each month. And because you're marketing to people who have never heard about you, these leads convert at significantly lower rates than those you generate organically.
Marketing automation, as a result, works best when applied to leads generated on your website. Embrace inbound marketing, and your automation flows are much more likely to succeed.
3) Segment Your Audience
Not every member of your audience will want and need the same message. At the very least, you will need to accommodate both home buyers and sellers who are looking for real estate agents.
That's why segmentation is crucial. The better you can split up the leads in your database into relatively homogenous groups according to the content they're looking for, the more easily you can deliver automated messages that appeal specifically to their needs.
4) Establish a Communication Plan
In any type of marketing, strategy is key. That's no different in marketing automation, which is why before beginning to set up any type of software, you should have a plan in place.
Communication plans can take very different shapes. You may focus on a monthly newsletter, or a series of drip campaign aimed at your various audience segments. Find out what your audience wants to hear, and plan out your strategy of getting that information to them.
5) Send Messages Strategically
Just as strategy is key in messaging, it should also inform the timing of your messages. On social media, post frequency is crucial; in fact, posting up to 5 times per day, depending on the network, will generate the most audience engagement.
The opposite is true for email. You need to be sure not to send messages to your leads too often, in order to avoid spamming their inbox. Most research suggests sending an email to an already interested audience about once per week makes the most sense.
6) Focus on Relevance over Sales
The goal of marketing automation is not to sell your business. You goal is gaining clients, but you can accomplish it through more than just selling your real estate services. Instead, establish yourself as a relevant resource in the industry.
As a part of inbound marketing, your marketing automation efforts should aim to provide value to your audience. Tips on the home buying and selling process, along with new properties within the parameters of potential clients, will generate more interest than simply talking about how great your services are.
7) Stay on Your Audience's Good Side
Focusing on becoming a relevant resource also helps you avoid ending up in a dreaded spot: being considered a spam sender. It's too easy to send emails that will end up either reported as spam or filtered out automatically by your audience's email clients.
Instead, comply with the CAN SPAM law. Avoid spam trigger words in your email subject line, and make sure your content actually fulfills the promise your subject or headline makes. Focus on keeping your audience's goodwill to prevent them from jumping off before they become clients.
8) Consider Mobile Audiences
Mobile internet usage continues to increase. If your potential home buyers do their research online, they're now more likely to do so on a smartphone or tablet than on a desktop computer or laptop.
Your marketing automation strategy should heed that fact. Emails should be designed with mobile readers in mind, while social media messages need to be both short and visual. Never send an email or post an update without first considering what it would look like on a mobile device.
9) Don't Forget About Existing Clients
Don't think of marketing and automation as just a way to attract new clients. In addition, you can also leverage it to communicate with your existing clients, and maximize your impact as a result.
No less than 75% of a real estate agent's business comes from referrals and word of mouth. That marketing method is organic, but can be helped along by staying in touch with clients even after they have completed their business with you.
Just because a client purchased or sold a home, they won't stop finding your tips valuable. From landscaping to renovating, you can remain a resource to them as they prepare to move to a new chapter in their life.
If you do, they'll remember you next time someone asks them about a good realtor - and next time they need a home. You can accomplish just that by building marketing automation flows aimed at your current and past clients.
10) Analyze and Improve
A core part of any type of successful digital marketing has to involve a constant cycle of analyzing your efforts and making adjustments. While the above tips are all established best practices for your marketing automation strategy, they may not work as well as anticipated on the first try.
The only way you can ensure reliable, long-term success is through constant benchmarking, analysis, and adjustments. A/B testing, for example, can help you make sure each message you send actually appeals to your audience. Meanwhile, orienting your own efforts against industry averages can give you a better idea of where you stand in optimizing your efforts.
Ultimately, marketing automation can and should play a core role in marketing your real estate business to a changing audience in the 21st century. By following the above tips, you can make sure your efforts add to your marketing strategy and help you attract new clients.