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According to the Digital Influence Index by Fleishman-Hillard, 89% of consumers use the internet to find information on products, services or companies prior to making a purchase decision. That means almost all of the people who have enquired about engaging you as a real estate professional have checked you out online – at one stage or another – before picking up the phone or sending that initial email.
There’s no denying that the internet has fundamentally changed how people make purchase decisions.
In the olden days, consumers simply based their decisions on information they received from advertising, brochures, heck some would even visit a real estate agent’s office to speak with a real person. Crazy right?
Today, consumers research extensively online, they read reviews, they download guides, they participate in forums and they check out social media to see what you’re all about. According to Google, in 2015 there were 2.24 million real estate related search terms on Google every month in Australia.
Your prospects want to get as much information as possible before they have to speak to a salesperson or property manager and it’s getting harder to stand out on the web.
It goes without saying that your online presence needs to be squeaky clean but more importantly, the content you publish online could be the difference between people finding you online or ending up on your competitors website.
There is a story I’ve used many times in presentations that I’ve given and if you haven’t heard it before, it’s about a guy called Marcus Sheridan. Marcus began his career as a pool entrepreneur, selling fiberglass pools in the Virginia-Maryland are in the US. After feeling the effects of the GFC in 2008 and within months of bankruptcy, Marcus realised he needed a different approach to marketing online.
But unlike what most businesses do by way of advertise their products and services, Marcus started a blog with the intention of answering every conceivable customer question on his website – hoping that people typing those specific questions into Google would end up on his site where they would find all of the other helpful, transparent articles he had written – thus converting them into customers for his pool business.
Prior to starting his blog, in 2009, River Pools spent around $250,000 a year on advertising to produce around $4million in sales. But in 2011, after just two years of building his library of helpful content on his website, River Pools started receiving 75,000 visitors to their site per month, they cut their advertising budget to just $20,000 – a tenth of what it was before – while increasing their business to $5million in sales. Not bad numbers right? Well during the same time Marcus’s business was going from strength to strength, other local pool providers – the ones who went about business as they always had – saw their sales drop between 50-70%.
Today, Marcus is the leading authority on fiberglass pools in the world, the largest fiberglass pool supplier in the US and a popular keynote speaker at conferences around the world – all of this because he did something no other business owner was prepared to do – he gave his prospects and customers exactly what they were searching for online – answers.
I want you to go to Google after listening to this podcast and type in a real estate question and see what comes up – and I’m talking about real specific question that someone thinking of buying, selling or renting would ask. Something like:
These are all questions I have no doubt you, or someone in your office has been asked – most likely numerous times – and these are questions people are asking on online.
Chances are when you type these kinds of questions into Google, real estate agents barely rank if at all.
Has the light bulb gone off for you yet?
If you’re asking yourself how to seem more exciting online these days, you’re asking the wrong question. Today, winning attention online can be as easy as asking a different question… “How can we help you?”
Not only are few other real estate professionals adopting this mindset of help not hype, but this approach is so much cheaper and – in most cases – will be more effective than any other digital marketing you will invest in this year.
Start small. Build a list of the top 25 questions you’ve been asked over the past 12 months. Search your email inbox, ask your staff, ask your clients – I’m confident you could fill up that list pretty quickly.
Aim to write one article a week – giving a detailed, transparent answer. If writing isn’t your thing, why not record a video? If you do this, make sure you have the audio of your video transcribed so that it be indexed by the search engines. There’s plenty of affordable services out there today that can do this for you. We use one called SpeechPad where we simply upload our video and the audio is transcribed and returned to us in 48 hours. That easy.
Next time someone asks you a question, write it down. If you don’t have an article written or a video already recorded, put it on your list of to-dos for the next month.
I recently met with the owner of a property management business who has been building a Q&A library on his website for almost a year – writing a detailed article every week in response to questions his team receives that week.
His Google Analytics goals report shows that in just the past 30 days, they’ve generated eight website enquiries from new visitors to their blog from Google search, five of which are now clients and based on the current multiplier for rent rolls in his area, their blogging efforts have added $28,500 value to their business. Not bad at all.
While it’s not hard to do any of this, it’s not easy either. It takes a commitment to the process and a belief that by answering your customers questions in detail on your website consistently over time, will bring results – eventually.
If you’re thinking this is all too hard, this digital marketing thing is all baloney or why should I bother, my question to you is this: What would you do if the business owner above was one of your competitors?
Would you start blogging too? Would you be ok that almost $30,000 has walked into their office instead of yours? Or would you do something about it, and start looking for smarter ways to market your business online in 2016?
My guess is you’re a smart person, and you’re always on searching for proven strategies to grow your business so go out there and make 2016 your best yet.
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