5 Digital Marketing Tips All Real Estate Agents Need to Know

It’s not just the real estate industry that’s going digital — almost every industry you can think of is taking the plunge. But digital marketing is especially essential for real estate agents because homebuyers are looking at websites like Zillow and Trulia as their first step toward finding a home.

They are also checking out social media to find inspiration for their dream home and recommendations for REALTORS®. That means you need to position yourself in front of these homebuyers online.

If you already have a real estate website and social media accounts, are you utilizing those spaces correctly in order to get leads? If you’re not keeping yourself abreast of how to improve your digital footprint, chances are you will get overlooked for agents that have a more robust online presence.

1. The Most Important Social Platforms for Real Estate

Some of the more important social platforms for real estate agents are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you don’t already have a presence on these platforms, get on them today. Your potential clients use social media to find referrals for all kinds of services, including real estate agents.

Social media is also where you should showcase the best of the best when it comes to images and videos of your listings. Always post high-quality images that highlight the best features of the homes you’re selling. The standard for content is very high these days, so a few grainy images won’t cut it. You will get buried by competition using professional-looking photos.

Hashtags

When you post content on social media, make use of relevant hashtags. This will help you get recognized by more users and increase your followers. You can easily research hashtags by typing in some keywords into the search bar on Twitter — such as “open house” (#openhouse) or “real estate agent” (#realestateagent) — and see what popular posts come up and take note of other hashtags they’re using. Then you can incorporate those hashtags into your own social posts.

2. Paid Advertising to Promote Your Real Estate Business

Consider paid advertising using Facebook Ads or Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising.

Facebook Ads

Facebook makes it easy for you to “boost” a post, whereby you put a certain dollar amount behind a post. You choose your budget and the audience you want your post to target. For instance, you can target buyers or sellers based on location or demographics, or even their hobbies and behaviors.

Boosting a post on Facebook ensures that your message gets in front of the right people.

Google AdWords

You should also consider Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for your real estate website. It’s a way of advertising your website on Google so that it appears at the top of the page when users search for different keywords, such as “homes for sale,” “local realtors” or “open house.” Every time someone clicks on your ad, leading them to your website, you pay Google a fee.

There are still things you want to do to get organic traffic to your site, which we’ll go over, but PPC is a way to bring in additional paid traffic through advertising.

3. Make People Come Back to Your Website

Make sure that your real estate website is easy to navigate and a place where users want to return. Start by making sure all your images look professional. If you have pictures of yourself or your business, these photos need to be high quality. First impressions matter, and potential clients will choose another Realtor over you if their website looks more professional.

Content Creation

Another way to keep people coming back to your site is to create content that interests them. You could post weekly blogs about the real estate industry or certain markets. You could also blog about open houses, listings, up-and-coming neighborhoods and more. Try mixing up the content with some charts, videos and infographics. Creating interesting content will keep users engaged.

4. Collect Emails

The purpose of your digital efforts is to get leads, so you need to give users the option to provide their email addresses. In marketing, a squeeze page or landing page is where you collect the email addresses of those who visit your website.

Make an Offer

A squeeze page should act as an offer to the user that requires them to input their email. This could be in the form of an e-book, e-newsletter or an estimate on the value of their home. Whatever the offer is, make sure it’s essential for them to give out their email in order to receive the special gift.

5. Use Website Analytics Tools

The only way to know whether your website is working is by tracking views and the behavior of users on your site. How long are they staying on your site? How many unique visitors are you getting a month? Are users visiting your site and then navigating away almost instantly? The easiest way to track this is with a tool like Google Analytics. Google makes it easy for new marketers to learn how to use their features, which you can read about here.

Once you understand some basics of website analytics, it’s simple to start developing your website around what users want to see. Perhaps your site isn’t user-friendly enough. Maybe your content isn’t as engaging as your competitors’ content. Tracking the analytics of your site will help you identify and fix these issues.

We always recommend making sure you have a digital footprint because most of your clients will hear about you through the web. A great way to get started is by following these guidelines and signing up for biweekly real estate email newsletters. We make it easy for you by writing email newsletter articles and sending them out to your sphere of influence on your behalf. Check us out today!

Visit HomeActions.net today to start connecting on a regular basis with your real estate contacts and improving your real estate business.

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Tips & Tricks for Inspired Marketing Articles

What will fill your marketing editorial calendar in the months ahead? It can be daunting to lay out writing assignments for your marketing efforts, but it does not have to be. With a bit of forethought and planning, you can tap into writing inspiration on a regular basis.

Focus your real estate newsletter writing.

Your first step should always be to consider your audience. To really craft meaningful lead-generating content, you need to focus on your target market. The goal is to keep your readers’ needs in mind while also keeping your business growth goals in mind when writing marketing content.

What are your goals?

Map out a hierarchy of what is most important to building you pipeline.

  • Are you trying to build up specialty areas, such as vacation properties or retirement properties?
  • Looking to generate more new opportunities overall?
  • Seeking to improve client retention and nurture existing relationships?
  • Want to stand out in a competitive marketplace?
  • Growing a base of referral sources?

Lead generating content has a pain/gain approach. It is important to consider your goals when you begin building lead-generating content. Your articles should provide a path toward solving a pain point so readers naturally follow that path to seek out your services.

Think about how your services could tie into an article and offer an obvious connection back to you for help. Focus on providing just enough relevant advice to give your prospects the confidence that you are the expert source who can address their real estate needs.

The next natural step for your readers should be to connect with your firm to solve their needs.

When you have key articles focused on generating new opportunities and leads integrated into your strategies, be sure you’re setting lead alerts so you can follow up on new warm prospects.

What should you write?

Inspiration can originate partly from preparation and partly from borrowing existing ideas. It’s always good to have a stockpile of starting-point themes to fall back on when writer’s block inevitably strikes.

“Inspired” Ideas for Your Next Article

  • Interviews
  • Case Studies
  • Client Features
  • Q&A – Or “Dear Abby” Approach
  • This vs. That Strategy Comparison

All of the ideas here could come from a single interview with a client. If you sat down and interviewed a client for just 30 minutes, you could get all the information you needed to create five articles with each of the above approaches. If you did this with just several clients, you could stagger that content out and have a full calendar of meaningful content for a year.

More Ideas to Inspire Creative Content:

  • Trending Topics Following Current Events
  • Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
  • Spotlight Your Team Members
  • Feature Events and Philanthropic Involvement

Don’t forget to invite a bit of the human element into your content marketing to help readers develop brand loyalty and keep your audience engaged. People stories for fun, and features focused on your staff members’ pets, babies and activities can be a delightful addition to your marketing.

Fun Topics to Consider:

  • A dog day at the office
  • Match the staff member with the baby photo
  • Birth announcements – tiny tee shirts with your brand logo on new babies
  • Take Your Child to Work Day
  • Holiday or seasonal themes
  • Office family picnic highlights
  • “Where’s Waldo” theme following staff members on vacation snapping a photo at a noteworthy spot with your company mascot

When does timing impact my writing?

You should be following deadlines and seasonal trends to develop an annual content calendar for your firm. Take note of holidays and changing seasons to inject timely, fun themes into your writing. Incorporate these strategies to keep your content marketing fresh and engaging.


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LinkedIn for Business: 6 Easy Steps to Get More Connections

We all know that having a personal LinkedIn profile and one for your business is essential to your social media goals. But merely setting up profiles and forgetting they exists won’t help your efforts. There are some relatively simple things you can do to make your pages more interesting to your LinkedIn community.

First and foremost, you should ensure that your personal LinkedIn profile lists your business as your current employer. When people view your profile, your current employer is among the first few pieces of information displayed, making this an important connection back to your business page. Another step toward boosting engagement is increasing your connections. Having a solid following on your LinkedIn page will help you reach more potential clients; however, procuring these connections isn’t always intuitive.


LinkedInHere are six strategies that will help you increase your professional connections.


1. Compose Daily Status Updates

Being active on LinkedIn as a whole will help to increase your connections. The best way to stay present is to make sure you post at least one status update every day. This tip holds true for both personal and business pages. But don’t post just any old thing, share a link about something relevant to your business, industry or community. Having a consistent presence on LinkedIn will give users an opportunity to stay updated on your business, and relevant posts give your followers a reason to visit your page in general.


2. Send a Personalized Message to Connect Once a Day

There are two steps to this tip. First, make sure you’re reaching out to potential connections that are personally known to you or with whom you have a friend or colleague in common. A good place to start is by utilizing LinkedIn’s “Alumni” feature, where you can find fellow LinkedIn users that share your alma mater. Once you find a familiar individual you’d like to connect with, write them a personalized message to connect. Ditch the automated message that LinkedIn provides and write something that the other person knows you wrote specifically for them. Writing your own message increases the likelihood that they will accept your invitation.


3. Utilize LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform

LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a great way for you to position yourself in front of a wider audience. This tool allows you to post long-form posts, creating a string of three posts and accompanying images. These posts will be available to the entire LinkedIn audience and will appear on your profile under the “Posts” section. Not only will you have the ability to create professional looking long-form posts, but the reach of these posts is not limited to only your connections, giving every LinkedIn user the opportunity to discover your posts. You can also customize your own “about us” blurbs as the closing of your personal posts and link them back to your business profile.


4. Join Groups and Participate in Discussions

A great way to stay active in the LinkedIn community is to join groups that are relevant to your industry niche or philanthropic involvement. Pick a minimum of three groups, and stay active on a weekly basis. Membership in LinkedIn’s groups will help you to discover potential new prospects or referral sources. Furthermore, you should also make sure that you have a strong presence on these group pages. Try participating in group discussions or even initiating conversations on the page.


5. Comment on Your Connections’ Updates

A really simple way to garner more connections and nurture your existing professional relationships is to simply show interest in the people you are connected to on LinkedIn. If one of your connections posts a new job, comment to say congratulations. You can also respond to links they post or like their status updates. Displaying your interest in your connections’ professional achievements will brand you as a valuable member and make others want to connect with you.


6. Endorse Others

Endorse others for the skills that you admire. This is another way to increase your credibility, build relationships and demonstrate the value you add as a connection. In order to gain new followers, you should have a track record of being an asset to your current connections. When others endorse you, send them a personal message to thank them.

All of these tips will assist you in attracting more people to your personal and business LinkedIn pages and give you more opportunities to increase connections. Having an active presence is the key to success.

Look for our next post, which will go in depth on the type of posts you should be sharing, breaking down exactly which ingredients create the most effective posts.

4 Freebie Websites with Stellar Stock Images

You need captivating images on your business’ website, blog or email newsletter, but like most of us, you’re not a professional photographer. Without visuals, it’s hard for readers to quickly gather a visual understanding of your content. But don’t fret! There are countless places on the web to get cheap, or even free, stock images to accompany your marketing content.

Here is our roundup of the 4 best websites for freebie stock images.


1. FreeImages.com

FreeImagesFree Images is exactly as it sounds. The site houses thousands of free images for you to download and use in your email marketing, on your website or blog, or in social media. All that is required is that you create an account. From there, you have access to their diverse range of quality images. You can search for images by typing a basic keyword search, or you can make use of the “Tags” tab, which takes you to a page full of commonly used words like “Business” or “Finance” that will direct you to images associated with those keywords.


2. Pexels.com

 

PEXELSThis site has some very impressive first-rate photos. Search for the type of image you need and click on the image you like. Then you can download images in a variety of sizes: original, large, medium, small, or you can choose the “custom” option and input your own dimensions. One feature unique to Pexels is their own Photoshop Plugin Subscription. It isn’t free, but it is super cheap at only $4 a month or $2 a month if you pay annually.


3. Pixabay.com

PixabayPixabay is another site with totally free images for you to use. Sign up with your email to start downloading images in a variety of sizes. Pixabay offers many high-quality photos as well as a large database of illustrations and vectors. If you’re only interested in illustrated images or vectors, you can click to browse only these types of images. You can also choose to explore “Editor’s Choice,” which offers the most sophisticated and quality photos. Furthermore, if you find several images that you like by the same photographer, you can choose to browse images only by this artist.


4. Unsplash.com

UnsplashThe selection on this site isn’t as varied as the others, but this is a very aesthetically pleasing site full of dramatic images. The images are big and the overall layout of Unspslash is very simple and elegant, giving you the opportunity to browse their beautiful database of images with ease. Downloading is so simple that you barely notice it. If you like an image, just click the download button in the bottom right corner of the photo and the image instantly pops up on a separate page. The site has an incredibly user-friendly download process, but it requires that you resize the image on your own if you need different dimensions. If that’s the case, just save the image in Paint (or another image editor) and change the dimensions to your liking. Make sure you take a look at Unsplash’s “Collections” tab where you can peruse photos from categories.


Other Image & Design Resources

Canva and BeFunkyOnce you have all these great photos in your inventory, take it one step further by checking out ways to edit those images and create new, original graphics. Sites like Canva.com and Befunky.com offer free design tools to edit images and create things like newsletter mastheads, invitations, collages, social media images and more. Stay tuned for my next post to get even more tips on how to utilize these free graphic design sites and create show-stopping images for your marketing projects.

HomeActions and IndustryNewsletters Announce Major Improvements to E-Newsletters

HomeActions and its IndustryNewsletters division announce Version 3 of their exclusive e-newsletter product, putting it on the cutting edge of the e-newsletter industry. The companies provide professionally written articles and a system that lets a range of professionals send out e-newsletters to clients and prospects. They primarily serve real estate professionals, payroll companies, accounting firms and estate planning attorneys.

With Version 3, the newsletter system becomes even more customizable and user-friendly. Among the improvements:

  • A more contemporary look for the user interface, and a better design for tablets and smartphones.
  • A cleaner and more functional client dashboard that shows readership stats at a glance.
  • A completely revamped image system that lets users choose among three different sizes of images to put into their newsletters.
  • A smoother, more intuitive system to allow users to add their own content to company-provided content.
  • The ability to easily remove company-provided content and replace it with an article from extensive article libraries available to users.
  • The addition of a completely new Web banner library so users can easily find and post banners to make their newsletters even more useful.

And as always, help is just a click away. The system comes with an easy-to-use, automated help feature that lets users follow along step by step as the tool gives interactive answers to questions.

Barry J. Friedman, CEO of HomeActions, LLC

Barry J. Friedman, CEO of HomeActions, LLC

Barry Friedman, CPA, founder and CEO of HomeActions and IndustryNewsletters, said, “Our clients are busy and successful professionals, and they want a system that lets them communicate with their clients with perfect ease while providing sophisticated options — without any hassle. That has always been our goal, and with Version 3 our system is even better than ever.”

About HomeActions and IndustryNewsletters

IndustryNewsletters and HomeActions were founded by Barry Friedman, CPA, who managed many CPA firms for over 25 years and subsequently sold them to American Express. He then created BizActions LLC, which became the largest marketing e-newsletter company for CPA firms and payroll companies, and he sold that to Thomson Reuters in 2012. He has over 15 years’ experience in the email newsletter space.

HomeActions and IndustryNewsletters are virtual companies that employ more than 30 people. Both are headquartered in Green Cove Springs, Florida.

For more information, please visit our websites, HomeActions.net and IndustryNewsletters.com, or contact Richard J. Koreto, chief content officer, at 845-642-4314 or Email.

A Teachable Moment: Wildfires in Western States Are a Wake-Up Call for All Homeowners and an Opportunity for Realtors

An estimated 30,000 residents have fled their homes, and the western area wildfires have consumed over 1,000 residences. Many of these homeowners are now trying to piece together their possessions, bit by bit. It is estimated that nine out of 10 consumers who lost their homes did not have a current home inventory of all their possessions and home improvements. HomeActions President Albert Clark commented, “The loss of one’s home is traumatic enough, but now they have to go through the process of filling out insurance papers on what was destroyed, what it cost and where it was all purchased. The stage is set for lots of under-reporting and smaller insurance claims.”

Homeowners outside the disaster areas can learn from this tragedy and construct an entire home inventory of all contents and the physical structure. Homeowners and renters should be prepared for any type of home disaster, flood, fire or burglary.

HomeActions and Agents: Delivering the Message. HomeActions has uncovered the best-in-class (and free) home inventory system provided by the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute (III.org). Agents are promoting the home inventory resource in their biweekly HomeActions e-Newsletter that goes out to all the agents’ past clients, prospects and friends.

About HomeActions

HomeActions provides real estate agents with an end-to-end e-prospecting system. It involves building the agent’s database into a pipeline that is nurtured and protected (exclusive). HomeActions does it all for the agent who lacks the time, the systems and the engaging content. HomeActions currently delivers 4.2 million highly branded newsletters every month.

HomeActions is:

  • A Business Solutions Provider with the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.
  • A Business Benefits Program Member with Century 21 Real Estate.
  • A Business Advantage Program Member with Coldwell Banker Real Estate.
  • A Select Services Member with ERA Real Estate. An Approved Supplier with Better Home and Gardens Real Estate.

HomeActions is headquartered in Green Cove Springs, Florida. For more information, please visit our website, www.HomeActions.net, or contact Richard J. Koreto, Chief Content Officer, at 845-642-4314 or through email. You can also contact Albert Clark, HomeActions President, at 570-510-3507 or through email.

SOURCE HomeActions

Copyright (C) 2015 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Prospecting: 9 Reasons Your Efforts Aren’t Working

9 Reasons Your Prospecting Efforts Aren’t WorkingA year-round steady flow of customers is the Holy Grail of real estate. Without it, you end up staggering from deal to deal praying you’re going to meet your monthly goals.

Is your business where you want it to be?

These are nine reasons why prospecting may not be working for you:

1. You think prospecting is something you’re supposed to do when you don’t have listings to sell or buyers to show homes to.

Prospecting isn’t something that takes time away from listing and selling, it’s what you have to do to get listings and showings. Skimp on marketing and you won’t have a pipeline of deals to work on next month.

Marketing should go out consistently and automatically.

2. Failure to properly identify prospects.

10 percent of your contacts are actively selling or buying. 90 percent are still prospects because they may know someone who’s looking to buy or sell.

Stay in front of your former clients. Make it easy for them to find you when they’re ready to do another real estate transaction.

3. Boring them with advice about buying and selling homes.

Unless your marketing is going directly to potential first-time home-buyers, stay away from sharing home buying advice. The 90 percent of your client base that isn’t actively involved in a transaction doesn’t need home selling and home buying tips.

Compelling content speaks to homeowners.

4. Not prospecting enough.

How much contact is too much? We know from our customer-focus research on email marketing that once a month is not enough and once a week is too much.

Once every two weeks is enough to keep you top-of-mind without being annoying.

5. Marketing via snail mail.

The Internet, not the mailbox, is the starting point for today’s home shoppers. Using snail-mail makes you look old-school.

Reach prospects where they are with online communication via newsletters, emails, web links and webinars.

6. Networking only in the virtual world and not in the real world.

It’s important to take every opportunity to network in person.

Go to Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, do a booth at local fairs and festivals and teach an adult education class for first-time home-buyers or investors.

7. Keeping your business cards in your pocket or your desk drawer.

If you’re not giving away 100 business cards a week, you’re not working hard enough on prospecting. When you give people your card, they often give you theirs and it’s going to have an email address on it. When you exchange cards, mention that you have a newsletter about home ownership that you’ll send them.

8. Thinking a lead service or a free email marketing newsletter will do it all for you.

A lead service or a free email marketing newsletter won’t do all your prospecting for you. Any number of services sell lead information about expired listings, people who’ve inquired about foreclosures or online home shoppers.

Those lists can be out of date, of questionable quality, and in the case of email newsletters from places like Lowe’s, available to every agent in America.

To differentiate yourself, you need exclusive marketing lists and quality newsletter content.

9. Taking shortcuts to build your contact database.

The best email contacts are the ones you gather yourself one potential client at a time.

Building year-round deal flow doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take consistent effort. To fill your deal pipeline:

  • Build a database filled with people who know you.
  • Form partnerships with companies who can help you share exclusive content that highlights your real estate expertise.
  • Get out in the community to raise your visibility.

Lee Sowers, Sales and Marketing SVP of HomeActions, helps Realtors® enhance their prospecting and build relationships to increase sales. Sowers knows what it takes to successfully market to commercial and residential real estate customers.

9 Ways to Work Better With Negative Customers

9 Ways to Work Better With Negative CustomersIn real estate, you can’t avoid unhappy or dissatisfied customers. Buyers with wish lists twice the size of their budget and sellers who demand you find a buyer willing to pay more than fair market value create stress for even the best agents.

Here are nine ways to stay upbeat in the face of negativity:

1. Always visualize a large $ stamped on your unhappy customer’s forehead.

Your customers pay your bills and feed your family. An unhappy customer may cost you this job and lose you a future referral. A happy customer creates a happy pay day for you.

2. Skip the news before work and listen to music or motivational talks on your way to work.

How you spend the first part of your day influences how the rest of your day unfolds. Don’t watch negative newscasts before work. Listening to music that pumps you up or motivational talks prepares you to tackle problem people or situations.

3. Find something to like about every customer.

Maybe your client has great eyebrows or good taste in ties. During unpleasant encounters, keep your focus on the 5% you like about them and your focus off the 95% you dislike.

4. Use Daily Affirmations to support yourself such as:

“I’m doing the best I can!”
“I am a winner!”
“I trust myself!”
“I can handle any problem!”
“I deserve this job!”

Affirmations keep your mind focused on a future positive outcome rather than the negative situation at hand.

5. Always reward yourself for a job well done.

When you successfully make it through a difficult day, show yourself some appreciation: Spend more time with family, get a massage or go out for a nice dinner.

6. Keep a Glory File of thank you letters and compliments. Review it often to remind yourself how fabulous you are.

When you have to deal with a tough customer, balance your self-esteem with a trip through your Glory File. Reminding yourself of your past successes and how much customers love you can motivate you to keep going.

7. Avoid gossiping about negative customers.

Retelling the tale of your terrible encounter intensifies your anger and negativity. Instead, do your best let go of the negativity as soon as the customer leaves your space. Until you can let go, the customer owns and controls your thoughts.

8. Avoid complainers, criticizers and whiners in your office.

I hope there’s still someone left in your office to talk to when you avoid all the complainers, criticizers and whiners. Their negativity can cause your productivity to falter.

9. Make a list of reasons you must appreciate your customers and thank them.

“I appreciate you giving me the privilege of serving you.”
“I feel lucky, honored and blessed to have a job I love.”
“Thank you for choosing me to do your business with.”

Most of all, never for one minute believe that your broker pays you. Your broker only supplies the check. Your customers fill in the blanks. Be grateful to them.