The idea of starting a digital marketing program from scratch may sound daunting and expensive, especially if you have never done it before. However, these days REALTORS® can create a highly-effective digital marketing platform for little cost and a modest time investment. Following are several tips to get you started:
Have a Purpose
Before you do anything, understand what you want to achieve with your digital marketing initiatives. In most cases, building relationships with sellers and buyers will be a priority, particularly those that influence property listings and drive sales.
Build a Personal Website (For Free)
Building a personal website creates a central point of reference for all digital marketing initiatives. Free web-building services such as wix.com , webs.com, and drupalgardens.com provide a variety of professional templates that are easy to populate with copy, photos, links, page tabs, graphics, etc. Templates can automatically format your website for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, which are becoming the preferred way people access the Internet. If that sounds too complex, then consider contacting a local community college or graphic design school. Oftentimes students can design a website for college credit at no monetary cost to you. Just make sure you learn how to update the site before they move on.
If your budget allows, it is a great idea to upgrade a paid website service that will enable you to easily cut-and-paste Google Analytics code on to your web pages. Doing so will enable you to track visitation data and better understand what content tactics should be prioritized in the future. Check with your service provider to ensure this can be done before building a personal website.
Build Your Email Database
The number one rule of email marketing is “make sure you obtain permission to send marketing material to your constituents.” So yes, this means that an ongoing component of your digital marketing strategy will be to collect “approved” emails for future content distribution. Start by asking people directly. If you speak with five new prospects a day, five days a week, few will decline to receive email content from you. Within a month you will have 100 or more emails and perhaps more than 1,000 by year’s end just by asking. Continue by adding a simple lead capture template field on all of your personal website pages. Also, use social networking to drive traffic to your website (more on this described below).
Creating content for email distribution can range from a simple “e-postcard” containing new property listing data to a full-blown e-newsletter covering a variety of news relevant to your customers. Start by contracting an inexpensive email newsletter service such as ConstantContact.com, which will provide a choice of simplistic HTML e-newsletter design templates that can be professionally embedded in the body of an email. These services also enable you to distribute content to your database discretely, meaning each recipient will not be able to see who else got the correspondence. This not only maintains the privacy of your list, but also increases open rates and helps prevent blockage by spam filters. As for the content schedule, that can vary greatly. Begin with a simple, but polished e-newsletter once a quarter. E-postcards can be sent out as soon as things like new property listings are secured.
Create a Weekly Blog
Blogs can be about anything that may be of interest to your clients and can be as short as 200 words or even less. Favorable reports about local schools, community services and even local tax rates are all great blog topics. So too are reports on mortgage rates, local house prices and available inventory in your market. You can provide added information to your blog by linking to other data available on the web, such as news reports confirming local school test scores are in fact outstanding. As for tools to create blogs, WordPress.com is one of the most popular blog creation sites around, with basic blog templates allowing your postings to be published easily on the web free of charge.
Three Social Networking Basics
There are more than 1 billion people using Facebook globally, an audience way too vast to ignore. Create a Facebook page promoting your services, encourage your friends to join the page and “Like” its content. LinkedIn is regarded as the number one professional business network in the world. Create a profile and invest a few minutes each evening inviting individuals you know into your network. Be sure to include your personal website on your LinkedIn profile page. Quick posts to Twitter’s 550 million members are regarded as the most-read digital marketing feeds in the world. Twitter is a perfect tool to notify followers that you have a new listing or have just created a new blog posting.
Why settle on just posting still photos of a property listing when you can provide a one-minute walkthrough video of a home at zero cost to you? Most new Apple or Android smartphones allow users to not only shoot crisp videos, but also edit them to create a condensed clip. Post the finished videos to your Youtube.com page and link to that footage through other digital digital marketing channels described above.
Tie it All Together
Digital marketing becomes highly-effective when its varying components complement each other to promote content. For example, those following your blog will receive a notice when you post new content and that may be enough to get them to read it; however, it might be a Twitter alert or a Facebook page posting or a link posted in your e-newsletter that ultimately drives them (and others) to the blog’s content. That’s why it is important to promote new marketing assets you create, especially property listings, through all digital marketing channels available to you. The bigger your integrated network is the more results you will obtain. And your network will grow substantially over time if you work at it even just a few hours a week.
To be sure, there are an abundance of other basic and advanced tools available to bring better results to your ongoing digital marketing platform. However, a key to successfully getting started is to take on only what your time and budget resources will allow. Learn how to use basic tools before upgrading to others, many of which will require an outlay of capital to implement. Doing so will highlight the best digital marketing tactics that build relationships, drive listings and increase sales. And that’s where future investments in time and money should be emphasized.
Have you implemented a digital marketing platform? What tools and advice do you have for a new REALTOR® get started?