How did your business do this year? Are you still grinding away? As we discussed in “Marketing Around the Holidays,” the holiday season is a great time to get your name in front of clients so that they come to you come 2014. Despite how successful or unsuccessful you were this year, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to business. With the start of the new year should come a new marketing strategy. So, how can you increase the number of clients, closed deals and commission checks? Where should you spend your time and money in 2014?
Seeing as 90 percent of homebuyers are starting their house hunt online, if you’re not already working online leads, it’s time to get into the game. The internet is increasingly becoming more and more integral to the world of real estate. So how do you capture those people browsing for homes online?
The first step is to create an online presence for your business. Invest in a well designed, easily navigated website. This will be your “home” online, so it should be as tidy and inviting as those you sell offline. Make sure to maintain your site by constantly updating information, listings, your IDX and MLS data, etc. It’s also important to publish original content on a regular basis, so make sure your site has a blog feature and post one to three times a week.
After you have your online home up, running and well maintained, it’s time to start making friends to invite over. If you’re not already on social media sites, it’s time to join. These sites can generate buzz around your business and drive traffic to your home (web) address. While most agents are already on Facebook, you should also take advantage of sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google +. Make sure to maintain these sites as you do your website—set time aside everyday to post and interact with other users. It’s also a good idea to set goals for each platform. Where do you want the traffic from your Facebook page to land on your website? Do you want your Pinterest pictures to link to your blog, homepage or a lead form?
Once you have a sturdy foundation in your website and friends to invite over from maintaining your presence on social media sites, it’s time to invest in capturing online leads. While leads can be generated from your website and social media sites alone, adding another level to your online presence specifically for lead capture is incredibly beneficial. There are primarily two ways people generate online leads: either on their own or with an online lead generation service. So, what are the pros and cons of each?
Generating online leads on your own means creating and having complete control of all information imparted from start to finish, but this can also be very time consuming. While capturing online leads without the resources of a third party can save you money, it can also lose you time (and you know what they say!). Additionally, the volume of leads you wrangle in on your own may not be the amount you expect—it takes time and trial and error to create an efficient and successful lead generation system, from lead capture to follow-up. Plus, if you’re not educated in the lead capture process, it can be costly. For example, if you’re not familiar with how Google AdWords and PPC work, you could end up spending a lot of money on keywords that don’t generate many leads.
This is where an online lead generation service can come in handy. The system is already in place and proven effective. But remember, not all lead generation services are created equal. While some sell leads to multiple agents in one area, others sell exclusive territories, meaning one agent receives all of the leads in his or her area. The latter system allows agents to be branded as the sole expert in the community, giving them more of an online presence due to more websites promoting their services.
When it comes down to it, you need to decide where and how you want to spend your time and money. Would you rather spend most of your day prospecting for leads online, possibly throwing your money at an inefficient system? Or would you rather invest your money in an already established, effective system and spend your time meeting with clients, showing homes, and participating in the parts of the real estate process you love the most?
Whether you decide to go it alone or recruit the services of an online lead generation service in 2014, it’s important to remember you’ll still need to direct some of your time and money to offline marketing efforts. In other words, don’t put all of your eggs in the online marketing basket. Make sure to make room in your financial and time budget for handwritten notes, welcome presents, congratulatory cards and closing gifts. Staying human is as important as establishing your online presence in today’s real estate world.