Are you stuck applying traditional marketing strategies to Web 2.0? If so, here’s how to shift gears and do more business with today’s Web-savvy consumer.
Former Realtor.com President Allan Dalton once observed, "The real estate industry has no trouble generating leads. Instead, the issue is converting those leads into closed business."
Currently, 48 percent of the Web leads go unanswered. Agents are frustrated by Web visitors who leave phony names on their registration pages or by those who aren’t ready to do business for 12 months or more.
The psychology of marketing on the Web is substantially different from traditional marketing. In traditional marketing, the focus is on "right-now business." If someone is thinking about buying or selling six months from now, they’re generally viewed as a poor lead. The agent may place the prospective client in a contact management system, but showing that individual a property is generally a waste of time. In contrast, prospecting for expired and for-sale-by-owner listings or working with referrals can put you in contact with those who want to transact business now.
The psychology of Web marketing is entirely different. The typical Web buyer or seller may begin the home-search process 12 to 18 months prior to moving. To cope with this situation, you must have a system to stay in touch on a regular basis or to motivate them to visit your Web site or blog repeatedly.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the median age of buyers in 2007 was 39. In fact, 60 percent of all buyers are now members of Gen X and Gen Y (those born after 1964). Baby boomers and traditionalists (those born before 1964) use e-mail, whereas Gen X and Gen Y use e-mail less. As a result, drip e-mail campaigns are rapidly losing their effectiveness. Gen X and Gen Y avoid spam by sending their messages through social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. In other words, if you’re relying on a drip e-mail campaign to reach the bulk of today’s buyers, you’re missing a whopping 60 percent of today’s market. Even for boomers and traditionalists, most complain about the huge volume of junk e-mail that clogs their inbox. Your e-mail "drips" are just another part of the noise.
What’s the solution? Whatever you choose, your goal is to be in front of your target market on a consistent basis. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) sends out links to your blog posts. Unfortunately, many people are receiving so many RSS feeds that it is now becoming as overwhelming as spam.
There’s an old cliché: "If you want to catch fish, you must go where the fish are." This means you can actively "fish" on sites that already have tremendous amounts of traffic or you can set up your own site as your personal fishing hole.
For those who do not care to blog, consider using "profile marketing" on sites such as Trulia and Zillow that generate millions of unique visitors each month. Set up your profile and then answer one or two questions per week. These sites display your answers under your profile. If you answer one question per week, in six months you will have 26 posts. Thus, when a consumer wants information about the area in which you sell or live, you have instant credibility due to the large number of responses that you have made to other consumer inquiries. Answering questions on a regular basis keeps your profile up to date and allows potential consumers to know you anonymously.
A different approach is to attract "fish" to your personal blog or Web site. This means that your Web site must have rich, up-to-date content. There are a number of ways to achieve this goal. Include a page of "Frequently Asked First-time Buyer Questions," a mortgage calculator, and Chamber of Commerce information for the areas you serve. Provide information on schools, crime, transportation and recreation. Also, consider adding aerial maps, videos of the area, or other community information. While all of this may sound complicated, many real estate Web site providers include these services as part of their Web site packages.
Use sites such as Gasbuddy.com to find information on the cheapest gas in your area. You could also link to a site such as Eventful.com to provide information about upcoming local events.
Gen X and Gen Y love to have fun. When you come across a fun or engaging online game, post it on your site or on your blog. In recent blog posts I included a game (http://flashfabrica.com/f_learning/brain/brain.html) that Japanese scientists use to assess how old your brain actually is. There’s also an absolutely hilarious site called Psychic Chicken (http://www.psychicchicken.com/). The Psychic Chicken site is iPhone-compatible, perfect for today’s fun-loving, younger users. Gen X and Gen Y will return to sites where there is fresh content and where they can have fun.
Implementing the suggestions above will allow you to reach younger consumers in a way that will have them visiting your Web site or blog on a regular basis.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters" and "Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?" Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at LuxuryClues.com.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.