What does it take to successfully market your real estate business online? Matthew Shadbolt, director of interactive product and marketing at The Corcoran Group, shared six great tips that have made his company Manhattan’s leading real estate agency. These same tips can help your business, too.
1. Share the story, not just the features
Shadbolt, who is also a featured contributor at InmanNext, an agent-focused website, made an astute observation when he said, "Story is the most shareable type of content." Most agents market their listings by listing the features — i.e., bedroom and bath count, views, décor, and other amenities.
Unfortunately, features don’t sell properties: emotions do. An easy way to tap into the buyer’s emotions is through storytelling.
To illustrate this point, I saw a video where a man was selling the ranch that had been in his family for more than 100 years. As he described growing up on the ranch, and later, how he raised his family there, a tear came to his eye. This compelling video generated a lot more buyer leads than a laundry list of property features.
2. Tips around town
An important component of Corcoran’s success is its "Tips Around Town." This consists of short videos about fun things to do or other interesting facts about specific neighborhoods.
To implement this approach in your business, you could interview the owner of the bakery that is voted the people’s choice for the best pizza in town, show some of the unique art at a local street fair, or just about anything else that illustrates what it’s like to live in a given neighborhood.
As Shadbolt advised, "You are rewarded for sharing … It’s important to own slices of the online conversations, especially when it comes to any of the neighborhoods where you work."
3. Content lives and breathes on mobile
Almost 50 percent of all real estate searches today occur on mobile devices. Whether it’s your website, blog or video, it’s important to see how it will appear on mobile devices. Since close to 50 percent of all real estate searches today are conducted on mobile devices, Shadbolt recommends that you design your marketing for mobile first rather than for larger-screen devices.
4. Video married to "life streams"
Video is still in its infancy in terms of Internet marketing, although it has already started to appear in search-engine results. When you conduct a Google search in most areas, the top two or three videos for that search will appear on the first page of the results.
Other important shifts are in the pipeline. YouTube is developing a product to be viewed on your big-screen TV. This will require a huge shift in terms of the quality that will be required to market your listings in this new format.
Even though the latest mobile phones have high-definition cameras, in the very near future you will have to consider exactly how your video will appear on a big-screen television as well as on mobile devices.
In addition to these trends, "social TV" will become much more prevalent. This includes an increasing number of people using online video chat services such as Skype or Google’s Hangout feature. Currently, the ISPs (Internet service providers) are scrambling to expand the bandwidth to meet the oncoming onslaught.
5. The analytics of the everyday
Using Pinterest, check-in sites such as Foursquare, and Facebook’s new timeline tool allows people to share what Shadbolt calls a "linear searchable presentation of the minutia of life." These applications allow you to create a visually compelling storyline for your life.
6. How to combat digital overload
A major challenge everyone faces today is digital overload. We are constantly bombarded with more information than we can possibly ever process. So how do we sort through it? Shadbolt provided some simple guidelines.
First, keep in mind that "people are greater than platforms." In other words, it’s more important to build real connections with people than it is to accumulate hundreds of friends and followers.
Second, identify the people with whom you really enjoy communicating and build relationships with them. Conversations over time create the relationships that turn into leads.
Third, divide your contacts into groups and/or lists depending upon the platform that you are using. Google Plus already has you do this when you add anyone as a friend. The system asks you to drag and drop (or check off on a drop-down menu) the circles where you would like your new friend to belong.
To sum this all up, use video whenever possible to get a serious jump on your competition. What really matters, however, is connection. Build your connections through storytelling, by sharing what is great about the lifestyle where you live, and by connecting with others based upon the mutual interests that you share.