Online real estate marketing empowers the buyer in so many ways, when compared to print. As someone who has published both print and online real estate media, I can confidently say that print does have a place, but it’s no longer first place.
These advantages increase exponentially when you consider international buyers.
I have helped agents on six continents succeed with international buyers. Let’s talk about the most efficient ways to obtain more leads and sales from this group.
If you just want to boost this month’s results, you can stop reading right now. You don’t target a new buyer group as a short-term tactic.
Targeting international buyers is a strategic decision. Like all good investments, it costs something. You have to put in a grubstake of a certain amount of time, effort and money.
But, also like all good investments, it can provide returns far larger than other opportunities. International buyers spend 60 percent more than the overall market average, according to the National Association of Realtors.
First of all, advertising on the relevant overseas portal is a must. I’ll leave it to you to select the portal that best reaches the international buyers you want to target.
Second, invest in online resources that keep working for you over time. Maybe it’s short videos in the target group’s language that answer their top 10 questions. Perhaps it’s an appropriately translated buying guide, or a guide to local schools and neighborhoods.
Rather than writing three or four blog posts in a month, on topics that quickly become dated and lose relevance, spend the same amount of time creating one high-quality piece of content that will be timeless and useful.
Have your content professionally translated. You don’t have to speak your international buyers’ native language to be successful with them. But, to generate that initial contact, it does help to have useful content in their language.
To translate your materials, never rely on Google Translate, a friend who studied the language in college or a summer intern. Always go with a professional translation service. Translation isn’t that expensive, and a few dollars aren’t worth the risk of harming your reputation for professionalism and excellence.
Use your resources judiciously. You don’t need to translate your entire website into their language. Just a few key resources can suffice, especially your profile and useful information such as a buyer’s guide, basic tax and immigration guide, and so on.
Whatever form your content starts in, convert it to other media. If you start with a video, have the dialogue transcribed and converted into a text document, audio file, slideshow and infographic. If you start with a text document, repurpose it in the other formats, as well.
You can find someone to help you do this in your marketing department or, better yet, on eLance.com. Since different prospects will prefer different formats, good content deserves to be repurposed.
Post your content online in multiple locations. Start with the obvious ones, such as your website, your bio page on U.S. real estate portals, your LinkedIn profile, SlideShare, YouTube, etc. Then, go on to post it on sites more likely to be used by your target international group, such as their preferred real estate portals and social media channels.
Invest in promoting your content. One of the most innovative agents I’ve seen created a buyer’s guide in Chinese. She then ran a banner ad campaign on Juwai.com promoting it as a free resource, and obtained the contact info of the more than 2,000 individuals who downloaded it. At the same time, she prequalified these leads with a single question about their buying intentions.
Once you have connected with international buyers, especially if they are buying in the U.S. for the first time, you may find they have much less knowledge about the buying process than local buyers. They will probably also have ideas that are incorrect. They will certainly have lots of questions.
Never be afraid to tell them like it is. Of course, mind your manners. Inform them with grace and charm. You can win their trust and loyalty by being a reliable guide on their real estate journey.
Andrew Taylor is co-CEO of Juwai.com, a real estate portal linking Chinese buyers with property in the U.S., Canada and a total of 54 countries.