Marketing

Marketing your real estate business on a budget? Try inbound approach

Grow your contacts and influence with these low-cost techniques

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You’re probably familiar with the term “inbound marketing.” And if you’re like many busy real estate professionals, you may have decided that it’s just not worth the time and investment to take on a new marketing strategy. If business is fine, why would you add to your workload by taking on new social networks or writing content for your blog?

Well, if you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ve probably been through some months when business wasn’t fine. Or, if you’re a brand-new agent, you may be operating on a pretty small (or nonexistent) marketing budget because you’re still building your brand. It’s times like these where inbound marketing really pays off.

One of my favorite quotes on inbound marketing comes from Guy Kawasaki: “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, focus on inbound marketing.” There’s no better way to sum it up. Inbound builds relationships with potential leads, demonstrating your knowledge and abilities through your website, blog, social networks and other channels. You’re then able to add high-quality leads to your contacts database that are further along with the sales process. This helps to reduce your marketing expenses by reducing your dependence on portals.

When business is slow, you may not have a big budget, but you know what you do have? Time! And time is what it takes to create and maintain an effective inbound marketing strategy. As homebuyers and sellers across the country start to defrost and you prepare for the busy season, you can start implementing some new, low-cost inbound marketing strategies that will not only boost your business during the warmer months, but will also help safeguard you from a slump in business when the market is slow.

1. Keep an eye on your inbox for potential blog post topics. If one person is emailing you asking for advice about the loan process, selecting a contractor or home staging advice, odds are there are dozens of people out there who are looking for the same information. If you’re afraid to blog because you think no one cares what you have to say, you’re selling yourself short! You have so much knowledge about the local market, the industry and the homebuying or selling process that the average person doesn’t. It’s advice like this (which can’t be found on Zillow or Trulia) that makes you so valuable. Create a folder in your email inbox where you save interactions that can be turned into blog posts, and use them when you need to create content quickly. Consider having a monthly or biweekly blog post based on these questions and answers.

2. Two words: keyword research. Before you start writing any content, it’s important to find the best topics to write about. And the best topics to write about are what people are actually searching for. Keyword research may sound like a daunting task, but there are some simple strategies and tools that even a novice marketer can put to use easily. It’s smart to keep a running list in a spreadsheet or Evernote file of keywords you’ve found through these sources. The most basic form of keyword research uses Google autocomplete and suggested search. Just start by typing basic search terms like “real estate in (my city)” or “homes for sale in (my town)” in Google. You’ll see a drop-down list of related search terms. Put those into your keyword file.

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Once you complete a search, scroll down to the bottom of the results page. There, you’ll see a list of suggested related searches. These are helpful keywords, too.

There are also tons of free and paid keyword tools out there, like Keyword.io, Soovle and Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool; these can give you a wider selection of keywords.

By doing keyword research before you write, you’ll create content that could have a stronger effect on your search engine rankings.

3. Promote your listings on Facebook — inexpensively. Facebook’s targeting features help you get the right eyes on your listings and other content at a low cost. David Welch, an agent in Orlando, uses targeted Facebook ads to promote his listings and says, “I can go on my Facebook business page and promote a post about a listing for $20 and have 3,000 to 7,000 people see it.”

Getting eyes on a property can be especially difficult if you’re a new agent without a huge network. Using smart targeting, you can promote your listings and your Facebook page for a small amount of money. If you’re unfamiliar with creating Facebook ads, there are several good tutorials available online that you can find with a quick Google search.

4. Build relationships with local businesses. If you’re just getting started on social media or have shied away from it because you couldn’t get any traction, try engaging with local businesses. If they’re running deals or specials, share their post or give it a retweet. You can also include them in list posts you write for your blog, such as “Top 5 places for the best slice of pizza” or “Most beautiful venues for any event.” Include a link to their website, and let them know you’ve included them by tagging them on social media or giving them a call.

They’ll appreciate the shoutout and maybe even return the favor by sharing your post or giving you a recommendation. This is a fantastic (and free!) way of growing your network and also adding valuable content to your blog and social channels.

5. Set up targeted email campaigns. The key word in this strategy is targeted. If your contacts are organized into categories like “buyers” and “sellers,” how do you expect to tailor a message for them that they’ll actually read?

Today’s consumers can spot a canned marketing message from a mile away. Organizing your contacts into more specific groups, such as first-time homebuyers or potential buyers in a specific price point, will help you send messages that are applicable and a lot more likely to actually get opened. Email is technically an outbound marketing practice, but if you’ve followed the tactics above, then you’ve gathered contact information from people you know, who care to hear what you have to say. And that’s the beauty of inbound marketing!

By implementing these low-cost inbound marketing techniques, you can keep growing your contacts and influence year-round, whether the market is booming or in a slump.

If you’re an early adopter of inbound marketing, what techniques and strategies have been most effective for your business? Leave a comment and let us know!

Erica Tafavoti is an inbound marketing expert at PipelineROI, real estate’s first complete inbound marketing platform. You can follow her on Twitter at @PipelineROI and on pipelineroi.com/blog.

Email Erica Tafavoti.