With 42 percent of buyers finding their agents by referral, you should focus on the easiest way to get referrals — content marketing. Here’s how to get started and keep it consistent.

Only 9 percent of homebuyers find their real estate agent online, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Even with online search portals being the first place buyers look for homes, these numbers are very similar to 10 years ago.

Referrals are where it’s at

It’s ludicrous to think that less than 1 in 10 buyers and sellers find an agent online.

Referrals are the agent’s answer to finding new clients.

NAR also found that 42 percent of buyers find agents through referrals. When I look at my closed numbers, I see over half of my deals are from people I know, referrals.

Every day I’m getting a referral from a big referral site, like UpNest. NAR isn’t wrong about that.

How it works

Here’s how the referral sites work: People go on Google and search “top agents in my area.” Referral sites pay for PPC (pay-per-click) and show up at the top of the search results.

That person will then go into one of those websites at the top of the page, fill out some basic information about their property, and click “Find an agent.”

From there, agents in the area will send over proposals to the potential seller.

Those people might say they found an agent through a referral source, but that actually stemmed from online research.

Content is king

Along with online research, online content (aka content marketing) has a significant impact on who is getting referrals.

I get a lot of referrals, but those people, my friends even, would not refer me that business if I didn’t produce this content online. Here’s why: They’re not going to refer their friend over to somebody who isn’t a rockstar.

If I didn’t constantly put out content online, I wouldn’t get half the referrals I do.

I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve had where someone has said, “Hey, so-and-so referred you to us. They’re one of my good friends, and they said you were the best agent.”

And I’m thinking: So-and-so? I don’t even know who so-and-so is.

Here’s what I do know: So-and-so is following me on Facebook or Instagram, and he or she sees I’m more consistent in the marketplace than anyone else they know putting out real estate content.

So they refer.

How to use content marketing and social media to your advantage

You might realize that creating content and having an online presence is important, but don’t know where to begin. Get started today with a few pointers:

  1. Focus on adding value: Creating content is a way to add value to other people’s lives. Begin by thinking about the questions you are asked over and over by clients. Answer those frequently asked questions in the form of a video or blog, and send them out on social media platforms.
  2. Maintain a regular schedule: Put content creation in your schedule. Being consistent online will help people remember you and what you are doing.
  3. Connect with others: Comment, answer questions, like and share other people’s posts. You have to create relationships with like-minded people who can elevate your own strategy and brand.

Use social media to stay top-of-mind

My referrals stem from online content.

This goes for past clients as well. Maybe you haven’t talked to a client in three years. But he or she sees you online, sees your listings, sees your personal Instagram. Clients feel like they’ve followed your journey these past three years because of your social content.

That 42 percent is being referred over because you are connected to that person socially or online.

NAR found that 12 percent of buyers used an agent they had previously used. It makes sense to go back to the person they have used — if that agent is keeping in touch.

And what’s the easiest way to keep in touch right now?

Through online content.

We live in a digital world, so it all comes back to the content you are producing, how consistent you are and how much value you are adding.

The question is not: Where do you get your business?

The question is: Are you doing enough online?

Watch “The Real Word: How the industry is showing its value to consumers,” for more on this topic.

Byron Lazine is a real estate broker with William Raveis in Connecticut. He is also a co-host of the weekly Inman video column “The Real Word.”

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