Social, search, display. This Burlington, Vermont, company helps 500-plus real estate clients engage, nurture and close more buyers and sellers with only 30 employees.
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Perched high in northeast Vermont in the quiet lakeside settlement of Burlington, Vermont, Union Street Media services some of the top-producing independent agents on the east coast, including Boston’s top producer Tracy Campion, modern-urban specialist Elevated Boston, J. Barret & Company, which relishes in luxury listings along Massachusetts’ tony north shore, and western North Carolina’s Silver Creek Real Estate.
The 20-year-old company that was started in a dorm room isn’t afraid to push the creative envelope or hold its clients accountable for their end of the marketing partnership.
As a result of its hands-on approach to on-boarding and service throughout strategy development, Union Street Media boasts a 90 percent retention rate with a current list of around 500 clients, according to Anna Glosser, director of sales and account strategy.
“We hold clients to 12-month agreements, provide training and make sure they’re engaged,” Glosser said.
The company espouses the value of omnichannel marketing, which means an integration of web and mobile display advertising, search engine optimization and social media. In summary, it’s a strategy to ensure targeted audiences hear a brand’s appeal in every common digital medium.
The benefit of this approach, as opposed to only display advertising or an investment in social media, is that each communication tactic with which a consumer interacts compounds the depth of the behavioral metrics captured, and most commonly includes the following (and a number of subservient tactics to each):
- Website development
- SEO (paid and organic)
- Display advertising
- Email marketing
- Paid social
- Video (brand and listing)
- Sponsored content
Website and Facebook display advertising plans include rich, text and video-based remarketing campaigns that can be designed and deployed to appeal to highly specific demographics segmented by geography, personal interests and a host of psychographic data points.
Lead engagement and nurturing is all about data. What listings did they view? How did they find the site? What ad creative finally got them to provide an email?
The answers to those questions are then used to further craft ongoing marketing efforts and to create “personas,” marketing jargon to describe similar digital profiles to those people already in the pipeline. For example, “Ten people of a certain age and race in this location who like baseball looked at this house. Let’s find more people like that and show them the house, too.”
Union Street is a proponent of a relatively new and highly effective SEO tactic called “long-tail SEO,” which takes advantage of the ever-growing specificity of online search habits.
Instead of looking for “Real estate agents in Boston,” today’s homeshopper is looking for “The top producing agents in Charlestown” or “Who sold the most condos on Market St. in San Francisco?”
Clients are then provided a library of landing pages tailored specifically to this type of search. The results can be pretty surprising, as they are often able to beat the major search portals in page rank.
The company is also moving quickly into voice search, which many feel remains a novelty. Glosser, however, is bullish on it.
“Twenty percent of all search now is voice, and 41 percent of all real estate traffic comes from organic and paid search,” Glosser said to Inman.
The triumvirate of integrations gives the company the ability to expand a vocal home search well beyond a single agent’s listing inventory, allowing that agent to help its “voice leads” hear results about the entire market, upcoming open houses and market trends, for example. In essence, a voice-powered IDX feed.
“Google has now surpassed Alexa in voice searches because they’re giving away their technology,” said Glosser.
According to research from BrightLocal.com, an SEO marketing company, 58 percent of consumers have used voice to search for local businesses in the past year; and 27 percent have visited the company’s website after the search — which is exactly the kind of round-robin web interaction an omnichannel marketing approach is designed to exploit.
Union Street Media’s primary customers are highly productive independent brokerages, for which it builds websites, provides a proprietary content management system (not WordPress or Squarespace) and deploys is namesake omnichannel campaigns. Of course, plans vary according to client.
Teams and individual agents make up about 40 percent of Union Street Media’s remaining client base.
As the homebuyers’ options for advisement continue to evolve, traditional brokerages will have no choice but to tunnel deep into advanced digital marketing tactics to rescue leads from a pool being quickly drained by the mass-audience grabbing portals and skimmed cleaned by iBuyers and alternative models.
However, custom solutions providers like Union Street Media (and other web and marketing agencies) can set brokerages apart, identify the right leads and help agents land them.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe