After hundreds of conversations with agents across the country, one real estate pro breaks down the main digital marketing topics that dominated the narrative — and consequently, business.

In my field, I have the pleasure of speaking with agents from various parts of the country at various points in their careers. Some are nationally recognized agents with large teams, and others are new agents looking to grab a foothold in this highly competitive and often overwhelming industry.

In 2020, I had more than a thousand conversations with agents. I tracked every conversation topic using the scheduling platform Calendly. I then broke that report down, and using Excel, I further clarified each meeting topic based on how the conversations actually went. Then, I sorted the topics by popularity.

While they covered a wide range of topics, a majority of those 1,059 conversations fell into five basic groups that I think provide actionable information you can implement in your business right away. Here they are, ranked by frequency.

1. Online presence: 198 conversations

Online visibility is arguably more important than ability. I’m constantly seeing agents with a strong online presence win business from agents who are more experienced and qualified.

You need to check your visibility by doing a Google search for your name. Sixty percent of the agents I spoke to never have. Of the others, 30 percent hadn’t searched themselves on Google in the past 30 days, leaving just 1 in 10 who maintain timely tracking of their online visibility.

We know that upward of 90 percent of your leads, referrals and past clients use Google to search for properties and agents. So how much time and effort have you invested in creating the most powerful and proficient online presence? Are you easily found when someone types your name into Google, the all-knowing eye of the internet?

What do your Google search results say about your ability to successfully guide someone through a transaction? Is your online presence consistent regarding imagery, name, address, phone number and bio across all your profiles?

You should know what shows up when someone runs a search for your name and business. Not only that, you should also be aware whenever your name is mentioned online. I like Google Alerts for finding and being notified of this kind of information.

2. Social media usage: 148 conversations

To successfully use social media to generate business, agents need to look at what social media is at its core — a place to document your life, strengthen relationships with others and develop yourself as a thought leader. Depending on the demographic you want to reach, the top three platforms are likely Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Facebook 

This grand, 16-year-old platform is for documenting your life through photos, written word and video. Increasingly, businesses are depending on it as an online address for profiles that include products, services and their own social activities. 

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, this popular platform draws a younger demographic, allowing them to scroll through a permanent vertical newsfeed or the temporary Instagram Stories (photos and videos that disappear in 24 hours), among other features. 

For both your Facebook and Instagram personal profiles, I recommend documenting anything you find interesting — something that creates an emotional response in youThe more you share what’s inside your head, the more likely it is others will trust you, possibly work with you and refer you in the future.

Your Facebook business page, on the other hand, is where you’ll develop yourself as a thought leader through consistent sharing of value-added content in various forms (but especially video).

LinkedIn

This is likely a top result for you on Google. Make a powerful first impression by adding a background photo that tells a story of what working with you might be like. This can be accomplished by staging a behind-the-scenes photo of you “in action” — like, opening the door for clients, showing a property, or you at a signing, etc. Additionally, you’ll want to post content here that’s similar to what you would post on your Facebook business page.

Direct engagement — commenting on or sharing another person’s content — can be even more valuable than posting. Additionally, simply liking posts is no longer a form of meaningful engagement. 

When it comes to relationship-building and elevating your authority in this business, remember: Value in equals value out. The more you give, the more you get.

3. Branding: 128 conversations

Branding encompasses a massively broad spectrum of all the activities and behaviors of a real estate professional, both online and offline. This goes far beyond a company logo and includes your name, address, phone, title, tagline, bio, headshot, and cover and background photos. 

It’s also your ability to be found online through Google and other search engines. Your strategic profiles, consistent imagery and messaging, as well as your social media presence and usage, contribute to this. 

A common strategy among Fortune 500 companies is the concept of “brand archetypes.” Based on Carl Jung’s concept that humans can subconsciously identify 12 different personality types (or archetypes) in others, this identification shorthand can make a person or entity more relatable — which leads to trust!

4. Facebook Ads: 114 conversations

Because Facebook and Instagram advertising campaigns generate buyer leads for under $1 a lead, I recommend them to agents as best in the game. While results will vary, there is no better way to tee up conversations.

The key is converting the lead into an appointment, and here are three simple steps to do that: 

1. Follow-up

This is an art in itself. A recent study revealed that leads not responded to within five minutes are 90 percent more likely to become unresponsive. Agents I work with respond within 30 seconds, though most now rely on a third-party calling service or CRM.

Follow-up methods are: phone (live, automated or voicemail drop), SMS, email and mail. The message should continue a conversation that started at the campaign level. Focus on your desire to guide the buyer or seller to a successful result, and sprinkle it with what personalized information you can gather about them to show that you’re in tune with their needs.

2. Nurture

Using a CRM such as Follow Up Boss, Liondesk or a digital marketing platform such as KVCore or Chime, you can ensure that the lead receives valuable messages at timely intervals.

The goal is to determine their intent and timing: Where are they looking to buy or sell, what are their motivators, and how quickly do they need to move? Buyers want access to homes, homes and more homes — they especially love off-market homes and open houses.

With a good digital marketing platform, you can automate sending homes to them. Sellers need to believe you’re the right fit, such as evidence you were successful with someone in a similar situation.

3. Convert

Scheduling the appointment is where the rubber meets the road. You need to ensure that you have an easy way for your leads to schedule a listing or showing appointment. I like Calendly because it integrates easily with most calendars to enable real-time, convenient scheduling for all parties.

Sellers may take up to two years to convert. Buyers move more quickly; about 18 percent convert within days, 63 percent between 45-180 days, and the remaining 21 percent take up to 18 months.

5. Websites: 89 conversations

As a former owner of a website design and development company, I’m particularly keen on maintaining a thoughtfully crafted website. In fact, I think agents should have two.

1. A people-focused site for branding and seller lead generation

If the internet is the ocean, a unique and personalized people-focused website is your fishing boat. It’s the hub of your professionalism. It shows who you are, who you work with, how you’re successful and how you’re unique. It speaks to your personality and the needs of your target audience.

Good service providers range from a do-it-yourself model like SquareSpace to a fully customized solution from AgentImage. Overall though, WordPress is the go-to for a solid, custom website platform that will allow you to move providers and create success.

My favorite people-focused site is burlingameproperties.com, which was built using WordPress. Raziel Unger hit a home run with his ability to connect with his community on this site.

2. A property-focused search site for buyer lead generation and nurturing

If you are working with buyers, you need a solid, lead-capturing IDX-driven property-focused website. These are essential to providing valuable home searching capabilities that will ideally get your leads away from the large lead-generating search portals (i.e. Zillow and Redfin) and into your search ecosystem so that you don’t lose your lead to another agent.

Often, these sites have matching property search apps as well. 

So there you have it — the most relevant digital marketing topics for 2021. I hope you found at least two takeaways from this list that you are excited to implement into your business right away. 

Aaron Lacey is the vice president, marketing technology director with West, a Williston Financial Group Company in Arizona. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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