A friend of mine is getting married in just a few weeks, and being part of the bridal party has been both an honour and a joy. Having never been married before, it has also been an eye-opener as to the amount of consideration and preparation that one day, albeit a very important one, takes. In getting married, you commit to the planning and organization of the day as much as you commit to the person!
The same can be said for online marketing strategies, though, as they also take a significant amount of thought, planning, and implementation effort. A website and online marketing plan will result in more traffic, increased leads, and a better return on investment (ROI). The key to obtaining a great end result with reduced stress and frustration is to have a good plan, whether you are going to be newlywed or an online real estate professional. Here are some key considerations to get you started:
A large part of any online marketing plan is branding. This is how online visitors will see you, remember you, and find you again in the future. When people often hear the word ‘branding’, they usually think of logos and taglines, which are definitely a big part of any branding strategy. Companies often spend a lot of money to build their brand (think of the Nike ‘swoosh’) and get their tagline out to the masses (“Just Do It”).
Being online, though, means an increase in branding, mainly your domain name. For instance, our Education Team’s domain is www.Point2AgentEducation.com. A few guidelines for domains:
- Keep it simple – three or four words at a maximum; otherwise, people will mix it up and forget it, which leads us to…
- Keep it memorable – short is easy to remember; so is something that contains real estate verbage, because you are working to…
- Keep it relevant – you’re selling real estate, so words related to real estate, your neighborhoods, your city, etc. all work and also help…
- Keep it easy to spell – this is where online visitors often find someone else’s website, as correct spelling of a word is often assumed, but often not the case. Utilizing simple words that are commonly used, easy to remember, and easy to spell will ensure people find you.
You might be tempted to use your name as your domain, which is fine if it follows the above guidelines. If your name is hard to spell, could have alternate spellings or versions, or is difficult to remember (like mine – Tanya Spilchak), then it would likely be better to choose and alternative.
Your domain name can also be derived from your niche market, which is the specific group(s) of people you are wanting to work with or have knowledge about. For instance, is your passion aligned with new homebuyers, military families, retirees, young families, etc? This may help determine your domain name and guide you in your branding choices.
Once you have determined your niche market and who you are aiming to market to with your website, you can start determining the actual content for the site. Remember: people go to websites for information, and by ‘information’, I mean listings. Make it so that anyone can find your listings within ten seconds of finding your website. Otherwise, they may be tempted to go elsewhere.
Other information to showcase: neighborhoods (research indicates that people will select the neighborhood they want to live in prior to actually choosing a home to buy), local interest information (transporation, shopping, amenities, schools, etc), links to job sites or schools, etc. If you have had clients ask you questions related to a particular topic or information, then that is something worth considering putting on your website. Content is king. It will encourage people to not only stay on your site for this visit, but also encourage them to come back in the future when they want to see homes for sale, obtain real estate information, or read your blog posts.
Your niche market will also help determine your website design in terms of visuals, layout, and colour. Ideally, your design should support your target audience and support the text included on the website.
After making the adjustments to the look and feel of your website design and content, it is beneficial to sit back, review what you have accomplished, and view the statistical information indicating the traffic and visits to your website. Point2 Agent offers a number of reports, including a weekly Executive Report, Performance Summaries, and the in-depth UltraStats.
During your assessment, think of the following:
- What does your online visitor traffic look like for recent days? How has it changed from the last assessment date? How does it compare to the goals you have for website traffic numbers?
- How many prospects have you received? Are they coming from your website or a Syndication Partner? What actions did that prospect take on your website?
- What are online visitors viewing in terms of information? What navigational paths are visitors taking? What pages are they viewing and for how long?
- Does the content accurately reflect your knowledge and expertise of the city and neighborhoods? Does it convey your excitement and passion for real estate? Hard one: does it talk about real estate more than it talks about you?
- What feedback have you received from clients regarding your site? If you haven’t received any, then ask them what they liked or didn’t like about your site, how they found the navigation, were there things missing or could you add something to really help them in their home search?
Following the assessment, you may need to go back and adjust some graphics, content, or design elements. This will likely happen on a regular basis as your business, and you, grow and change. Once the changes are made, do another assessment. Has traffic increased? Are you happier with the website content? What feedback have you received since you made the changes? Again, you may have to actively seek out feedback from clients, family, and friends.
“A wedding is not a marriage. A wedding is only the beginning of an undertaking that may or may not, someday, develop into a marriage.” – David and Vera Mace
The same can be applied to websites and online marketing. Have a website is not a complete online marketing strategy, but only part of it. Paired with branding, content, thought, time, and assessment, a website can provide you with an online presence that will increase your listing exposure, provide you with more prospects, and advertise your services further.
These three points will help you get started with your online marketing, although they will likely never be items on a checklist. You will continue to consider your branding and content on a regular basis, as your online marketing goals will change over time as both the market and your business change. As well, regular assessments may indicate that small changes are necessary to see the success you wish to see.
With bated breath, I’m waiting to see if you’re ready to say “I Do”…