Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

What is an Online Marketer?

I think there are a lot of people who think they know something about online marketing. The fact is, most of them really aren’t qualified to call themselves online marketing professionals.

As a side note, we’re trying to hire an online marketer right now. If you want to learn more about the position, please click here: Online Marketing Analyst. In fact, it’s the slew of resumes better used as kindling that we’ve received for this position that has inspired this post.

First, let’s start with the difference between marketing and advertising. I’ve written about this before on this blog. Advertising is salesmanship expressed through a different medium. Advertising is the practice of taking whatever you’re selling, and expressing its virtues through print, TV, radio, you name it. Advertising is the message.

What is a Marketing Analyst?Marketing, on the other had, is the practice of getting your advertising message in front of as large an audience of the right people as your budget will allow. So, once you have that message, you need to figure out how to put it in front of potential customers. You need to ask where your potential client spends their time? What media do they consume? Which websites do they visit? What keywords do they search on? How expensive is it to bid on those keywords or optimize my site to rank organically for those terms? What does an ad cost in a specific publication and how many people get that publication?

In short, marketing is a lot more than just advertising.

If you’ve never had a job that required you to be results accountable and measured the effectiveness of your marketing or advertising campaign (regardless of what you called it) then you haven’t been in marketing. You’ve been in advertising or copy writing or PR.

Often, Marketing and Product Management go hand-in-hand. Why? Well, a Product Manager is going to look at costs and what those costs get them. The cost of building a new feature and how many new customers that might satisfy or existing customer the new feature may help to retain. A marketer is going to look at an ad buy or the amount spent monthly on, say, SEO, and then look at what sales were produced by that component of their budget. Both are trying to maximize or optimize their budget to get the most positive effect on the business.

Marketing Analyst Job

If you want experience with marketing, but no one is going to give you the job, you can do this yourself – that is, if you’re in one of those non-marketing “marketing” jobs;

  1. Start by figuring out what you think is success: maybe it’s traffic to a website or the number of users who fill out a form on your website. Maybe it’s the number of people who open your email newsletter or the number of folks who click on a link in that newsletter.
  2. Now, take a benchmark. Look at a few newsletters and look at your open rate, look at your click-through rate, and write these metrics down. Next, ask yourself, what can I do to improve these numbers?
  3. Make an “Educated Guess” Change. If there are 12 things you could do, pick the one which you think will have the biggest impact and make only that change. Now, compare your numbers. You may have to do this several times to see a change.
  4. Benchmark and Repeat. Now, with your new benchmark, make another change. Repeat.

Now, you’re optimizing. Now, you’re a marketer. If you’ve made a measurable difference in the success rate of the campaign, now you have some experience that you can talk about when you interview for a real online marketing job.

Good luck.

Client Q & A – When to drop a lead from your email list?

Question
Will asks: “Do you have any statistical info on when it’s a good time to cut incubating leads loose?”

Answer
Our general rule of thumb is to NEVER take someone off your list. ex. I just closed a deal with a client that was put on our email list about 3 years ago. I hadn’t heard boo from them in 2.5 years and then, 6 months ago, I get a call saying that they’ve been getting our newsletter and they want to talk. The deal closed on Monday.

Think about this. Someone might have thought about buying 3 years ago and registered on your site to search for property. Instead they rented and stayed in the same rental for 4 years. Now, it’s time to buy again and they get an email from you. Your monthly newsletter just got you an active buyer client.

Here’s another thought – someone comes along and registers to search MLS but buys with a C21 agent because they walked into an open house and loved the place so put in an offer with the rookie who was staffing it on a Sunday morning. The C21 kid quit the industry last year because he couldn’t make a real living at the real estate game. Now, it’s time to sell because the family needs to upgrade since their second kid is on the way. Your email marketing piece arrives. They call you.

Fact is that everyone moves – I still get emails from Realtors and I bought my home 7 years go…

Direct Mail vs SEO for Real Estate

I almost can’t believe that I wrote that headline?

Yesterday, I spoke with a guy who told me he wanted to run a direct mail campaign to drive traffic to his website and capture leads to “farm” (his word) into clients.

Now, first let me say that farming a cache of leads is a great strategy. You can source your leads lots of ways. We recommend a strong online marketing campaign including strong real etstate seo efforts, ppc, email marketing, and a highly accountable reporting system. direct mail

So, this guy isn’t completely off the mark. Yes, your database of leads and customers is gold. You need to nourish this list and grow it. The more qualified users you can drive to your site, the more leads you will generate. If your site is well built to convert real estate buyers, sellers, and renters into leads, then the more traffic you have the more leads you should have.

As we’ve mentioned many times on this blog, you need to consider the cost of each lead. What did you pay to acquire the lead? If you paid $4000 for 8000 clicks (that’s $0.50 per click or site visitor) on Google Adwords and that generated 400 leads, then you paid $10 per lead. Got it?

Well, let’s think about this direct mail campaign that the guy on the phone wanted to deploy. He’s going to spend money sending those mail pieces upfront. Let’s say he sends our 10,000 pieces at $0.40 each. That’s $4000.

Now, he told me that these mailings were going to direct the users to his website. So, how many of the recipients will actually go to a website on a postcard? Here’s where the plan falls off the tracks.

It’s not likely that many of the recipients will actually go to the website. I don’t know about you, but I toss those mailers in the trash. I pick up my mail on the way into my building and the next thing I do is filter out the junk mail straight into the garbage.

So, if our friendly realtor is lucky, he’ll get maybe 5 or 10% of the recipients visiting his site. If the site was fantastic and converted leads at 10% (which is pretty high) he’d have 10000 x 0.1 x 0.1 = 100 leads. That’s $40/lead. Honestly, the cost would likely be even higher.

Bottom line – For real estate marketing campaigns, SEM, SEO and PPC are far better investments than direct mail. And please don’t be fooled and think that you can generate web traffic efficiently using traditional marketing like direct mail.

Hopefully, we just saved you some time and money.

It’s not 1989 any more

Do you remember the world 20 years ago? No computers on desks at work. No email. No Internet. Forget about Google (started just 12 years ago) and social media was a gathering of newspaper reporters.  :O)

Please name for me 1 thing that you do in the same way that you did back in 1980. Just one thing that’s done in the same way. Something that hasn’t been affected by technology, made faster, or eliminated altogether? Is there anything at all that’s the same?

Do you communicate the same way you did back in 1989? The same phone? The same typewriter? Has your job been changed by technology? Of course it has. If it has not, you’re probably a painter. Even if you’re a painter, I’m sure the way you sell your painting has probably changed. Unless you’re that guy on the street corner selling your art, and I suspect, if you’re reading this post, that’s not you.

What about your marketing campaign, are you marketing the same way you were in 1989? If you said yes, then you need to wake up!

Best practices in real estate marketing have changed a lot. The unfortunate fact is that lots of real estate agents are marketing themselves and their services in the same way they always have. If the only significant affect of technology to your marketing has been the way you generate listing sheets, it’s time to get with it.

The really shocking thing is that there are lots of BIG real estate firms that still haven’t embraced the internet. They’re not leveraging SEO or PPC or social media. If they are, it’s a small percentage of their marketing budget.

Developers are some of the biggest culprits out there, or I should say, it’s the marketing firms that work with developers. These guys are spending a lot of money – I’m talking about hundred of thousands or often millions of dollars – on the same media and sales methods that they used in 1989. I invite you to look at the marketing budget for a development in your area. If you live in NYC or maybe LA, then this might not be as true, but just look at where they’re spending their money. What do you see?

Very often you’ll find large print media budgets in marquis local newspapers, the same papers who are dying because of drastically reduced circulation. You’ll find huge budgets on branding firms to design expensive brochures and folders filled with highly designed collateral. There will be special attention paid to press releases (ok, that’s a little better) and flowers for the model unit. Even with all of this spending, the real estate marketing firm that reps the place is probably still taking a full split.

If you find a website on that budget, you probably won’t find much online marketing to support it. An email marketing plan? A SEO retainer with a good SEO firm? A PPC ad buy? A CRM system? Is any of this on there and does that budget rival the print budget? I doubt it. Have they invested in a good CRM system for the sales center or model unit staff? Is technology going to help them sell the units in inventory any faster? If not then you know as well as I do that an opportunity is being missed.

OK, for you analysts out there, I know what your comment is going to be before I even ask. You want to know why a budget should be allocated. Or, maybe the question is not why there needs to be an online marketing budget, but is it actually a better investment? The answer is unequivocally yes. We’ve done the math for many projects and over many years. SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, the online marketing 4 some, you might say, are by far more cost effective marketing investments for real estate marketing.

If, by chance, that budget you’re examining does have some online marketing on there and leads are, by chance, being associated with media buys or sources, do the math. Calculate the cost/lead and you’ll find that the online leads generated are costing half if not less than half of the leads from traditional media.

So, please ask yourself again. Am I using the same real estate marketing methods that I was 20 years ago? If you are, it’s time to innovate.

SEO is a mean, not an end

Are you proud of your ranking? Are you psyched that you’ve got so many Twitter followers? Do you have 1000 friends on Facebook?

Well, all of those are indeed reasons to celebrate, but not too much. It’s like the old saying goes: That, and a token, will get you a ride on the subway.

At the end of the day, there’s no revenue generated directly from being at the top of the SERPs. No one is paying you to be your Facebook friend and Twitter followers aren’t a revenue stream. These are all means to an end. The end goal, of course, is revenue.

Let’s examine this process. A user is out there on the web, they’re tweeting, let’s say, or they’re searching for a real estate agent on Google. The first goal is for them to find you and click to your site. Great. Step 1 is implete, you’ve generated traffic. users are clicking on your organic listings which rank high because of all that SEO you’ve invested in.

Now, the user arrives at your site. What do they find? Is your site engaging? Can they easily find what they’re looking for? Are they compelled to sign up and become a lead? We’ve written many times on this blog about the fact that SEO is a WASTE if your site isn’t any good. It’s true that we often have clients contact us for SEO services and we tell them that we’ll need to redesign their website before doing any SEO. Otherwise, they simply wouldn’t see any benefit from our SEO services. Some folks out there, some in real estate and some in other industries, think that SEO gets you clients. Well, it doesn’t.

SEO is a means, not an end.

So, let’s be optimistic. The user found you, they arrived at your site. They became engaged. They even signed up and converted from a user into a lead. What now? Does a lead = money in your pocket? No, a real estate buyer or seller lead is only worth cash when the deal closes.

That said, it’s easier to understand the value of a lead. The closer you get to the transaction and the smaller the numbers get, the easier it becomes to assign a dollar value to each unit. If in a 1 month period you generate 100 leads and sell even just 5 of them a home, and your monthly marketing budget is $2000 that means you’re spending $20/lead and your customer acquisition cost is $400/customer.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We have search engine ranking producing website visitors. The visitors are converting into buyer and seller leads. Now we want deals. How do we maximize the conversion of those leads into deals. Here are two ways.

First, email marketing is essential. Lots of your leads will not come back to your site unless they’re prodded to do so. Send them nightly listing updates. Send them your newsletter. Email marketing is the best way to re-engage a lead. It’s also the best way to stay in touch with your past clients, a source of repeat business, referrals, and testimonials (which are great for SEO).

Second, your site needs to be a resource to the buyer. They’ll keep coming back, and therefore be more likely to convert into a deal, if they are engaged with the tools on your site. Your property search should be fully featured. A user should create an account and save favorite listings, save favorite searches, take notes, save and edit their listing update criteria, and communicate directly with you, right through the site.

To review:

  1. The user finds you on Google or Twitter or where ever
  2. They become engaged by your site’s design and functionality.
  3. Conversion from a user into a lead
  4. User returns to the site as their buying or selling resource.
  5. Conversion into a client signaled by a deal closing.

Remember, steps 1 through 4 are all means to an end. It’s like my football coach used to say, “you can celebrate when you cross the goal line.”

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