Archive for the ‘Real Estate Innovation’ Category
After reading a great – and true – blog post on “7 Reasons Your Blog Sucks (and What to Do About It)”, I had to comment and share my thoughts. Blogging about real estate can often be frustrating: trying to generate interesting, consistent, and good-quality content frequently can be a daunting task. What’s more, that in the real estate industry, readers aren’t exactly actively engaging with blogs or becoming loyal fans and followers.
That’s not to say that this isn’t possible. Usually the problem is either lame content and not being consistent with your content. Don’t forget, it takes more than the bare minimum of just throwing content once a week up on your blog: you are competing for your readers – and potential customers – online attention. And if we know anything about browsing the web, the online reader isn’t a patient one.
Here are some top mistakes that we see non-real estate SEO clients make every day, and some tips on how you can think about blogging differently to overcome them.
1.) No content strategy goals
You either don’t have a goal, or are all over the place. Take a minute to think about where you are trying to go with your blog and what statement you want to make. Are you writing to build a brand, build influence, or increase your leads? Your goals will shape your blogging strategy, and you need to make sure this message is conveyed accurately internally.
2.) Internal resources aren’t organized
Who writes your content and manages your social media profiles? My guess is, you’ve got one person for your company that you hope is blogging at least once a week. Identify who this person or team will be, whether its a requirement of all your agents to post once a day, or you and an intern writing once a week. If you don’t have a blog yet, start small and test-run a Sequoia real estate website with blog feature for 6 months to see how your business benefits. Create a solid team, and compile data to have a common ownership of the blog within your company.
3.) Real Estate niche is undefined
As with businesses in general, its so much better to have a specialized niche. The same applies to your blog: the less your posts are all over the place, the less targeted your message and your audience will be. Think about your target market and what they want – now how can you solve their problems? What are they concerned about?
4.) Not listening to your audience or clients
We tell clients that blogging is the best way to assert yourself as an expert in your field of real estate. But how can you position your company as an educator if you don’t know what your clients’ problems are? There are great “listening” tools like Google Alerts or Radian6 that you can employ to be on top of the latest news and issues of your market. From here, you can generate blog material in reaction to what you read.
5.) Your blog is boring
Here is where we have to be honest. Many real estate agents and brokers are not really writers, and the content your blog pushes out reflects that. It may be worth bringing in some fresh perspective with younger interns or agents that have expressed interest in writing to help stimulate interesting blog ideas to give you different angles to pursue.
Try and be the journalist that attracts your readers’ attention. Stories are everywhere, from interacting with clients to your kid’s dentist appointments. You can also tie in a recent news event or real estate market development: and the faster you are with these, the better. Have a defined, committed point of view – and finish it off with a great headline, like a “How-To” post or “Are You Paying Too Much To Sell Your Home?”
6.) Lack of authentic material
People don’t care about press releases. Sorry. They want to talk and leave comments for actual people, not droning company robots. Here’s where speaking about your personal experiences really comes into play – “I just met with this seller, and ran screaming from the house…” These are memorable, and make people connect to what you are writing about. And, clients prefer to work with “real” people.
7.) No publishing system
We emphasize constantly that consistent blogging is horribly important. However, there is a system that should be put into place. It starts by monitoring relevant and trending topics, aggregating the “noise” into relevant topics, creative writing and editing, and ends with measurement with Google Analytics. You need to have this process in a calendar to make sure you meet deadlines consistently, and over time you will become more efficient as blogging becomes part of you or your team’s routine.
8.) No “BOOM!” Ending
Remember in high school when your teacher told you to write a captivating conclusion that leaves the reader in reflection of what they just wrote? Don’t leave your readers hanging. Pull it all together, and throw some punch in there. Also don’t forget to continue the momentum with a strong call-to-action.
So go forth and make your blog the best it can be. Social media sites move quickly, and every reader that bounces of your blog is another opportunity lost. Don’t be overwhelmed by this list: tackle one issue at a time, and over the upcoming weeks your blog will be back on track.
After such an overwhelming positive response to our October post on QR codes, we’ve decided to write a follow-up blog post on QR codes and their role with online real estate marketing and how to implement them.
To refresh your memory, a QR (Quick Response) code is a machine-readable 2D image, similar to a barcode. They can be read by scanners or by applications on smart phones, which then directs the user to any URL that the QR code owner desires. And in the world of real estate, QR codes are becoming increasingly popular as a fast and easy way to connect online initiatives with offline marketing. These codes make it much easier for people to visit your real estate website or individual property listings directly from their smartphones. And using sophisticated Google Analytics software, which we at Boston Logic utilize for our real estate SEO client campaigns, you can for the first time track the effectiveness of a print campaign!
Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate QR codes into your real estate marketing strategy:
- QR Codes On Sign Riders. Adding a Quick Response code to your sign rider can be a fast and convenient way for buyers to get additional information about the home while standing in front of property for sale. This makes the problem of running out of property flyers a thing of the past, as you can create QR codes that direct the user to a detailed website with photos, comprehensive descriptions, and even view documents on the property.
- Property flyers. Property flyers themselves are a great tool to utilize a QR code. You can direct potential buyers back to your real estate website for more information, additional pictures, documents and even the virtual tour.
- Event or Open House Information. Do you frequently blog about or feature on your website open houses for your available properties? You can make this content more available and drive more traffic to these web pages and posts by having a QR code direct to these pages on any of your marketing materials, such as post cards. – You can create a QR code to provide additional information about upcoming events or even directions and the date and time for an open house.
These are just 3 of the many ways to utilize QR codes to make real estate print advertising clickable. Not only do they direct users to the information they are looking for while browsing for properties, but it will also gain much appreciation from your sellers as a viable real estate online marketing tactic.
Getting started with Quick Response codes for real estate is easy, and can be done in a matter of steps! Here’s the process to help you get started:
1) Get a QR Code generator. While there are many to choose from, we find that QRreateBuzz is highly recommended due to its superior tracking capabilities. For a quick start, you can also visit qrstuff.com.
2) Download QR Code Reader. To read the QR codes that you generate, you’ll need the QR code reader app on your smart phone. You can find the app by going to your iTunes account for download.
3) Get organized. Pick the properties you’d like to get started marketing with your QR codes. Make sure you have appropriate landing pages, then generate the code accordingly.
Have you utilized the power of QR code real estate online marketing? We are always eager to hear your results!
With the increasing use of “instant” devices, it’s no surprise that yet another tool in line with IMs and texting has emerged. This new tool is the “Quick Response”, or QR code. We recently had a client incorporate QR codes into their listings on their real estate website design, and we wanted to write up a quick post on what exactly QR codes are, and how they can be applied to real estate marketing.
How do QR codes work? Currently, a person with a cellphone with QR enabled code-reader software can take a picture of a QR code on their phone, and will be taken to the website for that QR code. Pretty cool, huh?
In order to benefit from the codes, the target customer must have a web-enabled phone: a trend that is becoming more common and continues to increase as time passes. Then the user can take a picture of the QR code, and be brought to the specific cellphone-optimized web page that the company’s web marketer wants them to see. These codes can also be anywhere – they are in print ads, brochures, outdoor advertising, etc.
For a retail example, Ralph Lauren is using QR codes to direct their buyers to a website for taking clothing orders directly from their phones. That’s great, but how can we use this tool in real estate?
There’s actually some innovative marketing going on in the real estate field. One example is having QR Code Lawn Signs, which not only has a very high “cool factor”, but also give the potential lead easy access to a real estate website with color photos and full detail listing information. You also do not have to have the sign at the home for sale: you could place to code anywhere, such as in at a local home show or open house – and your website listing will get traffic .Remember, you can also have a code for your personal website as well by placing it in your advertisements or business cards.
So let’s put on our real estate internet marketing caps and think about the business potential. The number of users that will have phones capable of using the codes will jump dramatically in the next year or so, and many businesses could see more targeted traffic to custom listing sites from the QR codes. Start to consider now whether creating a QR code plan would work best for you, your business, and your potentials.
Facebook Announces ‘Facebook Places’ and purchase of Hot Potato!
Facebook recently announced a new geolocation feature for its users, Facebook Places. You may be familiar with other geolocation services, such as the start-ups Foursquare, Gowalla, or Hot Potato. Hot Potato was recently acquired by Facebook, which has brought all eight Hot Potato employees on-board, presumably to expand and develop Facebook Places.
In a statement released to Mashable.com, Facebook announced, “We’re excited to confirm that we recently acquired Hot Potato, a service that helps people socialize around live events and share what they’re doing with friends. We’ve admired for some time how Hot Potato is tackling this space and look forward to working with them to bring Hot Potato innovations to Facebook.”
Will Facebook Places eliminate these other small geo-location services? Only time will tell. Foursquare and Gowalla offer fun game-like features with their services, and often work with business to offer discounts for users. Facebook Places doesn’t offer any of these features yet. One thing’s for certain, though- Facebook serves over 500 million users compared with Foursquare’s 3 million users, and Gowalla has even less. Also worth noting is the strong relationship between Facebook and Yelp. I can only imagine there will be more integration with Yelp and Facebook Places in the future.
But how does Facebook Places work? How will this new feature be implemented and effect user privacy? How can Business Owners capitalize on Facebook Places?
Facebook Places Basics:
Facebook Places is currently only available to some users in the united States and on the Facebook iPhone app. Places will be available to other smart phones that support HTML 5 geolocation, such as the Droid, in the near future.
Places works by allowing Facebook users to ‘check in’ to the various locations they visit, such as restaurants and bars, your local library, a friend’s home, etc. by logging into Facebook Places from their phone application or via touch.facebook.com.
Upon checking in, Facebook will announce to your friends that you have arrived at this destination. You can also ‘tag’ your friends that are with you, much like you would tag someone in a photo, and find out who else is currently ‘checked in’. If you tag a friend that is not using Places, it’s just like mentioning their name in a status update.
If you tag someone who is already signed up for and using Facebook Places, it will mention it in their Newsfeed and add them to the ‘checked-in’ list as if they checked-in themselves. The first time you are tagged, Facebook will send you a notice and give you the option of allowing your friends to check you into places or not. You are always notified of when someone checks you into a location, and you can always selectively delete check-ins, much like you can delete a comment on your wall or a status update.
Privacy Concerns with Facebook Places:
Facebook learned a lot (the hard way) when it changed the structure of its Privacy Settings, automatically setting all users’ accounts to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE as the default setting. This time around they have made the automatic sharing settings much more conservative, with the default setting only sharing your location with the people on your Friends list. However, what if you still want more privacy? Maybe your boss is on your Friends list, or you have an ex you’re trying to avoid.
Don’t go deleting your Facebook profile yet! You can customize, or even completely disable the Places feature! Facebook has even made a helpful demo video for you to show exactly how to customize your privacy settings.
Facebook Places for Business:
Right now, Facebook Places is in it’s Beta version, so there’s not too much information about how business will be able to interact with it and use it to promote their business, although when Mark Zuckerberg announce Facebook Places he hinted that there is more to come. If Places follows in the footsteps of Foursquare, business could start offering promotions to customers that check in a certain number of times, etc.
In the meantime, if you’re a Business Owner, you should probably log into touch.facebook.com, add your business address, and check in! There still aren’t a lot of businesses listed, and new users will be eager to test the software out and visit new places they find. You should also make sure you have a business listing on Yelp, too. Your clients/ customers can and will add your business to these listing services sooner or later, if they haven’t done so already. It’s in your best interest to be an active member of these online market places. By adding your business to Facebook Places, you are making your business easier for the 500+ million Facebook users- for FREE!
If you want to learn more about Facebook Places, visit the Facebook Blog.
Will asks: “Do you have any statistical info on when it’s a good time to cut incubating leads loose?”
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…