Posts Tagged ‘online marketing plan’
In case you didn’t know, we’re in tough economic times. These economic conditions have drastically cut budgets across the nation and world, leaving meager allowances for marketing and advertising in its wake.
Nonetheless, expectations for 2010 remain optimistic. In a new study released yesterday, StrongMail reveals nine out of ten business executives plan to maintain or increase their marketing budgets. Execs aren’t thinking conventionally for the new decade either, instead the survey’s respondents indicated they were open to marketing strategies that utilize the Internet and maximize their dollar. Next year, 69 and 59 percent of business executives anticipate increasing their email and social media marketing, respectively. Another 42 percent claimed they expect to spend more on search engine initiatives, such as SEO and PPC. The survey’s results indicate a migration to internet marketing tactics, as advertising and direct mailing initiatives are expected by less than 30 percent of execs.
Furthermore, the study showed a desire among business executives to combine the tested and proven tactics of emailing potential customers with social media. Execs did not, however, demonstrate uniform confidence about how they would go about implementing such strategies in the upcoming year. Instead, one out of five executives claimed they had no idea where to begin. With more businesses seeking to establish an online presence in hopes of finding cheaper alternatives to conventional advertising, it is certain that social media marketing and search engine initiatives will play integral roles in the year 2010.
As in all industries, real estate sellers and marketers are seeking more creative and cost effective ways to reach their target audience and make the sale. The number of people who use the Internet to find their new home grows each year. According to the Nationa Association of Realtors 2008 Internet Study, 87% of all home buyers now use the Internet in their search process. But agents and Realtos should not fear this growing statistic…of that 87% who used the Internet, 85% used an real estate agent as opposed to going straight to a builder or home seller. I don’t forsee the need for real estate agents ever changing significantly, at least not in the near future.
What we do see changing however is the way agents, Realtors, builders, home sellers and new home marketers take these properties to market. The days of most traditional media outlets are over for now. Print, radio, and TV are simply not cost effective nor are they measurable. Builders and sellers out there need to use sales and marketing tactics that are cost effective, targeted, and measurable. So how are they doing this? Welcome to the world of Real Estate 2.0.
When we refer to Web 2.0, it essentially means the transformation of the web’s movement from a “read only” platform to a a fully interactive experience where consumers can interact, share information, and buy/sell products and services. Traditionally, many industries have been reluctant to embrace online media regardless of its proven track record for more measurable ROI…simply because its a new medium. Over the past two years we have seem a dramtic shift in not only the real estate industry’s understanding of Internet marketing and all its capabilities, but an actual action taken to implement these strategies.
More and more builders and agents are use Internet marketing to replace traditional media. Everyone is working from a smaller budget and it is essential to track every penny. The only true way to do this is with well-planned integrated online marketing solutions that are properly managed and backed by extensives testing and analytics. Here are some of the marketing channels currently being used to more cost effectively to sell new homes:
Search engine optimization: This is essentially the practice of increasing the quality and volume of traffic to a website through natural search engine rankings. More agents and builders are realizing the long term importance of investing in SEO strategies to continually improve the quality of lead flow. SEO is a true investment as it takes time to see tangible results, especially in an industry as competitive as real estate is online.
Paid Search (Pay Per Click Advertising): PPC is a great tool to drive targeted traffic when organic rankings are not there. PPC can be a quick way to waste money if it is not planned and managed properly. The most effective PPC campaigns have a very targeted key word strategy, use effective landing pages to ensure conversions and leads, and are constantly monitored and adjusted. PPC can also be geo-targetd as well as weekly/daily/hourly targetd to ensure you are hitting the most targeted audience at the highest converting times.
Social Media Marketing: Here is where it gets interesting. The real estate industry has slowly moved into the social media space through blogging and other web 2.0 platforms. Now agents and Realtors as well as builders are actively using social media including blogging, video marketing, Facebook and Twitter strategies, viral contests, etc. The measurable ROI will still come from the same outcome…website traffic growth, eventual leads, conversions, and sales.
Email marketing: Email marketing still does often fall under the Internet marketing umbrella and is always an effective way to capture new business and retarget potential customers. Email marketing has taken over for direct mail as a more powerful, more cost effective, and more GREEN method of reaching out to potential buyers. Email marketing of course like the other elements being discussed must be executed thoughtfully and compliment the overall marketing message. Email newsletters must be compelling and have a clear call to action. Similarly, the landing page that the user is directed to should have the same message and prompt them to act. In real estate, this usually involves capturing the visitor’s information.
The overall idea of an integrated Internet marketing strategy is to follow these basic steps to ensure true synergy between all offline and online marketing components:
- Review and define business goals
- Set aside a realistic budget (for Internet marketing to work, you must commit to it)
- Choose the most appropriate marketing channels to support your goals (i.e. SEO, PPC, Email, Social, etc.)
- Develop a comprehensive plan focused on conversions and meeting business goals
- Ensure all offline elements are complimentary to the online elements
- Launch campaign
- Monitor results
- Make continual adjustments to ensure optimal ROI
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So you have decided that you need a better online marketing plan to enhance your brand and maximize the return you get from your marketing budget. Great idea! Now its time to create that plan and execute! The following suggestions can help you create and implement a plan the is suited specifically to your business.
Research: Just because you have heard that Internet marketing and online media is much more cost effective and measurable than traditional media doen’t mean you can’t waste money using it. You first need to understand your industry, understand how others are using online marketing within your industry, assess the competitive landscape, and discover what interactive online marketing channels are best suited to your industry. Take a look at your industry trade journals and do extensive online research so you can position your company ahead of the curve rather than behind it.
More Research: Now that you have a better understanding of your online competition and how companies like yours are using Internet marketing to gain market share and improve brand exposure you can start looking at the specific marketing channels (i.e. improved website design and function, conversion optimization, search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, landing page strategies, social media, email marketing, online reputation management, etc.).
Look at how companies like yours are using these channels and gain a better understanding of which components are best suited to your company. Doing a little of everything may not be the best idea nor cost effective. The next step will help you assess what channels are the most feasible and then you can work from there.
Budget Discovery: Review your budget and see what funds can be allocated (or reallocated) to your online marketing plan. Chances are you have dollars that you can pull from traditional media. Just because you have been doing the same print adds for 10 years doesn’t mean you should still be using that strategy. One $30,000 print add budget could be used to put together a great 6 to 12 month online marketing plan! And guess what…its measurable, targeted, and more cost effective!
Choose Your Channels: Based on your budget, you can then start putting together your plan by first deciding which aspects of Internet marketing will give you the best ROI. You may have used some of these before and not received a good ROI…don’t be gun shy. Make sure you understand if you were using that channel correctly and measuring your success. For example, maybe you have used PPC advertising before but you don’t think you got a great return. A little research might show that your budget wasn’t appropriate, your ads were not targeted, your titles not compelling, you did not use proper landing pages, etc (i.e. the campaign was not properly managed). Well, without all this you most certainly won’t get a great ROI so don’t be afriad to try again…but do it right!
In-house or Outsourced? I will try to answer this in a non-biased way. Most of the time companies will not have the in-house resources or expertise to handle a full Internet marketing plan. Hiring people in-house to do this for you can be exptremely expensive especially if you are using many different channels. For example if you are using SEO, PPC, and social media you will most likely need a good web designer (for conversion optimization and landing pages), an SEO expert and someone skilled in managing paid search. If any of these people are not skilled in social media marketing then that is another person you may need to hire. Just bringing on interns to handle these strategies will most likely not cut it. It is much more cost effective to have an Internet marketing company help you with ALL of these steps to help you understand your budget needs, what channels to use, and how to implement it.
How to Choose and Internet Marketing Company: Get ready for more research! Look online for some Internet marketing companies and develop a list. Ask people you know that have used firms they liked and trust. Once you have a list you can send out a Request for Proposal. This can be a good place to start but not necessarily recommended. This is a very impersonal way to “interview” companies. I suggest contacting them and setting up face to face meetings. Give them some information about what your goals are and what Internet marketing options you might be interested in. Let them present to you in person so you can meet them, see how they present, and see how much research and time they put into their presentation. If the presentation is “vanilla” and not specific to your company, you may want to think twice. If they do not want to go the extra mile BEFORE signing you as a client they most likely will not once you are a client.
Choose the company that:
- Gives you a great presentation
- Makes you feel a connection and trust
- Has a good client list with testimonials
- Understands your industry and has done their homework
Now you are ready…get adter it!