Real Estate 2.0 – The Upside to a Down Market

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:

  1. Review and define business goals
  2. Set aside a realistic budget (for Internet marketing to work, you must commit to it)
  3. Choose the most appropriate marketing channels to support your goals (i.e. SEO, PPC, Email, Social, etc.)
  4. Develop a comprehensive plan focused on conversions and meeting business goals
  5. Ensure all offline elements are complimentary to the online elements
  6. Launch campaign
  7. Monitor results
  8. Make continual adjustments to ensure optimal ROI

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