If ever there were a field where marketing was vital — both for yourself and your clients — it’s real estate. With sites like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com attracting the lion’s share of online real estate search traffic, it’s more important than ever to make yourself visible, find your own voice, and put a personal touch to your services. Today I want to tell you about a residential realtor doing just that.
I love Doug’s website for many reasons, but most of all it’s the feeling it evokes (good marketing is all about feeling, right?). It’s like a casual introduction from a friend, and I left his site with the sense that I could trust him to have my family’s best interests at heart. Let’s break down the elements of Doug’s website that make it a good case study for Lovable Marketing.
Doug is using the Minimum Pro theme available at Studiopress and customized by a talented designer/developer. The layout and color palette is clean, the content scrolls over a pleasing background photo, and the menu is fixed to the top of the screen so you can access it no matter how far down the page you scroll.
I also like that on the home page Doug asks simply, “What’s Your Situation?” and leads you to appropriate advice based on whether you’re a buyer, a seller, or considering relocating to the area.
Built on HTML5, the site is mobile responsive, meaning that it seamlessly adapts its layout to every device. Whether you’re on a computer, a tablet, an iPhone or Android, you’ll be able to read Doug’s blog exactly as it was meant to be read.
If you’d like a slick website design like Doug’s, here are two WordPress themes I recommend specifically for realtors (I can customize these for you, if you’d rather not do it yourself):
A few years ago I noticed that virtually all real estate sites seemed to show the same MLS listings, so, I decided to create a distinct real estate blog to share my local insight … topics based on recent client experiences, buying custom homes, and more learned over the past twenty years. Since I work with sellers and buyers, it gives me a unique perspective and strategy to share with my clients.
Doug gets it — he’s been blogging since 2009 and has amassed a collection of over 300 posts, ranging from a photo series on a custom home construction, to what first time buyers should expect in terms of closing costs. He takes real questions from his clients — inquiries he’s probably answered hundreds of times — and addresses them in a natural, conversational tone that people can relate to.
His blog reminds me of my favorite NYC attorney, who rather than putting a one-page FAQ on his site, answers client questions in blog post form. It’s quintessential Inbound, and a great way to SEO (search engine optimize) your site with the keywords you want to rank for. It also makes for a more organized website and better user experience, since you can sort your posts by categories.
You can accomplish the same results quite easily: make a list of common real estate questions from your clients, both buyers and sellers. If you’re a confident writer, go ahead and turn your answers into a series of straightforward blog posts.
If the thought of writing gives you hives, recruit a real estate-challenged friend and have them ask you the questions on your list. Using your phone or another mic’d up device, record your conversation. Speak naturally and you’ll have something authentic and educational to transcribe into a blog post (if you have an iPhone, try the Rev Voice Transcription App … it will email your conversation to you, then all you have to do is add a title, edit and post!).
Who knows, your guinea pig friend may even ask some unexpected follow-up questions that you can turn into articles you wouldn’t have written otherwise.
3: Use of Video
Another thing Doug does well is he uses video to tell his story. He has about 40 video-based blog posts in which he visits specific properties, but I really like the video below because it appears right at the top of his website’s “About” page. It instantly gives you a sense for who he is, and that he’s an experienced realtor who thinks outside the box. It’s also unscripted (he’s driving, after all), so it feels really genuine.
4: Local Flavor & Resources
As a real estate agent, you have valuable insight to offer clients about the communities you serve. Buyers want to know about schools, health care, shopping, cultural events, recreational activities, and everything in between.
Doug does a great job in the “Living Here” section of his blog, where he describes local events, news, and changes to the town. He even invites guest bloggers to provide their own perspective, through reporting on children’s programs and bike excursions.
Again, this is so easy to do on your own — make a list of all the things your region can (and can’t) offer prospective home buyers, and make that information available on your website. You can even use your site to recommend contractors, electricians, plumbers, real estate attorneys, etc. that you’ve come to trust over the years.
5: Organic Publicity
I was going to make this section about Social Media (because Doug does that quite well too), but thought publicity would be a better way to end this post. See, everything Doug has accomplished through his blogging and creating a personable online extension of himself, led to better SEO and an ideal Google search ranking.
By appearing at the top of Google for searches on Vienna, Virginia, a reporter from CNN Money Magazine was able to reach out to him last year and ask him what it was like to live there … a month later, the magazine named Vienna the 3rd Best Place to Live in the U.S., and Doug was mentioned in the print version of the article. What could be better than free advertising in Money?!
If you’d like to generate some free publicity, check out HARO (Help A Reporter Out) — an aggregation of reporters and bloggers looking for expert sources. With the free “basic” account, you’ll receive 3 emails daily with reporter questions. If you see one you can answer, do it. If they choose to publish your contribution, it’s free advertising for you and a high quality link to your website!
You can do what Doug is doing and it’s not as expensive as you probably think. You don’t need to hire an SEO expert, or pay thousands for someone to design your website. Find a pre-made website theme for agents, and start blogging answers to the questions people ask you every day. It really is that easy.
Have questions? I love talking about this stuff, so email me!