Digital marketing can seem like a minefield to navigate when you are first starting out. REB sat down with Mark Armstrong, CEO and co-founder of RateMyAgent, to learn how you can jump on the digital marketing bandwagon.
Real Estate Business: What are the main advantages for agents of using a digital marketing strategy?
Mark Armstrong: If your brand’s not online, you may as well be invisible. It’s where first impressions are made. One of the greatest advantages of digital marketing is that it offers targeted reach, tracking and clear ROI. Print media doesn’t. Vendors are now online, not searching their local paper, so that’s where successful agents need to be.
REB: What are the main things agents want from their marketing and how can digital marketing deliver?
MA: Agents want leads, and that’s what their marketing efforts should deliver. Sharing personalised feedback is key to hooking new vendors. Reviews are content which can fuel an agent’s digital marketing. A study by Brightlocal showed 92 per cent of consumers search online for reviews to determine the quality of a small business. Being online without vendor feedback is like fishing without a hook. The fish is there but they can’t find you.
REB: Many agents rely on their personal branding. How can digital marketing play a role and what is best practice?
MA: With a good digital strategy, it shouldn’t be up to the agent to build their personal brand. Their customers should be doing this for them, and I see reviews as the key to success. According to the NAR [National Association of Realtors in the US], 72 per cent of vendors in 2015 only contacted one real estate agent before choosing the ‘right’ one. This means that almost three-quarters of America vendors use online research to choose an agent – I call it the digital interview – and Australia is going the same way.
REB: How easy is it for agents to put together and implement a digital marketing strategy?
MA: With the right marketing platform, agents can get access to all the tools they need to build a successful strategy in one place. This saves time and money – two things agents value highly.
Implementing a digital strategy should be simple.
1. Set it up. Reach out to expert sites and make use of the tools developed.
2. Be consistent. A good platform will offer an agent content to keep their strategy moving and offer them an always-on component so they’re always discoverable.
The key is to keep it simple and use a platform that’s been specifically developed for agents to digitally market themselves.
REB: How can agents identify the best digital marketing platforms to use?
MA: An agent’s job is to list and sell property. It’s what they excel at. Their job isn’t to run a digital marketing platform, so they should look for one that sets them up for online success. The best digital platforms are affordable and don’t eat into, or attack, an agent’s commission. Agents should choose a platform that offers them unique content – such as personal reviews – clearly showcases their latest sales and results, and gives them tools to share it.
REB: What are some digital marketing pitfalls agents should be aware of and avoid?
MA: The biggest pitfalls are lack of consistency and overcomplicating your strategy. Digital marketing is something you can’t neglect. Pick a solution that makes things simple for you to manage. Ideally, you want to make sure you have content to share. Agents shouldn’t shy away from customer feedback. In the digital space, this feedback is key to success as it gives people searching your name valuable results.
REB: What are your three digital marketing top tips – dos and don’ts?
MA: Here they are:
1. DO harness that power of customer feedback. People use customer feedback to make decisions online, make sure it’s displayed in a place that people can find it. No one’s going to find a customer review on your office desk. Your reviews need to be on a public platform.
2. DO be consistent. Your digital marketing strategy should be an ingrained part of your business and become a central part of your office processes. Make it a habit.
3. DON’T ignore it. The biggest mistake people make is not doing anything. We’re nearly in 2017 and it’s important to take advantage of what can be achieved online. Customers expect to find agents there and are searching for them. If your agent profile can’t be found online, you may as well not exist.