Digital Marketing for Real Estate Agents

“Ninety-two percent of all home buyers use the internet at some point in their home search, 42% use the internet as their first step in their home search.” (Zillow, 2015)

“A recent Zillow Group survey of homebuyers and sellers demonstrates that this year, 28 percent of buyers age 50 and younger now find the real estate agent they purchase a home through via the internet.”

I’m not a coach, and I’m not trying to sell you my marketing services. I’ve spent the past 8 years in internet marketing, with a specialty in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Financial Advisors, and am now trying to apply that knowledge to my own real estate business.

Despite the availability of internet marketing tools and resources, I’m amazed at how dependent most of the industry is on “old school” sales techniques. A majority of leading coaches, trainers, authors, and top producers across the country are preaching the same strategies – prospecting – cold calling and/or door knocking.

While these strategies have clearly worked for many successful agents in the past (and are still working in the present), I question their long-term viability, efficiency, or necessity as a strategy for ALL agents.

To be clear, I am not ready to declare “the end of prospecting” in real estate. While all of my leads and clients in my marketing business were either inbound (rather than disruption based outbound marketing) leads or referrals, that has not been the case in real estate – yet.

Instead, this blog will outline my efforts and experiences, both positive and negative, in attempting to build a digital real estate business.

Can Digital Marketing Replace Prospecting in Real Estate?

If you ask those “prospecting proponents”, many of them will tell you that it’s not going to happen, in fact, some will tell you you’re wasting your time worrying about online marketing at all.

Of course, that’s what the establishment in the music, video, travel, newspaper, and publishing businesses said too. In fact, it’s what most Advisors said back in 2009 before the more recent rush to the web.

Is Real Estate the ONE industry that inbound marketing doesn’t work for? Possible. There are certainly challenges that are unique to real estate, on the other hand . . . ?

I know that I hate being on the receiving end of cold calls or having a stranger knocking at my door to sell to me, and most consumers are telling us that they don’t want to be marketed to in this manner either. They are  going out of their way to sign up for “do not call” lists, advocating for “no solicitation” neighborhoods, listening to ad-free music, and streaming commercial-free TV programming.

In addition, the data shows that consumer behaviors are shifting in the real estate market:

  • Ninety-two percent of all home buyers use the internet at some point in their home search
  • 42% use the internet as their first step in their home search
  • 28% of buyers under 50, found their agent online

There’s no reason to think that these trends won’t continue.

Building a Real Estate Business

I will be detailing the marketing efforts and changes I make along the way.  SEO, blogging, video, and paid advertising will be focal points of our digital marketing strategies.

Does this mean I’m ignoring “old school” marketing altogether? Heck no! 🙂

I know from experience that digital marketing takes time to develop, and while I hope that it allows me to one day eliminate traditional prospecting, I need clients today and traditional prospecting is the fastest and cheapest route to those early clients. Additionally, if I’m going to write about what works and what doesn’t, I really need to try it . . . don’t I?

I will be making phone calls and open houses prominent spokes in my marketing efforts, and will address my experiences with those traditional strategies as well.