The National Association of REALTORS® is on a coast-to-coast tour this summer, featuring local real estate tech stars. This month, Tech Edge was in Minneapolis, where presenters discussed everything from data-driven marketing to virtual showings.
Here are six takeaways from the event that brokers can share with their agents or put to use in their own business.
1. Articulate the hows and whys.
Two of the most common real estate questions asked online are “What can I afford?” and “How’s the market?” Savvy brokers and agents can preemptively answer these questions on their website, on social media, and in blog posts for shoppers in their markets. The key is to give local context and data, says Nobu Hata, director of digital engagement for NAR. Also, don’t be afraid of Zillow and Trulia; they provide fodder for communicating with consumers. A simple way to use Zillow’s Zestiments when marketing to sellers: Include the data Zestimate in an e-mail or direct mailing, explain why it’s wrong, and offer to do an updated comparative market analysis for free.
2. Check out the next big thing in 3-D home tours.
You’ve probably heard of Matterport, a camera that assembles images to create a three-dimensional, immersive home-tour experience. But you probably haven’t heard of Toursler — yet. Brandon Doyle, an agent with RE/MAX Results in Maple Grove, Minn., is a proponent of virtual selling technology. During his Tech Edge presentation, he admitted to recently trading in his Matterport camera for the services of a local pro photographer who offers Toursler. Like Matterport, Toursler is a 3-D system, but it also includes a navigation panel within the virtual tour player with a built-in floor-plan map. Toursler also offers high-res images of the listing, starting at $299 for the whole tour up to 1,200 square feet. Whatever system you use, 3-D tours offer potential buyer a sense of the texture and feel of a home before even stepping foot inside. “If you’re looking for a point of differentiation, this will set you apart,” says Doyle, who has seen a 700 percent increase in engagement with his listings that have 3-D tours as opposed to those that don’t, with the average view time going from 12 seconds to 3 to 7 minutes. Find out if Toursler is available in your area.
3. Use benchmarking data.
Put your brand forward by using MLS or REALTORS Property Resource® reports in marketing. David Arbit, research manager at the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®, laid out a simple four-step process for using data in marketing.
- Pick your area, be it a county, city, neighborhood or school district.
- Choose your metric, such as seller activity, active listings, closed activity, days on market, median sales price, or other factor..
- Select a variable like single-family homes, foreclosures, new construction, or condos.
- Select a time frame (month, year, or other duration).
From there, create a report and compare the MLS data to your own personal sales data. If you’re outperforming your market, that’s a value point you need to be communicating to potential clients. Maybe your average days-on-market figure is shorter; maybe you’re getting a higher sales price in a particular neighborhood. Agents and brokers can use their own benchmarking data on their website, direct mailings, or listing presentations.
4. Understand the psychology of social media.
It’s time to start thinking about social media more in the realm of sociology and psychology than technology. So when it comes to your personal Facebook profile, be a person first and a salesperson second, says Gena Henrich, communication manager for Edina Realty in the Twin Cities. In a recent study by web.com, 83 percent of consumers said they are more likely to use a business with a strong social media presence. So leave comments on friends’ photos, share things you enjoy, be thoughtful with your words (spelling counts!), make sure what you’re posing is accurate, and be the best version of yourself. “It’s real conversations and real relationships,” Henrich says. Also, she advises against duplicating posts on all your networks so you don’t spam your multiplatform followers.
5. Blog. It still works.
Teresa Boardman is a real estate agent in St. Paul, Minn., with one of the highest ranked blogs in her local market. How does she do it? She’s not SEO obsessed; she doesn’t put the words “St. Paul” in every headline. She’s just consistent and she writes about stuff that people in her niche neighborhoods care about. “There is such a thing as attraction on the Internet,” Boardman says. Her posts are short and photo-heavy and focus on a small area west of downtown St. Paul. Anyone conducting long-tail searches (three- to four-word phrases) about her market will likely stumble across her blog in the first page of Google’s results. Her biggest piece of advice: “small world domination.” “Don’t try to cover it all,” Boardman says. “It’s not always the big things that will get you clients. Keep it local.”
6. Remind people.
Prospecting is important, but make sure your agents aren’t overlooking people they already know — friends, family, and past clients. “We spend more per month marketing to people we don’t know than marketing to the people we’ve spent months with,” says Jeff Chalmers, the 2015 regional director of communications and technology for the Women’s Council of REALTORS®. Focus on community, he says, and remind people about what you do. Get involved with a local chamber of commerce. Chat with people at businesses you frequent. Forge partnership and then try new marketing tactics like paying your dry cleaner to let you put your logo on their hangers. “You shop in the area; you go to the gym and grocery stores. Get to know [those business owners] and make sure they get to know you,” Chalmers says.
Reprinted from realtormag.realtor.org, June 2015, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright June 2015. All rights reserved. realtormag.realtor.org