By Patty McNease, Director of Marketing Homes.com
Not only are 90 percent of buyers searching online for their next home (NAR), but now according to a Google Consumer Survey, “two in three researched prospective agents extensively online prior to working with them.” These trends, coupled with the rise in mobile search and more Millennials making up a larger slice of the buyer demographic (Google Consumer Survey), make it imperative that real estate professionals invest heavily in their online reputation to connect with this audience.
Having a distinguished web presence is essential for real estate marketing today. This summer saw the highest amount of real estate searches online since 2008 (Google data). Eighty-nine percent of homebuyers search for homes via their mobile device, and 68 percent of them actually contacted a real estate professional based on their mobile search (NAR). Further, Millennials (18-34 year olds) are fully stepping into the housing arena and are twice as likely as 35–54-year-olds to purchase a home within the next year, and 83 percent reported that they will begin their formal search online more than six months in advance of the purchase (Google Consumer Survey).
Managing your reputation is at the heart of succeeding in any business, especially online. Consumers can’t work with you if they can’t find you or haven’t heard of you. Or worse, people have heard of you, but for the wrong reasons and choose someone else. Based on these trends, it’s clear that brokers and agents need to be more proactive when it comes to reputation management. Let’s explore three best practices to increase your online visibility so buyers will select you during their research.
1. Register your business on online business directories. Setup a profile on Yelp, Google, CitySearch and others with your contact information, web and social pages so that you’ll populate when buyers search for real estate in your local area. These sites also offer clients the opportunity to leave reviews and testimonials about their experience working with you which you can later promote within your marketing materials. Also, create a free agent profile on Homes.com to be included in the agent directory, and add your social channels and a video to increase your web presence even further.
2. Make sure your social media pages are firing on all cylinders. Stay active on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter to connect with buyers and sellers. Share relevant content with them – not just your listings and industry news, but material, especially photos and videos, that will present you as a local expert and genuine person who is passionate about your community.
Having a strong social presence and engaging in two-way conversations with your connections is a great way to network with others, especially when building relationships with millennials who spend three hours a day on social networking sites (Statista). Additionally, forty-eight percent of this age group spends more time watching videos than the average user (comScore). To that end, share videos that capture amenities that millennials value like the neighborhood, school district and high-speed internet-ready homes (Google Consumer Survey).
3. Provide helpful, educational content and resources. With fifty percent of all Millennials visiting real estate websites in July, including 36 percent who visited them on mobile devices (comScore Media-Metrix data), it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that many of them are first-time buyers. To that end, this would be a fitting opportunity to promote educational resources like a Home Buyer Guide or the First-Time Homebuyer Mortgage Checklist. Homes.com’s consumer resource library offers valuable tools that will guide buyers through the home buying process and leave you top of mind. Post quick tips on your social pages and write short blogs that first-timers can appreciate and highlights your expertise.
With two out of three buyers researching real estate professionals online, and most of them from mobile devices, you can’t afford to neglect your online reputation. Establish a strong online footprint and use innovative technology to help you keep up with it. Homes.com offers a comprehensive social media suite, Homes.com Social, which is specifically designed to help real estate professionals build an audience, increase engagement and protect your online reputation.
For more information on Homes.com advertising and marketing products, visit http://connect.homes.com.