As part of my series on real estate marketing best practices for real estate agents, I’ve put together a list of my favorite real estate marketing tools and solutions. These tools and solutions will save you time and money, and most importantly you don’t need to be a technical wizard to use them!
I’m a huge believer that every real estate agent needs their own domain name and a website. As a real estate agent, you’re an independent contractor. In effect, you’re building your own business – and your website (and the information – like your client contact information) is an asset of that business.
Fortunately, thanks to “modern technology”, getting and launching a website is VERY easy. Remember, if you’re just starting out as a real estate agent, you don’t need a fancy website. You only need a website that is professional, represents your brand, and is flexible enough to grow as your real estate business grows.
First, you’ll need a domain name (for example: www.BeautifulMalibu.com). A domain name is what a person types in a web browser to get to your website. Technically, you don’t own a domain name, but rather you rent it on an annual basis from a registrar like GoDaddy (www.GoDaddy.com). They usually cost less than $20 a year – and you can get a custom email address attached to the domain name (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you like (I HIGHLY recommend this!).
Once you have your website domain name, you’ll need a website and find a place to host it. You can hire someone to do this for you, but if you’re just starting out I recommend that you choose a do it yourself service which allows you to easily make and host your website. Inevitably you’ll make a lot of changes in the first few years of being an agent, and if you hire a professional website builder you’re likely to spend a lot of time and money making countless changes.
I think that Wix (www.wix.com) offers a good “all-in-one” service for website building and hosting. They have countless templates (some free, some at a nominal cost) which offer enough variety so that your website doesn’t look like every other agent’s website.
Wix is easy enough for someone with a working knowledge of Microsoft Word to use, and their support is excellent. So unless you have money to burn, or you cannot use Microsoft Word, I’d choose Wix over hiring a professional for your first site.
Within your website you’re going to want to build a sales funnel where you capture the contact information of potential clients … with their permission of course. Typically you’ll entice someone to provide their contact information by providing valuable information (like a local market report) or simply offering to follow up.
And at some point, you’ll want to follow up with those contacts via email. Perhaps you’ll want to send them an invitation to an open house. Or wish them “Happy Holidays”. You could send them each emails individually. Or you could use a email marketing system. (Hint: I recommend that latter!).
MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) and Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) are email marketing systems which offer easy to use interfaces which allow you to build forms to collect the information from the client, and then send them beautiful custom emails. They are very easy to use, and have features that allow you to set up your process once then forget it. For example, you can send a personalized email to each person the first time they sign up – automatically. Or pre-create emails that will be scheduled to be sent months in advance.
Unfortunately, just having a website and email marketing doesn’t cut it anymore. We’re a multi-channel society now, and you’ll need to reach clients across numerous channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Direct Mail, etc. If you’re starting to think that this could be a full time job, well, it could be. (Read my article entitled “The Content Engine for Real Estate Agents” for tips on how to make this whole process manageable). But fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. There are numerous tools and solutions that can make the process of creating content and communicating with your clients easier.
- Customized Hand Written Notes
In a word of digital overload, small touches like hand written cards stand out. But hand writing cards is extremely time consuming. With Postable (www.postable.com) you can automate the process of sending personalized follow up direct mail letters and cards. The best part is that Postable will grow as your marketing efforts become more sophisticated.
- Programmatic Direct Mail
The magic of programmatic direct mail allows you to send personalized direct mail pieces based upon the what the visitor views on your website – even if you don’t have their address! Pebble Post (www.pebblepost.com) identifies anonymous visitors to your website based upon the visitor having previously registered at another website, watches where they go on your website, and automatically sends them a preconfigured postcard based upon the pages of the website they visit. So if they visit your web page showing condo listings, they’ll get a follow up postcard about condos. Quick note: Pebble Post works best for agents with significant traffic coming to their website.
- Lead Capture
Almost everyone wants to know how much their home is worth. If you’re trying to attract home sellers, Corefact Home Estimate (www.corefact.com) is a clever tool. The homeowner receives a direct mail piece which leads them to a website where they can get an instant listing price estimate. And you capture their contact information, which can be fed into a marketing drip campaign!
- CRM System
Keeping track of your current and prospective clients can be challenging. Contractually (www.contractually) is a full CRM (customer relationship management) solution suite which streamlines how you communicate with current and prospective clients.
Note: Even though Contractually was recently acquired by Compass, all of your data is kept private and separate from Compass. If you’re concerned about this, you might consider MoxiWorks (www.moxiworks.com).
- Stock Imagery
Content is key in real estate marketing, especially imagery. Let’s face it, it’s tough to sell the dream when your images are beautiful. Social Curator (www.socialcurator.com) helps makes this process easy. You’ll get access to high quality gender neutral content, and insightful keyword research to help increase the reach of your marketing efforts.
- Content Capture
As your content gets more sophisticated, you’ll likely want to include how-to videos. Loom (www.useloom.com) is a free web browser plug-in which allows you to capture screenshots and video (with voice overlays).
- Social Media Management
Buffer (www.buffer.com) and Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) are easy to use social media management tool, which streamlines your marketing efforts. Create a post once then distribute it to numerous channels (Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.). You can even schedule them for future delivery.
RIPL (www.ripl.com) allows you to edit video, including adding effects.
Hootsuite offers a free version with limited capabilities.
And as for creating professional video content, I have two “must have” recommendations.
- Smooth 4
There’s nothing worse than “bumpy” video as you’re doing a walk through of a home. Creating professional looking walk-through videos from your cell phone is easy with Smooth.
- Professional Grade Lavalier Lapel Microphone
Make sure that the audio in your walk-through videos is perfect. This simple lavalier (a fancy name for a small microphone you clip to your shirt) captures clear audio and can attach directly to your phone.
I hope that you find these tips helpful! If you haven’t done it already, make sure that you sign up for my email newsletter – where I’ll be offering more information and special offers. Just a sneak peek, I’ll be offering a no-cost marketing consultation to a few lucky readers soon. Keep an eye on the emails!