Real estate brokerages are always looking for better ways to stay organized and streamline processes. Much like people, when brokerages need to strategize and plan they should opt for creating a to-do list. This past spring REAL Trends released the 2018 Online Performance Study. This annual report goes into detail on the latest industry trends, including, big data, analytics, video, websites, social media, content planning, and portals. The following brokerage ‘to do’ list was taken from the end of the 2018 Online Performance Study, and serves as our general advice to brokerages, regardless of size and location.
- Do Something with Your Data
Get good at what you are doing and be sure to distinguish yourself and brand in a way that puts you outside the box. Just as we’ve seen with predictive analytics, big data, and automation, the digital landscape will continue to evolve. Those who don’t stray from tradition may fall victim to their tech-savvy competitors and listing portals.
While your piles of digital data may be lying in the darkest corners of your CRM, don’t let that daunting sight dissuade you from “de-junking” your digital gold mine. We know how important data is to your brokerage. The best piece of advice we can offer is: Don’t let your data go to waste! You have years’ worth of information at your fingertips that can be used to build your brand and reputation, establish your community fingerprint and reach potential new clients.
Find the right tools, platforms, and systems for your brokerage and learn to use them to your advantage. That might mean a new website to capture and funnel leads, a better CRM integration to store data, or it may indicate an intensive agent training session to teach the importance of maintaining client data and inputting information into your system. Take the steps necessary to unlock that data and then figure out the best way to use it. Think, sphere campaigns for previous clients or referrals, snail mail for clients who have been in their homes for five years and may be looking to move, and personal emails or phone calls for quality leads that may have been left on the table. Whatever system works for you, we can’t stress enough the importance of organizing, analyzing and using your big data.
- Invest in Your Website
Whether you are an established brokerage or a one-person show, your website is the start and end point of any online interaction you have with potential home buyers and sellers. Your technology and website must adapt to allow growth over time.
Deciding on a website should ultimately come down to how you intend to use your website and identifying specific functionalities you want present. For example, a solo broker-owner might not need a robust backend system with a CRM integration. A simple WordPress or basic CMS website might be a reasonable solution as it will cater to a very straightforward way of managing leads, performing updates, maintenance, adding new pages and more.
On the flip side, if you are a large brokerage that handles multiple deals a day, it would be worthwhile to invest in a website that will come fully loaded with different CRM options and agent adoption tools as the number of agents on your team scales.
A website should be looked at as an investment that will grow over time. You should choose a website based on which direction you see your brokerage heading, whether that be to remain small or increase big. Consider where your brokerage will be five, even ten years from now, and map out exactly what type of technology growth you can expect along the way. A CRM might not be feasible for the first year, but you should understand when to incorporate specific technologies and, then, choose a platform that will allow opportunities for growth over time.
- Make More Video
Video can be repurposed in many ways making them versatile and necessary assets. The world has made it loud and clear that reading content (at least for now) is the less desired way to digest information. Video is modern and sleek. Visiting a website where you are greeted with a gorgeous high-resolution video of the San Francisco Bay is more pleasing than being greeted by a brand logo and tool and search bar.
Think of opportunities on your website to include videos, such as the main landing page, community pages, and agent pages. Also, these videos can live on your social channels—making them well worth the investment. Encouraging agents to create their own professional videos can also help increase your video library.
Just making content into a video is not the answer. Again, videos that increase that sense of inclusion will be the videos that get shared and engaged with the most. This is where a well-thought-out content plan will be useful. Create a variety of video, some pre-recorded and some live to keep your video content lively and likable.
- Take Social Media Seriously
This year will be the year of change for social media platforms. Many adjustments will be made to stop the click bait and fake news posts that plagued 2016 and 2017. This year, we’ll see more marketing requirements placed on businesses from the social platforms making it harder to market the way we used to market. We were given a small taste of this change in direction with Facebook’s text-overlay restrictions and the content overhaul announced by Snapchat.
Gone are the days where you can log on to Facebook without being retargeted by the retail items that are waiting patiently in your Amazon cart. The days that lie ahead will be filled with clever messaging and undoubtedly lots of videos.
Don’t abandon your social marketing efforts. In fact, the No. 1 piece of advice we can provide socially is to create an authentic and detailed social media content plan. Ads and business pages can be annoying, but consumers secretly like being reminded of products and services that they need. The obvious challenge will be to get all of your marketing objectives accomplished while also appealing and helping your followers and not getting the dreaded ‘unfollow’.
All signs seem to point to LIVE video being the primary communication tool. Producing creative videos, witty and engaging trendier posts that incorporate gifs and memes will also resonate better. Some 82 percent of users would rather watch a brand’s live video than read the same company’s social-media posts, according to Livestream.com. The same study shows that 80 percent would instead tune in to a live video than read a blog post.