Brokerage: ERA Grizzard
Location: Orlando, Florida
Market: Central Florida
Size: Seven offices, 250 agents
Content marketing is the best way to establish your brand online, attract new leads and engage your audience while creating assets that provide a foundation for further growth, says Heather Flack, director of marketing. “Fresh, hyperlocal content is the hallmark of our online marketing,” she says. “Our blogs create new opportunities for our brand and our agents in an increasingly competitive online marketing landscape.
Flack says the brokerage’s goal for its content is to generate leads while engaging the audience and growing the ERA Grizzard brand. At the center of the company’s strategy is a blog that focuses on providing value to readers who may be potential customers. “We strive to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time,” says Flack. “Through the years, we’ve developed a system to provide solutions to our readers in the form of engaging information. That content is enhanced through a thoughtful SEO and lead-capture strategy for each piece that aligns to our overall online marketing goals.”
The majority of the company’s content for home buyers and sellers is written in-house by Megan Crevier, marketing coordinator. “We work together to develop the month’s topics, and she either writes the topics or works with our team of writers. Megan is incredibly talented at bringing our content strategy to life and creating long-term reader engagement,” Flack says. Using a list of two or three top keywords for each of the company’s eight local markets, Crevier typically prepares at least two pieces of relevant content a month for each market.
After each blog is written, they work on that piece’s final edits, distribution and paid promotion strategy. Their team uses HubSpot to manage its inbound marketing strategy, including social media, blogging, analytics and lead management.
“By investing in unique strategies, brokerages don’t need to rely as heavily on purchasing leads from the search sites. The more you blog and the more people find you organically, the more leads you will acquire."
While creating multiple blog posts each month can be difficult from a production standpoint, it’s essential to generate hyperlocal content for the reader, Flack says.
For example, content about The Villages, FL, one of the world’s largest age55+ communities, will be quite different from a blog about downtown Orlando. She notes that generic blogs like “10 Tips for Home Buyers” don’t pull as well as local content about communities. “Being specific is an asset for targeting your audiences, capturing leads and demonstrating the value of the brand,” she says. “We know we are not writing for search engines. We’re writing for people.”
ERA Grizzard has three different blogs designed for different audiences: HomeTalk for homebuyers and sellers, PressTalk for press releases such as new-agent announcements and AgentTalk for real estate professionals and industry pros. “We recommend multiple blogs only if the content is focused on completely separate topics or if you need to segment your audiences,” Flack says.
For consumers, the “Spotlight Home” series takes an HGTV approach to content about listings, including keywords and lead-capture tools. Other blogs might cover topics like historic homes in an area, tips for buying lakefront property and how new developments in the area will impact residents. “We want to be the leading expert on our local communities and showcase our knowledge of the local markets,” Flack says. “We consider the purpose of each piece and objectives when creating our content calendar for the month.”
Flack says there are generally multiple calls to action (CTAs) in each of the blog posts. The content is designed to drive traffic to the website, and the CTAs capture the leads. “We have found success in creating multiple types of imagery for the same CTA and using GIFS, thin banners, basic links and traditional larger CTAs, all in one piece,” she says. “The trick is not to interrupt the reader’s experience. You don’t want to look like spam on your own site.”
Instead, a CTA should be a logical next step for the reader and flow with the content. For example, it would be a logical CTA to include waterfront homes for sale in a blog post about a lakefront community.
Flack says the brokerage’s audience responds the best to Facebook, where the company buys ads to promote its content. She’s also expanding the brokerage’s presence on Pinterest. “One of the best tips is to avoid stock photography and use an eye-catching photo that you take on your phone or obtain from a local photographer.”
Before you can work with an outside writer, it’s best to have a clear vision of your brand, your content marketing goals, the objective of each piece and a well-formulated target audience who will be your ideal reader, Flack says. “We’ve created a style guide for each of our markets that covers tone, branding, keywords and an audience overview,” she says. “We also explain how to avoid clichés about the great weather in Florida or our theme parks.”
Once a blog has been posted, Flack says, you should think about how to re-optimize that content to get the best bang for your buck. She repurposes online content in brokerage newsletters and agent-branded newsletters, as well as traditional print marketing pieces.
Three years ago, only about 5 percent of the brokerage’s online leads came from blogs. That number surpassed 16 percent in 2016 and should be close to 50 percent in 2017, Flack says. “By investing in unique strategies, brokerages don’t need to rely as heavily on purchasing leads from the search sites,” she says. “The more you blog and the more people find you organically, the more leads you will acquire. Our broker-owner, Gus Grizzard, always says, “Real estate is a relationship business” and content marketing is an ideal way to open the doors to that new relationship.”
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