CASE STUDY: MARKETING FOR REAL ESTATE AGENCIES
With the UK real estate market always developing and rising, real estate agents thrive. It is a great job to have if you know what you are doing and are willing to accept some risks, such as sales uncertainty.
I should know, I worked as a Business Development Manager for a Real Estate agency in London for quite a while. And because I keep receiving enquiries about my experience there, I decided to do this article to have as a go-to for everyone.
So what are the best marketing practices that work in Real Estate?
Well, you can’t really make a business work without marketing, especially when there are so many competitors out there.
These are the things I implemented that significantly improved sales at my last company:
1. CREATE A SIMPLE, MODERN, ATTRACTIVE LANDING PAGE.
I think this was the biggest change I made in that company. Before I started, the website was too busy, hard to navigate, intricate and unorganised. I remember looking at the stats and it had an average of 13-14 visitors/day.
Once I improved the page, made it easy to navigate, bright, intuitive and organised, within the first 3-4 months, the visitor count jumped to 30-40/day. After putting in SEO work, it jumped to 70-80/day. This all happened over the course of 8-9 months and it was all organic, the owner never paid for Google Ads.
One reason I decided to change my path and start doing Digital Media was the number of calls my director got with people asking who does the digital marketing for the company. They came to me, wanted me to do the same thing for them and this is how I realised I was good!
2. WORK ON YOUR GOOGLE SEO CONSTANTLY
Google SEO goes a lot further than just placing keywords in the meta-tags part of your website.
- It means having keywords for every PDF and image you have on your website.
- It means having targeted keyword image names AND alt-tags for every image.
- It means working hard to get other websites to link back to you (and such, creating back-links).
- It means creating a site-map and having every page strategically placed so google understands correctly what your website is all about.
- It means having a blog where you constantly post, to have Google review you more often and consider you more valuable.
As you can see, Google SEO is a continuous task. And the hardest thing about it is working blindly without seeing any results for months at a time.
But in the end, it showed results. From the website being nowhere on Google, it raised to the top 10 in the area over the course of a year. Looking back, it might have been done sooner, but there was a lot more work involved from my side on other aspects of the business and I didn’t always get the time to allocate to SEO as planned.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING IS A POWERFUL TOOL WHEN YOUR COMPETITORS DON’T DO IT AS MUCH.
Now, LinkedIn has proved to be the most important tool of them all, so I will start with it.
It helped us meet investors, people looking to buy property, fellow agents that became our partners in crime.
Our technique was to add at least 50-60 people per day (a good number to not get blocked). We engaged with those people and about 50% of our interactions started from their side.
That’s how we got to sell a £12M house. That was a good payday!
We engaged, we posted valuable articles, we had an up-to-date profile, invited people to endorse us and did the same in return.
You can also grow your email list massively with LinkedIn! I will approach the Email Marketing strategy later.
What I discovered soon after I took on the Social Media Marketing responsability is that very few agencies had an Instagram presence.
Facebook is full with real estate agents marketing their stuff, but there’s surprisingly little presence over Instagram. When I say this, I speak for London/UK.
And this is where the game changed. By being active on Instagram, we got to interact with a lot of people, either looking to rent or to sell. We also created a few connections with fellow agents who wanted to collaborate. I won’t lie to you, I don’t think you can sell a property on Instagram, but you can definitely rent one. We also got quite a few instructions from it.
But what we also learned is that just posting properties on IG is not the right approach. The approach that got the best results was also giving out value. Advice for: the first time buyer, for the property investor looking for the best ROI etc. We answered questions people had, we gave our expert opinion on the latest shifts in real estate, on how Brexit affects the property market.
You build trust, you get clients. Simple as that. If you are just another marketer, you are not going to stand out. If you go out of the way and provide actual value to your followers, you will get results. Resist the urge to put every property everywhere you can and you will see clients coming in. Sounds counter intuitive and it definitely takes a lot longer, but it’s worth it.
As I already mentioned, Facebook is already full of real estate agents.
But I did find that it was great for renting out properties, especially when you don’t post on sites like Zoopla or Onthemarket.
Find Rental groups in your area and post away. You can post the same post in many different groups at the same time, so it’s not that much of a bother. It got us clients within a day.
Again, it is harder for selling properties, especially when you have properties worth millions of pounds.
4. EMAIL MARKETING
Email Marketing is the greatest tool if you know how to use it and you already have a good email list built.
On days when we sent our newsletter, we would watch the website traffic blow up to 120-150 views at least that day and people would often reply to ask for more details regarding a certain property.
This is where we got to do hard-sell because here it works! And it works fast.
2 emails per week is enough to keep them interesting and not to have too many unsubscribers.
5. TRADITIONAL MARKETING
Now you have your buyers. Want to get more instructions to show to them?
Don’t underestimate the power of a letter.
Being a small company, we had little man-power. But we would send out at least 300-400 letters per week. We had a person deliver them and the secret was: hand-written envelope! We printed the content inside of it, but hand-wrote the envelopes.
The conversion rate for every 400 letters was 3-4 clients looking to sell their property, out of which maybe 1-2 also wanted to let it.
Now, this was on high-income areas from London, such as Knightsbridge, Belgravia. The cheapest property was, I believe, around £2-3M. That’s a £30,000 commission! The most expensive and exclusive rental we had was from a famous producer in the US, and they let it for £15,000 per week. That’s a £1,500 commission per week. But I tell you, that house was, hands down, the most incredible house I have ever been in! It’s completely impossible to fully describe it.
And the cost for having this done weekly?
- 20 hrs @ £9/hour = £180
- 500 envelopes = £12
- Xerox paper = £5
- Ink = ~£10 (depending on what printer you have it might be cheaper or more expensive)
- Total: £207.
£207 for 3-4 instructions that could bring you in a minimum of at least £10,000. At least! In the best case scenario, you could gain £100,000+! Of course, this would take time, but when you are in real estate that’s normal.