Real estate is a competitive space with a very specific marketing challenge—the window real estate agents get to connect with clients is limited. People contact a real estate agent once every few years when they need to buy or sell a home, and their relationship with their agent often ends after closing.
How do real estate agents stay top-of-mind?
In recent years, the answer has been a mix of traditional marketing in the form of direct mail and print advertising, as well as email outreach, social media marketing and a healthy dose of old-fashioned networking. But there’s another–less utilized–channel available to real estate agents looking to connect with existing and potential clients.
We’re talking about content marketing.
Content marketing is a digital marketing approach that emphasizes creating, publishing and sharing informational content for a targeted audience.
The goal? To position yourself and your brand as an expert and a go-to source for useful information.
If you’re new to content marketing or in the early stages of developing a content marketing strategy for your real estate agency, you’re in the right place. Below are resources to help you define, plan and execute a real estate content marketing strategy, along with links to posts that take a deeper dive into each topic.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a form of digital marketing that focuses on strategically creating, publishing and sharing relevant and useful informational content for a targeted audience. The key words here are relevant and useful.
The goal of content marketing is not to promote real estate listings. Instead, your approach should focus on creating and sharing articles, videos and other content that is useful to prospective and existing clients, regardless of whether they’re buying or selling a home at the moment.
Content marketing comes in a number of forms online.
Types of content marketing include:
- Blog posts
- Social media
- Email newsletters
- How-to guides
Each of these is an example of information that is created or shared with the goal of helping a client stay informed or make a decision.
Focus on creating and sharing content that is useful to clients, regardless of whether they’re buying or selling a home at the moment.
Adding content marketing to your real estate marketing mix requires you to be intentional and thoughtful about the content you generate and share. It’s important to know what your clients are interested in, and to strike the right tone in the content you create.
To that end, the content you create and share should be an exchange of information, not a sales pitch. If the people in your audience constantly get the feeling that they’re being sold to, they’re going to be turned off by and less likely to consume your content.
Take, for example, an email newsletter that highlights real estate listings in your area that week. Technically, you’re using that email newsletter to share information with your audience. But is that newsletter truly useful to people who aren’t in the market to buy a home? Not really.
Compare that with an email newsletter that shares articles covering a range of housing-related topics, from refinancing to home improvement to trends in local home prices, and offers a downloadable checklist for homeowners who are in the process of selecting a contractor. Now we’re cooking. You’re providing content on a range of topics that are all relevant to clients at all stages of homeownership.
Why is content marketing important in real estate?
The short answer is that it works. About 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing in 2020, and 24% are increasing their investment, according to HubSpot.
For most marketers, the primary return on investment is increased web traffic and enhanced visibility online. Roughly half of all content marketing consumption starts with an organic search, according to BrightEdge, an SEO platform. In other words, people are searching for information and encountering new brands all on their own.
You know your content marketing approach is firing on all cylinders when you’re sharing the info customers need, before they know they need it.
The world is increasingly digital, which means traditional real estate marketing doesn’t pack as much punch as it used to. At the same time, the internet has ushered in a new era of information accessibility. People are demanding information on millions of topics all the time. You’re convinced the blockbuster movie “Titanic” was released in 1997, but your friend is certain it came out in 1998. How long before someone starts Googling? Precisely.
The best content marketing gets a jump on the “I’m gonna Google it” moment, and works to provide your audience with relevant information they have yet to discover. You know your content marketing approach is firing on all cylinders when you’re sharing the info customers need, before they know they need it.
For real estate professionals, content marketing is key because it:
- Gives you expert status;
- Keeps your clients informed;
- Boosts awareness of your brand; and
- Increases sales.
How do you develop a content strategy for real estate?
Like we said earlier, content marketing focuses on strategically creating, publishing and sharing useful informational content for your audience. We’d like to home in on two words in this section: strategically and targeted.
Roughly 28% of brands say a lack of strategy is their biggest challenge in pursuing content marketing, followed closely by a lack of data to track who is consuming their content, according to the Data & Marketing Association.
You need a content strategy to guide your content marketing efforts, otherwise your success is just a matter of luck.
You could end up devoting a ton of energy to content that just isn’t working. No one wants that.
Content strategy is the nuts and bolts of how you are going to create, publish and manage useful content. This is something that should be written down and revisited regularly as your priorities and your audience evolves. Consider your content strategy the road map for your larger content marketing vision.
For real estate agents, a key step in defining your content strategy is figuring out who your target audience is. Your target audience could include people who are buying or selling a home for the first time, real estate investors, young parents who need an upgrade or retirees who are looking to invest in a second home. Use this planning period to get a really detailed picture of who is in your audience. Develop personas for your real estate clients to help guide the content.
Our guide for developing a content strategy recommends thinking through eight key questions as you develop your strategy, including who is in your target audience.
Those questions include:
- What are your goals?
- What does your existing content look like?
- Who is your target audience?
- What problem are you trying to solve for your target audience?
- What channels will you publish on?
- How will you manage content creation/publication?
- What topics will your content cover?
- How will you measure your results?
What types of content marketing should real estate agents invest in?
Once you have a solid content strategy in place, it’s time to get started generating content to share with your audience. The content you share will fall into two overarching categories: original and curated. Good content marketing uses a blend of the two.
Original content is content that is written or produced by your brand, and lives on your company’s website, blog, YouTube channel, social media and wherever else you interact with your audience online. Take, for example, a blog post that looks at home price trends in an up-and-coming neighborhood in your city. If your agency did the research, gathered the information and wrote the post, then that’s original content.
Producing original content is beneficial because it:
• Drives traffic to your website and other brand channels;
• Gives you direct control and ownership of the content;
• Positions you as an industry expert; and
• Generates sales leads.
Curated content, on the other hand, is existing content that is written or produced by someone else, but is useful and relevant to your audience. Sharing content curated from others is a good way to give your audience the latest info on a wide range of topics. “Isn’t that stealing?” you might ask. The answer is no—not if you’re curating the right way.
The content you share will fall into two categories: original and curated. Good content marketing uses a blend of the two.
Curation, the process of sifting through online content and identifying what is relevant to your audience, is a key part of content marketing. Any curated content that you share should name and link back to the original source. You should also provide context for why you’re sharing it with your audience.
Let’s say you want to share a useful article from HGTV that explains how to refinish kitchen cabinets with your social media followers. Share the link, but also context for why you think it’s useful. How does a cabinet refresh affect your home’s marketability? When is the right time to start thinking about kitchen upgrades? Curated content, with credit and context, is just as useful as original content.
Sharing curated content is beneficial because it:
• Saves you time (and money);
• Enhances your relationships with other brands and content creators; and
• Elevates your brand as a go-to source for useful information.
As you plan your content, you also want to think about your content mix. How often do you want to share entertaining content? Educational content? Inspirational content? How often do you want to share video versus written content?
Try to land on a ratio for original and curated content. This could depend on the platform where you are reaching your audience. For example, on social media, many marketers adhere to the 5:3:2 ratio. For every 10 social media posts, five should share curated content, three should be original pieces of content, and two should be personal, humanizing your brand.
Ready to get started making and sharing content?
Check out the following guides for producing different types of content.
• Everything you need to know to curate content the right way
What are content marketing best practices for real estate agents?
Content marketing gives real estate agents a ton of freedom to embrace their creativity and think of new ways to connect with their audience. It can also be easy to mess up.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Craft a content strategy;
- Determine a budget;
- Create a content calendar;
- Find your authentic voice;
- Focus on evergreen content; and
- Measure your results.
Again, ensuring that you have a content strategy to guide your content marketing efforts is crucial. And don’t be afraid to adjust that strategy as you learn more about your audience. For example, if your content strategy targets young first-time homebuyers, but your analytics show mature members of your audience are more likely to interact with your content, consider shifting your focus to weave in content for that demographic.
What content marketing tools are available for real estate agents?
Content marketing can be a heavy lift for a small team, especially if you’re investing heavily in developing your own content. Fortunately, there are countless tools out there that can make your content marketing workflow easier. The key is finding the right tool to meet your specific needs.
Here are three tools we recommend checking out if you’re just getting started with content marketing.
The free Google Docs platform is a go-to tool for collaborative content creation. You’d be hard-pressed to find a content marketer who doesn’t use this tool to draft articles, gather feedback and comments, and put the final touches on content. To add, more content management systems (CMS) allow you to directly upload content from Google Docs to their platform.
WordPress is one of the most widely used content management systems, enabling users worldwide to host and build websites. The platform is flexible enough to serve both small and large content marketers well, and includes templates and plugin architecture to allow you to customize a website to align with your brand.
Canva is a quick and easy (and free!) way to get started creating images and graphics for blog posts, social media posts and all manner of content. The tool aims to make clean design accessible to non-designers, and is extremely useful when a stock image just isn’t going to cut it. It also has templates for infographics and other content formats.
As you consider adding tools, think about what your team needs the most help with. Try finding tools that can serve multiple needs, for example, enabling content collaboration as well as idea generation.
What are examples of good real estate content marketing?
When in doubt, look online for inspiration. There are plenty of examples of real estate agents who have embraced content marketing are doing it well.
The Century 21 real estate blog offers a range of content on topics related to real estate, from the economic impact of apartment renters to decluttering tips for your kitchen and garage. They even include posts on more general business topics, like the qualities of a successful negotiator.
Source: Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Another nice feature of their blog is The Relentless, a branded podcast series that features Q&A’s with Century 21 agents from around the country. The podcast interviews are also reformatted as blog posts for real estate agents who prefer to read the content.
When it comes to content marketing, re-purposing content across platforms is a good way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
Source: Century 21 Real Estate LLC
Keller Williams Realty’s Instagram page is a good example of how to turn real estate content into a visual experience.
Their page includes video interviews with thought leaders in the real estate industry, infographics guiding viewers on how to “build your own backyard utopia” and images from corporate conferences and events.
Source: Keller Williams Realty Inc.
Looking for email newsletter inspiration? Check out this email newsletter from Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City, Utah. The design is simple, elegant and straightforward, and the content is engaging.
Source: Summit Sotheby’s International Realty
This specific newsletter includes an intro giving a quick overview of trends in the local market followed by a video “saying hello” to clients at their homes, a link to a cookbook created by the agency and a profile of an interesting real estate agency in another market.
Embrace the process
Just like any creative endeavour, content marketing requires a certain amount of trial and error in order to land on an approach that works for you and your real estate agency.
Embrace the process, and make it a point to revisit your content strategy on a regular basis and adjust your approach.