I. YOUR WEBSITE
Your website is the foundation for all of your digital marketing efforts. A joint study by Google and LoopNet has shown that almost 80% of tenants and investors search for commercial real estate online. This means your website is critical to gaining brand visibility, acquiring prospects, and helping drive sales and lease-up efforts for your company. That said, there’s a few strategies that are highly likely to have a strong impact for you in 2016. Here are our favorite ideas.
- Get a Responsive Website – Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Your ability to reach and attract more potential tenants, brokers and investors increasingly hinges on the user experience of the website displayed on their device. Remember that more than 13% of CRE visits are from mobile devices. In order to communicate your brand and services effectively, it is crucial that your site is optimized for all platforms (iOS, Android, Windows) and devices (desktop, smartphone, and tablet).
- Maintain an Active Blog – A company blog is a great marketing tool that can have massive impact for search engines, social media visibility, and a great place to begin dialogue with your potential client base. Educate your clients with tips and advice, highlight lease transactions, key company updates, and discuss relevant industry and local market news. As an expert in your field, this is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge and position yourself as an authority – and invite comments and suggestions from your readers, of course.
- Update Company News – If a blog is too resource-intensive, you could consider creating a news section on your site to feature important company updates, press releases, and survey/research results. This will give search engines (and your clients) a positive signal that your company is active and growing, a very valuable and important trust factor. Also, a new section typically requires less commitment on your part and will be easier to maintain
- Publish Market Reports – A valuable real estate marketing idea would be to create a local market report for the markets your operate in. Include data points like rentable square footage (RSF), average rent prices, vacancy data, absorption rates and any significant transactions. Highlight it on your website as a monthly (or quarterly) feature and you will surely generate more eyeballs and interested readers.
- Create Videos – Videos are a powerful medium that are still not very prevalent in the marketing mix of most CRE companies. Not only does a marketing video give your audience a different kind of medium to interact with (and one that generally encourages them to spend a while on your website), but this also allows you to better showcase your company, your properties and make yourself stand out from competitors.
- Include a newsletter sign-up this is an easy and free way to help you build up a database of potential clients and partners. Even if you don’t yet have a concrete email marketing strategy in place, it doesn’t hurt to ask for emails and start building your list in the mean time.
- Improve SEO – Make sure your real estate website ticks off the right boxes in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). An effective SEO strategy can help generate massive “free” traffic from Google and other search engines and help you generate visibility for targeted keyword terms related to your business. More and more potential tenants and investors are using online searches to research properties, don’t be left out of the game.
- Consistently Track Your Results – At a minimum, make sure you are running Google Analytics on your website to track marketing performance and make sure you look at results at least once a month. This will help you make better, informed marketing decisions and enable you to understand if your website is having any significant impact. If your website is not generating prospects for your company or property, it’s time to revisit and take action.
II. ONLINE MARKETING
Once you’ve updated and optimized the website, there are several things you can do to drive people to it. By increasing exposure through online marketing efforts, you can boost performance, raise the profile of the site and its brand, and stand out from your competitors in new and exciting ways:
- Launch a Company Newsletter – Email remains one of the most effective forms of communication for brands moving into 2016 with a higher response rate than almost any other online format. Not only does a regular company newsletter allow you to stay in touch with your most valuable prospects and customers, it provides a means to showcase the activity of your company, offer valuable free information, and build a relationship that transcends the anonymity of your website.
- Get Active on LinkedIn – In recent years, LinkedIn has become the ‘de facto’ platform for professionals to network. Its 300 million user base consists of just about every professional in the commercial real estate, finance, investing, or legal fields you could want to meet, and it offers a powerful marketing and engagement system with blogging, group discussion boards, and search functions. Combined with ultra-targeted advertising, LinkedIn is an important focus for any business in 2016.
- Run Targeted Advertising Campaigns with Google – Google AdWords offers a fast, efficient and scalable way to target potential tenants and investors online. Programmatic advertising allows you to showcase your services or offers in specific locations in search results, or with display and retargeted ads for people visiting your website or those of your competitors. To put it simply, this is the fastest way to get in front of your most likely prospects.
- Run a Remarketing Campaign – Remarketing allows you to recapture traffic on your website, showing ultra-targeted ads only to people who have already visited or performed a specific action on your website. Because more than 90% of your web traffic won’t take an action when they visit, you need to increase return rates – retargeting allows you to do just that.
- Submit Guest Content – This tactic is effective for two reasons. To start, it gets your name and brand on large websites (news platforms, blogs and trade journals) that your target market trusts. That content allows you to gain exposure you may not be able to gain on your own website, at least not yet. Second, you get a powerful link to your website. This can drive traffic to your site, but also has important SEO value and can improve your ranking in search engines.
- Launch a Video Marketing Campaign – Video is one of the highest engagement rate tactics in digital marketing. People like video and it is more accessible than ever before. By producing high quality marketing videos of your properties, publishing interviews, or creating high quality videos that showcase your company, you can drive traffic from YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. All three platforms offer incredibly targeted advertising as well to increase your online reach.
- Optimize Your Twitter Marketing Campaign – In the last year, Twitter has introduced several new marketing tools, including the ability to showcase specific content from your site, embed multiple images in a tweet, and even capture email addresses directly from an ad you run on twitter. Use these tools to share new ideas, events, and property updates with your customers and prospects and to continue growing your network in 2016.
- Create and Publish High Quality Content – High quality content is one of the most valuable currencies on the Internet today. “Okay” isn’t good enough. You need to produce exceptional, well-written blog posts, informative articles, high quality HD videos, infographics showcasing interesting data, and other educational content that can capture attention from prospects when they visit your website. Good content helps you build an audience, create trust, and allow you to leverage the other distribution tactics listed above as well.
III. OFFLINE MARKETING
More than ever, real estate professionals are investing heavily in their online strategies. But, while online marketing is becoming one of the most powerful ways to grow your business, offline strategies remain important and should be a core part of your marketing plan. By combining the two and building a plan that moves seamlessly between online and offline tactics, you’ll reach a much wider audience.
- Host a Broker Event – Hosted events are always popular, drawing people from across the spectrum of your industry, giving your properties much needed exposure, and allowing you to meet new people. A good broker event will allow you to engage with people and build relationships in ways you may not be able to otherwise online.
- Attend Meetups and Professional Events – Meetup.com is one of the world’s most powerful real-world networking platforms, bringing people together to discuss shared interests in thousands of groups. Create your own professional group to gather people interested in real estate, finance or marketing, or join another group if there is one that fits your interests. There may be several, offering you the opportunity to network and build connections more easily.
- Create a Strong Presentation – A good presentation can be an incredibly effective way to convey your brand story and communicate your services to prospective clients. But it needs to be of the highest possible quality if you want to make a lasting impression. Invest in a professionally-made presentation that is engaging, on target with your audience, and tells a compelling story.
- Update Your Print Collateral – The quality of the print collateral you send to your clients, says a lot about you as a company. If it’s been some time since you last updated this or you still don’t have professional graphic design for your marketing materials, consider investing in new collateral in 2016, updating any contact information, social media links, website links, and imagery to match your online presentation.
- Back a Local Charity or Organization – There is nothing more fulfilling than working with a local organization or charity that you feel strongly about. It’s a great way to give back to the community, and it happens to get your name out there and allow you to engage with people in ways that aren’t possible from a strictly business perspective. Make sure to choose an organization that matches both your brand and business goal – it should be one you feel strongly about.
- Buy Media in Traditional Outlets – While advertising dollars continue to shift online, there are still plenty of affordable and effective options offline in trade journals, newspapers, and even on billboards or local print ads. If your goal is to increase reach, build your brand, and make sure locals recognize you and your property, this is still one of the best ways to do so. Just make sure to test your efforts to see what drives the most interest. Consider making custom website URLs you can drive people to from these ads to measure which is most effective.
- Impress with Drone Photography – Over the past two years drone photography and videography has become much more accessible and affordable allowing real estate marketers to capture beautiful imagery of their real estate assets. Consider upgrading your images with HD drone photos to give your marketing collateral a much bigger “wow” factor.
- Ask for Referrals – It doesn’t get any simpler or more effective than this. Word-of-mouth marketing can help you drive a significant increase in inquiries without having to spend heavily on marketing materials or advertising. The key is to actually ask. Create a referral request program with potential partners, maintain close relationships with previous clients, and follow up frequently to ensure you’re tapping every potential source in 2016.