The WRONG Way to Use
Digital Marketing for Real Estate
I see a ton of real-estate technology offerings that claim to offer some sort of benefit by using your listing data and putting it on their domain—then they circulate your information with the hopes of lead generation for themselves. This practice has been going on for a long time, but with the explosion of real-estate marketing on social media, people are falling all over themselves about this “new technology.” One of the first options for such marketing was Postlets. Postlets allow you put your listing information on their site, then they would create a quick page for it and “let” you circulate the listing on social media and other channels. I’m not attacking Postlets specifically, as it provides other services; it’s simply one of the more recognized examples. Needless to say, some of the newer offerings provide other services too, such as bulk e-mail of the listing. Many of these platforms offer unique and well-thought-out digital marketing options that can be successful. But is this money well spent?
Backwards Real-Estate Marketing
This technique may not be the best way to market your properties online, so let me explain. Any real-estate agent or broker should have a website. If you don’t have a website, then any of these products might make sense. In that respect, however, you should really focus your marketing attention on acquiring your own little corner of the Internet with a real website. There are challenges with SEO for Real Estate, but maybe that should be your focus. Notwithstanding not having a website, let me explain why these products are an example of “backwards real-estate marketing.”
All Leads Should Come Back to You
One of the first things to keep in mind with any Digital Marketing is that your website should serve as the hub of all online marketing projects. Consider this: if you run a Facebook ad (in most instances), you should point that ad back to your website for capture and conversion of the lead. If you run a bulk e-mail campaign, the links in the e-mail should point back to landing pages built on your website. Obviously, Google Pay Per Click should point back to your website, but I have seen some truly silly digital marketing schemes in which people pay a company to drive ads back to the company’s website—in which they give you the leads. WOW! That one really is taking advantage of business owners. At the end of the day, your website needs to be at the center of all of your Digital Marketing. Anything you do should point back to your website for capture and ultimate conversion. If your real-estate website is not good at capturing leads, then that’s something on which you should immediately begin to focus.
Why Using Digital Marketing Platforms is a Terrible Idea
Many Digital Marketing platforms have great ideas. They figure out a legitimate way to market your listing or your information, but where the entire idea goes horribly wrong is when they point everything back to THEIR own website. Don’t get me wrong, though; most of them will give you any lead that’s generated from the campaign. But in the end, you’re helping them to grow their website’s credibility—NOT YOURS! So what you’re doing is paying them to grow their credibility and web presence. What you should be doing is growing YOUR CREDIBILITY AND WEB PRESENCE. If you have a real-estate website, and you’re paying money to another company to drive traffic to THEIR website with the intention of getting leads, then you’re ultimately creating competition for your own site. Can you see how that doesn’t make any sense?
I’m Not Referring to Third-Party Aggregator Sites
I’m not referring to Zillow, Trulia, or Homes.com. Although we can argue all day long if they should exist or if it’s money well spent, but that’s really a different topic. Today, we’re talking about the smaller companies (note that some of these companies may even be owned by Zillow) that provide some sort of a Digital Marketing Service—other than simply displaying your listings. The third-party aggregator real-estate websites have been around for a long time, and they use a similar philosophy: Give us your listings and we will get eyeballs looking at it on our website. If you want a details of how all that came to be, read our article on IDX and the Evolution of On Line Real Estate.
On a slightly different note, but in the same ballpark, many real-estate agents and brokers have asked me if they should have a marketing campaign that drives traffic to their Facebook Page. For most people, that’s a NO, but if you have a large Digital Marketing system in place that’s part of a larger plan, then possibly. As a general rule, you should use Facebook and other Social Media Platforms to drive traffic to your website for conversion.
Look at Your Digital Marketing Spend
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you look closely at all of the products that make up your Digital Marketing spend and see if any of them drive traffic away from your website. If you have listings on your site and you’re paying another company to market those listings—and they resolve on another website that is not yours—STOP! In almost every single instance, you can look at what they do and create the same workflow to drive the same traffic to YOUR WEBSITE.
It might take a little work or web development, but at the end of the day, you own that process! Even if you spend a little up front to put that marketing system in place, you won’t be paying another company to implement it and then use it, and the long-term effects to your real estate website will be substantial.
But I Love XYZ’s Product!
Many of these marketing products do work, so I can see why it might be a little painful for you to do away with something that might even have an ROI. Another option is to ask them to provide a “canonical tag” on all of the landing pages they drive traffic to (on their site) and point that back to your real-estate website. What a canonical tag does is to tell Google and other search engines that “we are not the proprietor of this information and don’t deserve the Google Juice, so please give the Google Juice to XXXXX.” If you’re speaking with a 25-year-old salesperson with about 14 hours of digital marketing experience, they won’t know what you’re talking about. Ask to speak with someone a little more technical. My guess, is they’ll NEVER do that. WHY? Because part of growing THEIR business is using YOUR marketing spend to drive traffic to THEIR website.