Continuing my recent theme of how technology and social media is affecting and interrupting various industries, this week I thought I’d look at real estate. My family was in real estate for 40 years so its something I have been watching for a long time. I also took a lot of interest in a friend of mine who sold his Sydney home after moving to the USA by utilising social media. He said the best inquiries and the ultimate sale came from his online strategy rather than the agent.
In a buyer’s market, exposure is one of the most important factors to consider when you are selling property. There is no outlet that will give you wider exposure than the internet. Real estate agents have long been aware of this, with a recent online marketing survey finding that real estate is the industry with the most internet savvy, second only to those in the internet business itself. For individuals who have property they wish to sell or rent, taking a two-pronged approach to online real estate marketing is recommended. The use of online listings websites combined with social media marketing will reach the largest audience in the shortest amount of time.
Listing Property with Real Estate Websites
One of the primary ways to use the power of online marketing is to use websites for selling your home. Approximately 87% of Australian consumers turn to online listings before they contact a real estate agent. This means you should put forth the effort to create a flawless listing. Attractive photos, attention-grabbing headings, and a list of your home’s most important features will help your property stand out. Listings without images or any relevant information will usually get skipped over by anyone performing a specific search, so be sure to include all pertinent information.
Market your Listing Using Social Media
You may already have your listing up, but if you want to draw in the full potential range of potential buyers or renters you’ll need to start casting a wider net. This is where social media marketing tactics come into play. The following techniques can help you market your listing.
- Property Blog – Create a blog for your property. You could use free services like WordPress or Blogger to get started, which come equipped with free templates. This helps you tell the story of your home and reach out to potential buyers on a more personal level, using video, images, and social media widgets.
- Keyword Research -Determine which keywords are searched for most frequently by those looking for property listings in your area. You can then work these into your blog and online listing.
- Create Multiple Accounts – Setting up different social media accounts for your property will allow you to reach out to a potentially unlimited audience. Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, and LinkedIn can all be used to sell your property when given its own unique profiles. This is less time-consuming than it seems, because you can use the same information for each account.
- Post Regularly – It’s tempting to set up these accounts, post your listing online, and be done with it. Yet this defeats the purpose of using social media to market your property. If you want to rent your house, use your Twitter account and blog to post interesting news for renters or personal anecdotes about features in your home.
- Engage and Share – Interact with your audience, responding to comments and encouraging contacts to share stories you’ve posted. The more you engage with social media, the higher the likelihood that you’ll find a receptive buyer.
By combining the use of a professional listings website with your own social media marketing campaign, you can reach out to a far more diverse audience. Although it takes a bit of effort to take the online initiative, you’ll boost your chances of success in a tight housing market.
The traditional commerce model has been something like this:
Manufacturer produces product -> ships it to retailers -> retailer markets product -> retailer sells to consumer –> retailer orders more product from manufacturer.
As the internet has grown and e-commerce become more viable many manufacturers looked to cut out the middleman:
Manufacturer produces product -> manufacturer markets product -> manufacturer sells to consumer
This worked for some but obviously resulted in a lot of retailers no longer supporting the manufacturer. Not an ideal outcome.
Now there’s a new model to consider, Retail-integrated eCommerce:
Branded manufacturers sell online directly to consumers -> manufacturer passes order to their retailers for delivery to customer
The following infographic from Shopatron demonstrates how the new model works. Is it Retail-Integrated eCommerce something your industry should be considering?
In 2012 its amazing to still learn that many businesses are yet to embrace online as part of their marketing and sales strategy. A recent survey by Hunter Valley Research Foundation revealed that many Hunter businesses are not embracing the digital economy with rates of taking orders via the internet remaining very low and 42.7% of businesses having no website.
Contrast those statistics with a new survey report released today by American Express showing those who have embraced e-commerce are 33 per cent more likely to have reported a profit increase in the 2011-12 financial year.
Here is the full media release. I have highlighted significant points.
GOING ONLINE MEANS GOING STRONG FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Company website and Facebook page top marketing channels
One in three small businesses have made their products available for purchase online and those that have are reaping the benefits, according to a nationwide survey.
Commissioned by American Express among more than 1000 Australian small business owners, the survey shows that those who have embraced e-commerce are 33 per cent more likely to have reported a profit increase in the 2011-12 financial year.
Those small businesses who have introduced e-sales say it accounts for almost half (45 per cent) of their revenue and the majority (55 per cent) predict an increase in this type of trade in the next 12 months.
“Small business owners who have incorporated e-commerce into their business are seeing it as a worthwhile investment and appear confident of its long-term benefits. This comes at a time when having an online presence is becoming more and more important for small businesses. In fact, Australian business owners cite company websites and Facebook pages as the most effective marketing channels,” said Amelia Zaina, Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement, Small Business Services at American Express.
Social media drives revenue growth
The American Express survey also found that social media has helped almost one quarter (23 per cent) of small business owners to grow their business – and those that attribute business growth to social media are more likely to have reported an increased profit in 2011-12 (57 per cent) than those who don’t (35 per cent).
Small business operators who use social media believe it has helped them grow their business in several ways, including:
- Sourcing new customers (54 per cent);
- Raising brand awareness (51 per cent); and
- Generating new sales (40 per cent).
“These findings support the notion that small businesses who have gone online and are using social media, are seeing comparatively stronger revenue growth” Zaina said.
“While different channels work better for different industries, both e-commerce and social media can be innovative and affordable. Businesses can benefit in many ways to offset the impact of tough economic times on their business.”
Non-embracers reluctant to introduce e-sales
Despite the success of e-commerce, those who have not established an e-sales strategy are reluctant to do so, with only 12 per cent planning to sell their products and services online in the next 12 months. An even smaller number of small business owners (9 per cent) consider e-commerce necessary for future-proofing their business.
This reluctance can partly be explained by the significant proportion of respondents (40 per cent) who don’t find e-commerce relevant to their business – a view most prevalent among those in construction, finance, insurance and health and community services.
“Some small business owners also say they are not sure how to approach adopting e-commerce with their main concerns surrounding difficulties in setting up the payment platform and customer privacy issues. Seeking out information and advice on how to do this could potentially benefit their business and allay any concerns they may have,” said Zaina.
“Fortunately for small business owners, the internet offers limitless opportunities so even those who feel e-commerce isn’t right for them can make use of the online opportunities offered by social media to promote their products and grow their business.
With thousands of ecommerce websites filling every niche interest under the sun, it’s difficult for website owners to stand out from the crowd. It’s also difficult for consumers to sift through all of the online clutter to find the products that best match their personal style and interests.
A solution to both of these problems has arisen organically over the past couple of years in the form of curated commerce. Sites like Pinterest use a combination of social networking and editorial layouts to create crowd-sourced collections of lifestyle, fashion, and other niche market products.
Pinterest has already become an extremely effective marketing tool for ecommerce business owners. According to a survey conducted by the shopping cart software giant Shopify, consumers arriving at Shopify stores via Pinterest were 10% more likely to make a purchase than those who arrived via other social networking sites. Referral traffic from Pinterest matched traffic from Twitter, and Pinterest has quickly become the third most popular social networking site on the web today. This makes it a potentially valuable tool for online retailers, who can set up their own profiles and interact with consumers to boost the chances of products appearing in Pinterest-curated collections.
Other top user-curated sites include Polyvore and Svpply, which allow users to mix and match their favourite products into stylish collections. There’s nothing trendy consumers enjoy more than trying their hand at becoming stylists, which is partially why these fashion sites have boomed in popularity. In addition to user-curated sites, the world of curated commerce also includes professionally-curated collections. JewelMint is a website run by Cher Coulter, a professional stylist, and Kate Bosworth, an actress noted for her sense of fashion. They send out personalized collections of jewellery according to subscriber preferences, laid out in a slick magazine-style format.
Online retailers are sitting on a potential goldmine if they are able to crack these curated collections, which reach a wide audience of internet-savvy consumers. One potential problem for established brand names is that these collections tend to be based on unique, quirky, or new products that aren’t advertised elsewhere. Consumers turn to sites like Polyvore and Pinterest to discover something new, not to see bland advertisements from big-box retailers. To break through this barrier and harness the power of curated commerce to promote a website, it’s necessary to stay on top of trends by getting involved with these curated websites.
Most ecommerce website owners already have a Facebook and Twitter account. Joining Pinterest, Polyvore, and other sites of this nature can help retailers reach out to consumers in a different way, by sharing interests and highlighting products that have influenced the brand’s aesthetic. It’s key to walk the fine line between sharing and spamming when curating your own collections; or the collection will ring false with viewers.
Another potential benefit of curated collections is that they allow business owners to see how their customers view and use their products. Searching for your brand on a curated website can allow you to see how your customers style your items in their own collections, and which other brands or products they pair yours with. This could help you define your marketing efforts more effectively, using the visual appeal and aesthetic that appeals to your real-life consumers.
It takes a little bit of effort and imagination to start using curated commerce effectively. There’s a playful edge to curated websites, and retailers that successfully use a combination of style and originality in their own collections will reap the most benefits.
Is colour important when designing a brand or product? You bet it is!
Studies show that a product’s colour influences 60-80% of a customer’s purchasing decision. So before you invest all that time and effort in explaining all the rational reasons why someone should buy your product, make sure you have the colour right.
So you want to work in marketing? Well, to be hired as a marketer you need to start acting like one. And not just any marketer, an inbound marketer.
Way back in early 2009 I wrote a post about how to get a job in advertising, design or media and it went nuts. Its one of the most popular posts I’ve ever published and still gets a lot of traffic today. A lot of that advice still rings true today, but a lot has also changed in the marketing world in the last 3 or 4 years, so I felt it was time to refresh the topic.
I interview dozens of marketing graduates each year and the first thing that strikes me is that very few have much experience of any kind. Universities are pumping out thousands of cardboard cutout graduates annually to compete for a small number of quality positions.
If you want to be hired as a marketer you need an edge. Here is what I advise them to do:
1. Create Content
This is the single best thing you can do. Start publishing great content. Show the world what you can do. Ideally focus on your interests or desired career niche if you really want to attract the attention of the right people. Two young guys come to mind who blogged their way into great careers; Julian Cole and Zac Martin. These guys began publishing excellent, confronting, interesting content on their respective blogs before they even graduated. It got them on the marketing radar early and saw them stroll into excellent jobs quickly.
Here’s a test: do a Google search for your name and see what comes up. Personal blog? Content you’ve written for other people’s blogs? News content you’ve authored? Infographics you’ve designed? Videos you’ve recorded? Whitepapers you’ve put together? If not much shows up then you’re not a good content creator and that’s going to keep you off the radar. I suspect HR will be much more impressed with the candidate who shows up for pages and pages of content (appropriate content) than someone with a degree and no content.
These days marketing, especially inbound marketing, relies heavily on great content. Being able to produce it, being able to recognise what drives traffic, clicks and responses is key.
The good news is that you can set up a blog, YouTube channel, Tumblr or Instagram account for free. All you need is time and some great ideas to fill them with content.
2. Be social
If you haven’t heard, social networks are kinda big these days. Having an account isn’t enough (although I’m surprised how many marketing wannabes don’t have one). You need to be savvy enough to be active with these accounts. Strategically, I would recommend having a Twitter account that follows the players in your desired industry and begin sharing your great content via that account.
You also MUST have a LinkedIn profile and should be looking to join some relevant LinkedIn groups for your chosen niche.
Companies are trying to work out how to leverage social networks, be the one who knows the answers and prove it in your own networks.
3. Learn some basic SEO
Here’s a secret…we all Google ourselves, our competitors and our industry. Learn some basic search engine optimisation and push your great content to the first page of search results. You’ll be in the radar faster and prospective employers will be wondering why and how you did it. Another skill most of your fellow graduates won’t have.
You can check out our NLYZR site. It has tons of great SEO information and you can set up an account for free to learn even more.
4. Study stats
Modern marketers are statistics nerds. Online marketing is amazingly measurable and there are dozens of great analytics tools to measure and test performance. Start using them and getting to know how they work. Practice with your own blog and social networks.
Make sure your resume reflects experience with different analytics platforms and that you understand how to make data-backed marketing decisions. This will put you ahead of most of the pack.
5. Become an all-rounder
I really feel its important these days to be well-versed in technology and be a bit of an all-rounder. Knowing some basic coding and editing allows you to understand what other suppliers or employees do and to be able to speak with some authority to them. I know of several senior marketers in large organisations who have no idea at all what their IT department or web developer is saying to them. As a result they make poor decisions. It’s only a matter of time before they’re found out and replaced by savvy young marketers with more all-round experience and knowledge.
The all-rounder can often get their foot in the door with companies and move towards their desired area of specialty later. But to be honest I believe that in most organisations the all-rounder is going to the future.
6. Keep reading and learning
This industry is dynamic and changing daily. Your Uni curriculum was out of date before you started. Subscribe to industry sites and blogs and devour as much information as you can. Learn about the latest technology and trends. Know what’s going on. Attend industry events, some are free, and listen to what people are talking about. Don’t stop reading and learning.
7. Market your way to employment
Know who you want to work for? Think you’re their next star recruit? Be brassy enough to create an inbound marketing campaign about hiring you or examining an aspect of their industry. Set up a site or blog, optimise it for search and fill it with great content directed at your desired employer. Use social networks to spread the word. Before you know it you could be on their radar via search or social.
The smart marketers are jumping to the front of the jobs queue by using modern inbound marketing strategies. It is much more effective than sending standard resumes and responding to employment ads.
Have you noticed how many image-based sites and apps are taking off lately? Instagram, Pinterest and Tumbler have really caught fire, and for good reason; we all love great images. As they say, a picture says a thousand words, and that’s why visual storytelling is so effective.
According to this new infographic from communications company M Booth and media measurement and analytics company Simply Measured, visual content is not only popular, it’s also driving engagement. Consider these stats:
- Videos on Facebook are shared 12X more than links and text posts combined.
- Photos on Facebook are liked 2X more than text updates.
- 42% of all Tumblr posts are photos.
- 100 million Youtube users are taking a social action on videos every week.
- Photo and video posts on Pinterest are referring more traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Google+.
I know from personal experience that using great images can be very effective. This year I have seen traffic to this blog explode largely due to publishing and sharing more infographics and helpful images. My company’s GetSticky site began using a really nice, clear diagram to display our services and its led to more inquiries than ever. Meanwhile our NLYZR site uses video and bold graphics to get quickly to the point. We keep testing and refining along the way, but these tactics have really helped.
What are you doing to tell your story visually?
Since the down of the commercial internet in the early 1990′s banner ads have been the default form of advertising. Google shook things up massively with their Adwords program but most media sites still rely heavily on banner ads for revenue.
Banner ads have always stuck me as old media imposing their old models on new technology. However, measurement is different as advertisers were encouraged to look at clicks rather than exposure, as they would have done with press display ads. Branding became less important and click-through became the goal.
The question is do banner ads really work? Are they effective? This nice infographic from the team at Prestige Marketing explains who’s clicking, who’s not clicking and why.
The price of bad advice11Apr12
I came across three pieces of mind-numbingly bad advice today, all from experts in their respective fields, all to prominent organizations. Each of them have caused me to question:
A) the quality of expert advice
B) the lack of digital knowledge in the business world
C) how organizations can determine which advice they can trust.
But let’s start with the bad advice. These are clangers.
The first company, a prominent industry leader, wants to get more search traffic for a new service they offer. Whilst weighing up an organic search engine optimisation strategy they’ve received advice from an Adwords specialist. The response: spend the budget on an Adwords campaign because the clicks from the traffic will increase your organic search results.
WRONG. There is no relationship between paid results and organic search results. Organic search results come from a combination of inbound links (indicator of popularity) and on-page optimisation for targeted terms.
We are experiencing a permanent shift in shopping habits from which many brick and mortar retailers will never recover.
After the initial hysteria and over-hyped promise of online shopping in the late ’90s dot-com boom, most retailers shrugged off the threat of online and continued with their traditional business models. The prosperity of the new millennium in Australia meant that retailers were profitable and the apparent need for change was unnecessary.
But as the decade continued online was becoming much more sophisticated. Social networks sprang up to increase connectivity and word-of-mouth, and e-commerce became an easier function to execute. Online giants like Amazon, e-Bay and Apple introduced millions of consumers to simple electronic transactions, steadily decreasing the fear of credit card fraud.
The storm clouds for retailers were on the horizon but only a few paid them any attention.