On a New Zealand trip, I met four Kiwi real estate agents that have cornered their markets using the power of digital marketing. There’s no denying that digital is the future when it comes to real estate marketing; so what lessons can you learn to stay ahead?
Digital marketing is the future when it comes to real estate; so what are we doing about it? A good real estate agent will keep their eyes and ears open at all times to stay on top of all the latest market developments and trends. If you’re serious about success, you’ll do the same with your marketing.
Much to my delight, on a recent trip to New Zealand, making my debut as an international speaker no less, I discovered that there are a few lessons Australian real estate agents can learn from our counterparts in New Zealand.
“Digital marketing is paying off for New Zealand’s real estate agents – it’s time for Australian agents to get a slice of the action.”
An inspiring experience
Listening to fellow professionals is a great way to pick up tips and pointers about how you could achieve more by doing things differently. I had an excellent opportunity to do this recently, when my friend Fiona Okeson, Sales and Marketing Director for Trade Me Property, asked me to be the key speaker at a digital marketing event they were holding for about 360 Ray White real estate agents who advertise with them.
The event took place across different venues in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington, and at each one I had the wonderful experience of listening to what New Zealand’s leading Ray White agents have achieved using digital marketing. What they all had in common, I discovered, was not just the value they placed on digital marketing but the amount of time and effort they had invested in learning about how to build their online brands and how, with time and patience, it will benefit your business. Here’s what some of these inspiring speakers had to say.
In the ten years since he left school, Jared Cooksley has achieved a huge amount in real estate and has since become the youngest Ray White franchise owner in the whole of New Zealand.
Real estate agent, trainer, recruiter and coach
As well as being licensee and selling agent, and one-half of #TeamJared, he is also a part owner of Ray White Mount Eden. Jared finds himself in the top two percent of the company internationally and has expanded his brand to become a real estate trainer, recruiter, mentor and coach.
Smartphone app – Pocket Agent
He also created the smartphone app Pocket Agent, which offers users a valuation of their property within 24 hours, and the Make the Move campaign, which encourages other agents to become part of his agency by helping them to grow their personal brands online.
He attributes much of his success to digital marketing.
Target your marketing
He also invests in paid search, social media marketing and advertising on Google and Facebook, studying custom audiences and using the Facebook pixel to target his advertising as specifically as possible. This was something he urged attendees at the conference to learn about:
“If there’s one thing worth learning, it’s about Facebook’s custom audiences.” Jared Cooksley
Remember you have both active and passive audiences
One of his main marketing strategies is to monitor engagement with his digital marketing activities. It’s easy to track your “active” audience who click through on your ads, but it’s also important to remember your “passive” audience who have become aware of you on your website or via social media before deciding to make a call. This is why it’s important to ask vendors where they saw you, to give you a realistic picture of your marketing success.
“Active vs passive audiences – It’s important to ask vendors where they saw you, to give you a realistic picture of your marketing success.” Jared Cooksley
Focus your marketing on the vendor, not the buyer
Monitoring his website traffic has also allowed Jared to tailor his marketing efforts to be the most useful to his client base. “Initially I had information for both the home buyer and seller on my website, but it became clear to me that my website is not going to provide lead generation for properties because the buyers head to the portals such as trademe.co.nz and realestate.co.nz,” he explains. “So I now simply include a link that redirects people to the Ray White website to view my property listings. By keeping my website focused on my services for home sellers and the agents I coach, I know who I am going to attract and why.”
Save time through automation
Jared is a great believer in automation – his client care system is fully automated and is constantly being refined to improve the home selling experience for his clientele. He believes the key to winning listings is having the cleanest possible database.
By being an early adopter of the latest digital technology, and recognising the many ways it can be put to use in real estate, Jared has put himself ahead of the competition by harnessing new marketing techniques before other agents have adopted them.
Vanessa is one of the licensees and premier performing salesperson at Ray White Metro in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch. The city and region were badly damaged by the 2010, 2011 and following earthquakes, and real estate agents there have faced a host of new challenges as a result.
“The big thing that has changed for the agents in Christchurch after the earthquake has been the amount of building and land checks and insurance and finance approvals that are now involved with each property transaction,” Vanessa told me. “So our role as agents has become even more important because home sellers are unlikely to know where to start with the additional requirements.”
Because of this, her commissions have remained firm but her workload has increased dramatically. She uses digital technology to help cut down on some of the promotional aspects of the job.
Interact with your network via social media
By spending just five minutes each day on social media, Vanessa manages to engage regularly with people in her network and post useful updates. She also invests a few hundred dollars a year subscribing to the Ray White Head Office social media service, which regularly posts third-party property related content to her Facebook feed. This helps to keep her brand fresh in people’s minds.
“By spending just five minutes each day on social media, I manage to engage regularly with people in my network.” Vanessa Golightly
Vanessa also stresses the importance of keeping your profiles up to date on all the digital platforms you use to connect with clients and advertise properties. She is already making use of the Trade Me agent profile, which has only recently become available.
Use video for a personal touch
Another area in which Vanessa is ahead of the game is in using video as part of her digital marketing strategy. She has created a very genuine and personable profile video offering vendors an insight into what it’s like to work with her on their home sales.
She has also built a series of highly informative videos online, as well as behind-the-scenes clips detailing the efforts she and her team make to ensure the seller and the buyer are both kept happy.
By using digital technology to add a truly personal touch, Vanessa has made herself appealing and approachable to vendors, a huge advantage for a real estate agent.
Ben and Amanda Stevens
A husband and wife team, Ben is the number one Ray White sales agent in Wellington, and Amanda is his business manager and marketer as well as an expert home stylist. They have only worked in real estate for five years, but have already been named Property Marketing Winners by Trade Me in both 2015 and 2016, for consistently gaining the most views, watchers and enquiries.
A completely ‘digital-only’ strategy
Ben and Amanda have disregarded print media completely in favour of digital marketing, which they even use for their property advertising. Ben explains that their view when they started out was “if we could get locals either buying or selling homes across to our website, rather than the corporate one, they’d get to experience our personal brand, and over time we’d become recognised as key local agents.”
“We knew that if we could get locals … across to our website, rather than the corporate one, they’d get to experience our personal brand.” Ben and Amanda Stevens
Amanda told us how it worked. “Being consistent has been the key to our success with digital, alongside keeping a close eye on our traffic stats and where our website visitors are coming from. But it didn’t happen overnight – it took 18 months of hard work and investment.”
Build trust in your brand with a blog
At the beginning, when they didn’t have any listings of their own, Amanda would gather information about all the listings in their area, and showcase other agents in their network. This allowed users to experience their brand and highlight their expertise and attention to detail. The strategy eventually paid off, leading to a steady stream of vendor enquiries.
The pair has also increased trust in their brand by running the successful “Ben’s Barometer” blog on their website, dedicated to providing helpful advice for vendors and busting some of the myths and misconceptions around real estate.
Don’t give up on digital
The key is not to be deterred in your digital marketing efforts if returns don’t start coming in immediately. Stick at it and the ultimate rewards will be greater than with traditional real estate marketing methods such as printed brochures and mail cards.
Digital marketing is paying off for New Zealand’s real estate agents – it’s time for us Australian agents to get a slice of the action.