I’m betting on two things:
Oops. That’s no bueno.
Many of us have landing pages, email sign-up forms, contact forms, giveaways or free downloads, chat widgets, Facebook lead gathering, website analytics, and other tools that gather user data, even if it’s just as simple as a name, email, and phone number.
Here’s the deal with Privacy Policies:
While there’s no one federal law that requires you to do so, there are several overlapping federal and state laws and individual user regulations. Those include:
1. California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)
2. Privacy Shield
3. EU General Data Protection Regulation (effective May 2018)
4. Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule
And if you think this is a paper tiger regulation, think again, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is slapping serious fines and shutting down businesses that aren’t complying.
This is especially true in the wake of unprecedented data breaches, hacks, and identity theft. Just because you’re a small real estate agency/mortgage broker/individual agent, don’t think for a second that you’re immune from these same laws and rules.
So, without one, you’re probably hindering the effectiveness of your ads (and wasting money) and also holding your page back from reaching its promotional potential.
Basically, you can’t just start collecting people’s personal information – even if it’s as seemingly innocuous as an email address – without adhering to your legal obligation to protect that information.
What elements are essential for your real estate or mortgage website?
I had a client recently – a luxury realtor with a lending division from the east coast – hire me to do some analysis on their website. No, I’m not a web designer, programmer, or an SEO expert, but this boutique firm asked me to do some digging into the top real estate and mortgage websites in the industry , which made for an interesting project.
Looking to redesign their own website to maximize efficiency and results, they understood that their market was ultra-competitive, and the chance to catch the attention of a web viewer, keep them on the site a little longer, or engage and even make contact with them could make a huge difference in their commission paychecks by the end of the year.
So, they had me meticulously comb through a list of websites for the top firms in their space (both luxury homes and high-end mortgages).
Deconstructing each one, I examined factors like:
Compiling all of this info, we ascertained the website formula for the top luxury real estate and mortgage firms in the industry.
However, there were also a few things missing from these websites of the top firms and professionals in the game, probably because they just don’t have the bandwidth or latitude to make innovations.
So, those shortcomings present opportunities where you – the smaller, more agile and hungrier agent or loan officer – can actually outperform these industry giants’ websites.
Please note that these are in order of importance and prominence on their web pages (so, the big, bold call-to-action was usually first and “above the fold,” similar to a landing page format.)
1. Call to Action button/link:
2. Text headlines and short snippets:
Common real estate or jumbo loan terms and definitions
Or question and answer format
Headers and short paragraph answers
But NEVER long bodies of text!
3. Contact Form/Request a Quote Form, etc.:
To other services like home sales, communities, buying or selling guides, products like FHA/VA/Cash-out refinance, etc.
5. Online payment calculator or home estimator
6. Reviews and testimonials:
Showing number of 5-start reviews, client testimonial with quotes, etc.
7. Better Business Bureau rating and/or badge
8. Blog page link
9. Social media icons
10. Link to online application/response form/valuation form
11. Contact info
12. Why trust us/me?
Why use (company name or individual agent) for your home sale or home loan needs?
Notes and opportunities for you:
-Interestingly, very few of them had videos. That presents a great opportunity to differentiate yourself with a short, professional video on your own website.
-Images were mostly stock photos of homes/borrowers signing mortgage/families/etc. I’d stay away from stock photos and go with professionally taken custom photos.
-Icons and symbols were common for buttons and to anchor different sections.
-While real estate firm websites were more personal, very few mortgage sites had individual mortgage broker/loan officer photos, personal bios, or any personalization. Those are always effective so it’s important to add them!
-Only one or two sites had pop ups when you went to close out or click away (proven to be effective in retaining web traffic/garnering email addresses)
-Only a small percentage of websites had giveaways/free downloads like a Home Buyer’s Guide or Home Loan Checklist, etc. That’s a very effective tool for increasing your email list and database of potential borrowers.
You might be well-served to redesign your website to match this format and include these elements!
Do you want help designing and building your website? DON'T call me! Haha
But I can help you plan it and write the content, but you want a professional web builder.
Facebook is an invaluable tool for many real estate agents and mortgage lenders these days (as well as other related fields), and that includes lead generation with Facebook ads.
But the social media giant made some profound changes recently, deeply impacting the ability to target ads based on specific demographics and characteristics.
It all started with discrimination complaints leveled against the social media giant, claiming that its ad practices were rife with discrimination.
So, back in March of 2019, Facebook reached a settlement, announcing that it would close the door on ads that allowed discrimination and led to redlining. Working with the National Fair Housing Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Communication Workers of America, they did just that. A few months ago, Facebook rolled out a major update to its ad protocols, specifically in the real estate and mortgage industry.
Here’s what you need to know about the new Facebook ad rules:
In an official statement, Facebook said, "We're committed to protecting people from discrimination on Facebook, and as part of this commitment, we announced changes earlier this year to all ads that offer housing, employment, and credit opportunities. Advertisers, developers and partners must specify whether or not their ads fall under either the category of housing, employment or credit. They can do so by selecting a Special Ad Category, and once a category is selected in Ads Manager or via the Marketing API, a limited set of targeting options will then be available."
The real difference comes when you’re setting up the targeting for these ads. Once you check the box for the Special Ads Category, you can no longer target by:
(Only 18 years+)
(Must be both men and women)
No mentions of alcohol (like if you have a wine and cheese open house, that would be illegal with the new Facebook rules since your age targeting must be set at 18+, not 21+.)
No Zip Code search
You cannot target by specific zip codes (see below)
No radius search smaller than 15 miles
You also can't set your radius search for targeting at less than 15 miles. That's a significant change since a common ad tactic was to set a radius of one or two miles around an open house or listing.) But you can do a radius search around 15 miles or more around a pin drop or address.
No Look-Alike Audiences
You also can no longer target an ad based on Look-Alike Audiences like you used to be able to do with Facebook. (You also can’t get around all of these changes just by using a saved audience.)
Say goodbye to other demos and behaviors
You can no longer target by life events like recently married, just moved, bought a home, if they’re parents, their income, etc. or other behaviors. But you can target by interests.
You also can’t exclude certain demographics, like other real estate agents, Realtors, brokers, etc. Basically, we can’t exclude anyone for any reason.
Running ads in the U.S. from outside the country
Advertisers and marketers who are located outside the U.S. but running ads in U.S. markets need to click the special ads category as well, even if their ads aren’t in Housing, Credit, or Employment. (I’m sure that FB ads to interfere with our elections played a large part in that restriction!)
Should you still use Facebook ads for your real estate or home loan business?
While it may seem that you don’t have much left to target your Facebook ads effectively, remember that the Facebook algorithm is incredibly thorough, as well as dynamic and “smart.” In fact, their algorithm takes more than 2,000 factors into account when placing your ads, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make them more efficient.
You can set up a Special Ad Audience, which is based on similar characteristics to an existing email list, website audience using Pixels, Facebook page followers, and more.
Remember that every time one of these changes takes place on Facebook, it may be a little harder to target your audience correctly, but a large percentage of real estate agents and mortgage lenders will stop using Facebook ads because they believe it's too difficult, time-consuming, or ineffective.
That equals opportunity.
I’ll cover more tips on setting up effective Facebook ads in a different blog soon. But, in the end, it will probably all level out, and Facebook will still be a great place to run ads for real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and professionals in financial service fields.
Need any help or just want to talk about your marketing? Hit me up!
It’s a good time to be in the real estate or mortgage business, with shockingly low interest rates, record home equity, and thriving – if not spectacular – real estate markets nationwide. However, we all know that these halcyon days won’t last forever.
Note: I originally wrote this post for the folks at Blue Water Credit. They're super reliable, really care, and the best in the industry for responsible credit repair, so give Jeff Sipes at Blue Water a holler if your clients need credit help.)
In fact, with about one million licensed real estate sales people and 300,000 mortgage lenders all fighting for the same shrinking piece of the pie, competition will soon be stiffer than ever.
But when rates go up, sellers stall, and the seasonal lull becomes a recession, where will your business be?
It’s time to think MARKETING (if you haven’t already), so you’ll have a head start on your competition once the housing and home loan markets recede back to normal.
Here are 10 marketing commandments for Realtors and mortgage lenders so you can have a fantastic 2020 – and beyond!
1. Be consistent.
Make at least one post per day on your Facebook business page and Instagram (at the minimum). Email your database at least monthly – but weekly is ideal. Make a social media, email, and content release calendar to start the year and make sure these items are on your daily checklist.
42% of brands that post content daily receive some sort of lead, prospect, or client monthly, but that drops to only 13% for brands that post 3 times a week or less.
Forget to market when you have a lot in the pipeline and are busy with clients, but then start your marketing push the second business slows down. That’s whiplash, not effective marketing!
2. Talk to your audience - not at them.
Ask your audience plenty of questions and use surveys, opinion polls, and other ways to get responses and build engagement.
Studies show that consumers are 789% more likely to pay attention, engage, and respond when asked for their opinion or feedback.
It’s SO hard to shut up and just listen – but that’s exactly where your true connection to your audience and clients starts!
3. Add value.
Always focus on content that adds value, solves problems, addresses challenges and needs, and saves them time, money, or energy.
Thee-fourths of consumers are looking for online content and posts that help them solve problems, save (or make) money, or improve their lives in some way.
We’re all guilty of all-or-nothing, transactional thinking. But just focus on helping as many people as possible, no matter what that looks like or the outcome, and your business will thrive.
4. Create content.
Keep people informed with customized market reports, stats, data, infographics, and more. Make sure it’s branded to you and even has a dazzling photo on it, as well as contact info and your social media or web link.
Brands that create at least three pieces of unique content every week receive 289% more responses and engagement than when they post generic content.
Stop only sharing other peoples' content – that’s doing nothing to elevate and differentiate YOUR brand. Make and share your own (by outsourcing and using a team!)
5. Email is alive and well.
Build your email list with a free offer and landing page. You should be adding 50 emails a month MINIMUM and work towards building a 10,000-person email list.
Email is 40x more efficient at acquiring new clients than Facebook or Twitter and a client on your email list is 6x more valuable over their lifetime than social media followers alone.
Using a service that offers “canned” generic content for emails. Your clients know that’s not original, personal, nor did you put any time or thought into it. They also might be getting the exact same thing from other Realtors or lenders! Oops!
6. Shoot plenty of (short) videos.
Video should be a key component of any smart marketing campaign. Take plenty of short (1-2 minutes) videos and post these to your own business channel on YouTube, as well as Instagram and Facebook.
It’s estimated that by 2022, 82 percent of all internet traffic will be video. According to Forrester Research, just one minute of video is the equivalent to 1.8 million words to the human brain – about the same amount of content as about 3,600 web pages filled with text!
Reluctancy to get started is the biggest mistake. Just take out the phone/camera and start shooting! Remember that you can always edit them down the road. Other common video mistakes? Crappy audio and having the sun behind you or filming in shadows.
7. Differentiate with a book or podcast.
Want to REALLY separate yourself from the competition? Consider writing and publishing a book (or, at least short-form white paper or market report) and start a podcast. If you want extraordinary success, you’ll have to do what others are not!
Last year, 675 million print books sold in the U.S., and each day, Amazon.com alone sells more than a million eBooks! Likewise, at least 50% of all Americans have listened to a podcast, and about a third of Americans (32%) listen to one or more podcasts monthly! Both of those are HUGE, untapped opportunities for marketing!
Thinking that a book needs to be a 300-page epic novel. You can also publish market reports, white papers, surveys, special reports, and short handbooks or guides.
8. It’s not about you.
Incorporate referral partners, brands, media, other vendors, trades, events, charity, community, etc. into your marketing – it will be a complete game changer!
You should easily be able to 2X your marketing reach just by incorporating frequent mentions of others.
Buy from me. Sell with me. Follow me. Use me. I’m the best; it all gets painfully redundant! Revolutionize your marketing by making it all about OTHERS, not you!
9. Build a smart and savvy sales funnel.
Consider a funnel marketing system that includes strategic Facebook ads, Instagram ads, or YouTube pre-roll ads, etc., plus a landing page, giveaway, chatbot, auto email responses, and more.
Research shows that a well-designed sales funnel will bring in 13x more leads and allow for 9x more closed deals than having no funnel or system.
Trying to do it all yourself. You’re in the real estate business, not the marketing automation business.
10. Define your brand.
Your brand is your promise to your clients, so build a brand that will be consistent, recognizable, and reflects your personality and what you can do to help people. Your brand should reflect who YOU are, but also encompass the ethos of the community you’re trying to build.
83% of consumers follow at least one brand and 71% make purchases strictly because they know and like a brand, not just the individual product or service.
Whatever you do, don’t say “I offer great service.” Everyone should have great service – it’s the bare minimum these days, especially for the rip that comes that the end of a closed deal!
Bonus marketing tip:
Partner with a great credit repair firm like Blue Water Credit to nurture your home buyer leads that aren’t ready now because of credit score challenges.
They’ll help rebuild your turn-down clients' credit scores and deliver a ready-to-qualify buyer to you within months! Just contact Jeff@BlueWaterCredit.com and he'll help you out!
Now go out there and get some new business!
You may think of YouTube as just a place to host your longer videos, but if we look under the hood, it’s actually a well-oiled search engine.
That also makes YouTube an incredibly powerful lead generation and business growth tool, albeit vastly underutilized these days (so there’s a bigger opportunity for you).
I truly believe that the average Realtor, mortgage lender, or business owner can start using YouTube for business and see results after 30 days, with significant ROI (or, ROT: Return on Time), within three months or less.
Oh, and it’s also easy, free, and requires no special knowledge or equipment.
I’ll break it all down for you in this article, but to start, we have to talk about a different company: Google.
By far the most popular search engine in the U.S. (and the western world), Google now accounts for 73% of all internet searches.
Next on down the list of traditional search engines you’ll see Bing second with 7.91% of internet queries. They’re followed by Yahoo with 3.95%, Ask (formerly Ask Jeeves) with 0.42%, and AOL (which wouldn’t even be notable save for their prominence in the early days of the internet) with 0.06% market share.
If we add it to that list, YouTube is a far bigger search engine than Yahoo, Bing, Ask and AOL – combined!
Thinking of YouTube as a search engine – not just a video platform
YouTube isn’t widely used as a search engine yet, but that’s exactly what it does, syncing seamlessly with Google to produce one of the most powerful and effective search engines in the world. (Notice that they ask you for a Google account or Gmail address to log in?)
Just by posting enough quality content with the right headlines, descriptions, tags, and links, you can vault your content to the top of the search engines. That will allow you to rank highly for important key words and search equerries, reaching your potential audience en masse like never before.
It’s within easy reach for the average Realtor, mortgage lender, or small business owner to rank high on YouTube, whereas ranking #1 or even on the first page of Google can take a whole lot of SEO and money.
Here are some quick stats on YouTube, particularly as a search engine:
YouTube by the numbers
And YouTube is still growing
The YouTube youth movement…and seniors, too?
An audience that is looking for YOUR content, not the other way around
Most Facebook and Instagram users scroll, post, and comment for entertainment’s sake (or messaging, sharing photos, etc.).
But YouTube viewers are specifically looking for information, reviews, guides, video experiences, and How-To’s.
In fact, the average YouTube viewer spends 8 minutes and 41 seconds on the site each day.
YouTube instruction is so prevalent, that the term, “University of YouTube” was coined for DIY learning, and one US mother built her own house from the ground up just off of instructional videos – with no previous building experience!
In fact, the three times as many people prefer to watch a How-To video on YouTube instead of reading an instruction manual.
That’s a big paradigm shift – and the key to how YouTube can completely revolutionize your marketing.
YouTube as a lead generation tool and sales magnet
With one simple video, a Realtor, mortgage lender, or business owner can reach tens of thousands of viewers (or way more) in your local who are actively searching for that kind of content.
Don’t get me wrong: Facebook or Instagram are important tools as well.
But, when someone scrolls through their newsfeed on FB or IG, they aren’t actively looking or searching for your content (usually). You can only hope to capture their attention for a second or two – usually by paying for ad placement or boosting a post – before they scroll on.
That’s like placing a billboard under an airport and expecting air passengers to see it as they zoom on by!
Conversely, YouTube is much more efficient for getting your message across to a larger and more appreciative audience – on their own terms.
It’s as if they park their car under that same billboard and look up.
It’s also an ideal way to initiate your marketing funnel.
(YouTube > Subscribe > Giveaway > Email List > Website or Blog > Social Media > etc.).
But, like everything, the key is being consistent with your branding, messages, and frequency of posts while always focusing on adding value.
I’ll talk a lot more about best practices for using YouTube as a lead generation engine and sales magnet in future articles, but we’ve established that YouTube is a kick-ass search engine and WAY underutilized among real estate agents, mortgage pros, and other business owners.
Contact me if you’d like to chat more about how YouTube could help your business.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than twelve years since the bubble burst on the real estate and mortgage market back in 2006-7, leading us into some dark times and a Great Recession. Anyone who was working as a Realtor, mortgage lender, or in the business remembers it well.
Even at our most confident, we know that an economic slowdown is coming again soon. No matter how you crunch the data, it points to a correction after eleven quarters of economic growth and a new milestone of homeowner equity.
But what goes up, must come down. The waves come in, and the waves go out.
I truly believe that the real estate market is strong and the next downturn will have more to do with the broader economy (and our non-mortgage debt) than the housing sector. However, the coming recession could get pretty ugly and last a lot longer than a year or two. The wolf is almost at the door.
Seasoned real estate and mortgage veterans will have a lot of perspective and experience to fall back on. But there are a lot of semi-newbies – or those who just never truly absorbed the lessons from the last crash – who still could use some guidance.
The cycles of real estate are inevitable and nothing to be feared…
IF you prepare and position your business strategically
BEFORE we’re in the midst of it.
For that reason, I wanted to present to you these 10 lessons I learned from the last real estate crash:
It may feel like all is lost, but golden opportunities will emerge – if you pay attention and take advantage of them. For instance, short sales, selling bank-owned properties, cash-out refinances, investor purchases, etc. will all be more prevalent in any down economy.
Just focus on adding as much value as possible, and your business will always thrive.
2.People still have needs
Sure, the luxury home market may not be popping, and the refinance boom may be on hold, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of business out there. In fact, people always have needs when it comes to buying, selling, and getting home loans, even in a down market. During the last crash, the agents who were thinking clearly and rationally (and that wasn’t a lot of us, including me!) got on board with short sales early, or aligned themselves with banks and sold REOs. Lenders focused on hard money or financing for investors, etc.
When the next downturn comes, can you start including property management to take advantage of the rental market? A lease-to-own program? Work with first-time buyers? Cater to investors? Sell land? Develop a project, yourself?
People always have needs, so just position yourself accordingly when the market swings.
3.“Brand always wins.”
The great marketing icon, Gary Vaynerchuk, urges entrepreneurs to establish their brand. That’s what will separate you from the pack and invigorate your business, far more than the company you work for or any product or service you offer.
Since Realtors and mortgage lenders are essentially lone wolves, they should be working diligently to build their brand. That’s even more important when there’s a market downturn, so start building a strong brand TODAY to prepare.
Contact me if you'd like to chat about how we can build your rock-solid and unforgettable brand!
4.There will be less competition
During the halcyon days of 2003-2006, just about everyone and their mother got a real estate license or started peddling home loans. Literally – their mother, too.
But once the housing market fell off a cliff, it wasn’t as fun, easy, or lucrative anymore, and there was a stampede for the exits.
You’ll see the same thing once it’s “grind time” again. So, while you’re going through those down periods and feel hopeless or like giving up, remember that every day that you stay in business, you just outlasted an agent or two who did not!
5.The universe rewards energy
I truly believe that the universe rewards energy, and that’s especially true for marketing, prospecting, and sales. More than ever, selling real estate or mortgage loans will be a contact sport, so you need to get back to basics and do A LOT more of what works.
You may have to go through a few (hundred) more “no’s” before you can get to your “yes!” so prioritize your prospecting and become a machine!
6.Refocus on relationships
More than ever, it will be important to invest in people. Go to every networking event, call your database from A to Z, knock on doors, get back to open houses, reengage your referral partners, and connect with as many human beings as possible. Make sure you’re offering value and listen.
You never know what good might come of it, so focusing on genuine relationships is the best way to stay in business.
7.People ALWAYS need someplace to live!
The real estate and mortgage markets will never actually “go away” because people always need a place to live (and access to “cheap money”).
In fact, the biggest threat to your career isn’t the next downturn, but Artificial Intelligence and automation, the big firms like Zillow, Redfin, Google, etc. getting into real estate, and the big banks squeezing out the smaller lenders.
8.Keep showing up to work
Back in 2006/2007, I was working for a real estate shop in Sacramento, California, and doing pretty well. In fact, I had just written a $30,000 check to buy into a small mortgage company – only weeks before the crash! Needless to say, it all fell apart.
The bad news kept coming as deals fell apart, buyers backed out, lenders went bankrupt, and it was nearly impossible to close a loan. Each day it felt like you were walking into the office only to get punched in the gut (or someplace lower!).
Everyone was worried about paying their next bill. Everyone’s fight or flight kicked in. No one was sleeping through the night. The anxiety was palpable.
It was so exhausting to get my ass kicked at work every day that soon, I didn’t want to show up at all. And then, I didn’t even want to get out of bed. Why bother? Many of us walked around like zombies, half checked-out, for years!
But a funny thing happened. Those agents and lenders who showed up to work found a way through. By putting their anxieties and defeatism aside and treating it as a job, they closed a deal here and there and muddled on.
It wasn’t always pretty – there were bankruptcies, foreclosures, divorces, and an unprecedented amount of financial stress not felt since the Great Depression. But the only way through it is to take it head-on, and just showing up every day is half the battle!
9.“Be the most positive person you know.”
I think it was the famous Zig Ziglar who used to say that. I’m no warm and fuzzy self-help guru, but that sh*t makes a huge difference - not only on your mental health but on the success of your business. We make a choice whether to be positive or negative, so why not choose to be super positive? That’s one thing you can control, no matter what.
10.Shout it to the rooftops!
When people who work in sales are in such a slump that they couldn’t sell ice cream on a summer day, their natural inclination is to clam up, become less communicative, and grow increasingly isolated. Or, even worse, there are a lot of professionals who still put on a good show and pretend that everything is normal for their own ego’s sake.
When the market turns, you should do the exact opposite. Talk honestly to everyone you know. Become the best information source available to them. Be authentic. Take every challenge, setback, defeat, question, issue, and, yes, victory that you experience and turn them into stories to share with others. Be real. Offer compassion as well as tangible solutions.
Be the person who leads them through the hard times…not someone who shies away from them!
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with world-renowned marketing automation expert, Jordan Glickman of Impremis Marketing.
I asked Jordan a whole lot of questions about what the average Realtor and mortgage lender is doing right, wrong, and what they can do better to boost their online presence, bring in more leads, and close more deals.
In this short (2 minute) video, Jordan touches upon the need for sales engines and lead generations for agents or mortgage lenders.
To see more about next-level marketing and lead generation tactics for your real estate or mortgage business, you can email me or go to Impremis.com to contact Jordan!
4 out of 5 Realtors and mortgage lenders prefer Trident: What you can learn about surveys from the iconic 1980s marketing campaign
If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s vividly, then you definitely recall a Trident television ad in which the brand’s spokesperson claimed that “Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.”
It was actually launched by the Warner-Lambert Company as part of their ad campaign for a novel-yet-fledgling innovation, a sugarless gum called Trident.
It’s hard to imagine these days, but the sugar free or sugarless phenomenon hadn’t caught on yet (this is when you could still smoke on airplanes!), However, Trident was tanking with consumers, and about to be discontinued.
Then, the “Four out of five” ad was released, and it changed everything. Based on a poll of 1,200 dentists conducted by the somewhat-obscure Chicago Reader in 1980, they determined that sugarless gum was recommended by 85 percent of dentists (that’s why they couldn’t say “Nine out of ten” at first). Still to this day, no one knows which knucklehead dentists actually recommended more sugar in their patients’ gum!
The TV ad became so popular that it was soon a household saying, a cultural trope, and the stem of many jokes.
But, the marketing epiphany of using data from a survey or poll was replicated by toothpaste brands like Crest, Sensodyne, Colgate, and others (who all claimed that 9 out of 10 dentists recommended their brands, which is statistically impossible!).
There’s nothing stopping you from running your own survey or poll, and using the data as a marketing coup, just like Trident did back in 1980.
Yes, I do realize that you're in the business of selling homes and funding loans, not brightening smiles.
But, there are 3 inherent advantages to surveys that make them so invaluable no matter what field you're in:
1. Learn about your target audience/clients
You’re directly asking your target audience or potential custom base to volunteer information about their beliefs, attitudes, motivations, needs, challenges, and more.
(All of the big brands, shopping sites, and retailers are obsessed with collecting your data and finding out more about you!)
2. Come up with tangible data
You don’t just end up with a range of opinions or a few answers to open-ended questions but specific, tangible statistical data.
3. Snazzy and presentable format
That data lends itself perfectly to charts, graphs, and other forms of visual expression that aren’t only appealing to the eye, but easy to scan, understand, and lend themselves to sharing online.
Case Study #1:
I recently ran a survey for one of my favorite clients (and good friends), Jason Matthews of Matthews Insurance and Financial Services.
We sent out invites for people to take a simple survey consisting of just 10 questions, which only took them a few minutes. (I’ll talk more about how to effectively run surveys and best practices in a future blog.)
When we collected the results, we had some clear, concrete data that really stands out when we use it as a marketing tool.
Not only does Jason have a much better understanding of what makes his clients or audience tick, but there are SO many helpful ways we can use this data, the survey results, and these graphs to market his business going forward.
We even included an open-ended question, “What are your top fears about the economy,” and gleaned this useful list:
With minimal effort and little or no cost (or, just outsource the work to me!), the average Realtor or mortgage lender can come up with something like:
Those are just examples, but you get the idea.
All of this leads to an exponentially larger audience, new levels of trust and credibility, boundless opportunities to share your content, and plenty of new clients – just like it turned Trident’s fortunes around virtually overnight.
Case Study #2
Does this one look familiar?
I ran this survey for my own little brand, Real Estate Marketing w/ Norm, a week or two ago.
But instead of surveying PEOPLE, I surveyed the Instagram posts and content of the top 100 Realtors and mortgage lenders in the U.S.
The result was easily summarized in this handy dandy graph that has since been shared and re-shared across the industry, conveying huge value to any Realtor or loan officer who wants to follow in the footsteps of the best in the business (and what they’re doing for marketing).
Other chief benefits to hosting surveys:
Endear yourself to your audience
Studies show that one of the most powerful ways to get people to like you isn’t by doing something for them, but by asking them for a favor or to complete a task that helps you out. People also want to be heard, counted, and valued, and asking them to complete a survey appeals to that.
Congrats, you’re instantly an industry leader
99.999% of your competition are NOT doing this, so surveys are a fantastic took to differentiate yourself from your competitors and elevate your brand.
If you use this correctly, the data from these survey results will be useful for years, and you can ride the wave of promotion and new opportunities as you pick up scores of new clients along the way.
No matter how big or small your operation, how long you’ve been in business or how much income you’re pulling in, you immediately become a credible and authoritative voice of your industry by using surveys and releasing the findings.
Surveys result in useful, clear, and compelling statistics, and those are shared, used, and referenced over and over for years to come.
Did you ever wonder how one Realtor or mortgage lender in your city keeps getting quoted over and over again in just about any article about the housing market? Creating statistics based on credible surveys is the best way to “break in” to that closed media circle.
Send a press release based around your survey findings and you’ll be surprised how effective it is for garnering media attention – and they’ll have to quote you or give you credit!
Once you have a relationship with certain members of the media, you’ll always have their ear since they’re constantly looking for stories and concrete data to use.
You can take that to the next level by publishing your survey results as a special report or white paper on Kindle for Amazon, Apple Books, etc. All of a sudden, the world’s leading content platforms are listing your name and promoting FOR you!
Create unique social media and marketing content
As you see, the data and information you glean from these surveys is perfect for graphs, charts, lists, and stats that can be used for custom content you share on social media, email, your website, buyers and sellers’ packets, etc.
In a future blog, I’ll give you tips and best practices how to create and use surveys to launch your brand and grow your business to new heights!
Or, you can just ignore this smart marketing tactic and keep doing what everyone else is doing for marketing, instead.
Guess what the results will be?
What content mix are the best Realtors and mortgage lenders posting on Instagram?
They say that there’s a roadmap to success, and the best way to achieve greatness in your respective field is to follow in the footsteps of industry leaders. However, when it comes to Instagram, those road maps are a lot harder to find (or changing almost monthly). The social platform continues to evolve rapidly, as do the ways marketers and business owners use it.
So, for the average entrepreneur or real estate pro to maximize their presence on Instagram, they’d have to spend hundreds of hours reading guide, blogs, and eBooks and watching scores of instructional videos.
Then, it hit me: instead of doing it that way, why not just follow the most successful Realtors and mortgage lenders in the U.S. and track what THEY are doing on Instagram? By observing the best of the best and analyzing the results, I could form a rough blueprint for best practices -and share it with you (so you can shamelessly copy it).
By the way, if you’re in a rush then you can skip all of this methodology and just check out the results and graph near the end of this blog.
I did just that over the course of the last three months, but it wasn’t easy. It took endless combing through lists of top mortgage lenders and Realtors, checking in with industry periodicals and sites like Mortgage News, Mortgage Origination, Scotsman Guide, Realtor, and many more, and cross-referencing endless smaller blogs and rankings.
The other issue was that I was only looking for the best on Instagram, not just the best, and many of the traditional “old guard’ don’t bother with social media, or just use it sporadically and personally.
I also wanted to track individuals (or teams), not large companies with huge social media ad budgets and countless interns, and I threw out the outliers (like Crazy Cat Realtor and Political Post Broker) and discounted any post that had to do with going to the gym, random vanity selfies, or snapshots of their lunch (there weren’t too many of those, as the top-100 definitely do things for a reason, don’t waste time, and have a tight social media plan).
Likewise, I took into account the fact that Realtors post a whole lot of content about houses: open houses, houses for sale, houses that just sold, and just plain nice houses. So, those will always be more prevalent in a real estate agent’s Instagram timeline, and I split them up into sub-categories based on the purpose of those posts.
So, while this list shouldn’t be taken as 100% accurate, it is based on a mountain of data and observation. I think the result is a very fair representation of what the top Realtors and mortgage lenders in the U.S. are posting on Instagram to bring in clients and grow their business better than the rest.
Let’s get the good stuff – the top-100 formula for Instagram.
(Keep skipping to the next section)
In all, there were 30 main categories of posts for top-producing Instagram accounts (in no particular order):
That’s a whole lot to process (and way too much to summarize in one simple yet snazzy graph), so I decided to break it down into nine main categories, ranking them by a percentage that they appeared on the Instagram timeline.
(Finally, here it is.)
The top categories for top-producer Instagram content:
34% Personal, Family, and Slice-of-Life
27% On the Job
11% Events, Happenings, and Offers
9% Community and Charity
6% Social Proof, Reviews and Testimonials
5% Products and Services
4% General Interest and Humor
1% News, Blogs, and Content
That’s pretty useful data if you’re a Realtor or mortgage lender (not yet in the top-100 in America) and trying to strategically plan your marketing on Instagram.
It also means that it’s much easier to walk into the footstep of these industry giants and emulate their success!
A few other notes:
Video versus image posts:
Videos are a huge part of their marketing plan, but don’t dominate their Instagram feed – yet. In fact, videos comprise only 21% of all content for the top 100 Realtors and mortgage lenders in the U.S. – a little more than one out of every four posts.
However, averages can be deceiving, as I tracked several real estate pros who post almost nothing but videos, and a good number of pros post them rarely or not at all.
How often do top Realtors and mortgage lenders post on Instagram?
Among the best of the best of Realtors and lenders, they post on Instagram 1.7 times per day.
Personal versus business Instagram profile:
93% of all Instagram accounts were business profiles for the top 100 Realtors and mortgage brokers.
That’s it for today – enough number crunching until next week! Hit me up if you have any questions or need some help with your marketing!
The best damn marketing you can do…if you only have 5 minutes per day!
I received a great question from a new client the other day.
Based in breathtakingly-gorgeous Lake Tahoe in Northern California, my client is even busier than the average realtor (or mortgage lender). One minute, she’s showing luxury homes and negotiating better deals for investors. The next, serving 'Tahoe locals who are trying to buy their first home, in between managing vacation properties and dealing with the peaks and valleys of the off-season versus the ski season.
So, she's thrilled to have me on-board to help, freeing her up to focus on meeting new clients and selling homes ($200/hour-and-up tasks) instead of grinding away with mundane marketing (the $20/hour tasks that I handle).
However, this soon-to-be-superstar Lake Tahoe agent was still worried about the time it would take to commit to our new marketing campaign.
“So, if I only have an extra hour each day,” she asked me. “What’s the most important thing I should be doing to market my business?”
Fantastic question – and many of you are in the same boat, with so many obligations and important matters (like putting out fires and closing deals!) pulling you in every direction that it’s really hard to find an hour – yet alone a few minutes – to sit down and dedicate to marketing.
“I’ll do you one better,” I told her. “And tell you what you can do in just five minutes every day to grow your business.”
“What is it?” she asked, eagerly.
“Just turn on your camera and start videoing!” I said.
I genuinely believe that is the #1 most beneficial marketing activity for any real estate agent, mortgage lender, or any small business owner or entrepreneur.
If you only could do ONE thing for marketing…
And only had an extra 5 MINUTES every day…
The best use of that time is to shoot a few short videos.
Like marketing icon, Gary Vaynerchuk says, “No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story.”
I can give you a ton of data to back up that assertion, like that 83% of brands, companies, and entrepreneurs using video marketing think it gives them a good ROI.
But that's kinda boring, so I’d rather get you excited about how easy, fun, and effective this is.
You're already paying too much for your smartphone every month, and it's with you at all times, so why not put it to work? These videos don’t need to be fancy, formal, or use any special equipment – just point and hit record.
The opportunities are boundless. In the car driving to an appointment? Turn on the camera and talk about the house, the clients, the market, or the crazy things the home inspector just found.
Take that time to wish a client happy birthday, send them a happy home-buying anniversary vid, congratulate them on getting married, or thank them personally for that last referral they sent you.
You can shoot quick videos to update buyers and sellers, or answer a common question or concern you hear often. Lenders should be doing this EVERY DAY with valuable content that helps Realtors as well as educates and informs their clients. And a personalized video update is a great way to invite people to events you’re promoting.
The best part is that you can film short vids anywhere and anytime as you go about your typical day. Do you love it when the leaves start to change color in autumn? See a stunning sunset from your new listing’s back yard? Your first-time homebuyers just got their keys and are practically (or literally) jumping with joy?
Turn on the camera and share those moments!
Here are examples from three of my clients who do a great job shooting quick videos all the time.
You can also give tangible, concrete advice and information with these quick videos. Discuss a statistic or market trend in a video, walk through an example of a good (or bad) investment property, or talk about property taxes and why it’s better to buy than rent, etc.
Oh, you’re having a bad hair day (or, a bad hair decade like me!) and look like you just rolled out of bed? Simply turn the camera around the other way so it’s pointing out into the world. Narrate the video as you drive through certain neighborhoods, visit local landmarks, and walk through homes you’re buying or selling.
At your escrow office for a signing? Introduce your favorite title and escrow team - or appraiser, home inspector, and home improvement contractor.
Lunchtime at your favorite local restaurant? Why not scan the room, video the menu, say hi to the owner, and give them a great video recommendation?
If nothing else, just share a few of your thoughts on gratitude, why you love your job, or THANK someone.
You’ll be surprised how fun this is once you get rolling and make it a habit, and how much fantastic marketing content you can produce in just five minutes a day.
If the video comes out too dark, your voice is drowned out by an 18-wheeler, or you just come out sounding like a rambling crazy person (me again!), then you simply discard that video, or edit out the parts you don’t like.
With video marketing, short and sweet is better, and you can share them on Instagram (feed, story, or TV), Facebook, YouTube, etc.
I realize that I’m getting fired up and talking a lot about WHAT to video, but you get the point – stop thinking and just turn on the damn smartphone and get started. It will offer the highest ROI by far on your time and marketing dollars.
In just five minutes a day, you’ll be FAR ahead of the competition and, most importantly, far ahead of where you were this time last year.
Now, I gotta run – I’m going to fix my hair and try to take my own advice by shooting a few helpful marketing videos!
P.S. Need help with those $20/hour marketing tasks so you can focus on making $200 an hour or more? Hit me up!