With the country in recession due to the coronavirus pandemic, property experts are forecasting a downturn in the housing market towards the end of the year. The easing of lockdown restrictions and the temporary stamp duty holiday boosted house prices to a record high in August, but when the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end on October 1st, unemployment figures are expected to rise. This could have a negative impact on the property market.
Now more than ever, estate agents need to be proactive about winning clients and securing sales. Many people are still wary about venturing out of their homes — or inviting potential buyers into them — making online marketing an essential strategy for success. In this guide, we’ll share our top tips for boosting your online presence.
- Update the Agency’s Website
Most property searches start online, and there is plenty of competition when it comes to estate agencies and property portals. If you don’t have a first-class website, potential customers will scroll on by.
Successful websites put the user experience (UX) first — it needs to be clear what you’re offering, and visitors should be able to navigate around the site with ease. Professional graphics are especially important for the property market, so use high-resolution, eye-catching images to break up long chunks of text and to grab your visitors’ attention.
Make your site stand out from competitors by highlighting your unique selling points (USPs) or offering something a potential customer can’t resist such as a free valuation or access to video tours. Estate agents that provide added value such as chain repair and part-exchange schemes that enable buyers to avoid property chain problems will have a competitive advantage.
- Consistently Produce High-Quality Content
According to Hubspot’s “State of Inbound” report, content creation is a top priority for 53% of marketers. Producing content that helps and educates potential customers is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site and build trust in your brand.
Add a blog to your agency website, and regularly update it with informative and engaging content — around once a week is ideal. Consistent, high-quality blogging provides a host of benefits including increased audience retention, trust, lead generation, more conversions, higher website authority and an improved social media presence.
- Improve Your Social Media Presence
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are fantastic social listening tools for estate agents. They can help you to understand buyer trends and pitch your website messaging to generate high-converting leads.
Once you’ve established a blog and are posting consistently, promote your content across social media. You don’t have to build a presence on every platform. Simply find out where your target audience spends their time, and prioritise that channel. Customers like to get a feel for a business — their values, employees and purpose. For most people, buying or selling a house is one of the biggest financial decisions they will make in their lives, and gaining their trust is an important step for estate agents. Posting images of office events or even employee birthdays can help build a relationship and foster trust with potential customers. You can also share reviews, and post about new listings or company developments.
- Make Sure Your Site Is Well-Optimised
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is essential for any business website. The basics are fairly easy to pick up, but engaging the services of a professional is often a savvy investment. Any SEO expert worth their salt will pay for themselves in terms of Google rankings, traffic and conversions.
The purpose of SEO is to improve your agency’s visibility in online searches. You want your agency to appear at the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP) when a user taps in relevant keywords such as “estate agent near me”. Choose your keywords with care, and over time you should see an increase in the quantity and quality of organic traffic. SEO does not deliver results overnight — if you’re looking for results fast, you’ll have to allocate spend for paid or “pay-per-click” (PPC) advertising.
- Invest in Paid Online Advertising
Google AdWords (pay-per-click advertising) delivers fast results, but it comes at a cost. However, you only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads. As with SEO, paid advertising is based on keywords.
The AdWords dashboard allows you to track different metrics and continually hone your campaign to achieve the best results — that is, driving people that are likely to convert into customers to your site. A well-crafted campaign can deliver a staggering return on investment (ROI) in a relatively short space of time. Taking on an expert is a smart choice — unless you’re a tech whizz with plenty of time on your hands to devote to PPC.
Prospects for the housing market — and the economy in general — may currently look less than rosy, but proactive estate agents that give their all to exceptional online customer experience can survive and thrive beyond COVID-19 and the recession.