Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. In addition to writing print and online articles, Erica oversees the magazine's Broker to Broker content, co-manages the 30 Under 30 program, and manages the YPN Lounge. Connect with her via email: email@example.com.
Create Moments of Discovery Online
Your website content should captures the attention of buyers and sellers searching for answers on their mobile devices.
October 22, 2015
Who understands your clients’ real estate needs better than you do? You anticipate their questions; you know what makes them excited or nervous, and what generates their objections. But does your website reflect your innate market knowledge and ability to meet clients’ needs?
In April, Nobu Hata, NAR’s director of digital engagement, wrote about the zero moment of truth for Broker to Broker. He talked the importance of being there to capture “micro-moments” when buyers and sellers are searching for answers online. Hata discussed the power of thoughtful and useful website content that answers common buyer and seller questions. Community profiles, understandable market analysis, and consumer-empowering resources are good examples of content that achieves that goal.
Last month, Hata went to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to speak about fulfilling those micro-moments online for customers. Here are four takeaways from his presentation during the Google Ignite Real Estate Workshop:
Be mobile-first. Mobile is not five years from now, or a year from now; it’s now. So your website needs to provide the mobile experience consumers expect today. According to Google, the average mobile user looks at their phone 150 times a day, amounting to a daily dose of 162 minutes — more than two-and-a-half hours — on their mobile device. In the past year, real estate queries on Google (mobile and desktop) grew 19 percent, hitting their highest point since 2008. And specifically, mobile searches for real estate saw a 50 percent increase. Consider this: How many toddlers have you seen try to swipe a computer screen or TV? Three-year-olds are already mobile and app proficient, Hata says, so imagine what they’ll expect from the digital marketplace as they grow to become adult consumers. Positioning your brokerage to be mobile-first now will help set a precedent at your firm for staying on top of emerging technologies in the future.
Consider micro-moments when planning content for your site. Is there a mortgage calculator on your site? There should be. According to Google, there was a 66 percent increase in online searches for mortgage calculators last year. “Micro-moments are the want-to-know, -go, -do, -buy moments,” Hata says. “Explain the real estate process to the clients you want to attract.”
Go beyond. Here are seven additional content ideas from Hata that go beyond the typical “three bed, two bath” marketing:
- Look up the top 10 zip codes selling in your market on the MLS; write a post explaining why they are popular right now.
- Explain mortgage types and title insurance.
- Provide customers with downloadable handouts: 25 steps to buy a home, 25 steps to sell a home, a glossary of real estate terms, a document that explains REALTOR® vs. agent. Offer handouts in multiple languages too.
- Make neighborhood tour videos.
- Interview past clients, longtime home owners, or the mayor of your town.
- Host virtual open houses every Sunday, with agents available via chat for a set time, such as 2–4 p.m.
- Give the lay of the land for each neighborhood in your market — the nearest grocery stores, dog parks, coffee shops, new restaurants, and so on.
Follow your true passions. If you’re going to create an online marketing campaign, create one around something you love. Hata mentioned his wife as an example; Shay Hata donated $25,000 to a Chicago animal shelter last year as part of a pledge to give a percentage of every commission to charity. A passionate animal lover who has adopted two rescue dogs, Shay Hata makes her love for pets well known on social media, helping her attract like-minded clients. “Do things that make people love you and want to use you,” Hata says, adding that it helps to get your friends, family, and past clients involved in the cause. “If you share things with people who love you, then they’re part of it, and they’ll share with people in their sphere, and so on.”