Content Is Still King on Your Web Site

In the new era of marketing, make it easy for customers to find you online by providing the information they need.

August 1, 2010

In "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, "Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?" The Cheshire Cat, being a little mischievous, responds: "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."

Many small businesses come to my company, HubSpot, because they want to know how to use the Web to generate more leads for their business. When they first come to us, many are like Alice, trying to find the right path online for their business, but lacking a vision of where they’d like to go.

In the past, your customers may have found you by browsing through property listings in a newspaper. Today, they’re just as likely to "crowdsource" the search through their online networks.

To reach prospects today, it goes without saying that you need to have a Web site. But simply having a Web site is not enough. Your brokerage needs to build an online presence that helps prospects find you through search engines and social media.

Create Content That Answers a Need

The best way to be found online is to make it very easy for prospects to travel to your Web site. Links are like the highways that run through your city. And on the Web, you want as many highways as possible running straight to your front door.

The best way to generate more links to your site is to create remarkable content that makes people want to link to you. The more inbound links you have, the higher your site will rank on search engines.

Give prospects the ability to easily share your content in the social media sphere—on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other sites that can propel content virally.

The type of content your business should create depends on the needs of your prospect. Think about people who are relocating, buying for the first time, or selling their home. What questions do they ask? What information do they need? Buyers may want to know about the test scores at the local schools or the city’s plans to construct a new park.

Spread the Word, Capture Business

Once the great content is created, you need to make sure people find it and tell others about it. At HubSpot, this is all part of a strategy we call "inbound marketing."

Encourage brokers and salespeople to create their own social media accounts and answer prospects’ real estate questions online, with links back to your brokerage Web site.

Use Twitter to interact with your customers and prospects. Create webinars that educate first-time buyers on how to get a mortgage. Post entertaining video tours of the neighborhoods you serve. Offer prospects a downloadable, free relocation kit that helps them get acclimated to your area.

Although some information should be distributed freely, without requiring prospects to do anything except click on a link, you’ll find that consumers will be willing to fill out an online form and provide some personal information in order to get highly valuable content.

That’s where the lead-conversion process begins. When you ask customers to fill out an online form, be sure you follow through on your promise to deliver compelling information and helpful advice. You’ll be more likely to connect with prospects who are still in the research phase of purchasing a home.

Choose Your Path

In talking about his central character, Alice, Lewis Carroll once said: "I had sent my heroine right down the rabbit-hole without the least idea what would happen afterwards." I, at least, will send you down the rabbit-hole with a little preparation.

Many paths are available to you, but not all will result in more leads. If you have the commitment to building an online presence, the inbound marketing path is the only road worth taking.

Brian Halligan is coauthor (with Dharmesh Shah) of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs (Wiley, 2009). Halligan also is cofounder and CEO of HubSpot Inc., an Internet marketing company that helps small businesses "get found" by qualified prospects.