Online Real Estate Tools That Will Boost Your Business

The popularity of social media, innovations in mobile technology, and the expansion of cloud computing opportunities continue to shift real estate marketing focus online.

The popularity of social media, innovations in mobile technology, and the expansion of cloud computing opportunities continue to shift real estate marketing focus online. Powerful internet real estate technology tools are allowing real estate agents to expand their client base, communicate more effectively with home buyers and home sellers, and streamline their business operations. New real estate technology tools allow Realtors to serve a greater number of customers more efficiently and more effectively, resulting in greater sales and higher profit margins.

Among the hottest web marketing trends for 2012, the following technology tools are changing the way real estate agents market themselves and conduct business:

  • Infographics impart complex data in a single glance by turning statistics into bite-size, easily-digested pictographs. Infographics are an effective way to illustrate real estate market trends, provide community snapshots, and show progress toward business goals.
  • Mobile apps in concert with cloud computing are driving the trend toward paperless real estate transactions. Mobile communication and mobile websites allow realtors to respond to consumer requests and queries immediately and access and send marketing material while they’re on the go.
  • Mobile browsing has made mobile websites a necessity for real estate agents. Consumers want instant access to real estate listings and Realtor website information no matter where they are.
  • QR codes are scannable “pictures” that can be used to impart detailed information such as listing  domains in minimal space. Accessible with a wave of the customer’s smartphone, real estate agents are attaching QR codes to emails, eflyers, tweets, brochures, for sale signs, and online and print ads.
  • Proximity marketing provides location-based notifications that alert house hunters to nearby listings as they enter target areas.
  • Social media have become the new communication standard. People spend more time engaged in social media than any other single activity. Consumers value the instant accessibility and sense of community inherent in social media. Successful agents are embracing Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and their cousins.

Properties Online puts today’s new real estate technology tools at your fingertips. For information, visit our website.

How Are Real Estate Consumers Spending Their Time Online?

There are two axioms that real estate agents live by: know your market and know your customer. Knowing your customer was much easier when clients walked in the door and real estate transactions were conducted in person. The internet is changing the way real estate agents meet and communicate with clients. Today, sellers and buyers are searching for Realtors and real estate information online and initial client contacts are likely to come from information requests on your real estate website, responses to email marketing campaigns or comments on your Facebook page. Knowing how consumers are spending their time online can help real estate professionals determine which online real estate tools will provide the best return on investment.

According to research by the Nielsen Company, 36% of the time Americans spend on the internet is spent on social networking sites, blogs, email and instant messaging. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter attract the bulk of the attention, accounting for 25% of the time people spend on the internet, an annual increase of 43%! As social networks have increased in popularity, use of email and instant messaging has decreased. Americans now spend more than three times as much time on Facebook, Twitter and blogs as they spend reading and sending emails.

Despite losses, email is still the third most popular internet activity, accounting for 8.3% of the time Americans spend online. Internet users may spend more time updating their Facebook pages than they do checking their email, but they are still checking email. As an online communication choice, instant messaging has taken the biggest hit from increased use of social media, accounting for only 4% of total online time, according to the Nielsen report.

Social media was the big winner, although online games (10%) and videos/movies (12%), including YouTube and movie sites, also showed annual usage gains. According to the Nielsen report, 40% of total online usage is spent on 3 activities: social networking, gaming and emailing; but social networks eclipse all other internet uses.

Proximity Marketing Is Tailor-Made for Real Estate Professionals

For busy real estate agents, proximity marketing apps are the next best thing to standing in front of a house and handing out flyers to everyone who drives past — but with significant advantages. Proximity apps require no physical presence, work for you 24/7/365, and don’t actually require home buyers to stop at the curb in front of the home. Home buyers merely have to enter the area or access information about the area for your home listing to pop up.

The exponential growth of smart phone use over the past year and significant advances in mobile communication technology have made proximity marketing this year’s hottest real estate marketing tool. Proximity marketing, also called location-based marketing, uses mobile technology apps such as FourSquare, Facebook Places and Yelp to alert interested home buyers to available properties as they enter a neighborhood. As soon as a prospective home buyer drives into a new area, he receives an alert notifying him of any homes for sale that meet his search criteria. Proximity apps provide addresses and can link to agent mobile websites and listing domains, allowing home buyers to drive by the home and/or access additional listing information.

For busy real estate agents, proximity marketing apps are the next best thing to standing in front of a house and handing out flyers to everyone who drives past — but with significant advantages. Proximity apps require no physical presence, work for you 24/7/365, and don’t actually require home buyers to stop at the curb in front of the home. Home buyers merely have to enter the area or access information about the area for your home listing to pop up.

To reap the greatest rewards from proximity marketing, real estate agents must take the time to create geo-fences around each of their listing properties. Proximity alerts are generated when consumers cross a geo-fence. Creating geo-fences around individual properties as well as around neighborhoods where you have listings will increase the number of alerts sent out. It’s equally important to key your geo-fences to amenities that house hunters enter in their housing preferences. Proximity alerts can be triggered not just by location but by matches to buyers’ search criteria.

Take into account the many methods home buyers use to find homes in a certain location and the many things they consider when shopping for a home, such as zip code, square footage, number of bedrooms, school districts, pet friendliness, etc. To make the best use of proximity apps, design your geo-fences to trigger as many buyer search criteria as possible.

Facebook Best Practices for Real Estate Professionals

Facebook business pages have become a marketing necessity for real estate agents. A Facebook presence puts your brand and your product where home buyers, home sellers and other real estate industry professionals are most likely to see them. According to a 2011 Nielsen Social Media Report, U.S. internet users spend more time on Facebook than on any other website. The average Facebook user spends 14 minutes a day on Facebook, or about 7 hours a month; that’s nearly a full business day!

Facebook Business Page

According to the Nielsen report, in January 2010, Facebook users averaged 55 Facebook visits per month during which they visited 90 domains and logged 2,621 page views — and the numbers keep increasing! Facebook is a potential marketing gold mine for real estate agents, put it’s also easy to get lost in the roar of the crowd. To get the best return on investment from your Facebook business page, real estate professionals should follow these Facebook best practices:

  • Items posted on the weekend draw the most user activity and are shared more often than items posted on weekdays. However, Thursday morning is the best time to post new listing domains. Posting new listings just before the weekend generates buyer excitement and allows time to schedule weekend home tours.
  • Facebook posts made at the beginning of the work day, between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., generate the most Facebook user traffic, likes and sharing. Posts made at 6 p.m. also ranked high with Facebook users and another, smaller user spike occurs from 10 p.m. to midnight.
  • Facebook users are quickly annoyed by overactive posters. For greatest traction, limit Facebook posts to every other day.
  • Positive posts track 4 times higher than negative posts. Use positive language when writing posts and creating downloadable information.
  • Facebook users are also drawn to useful information. Linking Facebook posts to real estate website tools such as mortgage and closing cost calculators or to helpful downloads such as home selling checklists, home buying tips and house staging tips attracts Facebook users.

Tips for Designing Dynamic Real Estate eFlyers

eFlyers are an easy way to send information to large numbers of clients and other real estate agents, but they can also be a powerful tool for driving traffic to your real estate website. The key to using eFlyers to boost real estate site traffic is search engine optimization. By applying the same keywords, linking strategies and search engine optimization techniques used to drive traffic to your website, Facebook page, listing domains, YouTube videos and blog, your eFlyers become an integrated part of your total web presence and an additional tool for increasing your search rankings on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

keller williams craigslist flyer

Follow these tips to improve the search engine optimization of your real estate eFlyers:

  • Include keyword links to website landing pages, real estate videos and listing domains.
  • Keep your layout visually clean. You’ll garner the greatest response with short bold headlines, short copy blocks and a few crisp photos. Use links, embedded videos and QR codes to direct flyer recipients to more detailed information.
  • Prominently display your contact information in the top-right quarter of the page. Studies have shown that when viewing a webpage or document, the human eye goes first to the top right quadrant. With your contact information, include one-click links to your website, Facebook page, blog, Twitter feed, etc.

Properties Online’s easy-to-use email builder allows real estate professionals to craft dynamic eFlyers with just a few mouse clicks. A handy real estate tool built into the Properties Online platform, Agent Announce allows real estate agents to quickly design professional-looking eFlyers and send out 1,000 to 10,000 flyers at a time in targeted or broad-spectrum email blasts. Time-saving and cost-efficient, our email builder is an excellent way to alert clients and agents to new listings, status changes and price updates. Statistic tracking allows Realtors to measure the effectiveness of eFlyer campaigns as both a real estate marketing and communication tool. With prices starting at just $10, eFlyers are a fast, easy and affordable way to send information to large groups of people. Want to try it? For a limited time, real estate professionals can get their first email blast of up to 1,000 emails free on Properties Online.