How real estate agents can do marketing successfully in 2021
Author Terence Leong
Real estate agent friends, are you still doing door-knocking, sending out mailers and flyers? It will probably still get you some leads, but you might notice that getting a meaningful ROI is harder and harder.
The reason why it is getting tougher is because nowadays, there's intense competition of attention coming from social media and all the interactive video ads. Even though mailers have so much reach, not many people will look at it – at least not for me.
So the next generation of marketing is all about being interactive, using multimedia and giving values. And the best way to do this would be through content marketing.
If you depend on referrals to wait for your next phone call, it's an unpredictable business. It certainly has been working well in the past, but we doubt this will carry on for the next decade.
So how do we start?
Some of you probably are already sold on content marketing and a lot of your colleagues are doing it too, and you don't want to miss out. But at the same time, content marketing has a lot of moving parts, you are not sure if you are doing the right thing or just dumping money into the fire pit.
Or some of you might have a dry spell for months and are not sure where the problem is, nor what's working, what's not working: Is it because of a lack of lead generation, or if you have stopped prospecting? Or is it because you have stopped doing marketing?
And all these can be very overwhelming, from setting up your own campaigns, brainstorming for creative content ideas, getting leads, going for consultation calls, follow-ups, and more. There are only so many things you can do by yourself.
If you are feeling all these, you are not alone. In this article, we are dissecting 6 components of setting up a good content marketing campaign with a fundamental scientific approach so that you can do less guesswork when managing your own campaign.
1. Establish your unique positioning and branding – Why is it so hard to stand out?
For the past few years or so, many real estate agents who have been very active online have found a lot of success in the "property upgrading/asset progression" or "new launch" niche, but as more and more people enter the game, the lead acquisition has become very expensive (it used to be $20-30 per lead, but it's more than $100 per lead now!).
The rise of the "upgrader" and "new launch" market – the bad and the opportunities
Unless you have been living under the rock, these two markets have been successful because: for the upgraders, it provides them with an option to preserve the value of their property while offering them an upgraded lifestyle. Whereas for the "new launch" – it's a no-brainer, Singaporeans are always excited about new and posh condos.
It is good from the perspective of these being proven market needs – you don't have to spend so much time convincing your prospects.
However, as more and more real estate agents enter the same niche, more homeowners and homebuyers will now turn from "wow, I can actually do that with you" to "why should I work with you?" when approached by any property agent.
It's not-so-good news if you are trying to do the same thing, as it's way too competitive. But this also presents you with an opportunity to stand out – if you can create a unique positioning and branding.
The unspoken truth: Creating unique content becomes much easier when you have a clear positioning (niche)
Here's what positioning is essentially about:
- Finding a specific target audience: Who are you specifically targeting?
- Pain points: Does your services solve their needs?
- Unique selling point (USP): What makes you different?
- Proof: Can you prove that you can solve their problems?
Read more about positioning here.
The most common pitfall that we see is not having a well-defined audience with a not-so-deep understanding of their behaviour. What do we mean by this? For example, some of our clients shared with us that they wanted to target millennials who are under 45 years old, or families. This is still a very big audience pool, and you are probably competing with hundreds or if not more than a thousand agents.
A better audience targeting would be to focus on young families with kids. People who are in this group have probably stayed in their HDB for a few years, and they are probably looking for a bigger space because their kids are growing up. They probably also want to move nearer to primary schools for their children.
It's very different from, say a family with grown-up children – they probably just want to buy the property under their children's name.
There are many more ideal customers such as soon-to-be retirees who might want to sell their place because they don't need so much space anymore.
Instead of trying to target the entire demographic of upgraders in Singapore, you can also specifically focus on say District 9 area (Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley), because you will have expertise that other people do not have. It will be easier for you to get referrals too! This, my friend, is your unique positioning.
If you do this well, it would set you apart from other 10k-20k real estate agents who generically target all upgraders and new condo buyers.
2. Content strategy for real estate agents: How to create social-media-friendly content that builds demand for your services?
With the ease of use of social media and creative tools, any real estate agent can easily create content or videos. Some gravitate to hire freelance writers who might not be smarter than their customers and expect to use that content to convince their customers (who might actually have some basic to intermediate knowledge of property).
As a result, it's common to see topics that have been recycled 10,000 times posted everywhere. They are what we call "beginner content":
5 things to consider when purchasing your new condo
How much do you need to earn to afford a condo in Singapore
6 things to know before you invest in OCR condo in Singapore
For example, "5 things to consider when purchasing your new condo" – you probably already know what the content is going to be about: location, age of the condo, amenities, and facilities etc.
Any non-beginner property buyer will be able to smell the stench of generic blog posts or videos like these just from the title, as they probably can't expect to learn something new from your content.
Instead of producing generic content, have a specificity strategy and share expert content that builds authority and demand
If you have done your positioning right, you will have a specific target audience in mind and understand their pain points well. From here, you will understand what they are asking and searching for to solve their pain. Creating relevant content that builds demand becomes much easier when you know what questions they are thinking about.
1. Pain-point driven keyword research
By approaching keyword research from a pain point perspective, you will be able to better match the search and purchase intent, thus reducing your risk of creating content that targets your fellow competitors instead.
For example, most people who are searching for "Real estate agent Singapore" are probably real estate agents who are trying to find out the prospects of being a real estate agent. So trying hard to rank for this keyword may not be a good idea.
Try to make use of keywords tools like Keywords Everywhere, SE Rankings, or UberSuggest to reveal long-tail keywords related to your original searches, which can reveal what your prospects may be Googling about that you can create content for. They are one of the best free tools available if you can't afford paid tools like ahrefs.com.
Some of these tools even have keywords' competitiveness analyses so you can tell which keywords to prioritise.
If you are still unsure and would prefer to work with experts to create content that builds demand for your services, fill up this form and we will be in touch regarding our content marketing services.
If you prefer to do it on your own, we offer content marketing courses where we will show you step-by-step how you can use these tools.
2. Instead of a wait-and-see approach to generate traffic, focus on creating content that closes the knowledge gap
In this crowded social media space, we all tend to gravitate towards something that generates reach and traffic. But this can be a dangerous strategy.
If the content you are creating is not relevant to what you are selling, you might be collecting many irrelevant followers who might not be interested in the services you are selling, thus driving down ad conversion rate and increasing your ads' cost.
This is a great mismatch and one of the main reasons why some people complain that their leads are junk.
So instead of creating content that can only generate traffic, try to focus on creating content that addresses and closes the gap.
For example, most homeowners think that they probably can find and buy a condo themselves, but few people actually understand the important aspects of entering at the right time, knowing how to utilise property data to find undervalued properties, or understanding their future exit strategy.
This is a knowledge gap that has not been addressed (the knowledge mostly stays with the property agents) but many real estate agents are desperately trying to coerce their clients to come for the viewing before the gap is closed. This becomes a hard sell and it rarely works.
However, if you create content that addresses and closes the gap, it will make your clients aware of the problems they are facing. If you handle their potential objections and concerns well, when they are ready to buy, you will be the first on their minds.
Some common content topics that address and close the knowledge gap might be along the lines of:
- Addressing clients' common mistakes when doing property buying/selling
- Addresses misconceptions and myths
- Address their fears/objections/uncertainties
- Comparing property type X and Y...
And so on.
Make sure that you showcase your expertise with insightful and useful analyses for your target audience. Try not to copy and share a market analysis directly from news sources such as Property Guru or 99.co – anyone can share a link, but not many people can provide specific insights or opinions. People want to hear about your honest opinions and recommendations. That's why sites like Property Lim Brothers or Property Made Simple thrive.
3. Video marketing for real estate agents: Important elements of making engaging videos that bring you leads
This is a no-brainer: everyone seems to be doing property video tours and marketing on Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram nowadays. We have even heard some homeowners say they will not work with agents that do not have video marketing, because static images cannot showcase the beauty of their home and help them fetch a decent selling price.
And it's a fact that when it comes to real estate marketing, video content would be more engaging for your audience.
It also showcases many different sides of the properties and gives the potential buyers a feeling of how the place is like before they come for a viewing.
It helps to qualify leads and make sure that you don't have lukewarm leads that pull out of the viewing at the last minute – as some lukewarm buyers might feel, their weekends are precious, they don't want to take the time to come down for viewing or consultation only to realise that the unit is not what they are looking for. With video content, buyers who turn up would be more serious, because they would have already known from the video what to expect and they are interested in what they have seen.
We understand video production is expensive and sounds daunting, so how do you start if you have no prior experience in creating videos and don't have enough budget?
The simple solution is to hire a decent entry to intermediate level videographer, but make sure you have a shot list. Most people commit this mistake of not having a shot list that describes the end goal they have in mind and end up producing a video that's not engaging or even is boring to view.
A shot list is an outline listing all the shots you have in mind to showcase the property. This will ensure a smooth shooting process and you get all the shots you need – thereby avoiding another trip to reshoot.
If you are not very good with words, consider working with a scriptwriter to craft beautiful words to give you some idea on how to introduce the property when you are shooting the video.
Bonus tip: When you are working with scriptwriters, do consider including information that your viewers might be asking, for example: the location, pricing analysis and more – all these will make your video stand out in the crowded social media world.
In addition to this, take care of these 3 important elements – they can make or break an awesome video or content!
Having a great title will mean almost 6-7 times difference in clickthrough rate (that means 6-7 times more visitors!)
If you have spent hours creating great video or content, it is certainly worth the time to craft a great title that can maximise the potential of your video or content. Besides that, we also recommend having more than one title and using AB testing to single out the winner. If you would like to learn more about title-crafting techniques, you can check out this post.
Having great images to go with your story is also essential in keeping your audience engaged. Some topics like home financing, pricing analysis are often very dry, so having a simple infographic like the one below will often perk up the reading experience and make it less heavy, and these can be easily created using free tools like Canva.
In our course, we detail case studies and free tools that you can make use of too.
- Storytelling and delivery
There's little use if an awesome analysis goes unnoticed because of the dry writing style. Besides breaking down difficult-to-understand concepts and having better explanations, you can make use of this effective framework that has been tried and tested in the movie and advertising industry for many years – the three-act narrative structure, comprising of the hook, conflict, and resolution.
If you are interested to find out how you can use it for your content marketing, you can read more here. But you might need to pick up some copywriting skills and understand your prospect's pain points well to make use of it effectively.
If you need some guidance, we have developed 4 effective frameworks of the three-act narrative structure that you can apply straight away in your digital advertising. You can find out more in our course here.
If you're interested in working with us on content marketing for your real estate business, reach out to us by filling up the form here.
4. Structure a clear offer on your landing page (your silent salesperson) – Why most prospects don't understand exactly the value of what you do?
With the stigma that surrounds salesy real estate agents in Singapore, it will be better to let people understand the value of your services by letting them read all about what you offer silently, instead of advertising your services aggressively (which might put most people off).
Nowadays, people Google anything, so if you have a good landing page, you have a good chance to be discovered by people who are searching for your services. It's important to do this before you start creating content on social media because otherwise, you might just get followers but not qualified leads.
It's very easy to create a website nowadays – you can use free solutions like WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and more. And many digital marketing agencies can offer a decent 1-page landing page from S$1,000 onwards before they run your lead generation campaign.
But the question is: is it really that straightforward?
Are you creating a product/service-focused landing page or customer-focused landing page?
Many people create websites and landing pages with the idea that they have to showcase their services, their prices, or the company, such as:
"We help you do property asset progression"
"New launch in 2021! Canninghill Piers Integrated development"
"Your property upgrading strategist"
There's nothing wrong with this, but your prospects are likely not going to care so much about these. They are often more concerned about what's in store for them.
Here are the 3 crucial elements of what we mean by being customer-focused:
- Instead of stating what you offer, share how you can solve your customers' pain points.
- Instead of stating what you can help your clients achieve, paint them a picture of the goal or dream they can envision.
- Instead of sharing about your company, share what you believe in. (People don't buy what you do, but they buy why you do it.)
❌ "Your property upgrading strategist"
✅ "Upgrade your living without having to worry about downpayment or cashflow"
❌ "We help you find good investment properties"
✅ "How to identify undervalued properties that will preserve your wealth and generate 6-figure profits in the next 3-5 years"
❌ "We are licensed real estate agents in Singapore, specialising in property upgrading, investment, and home financial planning."
✅ "We believe that integrity is one of the most important values of a real estate agent. We value the trust that our clients place in us to help them find their dream home and we understand the responsibility we have. Hence we always place our clients' interests first."
Notice the differences?
Did you address all the potential questions and objections your prospects might have before they contact you?
Let's put ourselves in the shoes of these clients, they are often very busy and they do not want to have a 1-hour conversation to realise that you are unable to provide what they need.
For example, for home sellers, they might be thinking about their concerns about moving to a new place – would you be able to help them coordinate the sale and purchase? How will the timeline be like? For home buyers, they might be thinking about finding undervalued properties that are close to primary schools – would you be showing them you have the capability to do home comparisons and financial analysis?
Address all these in your landing page in a succinct manner and if this is done right, your landing page would be your 24/7 salesperson that brings in highly qualified leads, instead of lukewarm leads that plainly tell you "I am not interested anymore".
And of course, don't forget to communicate your unique positioning (what we mentioned in point #1) on your landing page too.
Not sure how to start?
We have created 10 crucial building blocks that will help you turn your landing page into a conversion machine instead of a static website. Download it for free below.
Download our "Landing page best practices"
5. Why do most free e-books or floor plan giveaways not work? Build a conversion funnel that consistently generates high-quality leads
You might have seen many real estate agents giving out free e-books or floor plans in exchange for prospects' contacts. It used to be a very "hot" thing to do, but for some of you who have already tried, you will probably notice that most of these leads are rather low quality.
When you call up some of these prospects, they actually ghost you or hang up on you. Worst, some might tell you they are not interested and ask you not to call back!
This is because these people are still cold leads, and unfortunately, they might just be out there to get your free e-book or floor plan, and that's it. And still shopping for other offers. And no, they probably might not think that getting this freebie makes sense for them to invest one hour of their time for a call with you.
PS: Due to this reason, some digital marketing agencies will advocate getting the appointment directly through ads or free content. This is feasible if it is being done right, but you may still risk getting low-quality leads. Worse still, it can skyrocket your cost per lead because it still doesn't address the fundamental problem that the prospects you attracted through free content are still cold leads.
So after giving out free content (which is a low-risk offer, i.e. they only need to spend a few minutes reading it), we recommend creating a medium-low offer – a lead magnet beyond just a free e-book or floor plan that's more valuable!
Some examples could be a free personalised valuation analysis report or a list of undervalued properties.
Doing this allow your prospects to gain a lot of value and achieve a quick win, thereby demonstrating your expertise and making them feel that it's worth their time to get an appointment with you. Therefore, it reduces the chances of them not taking your calls or not turning up for a viewing session.
In addition to this, try to share with them the specifics of what they can expect out of the appointment, for example, if you are targeting home sellers, will you be showing them a brief overview of your marketing plan? Will you be able to share with them who can be their potential target buyers? Will you share with them their pricing strategy? What will the timeline be like?
Addressing all these questions will make them feel like you are an expert that they will be looking forward to meet rather than another real estate agent that just wants to coerce them into selling their house or buying a new flashy condo to earn their commission.
6. Getting the word out for your real estate business: How to create effective Facebook ads that generate qualified leads?
Facebook advertising has been very effective for many people from around 2013-2018. During that time, your leads and ad costs would have been extremely cheap. Even simply clicking on that big "boost post" button can give you tremendous results.
However, as more people are entering the platform, Facebook pages' organic reach is dying.
And it doesn't help that Facebook ads cost is rising every year too: It costs more and more to reach the same amount of people every year.
By now you should have realised that the big boost post button doesn't work anymore.
By clicking on that button, you are letting Facebook decide how to spend your advertising money to reach an audience that may not be relevant. Of course, you can do that if you intend to make Mark Zuckerberg richer and richer.
Why you should be doing audience targeting instead
By doing this well, you don't allow Facebook the free reign to spend your money on an audience that may not convert.
Now it has become a norm that you should take advantage of Facebook's more advanced advertising features, for example specifying campaign objectives, users' age, gender, location, interests, and ads placement.
Because if you understand your audience well, you can then tell Facebook to spend money on the audience you want and where to spend it – thus making your ad spending more cost-effective. For example, if you know most of your prospects aren't on Instagram, why bother spending on ad placements that may waste your ads money?
These are the basics of today's FB advertising world, and if you have dabbled into the ads tool yourself, these are not too hard to learn. But the downside is, when everyone is trying to do the same thing, it might not be effective anymore. So if you wish to escape the stiff competition, do be on the lookout for these common pitfalls:
1. Do not only focus on just 1 ad creative
Not allowing Facebook machine learning to test things out is one of the greatest opportunities that you are missing out on.
Many people tend to come up with 1 or 2 content or ads creative and just spend money to promote it to their prospects. However, the problem with this is that if you are spending a moderate budget like $50 a day or a high budget like more than $100 a day, there's a high chance that your audience might become tired of seeing your ads creative. This results in a low engagement rate and drives up your ad costs.
By having more ad creatives and content types, you will also be able to validate which ideas work best for you and you can use these insights to double down to create better creatives.
We have a framework and best practice for testing and optimising your ads spend, so if you would like to find out more, please reach out to us here.
2. Blasting ads to a very wide audience (i.e. 500k) with a very low budget
It's a very common beginner mistake for people to place a budget as low as $20 a day trying to target a very wide audience, i.e. 500k. With that budget, you can probably only target 1-2% of that wide audience.
Not just that you are at Facebook's mercy to deliver the right audience you are looking for (and in most cases you will likely be getting totally irrelevant audience liking your posts, i.e. expats, foreign workers, students, etc), but doing so can also make you less memorable.
Most people wouldn't act on an ad/content immediately even if it is great. Personally, even for me, it takes 2 of my friends in different circles sharing the same article before I decide to check it out and read it. So you will need to deliver a certain number of impressions before people can remember you and take action.
3. Not having the patience to let the campaign run longer
This is one of the gravest mistakes that we have made back in those days. We used to maximise our budgets in a short time frame, wishing that Facebook will magically deliver us results immediately if we get the settings right. And if it didn't work for a few days, we would switch it off and tinker with the settings again.
But the truth is, even Facebook will need to take time to do its machine learning.
Frequent restarting and turning off the ads set prematurely may cause the ads campaign to be unable to exit the learning stage. So in this case, try to run longer campaigns like a month-long campaign.
4. Not putting deeper thoughts into interest targeting or generating lookalike audience
If you still remember what we spoke about in point 1, understanding your target audience well is a prerequisite to doing digital marketing well.
However, when it comes to detailed interest targeting, most people like to add a few seemingly connected "interests" and call it a day. Doing this will likely target your fellow property agents who may be interested in the same thing.
And at best this gives a very one-dimensional description to Facebook about your target audience, and it does not help machine learning at all. It also doesn't tell Facebook how your target audience is actually like. For example, what pages do they like? What are their interests besides properties? Are they frequent shoppers? What kind of jobs do they hold?
Identifying these and telling these to Facebook will give you a better chance to find the right audience, because by doing this you avoid paying for useless clicks that are "accidental likes".
What do I mean by this?
If you pull up your personal ad preference, you will be able to see that Facebook "thinks" that you have a certain interest, but it may not be the case.
In my own personal interest preference, for example (I have hundreds of them), just a quick scroll shows me that I have many "interests" that I don't even have a remote interest in nor do I even know who or what they are.
Perhaps I had accidentally clicked on some posts or I lingered slightly longer on a particular post that Facebook thinks I like these "interests". So your job is to prevent this kind of accidental interest targeting.
These are what we termed multi-layered interest targeting.
Lastly, you should also make full use of the exclusion tools, so that you avoid targeting people you may not want to target, for example, your fellow property agents, or worse, you don't want to attract officers or authority scrutinising your ads.
5. Not making use of lookalike audience - one of the most powerful Facebook ads tool
If you have already been running your Facebook ads for a while, chances are likely you would have some audience that is engaging with you on a regular basis. There might be people who have landed on your landing page, done a couple of things like viewing your blog, or gone on to your lead form but ended up not filling up.
These are all quality audiences that you should follow up (ROI of ad spend can sometimes be 2-3 times or even more), and by setting up the right tracking system, you are able to tell Facebook to find and reengage these people, or find similar audience like this.
Final words: Content marketing is a long game, and by doing it right, SEO success is just a matter of time
Most of you might already know this – content marketing cannot help you achieve overnight success. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and patience to make it work and there are a lot of moving parts. But given enough time, if you believe in giving out value and building your authority, it will be a monstrous tool that generates leads for you consistently.
Besides that, to win the game in this day and age, you need to be much more discoverable than your competitors, and content marketing is one of the keys that can make it happen – it can be useful content you put out that someone shared proudly on their social media (instead of an ad that screams "buy from me") or it can simply just be a piece that's so useful it ranks top 10 on a search engine for some search terms that your prospects are Googling for.
If your content is excellent, provided that you did your on-page SEO basics right (i.e. the technical setup, internal linking, site architecture, etc), getting external sites to link back to you is just a matter of time. This was also how we grew our digital magazine from 0 traffic to a million traffic in 2 years' time.
Don't just take our word for it. Feel free to check out some of the top SEO blogs and you will realise they are all talking about the same thing.
If your business is not searchable, your business almost doesn't exist. And all these are only possible with content marketing, not ads. If you expect to generate immediate instant results from day 1 or week 1, you will probably be better off doing ads, not content.
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