Why marketing online and investing in online channels?
As motivated seller’s eyes turn increasingly towards screens rather than the physical world around them, having a digital presence and marketing plan is fairly important for your business. Whether you’re an experienced investor who’s just unfamiliar with the current digital landscape, or a newbie who’s looking for some guidance on where to invest online, hopefully you’ll find this article helpful.
Let me be clear that this isn’t an article bashing signs, or mailers, or radio ads, or anything that’s working really well for you right now. It’s simply an overview to show you what options you have should you decide to invest in online channels.
So, this article is sort of a comprehensive, beginners guide to online marketing for REIs. It’s broken into a few parts, this one beginning with the most basic question...
Why market online?
Let’s start with the most basic question, for anyone who’s not convinced that this should be part of their marketing strategy in the future.
“Why market online?”
Or, put differently, “I’m crushing it with mailers right now, why should I invest in any online channels?”
Here are a few reasons...
- People are paying more and more attention to their phones (or, the digital world in general) than they are the old forms of media. You need to be where people are paying attention.
- When people are searching for your services, they’re increasingly (or exclusively) searching on Google, other search engines, or social media platforms. That means that if you’re not there, you’re missing leads today.
- These channels take time to build a presence on, so if you plan on being online heavily in a few years you need to start now. Some of the best ranking sites in SEO are not there because they’re necessarily the best. They’re there because they’ve been around for 10 years, and had time to build authority, and so, rank high. The REIs crushing it on PPC are the ones who have their numbers and campaigns honed in.
- When a channel becomes flooded it becomes expensive and hard to enter. Think about how hard it would be for you to run a national TV ad because of the cost. That’s what’s happening to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Google PPC ads. As more corporations realize they’re late to the game, they’ll dump money in, and because these ad platforms are all “bid” based, the cost goes up. Bottom line: buying a keyword on Google PPC used to cost .10/click. Now, investors spend $25-50/click in some markets. So, if you miss out now, you might be missing out forever because the barrier of entry becomes too high.
- Old types of marketing are dying. Now, I think that, at least for a while, people will continue checking their mail. But the way these old formats are viewed or perceived has already changed. For example, radio is dead, and podcasts are the new medium. Radio ads are now cheaper. Less and less people are listening. So, if you continue to rely on an old system, you’ll end up having to scramble to find a new marketing channel when yours becomes ineffective.
- Over time, every marketing channel gets abused and becomes white noise. If you can imagine such a thing, there was a time when email open rates were like 90%. You know why? Because email was new. People were excited to receive an email. They trusted the person who sent it. Now I meet people who literally have a dedicated “burner account” that they use just to sign up for businesses like yours, so they don’t receive all kinds of uncared for email. The same will become true of mail, or ads, or anything else. Banner ads are a great example of an ad medium that is “new” but already dying and being flooded.
- The next generation is going to require a lot more trust, tact, and brand. Every generation is different. For example, door to door sales was commonplace 40+ years ago, and it worked. Now? It’s like people don’t even want their neighbor stopping by unannounced. So, while mailers are working for your target demographic now, what about in 10 years? I can tell you as a marketing professional in my thirties, that mail has already become white noise to me. If I don’t know you, you are spamming my physical mailbox. Now, that’s not to say it will never work, it’s just that you can’t count on it being the most effective channel, and it would be wise to develop others. Again, it’s not like you can flip a switch in 5 years, turn on a website, and then just expect people to trust your brand and flood your site with leads.
- Big brands are coming for you. Zillow just launched “Instant Offer”. Take a look at this landing page. It’s absolutely beautiful (something Millennial homeowners care a lot about), and Zillow has spent years building trust in their brand. If you ask the average younger homeowner who they trust more, Zillow or WeBuyAustinHomesCashNow.com (I indulged myself a little there, but when you’ve seen as many REI websites as I have, you’ve seen some crazy names), trust me, it will be the former.
- Digital can complement your “physical” channels. In other words, having a website, a solid number of Google reviews, and a good brand online will only help your mailers. If people are skeptical about you, and Google you, what will they see? If it’s raving reviews, a clean brand, and an easy-to-read website, that’s only going to help your other channels of marketing.
Now, once again, the point is not to discourage you here. There will always be big brands coming after the little guys. Technology is always going to advance. The specific channels of marketing will always be changing as people are paying their attention to different places.
The point is to help you see that investing in an online presence is a long-term investment in your business and long-term goals.
So now that we’ve covered why you should invest in being online, in part 2, we’ll jump into an overview of the channels available to you (at least, as of the time of this writing).