How important is it not to fail at online marketing as a real estate investor? Think about this: The vast majority (75% – 85%) of all housing searches (rentals and sales) start online. I pity the fool who is relying solely on their local newspaper classified ads. He doesn't know it yet, but he's out of business.
In the past 10 years, there has been a huge shift from newspaper classified ads to online advertising. Twelve years ago, a person with a web site was considered geeky and a little strange. Now if you don't have a website, people wonder if you're really in business.
But online marketing is not as simple as putting up a website or posting properties on Craigslist. And, unfortunately, the learning curve never stops. Social media sites are constantly changing. Getting your website to the top of the search engines seems to require a different strategy every other week. It's enough to make an investor throw up his hands in despair.
But it doesn't have to be that tough. Doing a few simple things right and avoiding the pitfalls that devour the less than clever investor will keep your online marketing on track. Some of my other articles go into more depth on each of these topics, so I'm going to highlight just a few things here from various segments of an overall online marketing strategy.
Your Real Esate Investing Website
Let's start with your website. There are really three “musts” when it comes to your real estate investing site.
- First of all, it has to be easy for someone to navigate. That means a clean layout with clearly marked “buttons” (for some reason, many people still aren't capable of realizing they can click a link).
- Second, as much as you want to just put up pictures and the basics about your deals, you need to have some quality content, search engine optimized, in order to have a chance of coming up near the top of the search engines.
- Third, and most importantly, you must (MUST!) make it easy for people to contact you! Give as many ways to contact you as humanly possibly. Phone number, email address, fax number, Skype number, WHATEVER. And put it in BIG LETTERS that can be seen on every page of your site!
Listing Property – Classified Sites
Posting on the classified ad sites is the best way to move your properties, whether you are looking for buyers or tenants. Craigslist.org is the big daddy here, but don't neglect other sites, particularly local sites if they get good traffic.
Know the posting rules. On some sites you can only post every other day; others don't care. Check to see how quickly your ad gets “pushed down” as other ads come online. Part of that equation will be the time that you post. Most people start their search on Thursday or Friday so they can look at properties over the weekend.
Most investors and real estate agents, knowing this, post during the day on Friday to catch that traffic. If you post on Thursday night or Friday morning, you're going to get pushed down in the listings. Post Friday late afternoon or early evening so your ad is near the top at the heaviest traffic times. Repost on Sunday morning if you can to catch the tail end of the weekend searchers.
You also want to make sure you have the information people need in the ad. There's nothing more frustrating than to find a property you might be interested in and not know the price. Or the address. Or how many bathrooms. You have a huge amount of space. Use it.
And just like your website, make your ad easy to read. Use a service such as Postlets which creates a nice visual for your ad. Use LOTS of pictures. (Again, put the toilet seat DOWN in the pictures.) People want to “see” the property. They are online because they are accumulating information and trying to save time. Help them out.
One more quick tip: If you're selling a mobile or modular home, put that in the ad. Amazingly enough, people who want a “house” house will not suddenly see a modular home or doublewide, no matter how nice and think, “Gosh! I never considered a mobile home. Maybe I should go see it.” No. Sadly, only people who are looking for a mobile or modular will be interested in your mobile or modular. People who are looking for a stick-built house will just be pissed off that you wasted their time.
Social Media For Real Estate Investing
Probably the biggest fail I see in online marketing is in social media. Social media is about establishing relationships. It's not a hard sell arena. Social media is where you can offer your expertise and highlight your stunning personality. But putting up posts that continuously say “Buy my junk” or “I just closed this deal — Look at how wonderful I am” is not going to win you friends. It will influence people. To stay away from you. You want a strong social media presence, but dial back the ego. Social media is about the other person, not you.
Don't Fail At Online Marketing As A Real Estate Investor Conclusion
Online marketing is a science unto itself, a science that is constantly changing with new algorithms, new platforms and new strategies. It can make you nuts trying to keep up with it all. But it's an important part, maybe the most important part of your marketing mix. Put in the work so that you don't fail at online marketing as a real estate investor.