“You should try content marketing for real estate.”
This is the kind of recommendation you might have heard in different variations already.
But how do you make content as a real estate agent?
As a general rule, know the problems and pain points of your potential customers or current customers.
Based on that, create a customer journey including different stages of product and service awareness. As final step map out the content you will need to produce for each stage.
It’s still a time consuming endeavor that doesn’t get you results as quick as, for example, paid traffic methods.
And not knowing how to do it in an efficient and effective way can make you lose a lot of time and money, leading to poor or no results at all.
You don’t want to spend months and months on creating content and, in the end, the only thing you hear is “crickets”.
In this article, I’ve already covered how content marketing, which is sometimes called “free traffic” compares to paid traffic methods.
According to a study carried out by a great software provider for content creators called SEMRush another of the major challenges for most is creating content that generates quality leads (54%), content that attracts more traffic (52%), and developing content that resonates with their target audience (45%).
So, as if content creation isn’t laborious enough, now it also needs to somehow generate quality leads, attract more traffic, and resonate with your target audience at the same time?
Wow, a lot of things seem to have to come together to make this work.
But no worries, in today’s article, I will try to get you clarity on real estate content marketing, so you can increase the effectiveness of this marketing method for your business.
Why Is Everybody and His Uncle Recommending Content for Real Estate Agents?
There is a nice definition from the Content Marketing Institute about content marketing, and it goes like this:
“… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
What you might add here is that it’s a long game aiming to build a quality relationship with your target audience by creating relevant content.
And a long game means usually consistency over a longer period of time.
It also means that you can’t test new offers you are providing short term as fast as with paid traffic methods.
Not without reason, I came to the following conclusion in this past article of mine (providing that you start out with content marketing and don’t have a seasoned website with already a high domain authority that ranks fast):
“You need to invest the minimum of at least six months of constant content production and promotion until you get sufficient market data to test whether what you offer converts.”
So, it’s not generating content today and doing deals and/or getting paying real estate customers tomorrow.
In this context, it is not even a bad idea to combine paid advertising campaigns with content marketing to reduce your ad spend (e.g. costs per click) when connecting, for example, a landing page you send your paid traffic to with a newsletter you send out on a regular basis (content) as part of your real estate sales funnel .
But that’s food for another topic and article in the future.
As you may see already, doing content marketing for real estate is not limited to one type of format.
You can use it with different formats (written, audio, visual, etc.) using different platforms to distribute your content (e.g. a newsletter, video platforms, etc.).
So the last two paragraphs already went a bit into the answer of why.
Further answers to the question “Why to do content marketing” are the following:
- It improves brand reputation and helps in building trust
- According to the Content Marketing Institute, 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement and 72% state that it increases the number of leads
- According Lyfe Marketing, 78% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads
- Again according to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of online consumers in the U.S. decided to make a purchase after reading recommendations on a blog
- It improves your search engine optimization efforts, so you get found on the organic search results of Google
- It can be a cost-effective way to bring in new leads
- It helps your business to showcase your expertise
- It makes it easier to set yourself apart from your competition
- Content can be used to support any other digital marketing strategy (e.g. recycling articles for a newsletter autoresponder campaign, etc.)
Where Did Content Marketing Start?
You might think that content marketing is something that came only “recently” with the rise of the Internet. But that’s not the case.
The shocking truth is, it has been around quite a long time already.
It was first used by Benjamin Franklin in 1732, when he started publishing the first version of his Poor Richard’s Almanack to promote his new printing business.
So, already for decades, different kind of businesses aim to attract attention and generate new customers by creating free or cheap content.
Another example is a lifestyle magazine for farmers called “The Furrow” by John Deere that was first published in 1895.
And there are many more examples, such as Safari Cards from 1978.
It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses – Content Marketing Challenges for Realtors
After reading all the pros to this point, you might think: “Well, I guess I should get started or do more content marketing.”
But it’s not all sunshine and roses.
So let’s give you some cons of content marketing and then also what challenges and pitfalls you might want to consider.
9 Cons of Making Content for Real Estate Agents
- It can take quite a while to see results. If you just get started, you will probably have to wait between six and twelve months until you get out of Google’s sandbox and start getting organic ranks.
- It’s not free. If you don’t have the time available to create content yourself (because you are busy doing deals or showing houses) it could mean investing in an in-house content marketing team or an outsourced freelancing team.
- It’s not easy to manage, because managing creative people can be a challenge in itself.
- You will need a lot of creativity, and thus it can be difficult to find new content ideas on an ongoing, long-term basis (this article might compensate for this disadvantage a bit though).
- Measuring the results can be difficult without having created a system with clear metrics, good tracking, and more.
- It changes rapidly, especially the Google algorithm. So your organic rankings will not be set in stone.
- It’s not easy and is in fact hard work, since you will need a substantial amount of organization to manage an intelligent content marketing strategy.
- It can be expensive if you go for video, visual, or audio (Podcast) content.
- You will still need to promote your content, especially in the beginning, meaning paid advertising, etc.
Content Marketing Challenges for Real Estate Agents
Now let’s get to the actual challenges that content marketers face today in 2020 and look at some stats.
This situation is quite similar to the challenges for content marketing in the real estate industry, as you will see later.
We can first take a look at a statistic from the Content Marketing Institute showing anticipated content marketing priorities for 2020 in separate and unrelated polls.
Fifty percent of content marketers want to improve the quality and conversion of audiences, while another fifty percent wants to focus on the quality and quantity of content, and forty percent wants to increase their audience.
By logic, we can deduct that many are not happy with the quality and conversion of their audiences, the quality and quantity of their content, and their audience size.
The statistics of SEMRush come to similar results and confirm the above conclusions (also separate polls).
According to their statistic, the three biggest challenges are:
- Creating content that generates quality leads (54%)
- Creating content that attracts more traffic (52%)
- Developing content that resonates with the target audience (45%)
They also polled how they aim to overcome these challenges and come to these results:
- Leveraging website analytics tools, SEO tools (73%)
- Social media posting (67%)
- Email marketing software (57%).
- Only 9% of the respondents made use of an integrated content marketing platform to achieve their results
Now let’s look at what I found as challenges regarding content marketing for real estate.
According to the Digital Marketing Community, for 46.4%, it’s creating high-quality leads, for 24.9% it’s finding the right marketing tools, and for 23.4%, it’s converting leads into new business.
Just by looking at the first challenge from the SEMRush polls and the first one from the Digital Marketing Community poll, we can see an overlap and confidently conclude that creating high quality leads with content marketing is likely also a challenge for the real estate industry.
Get Clarity On Your Content Strategies
There are some major challenges when it comes to realtor content.
And as already discussed, I found these to be the major ones:
- Creating content that generates quality leads (54%)
- Creating content that attracts more traffic (52%)
- Developing content that resonates with the target audience (45%)
I concluded that the major challenge regarding realtor content is creating high-quality leads.
So, what can you do to achieve the goal of creating high-quality leads in this context?
You will need good content marketing strategies that increase your chances of success.
The Bird’s Eye View of Content Strategies for Real Estate Agents
A content marketing strategy can be quite easily confused with a content strategy.
While a content marketing strategy analyzes the different ways content marketing can be applied across the buyer’s journey, the customer life cycle and different types of customer experiences a content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content.
So, the latter is rather on the level of tactics once you have a content marketing strategy in place. It’s basically the next step after it.
And Again It’s Based On Copywriting Principles
Content marketing strategies have many similarities to the approach of preparing a piece of copywriting.
While in copywriting you usually focus on a particular sales page or an ad and include all its elements there, for content marketing, you distribute those elements across different content pieces throughout your website and other traffic channels.
But you also apply this on each piece of content meaning that again, you have a fractal there.
So, in the end, it almost always comes down to one or more variations of the copywriting framework called AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), or my modified and slightly extended version of it, which is Attention/Hook, Interest/Problem Description/Agitate, Desire/Solve, Action (Call to Action).
By the way, I go a bit deeper into that principle in my “Free Copywriting Checklist” that you get when you subscribe to the Valhalla Real Estate Marketing Insiders Newsletter.
But to have all the elements ready to apply you will need to do some preparation work.
Because, in order to know what will make your target audience spike their ears (attention/hook) and what problems you can describe to them to keep them interested and consume your content, you will need to know their problem or needs beforehand in the first place.
How to Find the Problems and Pains of Your Target Audience?
This can be a tough one and there are all kinds of different methods out there to help you with it.
What you can do about that all depends on how experienced you already are and how well you are already interacting with your target audience.
A completely new real estate business owner, let’s say in the niche of fixing and flipping houses, probably doesn’t have as much knowledge about the target audience’s problems as someone who has already been in the business for several years with many deals under his belt and interaction with customers on a regular basis.
So, the difference is that the aspiring real estate pro will need to work with assumptions and secondary knowledge, while the experienced one will likely have first-hand knowledge.
This topic could fill about 20-30 articles alone, and even books.
Speaking of books, one that comes to my mind about the topic of finding the real customer’s problems is “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice” by Clayton M. Christensen.
But in order to not let you leave hungry, let me give you a short list of things you can do to find out the problems of your target audience.
You will obviously have an advantage if you already have a list of customers that you can just survey or interview.
But most of the following 3 methods you will also do even if you don’t have a list just yet.
1) Language Patterns
Here, you are looking for complaints about X.
The “X” can be your specific real estate business niche, such as, for example, finding a property, getting rid of a property, etc.
So, if you can find people complaining on forums or other public channels, such as Facebook Groups, Twitter, Reddit, you can get hints about a problem they are having. Any dislike is an opportunity.
In this context, you might want to look out for irritation language elements, such as “I hate, I wish, I need, etc.”
2) Channel Research
This is similar to number one.
Here, you check on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon products in your niche, and what customers are publishing as reviews, especially the negative ones.
The three-star reviews are usually the best ones to look at, as many of the one-star reviews are very often not that objective or elaborated.
3) Interview Your Potential Target Audience and/or Your Current Customers
Here, you can once again use Reddit and its sub-forums or different Facebook groups. Another option is Craigslist, Instagram, and Twitter.
Once you have found a good channel, you can ask your target audience about their problems, challenges and frustrations regarding “X”.
And, if you already have a list of customers, you can, of course, use this method with them and likely get even more accurate data.
The 4 Typical Categories of Problems and Pain Points
Generally speaking, you can usually categorize the problems and pain points in four different ways:
1) Pains and Problems about Cost:
They want something similar to what they are using at present at a lower rate, or without additional fees.
For example, this could be a tenant looking for a new apartment that’s similar to the one he is living in right now, but at a lower rent.
2) Pains and Problems about Productivity:
A potential customer feels that he is wasting time and is less productive because of the current product, or lack of product he is using.
For example, if your target audience is made of partner real estate investors for wholesaling, this could mean that they are lacking a good way to get updated on relevant deals you have.
If you find a solution to that, you might be preferred by them in the future and not your competition (provided, of course, you still have good deals in your pipeline).
3) Pains and Problems about the Ease of Process:
Here, your target customer or audience has some trouble with an unnecessary or complicated process and is looking for something easier to use.
For example, a property management company making their tenants use a paper form to apply to fix broken things that needs to be sent by mail vs. a property management company that has a downloadable app and the tenant can have a handyman come in to fix a toilet with just two clicks.
4) Pains and Problems about Assistance
In this case, your target audience or customers buy a product or service and find out quite early that there is only limited technical support or product assistance.
An example could be a real estate broker offering assistance in moving, but after closing the deal, just hands out the phone number of a moving service.
How to Apply Problems and Pain Points To Your Content Strategy?
A helpful tool to get started with the next step of building your realtor content strategies is using the problems and pain points you have found and making a customer journey.
By creating a customer journey, you might even find further problems and pain points that you weren’t aware of before.
What Is a (Real Estate) Customer Journey and How to Create One
Have you heard the “walk in their shoes” expression? If yes, then you already know broadly what a customer journey is.
For example Survey Monkey (a great tool, by the way, to create surveys for existing or potential customers to ask about their problems) used a nice definition of the customer journey:
“The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.”
As an example, let’s use a real estate agency in the secondary housing market in Florida.
Here, a customer journey could look roughly like that:
- Bill from Minnesota goes on a business trip to Miami and falls in love with the location
- Because of his new love story, he is already flirting with the idea of buying a second home there and becomes more aware of properties for sale in this area. He might already bookmark or take note of some real estate offers and agencies.
- Back home in Minnesota, he is talking with his family and/or wife about his wish to buy a second home in Miami and can convince them to move forward with the plan (although he had low odds)
- Bill keeps searching on the Internet for further property offers in his favorite neighborhood and comes across several real estate brokers
- He contacts a broker that convinced him because he had many virtual house tours on his website, which he consumes like a mad man. And there he finds his dream property
- Although he could already buy the property remotely just by having seen the virtual house tour, but nevertheless he books a flight to do a final showing with the broker
- The same day of the physical property tour, he makes an offer from his hotel room and after one counter-offer from the owner and one final counter-offer on his behalf, the deal is done
- Back at home in Minnesota, the closing papers are prepared and escrow is opened
- Since the broker works with an escrow office that can handle closings remotely, Bill the buyer can already close the deal from Minnesota
So, there you have a customer journey.
Depending on the type of customer you have, it could turn out in different variations. The one I used looks quite hassle-free.
But the important part of creating one is that you try to put yourself in the shoes of one or more customer types you have or might have and lay out the different steps from not being aware of a need, getting aware of your product/service to closing a sale or making a purchase.
Now Comes the Content Mapping Part Based On Your Customer Journey
The content mapping part is the logical next step after you have created your customer journeys.
The main part of it is taking the understanding you gathered through the customer journey and define and create content for each stage of the journey toward buying your product or service.
As I already mentioned in my article about real estate sales funnels, it’s rather a rare occurrence that a person goes straight from discovering you to buying.
It’s not impossible if you really have a highly persuasive copy but it’s not the best idea to count on that.
Which brings me to the different levels of product or service awareness:
- Unaware: Your audience doesn’t even know or realize they have a need or a problem (e.g. Bill from above traveling to Florida without the need to buy a second home there yet)
- Problem/Need Aware: They realize and recognize they have a need or a problem but don’t know what to do about it (e.g. Bill being in Florida and finding out he wants to have a second home there).
- Solution Aware: Your target audience is aware and knows different solutions to their problem or need, but doesn’t know which solution is right for them. They also don’t know your business with a specific product or service yet (e.g. Bill looking for houses for sale in a certain neighborhood or via the Internet).
- Product Aware: Some of your target audience know your product or service, but hasn’t bought yet. They are informed about what’s available in the marketplace but are not sure if your solution is the right one for them. (e.g. Bill having taken note of some real estate listings from the area and focusing on 2-3 which happen to be from your agency).
- Most Aware: This is someone who knows your product well and is already a brand ambassador. These are customers who have made multiple purchases and/or endorse your product or service (e.g. Bill having bought through your agency and telling others about how smoothly the closing went and what great 3D virtual tours you have on your website).
As you can see here, by using the content mapping based on the customer journey you created and applied the different levels of product or service awareness.
And now, you can create a real estate sales funnel powered by your content marketing in each step.
This approach can bring the potential customer from knowing to liking to trusting you.
Thus, you can create realtor content for each estate of product or service awareness.
Content Examples for Realtors According to Product or Service Awareness
Let’s use some examples to bring the above point home.
Unawareness Stage Content
Remember, in our example, our Bill doesn’t even know or realize he has a need for a second home in Florida.
So, the content would be made of more general things about Florida with an emphasis on the positive side of things that could cause the wish to stay longer in Florida than just for a business trip or a vacation.
- 10 Amazing Things you can do in Miami
- How to find the best surfing beaches in Florida
- The 10 best beach restaurants in Miami
- Why Florida is the best state to retire to
Problem/Need Awareness Realtor Content
Here, we catch our Florida fanboy Bill with relevant content when he already has the wish for a second home in the area.
The content could be created in a way that channels the wish for a second home and include articles such as:
- 10 Reasons You Might Consider Staying for Longer Than Just for A Short Trip in Florida
- 5 Advantages of Having a Second Home in Florida
- How to Surf the Beaches in Florida 365 Days per Year
Since Bill from Minnesota is now looking for houses for sale in a certain neighborhood or via the Internet, the content can now get a bit more real estate related.
These are now the more obvious real estate content ideas realtors usually come up with.
Titles could go like this:
- How to Buy Your Second Home in Florida Remotely
- The 10 Pitfalls of Buying a Second Home in Florida Most Realtors Don’t Want You To Know
- The 3 Best Strategies To Buy Your Second Home in Florida and Save Taxes
Product Awareness Realtor Content
Now, we are getting closer to the product, which in our case and for this example is a second home you want to sell as a realtor.
Remember, Bill from Minnesota might have taken note of some real estate listings from the area and focusing on 2-3 which happen to be from your agency.
In the content, you might even pretend that he has already bought a second home from you.
So, these could be the content ideas:
- The Typical Buying Process of Property in Florida
- The 10 Most Common Property Damages in Florida and How You Can Avoid Them
- How to Calculate Your Insurance and Property Taxes in Florida
- How to Rent Your Home to Tourists During Your Absence
- Our Selection of Second Homes with Top Nudge 3D Virtual Tours That You Can Buy Remotely
- Our Selection of 10 Second Homes with Ocean Views for Under 300k
- How To Maintain Your House Cool Without Breaking the Bank due to High Electricity Bills
Most Awareness Realtor Content
Now, Bill from Minnesota has already bought his second home and is now telling others how great your product or service was.
He knows your product well and is already a brand ambassador.
So, what content could possibly be created for this stage?
This is basically the part of after-sales service content.
It means you can still provide him with informative details which fall into the category of landlords and property owners, which can mean a whole new set of problems and pain points that need to be solved.
It could even mean creating a new customer journey and/or identifying further pain points, so you can create a new content map. Again, it’s almost a fractal 😉
So, some pain points at this stage could be:
- Having to deal with tourists that book their second home during their absence in Minnesota
- Managing maintenance work remotely from Minnesota
- Dealing with the hurricane season
- Needing to sell again
Some content ideas could be:
- The 10 Best Vacation Rental Management Companies in Miami On a Budget
- How to Prepare Your Second Home for The Hurricane Season
- The 7 Most Efficient Ways to Prepare Your House for a Fast Sale
Making content as a real estate agent can be a great approach to grow your business and create more leads.
However, not every piece of content is created equal and just putting average content out there might not move the needle sufficiently, revealing the danger of wasting a lot of time and money without getting helpful results.
This can be observed by the current stats of the challenges that exist with content marketing.
The key of working out effective content to increase your chances of success and to generate more quality leads is to have a good understanding of the problems and pain points of your potential customers or current customers.
Based on that, you create a customer journey and compare the journey steps with the different stages of product and service awareness and further brainstorm and map out the content you will need to produce for each stage.