By Terri Engels
Being a successful real estate agent requires a constant two-pronged approach: marketing yourself to bring in new leads and maintaining relationships with past clients. While many real estate agents double down on the former by spending an arm and a leg on a state-of-the-art website, mobile apps and even old-school newspaper ads, the truth is that you could be betting on the wrong horse.
Did you know that over 75 percent of an average agent’s business comes from referrals and word of mouth? Or that only one to three percent of leads that agents get from their website are actually ready to do business? Whether you’ve been a real estate agent for 20+ years or have just obtained your license, it’s imperative to know how to nurture and maintain relationships with past and present clients.
Personalize the Experience
When you’re helping a buyer or renter locate their ideal property, it’s critical to find out as much as you can about the tenants themselves. Why exactly do they want a townhouse in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn? What makes living in Greenwood Village in Denver, Colo. so important to them? Every detail you learn can help you re-connect with them after the deal is done.
“I make it a point to engage with my clients far beyond the transactional level. Not only can I learn more about my client in order to help them make a smart and informed decision, but also because referrals have been the lifeblood of my business for many, many years,” says real estate agent Caryn Elder of RE/MAX Realty Centre in Olney, Md.
Incorporating a personal touch during the sale further allows you to get a leg up on the competition by following up with small yet individualized and thoughtful gifts. In fact, creative gifting is predicted to be one of the top real estate trends of 2016. Because most agents will stick to more customary gifts like baskets, magnets and calendars, there’s plenty of scope for you to think outside the box.
“It’s simple – don’t follow a template,” says Elder. “It can be easy to cast a wide net with a basic postcard or email, but it’s not going to be memorable. Playing to the individual will separate you from the pack. If you find out that your client is a big sports fan, send them a welcome mat from their favorite team. Or if you know they like to cook, mail them some fun seasonal recipes or a customized bottle of olive oil.”
In 2016, a good chunk of business will be coming from first-time home buyers in their 20s and early 30s, so it’s important to know exactly how to market to millennials. One such way is to embrace today’s tech and establish a captivating social media presence. While embracing social media can sound daunting to newbies, some strategic posting and diligence can go a long way.
“I’ve worked with quite a few real estate agents in the past and they always have a ‘wow’ moment when they realize how easy it is to nurture relationships through social media,” says experienced social media manager Emily Sarecky. “If you want to stay on younger clients’ radars there’s no better way than friending your past clients on Facebook, mentioning them on relevant Twitter posts, and even wishing them well during milestones such as a new job, engagement, baby, etc. It will keep you on their radar.”
Lastly, with social media being one of millennials’ preferred means of contact, make sure you have a lightning-fast response time. If they send you a message, tweet or anything of the sort, make sure to acknowledge and respond accordingly, as the fast-paced world of digital and social dictates that younger users have shorter attention spans.
Woo! You’ve amassed an impressive amount of email addresses from your past clients; now you can just fire off some emails every so often to keep your past clients engaged, right? Wrong. Nowadays it simply isn’t enough to log into your email and fire off a boilerplate newsletter – you must have compelling content to go along with that digital rolodex.
It’s important to note that 44 percent of people say they end up sharing and engaging with content because it’s fun and entertaining; only 25 percent of people interact with educational content. So while you may have worked hard on a new case study regarding rising interest rates, a gif of a bulldog puppy frolicking through a field may actually provide more traction.
Finding the right balance between fun, informative and useful content that will keep your clients coming back isn’t always easy, so what’s the solution? Well, firstly you should create custom content for different demographics, areas and interests. Why would you send the same newsletter, meme or bit of advice to a budding young artist in the cultural district as you would to a retired florist? Take the time to personalize your email content and the results will be almost instantaneous.
Additionally, real estate agents should look into using email marketing software to track, send and analyze their emails. There are many viable options for email marketing on the market right now, so it’s simpler than ever to find the best fit for you and your audience.
With technology and a touch of thoughtfulness on your side, there’s no way that 2016 can’t be a great year for referral traffic. What are your favorite ways to keep in touch with clients?