Archive for 'Video'

Search engines are an excellent source of high quality web traffic. They don’t send visitors who ’stumble upon’ your website or accidently clicked on an ad banner. Instead, they send you interested visitors who type in a query while fully expecting to find what they need. They are engaged right from the start and ready to buy, browse or read.

If their desire is well fulfilled by your webpage, you may end up getting a bookmark, customer or repeat reader. Added bonus: search engine traffic is consistent and usually cost-free. Ranking well for several relevant keywords or phrases could get you a steady stream of visitors everyday. That’s why some businesses choose to hire SEO firms/consultants.

There are many factors involved in the actual ranking of a site on a search engine results page, one of them being the use of keywords in the domain name. While the use of a keyword or key phrase does not alone promise a high ranking, it does seem to be a factor to some extent, partially because the domain name is often used as the anchor text for links.

Why do I talk about this? Because one way to get more search engine traffic is to build many of what I call ‘mini-funnel’ websites for specific keyword phrase/search queries. All of these slave websites could be designed as pointers to funnel traffic to your master site. Alternatively, they could be used as a stand-alone site to build exposure/accumulate leads.

Let’s do an example. I recently came across ’Is Barack Obama a Muslim‘ a one-page website created by someone to answer that one specific search query. The domain name and title tag consists of the keyword phrase (isbarackobamaamuslim) and the word ‘No’ links to the U.S democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama’s campaign website. Screenshot:

is barack obama a muslim

Just in case the user misspells his/her query there’s also ‘Is Barack Obama Muslin‘, a one-page website created specifically for possible incorrect search terms (the usefulness of this is offset by search engine auto-correction). In any case, this page contains 3 links, one to the Wikipedia page for ‘Muslin’, one to Obama’s campaign site and the other to the site mentioned above.

is barack obama muslin

And then there’s the ‘Is Barack Obama Muslim‘ version of the site with the ‘a’ alphabet dropped. This particular one ranks the highest on both Yahoo and Google for the ‘is barack obama muslim‘ phrase, taking the no. 1 spot and even outranking Obama’s own official website. This appears to be the most established version of the three; Yahoo site explorer shows that it has 10,762 incoming links compared to the hundreds for the two other sites.

is barack obama muslim

These mini-sites were created to provide answers to a specific question, one that is rather popular because rumors of Barack Obama being a Muslim have been circulating through viral emails or blogs. The goal of these two sites is to debunk the rumors by funneling traffic to Obama’s official site, which provides a clear explanation on the topic.

So the strategy is pretty clear-cut here. Create websites to answer specific search queries or deal with specific topics. Then use them to generate leads or send traffic to your home base.

Here are some elements which I think would really make these mini-sites work:

  1. Single-issue. Deal with too many topics or questions and your webpage will lose its immediacy. It also makes sense, especially if you’re using a keyphrase domain name.

  2. Reference-friendly. People link to Wikipedia pages because they provide an overview or in-depth info on a specific topic. A way to make your site more linkable is to make sure that it covers the issue in full, through original content and external links.

  3. Novelty/Simplicity. A single-page website is easily digestible. Two or three more pages may be fine. Use up too many pages and you’ll end up losing the novelty factor and becoming a full site. You don’t have to just use black text on a white background. Clean, unique and topically relevant site designs will always help.

  4. Viral components. To make people spread the word, encourage them by providing sharing options like an email-a-friend feature or link-to-me banners. Favorite tools that marketers have used include quizzes, videos and polls. Anything interactive.

  5. Sell elsewhere. The funnel-site is not the place to make money. The injection of a commercial motive might make it less linkable, novel and appealing. Remove or obscure commercial intent by not putting up ads and selling elsewhere (email list or master site).

The Obama examples given above use the exact keyword search query as the domain name/title tag, which encourages people to link using the same words. You don’t have to stick to keyphrases; brandable non-keyword domain names are OK too, although I think its best to at least have some keywords in the title tag, since you’re going after visitors from search.

But then again, search engine algorithms can be unpredictable. Such a site might fall out of favor for some reason and lose its rankings. That’s why its important to give it a good push at the start by promoting it on social media channels to make sure that it serves its purpose as a lead generator/traffic funnel. The resulting links might also help your site develop trust.

So, what do you think of these mini-funnel websites?

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How ‘Mini-Funnel’ Websites Can Help You Increase Traffic, Generate Leads and Build Exposure

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A 5 Step Marketing Plan for Single Property Websites

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from other agents is to offer more value for your commission than what other agents are providing. One easy way to do this is to create a website for your client’s home with its own unique domain name. These types of websites are quick and easy to set up – and because you can add virtually unlimited information to the page, you can use the website as a marketing hub for the home.

Any good website takes some planning to get set up and running. Let’s start with the basics:

Step 1 – What do you want your website to do?

This seemingly basic question is something that 99% of all webmasters never ask. If you don’t set goals for what you hope to accomplish, you’ll never achieve them.
In this case, your website has a number of goals, including:

  • Impressing Your Sellers – The main reason you are creating these websites is to show sellers how much more value you provide over other agents out there. You’re not simply putting up a quick listing on your website. You’re giving them their own site that you will market in all the home’s promotional materials.
  • Marketing The Home – Most means of home marketing are extremely limited by space and price. If you want to run a full-page advertisement including all the home details, it will cost you. The same is true for mailings and any printed materials. With a website, you can put up as much information as you want, without adding cost. And because 77% of home buyers search on the internet, you’re putting your listings out there for people to find.

Step 2 – Who is your target audience?

You might not know exactly who your target audience is, but it’s more specific than simply "a buyer" ready to buy within the next month.

Take a look around the neighborhood. Who else lives there? What are their income levels? What kinds of cars do they drive? How many kids do they have? Take note of the types of people that live in this particular neighborhood. Here are some things to get you started:

  • Demographics – Where do they live? How much do they make? How old are they? Their gender? Their ethnicity? Their education?
  • Geography – Where do they live? Why do they live there? What type of lifestyle do they have in their geographical area?
  • Lifestyle – What do they do for a living? What motivates them? What types of interests and hobbies do they have? What type of car do they drive? Where do they go on holidays or vacations?
  • Life Cycle – Where are they in their life cycle? Are they single, just married, expecting their first child, divorcees, empty nesters, retirees?
  • Motives – What motivates them to buy? Are they emotional or rational buyers? What do they care about – the economy, investing, security, stability, the American dream?

You might ask, why does this matter? The answer is because your best prospects will probably share a number of these characteristics with the current neighborhood residents. Your marketing will work only when you understand who you are trying to target and why they might buy. The best way to understand their motivations for buying is to find out why others bought within this particular neighborhood.

And I mean "neighborhood" – not city or township or several square mile radius. I’m talking specifics. Who lives on this particular street? What about the adjacent streets? What can you learn about them just by their home decorations, landscaping, cars, kids toys, etc? Once you know this type of stuff, you can mention these specific characteristics within your home description on the website.

Step 3 – What is the competition like?

This might be difficult to answer, so here are two places to start:

  1. Check the neighborhood – Are there any other homes on this street or on the adjacent streets that are currently up for sale? If so, what makes them distinctive? What advantages and disadvantages do they have over the home you are listing?
  2. Check the MLS – What homes are in the MLS that have similar features and price to the home you are listing and are located nearby? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What makes them distinctive?

To effectively market a home, you must know what competition you have – and what unique features and benefits your listing brings to the table. Knowing this information helps you distinguish and differentiate your home from all the others on the market.

Think of it this way. Buyers are overwhelmed with choices. When they search through listing after listing, they are looking for something that stands out and grabs their attention. Something that says to them "go see this house!"

If your marketing can do this, you’re going to start attracting a lot more buyers who want to check out this "must see" house. And that means there’s a good chance you’ll close the deal faster- and get paid for your services sooner!

Step 4 – How can you differentiate this listing from others on the market?

At the bare minimum, your website should include the features of the home (price, location, the number of rooms, baths, and amenities) and lots of photographs, but if you want to really generate buzz about the home, tell the "story" of the home.

What’s special, unique or distinct about this home? Why did the current owners buy this home? What do they love about it? What amenities are nearby? What’s the best pizza place in the area? Are there any annual neighborhood picnics or special events? How do the kids like the schools they attend? What’s within walking distance? A 10 mile drive?

Why bother? Because people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. They want to fall in love with their new home – and they’ll justify their purchase with reasons later. People buy homes they can see themselves living in. They have to envision how they’ll arrange the rooms. How they’ll paint the walls. How they’ll set up the nursery. All of that stuff is emotional. That’s why your marketing needs to appeal to their emotions as well as give them the facts and features.

Step 5 – How can you market the website?

The final step is getting the word out. Here are some ideas for marketing your new website:

  • On your blog and website
  • In your ads and mailings
  • On house fliers
  • In your newsletters
  • On riders for your signs.
  • In your online classified ads (Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, etc)
  • In your social media profiles like MySpace and Facebook
  • Twitter (or tweet, if you like) the URL
  • Add to social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us
  • In your email signature
  • In blog comments you leave (don’t spam blogs, but most software asks for your URL – use your listing URL instead of your blog or website)
  • In listing presentations (to show other sellers what you can do for them)

Get Started Today

You don’t have to be a technology genius or pay a web developer lots of money to set up a page for you. It’s relatively easy to set these types of sites up

  1. Set up a free Blogger.com account. You’ll be able to create a new blog for each listing and the process takes about 3 minutes. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.
  2. Once you have your blog set up, go to the Settings tab and then click on the "Publishing" link. You’ll see something that says "You’re publishing on blogspot.com." Underneath, it will say "Switch to: Custom Domain" Click on the "Custom Domain" link. Go through Google’s easy step-by-step system to buy a domain for your blog for $10/year. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.

Easy, right? Alternatively, you can set up a free account on Postlets.com – or pay $5 to upgrade to a premium listing.

Setting up single property listings for each of your clients’ homes can be a great way to demonstrate how marketing and technology savvy you are to potential sellers – and they’re simple, fast and affordable to set up.

This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)

I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?

  1. I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
  2. I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
    • Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
    • Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
    • Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
    • Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
  3. I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
    • I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
    • Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
  4. I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
    • I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
    • I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
    • I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
    • I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
    • I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
  5. I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.

As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.

My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.

So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?

Using Video in Your Real Estate Marketing

Having commercial quality video that represents your business is a valuable animated brochure.

Much like a traditional website the highly produced video is useful, but not nearly as much as the more scrappy on the fly production. Much like what a blog is about. Because of its conversational nature, Web 2.0 demands speed and consistency.

Some ideas for quick and powerful video marketing
:

  1. Testimonial gathering-Nothing is more powerful than a testimonial and nothing is more powerful than a testimonial on video on your blog, website, CD, etc.
  2. Digital Door Knocking. This beats the old style way of cold doors (which still works by the way). Simply go to all your happy clients and interview them about your neighborhood. What do they love about the neighborhood and local flavors? What do they like about their new lifestyle? Etc. Talk about local blogging!
  3. Digital Neighborhood Tours-be the ambassador to your farm areas. This can really go beyond just video. It can become a social event whereby your online followers meet you in person as Pat Kitano described in our most recent podcast.
  4. Meet the Affiliates-Buyers and Sellers are usually clueless about all these affiliate fees they have to pay. Like escrow, title, pest control, home warranty, etc. Interview  these people and let them describe the reasons for their services. There is a plethora of knowledge (translated as potentially very rich web content)  that these folks can provide for you. Besides it makes it much easier to get your rep written in on the contract when she just sold the client, not you!

So there are some ideas to get you brainstorming. Actually pretty much anything you would blog about can be vblogged.

We will discuss video marketing in much more detail in our launch of the Real Estate Guerilla Coaching Club.

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