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CRE digital marketing 101: The strategy and tools brokers need

Jul 13, 2016

cre-digital-marketingMany of your future clients will first interact with you by visiting your website. How confident are you that they’ll be impressed with your branding and also be able to easily sign up for a newsletter or contact you? Or on the flip side, can prospective clients even find you online?

Digital marketingor any efforts to promote your brokerage on the internetshould be an important part of your business strategy. To be effective, you must also continually test and refine that strategy.

Fortunately, you don’t need a degree in marketing or an MBA to get by. It might behoove you to enlist the help of a marketing assistant, but if that’s not in the budget right now, here’s a quick rundown of the tactics you needand the tools to get them done.

An aesthetically pleasing, intuitive website

First impressions matter, and as we said, your website is often that first impression. It should clearly communicate your brokerage’s value statement and brand, and bolster your credibility as knowledgeable, savvy brokers.

As for the basics, your site should have:

  • Clean, modern design that’s easy for users to navigate
  • Contact information that is easy to locate
  • Clear brand messaging that details what sets you or your brokerage apart

Don’t have a big brokerage brand backing you up with web design? Check out popular platforms like SharpLaunch, which is specific to commercial real estate, or Squarespace, Wordpress, or Wix for DIY website creation and hosting made simple.

Professional-looking photography

Nothing kills the polished look of your marketing efforts faster than bad imagery. Avoid using pictures that are too small, too dark, overexposed, stretched or just plain cliché. Either hire a professional to take some local shots or find free high-quality stock photos in places like Unsplash, Pexels, or DeathtoStockPhoto.

Next, read: 5 tips to improve online lead conversion

A savvy social media presence

This one is a no-brainer. If you want to network, you have to go where the people are. Use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to build your presence, connect with potential clients and share information. For commercial real estate brokers, you should focus on a robust LinkedIn presence first.

A successful social media strategy is more than a sales pitch or a picture of what you ate for breakfast. It’s an offer of content and conversation that is useful to your target audience. Check out these experts on social media to see how the pros are doing it.

Blog about it

Yes, it’s a fair amount of effort, but starting a blogand writing consistentlyis a proven way to build authority as a leader in your market. This inbound marketing strategy helps attract new clients, build trust and drive traffic to your site both through direct links and search engine optimization, or SEO. Trust us, it really does work.

At Apto, we’re fans of Hubspot’s Marketing Blog (there’s also one for sales), which has a mind-boggling number of posts and resources to teach you all about content strategy and digital marketing.

To simplify, your blog content should be a mix of:

  • Industry or market news
  • Solution-oriented content
  • Curated content (blogs, articles, videos created by others that speak to your audience)
  • Content that allows followers to get to know you or your brokerage

Jump into paid advertising

Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of paid advertising; just start experimenting. There are a lot of channels for advertising based on search terms and location, as well as audience demographics. Start with Google AdWords, and then expand into social network advertising and retargeting platforms like AdRoll or Perfect Audience.

You can structure campaigns many different ways, and you can start with pretty much any budget. Read Spokal's Beginner's Guide to Paid Online Advertising or check out some of Hubspot’s posts. Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try: paid advertising is all about testing messages and channels to see what works. But be sure to track and measure your campaigns to get the most out of your spending.

Refine your email strategy

First, make sure you have a way to capture visitor information on your site so you have more people to email.

Dinners, golf outings and phone calls with prospective clients can nurture relationships, but you can scale up those efforts easily with a simple email newsletter (if done right). While it won’t replace that in-person contact, it keeps you top of mind for a larger pool of prospects.

This means creating something website visitors need and offering it in exchange for their email address and other information. Use that email to establish your expertise and build a network over time.

MailChimp is the way to go when it comes to email marketing, though some more sophisticated content management platforms offer built-in email systems. You can also look here for some more recommendations.

Digital marketing 2.0

If you’ve checked all these boxes, you can expand your content marketing efforts—i.e., what goes on your blog, website, emailsto include other formats like videos and infographics. For the former, play around with your iPhone and iMovie editing software, check out Videoscribe and Raw Shorts, browse Fiverr for animated video freelancers, or hire professional videographers like Lemonlight. For infographics and other imagery, check out Piktochart for easy-to-use templates or look for freelancers on Upwork.

Don’t forget to test

You’re operating blind if you don’t test and measure everything you do related to digital marketing. You need real data to understand what you’re doing right (or wrong) with your tactics. Look at pageviews, email open and click rates, landing page conversion rates, and other web metrics to continually hone your strategy.

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Topics: Best Practices

The Apto Team

Written by The Apto Team

Apto, the commercial real estate software company, is the #1 CRM and deal management platform for commercial real estate brokers, with more paid users than any other service. Apto was built by and for brokers to help them manage contacts, properties, listings and deals from anywhere, on any device. Apto customers include thousands of independent brokers around the world, as well as multinational brokerages CBRE, JLL, NKF, Cushman & Wakefield and others. Headquartered in Denver, Apto is one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., as ranked by Inc. magazine three years in a row.

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