Your Own Platform vs. Zillow
Zillow is a considered a necessary tool for many real estate agents while others shun it altogether. Being the product of someone else’s service for the sake of potential sales is no way to run your business and Zillow relishes in agents turning to them to feed them low-quality leads for wildly expensive prices.
Imagine if your local coffee shop had to spend twenty-five cents to get potential patrons in the door — further, imaging this coffee shop has absolutely no branding, no signage on the store — barely a storefront at all — no recognition, and no trust. You are merely ripping people off of the street that might want coffee and putting them in the store — clearly, some are going to bounce and leave the shop right away wondering how they ended up there in the first place. Some may stick around and buy some coffee effectively paying the cost of your twenty-five cents per patron plus some leftover for yourself.
This is hardly fine since you may feel you are gaining business but in reality, you are building someone else’s. You did not help yourself at all by buying this lead and even converting them. In fact, you just committed further to the system that is trying to put you out of business. Still, this is a necessary evil — it’s like when Uber uses human drivers to take care of rides and use those profits to invest in self-driving technology. The more you use Zillow’s platform, the more content and validity you give it to rank higher than you in any search result you may be striving for.
This example is you, the agent, as the coffee shop and Zillow as the tool bringing potential patrons in the shop. You are buying people to come into your store completely unsure if they will buy coffee or not — meanwhile, the service that is supplying these patrons to be forced into your store is making the same profit every time that coffee shop pays. The coffee shop is doomed from the beginning since it has absolutely no brand on its own. Starbucks nor Dunkin’ Donuts need to directly pay for people to visit their stores — people know what they supply, they trust them, and with some awareness reminders here and there on high-level billboards, they always come back.
Your job as the agent is to be at that level of awareness, status, and trust that you have people coming to you without paying for them to directly be in your face. If you have to rely on a system to generate leads for you then you don’t deserve the leads at all — generate the traffic, legitimacy, and customers on your own terms, on your website, using your content.
Your Platform vs. Other Platforms
All Zillow and all these other listing aggregators do is have high search rankings. Most people are searching things like:
- Homes for sale in my area
- Houses under 500k nearby
- What’s my house worth
Whoever organically comes up first on these results is going to win the business of the buyer or seller. They’re lost and need guidance — that’s why they’re on a search engine looking for solutions. There are a few ways to handle a situation like this.
Be The One they Stumble Upon
If you wrote the definitive blog piece on determining the value of your home, search engines would have no choice but to throw your post up there when people are searching for this topic. If you’re wondering why you want to write on the academics of this topic you’re not understanding the value of providing insights and content marketing. Once you own the definitive content on finding the value of your home, you can add your contact info, plug your branch, and entice people to become leads through this — plus, you’re positioning yourself as an authority in this space — even search engines believe you!
Be Known Before they Search
How much easier would it be to get listings if you were a celebrity? Everyone already knows and adores you so all you have to do advertise that you’re selling houses and everyone will love working with you!
If you’re a celebrity in the real estate space people are especially going to be fighting to do business with you. It’s important that you try to position yourself as a celebrity in your footprint. You should run your marketing as if you were running for county sheriff. You want to be so top of mind and so entertaining that people are thinking of you before they even know they want to buy or sell a house.
Getting to this level of awareness is not easy and not cheap. You can go viral and hack your way to stardom but this is extremely difficult to do and is nearly impossible to calculate. Most best bets regarding this are just to spend a lot of time on video and writing content they know those that are engulfed in the communities are going to love.
Know your audience and connect with them as much as you can. If you have to write about the most trivial town-issue but know it’s an extremely wealthy area that all the town parents are similarly annoyed by, you’d easily resonate with a large group of people from the very start of your campaign. Appeal to people that aren’t even looking to buy or sell a house — this may even be more valuable than appealing to those that are looking to buy since people are already buying their lead information from hundreds of different services selling phone numbers.
If you found yourself constantly getting updated on the school systems, local government, market, and parks and rec of your city and cities nearby by an entertaining online personality, wouldn’t you want that person to be the one to list your house? This person has built a rapport with you over the internet for months or even years and now when it’s finally time for you to make a deal you only know and trust one person for the job. You don’t even waste your time logging into listing aggregation sites because you know this person will take care of all your needs since you’ve seen them do it a million times on their video and content marketing efforts.
Creating a Definitive and Trusted Blog Post
Now that we understand the value of content marketing and how this helps your platform, we have to learn how to actually create the things that are going to be used to pick up leads from all angles.
The trick to attracting the most clicks and views on your content is to include as many further details as you can. You want to answer a question and then answer the next three or ten questions they might ask. Assume you are their one-stop for the exact question you’re aiming to solve along with the further reading they’ll need to really dominate the subject.
What this does is let search engines recommend your post as the definitive post. You handle the question, answer it perfectly, and handle everything else users typically type into search engines after they read a page including similar content. The challenge you will come across when trying to create these posts is that you have to now predict what others are going to start typing after they leave your site.
A great tactic you can use to assist in your predictions is simply by looking at your own search history. What are you searching and in what ways? You can always run some analytics to determine what others are searching as well and how you can maximize the reach of your site. This will only get you so far, though, as any information that’s readily available won’t get you to exceptional heights that you’re striving for.
Ranking Your Definitive Blog
Now that you have your leather-bound copywriting, you have to enable it to be ranked and picked up by search engines properly.
The way to go about this is very simple: make damned good content. Search engines aren’t looking for technical optimizations as much as they are actual solid content so if you ensure you’re providing true value that people will click on and enjoy you’re moving the needle in the right direction.
Becoming a Trusted Online Resource
Now that you’re generating digital content whether it’s video, written, or even audio-only, you’ll begin picking up traffic and generating online leads.
This approach is not only more effective but also less expensive. If you only get one lead through your SEO efforts this month, that search engine optimization carries over into the next month for free. If you took that budget for SEO and poured it into leads, you’d be forced to drop more of your budget into that same vehicle.
The paradox of buying leads online exists because buying leads is an instantly gratifying tactic that has easily measurable and usually profitable impacts. The problem is that very few business owners neglect to account for the longterm harm it has on your business and ultimate strategy.
I’ll lift the veil here if it isn’t obvious already. This blog post — providing value to you: real estate agents, general contractors, sales associates, and all business professionals alike — is part of Calaboration‘s online marketing strategy.
We reach people through organic search results this way and it’s the same exact thing we do for our clients.
If you’d like to learn more about how we generate quality leads and build online presences let us know and we’d be happy to help!