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Business Marketing

It’s the Premise, Stupid.

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This grin comes over my face every time I hear the “worn and torn” arguments against  internet marketing. It is possible that your follow up stinks, like your favorite Lead Reseller likes to say.  It could  be that your leads are weak, Glengarry style. Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way). All that could very well be true. But it’s not the reason why internet marketing is not working for you. The truth is you might have never had a chance to begin with…

It’s the premise, stupid.

Internet marketing works for a lot of people – many of them in real estate. Stratospheric return on investment rates driven by rows upon rows of skinned cats generated at relatively minuscule costs. Internet marketing is spinning wheels in the mud that get nowhere for a lot of people, too.  Ever wonder why that is? Is it because the first group are smarter, geekier, more forward thinking visionaries while the second are tech-challenged Jurassic Park residents? Not in the slightest. What the first group understand that the second one doesn’t is this:

Prospects generated by your marketing are as good as

the premise that was used to get their information.

Think about that for a second. Once you grasp that concept, you can look at marketing through a brand new lens.  Now you see why leads generated by that “Enter your name, win a free iPod” banner ad are bored 12 year olds? Do you understand now that offering a free CMA will get you many names but not very many Sellers? Is it clear now why that sugarfrosted “Why Rent, when you can own for $150/mo” sign makes the phone ring off the hook with suspects that have less than a popsicle’s chance in hell to get approved? It’s the premise.

Four tips to convert more prospects into clients

Now that your thinking is along the correct wavelength, how can you translate it into more Washington mini-portraits and less frustration.

Ask for MORE information, not less

I see countless cases of “just enter your name and email” contact forms on websites. From personal experience, that’s a huge mistake especially in our field. If your goal was to build a fat list of names and email addresses, that’s the way to do it. But take your list to your local banking institution and ask them to convert it into cash and get back to me. Serious prospects have no problem filling out contact forms so ask appropriately. In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.

Give browsers room to breathe

You know that feeling you get when you step into a store just to look, only to have a pushy salesman unfold a whole script on ya? That’s how a lot of prospects feel when you bombard them with questions, emails, newsletters immediately after they filled out a form for more information. The solution is: Give your prospects a chance to say that they wish to be left alone for the moment. It will save you many-a-hangup.

Tailor your follow up to your premise

If your strategy is to offer a free whitepaper in exchange for an email address, so you can then utilize an email campaign to convert them,  you must realize that results might take a while to surface. So take a consistent but long term approach and make sure you see it through the whole way. If instead you are looking to generate prospects of a property that’s a good value and available for a short time (i.e. foreclosure), you must establish contact right away so you will need a phone number. Likewise, if your prospect clearly indicates they’re not ready to move for another 3-6 months, realize that you will not convince them to rearrange their life to fit your pipeline needs. Adapt your approach to the premise.

Sharp Call for Action

The flavor of your marketing message does not matter as much as the substance of it. If your call to action is anything other than the prospect asking to be contacted and provided more information, the results won’t be as stellar. That’s the reason why a someone registering in your IDX (so they can move forward) are less likely to convert (at first) than the prospect that requests information for a specific property they found using your IDX. How you structure your call to action has a lot to do with the prospect’s willingness to provide the information you need to contact them.

Thoughts?

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Ed Kohler

    September 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Great post, Erion. It’s interesting how many people say “we need more leads” when they’re not first creating a quality experience that is capable of generating the types of qualified leads they’re really interested in. For example, agents working under the premise that providing property photos online will keep the phone from ringing are likely steering people away from their listings and generating “leads” of people who are not nearly as qualified as someone who’s thoroughly reviewed a property online before contacting an agent.

  2. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    September 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I like he form. Not too much. Enough to see if they really want to take the next step or, as you say, just browsing. My personal challenge seems to come with the number of visitors. Who knows? I may be going about it all wrong but my guess is that you still need the numbers even if you have the right premise.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    September 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    One item missing from my form that I need to add is the timeframe … was there once upon a time.

    Beyond that … it’s still a numbers game. More leads in the front end equals more conversions on the back end. That assumes they’re real, convertible leads.

    Have a love/hate relationship with the folks that say they have an agent. Added a field asking for the agent’s name just for the folks who may be saying yes for the hell of it but at the end of the day probably is best to realize they just don’t want to be bothered and focus instead on those who want to buy.

  4. Daria Kelly Uhlig

    September 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Excellent points. Statistically, having more leads in general may result in more qualified leads over time, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits. It’s not only a numbers game. It’s also one of productivity. We have to factor in time lost chasing bad leads that could’ve been devoted to more productive activities.

  5. Ken Brand

    September 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I concur Rainman. Your stuff makes me pause and think, which is good and important. My main take away – “Before I run off quarter-cocked, I should sit and think-hard, “What’s my premise”, “What’s my goal”, “Who am I speaking too.”

    Wise words.

  6. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 18, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Erion:

    Like the post. Well thought out and full of good information, I think I learned something. I completely agree with the theory here and have never targeted anything other than well, targeted traffic for my site. (..allow myself to introduce myself….A. Powers)

    I like your form, asking for a tick more information. I once read a statistic that the typical internet home shopper is 6-9 months away from doing anything, if ever, and I’ve seen this pan out myself over the last few years. So a lot of success has to do with what one does with the leads after getting them.

    Your article was great so I won’t debate this one with you:

    “Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    I will just say that the ONLY way I would ever NOT require registration is if my site traffic was SO HIGH that I wanted to use registration as a screen.

    Rob in Atlanta

  7. Missy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Asking the time frame is good. I will tell you that many people say a year out and when you call are ready now and thankful for the call.

  8. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    “you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    What proof do you have to back up this statement? If you are writing on AG for the sake of helping people, then stating an opinion as fact, with little facts to back it up, is irresponsible. If you are wrong, which I think you are, then this statement is even worse.

    Come on Erion – prove it!
    Give me something solid. Give me solid data. Give me numbers and time frames. Give me user behavior. Give me something more than an agent’s opinion.

    Show me yours and I’ll show you real data.

  9. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    “In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.”

    Tell me why this doesn’t apply to IDX as well?

  10. Erion Shehaj

    September 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Bob

    I was being sarcastic RE: IDX registration. Probably should have qualified it with a smilie or something. I am a BIG believer in requiring IDX registration.

  11. bob

    September 21, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for clarifying.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.

It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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