Commercial Real Estate Internet Marketing
WELCOME TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Of Real Estate Websites
Is your Commercial Real Estate Website up to date?
Does it generate leads and customers for your brokerage?
Do you actively track and make improvements to optimize your website performance?
If the answer is “NO”, you are losing customers to your competition!
Whether they are establishing, relocating or expanding their business, most business owners seek the help of a commercial real estate firm at some point in the business life cycle. Whatever the reason, this is an exciting time for a business and you want to be the commercial real estate firm that they choose to set them up for success with the right building and location.
So, when a business is ready to hire a commercial real estate agent where are they most likely to go to make their choice? That’s right; the internet. Even if they have a referral, they will often search for the business online to check for online reviews, peer ratings and company details.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors of Real Estate in the Digital Age:
- 95% of buyers use the internet for finding their homes
- 90% of buyers use mobile when searching for homes
- 86% of websites use MLS listings
- 70% of real estate clients forget their agents within one year
- 52% of all generations say finding the right property is the hardest step in home buying
- 48% of firms cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges
With the vast majority of people looking for professional commercial real estate help online, it is absolutely critical to create a great website with two major goals in mind. The first goal is that the website be ranked well on major search engines so that your website comes up at top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The second goal is that the website offers a great user experience so that once they click to your website they choose to contact you for their commercial real estate needs.
Yet most real estate websites don’t provide a good experience for buyers online!
You need a complete formula for online success in today’s commercial real estate market.
Top 8 Internet Marketing Tools for Commercial Real Estate
1. Build with WordPress
Build your website or update your website design with WordPress. Now running over 25% of the entire web, there is no platform – proprietary or open source – that is bigger.
- The platform is constantly changing and improving to stay ahead of the competition because it is supported by a large and motivated online community. There are literally thousands of designers, developers and enthusiasts available to help with WordPress websites and many basic questions can be answered with a basic internet search.
- Google responds well to WordPress sites because they are updated more frequently than sites on proprietary platforms and the content tends to be structured well. It is much easier to get a WordPress site ranking in search results quickly compared to a static website.
- Thousands of affordable WordPress themes are available, allowing businesses the ability to change their website design quickly.
- Industry specific themes showcase what’s important for each type of business. Commercial Real Estate themes, for example, might include a page for real estate listings with a slide show, service pages and broker profiles.
- With over 10,000 plugins available, WordPress site functionality can increase dramatically without a big investment. Commercial Real Estate websites benefit from plugins that allow social media sharing, property slideshows, Google maps and more.
- WordPress sites include a user friendly content management system (CMS) which means that they are easy to update. With basic training, anyone familiar with Microsoft Office can easily create and edit pages and blog posts. (Keeping content updated is vital for user experience and search engine results.)
2. Integrate Multiple Listings Service (MLS)
If your website is carrying out of date listings then you are losing out on customers, period. With today’s technology options there is simply no excuse for having outdated listings or worse, not displaying the listings that your firm is currently representing. When you build your website through WordPress you have access to a user friendly CMS so it will be easy to update available properties – and any other content – right away.
Bring your website up to date with the latest technology. If you are still using IDX to offer MLS search results, your website isn’t getting any benefits from those searches. The reason is because all the data is stored on the IDX servers, not on your website. Google knows this and won’t give any credit for displaying listings on your website. We use RETS (Real Estate Technology Standards) to import MLS listings through an Application Program Interface (API) as a data feed directly into your website. Until now RETS has needed a proprietary platform to function. Our team has gotten around the need to hire a provider to build out a proprietary platform by creating a system that imports listings directly into WordPress (non proprietary) websites.
3. Optimize for Search Engines
To optimize for search engines, companies must do keyword research to identify what search terms their potential customers are using. In addition, businesses should determine the questions that their potential customers are most likely to have about choosing a commercial real estate broker and answering those questions on the website. A firm can even incorporate a Commercial Real Estate FAQ page.
The website structure should be search engine friendly. If it’s easy for a user to understand the services you are offering it’s going to be easy for a search engine to understand.
Make your website’s home page a clear shout out to search engines. Identify the geographic area(s) and the type(s) of properties you sell/lease as well as the types of clients you represent. Do you focus on industrial real estate in a specific county? Do you focus exclusively on business clients? All of these answers should be made clear on the home page.
Businesses with a website benefit greatly from creating a blog. Blogging on a regular basis is a relatively easy and efficient way to help personalize your business, introduce fresh content to your website, support your sales funnel, drive traffic to your website, attract potential clients and enhance the relationship with existing clients.
Search engines now require fresh content to keep websites displayed at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in competitive markets. By making sure that your blog is hyperfocused on relevant keywords, you will attract the right buyers and sellers as your blog pages pop up at the top of search engine results. Overall, your website will be better optimized when you post relevant content on a regular basis. Search engines index new content which makes your website more relevant.
Blogging can be the beginning or development of relationships with your clients. By posting content relevant to their needs and questions, you are becoming a “go to” resource for industry data and trends. You show yourself as an expert in your field, which is especially important to small firms looking to compete with larger businesses. Businesses can also open the blog to comments and use it as a way to engage and build trust with customers. Tracking transcripts can give business owners useful information into their customers’ needs and wants.
Finally, blogging becomes free marketing when someone reads and shares the post by e-mail or social media. Business owners are missing a big opportunity when they don’t blog.
5. Use Social Media
It’s important to understand and use social media properly to engage prospects during the buying process. The goals are to answer your customer’s questions, thank them for or manage public feedback and amplify your content.
As a social media platform, LinkedIn has proven to be a great source of real estate leads. It is full of business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their businesses and that often means a need for commercial real estate brokers. Commercial Real Estate firms that have strip malls for sale or lease can use LinkenIn to contact dentists, attorneys, accountants and other professionals in an area who may be looking for new office spaces.
In addition to LinkedIn, most successful Commercial Real Estate firms also have an active Facebook page and Twitter account where they publish blog posts and engage with their clients and colleagues.
6. Build Your Online Sales Funnels
Traditionally, commercial real estate brokers used mostly in person sales and negotiation tactics to close sales. Those skills became less useful with the growth of the internet. Today, growing real estate firms are putting their efforts into internet marketing where they aim to draw clients into their sales funnel. Online real estate sales – handled through a website’s sales funnel – has the potential to drive the long-term growth of commercial real estate transactions.
The sales funnel is the way that different types of buyers navigate through a website before choosing to contact the business. The first step is to make it easy for potential clients to contact you. Provide your phone number and/or e-mail and/or contact form in the header, footer, on the contact page and in “calls to action” throughout your website.
Our online marketing team maps the buyer journey through data analysis features; we track the journey of unique visitors from where they were referred to the website to which pages they visited and for how long. This information is then used to create a plan to direct users to become a lead; from there we can nurture those leads into customers.
7. Integrate Chat Bots
In today’s world everything has sped up. One of the results is that people use messenger apps way more often than phone calls and e-mails. Potential clients no longer have the patience to fill out forms and wait for an email; they want answers to their questions right now. A chat bot fills the need for instant answers.
Chat bots can be built into a business website, Facebook page or many other social media sites like Slack. As chat bots become more common, customers will become increasingly comfortable with them and demand this type of communication. Companies who choose not to use chat bots could be left in the dust while their potential clients choose business that allow them to communicate instantly.
The benefits to chat bots are many. Once they are set up they perform tirelessly: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They keep working while employees are at home resting or out for lunch. They also offer data to a business owner who can use the written transcripts to identify client needs and questions and use the information to better serve existing clients or gain new clients.
8. Make Your Website an Invaluable Resource
Clients (and potential clients) will keep coming back to your website if you make it an invaluable resource. Every time they come back to use the tools you have provided you have another opportunity to get them through your sales funnel and earn their business.
Commercial real estate firms can create value for their clients by including online links to real estate attorneys, escrow companies, commercial mortgage lenders and mortgage calculators. The website becomes a full-service spot used over and over again by people buying, leasing or selling commercial real estate. Another value-added tool is a smart-phone app that potential clients can use to access relevant listing and services.