As every real estate agent knows, it pays to advertise. Referrals and word-of-mouth may generate a transaction or two, but to create a full-fledged, income-producing business, it’s essential to market your services to consumers.
Many agents, however, are stuck in an advertising rut, using the same old advertising techniques — newspaper classifieds, home magazines and the like — to reach an audience that’s looking elsewhere for real estate information. Advertising works only if you do it where your target audience will see it. Many real estate agents across the country are missing their target audience — and they’re missing out on profits.
Today’s real estate buyers and sellers look for information on the Internet. In fact, 74 percent of buyers start their home search online, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). When you advertise your business on the Internet, you can access buyers and sellers and extend your brand in the neighborhoods you work.
Here’s why it pays for you to advertise your business online.
1. You can offer color home photos and virtual tours.
Consumers want to gather as much information about a home as they can before taking the next step. Newspapers used to provide the maximum amount of information about a home. That’s why consumers used to read the classifieds in local newspapers.
Today the Internet can provide colorful images of every room of the house, the view off the balcony, the kitchen countertops, plus virtual tours that can show how the pictures come together in the house. Consumers naturally choose a real estate Web site over a black-and-white photo in the newspaper.
2. Your ads give more details.
Newspaper ads typically run just a handful of words, including common industry abbreviations that baffle the average home buyer. On the Internet, users can gain a wealth of information such as detailed home descriptions, plus school districts, cross-streets, parks and more—all in a quick glance. What buyer wouldn’t choose to look online over a newspaper?
3. Consumers can map ’em.
Every agent knows that location matters. These days online mapping is robust, interactive and getting better by the minute. Home buyers can look quickly online to discover the exact location of a house. Buyers often can find out everything they want to know about homes and neighborhoods online. Print advertising simply cannot provide the geographic detail that consumers need. Relocation business is at your fingertips.
4. Relocation business is at your fingertips.
The Internet is the resource of choice for people relocating to a new area. By associating with a nationally advertised real estate Web site, you can tap into a broad national audience to get a valuable source of out-of-town business. The equivalent nationwide exposure through print advertising is cost-prohibitive for most real estate agents.
5. The Internet is available 24/7.
It’s no secret that with today’s busy lifestyles, some of the most desirable buyers and sellers are too busy to read a newspaper. By advertising online, you and your listings are available whenever a buyer or seller is ready to look—even if it’s at 2 a.m. The Internet is where you need to advertise your business to ensure that you’re the agent they find first.
6. It’s cost-effective.
Online advertising isn’t nearly as expensive as you may think. The return on investment for online advertising is second only to direct mail, some marketing experts have stated. Meanwhile newspaper advertising ROI can be highly volatile, depending on the circulation for the day. Online advertising can also be much more flexible than print, letting you feature your listings as soon as they hit the market and pull your ads as soon as the transaction closes. The lead time on newspaper ads means that you may be stuck running an ad when you don’t need to.
7. Ad dollars are shifting from offline to online.
One major Wall Street firm, JMP Securities, recently announced that the global online ad market is expected to grow by 25 percent per year for the next five years. The company anticipates that the online ad market will grow to $33.2 billion in 2007.
And according to a new study from JupiterResearch, online and search engine ad spending is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2005 and 2010. These expected expenditures indicate that the online advertising market has matured significantly since the 1990s and is now ripe for harvesting new business.
8. A tech-savvy agent is desirable.
Forrester Research says that Internet users are spending more than 30 percent of their media time online. What’s more, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 87 percent of consumers expect their agent to be skilled with technology. To reach those consumers, you need to show from their very first impression that you know how to make the best use of the Internet. This means starting your relationship with local consumers through online advertising.
9. Consumers get instant contact.
Research from NAR shows that consumers expect fast response from real estate agents. And when consumers reach for the Internet, they expect immediate gratification for their curiosity about a house. Consumers can simply click on your online ad to get in touch with you immediately. They want your expertise right away. The easier you make it for buyers and sellers to reach you, the more likely you are to get their business.
10. You can streamline your response.
Advertising online also makes it much easier for you to follow up with interested consumers, because you can get more information about them. Just as consumers can get more information about you and your listings on the Internet, you can instantly get information like their email address captured directly into your contact management system. This makes it easy for you to keep in touch and follow up while they get ready to buy or sell a home.
You can’t turn back the clock. Online advertising is here to stay. Real estate agents are beginning to realize that online advertising actually presents a number of important advantages over traditional print. Real estate Web sites offer a new way to reach consumers looking online for real estate information in your neighborhood. It also enables agents to showcase listings prominently to attract more attention from buyers—and for sellers serves as an appealing marketing outlet that is inaccessible to agents using traditional marketing methods.
It does pay to advertise your business online. By putting your brand in front of buyers and sellers and showing off your knowledge and expertise on the Internet, you can extend your brand presence and reach a wealth of new clients.