Unfortunately, word-of-mouth marketing is no longer enough for realtors
Are most of your clients referred through word of mouth? Is word of mouth referral your primary source of marketing? If you answered yes to either of these questions, congratulations and give yourself a pat on the back for delivering outstanding service such that your clients are now your biggest advocates. Now, two follow-up questions. Have you placed emphasis on building a digital presence/brand as a realtor? Have you found equally as much success with digital marketing as with word of mouth? If your answer is no to either of these questions, you are definitely not alone.
Traditionally, real estate has been an industry that is heavily reliant on word of mouth for transactions. Being one of the biggest purchases people make in their lives, this doesn’t come as a surprise that word of mouth referrals provide purchasers with a certain level of trust. Although word of mouth referral is still extremely important for realtors, the real estate landscape has been shifting and becoming more and more digital-centric. A 2017 study from the National Association of Realtors shows that 51% of buyers found their home through the internet vs. 30% through agents and only 6% from word of mouth! Though the statistics and trends clearly show where the real estate industry is heading, most agents aren’t ready for this shift, both mentally and operationally. Realtors have not placed enough emphasis on building a strong digital presence/brand and incorporating digital marketing as part of their overall acquisition strategy. As a result, they are potentially losing out on business opportunities presently and especially in the future.
Consumer Purchase Journey Has Evolved
There is a natural tendency for human beings to over focus on what appears to be tangibly working, like word of mouth in our scenario, and naturally dismiss what appears to be not working or not as tangible like digital marketing or online brand presence - This, however, can become a very costly mistake. Marketing efforts rarely work in isolation of each other. In today’s digital age, if we map out the consumer journey for purchasing a home, you will realize the journey is much more convoluted and comprises of much more touch points than ever before. It would be naïve to believe the purchasing journey to be something like:
Looking for home → Ask friends / family → Get agent contact → Look for homes → Close deal
Instead a typical journey now may look something like this:
Looking for home → Online research → Ask friends / family → Get agent contact → Research agent online → Research other agents to compare → Pick agent → Look for homes → Close deals
Consumers now have the ability to research potential purchases and/or agents to partner with with several clicks or taps. Being a responsible purchaser, online research is becoming more and more ingrained into a consumer’s purchase journey and as a result, realtors can no longer ignore the less tangible marketing efforts like building a strong online brand.
There is a concept of a flywheel in marketing where marketing efforts compound off each other to produce exponential return rather than linear return. What does this mean? It means word of mouth and digital marketing do not operate in isolation but instead their efforts compound off each other. For example, when your existing clients refer you to their friends and family, the natural behavior for someone is to Google and do some research on you. At that point, if you have a strong online presence that effectively communicates your brand, your services, and builds trust with potential clients, it significantly increases the odds of them working with you. On the contrary, if you don’t stand out amongst other agents, the odds of a purchaser working with you naturally decreases and thus simultaneously diminishing the effectiveness of your word of mouth marketing.
Channel Diversification: The past is not the same as the future
As per the stats from the National Association of Realtors, it’s evident that without a strong online presence you are potentially losing out on new clients. It’s not enough to focus on what has worked in the past and ignore where the industry is heading towards. Becoming more and more digital is inevitable. As a realtor striving for long term success, it is crucial to recognize where the world is heading towards and be at the forefront. History has shown time and again businesses that don’t move with where the world is headed do not succeed.
In addition, nobody wants to be a one-trick pony or have all their eggs in one basket and this is no different from marketing. Incorporating digital marketing into your overall marketing plan and building a strong online presence will help you diversify your marketing channels allowing you to reach new clients that you may not have through traditional methods.
What we hope you can take away from this article is the importance to start thinking about how you can incorporate digital marketing into your realty business and the importance of building a strong online brand. At MUDAVEN we work with clients to help them build a strong foundational online presence and help build and execute digital marketing campaigns. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice!