Everywhere you turn people are telling you traditional real estate marketing strategies are dead. That you should stop dressing up in last year’s fashion when all the coolest kids are wearing this year’s. That you should stop looking like a product of the 90s.
Okay, you get the point. “Long live the web. Content marketing rocks.” But you need another thing on your plate like you need a hole in your head, right?
But how would you respond if I told you that you can kick out a killer piece of content every week — month in and month out — with a minimum investment of 5 hours a week?
That 5 hours involves the five essential things that every real estate agent should be doing when it comes to online marketing.
Would you be willing to give such a plan a try? Let me show you…
1. Research (Weekly)
Okay, so the particular research I’m talking about here is called keyword research. The goal is to find out the exact language that your target prospects are using online (evident in the words they use to search Google or post on social networks).
This language indicates what they care about. It reveals their problems and hopes. Tapping into this language will allow whatever you create to resonate with prospects. So it’s critical you do this piece right.
Keyword research is simple and effective when you use this three step system created by Beth Hayden:
- Start from scratch - Your first step in keyword research is to make educated guesses at words that might be important to your prospects. Five or six words will be a great place to start. For example, “staging a house for sale” or “short sales in Los Angeles.”
- Evaluate popularity and competition of those keywords - Either using Google Keyword Adwords Tool or Scribe examine how popular these keywords are in your area. Then look at competition for these phrases. Gun for phrases with a high volume of monthly searches (100,000 for global topics or 10,000 for local).
- Discover other related keywords - That evaluation process will tell you if you are on the right track with your phrases. Whether you are on target or not, dig into the data on a few of the suggested keywords. Look for phrases with higher volume and low competition. Repeat this process and your keyword list will grow.
Here’s the thing. You won’t have to do keyword research every week. Eventually you’ll have created such a large load of keywords that this might become an activity you only need to do once a month.
2. Email (Weekly)
Armed with your keyword research you can now sit down to write your email newsletter. Your real estate email newsletter doesn’t have to be a weekly affair, (in fact, that’s what your blog is all about, which we’ll look at below), but you can actually work on it in four different stages, breaking it down into a Tuesday morning task.
- Idea creation - Did you spot any trends that you might be able to leverage in your keyword research? Are people looking for tips on how to stage condos? Investing in short sales? Take those popular keywords, drop them in Google and see what kind of content is being created. Save ideas in Evernote.
- Write a rough draft - A monthly email newsletter needs to provide extensive depth and authority. This is not the time for fluff. So when you’ve boned up on enough ideas, sit down to write a four to six page rough draft (don’t worry–you aren’t going to put that in the email).
- Edit - Revise the email by eliminating sentences, re-organizing paragraphs, smoothing out transitions. Note places you need additional research–and go find that research. Work the document until you feel like you just might publish it–but don’t.
- Proof and publish - On the last Tuesday of the month, proof like mad. If proofing isn’t your gig, get someone else to do it. Double check your headline: is it unique, ultra-specific, useful, urgent or all of the above? You want the best possible headline to give your email the best possible chance. Then take a teaser portion of the blog and enter it in your email autoresponder account. Proof once more and send.
3. Blog (Daily)
Your blog is going to look similar to your email activities, but on a daily basis so you can create something effective and valuable. Here’s how a possible schedule might look:
- Generate ideas (Monday) – Armed with your keyword research and a mind mapping tool, generate about a dozen possible headlines. When you’ve landed on one you like, outline it with five or six sub-headlines. Use the same rules when writing headlines (clear, concise and compelling).
- Write fast (Tuesday) – This is all about getting your thoughts down. Fast. And the best way to do that is to write without a critic sitting on your shoulder. You can invite her back tomorrow.
- Edit (Wednesday) - This is where you are going to massage and tweak the document into shape. Be brutal, though. If a sentence doesn’t work, eliminate it. You want a document that is easy to read, understand and is interesting.
- Prime (Thursday) - This is another stage of editing but with a twist: boning up on additional research, internal and external links and images.
- Publish (Friday) - Proof it carefully. Make sure you’ve got that killer headline. And publish.
This plan only allows for one blog post a week. That means you need to generate something around 1,500 words. If you have the time or resources to blog on other days, too, by all means share shorter, but equally meaningful posts.
4. Social (Daily)
You get this: join the popular social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. And if you are like the rest of humanity, you probably also spend way too much time on these sites. Time to fix that.
Use a tool like RescueTime when you make your rounds on your favorite social sites. For example, you can limit your time on your four social sites to ten minute stints. This will keep you from wasting valuable time.
It also helps to use a tool like Buffer to help balance out your content sharing habits so it doesn’t look like every day at 3 PM you are spraying Twitter or Facebook with your content.
Optimization is pretty simple to manage. All you have to do is focus your content so that it influences whether you’ll rank well for a particular topical phrase. And here are a few, simple ways to do just that:
- Create reader-focused content - Your keyword research should provide you with ample ammunition to create content that resonates with your audience. Browsing social sites and forums to see what people are talking about is critical, too.
- Rank for target keywords - Using SEO tools, pinpoint data that allows you to adjust and optimize your content in a way that achieves your search engine goals.
- Boost page authority - Use tools to identify the most authoritative, relevant pages on your site, and then create content to fill gaps.
- Discover additional topical terms and phrases - Avoid creating duplicate, irrelevant content and give users content that answers the meaningful questions they are asking — in their language.
Got two left thumbs when it comes to web technology? No problem. These five tools are a cinch to use and will help you optimize your content: Webmaster Tool, Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Raven Tools and Scribe.
Here’s the deal: you might be the type of person who loves to spend hours on content marketing. Then again you may struggle to put in an hour a week–you want to be out there with the people.
In that case, you can hand this guide over to an intern–a high school senior or college student who loves to write and won’t charge you an arm and a leg.
Either way, building an audience with content marketing is essential. This schedule will help you to do that in a predictable and proven fashion. Enjoy.