Content marketing is a term that’s thrown around a lot in the real estate industry, but do you really understand what it means? We chatted with Tiffany Wilson, founder of boutique digital marketing agency for real estate, Chronicle Republic, about what content marketing actually is and how you can implement it and measure results...
REINSW: What is content marketing?
Tiffany Wilson: In a simple sense, content marketing is any form of communication that provides value to your audience. It aims to educate, entertain or inform the audience rather than directly sell a product or service.
Content marketing comes in many forms, some of the most popular examples include:
- Podcasts and audibles
- Whitepapers or eBooks
- Events, seminars or workshops
- Social media posts
Content marketing weaves its way into so many different areas of marketing, whether it’s writing copy for your website to increase your ranking on search engines (SEO), or pitching an article to an online or print publication (PR), content marketing is showing up.
REI: Why is content marketing important?
TW: With the growth of the online world, access to information and the prevalence of social media, content marketing has gone from a luxury for brands to an essential part of the marketing mix.
REI: But why has this shift occurred?
TW: People don’t want to be sold to anymore; they want to feel empowered to make informed decisions about their purchases. Traditional advertising approaches and direct selling are having less impact as consumers become increasingly distrustful of companies.
Unfortunately, real estate agents are some of the most distrusted professionals in the world, ranking at number 28 out of 30 jobs polled (just above advertising and car sales people) by Roy Morgan Research.
Content marketing allows agents to build trust with their potential clients and showcase expertise – so that when it comes time for that client to sell, buy or invest, they think of you and not your competitors. In my experience, the most effective content marketing is that which gives real, deep value with no strings attached. The real revelation with content marketing is that it can make your customers actually want to hear from you.
In the real estate industry, the approach to marketing for agents and agencies is still heavily focussed on selling. This isn’t surprising given that real estate professionals sell for a living; it’s ingrained. Investing in marketing that doesn’t directly sell in the traditional way and won’t have immediate results is a complete shift of mindset and pushes many agents completely out of their comfort zones.
Good content marketing goes beyond simply touching the edge of advice in a bid to get your brand’s logo in front of consumers. It’s important to consider why someone would want to read, watch or spend their time on this content before you put it out in the world. It’s flipping the angle from "what do you want to say" to your customers to "what do they want to know" – a more customer-centric approach.
REI: How can you measure results of your efforts?
TW: When it comes to measuring return on investment for content marketing, it can be tricky in the real estate industry. After all, you’re selling a service with a high level of risk and emotion attached, not an off-the-shelf product. Measuring content from lead generation or conversions (in marketing terms) is not necessarily the best approach. My recommendation is to focus on quality interactions with the right people.
According to industry research, 82 per cent of customers viewed five or more pieces of content from the winning vendor before making a purchase. In real estate, I’d hazard a guess that the number is significantly higher as the customer lifecycle – that is, the time it takes from first interaction with a customer to a sale – is very long, perhaps three to five years.
REI: What is a "quality interaction"?
TW: First, make sure the people you’re reaching are your target market. It’s no use having thousands of clicks to your website from people outside of your area of service who will never do business with you.
If social media is your focus, investigate your analytics to make sure the people you’re reaching are in the right demographic. Aim for high engagement on social media rather than a high number of followers. Your engagement will help you understand if you’re reaching enough people and getting a response.
If email or blogging is your focus, ensure the interaction with your content is deep. Look at the average time users are spending on your web pages and the average number of pages users are viewing.
For email, aim to drive traffic to your website. A customer opening your email is not enough, as this information gives you little data to work with. However, higher open rates often equate to more referral traffic too, so entice customers with catchy content and subject lines. If your open rate is lower than 20 per cent you need to reassess your strategy.