Content Marketing Is Increased Traffic, Leads & Sales for your Real Estate Bizz
I recently hosted a webinar called “Content Market Your Way To Increased Traffic, Leads, and Sales” with my good friend Mathew Smith, National Sales Director for REA Commercial Real Estate CRM.
The purpose of the Webinar was to talk in depth about what Content Marketing is.
Content Marketing is Creating Content that works to Acquire New Customers
In other words it is the act of creating content with the goal of using that content to attract people that may have a need for a service or goods that you provide, either today or sometime in the future.
Focusing first and foremost on the creation of the content for the good of the reader, and not on the potential sale, and definitively not for the search engines.
If you look through my blog you will see that it was not long ago that I would teach to write your content to 2 readers:
1. Potential Clients
2. Search Engines
Today I will tell you that you write to 1 audience only. Your potential client
This is a big buzz word in marketing right now and some of you probably have heard about it. If you have not, you can think of it in another way, blogging. I know you have heard that word a million times.
You should be blogging and using social media and doing SEO and some of these marketing buzz words that your brokers and other people at, seminars & trade shows are talking about.
I want to try to talk about content marketing in a way that maybe we could simplify it a little bit, show some real life examples, give you some inspiration and just show you what I do to get some pretty good results.
What we’ll discuss today:
- What can you expect with content marketing
- What is content marketing
- How do you do content marketing easily, is that even possible?
- How to come up with content ideas
- How to create content
- Why content is the new SEO
- Finally how to promote your content
Let’s go ahead and get started.
What can you expect with content marketing
First of all I want to talk about my blog. It’s www.JasonFox.me. This is not a shameless plug, but more of a way to show that this does work. I do not pay for any traffic at all. No, I don’t do any pay per click, Adwords or Bing or whatever.
I just switched to a new server four days ago, because I like to test out servers to see which ones are the fastest and which ones have the best support and all that, so I just switched about four days ago.
I went and pulled the statistics from the last four days, that’s December 6 of 2013 to December 10th of 2013. Just my little blog where I talk about ‘Do it Yourself Internet Marketing.’ Where I do specialized to real estate agents and small business owners. I had 2,972 unique visitors over the last four days, a total of 65,000 hits.
For the purpose of this post I pulled my most recent statistics (12/30/2013) and for the month of December I am averaging 478 unique visitors a day.
Why that’s important? The name of the Webinar, of course, is called ‘To Increase Traffic’ and well to say to increase leads and sales, but in order to get lead and sales off of my website or off of my blog—first of all I have to have traffic.
We have to have people that are coming to the site. In order to do that, you can pay for it and that’s one way. You can do ads and that kind of stuff. What I have chosen to do is a content marketing strategy.
I’ve been working on content marketing, as Mathew pointed out, for about eight years. We, my past partner and good friend Howard Chung and I, initially did it on a WordPress Multi-User platform.
Everybody out there has probably heard of WordPress, if you haven’t, it is a free blogging platform that has been so well developed, that it’s now the kind of go to website platform for the entire real estate industry.
There are other providers of websites out there and they don’t use WordPress, but by and large if you’re going to start your own website, on your own, you’re going to use WordPress.Org and you can create a very beautiful website with that. In addition, you can also blog or add content and start a content marketing strategy.
I just want to point out that in my business I do no outbound sales calls.
I’m not really great at them, even in my first ten years I was in sales and that was one of my weak points. I was good at the close. I was good at the presentation. I was not great at the outbound sales calls, so starting my own business I wanted to develop a way that I did not have to do that.
I’ve been researching and studying content marketing for a real long time, so I thought,
“Okay, if do a really strong content marketing campaign, I can get clients to come to me and view me as an authority.”
Then do what I’m good at, which is present and close sales, and that’s what I do today, so I’ve been able to generate this kind of Inbound Sales Funnel. I’m only about the 50,000th most popular website in America, so you can do a lot better, but you can also do much, much worse.
What Is Content Marketing?
If I’m going to go ahead and build a WordPress website and start a content marketing strategy where I start to blog, start to produce quality content, I am not going to sell in my blog posts.
What I mean by that is often times when I start a new website for a client and we’re talking about maybe their first blog post and even on the homepage to an extent.
They’ll say, “Let’s talk about what services I offer and how I can help them and how I can list their home for them.”
I say, “Let’s not talk about selling. We’re not going to ask people for anything in our content marketing.”
What we’re going to do is we’re going to create and share content, so we’re going to share what we know, our expertise, what we’re good at.
What is the knowledge that we have, that people that are not in our industry do not have?
So, in the real estate industry and in the commercial real estate business, where you know about investments and the retail space and how to generate the numbers. (I’m no expert in that area, so I’m just kind of tossing this stuff out.) What we can do is share that information and this is, kind of the definition of content marketing, creating and sharing content to acquire customers.
My idea is when I post my content, and I’m not saying this is easy, it is kind of scary, but I basically tell people about everything I know. I put everything I know on my blog, so I tell people what tools I use, what kind of services I use, how I do it, why I do it, where to get what I get, all of that.
At first, I was a little bit scared about doing that kind of thing because, if I put everything down on my blog then why would people need me, why would they want to contact me?
What I found is that the more information that I give them and the more transparent I am and the better my content is the more people do contact me.
I want to cover not just traffic, but leads and sales as I get anywhere from:
- 2-5 people that subscribe to my RSS feeds or my newsletter, or my lead nurturing system, on a daily basis.
- I generally get one to two sales calls or sales leads, what I call warm lead almost on a daily basis.
Just by using this strategy and nothing else.
What is Content Marketing?
Posting content to your blog is what we’re going to focus on mainly here today, because it’s easiest way to get started. It’s probably the most effective, but we use these other forms of content in conjunction with our blog post.
Infographics, Videos, Images, White Papers, eBooks, Webinars, Surveys, Quizzes, Reports, etc…
Video is really, really big.
Mathew, I know we didn’t talk about, bringing you in the conversation right away, but you have a really unique statistic on videos. Would you like to share that?
Do you remember you shared with me how long people stay on your websites?
Oh yes, definitely. Yes, it’s funny that you mentioned that. We check our stats on a daily basis to see interaction or engagement on our website. The more someone stays on your website, the better it is.
What we did, we incorporated our videos from You Tube and we actually had Jason go ahead and embed them into our websites.
Once we did that we went from, I don’t know maybe about three to four minutes daily time on sites. The average daily time on a website, and I’m not an expert here, but we usually we see it anywhere between a minute and two minutes for someone with a competing CRM product or in the CRM realm.
Our website has a daily time of 22 minutes and 47 seconds. So, for every client that comes on our websites, for every hit we get comes on, it’s 22 minutes and 47 seconds on our site.
Now Jason is probably going to talk to you about web rank and everything. We’re at rank at 134,000 in the world. That basically means we have incredible traffic. Don’t think this is just one or two people that are coming on the website looking at and spend 22 minutes.
These are tens of thousands of people that are coming to our website and spending 22 minutes.
I would say 80 percent of that is due to the videos and coming through there with the SEO, the videos and being able to watch and interact with their videos on our website and just really engaged in our website and it’s awesome to see that, because we’re having people enjoying to come there.
That is a very unique case. I think currently my average time on site is about 3 minutes and 40 seconds to 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Now you guys are doing training videos and these are like hour long videos, which also maybe a little bit unique, but it really changed the picture in my mind.
Yes. Keep in mind also, we also have a bounce rate of 9.50 percent, so less than ten percent going on won’t pay you. So, that show you the interaction, they go to a video then they go to another thing and then they go to another and then they go back to a video and then they go someplace else.
Right. That would not be happening if you and your team did not provide quality content and make it very visible and very transparent on your website.
Easy Content Marketing
I don’t want to say that blogging is hard, because it’s not hard. I would say 90 percent of my clients—we get the WordPress set up and maybe this is you and maybe you even have good intention of writing good content here and there, but we get to it and we’re like, “Oh man, that’s the last thing we want to do at the end of the day.”
We don’t feel like we’re good writers and maybe there’s a time excuse.
How to do a nice, easy content marketing strategy? Yes, I fooled you, there is none!
Unfortunately, this is not going to be super simple. If it was, everybody will be doing it. Basically, if you’re looking for a way to generate real results, real traffic, real sales, real leads, you’re going to have to put a little bit of elbow grease into it.
That’s not to say that there’s not some services that can be used, not some automation techniques that can be incorporated, not some different strategies where we can make it a little bit easier. We can help to spark the juices, we can use some tools. There are some things we can do to make it easier, but there’s just not a push the button solution.
As I pointed out before, I did a content marketing business with a little over a 1,000 real estate agents on a system and we provided the content for them and that was easy, they did nothing.
We provided it. We posted it. We shared it. We did everything. While that was good for them because they didn’t have to do anything, the reason that we no longer exists is because that kind of content does not produce results, because Google doesn’t like that everybody had the same content.
I mean, I’m kind of an expert on knowing how to do easy content marketing. Unfortunately it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to show you a few things to help you simplify it as much as possible.
How to come up with content ideas
Let’s talk about topics. How do you come up with ideas?
That’s kind of the hardest thing especially if your idea of writing content is:
It’s 4:00 o’clock, you got a few hours before end of the day, you sit down and you’re like, “I’m going to create some content right now. Oh well, what I’m going to write about?”
Let’s take a look at some of the strategies I use to create content and to get topic ideas:
The first one is, and this is probably the best one, the one I use the most. If a client ask me a question that I need to answer and it takes me a few minutes to formulate the answer or I have to write an email, I’m going to turn that into a blog post, because chances are if one of my clients have that question, multiple have that same question.
Somebody asked me the other day,
“How do you create a widget on the WordPress blog if you don’t know HTML code?” I thought, “That’s a good blog post.” So I went and made a blog post out of it and then when I answer my client I just send them a link to my blog post, like “There you go. Here’s how to do that.” I kind of knocked out a couple of birds with one stone there.
(Here is the link to that post: How To Easily Create Custom Widgets Without Knowing HTML)
In addition now I got some great content here and that blog post which I only did about a month ago, probably has, gosh I don’t know well over a thousand people from the internet come and looked at it and shared over a hundred times.
For me, creating a custom widget is a real simple thing, It’s like, you just go do this, this and this, but that’s not the case for my client.
When you answer questions with your clients, remember that question and then answer it in a form of content.
I subscribe to a ton of different blogs that are in my industry niche and I get those delivered to my inbox and as I’m reading my email in the morning, when I see a headline that catches my attention, when I see a headline that I think my clients would like to hear about that or my readership would like to hear about that, then I make a note of it and I write a blog post about it myself.
You can’t necessarily take other people’s content, you can’t just copy and paste, but there’s no rule against taking their idea.
There’s no rule against creating the same content but written in your words. As a matter of fact, for all of those that went to college or even high school, whenever you write a term paper or any kind of paper, I mean three quarters of the paper you just quote other people and that’s what you do. You just make sure that you cite it properly.
Send a survey to your clients. Ask them what your content ideas should be, this is a good way to generate content in multiple ways, because you can:
A—send out an email blast, asking them to get involved
B—take their answers and create content with that.
You can sign up and put some keywords, kind of enter your industry niche in there, so just put: commercial real estate or real estate or whatever and it will search Google’s queries for the day and then send you the results, so you can see what other people are writing about, that’s Google alert.
Google Trends is what is popular right now, what people are searching for right now. So if you want to talk about the hot topic, then you can use Google Trends.
Quora.com, I think, it’s part of Facebook now, if I remember correctly, but anyway it’s a question and answer kind of social platform. Sometimes I’ll go on there and I’ll search my niche out and I will see what kind of questions people are asking that they want the answer for them and then I’ll write a blog post about it.
Once you become a content creator, and for some of us it takes a while , I’ll be honest, it did take a minute before I started to kind of see the world as a blog post if you will. Now, as I go through the day and I go through my email and I go through questions of clients, I’m always thinking how this becomes content.
What happens is sometimes I’ll get three or four ideas in a day and really good ones and I can’t write all that content in a day, so you need to have somewhere where you can store your ideas and inspirations and I have evernote for that.
I think that it is the best. It has an app for all the smart phones. For all of you out there, use Evernote, hopefully you are, because it’s a great way to store all your notes in the cloud.
Using an editorial calendar, so I have an editorial calendar you can download on my site or you can create your own or there’s even webpage editorial calendars out there.
This is just a little calendar and when you get this inspiration and these ideas, you can write it out, so that maybe for every month you kind of know, “All right, I’m going to create this content. I’m going to create that content on this day and that day.”
It helps a lot of people to stay organized and also keep you in the right time blogging. You can set a specific time where you accomplished this task.
I find that I’m more of an inspiration writer, so when I get that idea I just want to do my blog post right there, because I’m so excited about it, but a lot of people like set aside, get it organized and kind of do it that way.
I like to research my competition and borrow their ideas.
I’m doing a content marketing strategy for a prepaid company and I don’t necessarily know too much about their company and creating content ideas is a little bit more challenging. I just go to their competition, they’re well known competition. I look at their blog posts and then I just kind of craft my own blog post ideas out of what they talked about.
Again, not stealing the content but using it for inspiration.
Interviewing your clients, you can get testimonials and also just good stories about services you’re providing and such.
How to create content
I’m going to tell you that probably the most important part of creating content is the title.
That’s the same with doing email marketing, the subject line is the most important part. If you’re posting videos to You Tube, the description of the video or the title is the most important part. This Webinar, in marketing this webinar, the title was the most important part.
I learned that about eight, nine years ago when my then partner and I were doing Biznik small group meetings. Biznik is a networking website where you get people to come together and you collaborate, you have these little business meetings.
Initially my partner and I were using wordy and well thought out titles that represented the intelligence of what we are going to be talking about and nobody was coming.
Then we said, ‘How to use your blog to make money.‘ and a ton of people showed up.
We realized, wow— the content, the delivery, everything else was the same. Ultimately we just changed the title, we simplified it and we wrote attention grabbing headlines.
That is Phase 1 of what’s going to get people to determine whether they’re even going to look at your content, whether they’re even going to look at your video, whether they even going to look at your image, so the title is—very, very important.
What I recommend you do is focus on creating one piece of quality content every week.
I actually do write probably three times a week, but I don’t expect you to do that. You can write at whatever pace you’re comfortable with, but I would say that one time a week creating content, or maybe one time ever two weeks would be a minimum.
That is not just a guess, that’s kind of based off of a lot of research I’ve conducted over the years.
With the most recent updates and changes to the Google Search Algorithm, Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, many SEO specialists are saying that Google is going to want a little bit more content now.
Have any of you heard of Seth Godin? He has a very popular blog and is a Marketing Genius. He usually uses about 300 words on his blog posts.
We used to say as long as you can get 300 words of content you are good. Then we went to 400 words, but now I am saying we should shoot for about 800 words of content.
OMG. I know some of you are probably wanting to stop reading this right now. It is not as much as that sounds. And if we are only focusing on that 1 peice of quality content every two weeks that is not that bad. And if we use those inspiration tools we just talked about, I think that once you get going you will see that it starts to come kind of easily.
You want to present it in a way that is easy to read, or easy to skim.
In addition to making sure that we are staying consistent, and that we are providing a decent amount of content. We are an 8 second attention span society, you don’t get a whole lot of time to catch people’s attention.
You DO NOT want to just put a Big Ol’ Block of text, small dark block of text on a white space. You are going to want to break it up:
- Give your content Subtitles
- Block Quote it
- Chunk it
- List It
- Bullet Point it
- Try not to put more than 2 sentences in a paragraph
I want to make my content very skimmable, you can scan right over and get the point and… That is actually phase 2 of whether people will decide to “read” your content.
Usually, people will look at the title: “Ok it catches my attention”. Then they look at the post: “Ok this is manageable, there are some bullet points, I get it.. yeah Ok I will read this”.
I like to provide at least 1 image, give people something pretty to look at.
You can try to add a video.
As I mentioned before and time and time again, Video is really powerful. People love to watch videos, over 50% of the time spent on the internet is people watching videos. With video we can convey a strong message in a short amount of time.
As Mathew pointed out earlier, he is getting people to stay on his website over 20 minutes because his clients and potential clients are watching their videos.
I put on my slide that Instagram has video, has everybody heard of Instagram? It is a Facebook owned social media company, that is none for images and the ability to put filters over the images, so you can make your beautiful images look old.
They introduced video not long ago and you can do a 15 second video on your Instagram App on your smartphone.
You can do a pretty cool little tour of a listing or retail space with that 15 seconds. You could take footage of the front, the neighborhood, a quick scan of the interior, you could add a quick intro, and do a pretty decent little video in 15 seconds.
That is just 1 Easy & Quick way to get started with video. I recommend that you also include at least 1 professionally produced business video. But if you just want to get started with video blogging you can give Instagram a shot.
If you use an Infographic, or have an Infographic created
Does everyone know what an Infographic is? I think everyone pretty much knows what they are now, but the general idea is:
It is a picture of content that is usually presented in the form of graphs or charts, and has numbers and statistics. It is usually long and skinny. It has a theme, it looks nice, it is content that is fun to look at.
One of the things that I will do is, if I am not interested in creating content, I am having a busy day or week, I will share an Infographic. Those are built to share, when people have those out on the web they want you to share them, as they do have a link back to the creator’s website.
I will share an infographic on my blog, but then I will give my expert opinion about the piece. I am not going to just share a picture, because that is not necessarily quality content.
I am going to tell you:
- Why I shared it
- What I liked about it
- What I did not like about it
- Some of the highlights from the infographic
It is a real easy way to spit out some content. I usually get a lot of social shares on those.
I like to use quotations a lot in my posts.
Industry experts, or I will quote myself. Using quotations is a great way to break up the text and also give it some zing.
“It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never really doing anything else.”~Havelock Ellis
Check your spelling.
I am not the best at that, and should practice what I preach better. I can tell you from experience, with as many readers as I have, gosh, if I misspell something it is the first comment I hear or the first thing I see on Facebook, and it is really embarrassing.
People are less likely to tell you they love your content than they are to tell you that you have a mistake. Check your spelling.
Finally, what I do or what I have done is create a formula that I can repeat over and over again.
All of my blog posts look the same. I give it a title at the beginning, a short intro with a quote, an image to the right, then 3 or 4 subtitles, with some blocking, layout my content and SEO optimize. And that is my formula over and over again, just with different content.
Content Marketing is the New SEO
Is there an old SEO, what is SEO, SEO is kind of a played out term. It is kind of confusing, it is definitely annoying. Yes there is a new SEO.
What do these 3 animals have in common?
These are the 3 most recent changes to Google’s search engine algorithm. Hummingbird was done just a few months ago (Sept. 2013), where Google basically pulled out the old system and put in a totally new system.
What that means is that we are going to focus MORE ON QUALITY and LESS ON QUANTITY.
When I first got into SEO it was about putting out as many blog posts as you could, and then paying someone (or doing it yourself) to build as many links to your website from other websites as you could. The more you had the higher your rankings. When someone searched for something on Google you would be the first person they would find.
SEO is Search Engine Optimization.
Which is just the act of getting your website to be ranked highly on the search engines. I think we all want our website to be ranked highly on the search engines, because we know that millions of people are searching on Google, Bing, and Yahoo every single day looking for businesses like ours and we want them to find our website. That is SEO.
SEO used to be really easy, I will be honest with you, just pump that content out and get those links… but now.
Real People need to like your content.
Because if people like your content then they will share it, they will link to it, and it will naturally get attention from viewers. That natural, or organic, attention that it gets from viewers will signal to Google that it is good quality and they you will rise in the search rankings.
At the end of the day if we are making that 1 good blog post every week, (I will talk more about promoting in a moment) and we are promoting it properly, our website looks nice and is easy to navigate, people start to find your content and you take a little time with it… You will start to rank on the search engines.
Here is one of those quotations I was talking about:
Without Promotion something terrible happens… Nothing – P.T. Barnum
That goes for your content. I know right… it is like, geeze I just spent a ton of time thinking of this content idea, then I spent more time creating it, and now you are telling me I have to Promote It. Yeah. A little bit, yes.
What does that mean? Have you heard of syndication? Automatically sending out our blog posts to Twitter, Linkedin, Google +. You can do it. Syndication is actually a good tool.
I syndicate all my content. I use a service called Onlywire and as soon as I post a blog post it shoots out to to about 40 different websites, automagically for me.
That is not a bad thing. You may here some people tell you that syndication is not social. That’s fine.
I just want to get the ball rolling, I want to have a few shares on my post, get a little exposure. Generate a little bit of interest, get a few organic people to find it and start to share it. It is a good Tool, but not the Solution. We do not want to rely on that solely.
I want to be the first to share my content, I don’t ever want anybody to come to my blog post and see ZERO shares. That does not make me look very good. I am the first one, as soon as I write a blog post I go to my blog and Like it, Tweet it, +1 it, Share it, and Pin it. And I post to social media strategically.
We talked about Google+ for a minute earlier, and that is a platform you may not all be on. Google+ is an interesting Social Media platform. It is not as social as the others, in that people don’t seem to interact as much, but it is owned by Google and whenever something is owned by Google I like to give it plenty of attention, because it is probably going to affect how my website ranks.
My favorite part of Google+ is Communities.
Google + has a tool called communities that is much like Linked Groups. I love to share my content on Google+ Communities, and generate a ton of traffic from Google+.
What I do is join communities that are niche specific to my industry. When I share my content in a community I write a short intro blurb to pique interest and put a link to my blog post and add a pretty picture. I get a lot of traffic off of that. The same with Linkedin Groups
Join a marketing tribe and share each others content. I use a service called Triberr, and it is free up to a certain number of shares.
You can join a tribe of like minded professionals, install a plugin (if you use wordpress.org) and your blog post get automagically pulled into the Triberr feed and my tribe shares my content.
I share a good amount of my competitors (like minded professionals) content on Twitter. I know that this suggestions can be a little scary at first. “Do I want to be sharing my competitors blog posts?” I am going to be sending my connections to my competitor.
What I have found is that the more Transparent that I am, the more that I share others content… The more others share with me and the more traffic, leads and sales that I generate. Triberr is a great way to get your content shared and generate some traffic.
Post Your Content To Bookmarking Sites
Just get it out there.
Turn Your Post Into A Press Release
I use a free service called PRLog and you can basically copy and paste in your content.
The last press release I created with PR Log generated 254 hits and cost me nothing, but a few minutes.
Article Submission Sites
- Put it on Youtube and be sure to use some of the techniques we talked about earlier. Give it a catchy title, quality description, and add tags.
- Put it on Vimeo or Viddler if you want a more attractive and user-friendly viewing experience.
- Post them to Instagram and be sure to use #hashtags in your description
- Post to to FlickR
- Pin them to Pinterest
- Upload your presentations to Slideshare and give it an attention grabbing title and quality content description.
- Upload to Issuu.com
Every presentation that I put on slideshare I get hundred’s of views to each presentation I post.
Below is this Presentation as it is displayed by Slideshare:
Looking for more blog promotion ideas: 120 ways to promote your blog
Content Marketing = Creating Content to Acquire New Customers
You can and will generate a steady flow of traffic, leads, and eventually sales for your real estate or small business if you build a WordPress Website, and run a half way decent Content Marketing Campaign.
Even if you are lacking time, resources, or writing skills you can run a half way decent Content Marketing Campaign.
Matt Cutts, Head of Google Spam Team, has been telling us for years that the key to generating traffic on Google is to produce a consistent stream of quality content. To stay away from link building schemes, article scraping, spinning, or worse.. stealing, to not engage in any tactics that are designed to artificially give your website an advantage.
Now their Algorithm has caught up with their philosophy.