September 2008

If you’re like most Realtors®, then you engage in real estate blog marketing for the purpose of generating qualified leads that you can later convert into transactions. You load your blog with high-quality, relevant content, update it frequently, and throw in the right keywords, giving you prominent placement in search engine results. But if you don’t have a good search form on your site, then you’re losing out on thousands of dollars in potential commissions.

The key to any real estate blog search form is a section where the prospective client can fill in contact information so that you can follow up with either a phone call or an e-mail to pursue the lead. Your search form should prompt for this kind of information whenever a reader requests details about a property that go beyond a basic MLS listing or further consultation with an agent.

More often than not, readers are perfectly willing to provide their full name, current address and phone number, e-mail address, and what kind of services they’re interested in (buying, selling, relocating, investment opportunities, etc.) in order to gain access to the information they’re seeking. Once you have this customer data, you can follow up as necessary.

Having a good search form on your real estate blog might seem like an elementary marketing component, but you’d be surprised at how many folks don’t take this extra step. You can bet they’re not generating many leads with their generic forms!

So today, take a moment to review the various calls to action you have on your real estate blog and make sure you have a way of getting contact info from your readers.

In past entries, I’ve talked about some of the different purposes that real estate blogs can serve, and have given suggestions about the type of content best suited to each purpose. Articles for a real estate blog focused on lead generation probably won’t address the same topics as articles for a blog used primarily for property listings. Nevertheless, one thing that all real estate blog marketers have to worry about is promoting their websites. After all, if nobody’s reading your content, then you’re just wasting your time.

Unfortunately, promoting real estate blogs is a bit tricky. Traditional, non-niche bloggers (i.e. those that just write about their daily lives) can promote their blogs through various free traffic exchange services or blogrolls where the basic idea follows a quid pro quo format. You visit my site, I’ll visit yours.

But this doesn’t work for real estate blogs — unless you’re just interested in the number of visitors you get rather than the quality of those visitors. Let’s face it: you’re not going to generate many qualified leads from simple traffic exchanges.

Instead, real estate blog marketers need to focus their promotional efforts in very specific ways in order to get decent results. For example, search engines will likely be your number one referral source, so it’s important to make sure that you’re listed in all of them — not just the “big three” of Google, MSN, and Yahoo. There are also lots of directory sites available (DMOZ being the most popular), and these can provide some good traffic as well. In most cases, all you have to do for inclusion is submit your URL and wait for the review process to run its course.

Another excellent way to promote your real estate blog is to list your URL on all of your business cards. Then, whenever you hand your card out at a convention or conference, or to prospective buyers and sellers, you have an opportunity to draw in more readers.

And finally, you should list your blog URL in any print advertisements that you take out in local or national newspapers. Inserting a website address in your ad shouldn’t change the price much, and the return you get in terms of more readers will be well worth the few extra dollars you might have to pay.

In a perfect world, top-notch content would be enough to bring in droves of new readers every day. As things are, however, you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time promoting your real estate blog in order to attract the kind of traffic you want.

If you’ve been reading and implementing my tips on how to turn your real estate blog into a powerful marketing tool, then you’re well on your way to building a successful website. Or are you? How can you tell if the adjustments you’re making are having a positive impact on your site? The only way to be sure is to periodically assess your real estate blog’s performance to see if it’s hitting all the right benchmarks.

Periodic assessments (every two to three months or so) will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your blog, thereby giving you an idea of what you’re doing right and what still needs improvement. Your stats program is critical to this type of analysis, but in order to put the raw data into context, you have to consider what your real estate blog marketing goals are. Some of the most common goals that Realtors® list include:

  • Promoting name/brand awareness
  • Driving traffic to their site
  • Increasing the number of inquiries from potential clients
  • Increasing sales
  • Earning additional revenue from pay-per-click affiliate programs

Once you’ve established your goals, then evaluating your blog’s efficacy becomes a piece of cake. Is your company becoming more well known in real estate circles, both locally and nationally? Is the number of visitors to your site steadily increasing each month? Are you receiving more telephone or email inquiries from people interested in your services?

If you’re answering “no” to these questions, then it’s time to redouble your efforts at providing high-quality, relevant content for readers, as well as to promoting your site as heavily as possible.

If you’re answering “yes” to these questions, then congratulations are in order. Your real estate blog is indeed becoming a terrific marketing tool that is bringing you new clients and putting money in your pocket — which is no small feat.

Just remember not to get too complacent about your blog’s performance because Web readers are a fickle bunch and will quickly go elsewhere if your site stops delivering what they want!