Last year, membership in the National Association of Realtors topped 1.3 million, the highest it’s been since the real estate market bubble burst 10 years ago. With so many realtors clamoring for a finite amount of business, competition in the marketplace has never been as fierce. Home buyers and sellers simply have more realtor options available. To succeed in this crowded space, your real estate marketing needs a platform that leverages your number one marketing opportunity – your happy customers.
When properly leveraged through an advocacy marketing program, happy homeowners that have had a positive experience working with their realtor can elevate that real estate brand to new heights, placing them above the noise of the local competition. This is the power of word-of-mouth real estate marketing.
Real Estate Marketing is Word-of-Mouth Marketing
75% of a realtor’s business comes from word-of-mouth marketing. Whether it’s referrals from friends, testimonies from family members, or everyday advocates shouting praises on social media, successful realtors understand the power of word-of-mouth referrals in their real estate marketing strategy.
The reason why word-of-mouth marketing is so effective is simple. Trust.
For most of us, buying or selling a home is something that only once or twice in a lifetime. This means most people don’t have the time, experience, or education to effectively evaluate hundreds of real estate agents before choosing the one they want to work with.
That’s why so many home buyers and sellers turn to their social networks to recommend a realtor. Firsthand experience carries far more weight than any award, google ranking, or self-proclamation. In fact, 92% of individuals surveyed around the world say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations over all other forms of marketing.
The Challenges of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
As powerful as it is, a successful word-of-mouth real estate marketing program is not without its challenges. Chief among them:
One or two referrals a year isn’t going to cut it for most real estate agents. For word-of-mouth marketing to be a viable source of potential real estate leads, you need to have as many fans as possible consistently and constantly recommending you to their social network.
The happy customers shouting your praises might not know the full extent of the services you offer or the neighborhoods you’ve had experience representing. This may mean that they aren’t recommending you as often or as confidently as they could.
Frequency and Consistency
Most word-of-mouth recommendations are given sporadically. Someone has a great experience working with you, shouts your praises for the next few weeks. They fall off as life gets busy and priorities shift. Then maybe 8 months later they recommend you again, only to fall silent shortly thereafter.
With a little structure (in the form of an advocacy marketing program) your realty brand can meet these challenges head-on and take full advantage of the market-boosting potential of a word-of-mouth real estate marketing campaign.
What is an Advocacy Marketing Program Again?
Short and simple, an advocacy marketing program is one way your realty group can structure its word-of-mouth efforts:
- You manage a group of self-selected advocates.
- You then send those advocates content and marketing messages to post to their personal social channels on your behalf.
While some brands manage their advocacy marketing program through spreadsheets and Gmail, we recommend utilizing an advocacy marketing platform (like SocialToaster) to help you manage your efforts more efficiently.
Even better, SocialToaster automatically tracks advocate performance metrics like shares and engagements so that you can measure the success of your program. You can even award incentives and prizes to advocates who participate in your program.
How Realtors Can Leverage Advocacy Marketing in their Marketing Initiatives
Many people may think that they need to have thousands or even tens of thousands of advocates in a program for it to be successful. While those numbers are great, we’ve seen real estate agents and partnerships have success with only a handful of advocates, especially if those advocates are focused within the specific market you serve.
Once you’ve recruited your initial wave of advocates, you can begin to leverage their social networks to introduce your realty services to a brand-new swath of home buyers and sellers.
Here are a few content ideas to get you started:
1) Attracting Sellers: Share Content That Provides Value
Create or find content that potential home sellers would find interesting or valuable, then have your advocates share that content on behalf of your realty brand. This could be content that you create firsthand and publish to your blog or website. It could also be 3rd party articles, blog posts, or newspaper sites that provide insight or address a common home selling question.
By sharing 1st and 3rd party content, you begin to build a reputation as a thought leader and expert in the space. The better your market awareness and reputation, the more likely you are to win a listing opportunity.
2) Attracting Buyers: Showcase Open Houses and Video Walkthroughs
The process of buying a house starts long before a home buyer contacts a real estate agent. Often times, it begins with a potential buyer simply looking through open houses, listings, and getting a general idea of what the market is like in their area. It may take a bit of time to “warm up” and fully commit to the idea of buying a house.
This is where your advocates can be a huge help. As new houses are listed in your market (either managed by you or another realtor), you can use your advocates to help market that property. Send traffic to the Zillow, Redfin, or Trulia page listing where someone can browse through the photos.
Also, consider having your advocates share information on upcoming open houses. Marketing an open house isn’t just a tactic for a listing agent. Many potential home buyers often attend open houses with no intention of buying that specific house. They simply want to get a better understanding of what pricing is like in their market, what they get for their money, and to better feel for what they like or don’t like in a potential home.
3) Collect Testimonials
Advocates aren’t just useful for sharing content. They can also be a prime source for collecting testimonials that can be used to support your other marketing efforts. Additionally, many realtors find it useful to collect feedback on their interactions with recent buyers or sellers.
SocialToaster makes it easy to collect these testimonies through our built-in survey functionality. Compose the survey within the SocialToaster dashboard, then send the survey to your advocates. Responses are logged and can be viewed at any time.
If a recent customer has had a good experience working with you to list or buy their house, they’re already singing your praises to their friends and family. Whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s happening! Don’t wait to start leveraging this exposure and turn these happy homeowners from an occasional word-of-mouth fan to a full-time advocate through an advocacy marketing program.
Ready to get started? Schedule a free demo today and see first-hand how SocialToaster can help you manage and scale your word-of-mouth real estate marketing efforts.