Digital Channels – what you should know

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The digital world is expanding every day… new channels of communication and digital tools are popping up at an increasing rate.

The important thing to remember as a small business that not every channel will be where your customer wants to interact with you.

To start, let’s define what a channel is.

A channel is a communication path that brands use to interact with their customers.

The main digital channels you would be familiar with are social media, website, email marketing, Google, online advertising, print advertising – and many more are emerging every day.

But not all your customers want to interact with your brand on every channel.

For example: You are a local real estate agency and your customers live in your area. Some people who have lived in the area have not bought or sold a home for many years. They are also not actively using social media, so how do you choose to communicate with them?

YOUR WEBSITE

Most homeowners will either search Google for the best local agent to sell their home, or have seen your web address advertised somewhere such as a signboard, local billboards, TV ads, through sponsorship of your local football club, etc.

With more people visiting the portal sites to find listings for sale and rent, this is your opportunity to showcase your business and your brand to potential new leads visiting your website.

So, make sure your website is user friendly and clear in your message. Make it simple for website visitors to find information they want to know about buying and selling property – and most importantly, make it easy for people to contact you – either by email, phone or chat/sms.

Your website should also give them a clear overview of your brand, your offering and your services because your website is your online shop window. It is where potential new clients come to make decisions on what kind of agency you are and how helpful you are to guide them through the sale or management of their property.

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS

Google is another place that your prospective customers will likely see you first so make sure your website copy contains the search terms your customers will use. Create a Google My Business listing to ensure you appear on Google Maps, and as a recommended business in Google search results. It’s important to keep your business profile updated with a description and images as this will encourage people to visit your web page, contact you and leave reviews.

FACEBOOK

Your customers might ‘like’ your Facebook page – but what do they want to hear from it? They may not be ready to buy or sell a home right now so do they want to hear about new or recently sold properties? They might be more interested in informative blog articles relevant to their where they are in their own personal property cycle. Or simply want to keep up to date on what is happening in their local community.

The key to Facebook is to make sure you have a Facebook Business page instead of using your personal Facebook page. When you’re adding posts, make sure you’re driving traffic to your own site and add web links to your posts of information that is already published on your own site, such as informative articles and listings.

INSTAGRAM

What do your clients want to see on your Instagram page? Do they follow you on Instagram to be entertained or informed? Or do they follow you to simply stay connected. Instagram is a great channel to connect, but be aware of the different messages and purposes of every social media channel.

Just because Instagram is owned by Facebook and can share your posts to your Facebook page, it does not mean Instagram is the same as Facebook. Instagram was built, and is primarily, an image based app. Sharing links on your posts to articles or listing on your website can be challenging so we recommend you use a link-sharing program such as Linktr.ee to add to your Instagram bio. Then when posting an image you can add “Link in bio” in your post description to encourage users to visit your bio and find your article/listing.

EMAIL MARKETING

Past property owners will usually have provided their email address to  several real estate agencies to keep updated during their buying/selling process. Potential new clients will generally provide their email address when attending an open home, or when inquiring about a property online.

Email marketing then becomes the direct channel of communication that allows YOU to set the communication – giving your clients the exact information you want, when you want.

With email marketing, it’s important to follow best practice guidelines as bad emails will quickly get an ‘unsubscribed’, and may be detrimental to you and your brand. We will go into best practice for email marketing further in a different post.

TWITTER

Predominantly an opinion based conversation channel, Twitter may not be an effective channel for a time poor property professional. Something to consider when assessing all channels is the effort that will be involved in maintaining a consistent presence. Twitter generally requires high involvement in high engagement, which can be time-consuming and costly and a low priority digital channel used by the real estate industry.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is used mostly by corporate business and business professionals, and can be an effective channel to build a leadership profile within the real estate industry while also attracting and recruiting new staff and building contacts. Just don’t treat LinkedIn like Facebook – they have very different audiences, and as such, need a different type of content to engage your connections. When posting on LinkedIn, make sure your commentary appeals to your business connections.

How do you determine which channels will suit your business?

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What do my customers wanna hear from me about?
  • What do my customers want to ask me?
  • What are my competitors doing?
  • What is my budget in time and money?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to determine which channel to concentrate your time and energy on.

Our advice – start simple. 

Make sure you have a website first that shows customers who you are and what you are. Start to engage them at this initial level and then build out the other channels. 

Collecting customer emails for email marketing through a lead capture tools is a great way to start building your database so you can start a strong base for building a long term relationship.

The next step is creating and curating the conversations.

Make sure you check out other posts that goes into a bit of detail on the main channels to show you how to work out your strategy and your message for each.