Congratulations! You’ve decided to incorporate some online marketing in your real estate business plan. The first step is always admitting that you need to do something – and, according to NAR statistics, online is the place where the buyers and sellers are. (Source) Once you’ve made that decision, the next step is to decide where you’re going to try to concentrate your efforts. Are you going to focus on Facebook? Tweet on Twitter? Link up on LinkedIn? Blog your best listings? Work on your website? Where is the platform you’re going to be your most awesome? Think about what you actually will work on, where you will consistently put timely information aimed to a specific audience.
Now that those choices have been made, it’s time to dive in, right? Wrong! Before you begin, you’ve got one more step – you must decide how you are going to test and measure your online efforts.
Why is it important to test and measure? Because, just like any of your marketing efforts, it’s important to know where your time and money goes, and whether what you’re doing is actually working.
Add a Section to Your Online Business Plan
When you first draw up your online business plan, along with identifying the online platform you’re going to focus your efforts on, you need to identify:
- you want to achieve by using that platform,
- you plan on accomplishing that achievement,
and within what time period you want to see those results.
What You Want to Achieve
Deciding what you want to achieve comes down to deciding what would make a good return on investment (ROI) for you. Quite simply, what result would make you happy? This could be include a certain number of likes on Facebook, a certain number of ReTweets, a specific number of publications on third-party sites, a certain number of phone calls coming from website leads, an increase in ranking on Google for specific keywords, number of email replies to an email newsletter, etc. Make sure whatever you choose follows the SMART rule; make those goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-phased.
How You Plan on Getting There
Once you’ve identified what will make you feel like your online efforts have succeeded, you have to actually focus on how you’ll accomplish it. Drawing up a content calendar, for example, gives you a concrete plan for putting content online in a consistent manner. (I’ve talked about how to create and incorporate a content calendar into your 2014 Online Business Plan here.) Depending on what you want to achieve (and thus how you measure that achievement), there are a number of programs that you can include in your everyday systems. Some of those include Google Analytics (for measuring site views and clickthrough traffic), Crazy Egg (heat maps that help you understand if your site design is working), Facebook Insights, email newsletter opens…even an Excel spreadsheet that lays out your goals and allows you to input data to recognize trends over time will work. Whatever you will use is the best choice for you!
What Time Period You Want to See Results
Finally, you have to set a specific time limit for seeing results. Oftentimes, people engage in online efforts with the same impatience that they engage in real-life. Online marketing can differ from offline marketing, because it often takes longer and continued, consistent efforts to see results. The difference is that someone may make a call once off of a mailed postcard, but the content you put on a website can bring in views (and leads!) for years to come. How many of your mail-outs will be saved for years to come, along with up-to-date contact information?! It’s still important to set time limits (let’s say 3 months at a time), so that you can see if the time and money you’re investing in your online marketing is working.
If your online marketing efforts aren’t working, or you’re not seeing the results you wanted or expected, don’t just give up. Part of testing and measuring is making adjustments to see if those work better than previous efforts. One of the ways you can do this is via something called split testing or “A/B Testing.” There are a number of companies that can provide this service for you, or you can engage in some homegrown A/B testing yourself. Finally, if you find that the platform you’d chosen isn’t working for you, that doesn’t mean that all of online marketing isn’t for you and your real estate business – it just may mean you need to focus elsewhere to achieve results.