Ready to start 2020 with 20/20 vision in real estate marketing?
While I’m not sure how the earth completing a revolution around the sun actually brings forth new marketing trends, somehow it does.
Perhaps it’s because January sparks the inspiration and resolutions of fitness enthusiasts and real estate marketers alike. Perhaps it’s because a new year is a time to reflect on what worked in past years and make changes. Or maybe it’s something more cosmic, like a gravitational pull towards new ideas.
I don’t really care about the reasoning, what I do care about is making sure my readers stay ahead of the curve and focus their real estate marketing at the start of this new decade.
While I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen to real estate marketing by the end of 2020, I can tell you this with reasonable certainty: 2020 is not going to be a year where an entirely new medium such as – social media – needs to be adopted.
Instead, it’s going to be a year where we need to put the polish on certain areas of our marketing in order to thrive.
A lot is always changing in marketing, and specifically in the real estate industry. However, a lot more is staying the same. For that reason, the overall real estate marketing trend for 2020 is to not just focus on what’s new, but also focus on making what’s old shine like new.
Looking for 20/20 vision in real estate marketing this year? Here are four real estate marketing trends you should focus on for 2020:
- Enhance your SEO for Voice-activated searches
- Make your real estate brand stand out
- Focus marketing on Millenials (like never before)
- Personalize your marketing as much as possible
Let’s pop the tops off of these four real estate marketing trends and see what’s inside…
1. Voice-Activated Searches
For a while now, most of us have had personal assistants hiding in our smartphones, waiting for us to beckon them with a “Hey”. You probably know “Siri” by now…
Around early 2018, North Americans began inviting these personal assistants into their homes in the form of smart speakers like the Google Home, Google Mini, Amazon Alexa or Amazon Echo.
These smart speakers can control other smart devices in your home, such as your TV, lights and even door locks. However, for the most part, people use these speakers to set reminders, check the news and weather, and play music.
The adoption of these smart speakers is growing at a significant rate. By halfway into the first year of their release, 8% of Canadians already had a smart speaker device in their homes – it may not seem big but it is considering its entirely new technology.
People of all ages are loving these smart speakers, and are putting them to good, and sometimes silly use.
As these numbers continue to surge, and voice-activated assistants become the norm in our society, the face of marketing will – and has – changed as well. People are learning that they can do more with their smart speakers than simply ask for the time and weather. They are starting to use them to find vital information online.
In 2020, we’re going to start seeing a lot more voice-related marketing strategy out in the wild. As real estate agents, you have a chance to capitalize on some of this strategy.
Whether you’re selling products or services, the main area of focus with voice search is discoverability. And in order to be discovered on any kind of search, you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)
By optimizing your real estate website, google business profile and other online profiles for specific keywords, you are increasing your chances of being discovered via voice search. Read our ultimate guide to SEO for real estate agents here for a ton of info.
As a real estate agent, there are a few ways you should consider taking advantage of voice search, be it on a smartphone or on a smart speaker device. I just did a few different real estate agent voice searches on my smartphone, and I’m going to share the results with you below using a screenshot and a quick blurb about each.
“Real estate agents near me”
Location-based services have been around for years, and now with Voice Search, they are more useful than ever. This form of voice search provides users with results near them by scanning the proximity of their current location for what they’re looking for.
Make sure all of your online presences – including your Google Business profile – are up to date with your current address. If your brokerage address is listed and it’s far away from where you primarily operate, consider using your home address or at least partial home address on your Google Business listing so that you stand out to the local community via voice search.
“Gilbert real estate”
Sometimes users are trying to find you, but don’t remember your full name or only remember partial information about your business. In these cases they’re going to try searching you by using whatever they remember. In this case, I knew I was looking for Doug & Krista, but I pretended to only know their last name.
So I said “Hey Siri” … “Gilbert real estate” and voila! Doug & Krista showed up as the only result. Make sure you’re using important keywords about your brand in your online marketing and Google Business profile so that you’re easily discovered, even if people don’t remember your first name.
“Who is Dana Friesen Smith”
While some people might not remember your full name, others know it well and are just trying to find more information about you. As you can see in the screenshot above when I said “Hey Siri” … “Who is Dana Friesen Smith?” I received a number of results that were not just Dana’s website.
Kudos to her, her real estate website (designed by RealtyNinja) was the very first result. However, we also got links to her Facebook page, her LinkedIn and her current listings on rew.ca. Do a quick Google search (text or voice) for your own name. See what comes up. If your results are not desirable, it may be time to get to work on creating some new links out there that speak more clearly to your brand.
“Top REALTORS® in downtown Vancouver”
With voice search, you now have yet another reason to collect as many 5-star reviews on your Google Business profile or Yelp profile as you can. If a user says “Top Realtors® in [your city]” you want to make sure you show up above the fold – in other words, in the first 4 or 5 results.
If you don’t have any Google or Yelp reviews, it’s time to start reaching out to your loyal clients and asking them to drop a few stars on your account. This is very important.
“Lower Lonsdale real estate agents”
Sometimes people are not necessarily asking who the top agents are, they just want to know who the agents are in general. Also, they might be getting really specific to the community. In the example above, I asked Siri for real estate agents that work in Lower Lonsdale, a relatively small sub-area within the city of North Vancouver.
If I had searched “North Vancouver real estate agents” my results would have been different, because the query would be asking a whole other question. If you are a real estate agent who primarily works in a pretty focused sub-area within your community, make sure your Google Business profile and other online marketing channels are speaking to and of that sub-area.
Overall, there are many factors that play into SEO, and therefore there are many factors that play into SEO for Voice Search.
These are factors we cover in great detail in our ultimate SEO guide for Realtors®, so I suggest you read that if you haven’t already.
Optimize your online presence in general, and it will help you in Voice Search as well. A good starting point with Voice Search optimization in 2020 would be to focus on keywords that your target audience will be searching for. Try to be discovered for those keywords as often as possible.
Pull out your smartphone, say “Hey Siri” and start talking. See what you find! This marketing trend is here to stay, and it’s going to become increasingly popular in 2020 and beyond – don’t ignore it!
PS. Since Voice Search is a major marketing trend for 2020, it’s also an area I am examining more and more myself personally. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the topic, but I am actively studying and do very much want to learn more. If you have had any experiences or insights about Voice Search through your own trials, please email me and let me know.
2. Real Estate Branding
Your real estate brand is not to be confused with your headshot, logo, and font. Those are components of your brand, for sure. The brand itself is actually a combination of everything your brand does, says and is – as perceived by your target market.
Your goal for 2020 should be to understand your brand so well, and deliver on your brand’s promises so effectively that your real estate business becomes a notable brand that your clients enjoy working with. You may just be a solo agent, but you’re still a brand. And that brand needs to be polished in order to stand out moving forward.
In real estate, you are competing with so many other agents. It’s arguably one of the most competitive fields in the business landscape. You think there are a lot of Starbucks locations in your city? Wait till you hear how many real estate agents there are!
Not only do you face a ton of competition, you also are dealing with buyers and sellers who have a much sharper BS-radar than 10 or 15 years ago. Thanks in large part to the internet and social media.
Combine these two truths, and you realize that in order to grow your business you need to recognize it as a brand, understand that brand, and convey that brand’s character and promise in every decision that you make – online or off.
This year more than ever, it’s going to be important that you define your brand and adhere to its standards at every turn. Mark my words, in 2020 and beyond the agents with the weakest brands are going to see the least growth in their business. We want to hire trusted experts to sell our homes, and a strong brand is inherently trustworthy.
Be the strong brand in real estate.
When it comes to visual branding elements, such as your website, business cards, logo, fonts, colours, and other marketing materials, it’s very important that there is consistency. If your brand colours are blue and gold, those colours need to be on all of your marketing materials.
You also need to be consistent when it comes to non-visual branding elements, such as your tone of voice, your mission statement, your brand promise, your target market, and your brand values. These are important pieces to your brand’s puzzle that will help in day to day business and marketing decisions.
When you’re able to balance your visual brand and your non-visual brand in perfect harmony, your clients will begin to notice and remember you. They will begin to refer you when someone they know needs a Realtor®. They will see you as the consummate professional that you are, not because you told them you are but because you showed them.
Your brand speaks louder than words. Make sure your brand is polished and ready to boost your growth in 2020 and beyond!
3. Marketing to Millenials
According to the NAR Home Buyers & Sellers Generational Trends Report of 2019, Millenials made up 37% of all home buyers. The older generation of Millenials (born 1980-1989) represent 26% of those purchases, and the younger generation of Millenials (born 1990-1998) represent 11% of those purchases.
That. Is. Huge.
Knowing this information about 2019, I’m sure you’re going into 2020 thinking “We need to up our marketing to Millenials” and you’re absolutely right.
This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. For years now I’ve been writing that Millenials are going to represent a majority of homebuyers in the near future, and here we are folks! If you’ve been listening intently, then maybe you’ve been targeting Millenials with your marketing for years already. If so, fantastic. Keep it up and actually ramp it up.
If you haven’t been focused on Millenials, now is the absolute time to start.
I am a Millenial in the older group. I was born in 1986, I’m turning 34 this year, and I’ve already bought 3 condos and sold 2 of them. My transactions alone have earned various local real estate agents a bunch of commission revenue. And as the statistics show, I’m not alone.
The data speaks for itself, this is not a 2020 marketing trend Realtors® can ignore. So instead of convincing you further, I’m going to give you a few ideas on how you can reach Millenials with your marketing.
- Upgrade your online listings: 81% of Older Millenials and 80% of Younger Millenials found their home on a mobile device (Source). What does this mean? It means you need to upgrade your listings on your real estate website. Make sure you’ve got high-quality listing photos, get video footage and a virtual tour of the property, and make sure your listing description is well written (use this tool.)
- Be active where they’re active: It’s no secret that Millenials are using social media and the internet for fun and research. Make sure your brand is active where they are, so you can catch their attention casually and conversationally at first. Be top of mind for the Millenial audience, and they will think of you when it’s time to hire a Realtor®. Instagram, Google, Facebook, Blogs, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Pick your channels and be active by both publishing content and engaging with their content as well!
- Highlight property perks: Millenials are less concerned with the size of a kitchen, and more concerned with the perks of a property. Highlight those perks. What amenities is the property close to? Is it near their work? Schools? Dining & shopping centers? Focus on highlighting the benefits of living in a place rather than its features. Paint a picture, tell a story, don’t give them raw data.
- Appeal to their values: Millenials strongly identify with their values. Not to say that other generations can’t be interested in charity or veganism. Only that Millenials really align themselves with their values in a more concrete way. So you need to find a way to appeal to these values while being very careful to take their values seriously and also make them your own. How you do it and what values you pursue are up to you and your brand, but a great place to start is to support a cause. One that is important to you and your Millenial clientele. I remember reading a headline that Nike invested heavily in marketing to Millenials, but Millenials still preferred Tom’s Shoes – why? Because for every pair of Tom’s you would purchase, they would donate a pair of shoes to someone in need. Food for thought.
- Focus on social proof, not advertising: Advertising to Millenials can be a very dangerous line to walk. Your bus shelter ads are not working on them as well as they are on previous generations. Millennials grew up with the ability to review things, to leave comments and to engage. We want social proof, meaning we want other people to validate you, we don’t want you to validate yourself. An advertisement is you telling me you’re awesome, but 20 five-star reviews on your Google Business profile is other people telling me you’re awesome. A highly engaged Instagram following is other people telling me you’re awesome. 20,000 views on your YouTube video is other people telling me you’re awesome… that’s how you win over the hearts of Millenials.
There are other strategies and tactics for promoting your real estate brand to Millenials, and I invite you to do some research of your own. Just know that Millenial marketing is going to be essential to your thriving and surviving in the modern real estate industry of 2020 and beyond. It’s more than a “Trend” – it’s a shift.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
4. Personalize your Marketing
The final trend to look out for in 2020 is yet another focus on marketing polish. Personalization in marketing is basically like saying “Make every lead/client feel like they’re your only lead/client.”
Just a couple of days ago, I replied to a customer’s email who was asking me for a recorded version of our webinar because they might not be able to attend the live webinar this Friday.
Today I heard back from her saying:
“Hey Sepy, Thanks so much for replying to my email in a personal way. Nice, professional touch!”
I was a little taken aback because I couldn’t even remember what I had said. Here’s my email response to her:
Turns out, everything I did to personalize my email response can be summarized in a couple of bullets:
- I used her name twice,
- I said, “Hope you can make it Friday too!”
That’s it… This was the personal touch that compelled her to give me a Great Rating on my email, and write back to thank me!
Her positive reaction to a pretty normal email (in my mind) confirmed a couple of things for me. Firstly, that people have become complacent in their email communication. They send really brief, dry emails that consist of maybe 5 or 6 words. Very cold, impersonal, and unprofessional.
Secondly, that people have become accustomed to receiving automated template emails – again, cold and impersonal. Not unprofessional necessarily – sometimes automated email campaigns can be very useful and professional. Just make sure they receive the proper personal touches to make them feel personally hand-written (aka typed.)
I could have just sent Brandy a reply that just said: “Here’s the recording.” It would have contained the same vital information, but it would be so much less personal and caring. And much less deserving of Brandy’s kind words.
So personalization doesn’t have to be this big shift in the way you run your business or marketing. It can be as simple as responding to an email attentively. Or making sure your audience or clients are being heard, and spoken to – not spoken at.
On the other hand, personalization can also be a much more large-scale operation. For instance, those of you who shop on Amazon might see recommendations floating around the web for things you might like to buy. These recommendations are based on your previous buying or browsing behaviour.
This kind of marketing personalization is achieved by using comprehensive remarketing ads. Designed specifically to show you what you may want to purchase.
The bottom line is, people have many options out there when it comes to real estate agents. They choose to work with an agent for certain reasons. If you don’t give them good enough reasons, they will choose someone else to work with.
Providing your leads and clients with this layer of personalization will make them feel appreciated, heard, and special. It will make them feel like they are your only client or your only care in the world at that moment.
If you’re looking to stand out from the crowded real estate landscape in 2020, take my word for it and apply some personal touches to your marketing. I assure you it’s a small change that will make a large impact for you moving forward.
And with that, it’s time to hit the ground running with 20/20 vision in real estate marketing for the year 2020. We’ve covered a fistfull of powerful ways you can polish your real estate marketing to stand out and keep you thriving for the start of a new decade.
Whether you choose to focus on Voice Search optimization, real estate branding, millennial marketing, personalization or all of the above is up to you. As I said before, I don’t have a crystal ball so I won’t know which one of these trends are going to be more powerful than the rest.
What I do know is that all of them are equally important and will help you transition with confidence into a new era for marketing, business, and real estate.
Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Wishing you an awesome new year, Ninjas.