5 tips for building your brand online
A lot of our customers come to Real Estate Webmasters because they want a website to brand themselves online. That's a great first step. But having your logo and some listing information isn't enough for a buyer or seller to develop a preference for your brand over others. According to research by NAR, over 90% of real estate firms have a website1, which means there is a lot of competition out there.
Here are 5 ways you can use your website to strengthen your brand to attract and retain clients:
1. Clear differentiation
Your website should clearly signal to the user where your expertise lies. This can be done through taglines, photography, and your ‘About Us' page. For example, if you focus on holiday homes in Florida, then summarize that on the homepage in a few words or pithy tagline, and showcase relevant and inspirational images or videos.
Also tell the story of why you do what you do; passion and enthusiasm draws people in. Everyone has access to the same MLS listings so you need to be clear on what problem you are the go-to person for solving.
2. Build trust
If you claim to be an expert in a certain area, then you need to demonstrate it. Blogging, videos, and podcasts are all great ways to show you really know a particular segment of the market or neighborhood. A mix of evergreen content, commentary on trends, and market news will not only reinforce your brand position, but also bring new and existing clients to your site through SEO.
Trust online is also about being clear in how personal information is used. If you coerce people into your leads database, then that trust is already broken, and trust is essential to building brand loyalty.
3. Service quality
Each touchpoint a person has with your brand contributes to their perception of you. Every online and offline interaction is an opportunity to form a favorable impression. Your website is an extension of the service level your brand stands for and you need to critically examine it from multiple angles.
This includes ease of use, responsiveness, speed, completeness of data, and interactions such as requesting further information. Know what's important to buyers and sellers in your market and help them find this information quickly and easily. If you want lead registrations, then you need to give something of value in exchange for personal information.
Even if you generate most of your business from referrals, you should think about the experience those clients have when you share listing data. Are you sending them to a site that's easy to use and complete in its data? Does your site say, "I've invested in my business"? An amazing (or terrible) web experience is an indicator of how much you value your client's time.
Consumers online today are more loyal to their need in the moment than the brand that serves them. This means that if your site doesn't fulfil their needs, they will find another that does, which opens up opportunities for your competition to move in.
A brand personality is a set of human traits that you attribute to your brand as if it was a person. These are not your personality traits, but a set of descriptors that help you define the way your brand behaves and sounds. A brand's personality is designed to elicit an emotional response (how you want people to feel after they have interacted with your brand) and is an important way to differentiate your brand from competitors. Depending on your area of expertise and target audience, you may want people to feel confident, inspired, excited, or nurtured.
When it comes to your website, your brand personality is reflected in the tone of voice you use; are you playful or formal? Are you lively or passive? There are an infinite number of ways you can define your brand voice, but whatever you choose, apply it consistently.
The type of content you present should also reflect your brand personality. If your brand personality focuses on being down-to-earth and the agent-next-door, then your blog, social and listing content should show your intimate knowledge of a neighbourhood (e.g. where are the best preschools, what are commute times like, what developments are planned). If your brand personality is more about being a leader and administrator, guide your clients with checklists, how-to's and hero any awards your business has received.
Use every opportunity to show your brand personality, including auto-responders, error messages, headlines, drip-campaigns and saved search emails.
5. Social validation
The strongest brands are those that deliver a consistent experience that delights the target audience. After decades of misleading advertising, consumers are naturally wary of marketing claims and will place more value on what others say about your brand on independent platforms than any corporate messaging.
When others (e.g. current or past clients) validate your brand through a positive review, Facebook post or tweet, then trust in your brand grows. If you have a solid following on social media or great reviews on Yelp or Google, highlight this on your website and invite users to validate what you say about your brand.
Building a brand takes concerted effort and time. It's the long game, but when done right will be the most valuable part of your business and the most difficult for competitors to replicate. With 95% of people using the Internet to search for property1, your website is a critical touchpoint in building your brand.
1 NAR Real Estate in the Digital Age Report 2017.