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online_marketing_toolsQ: What online marketing tools should real estate professionals add to the mix in order to successfully grow their business?

A: Online marketing is one of the most important areas in which to grow your business. Some available tools for online marketing include Google, forms of social media marketing, and email marketing.

Two ways to leverage Google’s traffic are by using search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Both of these search engine tools are complex enough to take years to specialize, yet simple enough to understand the fundamentals fairly quickly. Additionally, both deliver powerful results.

If you’re new to SEO, find easy-to-use, SEO-friendly technology that allows you to create a standalone listing page and a “Contact Us” form. WordPress can be a great tool to create simple listing pages with almost no technical expertise needed. Then, create an SEO-friendly page, highlighting your listing. Make sure you indicate page titles using good, clean tags, and accurately describe the Web page’s content. Always use brief but descriptive titles, and make use of the description meta tag.

SEM also involves keywords, but in order to promote those keywords, you have to invest money upfront for paid ads. Start your SEM journey by creating a marketing budget and allocating enough funds to last for two weeks, which is typically how long it takes ads to catch steam. Then, research keywords that are most likely to appeal to your target audience. For example, an urban condominium may appeal to young professionals who are looking for pedestrian-friendly housing options, whereas a family with school-age children might be more interested in properties within good school districts. Over time, it’s easier to figure out which keywords work and which don’t, so your SEM can become much more cost-effective as you gain experience in this area.

Social media marketing is yet another powerful online marketing tool. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest make it easy to market your listings to your existing network and also to specific audiences that may be interested in those homes.

Paid ads on Facebook are a great way to reach your target audience. The more specific the targeting, the more effective your ad campaign. If you make your ad less specific, you may reach a wider audience. But it’s important to balance the effectiveness of the ad with the potential reach of the campaign. Facebook allows you to target audiences based on a wide variety of factors, such as interests, marital status, income demographics and personal likes and dislikes.

Twitter is most effective when you have a following built up. This can be achieved by tweeting real estate facts, which position you as a real estate expert, or by tweeting otherwise interesting information, which makes you seem more personable. Remember to highlight your listing’s one, key attribute in your tweets. And don’t forget, the old adage “location, location, location” is especially relevant here, as you have to remember to highlight something unique about the property’s location in your tweet.

Pinterest is all about creating interesting boards and having great pictures. Does your property have a remodeled kitchen or bathroom? If so, have the property professionally photographed and create an interior design board that showcases and highlights the unique design features of the property.

When it comes to email marketing, your existing email list will contain your warmest leads. Remember to email your audience whenever you have a new listing. Even if they’re not in the market right now, someone on your list may know someone else who most certainly is ready to buy. Take the time to personally reach out to everyone located in the same city as the listing, since they’ll be the ones most likely to know someone else looking in that particular market.

With just a little effort and creativity, all the aforementioned tools can be used to better market your listings, close more transactions and expand your network.

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