How to Create an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy
This article is the first in a series delving into all the elements of creative digital marketing and is designed to help you devise the ultimate digital marketing strategy for your estate agency. Digital marketing has become much more effective in recent years and nowhere more so than in the international property arena, an already aggressively competitive market.
A sound and focused approach to your marketing strategy helps you achieve your prime objectives which are to create, communicate, deliver and exchange offerings that have value for your prospective and existing clients.
Digital marketing has the advantage of being as cost-effective as you allow it to be. There's no point throwing huge sums of money to create a beautiful website that does absolutely nothing to grow your business. In fact, it would be better to spend less on the design of your website in favour of concentrating on the quality of its content, something that you can retain ownership of and will attract traffic from the kind of prospects who are likely to deal with you.
The Importance of Strategy
A carefully orchestrated and diverse digital marketing strategy is essential for an estate agency to be successful. Whether you're running or managing a new business or you've been around a while and need to revive your fortunes, the most important thing is to have a strategy and then act on it. You will almost certainly have dedicated considerable time building a website for your agency and a digital marketing strategy can significantly improve your site's ROI.
A well-balanced digital marketing strategy covers both sides of the equation – your vendor and/or landlord clients and prospective applicants. If you're already established, it's a good idea to take stock of where your marketing strengths and weaknesses currently lie and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Objectives of a Digital Marketing Strategy
The idea is to increase the number of people who know of your existence; who can understand what you can offer them and trust you to serve their best interests. There are four key areas you want to focus on to achieve the best results from your marketing strategy:
- Develop very clear and focused insight into why a potential client would want to buy or rent a house from your firm. What you have to offer should be designed to meet client needs better than the competition. Perhaps your after-sales care is second to none or you offer a complete in-house service including conveyancing and financial advice. Identify your 'angle' and develop it to enhance your appeal to potential new business.
- Know your target market. Perhaps you operate in an area popular for retirement, for example. What are the needs of buyers in that specific market and how do the properties you list meet those needs.
- Understand your competition. This is important when operating within a small radius geographically while marketing on the world wide web. Is there another agent locally with a competitive advantage? Find out what it is so that you can promote yourself differently.
- Your strongest competing advantage in the digital world is your brand and what it symbolises for your clients. Write down your brand-positioning statement for your target market in one simple declarative sentence about how you will meet the needs of your clients and beat the competition. The best positioning statements are those that are single-minded and focus on target market needs.
Creating a Masterplan for your Digital Marketing Strategy
Once strategies have been identified for each channel you need to put everything together and formulate a plan. Determine how much you are willing to spend on each channel. What outcomes are you expecting? What tasks do you need to accomplish for each step in your process? Creating a well-defined list of budgets, goals and action items with appropriate personnel assigned to each, can help make your marketing plan a reality.
It's also crucial in advance to decide how you will measure success and your ROI. Are you hoping to see increased sales or traffic, or new client contacts? If you set six-month milestones for each channel in your digital marketing campaign you can compare the results against previous campaigns and adjust your strategy accordingly. If a channel is underperforming, examine the consequences for both abandoning it and for adding more resources.
If your strategy has flopped as a result of a failure to understand the medium's audience, you should go back to basics. Asking your clients to complete an email survey about their social media habits in exchange for a coupon or discount may help you learn more about the relationship between client demographics and your digital marketing efforts.
In our next feature article, we'll take a closer look at social networks, email and mobile marketing and how best to optimise your reach and brand recognition online. The great thing about digital marketing is that you can be a one-man band and have the online presence of a multi-national corporation without paying a fortune or hiring dedicated staff, just by following a few simple guidelines.