What is content marketing, really?

Posted by Louise Germishuys in Content on 20 April 2015

Tags: branding, content marketing, email marketing, facebook, internet marketing, marketing, mobi, online marketing, social media

Having a strong content marketing plan in place is essential for your Real Estate business. It should be used to enhance your current marketing plan. Technology has made it easy for consumers to choose the marketing messages they want to see. They filter out information that they deem “spammy” and opt for information that can benefit them in some way.

Traditional marketing methods (such as direct selling) is becoming less effective as people are on a constant quest for information. They don’t want to be told to make use of your services, they want to come to that conclusion on their own. Content marketing helps you to persuade them in a very subtle way that you are the perfect agent for the job.

Providing your potential clients with great content that will help them to make an informed decision when buying, selling, letting or renting will add value to their lives and will build trust in your brand. In addition it might also help to boost your SEO rankings. It is a win for both you and your potential clients.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of content with the aim of acquiring and retaining customers. It involves communicating with your clients and potential clients without selling to them directly. Instead of pitching your services and products, you are educating them by providing them with regular, relevant and valuable content.

Content marketing centers on the idea that if companies provide clients with information that adds value to their lives, they will ultimately reward the company with their business and loyalty. Effective content marketing engages readers and leaves them wanting to come back again and again for more. 

Why is content marketing important?

Content marketing is a gradual process and it will take a bit longer to see results, but it is definitely worth the wait. Content marketing aids in creating loyal clients that will return and refer. Your potential clients will start trusting your judgement and will look to you for expert property advice.

Content marketing is a key part of the buying cycle and it is therefore important to take full advantage. An article on Forbes outlines the four steps of the buying cycle as:

• Awareness. During this step, your potential clients identify a certain need. They might be thinking of expanding their family and buying a bigger house, but they are not yet sure how the process works, which area to choose or how to apply for a bond.
• Research. Once they have identified their needs, they will start researching in an attempt to educate themselves to make an informed decision. They will read up on various property types, areas and estate agencies. Then they will move on to property searches.
• Consideration. With huge amounts of information at their fingertips, your potential clients will do their homework. They will compare your listings and services to that of your competitor, consider their options, and ultimately settle on an estate agency.
• Buy. Finally, your potential clients will decide on an agency and proceed to convert into high quality leads.

While direct marketing is effective for step 3 and 4 of the buying cycle, content marketing caters for the first two steps.

Are you doing it right?

The content that you write should be interesting, relevant and valuable to your target audience. Not sure how to assess your content? Look at your content critically and answer the following questions:

• Is targeting a specific group of people? If not, it might be too broad to benefit your readers.
• Is the content informative, relevant and valuable to your target market? Is it merely a sales pitch or is it adding value?
• Is it educating your target audience about an aspect of property without being too sales orientated?
• Is it creating awareness of what you have to offer without closing the sale? In other words, is it creating an interest or desire for what you have to offer without suggesting that your audience should make use of your services?
• Does it leave the reader wanting more? Does it persuade your audience to want to take action?
If you can answer yes to each of these questions, you have a good piece of content.

Some content marketing examples

1) Email marketing

Email is an effective way of getting your message out to a large audience. Your clients need to know that they can trust you. The best approach is value exchange - your valuable information for their valuable time. Email marketing is powerful, cost-effective and highly measurable.

2) Social Media marketing

Social media is very popular and therefore the perfect environment to promote your brand. Direct selling will not work in this space and will probably result in unlikes/unfollows. It is somewhat cost effective and highly measurable.

• Ensure that your content is engaging. Don't make statements, ask questions.
• Avoid direct selling. If you want to promote a property on your website, don't simply paste the listing. Try a unique approach that will start a conversation. 
• Create valuable content for your website that will benefit potential buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. Checklists, infographics, how to guides and Top 10's are easy to read, more likely to be shared, and really adds value to your client's life.
• Get personal. Invite your clients into your office by sharing office news, office photos etc.

3) Website listings

Your potential clients will shop around a bit before settling on an estate agency. Make sure that your listings do not cause them to navigate away from your website. Add value to your website visitors' lives by:
• Adding high quality, representative photos
• Adding as much information as possible to the description
• Listing all property features
• Using video/virtual tours

4) Area Profiles

Area profiles are a great value add to your website and should not be taken for granted. Providing website visitors with unique content about the area that they want to move to will help them to make an informed decision when investing.
• Make sure that your content is unique. Don't copy and paste something from Wikipedia.
• Use your knowledge of the area to your advantage. Write about great coffee shops, malls, schools, attractions etc.
• Add images to your area profiles to give your potential clients a valuable, visual experience.

5) News Articles

News articles are perfect for keeping search engines and website visitors happy. It is important however to:
• Add unique content.
• Not scan in articles from magazines or newspapers. This will have no SEO value and will be difficult for mobi users to read.
• Add information that will be valuable to your target market and don't simply post an article for the sake of posting an article.

Content marketing is a must for your Real Estate business. By providing clients with regular, valuable content, you are slowly but surely convincing them that you are the agency for the job. Content marketing builds trust in your brand and positions you as an area specialist/property expert. It allows you to become the voice of reason that your clients listen to before making big property investment decisions.