What if you could brand yourself as the expert in your field, get exposure with prospects that might not otherwise hear about you, and impact your bottom line for free or almost free? Actually, you can. Check out this article on how to leverage social networking and viral marketing to get big business returns for low cost.
A few months back, I announced that I planned to take a look at many of the viral marketing options appraisers have available today. Those options range from simple e-mail forums and blogging to targeted newsletters, videos, and podcasting. Here's a basic list of some of these valuable opportunities to make your marketing viral and help build your business, along with action steps to get started.
1. Offer free services and information delivered via e-mail
Free e-mail newsletters, market reports and notifications are a great opt-in way of staying in contact with clients and prospects. If you're like me, you've probably set up a folder in Outlook to save quality newsletters from sources like Appraisal Today, Realty Times, and Inman® News. Do you think your clients do that too? Sure they do! Wouldn't it be great if they were saving and passing on your newsletter?
2. Feature free personalized RSS subscriptions
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. As you're reading blogs and surfing websites (Yahoo!® News, Inman® , The New York Times®, Appraisal Scoop) you've probably seen the orange RSS logo. Many of us are familiar with how RSS feeds allow us to pull other's content into our website or blog; however, they can also be used to share your content with others.
Have you ever considered syndicating your web site or blog content? What if you could push your news stories, blog posts, podcasts, and video blogs to other appraisal, lender, and vendor websites automatically? They would benefit from having highly targeted, current content, and you'll benefit because RSS keeps your company's name in front of prospects and clients. Click here for a How-To article on RSS.
RSS feeds keep visitors on your site longer, and keep them coming back. Plus, if you have a specialty (divorce, tax appeal, pre-listing) your RSS feed updates will keep reminding visitors automatically that you're the unrivaled expert in your area.
3. Use e-mail and e-mail forums to spread the word
Every e-mail you send should carry a consistent message about you, your professionalism and your commitment to the community. That's why you should always include your contact information and website or blog URL.
Ideally, you want your e-mail readers to be just one click away from placing an order with you. Learn to use the hyperlink feature of Outlook so that readers can easily get follow-up information on topics they want to learn more about.
If you have a page or document that you frequently send out, consider uploading it to your website rather than "attaching" it to your e-mail. Recipients will appreciate the ability to share the link and not have yet another attachment filling up their hard drive. Plus, this provides more valuable information to visitors on your site and increases relevant content for search engine optimization.
4. "Lunch & Learn" Presentations
My friend and Appraisal Scoop author, Patrick Egger, is a master of the "Lunch & Learn" program for educating real estate professionals, and sharing his message. If you have a favorite topic that you're an authority on, let your clients know that you're available to speak to their group.
REALTORS® in my area are a fantastic source of referrals and the same is probably true about REALTORS® in your area too. Contact the lead broker and offer to share a 20-30 minute talk on "How to accurately measure a home", "How to prepare better BPO's" or "How to use the County GIS data". You'll become known as an expert and will likely be on their short-list when asked questions like "Who should I get to appraise my home?"
5. YouTube or ScreenCast Videos
Services like YouTube or ScreenCast have made it easy to publish videos from your PC to the web. When I publish them to my blog, they always result in a big jump in the number of hits we get. The free TechSmith® product Jing makes it simple to record on-screen demonstrations with audio for publication or distribution. Would a video of how to import MLS data into an Excel spreadsheet for trending analysis be of interest to REALTORS® in your area? I guarantee that it would. Click here for some examples.
6. Love Those Blog Links!
The viral aspect of marketing relies on others picking up your marketing "bug" and spreading it around to others. One of the best ways that happens is when another website or blog will reference and link to your site. A good example of that is a recent link from NAR's Powertools For Appraisers, blogging about the Regression Analysis videos posted on Appraisal Scoop.com. Not only does Appraisal Scoop benefit, but so does the a la mode Labs project, which was the original host of that series.
7. Blog & Article Comments - YOU can correct the record
Most blogs and on-line news services will allow you to make comments on their articles. Have you ever read an article that just does NOT get the facts right? Using the comments feature of that article allows you to correct the story and (at a minimum) link back to your website or blog. Some systems allow for limited use of html code and hyperlinks. If they do, be sure to take advantage of that feature. Your comments will stand out from the crowd and people will be more likely to click-through to your site or blog.
8. Internal Links - Keeping it In-House
Internal links on your blog or website are links from any page within the site to any other page also within the site. Internal links help keep visitors on your site by suggesting other relevant pages within the site. You stand a better chance of converting a first time visitor to a regular reader if they read more than one article on your site in a single visit, so internal links are very important. Here's an example of my How To Prepare For Your Appraisal Inspection page. Notice that almost all of the text hyperlinks on that page are to another related page within my site. That's how to keep your website "sticky".
Also note that I have a box at the bottom of that page where a visitor can ask me a question. "So what," you may ask. So, anytime someone uses one of those boxes, their name and e-mail address are automatically added to my XSellerate database for future targeted campaigns. This is also referred to as "Lead Capture".
The neat part about this tool is that I can specify what "Category" that lead is placed into in my contact database based off of what page it came from. For example, if I have a Q&A box on a page for attorneys, I would set my Q&A box to categorize responders as [Client] or [Attorney]. Then, when I run my next XSellerate campaign, they'll receive targeted material and not some "junk" mail intended for homeowners.
9. Follow-up & Educate:
Once you get a new client, that's just the beginning. New clients can be a great source of repeat business as well as referrals for new business. Set up a New Client Campaign with helpful tips and let them know the easiest ways to order appraisals and why they should rely on you. Include lots of hyperlinks to key information on your website or blog. Tailor the messages to your client's specialty - lenders, attorneys, title companies, sales agents, or homeowners.
10. Singing in the "rain" - ActiveRain that is!
Is AppraisalScoop the only place that I blog? Nope! I blog in a variety of different venues and comment on other bloggers' sites. On the Appraisal Scoop blog, you can scroll down and look for my ActiveRain logo which will link you to my profile (click here).
The neat thing about Active Rain is the audience. ActiveRain has a very large readership in the real estate agent community and beyond. They offer the ability to drill-down by location too. So, if a visitor is looking for a professional in a particular state, area, or city, they can use Active Rain to find them.
One of the OTHER great things is that there are darn few appraisers in the system. If you're even a least bit active on the system, your name can rise to the top of list to become a "Featured Appraiser" for your city.
Author: Brian J. Davis, RAA - Brian Davis & Associates - Brian has over 23 years of appraisal experience in Central, IL and hosts the Appraisal Scoop blog and the WinTOTAL Users Group, an e-mail forum for appraisers.
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