Jeroen van de Peppel

How Real Estate Agents Can Use the Internet to Become the Local Expert [Ask an Expert]

As Senior Account Manager for the popular property portal Domain.com.au, Jeroen van de Peppel knows all about using the internet for promoting real estate. In his spare time, Jeroen runs a Facebook page called Online Agents, providing agents with a regular stream of useful links and tips about online marketing – so I was eager to hear his advice on how people in real estate should be using the web.

Read on to find out where Jeroen thinks the internet is headed, and how you can use it to become the expert in your local area.

Q. Jeroen, what are the 3 most important online platforms that real estate agents should be using, and why?

In no particular order:

  1. The Web – Including agency website/blog, directory advertising and of course Real Estate Portals. Each serve an equal purpose for successful agents:
    • An agent’s own website in an online environment can be compared to the shop front of their business. Potential vendors will undoubtedly be searching/googling for offices and agents in their local neighbourhood. If they are there to research an agent to sell their home then I have no doubts that they will be clicking local links for local businesses.
    • Portals play an equally important role. It’s important for an agent to demonstrate to a potential client that they are casting the net to the greatest possible number of buyers in the market at that particular point in time.
  1. Mobile – Very fast becoming the no.1 platform for online, mobile is where an agent needs to be today. It is predicted that by 2015, mobile will have taken over as the No. 1 online platform. The rise of mobile has been extremely fast and any agent that has not already prepared their own website for the “small screen” will already be behind the eight ball.
  2. Social – I still talk to agents today that say “I don’t want my staff wasting time on Social Media”. Read on as I talk a little more about the power of Social Media for real estate a little later.

Q. How can agents use these platforms to improve their inquiry and conversion rates using web marketing?

From a portal perspective, it is really the simple things that need attention to convert the “view” into an inquiry. Think about the images you use – which one (or two) will display in the search results? The images will be the first introduction to the property and if it doesn’t connect a potential buyer will move on… opportunity lost!  Think about attrition, at which point will a potential buyer lose interest in viewing your property.

For mobile, there are a few essential things agents need to consider:

  • One is adopting and using the right technology to deliver mobile content to their potential buyers. For example, I have been a huge advocate of QR Codes. Free to produce, these codes can be included on agents printed media like sign boards and window displays, with the addition of a “scan me with your phone” prompt, potential property buyers can scan the two-dimensional image and be linked directly to property photos or even a video.
  • It’s very important for agents to understand that digital content displays quite differently on a small mobile screen. There for any agent using mobile technology must optimize their content for the smaller format.

Social media, although it has been around for a little while there are still only a small group of agents who really use this to their advantage. Social media should not be considered as a tool to sell directly but as a tool to grow an audience and establish themselves as an authority when it comes to local (not just real estate) knowledge.

Q. Is generating online listing exposure the best way for an agent to promote themselves?

I’m sure opinions differ here but my personal opinion is that agents would be better off creating a profile for themselves by sharing local real estate market knowledge with their community. Choosing to use sold listings for creating a profile would also add credibility that the agent has what it takes to achieve a result for their client.

Q. Having a strong social media presence yourself, do you think it’s necessary to have a social media strategy?

Absolutely. If there is ever an industry that can benefit from social media, it’s real estate. If an agent uses social media to establish themselves as having a wealth of information about their local community it would be inconceivable to think that they wouldn’t be invited to any local persons home for an appraisal when they are thinking of selling. Trust and respect play a huge role in a real estate transaction and social media can be used to establish both.

Q. So what’s the first step an agent should take when they decide to start a web campaign?

When they decide on an online campaign the first thing they need to do is research. The web hands information to us on a platter and there really is no excuse. More importantly though it’s what an agent does before they decide on a particular web campaign and that is to keep their finger on the pulse, stay up to date with information and new technology.

Online is moving at an extremely fast pace and I believe that the agents that stay in touch will come out winners.

Thanks Jeroen. You can check out Jeroen’s blog at Real Estate Marketing Blog, or like his Online Agents Facebook page for a great source of web marketing-related information.