Everyone in commercial real estate is beginning to turn to the Internet for marketing.  Why?  It’s cheap, number one.  Number two, it can be more effective than old-fashion marketing methods like direct mail, signage, billboards, radio, television and networking strategies.  It can be more effective because Internet marketing can be highly personalized and automated at very low cost.  But how do you get started?  Start simple and work your way up!

1 – Website.  I usually skip this item because I assume, in this day-and-age, everyone has a website; but I’m often proven wrong.  If you do nothing else, get a website!  If you’re looking for the “absolute minimum” in Internet marketing, this is it.  Internet presence starts with having your own website.  No, your brokerage’s website doesn’t count.  If you decided to leave your broker tomorrow, they would simply delete your page and re-route all your calls and emails to another agent.  Without your own website, it will be difficult for clients to find you.

Get started by purchasing a domain.  The best practice is purchasing your name, I.E. RonaldJohnson.com.  If your name is taken consider RonJohnsonCRE.com or RonDetriot.com, something simple and easy to remember.  Don’t get too crazy or vague.  No one will ever remember CommercialREDetroitAreaSearch.com.  Keep it simple.

Once your domain name is secure, consider looking for a website designer.  Remember that the Internet is dark and full of terrors.  Many $500 website designers will likely leave your website half-finished or they have 1,000 hidden fees, “A blog?  That’s an extra $100.  Integrate into Xceligent?  That’s an extra $500.”  Find a website designer that provides links to their live websites and flat, easy-to-understand pricing.

2 – Blog.  Creating new, original content for your website is key to getting on page 1-2 on search engines.  The more content you produce, the more search engines assume you are an expert in the subject.  Want to rank high in Multifamily Investments in Southeast Las Vegas?  Write articles giving tips, tricks and steps to getting ready to invest, things an investor needs to know, areas that are “up and coming”, personal opinions on areas with great deals.  Don’t worry about “revealing your secrets”.  Content is the hardest thing for a competitor to mimic.  It takes time, energy and expertise to create content, so the fast-money competitors won’t bother to compete.  Content creation is the best way to get noticed and build trust with your potential clients.

3 – Follow Up Emails.  This is something that’s extremely important and once its setup, it’s completely automated!  That’s right, set-it and forget it!  Setup a series of automatic emails with information your target market would like to read.  “5 Tips to Investing” or “10 Ways to Get your Best Tenants to Stay”.  You can link these articles to your website with “Read More” to bring potential clients back to your website.  I like to set one up to send immediately “Thank you for contacting me!” and then send a series of emails every 3 days.  You can even target these emails further by having a dropdown selection of “I’m an Investor” or “I’m a Landlord” to target exactly what a particular audience likes to read.  Your “5 Tips to Investing” may be somewhat interesting to a landlord, but their main concern is filling vacancies.  The more personalized you get with your marketing, the better the response.

4 – SEO.  If you’re actively creating content (from #2) you are half-way to search engine optimization heaven.  The other thing you have to consider is writing those articles for the keyword strings you want to rank in.  “Retail Shopping Center Investments in Downtown Albuquerque” is easier to get rankings than “Retail Investments”.  Long keywords are where you should focus you time and energy.  There’s too much competition for “Commercial Investments” and trying to rank will leave you broke.  Write articles based on these keyword strings.  Title your article exactly like the keyword string, and write the first or second sentence with the keyword string.  You want to be clear about the content of your article without going overboard with repeating keywords.  Remember when people were writing a bunch of words and making them the same color as the background?  Those days are over!  Be clear without being too repetitive.  Search engines want to rank the best content, so give them the best!

5 – Social Media.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was an avid social media disbeliever.  I honestly thought it was a fad that would be gone by now.  Wow, I was wrong!  Not only is social media stronger than ever, 78% of people said that social media posts of companies influence their buying decisions (source).  78%?!?!?  When did that happen?!  More importantly, why does that happen?  It’s a very simple concept.  People buy from trust worthy sources.  Social media has an excellent way of giving people the medium to connect directly with companies in a way they were unable to before.  Today, an individual can send a tweet to Wendy’s and get answered directly from the upper echelon.  This was an unheard of concept in 2006.   With increased availability comes increased trust.  The more relevant content and intelligent tweets a company makes, the higher the trust.  The higher the trust, the more likely people will purchase.

6 – Video.  I think video will be big in the next few years.  If you have the time, get on-board now.  A webcam and microphone won’t cost much, check out Amazon.com!  Write down a few basic concepts to go over in your video.  You don’t have to get too fancy.  There are plenty of people from Fiverr.com that would be happy to edit your web videos for cheap.  If you hate YouTube ads on the end of your videos, consider a paid service like Vimeo.com.

7 – Pay-per-click Ads.  I’m not going to lie to you, this is complex.  I used to clean people’s pay-per-click ads for a living and the things I’ve seen…shudder…  I’ve seen a company waste $8k a month because their keywords were mismanaged.  If you want to start doing pay-per-click, please pick up a book before you begin.  I suggest The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords / Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads / Social Media Marketing.  If you’re not interested in really learning this on a deep level, please hire someone to do this!  It can break your bank account if you’re not careful.