The old adage about having one chance to make a first impression is just as true online as it is in-person. Today, many (if not most) first impressions between real estate professionals and prospects happen digitally. 94 percent of millennials search online for listings and the internet is where over half of these buyers find their home. Considering millennials now represent the largest group of buyers, according to the NAR Generational Survey, agents not only need to invest in a digital presence, but also think thoughtfully about how to a make strong first digital impression.
These five tips can help you turn first impressions into lasting relationships.
1. Offer a mobile friendly website
Millennials use mobile devices twice as much as the generation before them. They are digitally-savvy users with high standards for their mobile experiences. According to studies conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less and are likely to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. This means it’s critical to have a mobile-friendly website that loads fast. The mobile experience also need to be user friendly so prospects can instantly get the information they need, whether its listings or contact information. Make sure your website looks good on mobile.
2. Be responsive
Today’s buyers are also accustomed to getting what they need on-demand. If they send a query and you do not respond in a timely manner, that reflects poorly on your business. Agents should strive to respond to queries in under an hour.
To enable this degree of communication, technology like automated emails, chat bots, and virtual assistants are extremely useful. These tools collect information at any time of the day and make it possible to respond efficiently. For example, if a customer sends a message at 3 am that demands a personalized response, an automated email can let them know a response is coming soon. Or a chat bot can help new buyers answer FAQs, which frees up real estate professionals to address the more complicated ones.
3. Showcase industry knowledge
Whether it’s to look up a restaurant or decide which TV to buy, today’s consumers do their research. They read reviews, browse forums, and solicit feedback from their network. In this world of social media and abundant information, leads are bound to check your professionalism. To make a good digital first impression, agents need to stay on top of what’s being said across various channels, and be smart about how they respond. Do people rate you highly on Zillow and Yelp? How do you handle good/bad reviews? What is your resume on LinkedIn? How many houses have you sold? Who has referred or recommended you?
In addition, agents can establish themselves as an authority by authoring articles and/or having articles written about them. If a client Googles your name, it looks good if your name shows up high in the results and you look like an expert. Dedicating resources to SEO and SEM is a good investment.
4. Build authenticity and rapport
“Authenticity” has emerged as perhaps the most important buzzword in millennial marketing, and real estate is no exception. This generation wants the brands they interact with to have integrity and personality. They place a premium on transparency and accountability. In addition to showcasing industry knowledge, social media can be a powerful channel for agents to establish authenticity with prospects and clients. This means that content should not feel to sales-y. A good rule of thumb is 80-20, in terms of content versus promotion.
Seemingly small things also make a difference. For example, some agents don’t include their last name on their business card to preserve anonymity, but this can make it difficult for prospects to look you up. It can also make a negative impression if your email address is unprofessional or cheesy. For millennials, these could be red flags.
5. Keep it classy
Without a compelling online presence, you may never get the opportunity to meet prospects in-person. Your digital persona and interactions matter and should reflect your values, which is why it’s important to be aware of what is public and what is private on your social media accounts.
A photo of an agent out partying with friends or a Twitter rant about cats can hurt your brand and your reputation. Showing personality is great and you certainly don’t want your social media profiles to read like infomercials, but you also don’t want to come off as a goon. As with dating, it’s good to avoid topics like politics, religion, and gossip in the early days. Some agents handle this challenge by maintaining separate business and personal accounts. This can be a good idea, but then again, if you want to emphasize that “what you see is what you get,” you may want to have just one profile.
About the author: Matthew Murphy is the Chief Marketing Officer of Chime Technologies and is responsible for making Chime a household name in the real estate space. Previously, Matthew was the Chief Marketing Officer & Co-Founder of Lemon.com a leading mobile wallet solution (Acquired by LifeLock), General Manager of Bling Nation, a provider of mobile payment services; and the CMO at Chegg, the leader in textbook rentals. Matthew was also the head of Advertising & Media at E*TRADE Financial and won numerous awards for his work, including a Clio, Effie and Stevie Award.