As the commercial real estate industry comes to grips with the impact of the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19), proactive measures to mitigate loss are critical.
What worked just a few months ago will no longer be effective as the reality of new market conditions sets in and will force CRE firms to adapt quickly and find new avenues to uncover opportunities.
Now, more than ever before, a strong digital marketing strategy is a key factor to remain competitive as brokers, tenants, investors and operators will rely heavily on online channels.
The good news is that there is a window of opportunity here and you can use the down time to be proactive and adapt your marketing strategy while also creating long-term value for when the CRE market transitions back to normal.
Below are 6 tips to make best use of this crisis period to strengthen your digital foundation and be better prepared for the future.
1. Upgrades to Company Website
Your company website is a paramount customer-facing marketing tool right now and the primary avenue to communicate critical information about your company and properties.
Now is a good time to invest resources and find ways to improve your company website.
This may include:
– Ideas you never had time to build – If you’ve had new feature ideas sitting on the back burner, use this down time to develop them. Anything that can bolster your website experience and give you a competitive advantage is worth considering.
– Develop or expand your content strategy – Give your visitors a reason to come back and engage with your website. Now is a good time to build a content strategy to inform and educate your audience through different forms of media (blog articles, video, interviews, market studies, etc.) and set yourself apart from competitors.
– Strengthen the property search experience – 80% of the time spent on your website by your visitors is on viewing your properties so it’s critical to make sure your property search engine is built well and can efficiently attract, capture and convert potential opportunities.
– Consider a full website redesign – If your website is outdated and is not on par with other firms in your market, now might be a good time to consider a redesign and build a new site from the ground up to stay ahead.
2. Improve Quality of Listing Presentations
Status quo “cookie cutter” listing presentations may no longer be enough to drive interest. CRE firms will need to find creative ways to make their properties stand out during these challenging times.
Now is a good time to double down on improving the content quality of your properties. This means crafting strong property descriptions, writing robust property highlights, and utilizing professional photos. Put your best foot forward.
To differentiate your properties and make them even more engaging, you can build single property websites that include interactive features such as amenity maps, photo galleries, PDF downloads and other supplemental information.
Remember this: your listing presentation is often times the first impression a prospect has of your property.
DO NOT lose the opportunity.
3. Step up SEO game
There are more than 67,000 searches performed on Google every second and 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever in these unprecedented times and it’s critical that your business and properties are showing up in Google searches.
Having a defined SEO strategy in place will provide strategic long-term value for your business and help reach new audiences. More importantly, it allows YOU to retain your visitors utilizing YOUR own digital assets that you control versus relying only on 3rd party listing platform.
4. Clean Up Your Contact List
Data hygiene is absolutely critical for your email marketing strategy. Clean data can improve both deliverability and engagement rates to make your email campaigns more effective.
Take this down time to:
- Remove inactive contacts – Consider “pruning” your list and remove anyone that has not opened or clicked an email in the past year.
- Remove duplicates – Search and remove any duplicate entries to make sure you don’t email someone multiple times.
- Segment into groups – The more segmented your list, the better and more personalized messaging you’ll be able to do instead of a one-size-fits all approach.
5. Consider Alternatives to LoopNet/Costar
There are plenty of commercial real estate listing services and LoopNet alternatives to help expand the reach of your properties.
Now is a good time to get your listings posted into new platforms to help maximize the digital footprint of your properties as much as possible. Most commercial real estate portals provide a free offering so you can include your properties at no additional monetary cost, just the cost of your time.
Although none of them can compete with LoopNet by themselves, the aggregate impact of having your property listings in several new portals can create incremental exposure and help move the needle for you.
6. Invest in at Least One New Digital Channel
While it’s important to maintain your baseline operations, many traditional marketing channels will no longer be relevant. Events and conference will be cancelled, building signage will be ineffective and face-to-face interactions will have massive barriers.
It goes without saying, that digital channels will be crucial and you should start considering new marketing initiatives to stay top-of-mind and get in front of audiences.
Some areas to consider:
- Get more active on social media – If you’ve previously not been very active then start getting busy on social media and engage in conversations.
- Run Google Ads campaigns – Google keyword Ads are an effective way to generate targeted visibility and acquire visitors for your company and properties.
- Paid advertisement in trade journals – There are many commercial real estate trade journals that provide different advertising opportunities to get you in front of industry professionals and potential customers.