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We live in a digital-first world, and the real estate industry is no exception. Agents and brokers have traditionally leaned heavily on in-person showings and events to promote their listings, and while these face-to-face connections still carry value in the industry, they have recently taken a backseat to online sales strategies and tools — especially in light of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The new year is only a few weeks away, so now is the perfect time to take stock of 2020 and look ahead to anticipate the ever-evolving real estate market. Prepare yourself and your business for the new year by reviewing these top luxury real estate marketing trends for 2021.

Video Becomes Essential

Video and real estate are a natural pair. The highly visual nature of the industry makes video an ideal tool for agents and brokers eager to show off their listings online. 

But while real estate videography has been a useful sales tool for years, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic means that the ability to show off a home’s features digitally is becoming essential to agents and buyers alike. Video may have been viewed as a nice but non-essential offering in the past, the rise of digital marketing over the past 10 years (in addition to this year’s pandemic) has made video an absolute must-have real estate sales tool in 2020 and beyond. According to Inman, 85% of buyers and sellers prefer to work with an agent who uses video, while home listings with video get four times the number of inquiries.

If you haven’t already invested in real estate video production, now is the time. Start small at first. Even something as simple as adding an introductory “About Me” video to your website can add a personal touch to your digital marketing efforts, especially in a time where social distancing limits in-person introductions. Video also allows potential buyers to “view” a home without the need for an in-person showing — something that will clearly continue to be key going into 2021. Once you get more comfortable with video, start taping virtual walk-throughs for all the listings for your website. You can even graduate to hosting live-streamed property tours on Facebook Live if you wish. Don’t stress over making your videos perfect — just make sure they’re professional, informative, and enjoyable to watch. 

If you’re already using video in your real estate marketing strategy but are looking for ways to do even more, consider upgrading your video capabilities with exciting new technologies such as aerial drone photography. Stunning aerial videos and photographs of the outside of a property and the area surrounding the home can be a major draw, especially since many clients want to see the neighborhood and envision themselves living there before they even see the house.

Automation Makes Life Easier

Now more than ever, real estate professionals are embracing automation technology for everything from identifying warm leads to sending follow-up texts and posting on social media. The use of automated real estate tools and platforms “results in higher quality, cost savings and improved customer satisfaction,” according to KPMG. They can help you save time and labor on typically time-consuming tasks associated with the job of being a real estate agent, allowing you to spend more time servicing your clients and closing sales.

Chatbots are one of the most common real estate sales automation tools. Adding a helpful lead-qualifying chatbot to your website will help your leads find the information they need and pre-qualify your website leads, distinguishing those who are actually ready to buy or sell from those who are just browsing. You’ll spend less time manually qualifying your leads, leaving you free to focus your time and efforts on nurturing the warm leads and generating new ones. 

Bots can also be used to automatically schedule appointments or offer marketing materials, like a white paper or ebook. 

A CRM (customer relationship management) is a must-have for managing relationships with your clients and leads. If you’re not already using a CRM to stay connected to your customers, streamline agency processes and improve profitability, you’re missing out on a powerful tool for driving success in real estate. It creates a shared knowledge base for the entire agency, improves workflows, and fosters frictionless communication between agents to cut down on miscommunication and time. Today’s real estate CRM tools also often include desirable features such as email marketing and drip campaign management, on-the-go mobile apps, detailed reporting, and integration with your agency’s other digital tools. 

For larger brokerages with lots of agents, a business card automation service can help keep your agents stocked with up-to-date business cards and provide a centralized dashboard where agents can access important files and other information. 

Content Marketing Builds Trust

Improving your digital marketing strategy is about more than keeping your social feeds updated. Your clients are about to make possibly the biggest financial investment of their lives, and that requires a huge level of trust in you as the agent. In order to convert your leads into your clients, you need to demonstrate your expertise in your real estate niche and show that you can (and will) do everything possible to get your clients the best possible outcome.

That’s where content marketing comes in. Where an ad might raise brand awareness, content marketing increases brand trust. 

The 2021 real estate market will undoubtedly be saturated with agents competing for the same online leads in your area. To stand out from the competition, you can use content marketing to create a unique value proposition for your target audience. If you specialize in finding homes for young families, for example, create content (such as blog posts, infographics, or videos) that addresses topics relevant to your specific audience, like school districts or features attractive to people with children. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and leads — what information do they want to know, and how do they want to consume that information?

Your real estate content should also feature a strong brand voice that accurately reflects your personality and way of doing business. The content should be high-quality (that means thoroughly edited — don’t rely on spell check!) and contain valuable, actionable information that your potential clients can use to effectively navigate the home buying process. If your readers know they can rely on you for this information, you’ll be at the top of their list when they’re ready to choose an agent. 

You should also ensure that your content follows SEO (search engine optimization) best practices so that those looking for your content can find it. That means doing things like writing relevant titles and descriptions, updating your page consistently with new, relevant content, incorporating important topic keywords, and adding backlinks to authoritative sources in your content. 

To learn more, check out our previous blog post on content marketing for the real estate industry. 

Community Engagement Creates Connections

This last trend isn’t about adopting the latest cutting-edge tech tools — it’s about connecting with your clients and leads on a deeper level and positioning yourself and your business as a trusted pillar of your local community. The COVID-19 crisis has financially crippled many local businesses and families across the country, so now is an ideal time to give back to those in need and focus on building community. 

Real estate agents tend to already be involved in the local community, so they are uniquely positioned to get more involved with charities and community service organizations. You’ll be strengthening a cause you believe in while also forming more of the relationships that form the core of your real estate business and building awareness. 

Choose a charitable organization in your area close to your heart and organize a digital fundraiser, make a donation to a food bank, spearhead a school supply drive, or chip in to sponsor a service event. Get creative here — there are so many ways to help families and businesses in need in your area while also forging strong community bonds that can be invaluable to the success of your business. You won’t just be helping others — you’ll be getting your name out there, making valuable community connections, and staying top of mind with potential leads, even if they’re not quite ready to buy or sell yet.

And surveys show that many of those coveted millennial customers prefer to do business with companies that demonstrate a commitment to charitable giving. More and more young people are getting involved with activism and charity, and they are the next generation of homebuyers you need to connect with. 

If you haven’t yet incorporated charitable giving and local outreach into your real estate marketing strategy for 2021, consider doing so. Strong community bonds can be a powerful tool in business as well as life. 

Need help with your digital real estate marketing strategy? Talk to one of our experts to set up a consultation.