No matter how much hype you hear about ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days, there’s one thing I can tell you for sure when it comes to AI and marketing your real estate business:
Your need for engaging content isn’t going anywhere.
However, most real estate agents and brokers are too busy to write things that help them rank in Google or convince website visitors to call or submit a contact form.
As the predominant form of digital lead generation today, Inbound Marketing depends entirely on high-quality, engaging content dangled in front of your target audience to lure them to your door - and get them to knock.
Almost everything today that boosts your leads requires regular, value-added content in the form of web pages, blogs, social posts, and emails.
Now, AI in the form of tools like ChatGPT and apps that use it, such as ReallyBlogIt, can help Realtors® generate engaging content fast and easily.
But there's a catch...
AI is a tool that must be used skillfully
If you’ve been playing with AI, it may seem like it’s now trivial to generate great content that produces leads without the pain in the ass of writing it yourself.
Don’t be fooled; it just isn’t true.
As my father annoyingly (but rightly) told me at every turn growing up, “there are no free lunches.”
Everything excellent and effective comes with a price, whether blood, sweat, tears, time, or talent.
In the same way buying expensive easels, brushes, pre-mixed paints, and a color-by-numbers canvas of The Starry Night won’t get you hailed as the next Van Gogh using AI to write for you doesn’t mean you’re all of a sudden putting out things people want to read.
In short, it's not enough to crank out blog post after blog post using AI and grow your online presence in Google Search and social media.
In fact, it might actually hurt you.
In my career, I’ve helped hundreds of businesses use the right kinds of content marketing to capture new customers and clients before there ever was a ChatGPT.
The same things that worked before will continue to work whether or not you use AI, but it can make your content marketing faster and easier to produce.
If you're one of the vast majority of agents who haven't had the time or inclination to put out great blogs and social posts in the past, using AI skillfully to do just that will grow your business from the internet over time.
And what agent can't use another close or two per month, right?
Read on and learn how to use AI as a starting point for great business-capturing content as part of a digital marketing strategy designed to grow your business.
In or out: What’s “Inbound Marketing” anyway, and why do I need it?
I mentioned Inbound Marketing above, but, in my experience, it’s not something many real estate professionals know much about (or, at least, they don’t know they know).
Traditionally, most real estate marketing has been the opposite of inbound, or what’s known as “outbound marketing.”
Outbound marketing is made up of things most experienced Realtors® do know:
- “Open House” events
- “Cold calls” (or emails) or door knocking
- Radio and TV ads
- Local branding (including signs on athletic fields, benches, sides of buses, etc.)
- Local business networks (like BNI)
- Printed flyers
Simply put, marketing in an outbound fashion means putting your message and brand out there on more “fixed” channels in front of broad audiences who may or may not be interested in your service.
They could be just driving by, at a little league game showing support for their nephew, or waiting on a bus.
You don’t know if they need what you offer and - most importantly - have no way of knowing, so these methods tend to be ineffective, inconsistent, inefficient, and have a low return per marketing dollar spent.
Now, if you knew that everyone attending little Timmy’s baseball game was considering a new home or wanted to sell their current one, you’d kill it.
That’s kind of what inbound marketing is all about.
As you’d expect, inbound marketing is the reverse of outbound. It’s also much easier to know whether the people who see your marketing may be in the market for what you offer.
In short, this is what inbound is and why it’s the predominant form of marketing used across all industries today.
You identify the audiences most likely to be interested in what you offer and get in front of them where and when they look for specific help with answers to their questions or to communicate the benefits of working with you specifically to get what they want.
That means using content.
Lots of content that’s created especially for those audiences, and that’s tailored to where your potential clients are searching for specific solutions to their problems or needs.
Why you need quality content to get more buyer and seller clients.
Nowadays, inbound marketing means going digital on the web, mobile, social media, and search engines with content that’s:
- Helpful (e.g., answers questions. makes things more convenient, or helps make a decision)
- Value-added (e.g., explains something difficult in accessible ways, teaches a new way of doing something, or speeds up research)
- Exciting and engaging (with relevancy to specific topics)
- Very specific
- Easy to understand
- Consistent and “high quality”
Wherever your buyers and sellers go to find houses, learn about selling their homes, or educate themselves on real estate are places to put your content where it will be found by people looking for the information you’re providing.
When they find and consume your content, you’ve essentially just put an advertisement in front of an audience interested in what you do.
And that’s why inbound marketing is so valuable for your business. You’re fishing in a pond you know to be stocked with certain types of hungry fish.
It’s just up to you to use the right, tasty lure.
The kind and quality of the content you create to lure customers and get them to bite is critical.
More than just a “well-written” blog post, content that makes your inbound marketing efforts pay off can be:
- Website “copy” (i.e., the words you use)
- SEO keywords and configurations (e.g., site titles and meta descriptions)
- Website landing pages
- Social media posts
- Digital ad copy
- Videos and gifs
If you’ve been reading any news lately, you’ve probably heard that AI, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, can spit out all those things effortlessly.
If you’ve tried one of these tools, you also probably know that the content they crank out looks, reads, and sounds legit.
So legit that it seems like some kind of magic, but It’s not.
AI is like any other tool that makes a job possible, such as a scalpel, a paintbrush, or a fork; it must be used correctly and with the requisite skill to do its work well.
What makes quality content for real estate marketing?
When it comes to marketing content, anything you create, whether a blog or a Facebook post, must also be used with skill.
Or it simply won’t work.
You must regularly put out specific, helpful, and value-added content at the correct times and via the proper channels for the right audiences.
I know that sentence may seem a bit hard to understand, so here is a scenario as an example of one piece of content that checks all the boxes:
- This year, you set an objective of getting more home listing leads from your local community.
- You know of several subdivisions where residents tend to be over 55, and you’ve heard from your fellow agents that several people have sold their homes and moved to Florida retirement villages in the last year or so.
- It’s February, and Spring is around the corner. Hence, you get the idea to write a blog post on your website about setting your home up for maximum resale value without spending any money or doing anything very labor-intensive.
- You research the best subject for a highly engaging post and one that scores well with Google Search as far as keywords go, so it’s likely to get seen by anyone searching for how to prepare their home for sale.
- In the post, you include a button and a contact form, or as it’s called in the marketing world, a CTA, or “call to action,” that offers a free in-home consultation that includes personalized recommendations for preparing the home for sale, an estimate of what the home is likely to fetch on the market, and how long it will take to sell it.
- You publish the post to your website, then create several engaging social media posts that link to it for your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook followers.
- You create an email newsletter to all your former clients and leads who live in or near the subdivisions from which you want to get listing leads.
- You create more Facebook posts linked to the article that goes out to all the local social and community groups you’ve joined and ones that are relevant to your selected audience.
- You create Facebook digital ads set to run thru April that target people in the proper zip codes, the right age groups, and the behaviors you want, and you link those ads back to the blog post on your website.
In this simple scenario, you can see that content plays a significant role. You have a blog post, social media posts, web page copy, email newsletter, and digital ad copy.
This illustrates how much writing goes into putting your offer in front of the right audience via the proper channels and at the correct times.
Again, all successful inbound marketing efforts depend almost entirely on appropriate content.
Most importantly, note that preparation, planning, and strategy are the essential parts of this whole process, not so much the content itself.
And this is where AI may become your most indispensable marketing resource.
Using AI to create outstanding real estate marketing content
AI is new, and it’s hard to tell where it’s headed.
Right now, it’s best to avoid hyperbole and treat it like a time-saving, labor-reducing tool.
No matter how good AI gets at mimicking and “thinking” for us as humans, it will likely never be human.
Well, at least, I hope not. Please read this, then you’ll agree with me.
The hardest to duplicate parts of us as people that set us apart from something that can spit out pretty grammar in cohesive sentences are things like imagination, creativity, and our ability to do nuance.
What I mean by this is that it’s one thing to churn out an article about how to stage your home for sale on the cheap.
Still, it’s another thing altogether to come up with the idea of doing more real estate listings by targeting seniors sitting on lots of equity in their homes who may be sick of harsh winters.
As such, the best way to use AI in your content marketing is to ask these new tools to do things like:
- Write a 1500-word blog post about how to stage your home for sale without spending a lot of money or doing a lot of work
Once you have your text back, you can tweak it to add human “color” and speak more directly to the audience you are addressing in your specific market.
You might even look at the content AI spits out as a “first draft” that needs to be polished and, most importantly, “humanized.”
For example, you might add some humor centered around conditions in your area (or for your target audience) that might make a move to Florida more attractive, such as:
- The snowstorm we had last week here in Portland, Maine was the most brutal in a century; it even had the seals hiding under piers on the wharf!
- I just had my 50th birthday, and that snowstorm last week made me feel my age. My joints and bones creaked more than the ice outside!
- I dread Spring cleaning as much as the next guy, so much so that my wife has to bribe me with beer to declutter the garage.
Even just reading these simple suggestions, you get the idea. There are robots, then there’s us.
This approach also works on any other content you need in the marketing scenario I outlined above.
Whether it’s social media, emails, or web pages, AI can get you in the ballpark, but it takes a person to “hit the home run,” so to speak, and have your content resonate with people you want to engage with your brand.
That said, the initial work of getting your content to draft form can be automated and outsourced to AI’s various helper robots to give you more time to handle all the real-life stuff agents have to do in a given week.
You might even think of it as a fancy, techy potato peeler.
Helpful resources to try
The ChatGPT AI tool is all the rage right now, but it’s still raw from a convenience standpoint.
A set of specific tools for specific uses in a given industry is needed to make AI truly useful in much the same way as mobile apps evolved around phone platforms like IOS and Android,
Take blogging, for example. Furthermore, writing a real estate blog post.
To use ChatGPT now, there’s still the overhead of learning how to use the tool in your business - and getting good at using it.
New apps written to make using ChatGPT easier and more convenient in real estate, like ReallyBlogIt (https://reallyblogit.com), make it even more accessible for Realtors®.
The app uses the same OpenAI system that powers ChatGPT, but it packages it in a super-simple web app that lets you log in, pick some real estate topics you want to write about, get back suggestions for a blog post, then click to build an entire 1500-word blog post.
All you have to do is humanize it a bit, which you can do right in the web app.