It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon and you just put the finishing touches on your latest real estate blog post. Six hours into the project and it’s ready for the masses. You post it on your website, promote it via social media, and email it to clients and friends.
Hours go by and there’s little action. One “like” on Facebook, a Twitter “retweet,” zero comments, no email replies. By Monday afternoon you begin to wonder if anyone saw the post. No reaction. Crickets!
What went wrong? The topic was on point. The writing was solid.
If you’re reading this article, chances are this scenario has happened to you. (Don’t worry, it happens to all of us.) There’s an art and a science to writing, packaging, promoting, and marketing (yes, marketing) blogs. Your blog is an extension of your business—your brand—and should be treated as such.
To help maximize the reach and engagement of your content, we’re launching a blog series, called “10 Simple Steps,” that will offer tips and advice on a range of important topics: writing, visuals, social media, search engine optimization, website design, content marketing, to name a few. This first installment offers 10 Simple Steps for increasing engagement on your blog:
1. Write captivating headlines. The headline is the front door into your blog. It’s also the most important piece of information for Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Your headlines must be catchy while also direct and fundamentally sound from a keyword and SEO standpoint.
When writing headlines, put yourself in the readers’ shoes. For example, as a homebuyer, which of the following headlines would you be more likely to click?
A. “5 Simple Mistakes That Cost Homebuyers $10,000 on Purchases: Real Estate Insider”
B. “Common Mistakes That Homebuyers Make”
Both headlines allude to the fact that the blog will offer advice for homebuyers. But headline “A” provides several hooks, including a defined list of tips, a feeling of exclusivity from an industry insider, a bold statement (save $10,000!), and a handful of critical keywords: homebuyer, real estate, mistakes, purchases.
Other tips for mastering headlines (source):
- Use strong language (get out your thesaurus!)
- Make the value clear to the reader
- Have fun with alliteration (“10 simple steps…” “5 forgotten fundamentals…”)
- Don’t be afraid to embellish—don’t oversell the value of your content, but don’t undersell it either
2. Include a call to action. Want potential clients to engage with your content? Why not just ask them to interact? Offer a free download of a white paper or helpful resource. Ask them to participate in a survey or provide feedback on a topic. Invite them to sign up for an event or subscription. Encourage them to enter a drawing.
3. Incorporate powerful visuals. If the headline is the front door into a blog post, then the visuals are the welcome mat. Compelling graphics—photos, charts, illustrations, videos, infographics—are absolutely critical to marketing your content. They will increase the chances of someone clicking into your blogs, and they will keep them engaged longer.
There’s a host of free and low-cost stock art and crowdsourced artwork websites, including Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, Flickr Creative Commons, and 123rf.com. Also, remember that your smartphone camera is more powerful than many mid-range digital cameras on the market. Get in the habit of taking photos of properties, design features, staging techniques, etc.
Important tip: commit to writing a caption for every visual in your blog posts. Readers scan the visuals first, so quality captions are your best avenue to draw them in.
4. Develop your “voice” as a writer. Readers are drawn to opinion, personality, and a conversational style. They want authenticity and exclusivity. They want to feel connected to you.
Developing your voice—your online persona—will ensure that your content stands out in the sea of blogs, articles, and information on the Web. Also, it’s vital to building a following online. Here are some tips for getting started (from a professional writer):
- Ask yourself when writing, “Is this how I talk?”
- Describe yourself in three adjectives
- Imagine your ideal reader
- Most importantly, have fun and be you!
5. Create an unforgettable user experience. Let’s face it. The vast majority of websites on the Internet are garbage. The text is difficult to read. The graphics are flat or too small. The designs are cluttered. And don’t even try to view them on a mobile device.
If you want your content to shine, think about user experience (UX) from soup to nuts—from how your website is listed on a Google search result, to your homepage design, to your blog page format.
Ask yourself: Would I click and read that? If the answer isn’t an overwhelming “yes,” then there are improvements to be made. WinningAgent is a good place to start. Check out their eye-catching, user-friendly WordPress themes for real estate professionals.
6. Be seen, and often. Just like a hit TV series, you will develop an audience incrementally, and your following will grow exponentially the more often you post. The vast majority of blogs fizzle out after a few months. Why? Because the author became “too busy” or simply lost interest.
To build a following of high engagers, you’ll need to post consistently. We recommend weekly, at a minimum. Pick a day and time, and lock it into your calendar. To help keep you on track, create an editorial calendar with topics and posting dates.
7. Utilize the “listicle” format. If you’ve been to Buzzfeed.com you know the listicle all too well: “11 Signs You Probably Definitely Need A Day Off,” “10 Brilliant Escape Plans In Case Of An Alien Invasion,” “20 Times ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Had Absolutely No Chill.” You get the point.
Buzzfeed’s editors know through experience (keep in mind that their livelihood depends on clicks) that when you place a number at the beginning of a headline, the click-through rate increases dramatically—as much as 30% or more. Why? Because the content is packaged in a scannable, easy-to-digest format. The New Yorker published a great piece on the psychology behind our love of lists.
8. Leverage the power of storytelling. Punch up your blog writing by including short, real-life stories and anecdotes that set the tone of the pieces. Your posts should exude your personality, experience, and market presence.
9. Deliver advice-driven content. Content marketing done right is when the content—blogs, articles, white papers, webinars—positions the author as a knowledge leader by educating the target audience.
The most effective path to becoming a thought leader in your market(s) is through advice-driven content. There is no shortage of topics: How to find the right mortgage broker. How to stage a home. Common mistakes new homebuyers make. How to file an appeal on your property taxes. I can go on and on.
10. Delve into the data. Which posts performed the best? Why? Which ones tanked? Why? Data analytics tools like Google Analytics will help you identify trends and patterns in how your readers interact with your blog. The goal: find out what they like the most and give them more of it.
In our next installment of the “10 Simple Steps” series, we’ll offer advice for increasing engagement on your social media channels. Until then, happy writing!