The digital marketing guide for real estate businesses in Zimbabwe.

The thought of growing your real estate business with the current economic climate in Zimbabwe is an exciting prospect. However, the macroeconomic variables make the prospect appear unrealistic.

Most realtors suffered huge revenue drops following the enactment of SI 142 in June last 2019, which effectively made the Zimbabwe Dollar the sole legal tender. The COVID-19 pandemic added salt to injury. And most businesses in the property sector are counting their losses.

However, you can grow your real estate business in Zimbabwe using online tools.Your business can tap into a wider market of international investors and buyers despite the policy inconsistencies and an unfavorable economic climate.

Here's our guide to help you build a successful real estate business online.

Reaching out to the diaspora market

Most real estate business owners in Zimbabwe desire to reach out to the diaspora market but do not know how to do it. If you're in the same boat, do not despair. Courtesy of the internet, you can reach out to just about anyone under the sun.

Tapping into the Zimbabwean diaspora market is one way out of the local policy and economic uncertainties. But, to achieve this, you have to get your business online. To do that a new marketing skill is necessary, it's called digital marketing. Digital marketing helps you capture the attention of your desired market niche online. In this guide, we talk about how you can get started with digital marketing for your business.

Understand your business process

Over the years, your routine to finding new business might have been limited to checking property notice boards around the city, following the newspaper classifieds sections, or more recently by checking property24. The fact that you are still in business shows that this formula works. However, your business has the potential to scale or grow beyond its average monthly earnings.

Globally, real estate businesses use a tried and tested business process that enables them to grow.

The United States Small Business Administration advises that businesses should set aside 7 to 8 percent of their gross revenue to marketing and this enables them to scale.

For any real estate business to grow, marketing is critical. Your investment in marketing determines how much of your business goals you will achieve. It is through marketing that sales leads are generated and qualified. Once qualified, leads flow through your sales funnel. You can then set appointments with the leads that you feel you have a high chance of sealing deals with.

Sadly, many Zimbabwean real estate agencies do not have absolute control of their marketing efforts, hence the suffocated growth of their businesses. The processes outlined in this guide will help solve that problem.

Setting online marketing goals for real estate businesses

The first rule as with everything else is to set out goals. Of course, goal setting may now sound much like a cliché. But, you would not set out on a journey without knowing the destination. It's important to set SMART goals for your digital marketing efforts to yield results. Failure to set clear goals can result in painful losses. But if done right, digital marketing can be richly rewarding.

Your online marketing goals should be integrated into your overall marketing goals. Inturn, your marketing goals help you achieve the overall business goals.

If your company is just starting the digital marketing game or hasn’t had much luck in it so far, here are some goals you can set and the specific order you have to pursue them.
  1. Brand awareness:
    Brand awareness means getting the word out there. No one can do business with a company they don't know exists. Brand awareness gets your target clients to know you're there. Establishing brand awareness is valuable when marketing and promoting your company and products, especially in the early stages of your digital marketing.

  2. Lead Generation:
    Lead generation is the process of gathering people that can be potential clients for your business. A well-done lead generation campaign will bring you highly qualified leads, not tire-kickers.

  3. Engagement:
    Not everyone buys from you immediately after hearing or reading about you. Since your potential clients are at different stages of the property buying or selling process, you need to engage them in ways that keep your business on top of their minds. This can be done by producing content that is not only suitable but also valuable for buyers and sellers at different stages of their journey.

  4. Establishing thought leadership:
    Somewhere up the digital marketing process, you'll need to establish your business as industry leaders. Thought leadership is a tactic you need to use to become recognized as an expert and a go-to resource in your city or town. If your business prospects keep getting market insights from your competition, it would be no surprise if your competitors are the ones that close the deals.

Define your ideal clients (Buyer Personas)

It is said, when you sell to everyone, you are selling to no one. Imagine only engaging with your ideal clients all year round. This doesn't have to be a dream. With digital marketing, your real estate business can do just that. First, though, you have to clarify who your ideal client is.

Your target market is a group of people defined by certain demographics and psychographics. Targeting a specific market niche helps you to specify your message and appeal to your ideal clients. The more you show you can help your target niche solve their problems, the more they're likely to come and do business with you.

Gather as much information about your ideal clients as you can. Then use that information to create what is called a Buyer Persona. A Buyer Persona is a definition or representation of what you call the ideal client. Depending on your niche, your business can have several buyer personas. These buyer personas guide the decisions you make when crafting your marketing campaign. Creating personas will help you know, whom you are talking to, when to talk to them, where to find them, and what to talk to them about.

Know your competition

Knowing your competition and what they're not doing well can help you know what you can do better to outshine them.

Build trust with your website and emails

Once your marketing goals are in place, and you know who your ideal clients are, you'll need a platform to interact with them. That platform is your website.

Some real estate agencies in Zimbabwe are content with having a page on property24, or property.co.zw. However, the challenge of depending on shared platforms is that you won't have control over what the visitors can or cannot do on the website. Also, the creators of the platforms do not know your business goals. Hence, if visitors do not find what they're looking for on the page, they may well be redirected to your competitors.

Further, a website helps your business look professional, trustworthy, and reliable. Every Realtor knows the importance of trust in the real estate business. That’s why it is prudent to showcase properties on an online platform you own and control.That platform is your website.

Read more on our Blog; Why now is the best time to have a website.

Some real estate agents get websites but maintain their Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail email addresses. This makes them appear to be fly-by-night, dubious, and at worst untrustworthy. Most web designers in Zimbabwe offer free personalized emails when they design a website for you. Using personalized emails enhances your business' online reputation especially when dealing with international clients.

Read more on our Blog; Why your business needs personalized emails.

Build trust with your website and emails

The COVID-19 pandemic will probably make it difficult for buyers to access sellers' homes. But it doesn't mean people won't want to buy or sell properties. On the contrary, many realtors are expecting a boom in the Zimbabwean real estate industry as more people in the diaspora now want to invest back home.

It is expected that lockdowns may be the new normal for the foreseeable future. If this is true, few sellers will welcome strangers into their homes. Your business might be affected adversely if your potential clients do not have a way of viewing properties. For success beyond 2020, your website will need to provide interactive ways of engaging your potential buyers. Exciting drone shots, interactive walkthroughs, and other video content are the way of the future for real estate businesses going forward.

This can also be achieved using social media. You can do Facebook live video tours of new homes on the market. The beauty of it is that if your prospects fail to tune in during the live feed, the video will live on your wall. The same video can also be posted on your website for visitors to watch at whatever time is convenient for them.

Start Blogging

Google rewards websites that produce valuable content that many people want by ranking them higher in search engine results. Therefore, the news or blog section of your website should have regular, relevant, and well-researched content that is very useful to your target audience.

So, create high quality and valuable content, particularly for property buyers, sellers, and investors in the diaspora. When the diaspora market regularly read valuable content that you share, they begin to develop an affinity for your business. Not only does this help your audience, but it also presents your business as leaders in the Zimbabwean real estate industry.

If you need help polish up your blogging skills, Hubspot has a free content marketing course that can help you blog better.

After going through the course you will notice that the golden rule in content marketing is, Give, Give, Give, Give, and then Ask.’ This essentially means that you need to blog valuable content that your audience finds useful for a long time before you can start asking them to buy from you.

However, always make sure that somewhere in the content you produce there is a way to collect their emails. You then conveniently use the emails to follow up on your prospects(leads).

Email your Leads

Keeping in touch with your prospects can do a lot to show how keen you are on helping them out. Sending them emails with links to your recent blog articles, video walkthroughs, and recent listings will remind them that your real estate company is the authority within your niche, town, or sector. That said, every email should have a goal or the desired action (Call To Action) that helps you bring home the deal.

Be on Social Media

In marketing, the objective is staying top of your clients' minds, and social media is the key to success. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow you to engage with your market. The information you gather while identifying your target audience helps you to know the social media channels you can use to find them. For example, if you want to connect with Zimbabweans in the diaspora, Facebook has a lot of groups of Zimbabweans living in the diaspora. Joining these groups and engaging with the people there, can help you identify their pain points and the information they regard valuable when buying or disposing of properties.

You could also do other simple things that can give you marketing mileage like, congratulating new homeowners on social media. It makes them feel amazing and gives you a chance to showcase how you’re changing peoples’ lives, making the home buying or selling process exciting.

Organic is Dead, Use Paid Advertising

Social media channels like Facebook have changed their algorithms to make it hard for businesses to reach more people for free. We can't blame them, they too are in business. Therefore you may need to set aside a budget for advertising on whatever social media channel you choose to use.

Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

If you set SMART goals, then at some point you may need to measure how you are doing. Because, 'if you can't measure it, you can't improve it'. The best way to see how your digital media campaign is doing is to measure your total sales.

Employ a digital marketer

Most real estate businesses in Zimbabwe employ qualified property negotiators. Nonetheless, they do not have someone who is solely responsible for tapping into the online market and engaging with business prospects on social media. You have two options. You can either hire the services of a social media management agency or employ a full-time digital marketer. Regardless of your choice, taking your business online now can determine the success or failure of your business beyond 2020.
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