Integrated Content Marketing (Made Easy) for Real Estate Professionals

Today, email remains the most effective way of digitally marketing your services. It still beats social media and direct mail by a longshot. In this article you’ll learn why email marketing is important as well as get an overview of the different types of content you should be using in your email marketing.

Why It’s Important?

Reduces Costs

Email marketing greatly reduces marketing costs. The cost to reach a potential customer is very low compared to direct mail, which requires materials, production and postage. Email marketing does require the use of an email service provider. There are many such providers including Constant Contact, MailChimp, Aweber, and many others. These service providers help you manage your list of email addresses, sending emails in bulk, provide templates that you can use, and most include other options as well including social media integration.

Ease of Use

What other method of marketing allows you to reach your entire customer base with the click of an email? Through the user of an email marketing provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact you can write your email once, schedule it, and have the service provider sent out the email to all your subscribers at once.

Email service providers make the job of email marketing easier by providing functionality such as a database for storing your contacts, web and mobile HTML templates for your email communications, sending of email to your entire list or a segment of your list, automated unsubscribe, and the ability to group or segment your list.

Customer Communication

Email allows you to quickly and easily communicate with your audience, drive traffic to your website, develop loyalty, increase brand awareness, and gain referrals.

 

6 Types of Email Content

 

Real estate professionals should constantly strive to add fresh, new content to email marketing campaigns. Many of us fall into a rut of sending out the same old boring content over and over. Not that there is anything wrong with letting your email subscribers know all about your current listings.

That certainly has a place in any email campaign, but your readers want and expect more from you. And I’m not talking about providing buyer and seller checklists, tips for selling your home, and other articles that we’ve all seen a million times. Guess who reads those? That’s right — no one. Don’t waste your time writing these, because no one is going to waste time reading them.

There are many different types of content that can be integrated into your overall email marketing strategy. You should not think of these content types in isolation but rather as individual components that are combined into an overall strategy. In this article we’ll give you a high level overview of the basic content types that can be used in real estate email marketing.

It’s really difficult to separate email marketing from your overall content marketing strategy including the obvious need for a website. And you shouldn’t separate them. You want to create an integrated content marketing strategy with email marketing playing a central role. Your email should be directing readers to your website so they can consume your great content, and in turn the great content on your website should attract many new readers (and potential clients). Ultimately you want the great content on your website to trigger a desire on the part of the reader to register for your email newsletter.

Here, then, are six basic content types that every real estate professional should be using in email marketing efforts. There are many email marketing providers but they should all be able to support all of these content types.

Blog Posts

Your blog posts will be the primary way that you generate content. Blog posts can contain many different types of content including articles about local events, restaurants, shopping, schools, and other local information. And yes, your property listings will play a big role as well. You should also include market reports and neighborhood tours as well as property tours. Tours are a great way to introduce video to your site. Other blog posts include curated content and graphic visualizations. Portions of these blog posts can be placed into your email newsletter along with links to the full article on your website. Again, you want to use the email to funnel readers to your website. The Your Berkeley site provides a great example of how to provide fresh content that can also be integrated into an email newsletter.

Video

Video is becoming more and more widespread and important. In real estate visualization is extremely important and video is the best way to visualize a property without actually being at the physical location. Video allows potential buyers to sort through potential properties without physically visiting each location. It is a more efficient way of searching for properties from a buyers point of view and saves you time as well. You should plan on using a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo to host your videos. Using a video sharing site increases the potential viewership of your videos so that search engines can organically display your videos in search results.

Also keep an eye on the drone (UAV) video space. As of the writing of this article we are still awaiting FAA guidelines on how drones can be used for real estate marketing. However, drones have the potential to revolutionize how video is used for marketing various properties. It has particular significance for high properties and large acreage properties.

There are also many apps that you can use to record high quality video. I recently wrote about the Hyperlapse application and its potential to add unique video capabilities for marketing properties.

Audio

Audio is sometimes neglected in content marketing efforts but don’t overlook this opportunity to provide great content. However, audio is not for everyone. Some people are not comfortable with this medium, don’t like to hear their own voice, or simply don’t know what to talk about. With a little practice though most people can become reasonably comfortable and effective with this content medium. Podcasting has become extremely popular and is a great way to attract attention to your website and social media channels. You could interview local or industry experts, talk about important topics or simply record question/answer sessions.

Graphic Visualization

Graphic visualization is a diverse and exploding content type. This can include many types of visualization including maps, infographics, charts and graphs, and photos. These provide unique, highly visual content that people really enjoy. These content types require specific software and expertise to create but are highly effective in generating traffic.

Reports

Buyers and sellers want information about their homes and the areas where they live. In particular, sellers want to know how much their house is worth and buyers want to the general trends in an area. Your reports should ideally be generated and shared on a monthly basis and should contain information such as active listings, recently sold properties as well as market trends.

Social Media

You shouldn’t consider email and social media to be isolated activities, but rather different channels that should be integrated into an overall plan. Today, email remains the most effective way to digitally market to your customers. While social media gets all the attention, it is not as effective as email. That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, but you really need to combine the channels to take full advantage of everything they provide. The question is how? Most email marketing providers are fast becoming integrated solutions providing functionality that allows you to embed social media follow and share buttons into your emails as well as automatically send notifications to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels. The integration capabilities of providers will vary widely so you’ll need to do your research in this area.

 

In Conclusion

 

Today there is no excuse for not providing your email subscribers with fresh, compelling content. A wide variety of content types supported by easy to use technologies make it easy to attract and keep readers.

 

About the Author

 

Eric is an approved LANDU Instructor for RLI. He is the founder and owner of the GeoSpatial Training Services and has over 20 years experience teaching GIS solutions and other technology. You can learn more about this topic in his company’s upcoming Getting Started with Email Marketing for Real Estate Professionals Course offered by Location3x.

16 Ways to Use a RLI Membership in 2016

There’s no doubt 2016 will bring new challenges and new opportunities to land professionals. From legislative changes to shifting industry trends, land professionals will need to be prepared to adjust and adapt in the New Year. Institute members can take advantage of the Institute’s many member benefits to help them reach their professional potential. Here are 16 of the best ways to use a REALTORS® Land Institute Membership in 2016:

  1. Take advantage of member rates with savings of up to $150 on all LANDU courses.
  2. Join the nearest RLI Chapter to start networking and learning locally.
  3. Post and search property listings on TheLandConnections.com at no cost.
  4. Network and learn at the 2016 National Land Conference: THE BEST STOP HERE!
  5. Take advantage of discounts on industry services with the Member Advantage Program (MAP).
  6. Read Institute communications to stay current with industry news, trends and more.
  7. Use the Find A Land Consultant tool to find other members and ALCs near you.
  8. Join a Committee and help write the Institute’s history and build its future.
  9. Showcase your properties during a Let’s Make Deal$ remote marketing session.
  10. Email your properties to other members with the Institute’s e-Properties platform.
  11. Attend the 2016 LANDU Education Week plus in Little Rock, AR, at a discounted rate.
  12. Enhance your marketing with the Member Marketing Kit.
  13. Network with ALC Allies to learn how to achieve the designation and make the most of Institute benefits.
  14. Connect with the Institute on its social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  15. Contribute a piece to the Institute Blog and share it to promote yourself.
  16. View white papers written on the hottest industry topics by RLI members and ALCs at no charge.

For more information on any of these benefits, please contact Institute Staff at 800.441.5263 or rli@realtors.org.

Happy New Year!!

REALTORS Land Institute 1031 Exchanges

An Alternative to the 1031 Like-Kind Tax Exchange

It was a brutally cold, windy and overcast morning in the Dakotas Territory. The year was 1871. Every living creature exhaling air was immediately turned into vapor from the freezing temperatures. We were soldiers in the 7th United States Calvary Regiment and this particular morning, we were not singing “Garyowens”. Thousands of settlers were flocking to the territory and our job was to protect them. At this moment, many of the settlers were being threatened by the bad guys and we were preparing to ride to their rescue.

Commanding F Company was the American icon Capt. John Wayne. His Second in Command was WWII hero Lt. James Stewart. Work with me here. We were divided into two wings. One the left wing, 1st Squad was manned by the great Virginian Sgt. Randolph Scott and 2nd Squad was led by the incomparable Sgt. Errol Flynn.

The right wing was led by the 3rd Squad’s fearless Sargent Glenn Ford, who later helped defeat the Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway, and the 4th Squad was led by Yours Truly right out of “The Point.” Again, work with me. The battle lines were drawn and we were ready for action. Captain Wayne gave the order and the bugler belted out the Calvary charge. The horses leaped into action, our swords at the ready and at that very moment….my alarm went off and it was a Wednesday morning in 2015. Another missed opportunity to ride to the rescue. Or was it?

Scrutiny Looms Over Section 1031s

Section 1031 is beginning to receive scrutiny by Congress and that’s probably not a good thing. All of the appropriate organizations including the Institute are lobbying Congress to leave 1031 exchanges alone–and for all the right reasons. But this is Congress, and that means that this will probably become a huge political football. I have no inside information but based on being in practice since the late 70s, my gut feeling is that 1031 exchanges will be modified to some extent. Perhaps, the first 500k in capital gains can be passed on to a new replacement property or something along those lines may be the final result.

Can You Help Your Clients Without Using 1031s? Yes!

So, assuming that Section 1031 is changed in some fashion, how can Institute members ride to the rescue to still help their clients defer capital gains taxes, state taxes where applicable, depreciation recapture, the Obama care tax and possibly the alternative minimum tax when selling a clients’ property. Actually, there are options now and you don’t even need a 1031 to defer taxes. Let’s turn a negative into a positive.

Imagine not having to deal with a forty-five day identification time limitation or loan to value ratios. What if you could sell a client’s great property now, defer taxes and at any time in the future, you can buy any property that you would like for your client AND while you are looking for that property, your client can receive a check every month for roughly five to six percent of the sales proceeds while those proceeds are still tax deferred. Do you think that this might give you a competitive advantage over other brokers that are unable to provide this opportunity?

Imagine working and taking constant risks for thirty or forty years or more and when you’re finally ready to retire, you have to write a check for twenty-five to thirty percent of your liquid assets to the US Treasury before you can retire. Well, fortunately you don’t have to but when selling your clients properties, they do have to write a check to the US Treasury for twenty-five to thirty percent of their sales proceeds and for many, that’s THEIR retirement plan. You can still defer those taxes for your clients and keep more of their hard earned sales proceeds in their pocket and send less to Washington, even if a 1031 isn’t appropriate. Do you think that this might give you a competitive advantage over other brokers that are unable to provide this opportunity?

Another tax deferral strategy that might face Congressional scrutiny in the future is the stepped up basis. I have met a number of older land owners who intend to pass their property on to their heirs instead of selling their property because of the large tax liability that the sale will create, and because a 1031 isn’t appropriate. That’s not necessarily a bad strategy unless you make a living selling real estate.  If you do sell real estate, it is possible for the land owner to sell their property and defer taxes and turn an illiquid asset into a lifetime retirement income. When the land owner passes on, the income can be passed on to the heirs. And you just sold a great property.

The great thing about the REALTORS® Land Institute is the sharing of ideas and strategies and that’s why Institute members and Accredited Land Consultants (ALCs) tend to be more successful and have higher incomes than non-members I certainly hope that Congress doesn’t make changes to Section 1031 but if they do, we can still ride to the rescue of our clients without having to be John Wayne or….even me. Let’s turn a potential negative into a positive today by recognizing there are other ways to defer our clients’ taxes than a 1031. You will sell more real estate and keep more of your clients’ hard earned sales proceeds in their pockets and sending less to Washington. Happy selling and deferring taxes!

David Fisher, Creative Real Estate Strategies

David is a Partner at Creative Real Estate Strategies, a 2015 Silver Partner of the Institute, and has been in the industry since the late 70s. His years of experience help him to assist land brokers in helping their clients defer capital gains tax, state tax and depreciation recapture taxes on their client’s sales proceeds when either their clients are unable to complete their 1031 or the client would like to sell and retire but still defer taxes. By understanding these tax deferral strategies, brokers have been able to sell more real estate. David can be reached at 713-702-6401 or at David@cresknowsrealestate.com

Agricultural Land Marketing Basics

We as agricultural professionals know how hard we work to find buyers and sellers of land. We spend years of hard work to build our clientele and our reputation. Marketing a property correctly and in a timely manner is paramount to selling the property. Getting the listing is just the first step in the process of selling the property. There is still much work to do. I am sure that most of us are already marketing our properties in an informative, professional manner, but we can all improve our marketing efforts.

Most medium to large brokerage firms have an in-house marketing department which handles flyers, mailers, websites, etc. Other smaller firms may use an outside marketing company. The first step as the listing agent is to get all the pertinent information to the marketing team in a timely manner. This information should include: The full address of the property, GPS coordinates, acreage, photos, aerials, the property description, property highlights, improvements, soils and topo maps, production records / yields, well information, location maps, zoning, permitting, future land use, and demographics. Multiple location maps should be used, as many buyers may live out of state or out of the country and need detailed information to understand the property location.

The completed flyer or brochure and any other pertinent information should then be posted on the company website. After this, the flyer is emailed to recipients in the company database. The recipients should be filtered based on his or her property interests. For example, if the subject property is a citrus grove, the email blast should be sent only to people interested in citrus groves. People tend to trash these emails or even block a sender who constantly sends information that is not relevant to his or her wants and needs.

The next step is to post the flyer and all pertinent information on the various real estate marketing websites. These may include MLS, LoopNet, Land Flip, Total Commercial, and Lands of America, just to name a few. You should make sure to have any additional pertinent information posted on these websites. There is plenty of room to add additional information such as detailed soils map, location maps, demographics, etc. The greater the amount of information, the better. In many cases, we are dealing with very sophisticated buyers. They need all the information they can get to make an informed decision. It is very frustrating when the only information provided is a plat map and a brief description of the property. We are professionals and should market our properties in a professional manner.

Sometimes, you have to get creative with property marketing. There are a few other methods which could prove effective or even critical. Some people, believe it or not, don’t have an email address. In this case, direct mail might be called upon to reach the buyer, whether through personal letters or postcards. There are various trade magazines and newspapers in which to advertise as well. Lastly, let’s not forget the old phone, whether a cell phone or land line. We must keep in touch with our buyers and alert them when we have new listings that might interest them.

I hope this article was helpful and informative. Good luck marketing your properties!

Fortenberry, ChipChip Fortenberry, ALC, MBA

When A Crop Kicks You in the Gut

I went to work on August 12th with a lengthy to-do list. I knew it was going to be a busy day and an especially interesting lunch hour. Like most of us involved in farm management and agricultural real estate, I was eager to hear the USDA Crop Report. In today’s fast-moving world, that report can affect the market strongly and swiftly.

All bets are off with USDA reports; I have been around long enough to know that. That said, I was trending towards the camp that was expecting bullish news. I am not sure where you sit while reading this, but in Central Illinois, I don’t see an enormous crop. I see a crop that struggled with record rainfall in June and in some instances, never even got off the ground. With that in mind, I had gone through every farm management account the previous day and gotten figures and delivery dates all lined up for some additional crop sales. I was ready! I just needed the report to be released. Then, the report came out…
The USDA raised the corn yield 2 bushels per acre and beans 1.5 bushels per acre. Immediately, corn was down 20 and beans down 60. In an instant, it sent producers and managers scrambling for answers and looking for “next steps”. It should be said that the USDA doesn’t necessarily do a thorough inspection of the crop, and in their defense that is probably an impossible task. Regardless, they put large projections–and in some cases, historic projections–on the states in the Western Corn Belt that have supposedly had more favorable weather. Whether ag experts think the USDA projection is off-base or not, the fact remains that the market trades off of these numbers and until there is new data or an unforeseen outside influence, this is what we have to work with.
cornfield
It is uncertain whether anything can spark substantial movement until farmers hit the fields. Only when grain crosses the scales will we know what crop we have. Until then, estimates are just educated and calculated “guesses”. Some theorized that FSA preventive planting numbers released on August 17th could’ve provided a bounce. Although there were over 2 million acres prevented from being planted in Missouri and Illinois, the 17th came and went without much movement. Extenuating circumstances abroad could move the pre-harvest market, but that is often harder to project than the crop itself. China’s currency devaluation was the buzz during the week of August 10th. Oil hitting a six-year low on Monday, August 17th is the chatter right now. What remains to be seen is whether any of these outside factors can substantially alter commodities in the interim. If we had gotten a hot dry-spell in August, that could’ve swung the pendulum…but that was a big if.
Perhaps the Pro Farmer crop tour will enlighten traders on what to expect. This annual tour encompasses teams from Pro Farmer scouring the entire Corn Belt with in-depth analysis. The USDA fails to get up close and personal. This crop tour has legitimate boots on the ground with plant population numbers, ear size measurements and ultimately provides yield checks on a multi-state level.
At the end of the day, the report came out and kicked the “Bulls” and optimists in the gut. We very well could be in line for some choppy trading during the next month. Perhaps an outside event or development could form, but I personally wouldn’t bet on it. Treading water until harvest is well-underway is our most likely immediate future. Harvest season is always exciting and often provides a few surprises. Until then, we can wish together that we pulled the trigger on sales the days leading up to August 12th.
Luke Worrell, ALCContributor Luke Worrell, ALC, Worrell Land Services
Luke Worrell is a Broker, Accredited Land Consultant and Accredited Farm Manager in Jacksonville, IL.  He specializes in agricultural real estate and land management in west central IL.  Luke enjoys all things sports and traveling.  He resides in Springfield, IL with his wife Allison and son Kale.

Section 1031 Exchanges are Important to a Healthy Economy

Over the past two years there have been numerous proposals to restrict or eliminate I.R.C. §1031 tax deferred exchanges. These proposals are based on misunderstandings about §1031 and do not account for the powerful stimulus impact that §1031 exchanges have on the US economy. This article will debunk a few of those myths and discuss the findings of a couple of recently released studies that quantify just how important §1031 exchanges are to a healthy US economy.

Myth: Section 1031 allows taxpayers to avoid capital gains taxes, and to defer gain indefinitely.

Truth: Under §1031, taxes are deferred—not eliminated. Section 1031 exchanges structured under the IRS regulatory safe harbors are neither tax savings vehicles nor “abusive tax avoidance schemes.” Payment of tax occurs: 1) upon sale of the replacement asset and 2) incrementally, through increased income tax due to reduced depreciation deductions. A recently conducted study entitled “The Economic Impact of Repealing or Limiting Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges in Real Estate” conducted by Professors David Ling and Milena Petrova (“Ling & Petrova Study”) examined more than 1.6 million commercial real estate transactions between 1997 and 2014. It found that nearly eighty-eight percent of properties acquired in a 1031 exchange were ultimately sold in a taxable sale, rather than a subsequent exchange.

Myth: The absence of a precise definition of “like-kind” is administratively difficult for the IRS and creates the opportunity for abuse.

Truth: The definition of “like-kind” is well understood, §1031 is neither administratively difficult nor abusive. Like-kind exchanges facilitated by professional Qualified Intermediaries, and conducted within the regulatory safe harbors, are straight-forward transactions that follow a well-understood set of rules (including definitions), procedures and documents.

Myth: Like-kind exchanges are used only by the wealthy.

Truth: Like-kind exchanges are used by a broad spectrum of taxpayers at all levels.Section 1031 is fair, benefitting taxpayers of all sizes, in all lines of business, including individuals, partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations. A 2011 industry survey concluded that sixty percent of exchanges involved properties worth less than one million dollars, and more than a third were worth less than five-hundred thousand dollars. Exchanged properties include real estate, construction and agricultural equipment, railcars, vehicles, ships and other investment and business-use assets.

Myth: Elimination of §1031 like-kind exchanges will raise significant revenue.

Truth: Elimination of §1031 would result in a long-term reduction in Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) of the US. Section 1031 is a powerful economic stimulator, encouraging investment in small and medium sized growing businesses, thereby promoting US job growth. Section 1031 exchanges contribute to the velocity of the economy by stimulating a broad spectrum of transactions ancillary to the actual exchange which, in turn, generate jobs and taxable income through business profits, wages, commissions, insurance premiums, financial services, and discretionary spending by gainfully employed workers. This transactional activity raises state, local and federal tax revenue through transfer, sales and use taxes and increased property taxes.

Ernst & Young recently released a macro-economic study, Economic Impact of Repealing Like-Kind Exchange Rules, that found that the U.S. economy would contract by approximately $61 – $131 billion over ten years if §1031 was eliminated.

Other key findings of the Ernst & Young and Ling & Petrova studies included:

Like-kind exchanges encourage capital investment. On average, taxpayers purchased replacement property that was approximately thirty-three percent more valuable than their relinquished property;

Elimination would increase the cost of capital and slow the velocity of investment;

Like-kind exchanges contribute significant federal tax revenue. Thirty-four percent of exchanges were only partially tax deferred; some federal tax was paid in the year of the exchange. Additionally, eighty-eight percent of replacement properties are eventually sold in taxable sales rather than in a subsequent exchange, resulting in higher taxes paid due to increased capital investment. Elimination would result in less federal revenue.

Like-kind exchanges create jobs. Real estate acquired through a like-kind exchange is associated with greater investment and capital expenditures (job creating property improvements) than properties acquired without the use of a like-kind exchange.

Elimination of §1031 would impact the overall economy, with an unfair concentration in certain industries including real estate, construction and equipment manufacturing and leasing.

The complete Ernst & Young and Ling & Petrova studies can be found at:http://www.ipx1031.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/EY-1031-Economic-Study-3-2015.pdf and http://www.ipx1031.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Ling-Petrova-Economic-Impact-of-Repealing-or-Limiting-Section-1031.pdf.

Both studies quantify that like-kind exchanges are important to a healthy economy. They increase transactional activity, provide an incentive to improve properties and increase investment in the US. Make sure your elected representatives know the facts. Click hereto send them a letter telling them that §1031 is important to you and your livelihood.

Assistant General Counsel for IPX1031®

Contributor James Miller, Assistant General Counsel, IPX1031®

Jim Miller is the Assistant General Counsel for IPX1031® a Qualified Intermediary, a national leader in §1031 tax-deferred exchange transactions and a wholly owned subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial. He is an approved LANDU instructor for the “Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges” course, “Advanced Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges for Land Professionals” course and helped author the ALC Exam and the “ALC Core Course Manual.” Miller can be reached at 602-850-8630 or at james.miller@ipx1031.com. To reach your closest IPX1031® office, call 888-771-1031 or visit www.ipx1031.com.

This piece was published in the 2016 Fall Terra Firma publication.