“We do not advertise on Zillow, Trulia or Homes.com,” said Rich Rosa, co-founder of Buyers Brokers Only, a Boston-based buyer’s agent firm. “I don’t think we have done any pay-per-click advertising in 2015, and we have done very little over the last few years.”
Despite declining to participate in one of the industry’s biggest lead generators, Buyers Brokers Only isn’t hurting for business. The company website receives 8,000 to 10,000 visitors every month, which is where the brokerage generates 80 percent of its agent leads. Rosa likes to write, blog or add something to the site every day.
The other 20 percent of leads come from Yelp and Angie’s List, two third-party websites where the company does advertise. “Angie’s List and Yelp tend to provide very good leads for us,” said Rosa. He said that his clients, many of them millennials, like to see reviews before they make a decision.
No PPC — really?
“It’s a business marketing decision,” Rosa said. “There’s nothing wrong with using pay-per-click advertising for great traffic — but once it’s used, it’s gone; that’s it.”
Instead, Rosa would prefer to focus on creating a blog post that different people are looking at for months afterward, he said. “From our perspective, building these sorts of business assets has long-term value to us rather than click-and-pay type of traffic.”
Rosa is speaking from some experience. Consumer traffic to the Buyers Brokers Only website has accelerated since the business started working with inbound marketing specialist HubSpot, a local company out of Cambridge.
“Once we started using HubSpot software, we have been much more diligent about creating content,” said Rosa. “Since we started with them a little over three years ago, we have probably tripled traffic to the website.”
Buyers Brokers Only uses HubSpot for the website, blog, landing pages, email marketing and marketing automation. Rosa said he also uses HubSpot software for search engine optimization.
What kind of content generates leads?
Content has to be useful, not an unwelcome interruption, said Rosa.
“We spend a great deal of time and resources on quality, consumer-centric content, not useless promotional materials,” he noted. “Our focus is on content marketing. That includes our blog, video, pages on our website, updates to existing pages, posts to social media and audio content.”
Rosa is constantly trying to drive subscriptions from website visitors to his blog, which currently has around 900 subscribers.
His company, which has recently grown to 25 agents spread around the Greater Boston Area and Southern New Hampshire, also issues press releases, and it sometimes pays for the extended distribution of those releases.
“We are always looking for opportunities to distribute content,” said Rosa, who can spend several hours a day writing.
The social media piece of the puzzle
Although Buyers Brokers Only participates in social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus — it’s just one tactic in its overall marketing strategy. Rosa said he does not spend a lot of resources trying to build an audience on any one social media platform.
“As a real estate broker, lawyer and marketer, I wouldn’t advise anyone to build their home on rented land. As many businesses found out when Facebook changed its algorithm for pages a while back, and many times since, social networks can change the rules anytime and in any way that they want.”
From law to real estate
Buyers Brokers Only co-founders, Rosa and David Kres, have run things their own way from the beginning — two attorneys setting up their real estate firm 10 years ago to represent buyers.
“With any company, it’s important to have a niche. Too many real estate people try to be all things to all people,” said Rosa.
The company has done close to $95 million in sales volume this year, around 200 buyer transactions — most of this in Greater Boston markets, with about $6 million in New Hampshire. The average price of each Buyers Brokers Only transaction is around $425,000.
Rosa and Kres have hired only licensed attorneys as their broker-agents, liking the attention to detail and interest in advocating on behalf of the buyer that lawyers bring to the table.
“Lawyers have good negotiating skills, and many of them have done real estate law,” added Rosa.
They also find that real estate is more enjoyable and less confrontational than legal practice, said Rosa, a former criminal defense lawyer.
“For first-time homebuyers, it’s very nice to have someone advocate for them,” he added.
The fact that the company works with buyers only, many of them purchasing their first home, makes its services easy to market, said Rosa. Being a buyer-only broker helps with creating the content and distributing the content, and it helps their audience discover the content, too, he said.
Educating its key market of first-time homebuyers, the company website is chock-full of guides for buyers wanting to learn more about the housing market. There are guides to buying homes, guides to buying condos, guides to taking on a mortgage and many others.
“Nearly every page on the website has a call to action, and every call to action leads to a dedicated landing page that offers potential homebuyers a piece of homebuying content,” said Rosa.
Rosa still looks after a list of clients, some of whom are coming back to the firm to buy their second home. His clients give him inspiration for his blog and articles, he said.
“They are a great source of ideas because they ask questions,” he said.
And the brokerage’s buyers tend to be people who want to be educated — many of them are engineers, software executives and scientists.
“Our clients come from professions where they have to think analytically for their job,” said Rosa. “They do a lot of research — that’s how they find out that there’s an alternative to the typical real estate firm, a firm that only represents buyers.”
The marketing enthusiast has heard that consumers who do research for buying a house are not closing on a deal until 400 or 450 days from the first time they engage with a real estate website.
“What we have been trying to do is make sure that we reach these people early on in the process, keep them informed and keep in touch with them, so when they are ready to go, we are top of mind,” said Rosa.
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