With hundreds of potential commercial properties available at the click of a button, it's harder than ever for schemes to differentiate themselves from every other development in the market.
Fortunately, few seem to take advantage of online avenues and the number one way to set yourself apart on the web is by publishing content that out-performs that of your competitors.
In this guide, we'll offer some top tips on creating relevant content that will pique the interest of potential occupiers, as well as how to leverage these qualified leads and get them over the line and on the books.
Every user that goes online is in search of content and this is no different for prospective occupiers.
Content is also one of the biggest factors (and perhaps the easiest to influence) that Google, the de facto search engine, takes into account when determining where a website should rank for any given query. And since half of all website traffic is driven by search engines, it pays to court Google.
The search giant has published its own comprehensive guidelines on creating quality content, but the section I want to draw your attention to today reads:
"The key to creating a great website is to create the best possible experience for your audience with original and high quality content. If people find your site useful and unique, they may come back again or link to your content on their own websites. This can help attract more people to your site over time."
It goes on to note that one key aspect of quality content is that it goes above and beyond that of competitors':
"If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training."
When seeking to attract occupiers online, this therefore gives us two imperatives;
- Create content that's useful, informative and valuable to them
- Create content that out-performs that of competitors.
Step one: Who do you want to attract?
You know your prospective customers better than anyone, presumably having dealt with many face-to-face. However, it's all too easy to become side-tracked and lose sight of the goal, creating generic content that falls far short of the mark.
This is where profiling you audience comes in. While we've covered this in-depth elsewhere, persona development involves fleshing out archetypes of your ideal occupiers and using this as the basis of all your communications efforts – from the design of your website to the content you publish and even the language you use.
You can refer to our aforementioned guide for more detail on this, but one key element when planning out what content to publish online is the issues, challenges and pain points they're dealing with (and whether this extends to their sector as a whole).
You'll want to consider:
- Who within the business you want to engage with – who are the decision makers?
- What kind of pressures are they under?
- Do they need to impress their bosses or is cost-saving vital to the continued success of their business?
- Are they experiencing shortfalls and if so, what could the consequences of these be?
- How will what you're offering help them achieve their goals as a company?
- What external factors might they be unaware of that could impact on any of these areas?
Step two: Composing compelling content
Now you have some idea of what they want, it's time to plan out how to give it them.
Content is often used interchangeably with copy (i.e. words on a page), but in the age of ubiquitous mobile computing and high-speed internet connections flying through the air – it's more important to think outside the box and into the realms of multimedia, interactive and visual content than ever.
Blogs, however, tend to be a favoured form of content – simply due to their cost and relative time-effectiveness and this staple should serve you well as a start.
Before you put virtual pen to paper, you'll want to do some intelligence gathering on both your direct competitors and further afield. By finding out what they're offering, you can see what's been well received and what's gone unloved.
Look for tactics that you can emulate – or ideally, out-do – and consider what's not worked and why.
For instance, if they're not already involved in property, are they likely to be aware of the myriad issues that influence changing premises?
If not, then spend some time exploring the intricacies of contracts, business rates, fit-outs and any other common questions you face from prospects.
Don't be afraid to spin these out into multiple forms, explore specific issues to do with each in-depth and utilise different formats (e.g. video, visual, multimedia) to expand upon these ideas.
Step Three: Putting pen to paper
After you've planned out what you're going to create, you'll need to put some thought into how you're going to create it. While you're undoubtedly the experts on the subject, getting your team to put content together, on top of their day jobs, is a pretty big ask.
We've previously covered some of the best ways to outsource your content creation, but if you lack an in-house marketing team, it's well worth considering having a reputable firm do it for you.
Great content is built on the strength of collaboration, however, and even if you've outsourced the actual creation of your content, you'll want to make staff available to consult and collaborate on production when possible.
Step Four: Content Marketing
When it comes to content, it's far from a case of 'build it and they will come'. If you're doing things right, Google will 'index' (read) your new pages and look favourably on you for your regular updates, but you'll want to supplement this by actively targeting those you're seeking to attract.
We've previously put together an in-depth guide on how to go about this, but some key areas to look at include:
- Targeting prospects via social media
- Promoting key content on your homepage (and elsewhere on your site)
- Email marketing
- 'Gating' content behind data capture forms and acquiring information on leads
While the above is by no means exhaustive, it should offer some food for thought for agents looking to get one over on their competitors and attract prospective occupiers in new and innovative ways.
But if you've got any burning questions, or think we've missed anything major, be sure to leave us a comment or get in touch via Twitter.
And if you're looking to learn more about attracting prospects via content marketing, but aren't sure where to start – you won't want to miss our introductory guide, which you can download for free right now: