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Land Broker SEO 101 : How to Optimize a Web Page like a Pro

Land broker SEO (Search engine optimization) is not rocket science but it’s not a walk in the park either. It requires constant monitoring, lots of leg work, and keeping up with current trends among others.

This land broker SEO 101 article will cover optimizing just one page of your site. After reading and applying what you’ll learn in this article your page will have a better chance in appearing on Google search results.

For the sake of this article we will be optimizing the homepage of RanchmanProperties.com, a brokerage website offering ranch properties for sale in and near Denton, Texas.

Selecting your Keywords

Probably the most important step in optimizing a page is choosing the right keyword. Optimizing for the wrong keyword could lead to low conversions or low traffic and thus wasted effort.
Before proceeding to the actual keyword research, have a list of “common sense” keywords that would act as your starting point. Below are some pointers on creating this list:

Avoid industry jargon/lingo. You may know what valuation means but your potential client may not.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask yourself: what would I search for if I am looking for properties in my area?
Avoid keywords that are too broad and focus on keywords that are specific to your land brokerage, listing types, and geographic area. For example, it’s tempting to target “texas ranches for sale” however it may be better to target “austin texas ranches for sale”.

Applying this to our sample page, the common sense keywords we have now are:

  • Denton ranches
  • Denton ranches for sale
  • Ranches for sale in Denton
  • Ranches in Denton

Once you have your initial list of keywords ready, it’s time to find out if people are actually searching for them and what the competition looks like.

For this step there are a number of tools you can use such as SEMRush and Moz, both offer free limited use but are ultimately paid.

Another much more accessible option is Google Ads’ Keyword Planner. You need to have a Google Ads account to use it though (you don’t have to be an actual paying advertiser to have an account) but you can use it as many times as you want.

Inside Keyword Planner, choose “Find new keywords” and enter the keywords in your list:

The next page will be a list of not only your seed keywords but also related keywords along with their monthly search volume and competition level. You can export the list or just work on it from the planner.

From here you can now choose the best keywords for your page. The keywords you would want to consider are those with high (or decent enough) search volume and low competition.

However you should also put into heavy consideration the relevance of the keyword to your land brokerage web page. For example we won’t choose “horse property for sale in denton texas” since this particular page does not offer horse properties.

With all of that we finally have the following keywords:

  • Denton ranches
  • Denton ranches for sale
  • ranches in denton

A page should be optimize for one to three keywords at most. As much as possible, the keywords should be as closely related to one another as possible. This land broker SEO 101, we’d recommend optimizing a web page for just one keyword.

Optimizing your Page Title

Land Broker SEO 101A Page Title is one of the most influential on-page SEO factors that you can control directly. It essentially tells search engines the topic of a page, thus it is vital to mention your keyword phrase here.

The Page Title will also appear in search results along with a description of your page making it important for it to be written to entice click-throughs as well.

With those in mind, the following are best practices when creating your Page Title:

  • Don’t spam your Page Title with keywords. The main or primary keyword is what is important, and there would be more opportunities to optimize for other keywords later.
  • Make it sound natural. This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. The more spammy your Page Title is the more unnatural it will sound and look especially on search result pages
  • Aim for 60 to 65 characters (with spaces) to maximize space in search results
  • Do away with branding if needed

Here now is our Page Title:

Denton Ranches for Sale – Ranchman Properties – Keller Williams

Notice we mentioned two of our target keywords: “Denton ranches” and “Denton ranches for sale”. Notice as well that we didn’t force a third keyword since that would read spammy. We added branding to extend the character count to the limit mentioned above.

Optimizing your META Description

Even though the META Description is not a ranking factor anymore, optimizing it still has some value. For one, it appears on search result pages along with your Page Title, thus it is an opportunity for you to entice users to click on your page.

Also if the user’s query is mentioned in your META Description it will be bolded making it stand out more on Google’s search result.

Almost the same best practices for Page Title applies when writing your META Description:

  • Don’t spam with keywords
  • Make it sound natural and written for people not search engines
  • Aim for 130 to 160 characters

Optimizing your Page Headings

The headings or H tags of a page further signals the topic or theme of the page. Imagine you are writing an outline and the H tags are the sections of the outline. Keywords ideally should then be mentioned.

The most important of all the H tags is the H1 which should be the main headline of your “outline” (i.e. web page). The main or primary keyword should be mentioned here.

The sub-headlines can then be H2 and H3 depending on your content.

Finally, don’t use H tags for styling purposes. Often times H tags are used to achieve styles or designs in place of CSS or even span.

Optimizing Images

Making sure your images are optimized is especially important for land brokerage websites since it will help listings appear on image results. It will also add to the relevance of the keywords to the page.

Understand that search crawlers read all the code of the web page …even the images (file names and alt text). So, aligning your images on the page with the target keyword phrase for this web page can be key in land broker SEO 101 for on-page optimization. We’ll explain …

First make sure the filename of your image is short, descriptive, and if possible the same or similar to your target keyword phrase for the page. Instead of DSC_01291.jpg rename it to denton-ranch-for-sale-001.jpg instead. If you can rename the image to the target keyword phrase for the page, it is better but not required.

The ALT attribute of an image is meant to be displayed if the image can’t be loaded however it is room for optimization as well. Same with filenames, make sure to be concise and also actually describe the image. When possible use your target keyword phrase in the image alt text IF it aligns with what the image actually is.

As with everything do not spam or overdo the optimization.

Linking to External Sites

Linking your page to external or other websites is neither good nor bad. It depends on your page and its purpose. When optimizing a homepage of core page, we don’t recommend linking to external sites or content. On the contrary, if we are optimizing a blog article then two or three outbound links can be good. Keep in mind, too many outbound links or linking to low quality websites will have a negative impact on this web page and your overall website authority.

If you are to reference another website, make sure it is reputable, has solid domain authority or authoritative such as .GOVs, .EDUs, and similar.

Also as much as possible don’t link from the first few paragraphs of your page as this would risk users clicking and leaving your site. As land brokers you work hard to get quality visitors to your website and last thing you want to do is invite them to leave by clicking an outbound link.

Internal Linking

Now that your page is optimized, it’s time to give it some link equity. This means linking from other pages using your target keywords or variation of it as anchor text.

First thing to check is your navigation and footer links. Assuming that your page is important enough then it should be linked from these sections.

Next is to go over your secondary web pages or key pages and determine if you can link from them to your optimized page. If you can tweak existing content to match your target keyword phrase then that would be better.

For example, if your brokerage About Us web page mentions your keyword phrase “Denton ranches for sale” or a sentence that can be modified to include this target phrase and remain a natural read, then you can place a link on this phrase. In the code it will look like this:

<a title=””Denton” href=””https://ranchmanpropertiels.com/””>Denton ranches for sale</a>

Did you catch the attribute “title” in the code just above? Just like image alt text, links can have a title attribute that search crawlers will read. Is it required? No, but it is yet another signal you can give search crawlers to explicitly let them know what the linked page is about.

By creating internal links to this optimized web page, it makes it easy for search crawlers to discover the importance of the web page and easily determine what the destination web page is about in order to potentially list it on Google search results.

Wrapping Up Land Broker SEO 101 : On-page Optimization

With this, your page should be primed and ready for the extremely competitive land broker SEO. Note that this is just the start though and it was only one web page. It is recommended you do this for all your web pages or at least the main pages. Additionally, there are numerous other aspects of SEO such as link building, local search, schema markups, length of content, and many others.

So if you’d like to start by optimizing one web page, the simple steps are:

  1. Consider, research and select a keyword phrase you can rank for.
  2. Optimize the page title to include your target keyword phrase.
  3. Write your META description for users and include the target keyword phrase.
  4. Use your keyword phrase target in the page heading.
  5. Work to include the target phrase in the image file name and ALT text if possible, otherwise name the image what it is.
  6. Limit external links on primary web pages, but carefully chosen external links are natural and can have some value.
  7. Create internal links on other web pages within your site to this newly optimized page using the keyword phrase target as the anchor text.

If you’d like to learn more about full on-site optimization of your land brokerage website, connect with one of the SEO team members at REALSTACK.  Contact us.

Oh and if you’d like to visit our example brokerage, check out their Denton ranches for sale at https://ranchmanproperties.com/

Land Broker SEO 101

A Beginner’s Guide to Google My Business for Land Brokers

With Google’s ever-increasing preference to show its own controlled web properties on search results, having a Google My Business (GMB) listing nowadays is as important as having a website. That makes maintaining and optimizing it as important as well.

Not only does a GMB listing act as an extra web property on search result pages, more importantly it shows up for branded searches (searches related to your name, company name, or brand). This offer users quick information about you and several call-to-actions aimed at converting users to a lead.

Having a GMB listing will also improve your chances of appearing on local pack results.

Fortunately getting started with and optimizing your GMB listing is quite easy. Below are just some tips. This article assumes you have already either claimed your GMB profile or have setup one up.

1. Make sure information is accurate

Take extra care to ensure that every piece of information is accurate, especially your address and phone number. Keep in mind that users will rely on your GMB listing to contact you, go to your website, or visit your location. Inaccuracies will likely mean lost leads.

It is very important to have the exact same name, address, and phone number (NAP) has you provide on your website. Google can detect the NAP character for character and match up your business based on NAP with your other web properties (your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, online directories, etc).

If you change your location or phone number don’t forget to update our GMB listing as well.

2. Put as much information as you can

Google My BusinessGMB allows you to enter various info about your business. As much as you can, fill up every field as this can help your listing perform better to appear in search and user engagement.
Category, for example, will help your listing appear for relevant search queries.

Google My BusinessAnother key area is the business description. Although it accepts up to 750 characters, only about 245 characters will appear on load of search results without searchers clicking on the “read more” link. So make sure to be concise and mention key phrases early such as areas you service or if you specialize on certain property types.

3. Set hours of operation

To set user expectations, and also to avoid getting calls at 10 in the evening, it is best to set your hours of operation. In this section you can also define your workdays.

Google My Business

4. Appointment link

Another great conversion point that GMB offers is the appointment link. This can be pointed to your Contact page of your website or other land page.

Keep in mind that users that will click on this link are ready to talk business so it would be best to link it to a clear, simple page with your contact information or form.

Google My Business

5. Upload your best photos

Although you can upload as many photos as you want, it would be best to just pick those that represents your business best.

Some photo ideas to consider:

  • Your office including an exterior photo, your lobby, and other interesting areas.
  • Your team of brokers, agents, and staff
  • Recent notable property listings
  • Epic ranch photos

Also upload or pick a photo that would best suite as a Cover photo, profile photo, and logo which would be used to brand your GMB listing.

6. Ask for reviews from previous clients

Unlike restaurants, shopping centers, and other ultra popular businesses, reviews are harder to come by in the ranch real estate industry so make each one count.  A quick email or private message asking previous clients to leave a review will go a long way. It will be good to mention to them how easy it is to leave a review.

Google My Business

One helpful tip to get more reviews is make it easy for clients to provide the review by giving them a direct link. In the Google My Business Help article it provides steps to generate a simple URL that clients can click to give you a review.

7. Reply to reviews if needed

Google My BusinessYou don’t need to reply to all reviews but it would look good on your GMB listing if users see that you are active.

If someone leaves a positive review, do your best to highlight your experience with that client.

In case you do get a review with even just a hint of negativity, reply professionally to address the issue and provide resolution.

Blank one star reviews are a nuisance and can pull down ratings. Instead of leaving it as is, at the very least leave a reply asking for more information.

8. Answer Q and A’s

Users can ask questions about your business which anyone can answer. Get on top of this quickly to make sure that it is addressed correctly and again to show that you are active.

9. Google My Business post

Google My BusinessThis a relatively new feature introduced by Google wherein, similar to Facebook and Twitter, you can now post “updates” about your business. These posts will appear with your GMB listing and can be used to further help convert searchers.

There are several forms to choose from all of which can be linked to any of your pages thus making this a great place for advertisements or promotions.

A post expires after 7 days though so remember to update frequently. If you create a Google Business Site, it will appear on there indefinitely though. A Google Business Site is another good opportunity to create a business web property that can help your SEO. The REALSTACK SEO team can help you with that if interested.

10. Google My Business Insights

GMB Insights has dramatically improved in recent years and now includes powerful “Insights” which are reports. These power packed reports give your brokerage great visibility into the importance of ranking on Google for both your branded keyword phrases and market defining phrases.

Insights are broken down into 3 categories of reports and include the following:
Category 1 : Acquire

  • How customers search your business – displays both direct searches for your business and other market keyword searches.
  • Queries used to find your business – Google can literally tell you the exact phrases used to find your business or that your GMB profile ranks for.
  • Where customers view your business on Google – this report can provide customer visits to Listings on Search vs Listings on Maps.

Google My BusinessGoogle My Business

Category 2 : Engage

  • Customer actions – Google shows an interesting chart to demonstrate the most common actions that customers take on your GMB listing such as visit your website, request directions, or call you. Good information to know.
  • Directions requests – for most land brokerages this may not be a big number, but it implies the importance of having a solid GMB profile when it is needed by a prospective customer.
  • Phone calls – good bar chart to show when and how many times customers call your brokerage.

Google My Business

Category 3 : Compare

  • Photo views – The number of times your business photos have been viewed, compared to photos of other businesses like yours. Make sure to upload your own photos to GMB!
  • Photo quantity – not the most powerful chart, but good to visualize the number of photos that appear on your business, compared to photos from other businesses.

Google My Business is very easy to setup and configure.  It can be an important web property for your land brokerage and also make you look stronger online.  Get started by visiting their website.

If you’d like help with GMB or search engine optimization, contact our great marketing team at REALSTACK.  We know land marketing and love helping brokerages!

LandFlip Now Added to REALSTACK LandSync Feeds

LANDFLIP NETWORKThe ever expanding REALSTACK platform has now added LANDFLIP and its network of land websites to LandSync, our system to feed land brokerage listings to any online advertising website automatically.  With automated listing feeds to online classified websites, land brokerages can input their listings once and then have those completed listings synchronized with their accounts with online land websites such as LandFlip.

LandFlip is the host to a number of powerful sites within their network, including:

In 2003, LANDFLIP was founded by Ryan Folk in Atlanta, Georgia.  Ryan was a successful real estate broker with experience in software sales and consulting, and with the demand to create an alternative to traditional print media he launched LANDFLIP.com.  It soon became his main marketing channel of his own listings and even more so for other brokerages in the region.  In the early years Ryan was able to bring on a partner, Tate Reddick, who together they have grown the LANDFLIP network to be one of the most popular land marketing platforms in the industry.  In recent years, they have rebranded as the LANDFLIP NETWORK and is now managed by former land brokers and boasts one of the largest sources of land listings, land buyers, and land professionals from across the nation.

“We couldn’t be more excited to add the LANDFLIP NETWORK to our growing list of integrations with REALSTACK,” commented REALSTACK Founder, Chad Polk.  “They run a great business with solid results for our clients so it was a no-brainer.”

REALSTACK is now a LANDFLIP marketing partner: https://www.landflip.com/partners

Latest Print Ad Designs for Land Brokerages

Not only have we been hard at work on software here at REALSTACK, but we’ve also been building stunning print ad designs for land brokerages. Print advertising is a staple in the marketing mix for land brokerages across the United States and they don’t come cheap. When land brokerages chose to do print ads they better have the chops to design a killer ad that is meant to impress and drive leads. Land brokerages call on REALSTACK for just that … print ad designs that impress potential leads to pick up the phone.

Print Design for Land BrokeragesOne of our latest print ad designs for land brokerages is with Hortenstine Ranch Company in Dallas, Texas. We handle all the digital and print marketing for HRC. The latest is one of our favorites to be published in The Land Report this Winter 2016. Click image to view full ad.

Notables from the ad:

  1. Headliner ranch property.  In this ad we had a clear alpha listing …550 acre lake on 1,800 acre.  We made it front and center with an attention grabbing aerial photo of the massive lake.  Now that we had their attention …
  2. Confidence badge.  Maybe this is a new term to land brokers, but confidence badge(s) have been used for years by marketers to associate their business or product with already established brands, awards, or accolades.  In this case, The Land Report Best Brokerages award is a highly distinguished list to be on as a land brokerage.
  3. Water.  Clearly a critical attribute to any property is water and it sells very well in the market.  We provided a gallery of listings with great water for ag use, recreational, livestock, fish habitat, and overall visual appeal.
  4. Limited listing information.  Figuratively speaking, you have limited space on any print advertisement.  Telling the full story or even a paragraph highlighting attributes of the property is overkill.  The point is to get the phone to ring.  So we advised to less text, information, or highlights and if a lead is interested they will certainly pick up the phone.
  5. Whitespace.  You’ve probably seen excellent print advertisements and subconsciously thought how great that design looks.  Apple is one of the best designers of whitespace.  Often times designers use whitespace to create simplicity and focus.  Too much information and imagery overload simply causes prospects to flip the page and move on.  Too much to digest or consider.
  6. Website URL.  We used a tasteful font size that fit the design and different color from the rest of the ad, so we were sure that viewers would see the brokerage website URL.  If they are not motivated enough to call, then we certainly want them to go online for more information where we have a rockin website that captures lead email addresses …but that is another article.
  7. Color Palette.  So often we see land brokerages that are not true to their brand or don’t really know what their brand colors are.  In the case of this ad, we certainly made sure the colors used matched HRC design guidelines exactly.

The objectives of the ad was market top shelf properties, position the Hortenstine brand in the market as a high end brokerage firm, and get new visitors to their website.  This ad accomplished all three objectives.

Hopefully we have given you points to consider for your next big spend on print advertising for land brokerage.  Print design is very daunting when considering the amount of dollars your are about to invest.  And invest is the keyword.  An investment is an outlay of cash where you expect some return on those dollars in the future.  Yes, you should expect some return on print advertising for land brokerages.

View more designs and digital marketing works from REALSTACK here: https://realstack.com/digital-marketing/marketing-portfolio/

Simple Photo Editors for Ranch Land Marketing

We’ve all heard the cliche – a picture tells a thousand words. And when it comes to selling majestic large ranches or turn-key ranchettes, you have to nail the photography. So we at REALSTACK wanted to share with you 2 awesome – and SIMPLE – tools that anyone can use to make your ranch land marketing photos look like a fit for the front cover of Open Fences Magazine.

Think about all the places your photos go these days …brochures, magazines, your website, LandsofAmerica, LandWatch, LandFlip, Land Broker MLS, and hundreds of other classified websites. Not to mention posting and getting shares on social media. So much opportunity for distribution of your marquee ranch photo or all the photos. Why not take 10 minutes to enhance the imagery and deliver an electric visual of the property you represent?

Fotor photo editingFirst up we found a power packed photo editor that works on both desktop and mobile devices – Fotor.

From their website: This company has brought powerful, easy to use photo editing tools into the hands of anyone and everyone with an internet connection. Fotor has made professional-level photo editing accessible to everyday users through a clean, intuitive interface and workflow. Fotor strives to provide the highest quality tools in the most accessible manner and continues to pursue this goal with each new product and version release.

 

 

 

Our favorite features include:

  • State-of-the-art photo processing engine
  • Adjust exposure, brightness, contracts, and more
  • Crop, straighten, rotate, and resize
  • Add borders and frames
  • Create a collage
  • Tilt-Shift meaning it gives images the depth-of-field normally only on pro-grad cameras. Critical for long views on ranch properties.
  • 1-click enhancement options
  • Ability to import and export a wide range of image formats
  • Effects and borders. We’ve all seen this on instagram, but now available to you for any photo
  • Text overlay on images

Overall Fotor provides a high power photo processing engine, but what we use 90% of the time is their 1-click enhancements or effects. Super cool result and highly recommended for website and social media photos.

Canva graphic design appOver to our other favorite photo editor, Canva, that is really built as a graphic design app that anyone can use. Photo editing is limited compared to Fotor, but if you are the 1-click photo editor then this will be plenty of horsepower. Canva positions themselves as “Amazingly Simple Graphic Design” which we couldn’t agree with more.

With Canva you can design flyers, presentations, Facebook covers, blog graphics, business cards, posters, invitations, and much more. The team here at RealStack constantly uses it for social media mini-infographics and art for our clients.

One of the best offers from Canva is the stock photography and graphics that come with this FREE online application. That’s right, Canva is free. You only pay for the stock photos you use (if any) and even at that they are only $1 per photo. Super awesome deal.

Our favorite feature is all the thousands of free template designs for just about any use. They’ve already built the art with awesome color palettes, typeface, icons, badges, design elements, and more. We consistently use this product for social media posts and blog content graphics. Canva is an asset to RealStack and our clients. Check it out at http://www.canva.com

We know these two awesome tools will help your ranch land marketing look better and become more efficient. Enjoy!

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7 Keys to Improving Email Marketing for Land Brokers

Email marketing for land brokers can be the lifeblood of your real estate marketing. The demographic of these buyers of land have spent the last 30+ years living out of their inbox. Email is likely one of the first things they check after they awake in the morning and often times the last check before going to bed. Throughout the day the frequency of checking email is almost constant, especially now with everyone having a smartphone in their pocket. According to a study out of the University of British Columbia, the average person checks email 15 times a day. The study also showed that 92% of U.S. adults use email to communicate with others and 183 billion emails are sent and received each day (66,795,000,000,000 each year).

Needless to say you need to be doing email marketing and doing it really well. So, we are going to start by helping you with these 7 email marketing tips for land brokers:

1. Design for Mobile

Land Broker Email Mobile DeviceDid you know that almost half of email opens are now happening on mobile devices? The great folks over at litmus.com published some eye catching trends they’ve captured in email opens over 4 years.

Email opens on mobile devices were barely a blip on the radar in 2011, and made up just 8% of email opens. Then, fast forward to 2014 and nearly half of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets …that’s a 500% increase in just four years!

Based on some adjustments Gmail has made recently to their webmail, mobile, and desktop, Litmus calculated adjusted figures that open rates are 22% for desktop, 25% for webmail, and 53% for mobile. Of the mobile opens, 41% were on Apple iPhone & iPad and 7% on Android devices.

So the action item for land brokers is craft your emails in “mobile responsive” templates. What is mobile responsive? It is a web design aimed at building sites and emails for the most optimal viewing across a wide range of devices. Now, email templates can’t truly be mobile responsive as they still have to adhere to older coding methods to be compliant with email clients (i.e. Microsoft Outlook), but the images can scale and the entirety of the email should be easily read on a mobile device.

Almost all modern email marketing platforms provide mobile friendly templates you can customize, so ditch that old email layout you’ve been using for 5 years and move to a mobile responsive design.

2. Lead with imagery

As land brokers, you sell an extraordinarily enchanting product. Since that is a given, let’s maximize the visual appeal of your highly sought after and dreamed of product.

The header can be brokerage branding or a featured property photo with your brand watermark, BUT do now put a bunch of clickable links in the header. You’ve spend many hours pulling together this email to either feature 1 listing or a group of listings, but you’ve now distracted the email recipient with large amount of links to other sections of your website. Email 101: every email must have a purpose so stick with that purpose. If you want them to focus on 1 ranch or a small group of ranches, only offer links to those specific listings in the email.

3. Small photos just don’t cut it

Too often I see land broker emails with thumbnail photos and feature highlights. Use larger photos and even cut the content down a bit if it means having larger photos displayed. Also just as important as larger photos, use enhanced photos to get more attention and clicks. There are many easy to use photo enhancement products available, so take advantage of this simple enhancement to your ranch land photos. Two good ones are Fotor and Canva.  Notice the example in #4 below has multiple photos large enough to get a viewers attention versus photos 1/4 the size of those below.  The standard email width is 600 pixels so when possible use 600px photos in your email.

4. Multiple Photos where Possible

Next, when the email campaign includes one or a small number of listings, include multiple photos of each property. Pictures say so much more than text. Pictures with a caption enable you to compliment the photo. With captions don’t just state the “feature”, but instead craft a statement that is intriguing. I also suggest putting links on every photo for a listing in the email campaign that directs the user to the ranch listing on your website.

Ranch land photos

5. Show highlights, spare the details

Land brokers as a whole seem to lead with product features. Thinking in features of the product (land) is the default first thought. As an industry we have to sell value and that value is the experiences a piece of land offers your buyer. So, why do we lead with acreage, price, and price per acre? Why can’t we lead with “abundant quail and deer population”, “legacy ranch property”, “turn-key sporting property”, “magnificent topography and views”, “family retreat and outdoor recreation”, etc. In an email campaign, value get’s buyers attention. Price and acreage immediately rules out or in the property for the buyer before you’ve ever had a chance to sell the value. Lead with value then features.

6. Create multiple links to your website listing page

Within any email campaign you have many opportunities to create links back to your website and listing. Use all of them – photos, text, and buttons. You don’t know what will spark someones interest enough to click to view more. Maybe it is the photo of large whitetail deer buck, equestrian barn, live water, children playing, or a call-to-action button. You don’t care how they get to the listing on your website, you just want them to get there.

7. Use Call-to-Action Buttons

This point is probably the most overlooked best practice in land broker email marketing. People will respond to a call-to-action (CTA) button over text link. Research shows most people scan email campaigns rather than reading them word-for-word, so that means buttons stand out to the skimmers. Buttons stand out because:

  • Size
  • Design
  • Color
  • Whitespace

Finally, a CTA button is exactly as it’s name suggests …an “action”. Experiment with your own action statements, but here are a few we consistently use for land brokers:

  • View more photos
  • Download Brochure
  • Contact Us
  • Visit Listing Online
  • Learn More
  • Check out Listing Here

CTA button examples:

land-broker-email-button-1

land-broker-email-button-2

land-broker-email-button-3

We’ve given you 7 easy action items to improving your email marketing for your brokerage and most importantly your landowners. We trust you’ll put these to use in your next email campaign that will wow the client.

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Farm & Ranch Broker Opinion of Value Template for Land Brokers

Broker opinion of value (or broker price opinion or comparative market analysis) can make or break you getting a listing.  So being well equipped to provide the most accurate analysis is at the top of your priority list as a land broker. This broker opinion of value can be a lot of intense work so qualifying your prospect or client will be important before embarking on the research journey.

A brokers opinion of value (BOV) is simple that, an “opinion”. It is not an appraisal. Appraisals may only be completed by someone who is licensed or certified as an appraiser. Therefore, TREC rules require that BPOs and CMAs contain the following statement verbatim:

THIS IS A BROKER PRICE OPINION OR COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AN APPRAISAL OR OPINION OF VALUE. In making any decision that relies upon my work, you should know that I have not followed the guidelines for development of an appraisal or analysis contained in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice of the Appraisal Foundation.

A BOV is an assessment of current land market value based upon a careful research of market and property conditions that affect the value of a farm, ranch, or other rural land. This process is usually undertaken when an owner is seriously considering the possibility of selling the property. Other needs for a broker opinion of value may be for an estate, trust, or bank. While this is not an appraisal, it provides that land owner, estate, or bank with useful data and guidance.

At REALSTACK, we’ve created a well designed broker opinion of value template for land brokers.  Click the button below and download the template.  You can change the colors, fonts, and more to make it your own but is a great starting point.

Ranch Marketing: It’s Time Ranch Brokers Understood ROI

Understanding ranch marketing ROI for ranch brokers

What? Brokers do not look at returns on their ranch marketing dollars spent? You just fronted $14,000 on the ranch listing you just took on. How soon will you get that money back? What is the ROI on that ranch marketing investment? This article is probably going to be a “duh?” article that we all read …one where it states the obvious on a subject we already knew but what the article does is formulate the thought and process into an actionable list for ranch brokers.

I’ve found that the ROI calculation for ranch brokers is simple, but where you get tripped up is costs. Allocating costs to a listing isn’t always clear and straight forward. What is cost of goods sold (COGS), operating costs, marketing costs, etc. I’ll hold off on allocating costs discussion until the end of the article to maintain the simplicity of our example below.

Let’s begin with high level ranch marketing budget. The best way to develop a marketing budget is to treat that budget as if it’s an investment, i.e. something that delivers an expected return. Your listings represent the portfolio of investments.

Review last years ranch marketing spend and calculate the ratio of cost to revenue to give you a benchmark starting point in the new year. So if your firm did $500,000 in fees and spent $100,000 in marketing (yes you need to include fees from outside vendors) then your marketing cost ratio is 20%.

Now, there is a catch. If your brokerage let’s say carries 10 ranch listings on average your ranch marketing cost ratio is likely higher than if your brokerage carries 30 ranch listings on average. The ranch brokerage with more average listings count gets an economies of scale in most cases because resource costs are spread over more listings and higher total revenue. An example of this is print advertising where larger ranch brokerages put more listings on their full-page ad. A smaller brokerage may only be able to put 4 listings in an ad whereas another brokerage may have 10 listings in the ad.

Another example would be somewhat fixed service costs such as SEO or social media. Whether you have 10 listings or 30 listings those services may not increase with more listings.

I see marketing cost ratios vary from 10% to 25% depending on the total revenue of your brokerage and other variables. The important data point here is get your benchmark ranch marketing cost ratio from last year and use to measure against going forward. This is a measurable key performance indicator (KPI) for any brokerage.

Now that you have your ranch marketing cost ratio, let’s get into an example listing and ROI. I like round numbers so let’s start off with a property for sale at $1,000,000. It has 400 acres with a nice cabin to add some liveability. That’d make it $4,000 per acre.

Easy commission calculation is $1,000,000 x 3% = $30,000. So if your marketing cost ratio was 20% last year then your planned ranch marketing spend could be up to $7,500. This listing marketing budget doesn’t mean allocating all of it to paid ads such as print, social, video, etc. You have to leave plenty of room in there for services.

NOTE: I don’t like to plan commission percentages on “double ending” deals. The best practice would be to budget a marketing spend around representing one side or the other on a transaction.

The next number we need is “average days on market”. Take each listing that sold last year (or last several years) and individually calculate days on market from listing creation date to closing date. Sum the days on market for all these sold listings and divide by total number of sold listings in your data set.

I personally prefer to look at months so take your average days on market number and divide by 30. You probably won’t get a whole number so just keep it to 1 decimal place.

Let’s presume that your brokerage average months on market is 10 months. This means that your $7,500 investment will likely come back to you in 10 months. If all goes well the brokerage commission will be $30,000. This would be net return on investment of $22,500 or 75% Return on Investment (ROI) or 360% annualized yield.

Now take this a step further …your brokerage has 30 listings and each listing has $7,500 in marketing costs tied up in them. That totals $225,000. So presumably you’d have about a quarter of a million dollars tied up at any given time in marketing of ranches. If you’re running this as a line of credit with a bank then there is a carrying cost associated with these allocated funds.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Benchmark your marketing cost ratio. Work from there moving forward. Possibly work to lower it with more efficient ranch marketing spends that can achieve better or same results in sales as in past.
  2. Benchmark your average months on market. All brokers want to sell listings fast but in many cases the velocity at which a listing sells is largely due to a number of factors …months supply of similar listings in that area, popularity of an area, proximity to major metro areas, income production, land amenities, and much more.

By benchmarking your ranch real estate brokerage you’ll be able to target new listings that fit your formula for marketing cost ratio and average months on market. Any time you can make a more informed quantitative decision, the more likely you’ll realize the anticipated ROI.

Quick notes on allocation of costs to listings …

I’ve found it hit or miss that a brokerage will assign direct costs to specific listings. Here are some simple practices to start allocating costs to listings accurately and some suggested practices.

  • When you purchase a print ad and receive an invoice from the publication, enter the invoice into your financials then itemize the total to each “product” aka listing. By itemize, if the total print ad cost $3,000 and included 6 listings then each listing would get charged $500 when itemizing the invoice.
  • You’ll also have direct costs from outside vendors that can get directly charged to the listing such as professional photographer/videographer, surveyor, GIS mapping services, soil samples, etc. When you have these direct service costs, assign the invoice to a specific listing.

Ranch marketing expenses that appear to be operational expenses:

  • SEO services
  • PR services
  • Social media services
  • Brochure design services
  • Website hosting
  • Online classifieds subscriptions (i.e. Lands of America)

These ongoing marketing expenses can be consistent or fluctuate depending on how you operate your brokerage. My suggestion is take your monthly average spend on services used monthly and divide by average # of listings you carry at any given time. So if your monthly services average $5,000 per month and you carry 20 listings on average then each listing costs you $250 per month it isn’t sold. Then if your average months on market is 10 months that equates to $2,500 per listing of services carrying costs for the year.

Remember the $7,500 marketing budget from earlier? Well, there goes $2,500 of that budget in marketing services carrying costs. Now you have $5,000 left in the budget.

Bank fees and interest. There is always interest cost if running your brokerage on a line of credit (LOC). That interest is certainly entered into the financials each month during reconciliation. Again, you can chose to average it out based on months on market to arrive at a month finance fee to charge to each active listing that has money tied up in the LOC.

If your brokerage has an in-house bookkeeper, controller, or CFO then you should make absolutely sure your business begins measuring these number every month, quarter, and year. If you use outside financial services, then make a point to set down with your bookkeeper or accountant and get a game plan together to begin tracking these numbers and measuring against your brokerage benchmarks. This is how efficient business are run!

Get started benchmarking ranch marketing cost ratios and listing average months on market. Take a deeper look at how best to allocate costs to individual listings and establish cost averages where fees are spread over all listings.

To learn more about ranch broker marketing, visit https://realstack.com/digital-marketing/

Blake Hortenstine Feature Interview with Chad Polk

Listen in as Blake Hortenstine of Hortenstine Ranch Company provides incredible insight into becoming a top broker in the state of Texas, keys that improve the value & marketability of the land, and state of the Texas recreational land market.

To learn more about Hortenstine Ranch Company visit https://hrcranch.com/.

To learn more about REALSTACK visit https://realstack.com/

Aerial Imaging Interview with Matt Dunn

Our founder, Chad Polk, had an opportunity to set down with Matt Dunn, one of the ranch industry’s top cinematographers, for a REALSTACK feature interview. He and his team has filmed the likes of The Great Western Ranch, IX Ranch, Kessler Canyon, Taylor Estate, Lobo Ranch ….we think the only high end ranch they haven’t filmed is Waggoner Ranch! Wouldn’t be surprised if they get tapped to film the King Ranch down in Texas some day.

Without further ado, read on about Matt’s work that makes us all jealous …

Chad Polk: I want to start out with the 3D modeling video I just saw on your vimeo channel. I can’t make out if many of those renderings are real or 3D models …incredible. Give us some insight into this new offering from AIP.

Matt Dunn: I’m glad to hear that you can’t tell the difference. That means we are doing our job! The first version of our 3D demo video only showed the final product and we soon realized that people didn’t understand the product we were delivering. Like you, they didn’t know what was real and what was 3D. So our adjustments to the demo revealed the development stages, much like those you might see for a “making of” big Hollywood film where they show the before and after.

This new offering provides the client with a “close to finished” look at their future development project. Some examples include a custom home built on a mountain side, to high rise condos, to drill site phases for the gas and oil industry. Many architectural firms, developers and real estate agencies have found this to be an exciting and powerful new tool.

We are learning new tricks along the way to ensure a successful match with our aerial footage. It’s exciting to see how this new service will influence the industry.

Chad Polk: You’ve positioned your business in the market as Full Service Media Production. For the average marketer, what does that encompass?

Matt Dunn: We provide end to end production services including aerial cinematography, traditional cinematography with a large selection of support rigs (sliders, stabilizers, jibs etc), 3D model integration/compositing, geo-spatial tours, script writing, voice over and video editing.

Chad Polk: The AIP team has spent a lot of time on mega ranches and exceptional properties. How do you begin the process to tell the story of each property through video?

Matt Dunn: From a mega hunting or cattle ranch to a small gentlemen’s fly fishing retreat, telling the right story is key. The process begins with a great deal of communication with various individuals that know the property well. We talk to anyone and everyone that is available in hopes to understand the complete picture. We interview the broker first, then typically the manager and in some cases the property owner/seller.

Simultaneously we’ll gain a tremendous amount of information by using Google Earth Pro. Dropping in with a birds eye view while on a conference call provides a very good understanding of the property.

Chad Polk: From your portfolio I see lifestyle, recreation, informative views, geo spatial layouts, narrative, and more. Tell us how you build up to the end video product that helps market and eventually sell your client’s product or services.

Matt Dunn: We feel very fortunate to have such a talented team and fantastic tools here at AIP. Each of the items you mentioned have an equal value to them. From the visuals to the narrative and music, it all plays into creating a compelling and informative product that drives results. Beautiful cinematography typically is what engages a viewer. Captivating and retaining them is the challenge. We really strive to maintain good rhythm and intrigue from beginning to end. We were delighted to know that a cash offer of a mega ranch was made within two days of watching the video we produced without the buyer having set foot on the property. If that doesn’t display the power of video I don’t know what does!

Chad Polk: As I talk to real estate brokers and other videographers, I hear time and again that AIP is the standard. Their stuff is always epic. What drives you as artists and creatives to really push the envelope of cinematography and creativity?

Matt Dunn: I’m flattered to hear that we’ve set the standard. You know one of the biggest things for me personally as a filmmaker, is to create magic and make people feel something. It’s exciting to be able to draw emotion out of a viewer for something like a property video which is not always an easy task. If you can tell a compelling yet informative story, it can make quite an impact. We always strive to make each video better than the last. Obviously though, the amazing aerials is what launches the videos into epicness. That’s a word right?

Chad Polk: Aerial video has come a long way in the last decade to say the least. How has AIP kept it’s competitive advantage through the proliferation of a consumer drone market?

Matt Dunn: Simply put, our pilot Brent Murray is exceptional. He has a true gift for composition and is aware of everything. His long history of drone cinematography has made him a master in this field. I can honestly say he is one of the very best in the world. Drones like the DJI Phantom are everywhere these days and it is possible to get great shots now and then but what we provide is consistency, reliability, wisdom and a tremendous amount of creativity. We are very blessed to have him on board.

Chad Polk: Matt, you’ve been so generous with your time today. To our readers out there, what more would you want us to know more about AIP …yes, you are open to any shameless plug here …

Matt Dunn: Thank you! Well, 10 years ago we had the idea to film with remote control single rotor helicopters (long before multicopters aka drones). Our pioneering of this new medium was not an easy task and we acquired many bumps and bruises along the way. We knew the technology would gain momentum. Now that it has, we see nothing but an abundance of possibilities. Our shameless plug might as well be the announcement of our new company RanchVideos.com. The site is nearly ready for launch. Our goal is to provide a service that is focused on one thing… Ranch Videos. We’ll be able to market ourselves much more concisely and feel it’s been a long time coming. After all, we have set the standard for ranch marketing videos. Why not create a company centered around our passion?

Chad Polk: Great insights Matt. You guys keep crushin’ it and we’ll keep watching all the epic ranch videos. Best wishes.

 

See all their videos at: https://vimeo.com/aip/videos