In the past few years, real estate sales were red hot and interest rates were at historic lows. Real estate agents, lenders, and title companies have benefited from this wave and have been there when their clients needed them.
Everyone knows that there are ebbs and flows in the economy and certainly in the real estate market. As of this writing, interest rates are approaching 5.5%, up significantly from just a few months ago. While experts expect fluctuations, most consumers don’t expect to see sub 4% rates for quite a while. Because of this and other factors, home sales have taken a dip and many real estate agents and title companies are experiencing a cooling off.
Now, let’s put this into perspective. While the perception might be that business is “down”, it’s difficult to compare the last two months versus the last two years – where home sales, mortgage applications, and title policies were at historic highs. And, as we all know, real estate is a cyclical industry.
That said, title companies are asking themselves what they can or should be doing to not only maintain business, but to grow it. Title company owners now have a bit of breathing room and can finally get their heads above water and the question we hear often is “Should I Market My Title Company in a Down Market”? The simple answer, yes.
Some title companies may be looking to scale back their marketing budgets and resources given the slowdown in business. But, as an agency that works exclusively with title companies day in and day out, we’ve seen that the opposite is true for those looking to grow their business. Here’s why.
1. Business may have slowed down, but for most, its only slowed down relative to the last few years where things were red hot and closings were almost more than they could handle. So it’s important to keep that perspective.
2. Homes are and will continue to be bought and sold, and your closing services will continue to be needed by your clients. It’s important to maintain your communication with clients right now and to continue to market your title company services to current and prospective clients so that you are always top of mind.
3. You’ll stand out above the competition. When other title companies scale back their marketing efforts, this creates an opportunity for others to fill that gap, get more exposure to clients and really get their names out there – now in a sea of a bit less competition.
To get you started, we’ve outlined four areas of focus to help grow your title company in a down market. With a bit more time to reflect and strategize on their business, title companies should use this time to develop their future growth strategy. Let’s take a look at these marketing opportunities in greater detail.
1. Your Website. Your title company’s website is the virtual front door for your business. How it looks and the content that it contains matter. A lot. If your title company’s website hasn’t been updated or redesigned for a few years, now might be a good time to consider a website redesign for your title company.
If the website is more than a few years old, there is a chance it’s not mobile friendly. This can pose an issue as most clients are used to mobile friendly websites. Not to mention, Google can actually penalize you if you do not have a mobile friendly website.
Websites are like homes, fashion or cars… styles change. While we all know that this is a relationship business, if you are not keeping up with the latest trends, your website and your business may be perceived as out-of-date – which can affect whether or not a potential client reaches out to you. Real estate agents, and their clients are becoming more and more tech savvy and they expect their title company to "Look the Part" as they consider the title company and extension of them.
2. Your Website’s Content. In order for local real estate agents to find your website, you must prove to search engines like Google that your website and its content are relevant to what they are searching for. For example, a title company might want to appear on Google for a keyword search such as “title insurance company Norfolk”. To show up in searches for that, that phrase should appear naturally throughout your website’s content. Many title company websites that we review do not have a lot of copy so it’s not always clear what they do, who they serve, and in what location.
As obvious as it may sound, you should be including your business name, address and service areas on your website. This is another item that Google scans when determining which title company’s website it will show in a given area. Websites without this information have a lower chance of showing up in the search results, even if the rest of their content is highly relevant. Simple changes like this are something title companies can do in their downtime to gain additional exposure and help grow their business in a down real estate market.
3. Your Social Media Presence. An effective social media strategy for title companies is always important, as we outlined in this article. However, when business starts to slow, your title company’s social media presence is more important than ever. Why? Your clients are on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. You need to not only be there, too, but you must be active and engaging.
The reality today is that agents and their buyer/seller clients do research online before making buying decisions – the entire real estate transaction process is moving more and more online. Where do they look? Google is one of the top sites to search, but many are also turning to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media networks to see if a company is established there. If they don’t find you there, they lose trust.
Social media is a great channel for sharing content – whether it’s content that your title company has authored, content that you share from a reputable source, or both, your clients will see you as a thought-leader and view your social media channels as a great resource for themselves and their clients. Consistency and value-added, education content is important, though. Don’t always use social media as a direct sales channel.
4. Online Reviews. While you have some breathing room, it’s a good idea to reflect on all of the outstanding work you have done for your clients. What better way to capture that feedback and share it with potential clients than with online reviews. Back in February, we wrote an article on Why Online Reviews Matter for Title Companies. When looking at ways to grow your title company, building your online reviews is an excellent strategy to get your name out there to new and existing clients.
For title insurance professionals, your online reputation can make or break you. In the past, if your clients had a positive or negative experience with you, they might tell a friend or two. Nowadays, your online review for a business can be seen by thousands. These ratings are an important factor in a client’s decision on whether to close with you. Don’t forget, though, online reviews are a two-way street. Clients expect you to respond to their reviews, both the good and the bad.
One of the not-so-obvious benefits of having online reviews is their direct impact on how Google ranks your business in its search engine result pages (SERPs). Google’s goal is to provide its customers (people searching online) with the best possible experiences and SERPs. To that end, it sees title companies with a significant number of four and five-star reviews as “good” and rewards them accordingly by showing those businesses higher up on the Google page. So take advantage of some downtime and focus on building your online reviews.
The Takeaway. The reality is that in real estate, there are ups and downs that affect all of us who are involved in the transaction. But, the time to market your title company is now, not ‘once things pick up again’. If you wait, you’ll be playing catch up. With an effective online marketing strategy for your title company, you can not only maintain your current clients, but attract new ones and grow your closing volume.
Dalton Digital is a marketing agency that focuses exclusively on helping title companies grow their closing volume. Contact Us today to discuss ways to grow your title company in any economic climate.