JF1535: The Power Of Your Apartment Syndication Brand Part 2 of 4 | Syndication School with Theo Hicks
Yesterday, we opened the door on the branding topic. Today, Theo gets into the weeds a little more on the topic and focuses on website traffic and conversions. Your website is one of, if not the most important component to your apartment syndication brand. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to apartmentsyndication.com, or to learn more about the apartment syndication school, go to syndicationschool.com, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.
Theo Hicks: Hi, Best Ever listeners. Welcome back to another episode of the Syndication School series, a free resource focused on the how-to’s of apartment syndications. As always, I am your host, Theo Hicks.
Each week we air a two-part podcast series about a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy. For the majority of the series, we offer a document or a spreadsheet or some other resource for you to download for free. All of these free documents and the free Syndication School series can be found at SyndicationSchool.com.
This episode is part two of a two-part series entitled “The power of your apartment syndication brand”, so make sure you listen to part one, which aired yesterday, or if you’re listening to this in the future, is the podcast episode directly before this one. In part one you will learn the primary benefits of creating a brand as it relates to starting and growing your apartment syndication business; you also learn the one thing Joe wishes he would have done differently with his brand starting out, which was to define a specific target audience, and to do so, we introduced the concept of 2,000 true fans, and pursuing selective fame versus general fame.
Then we talked about how to actually select your target audience starting out, as well as talked about the first three main components of the brand, which is your company name, your log and your business card. In this part – part two – you will learn how to create your first website and how to increase your website traffic. So the focus is going to be on the website.
The website is going to be the most important aspect of your brand. If someone googles your name or your company name, the website is going to be the first thing that they see, so this is going to be their introduction to you and your company, so that is going to be the most important component, because first impressions are everything, and if you don’t have a solid website, then you are leaving a lot of money on the table.
The website is also going to be your main lead generator, as well as your main lead capture source. Leads would be your passive investors, so if it’s the first thing they see, it’s going to be the lead generator, and at the same time – we’ll get into this later in the episode – it’s going to be the main place where you capture information of interested investors.
And then lastly, it is also going to be the source of all of the content you create for your thought leadership platform, which will be the focus of the next syndication school series. So the website – very important.
To create your website, there’s really an infinite number of ways to do this, but I will just talk about one strategy in particular that applies to someone listening who has not done a syndication deal yet. When you’re first starting out, you should definitely create the website yourself, because websites are very expensive and it takes a lot of time to create a website professionally, and if you’re just starting out, you likely don’t have the money to invest in a website, nor the time to sit around and wait for the website to be completed. The best strategy is to start off by making it yourself.
Now, your first websites should be very simple, should not be complicated with a thousand different pages and 20 different tabs on the home screen. What you should do is you should go to a website creator like Wix, Weebly, WordPress, GoDaddy or SquareSpace, which offer step by step guides for creating your website. So you’ll go there and it will literally walk you through how to create pages, color schemes, add pictures, add content to the website.
So you wanna do that, and you should also be able to buy a domain name at one of those sources as well. I got mine through GoDaddy, or you can use WordPress, as well. For the domain name, it can either be YourName.com or YourBusinessName.com. It really depends… Or you just do both, like what Joe does. Joe has JoeFairless.com, as well as AshcroftCapital.com.
So if you’re just starting off, I recommend right now going to GoDaddy and buying YourName.com. Even if you’re not gonna use it particularly for your syndication business, it’s always good to lay claim to that, just in case you want to start a consulting business or use it for other purposes. For me, unfortunately, TheoHicks.com was taken, so I had to take TheoHicks.org.
Now, as your business grows and your bank account also grows, that’s when you want to actually hire a web designer. So you already have a website established, and you can hire a web designer to create a second website while your first initial website is still active and live. In order to hire someone to professionally make your website, you can go to a site like Fiverr or UpWork, Elance, you can google “web designer”, or the best strategy is to ask for referrals from a website that you really like.
Now, as I mentioned before, and this is why you didn’t create one starting out, but professionally-designed websites are expensive. If you wanna get a cheaply done website, it might be a couple hundred bucks, but in order to get a great website, it’s gonna run you at least a few thousand dollars. When you create a professionally-done website, it’s really up to you; probably the limiting factor is going to be money… So once you have the money to buy the website, you should definitely do it. But also, you don’t want to start off by, again, creating a professionally-done website, because it takes a long time and you want to make sure you probably have a deal under your belt first, or at least have started putting together your team before focusing on the professionally-done website, because you probably have other duties that are more important, and your basic website should do the job.
Now, what do you include on your website? If you listened to part one or if you go to SyndicationSchool.com, or the show notes of part one, you’ll be able to download the free document that came with that, which was a branding resources document, which gives tips, pointers and links to things related to building a website. One of these sections includes 11 examples of apartment syndicators’ websites. So if you wanna know what to include on your website, the best way to do so is to look at the websites of other accomplished syndicators. I’d definitely recommend checking out that document and spending an hour and click through the different tabs and pages on those 11 sample websites.
Some of those websites are from very accomplished, advanced syndicators, and when you’re first starting out, you’re not gonna have the level of content that they do, because you haven’t had the time to create that content yet. So at a minimum, when you’re first starting out I recommend having these four tabs. Number one is gonna be your homepage, obviously. This is gonna be the first page that they see when they go to your website, so make sure that it is attractively designed. Also, I recommend putting a call-to-action on the front of your website.
Again, the ultimate purpose is to capture the information of passive investors. Everything else that you do is in order to direct more traffic to your website so you are able to convert more people into passive investors. So this call-to-action is going to be an e-mail capture form. Now, when you’re starting off, it’s probably just gonna be very simple and just say “Input your e-mail to receive my weekly newsletter, or receive updates on my business”, or something along those lines, because you haven’t really created any giveaways yet, but ideally, you are offering a free resource in return for their e-mail. So they give you their e-mail, and you give them some sort of free document. We’ll go over what type of document that could be here in a little bit. That’s the first tab, the homepage.
Secondly, you wanna have an About page. You can call it About, or you can have it like Joe, which is Meet Joe, or you can come up with a creative tab that gets the same point across. Obviously, this About page will have a bio for you, your company and an explanation of what you do.
Number three – you want to have a Blog tab, and this is where you’re going to post your thought leadership content, so your podcast, your blog, YouTube videos… Really any content that you create will be posted on this page.
And then lastly, you wanna have a tab dedicated to lead capture. These are capturing the e-mails of investors, or if you’re looking for a business partner, or a consultant, or team members… Whoever’s information you wanna capture, you’re gonna have a page dedicated to that specifically. Again, this is where you capture the information of your investors.
So those are the four pages that you want to have at a minimum when you are initially creating your website. Now, as you become more advanced, you’re going to add more tabs and pages, and have a better design overall. Using Joe’s website as an example, he has — and again, this is in addition to those four previous components, which is the homepage, the About page, the Blog page and the lead capture page… So he has a page dedicated specifically to the podcast. Again, when you’re first starting off, you probably just have a basic Blog and post everything there, but once you start to add on – you’ve got a blog, and a podcast, maybe a YouTube channel – you’ve got multiple content streams, then you wanna create tabs or pages dedicated to that specific piece of content.
Joe has his daily podcast, so he has a podcast page where he posts all the new podcasts. He also has a consulting program, so he has the “Work with Joe” page, which is actually not only just a consulting program, but also for passive investors, too. So it’s details on both of those programs, passive investors and the consulting program, as well as a lead capture button for them to input their e-mail if they’re interested.
Also, his About page is more detailed than just his bio. He also has information about the charities he’s involved in, as well as the press mentions. If he was mentioned, or posted content on Forbes, or Huffington Post, those logos would be there, as well as links to those articles.
He also has a Resources tab. This is where all the resources that he offers are located. Specifically for Joe, he has a Passive Investor page, with passive investor FAQs. He’s got a page for content that is specific to apartment syndications, and he also has a My Recommendations page, where he recommends different resources and services that he has used for his syndication business. So really any other resource you can think of would go under this type of tab.
He also has an Events tab for his conferences and meetups, a Books tab for all his books, and then the most important page, the homepage, which you will have on your initial website, but it’ll be very basic… As you become more advanced, you want to incorporate all of the most important content on your homepage. For example, right now the homepage features a link and info on our new book, the Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book, which you should definitely buy at Amazon.com. There are links to the two lead capture forms for his passive investors and consulting program, there is a section for the most recent content, so the YouTube videos, blogs, podcasts… And then also, he has the company metrics. Since JoeFairless.com is more focused on the brand, the metrics are information on the consulting program, information on podcast viewers, YouTube viewers, things like that.
Then also scattered throughout the website are multiple e-mail capture forms, giving away multiple pieces of content. So rather than just having that one lead capture on your homepage, you want to not only create multiple lead capture forms on different pages, but also offer various pieces of free content as well, and make sure that the giveaways are specific to that page. For example, on Joe’s passive investor page, his call-to-action wouldn’t offer something that has to do with fix and flipping, because that’s not relevant.
Other things to think about in regards to your website is the pictures that you use… Again, this seems basic and rudimentary, but it’s very important, because you don’t wanna get into legal problems later on. So when you’re first starting off, you can probably get away with using images from Google Images, but as you grow, you might run into legal issues because you are technically stealing someone else’s image. So any images that you use on your website, or your blog, podcast, thought leadership platform, things like that – make sure they’re royalty-free. The two websites that I use for royalty-free images are Pixabay.com, or Pexels.com. You’ll be able to download royalty-free images from there.
Secondly is tracking the analytics on your website. The best way to do that is Google Analytics. If you don’t track your website’s performance, then you have no idea what is and isn’t working. The best way to determine what is and isn’t working is to look at the analytics on a weekly basis. The three main metrics that we track are the number of pageviews, the number of unique pageviews, and the number of new users. We actually track that for the overall website, for the blog specifically, and then depending on what project we’re working on, we’ll also focus on a specific blog post or a specific page on the website.
Now, setting up your website on Google Analytics is not that difficult. It’s a highly technical conversation and not very interesting, so rather than discuss it on the podcast now, we will be giving away a free document which walks you through, with screenshots, exactly how to set up analytics on your website and create your first custom report that tracks those three main metrics that I mentioned previously, which are unique pageviews, pageviews and new users. To download that, make sure you go to SyndicationSchool.com, or look at the show notes of this episode to download that free document.
The rest of this podcast episode I wanna focus on the best practices for increasing your website traffic once your website is actually created. Because again, the main purpose of your website, the ultimate purpose is to capture the information of passive investors and convert them into customers. In order to do so, you need to get prospective passive investors to your website. These are eight or so strategies to accomplish that. These strategies come from Joe, and based off of his experience growing his website, as well as podcast interviews with people who have been able to grow social media followings of in the six figures, or people who are well-known marketing experts like Neil Patel. Let’s just dive right into this… And again, the goal of all of these are to get people to your website.
Number one is going to be understanding what you should focus on starting out. When you’re first starting off, you should focus on traffic first, and conversions later. So focus on getting people to your website, not getting people to fill out your lead capture form. Now, the standard is 10,000 unique visitors per month. You wanna work your way up to 10,000 unique visitors per month before you focus on conversion. However, since we’re syndicators, we don’t need 10,000 customers, so to speak… We need our 2,000-3,000 true fans. So rather than waiting until 10,000 to focus on conversions, you can focus on getting 2,000-3,000 unique visitors per month before you begin to focus on the conversions. That’s number one.
Number two, which is kind of broken into multiple components – leveraging social media to increase your website traffic. Starting off, you want to pick one or two channels to focus on, and focus on ways to get people from social media to your website. The top sites or channels to use are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Bigger Pockets. I wanna go over a couple of strategies and tips for each of those different channels, just because they are different, and things that work on Facebook don’t necessarily work on LinkedIn and vice versa.
Let’s start with Twitter. One strategy on Twitter is to look up your competition using the search.twitter.com function. Look up other people who are creating similar content as you, and search for their articles on search.twitter.com, and see which profiles share that content. Once you identify those profiles, you can reach out to them via Tweets or via direct messaging, and ask them to share your article, too. Because if they’re already sharing articles in that industry, they’re more likely to share yours as well. This is a little time-consuming, because you have to do it manually, but if you focus on this over time, you will see a huge impact on your website analytics, because people will be going to your blog, which brings them to your website, obviously.
Something else you could do is to search the popular hashtags for your specific niche: apartments, apartment investing, passive investors, real estate syndications, apartment syndications, multifamily, things like that. Number one, you wanna include those hashtags in any tweet that you send out, but two, it will also help you identify people who are also tweeting those same hashtags, sharing articles in that niche, and top profiles that you could potentially reach out to and have them retweet your articles or your tweets.
Then in regards to what to actually tweet, the best way to come up with content is to repurpose existing content. Again, I know we haven’t talked about the thought leadership platform yet, but if you have a blog and you write a 1,000-word blog post, you could probably pull out at least ten tweetable items from that. So if you write one blog post a week, then you’ll have at least 10 tweets for that week. Ideally, you’re doing more than that, so you have more tweets, but that’s a good start. And again, we’ll get into the frequency of posting content and everything related to that in next week’s episodes focused on the thought leadership platform. Those are some pointers on how to use Twitter.
For LinkedIn, the pointers are to 1) create your profile based on a specific goal, which in this case is to increase traffic to your website, but not only that, you wanna increase traffic to your website of your specific target audience. You’ve already defined your target audience, so you wanna create your profile with the goal of increasing the number of people from your target audience visiting your website. To do so, you want to focus on the keywords that your target audience is searching for, and include those in your profile. They’re probably searching things like “apartment syndication”, “multifamily syndication”, “apartment/multifamily investing”, “passive investing.” Figure out what main keywords your target audience is using and make sure that those are scattered among your profile, because that’s how the search function works on LinkedIn. So if they type in “passive investing”, your profile will come up.
You also want to infuse your headline with the keywords. So rather than using the basic headline, which is usually your name and your company name, instead have some sort of tagline that includes those keywords, “apartment investing” and “passive investing.”
When it comes to your profile, the last thing you wanna do is to just copy and paste your resume in there. Instead, you wanna think of your profile as a digital introduction to potential passive investors, that you want to impress and make them feel confident in your ability to help them… And a resume is not necessarily going to accomplish that, so focus on including the keywords, but also focus on including things that’ll have people perceive you as a credible apartment expert.
And then lastly – this is probably self-explanatory, but don’t have a selfie as your profile picture. It should be a professionally done picture, or at least have someone else take the picture. If you have a profile picture and they can see your arm taking the selfie, they’re probably just gonna pass over you. So that’s LinkedIn. Then, of course, you also wanna post any and all content that you have to LinkedIn, as well.
For Facebook – the best strategy for Facebook is to create a private group that is only available to your target audience. Everyone who is on Facebook knows that when you scroll through your regular newsfeed, the majority of the content is just noise; it’s cat videos, people posting pictures of their food, or going on vacation, and while that’s all fine and dandy, that’s not helping you or someone who wants to become a passive investor out.
Instead, if you create an actual private group, you can reduce all of that noise and it can be focused exclusively on your syndication business and helping out interested passive investors.
For example, we’ve got the Joe Fairless page; we also have the Best Ever Show Community page for all of the podcast listeners, and then we also have a private group for all of the syndication consulting program clients.
Something else to do on Facebook is to focus on building personal relationships. You don’t necessarily have to have every piece of content or every contact be involving real estate or syndications. Instead, you could send direct messages that are saying “Happy Birthday” or “Congrats on the new job/new deal”, or whatever it is. But instead of just posting it on their Facebook page or commenting on something like everyone else, take that extra time to send them a direct message.
Also, you can utilize the Facebook Live function. This doesn’t mean you have to have an hour-long presentation or it doesn’t mean you have to actually interview someone. Instead, you can summarize content that you’ve already created. Let’s say you’ve had a blog post that gives out five tips for finding deals, or five tips for finding an apartment syndicator – you can create a video overviewing that same content. Or if you’re going on a property tour, turn on Facebook Live. If you have a meetup group that you host, you can talk about this next week as well, Facebook-Live the speaker or the Q&A session, or the roundtable discussion, or just do a Facebook Live video saying “Hey, I’m at my meetup group. Here’s who’s speaking, here’s what I learned…” Again, the goal is to get people to watch that video and look up your name and go to your website.
Then lastly – and this will cost you money, but you can do Facebook advertising that targets your 2,000 true fans specifically, which is also a very powerful function. We actually used Facebook advertising for our passive investor site and saw a huge increase in traffic. The Facebook advertising function is very powerful.
And the fourth site that you can use is Bigger Pockets. There’s really no tricks here, it just takes consistency. Number one, make sure you set up keyword alerts for things that your target audience would likely include in their posts – multifamily investing, apartment investing, syndications, passive investors, accredited investors, things like that. And then also, I recommend posting in the forums on a daily basis, at least one time, which would take you maybe two minutes to do. Over time, you will build up that credibility; you can also include, if you have a Pro account, a link to your website… So the more times you post, the more opportunities people have to click on that link to go to your website.
Overall, for a social media strategy, you want to create a calendar that’s 30 days to 90 days. Starting off it might just be a week, but plan out when and what you’re going to post. You’ve got your one or two channels, you set up a calendar to say “Okay, I’m going to post to Bigger Pockets ten times at 5 PM every day” or “I’m going to go on Facebook Live every Monday at 10 AM.” Create that calendar and make sure that you adhere to that calendar.
And then lastly – and this could be accomplished on really all four of these sites – is interact in the comments section of the top profiles in your niche. On Facebook, join the top multifamily investing groups or passive investing groups and interact in the comments section, as an example. So that is the long-winded number two, which is utilize social media to increase your traffic.
Number three is to be better than the competition. Look up what type of content your competitors are creating and recreate that same content, but do it better and more detailed. For example, if you find a blog post with top 10 tips for becoming a passive investor, you can write the same blog post, but give ten better tips, or give 20 tips instead… Because you know that — what I mean by competition, you wanna find someone who’s the market leader in this niche, so someone who’s getting 100,000 downloads to their podcast, or getting 100,000 views to their blog, because you know what they’re doing works, and if you replicate what they do but do it better, then it’ll work for you as well.
Something else to do throughout your website is cross-linking. You want to link to other blogs and pages on your websites in any new content that you post. A good strategy is to create a piece of cornerstone content – your main, most detailed piece of content, that has the most valuable information to your target audience and the blog or the podcast that you want (it has to be a blog, actually) the most people to read. In the new blog post that you create, link to that cornerstone article. Cross-linking is a thing that helps out with your SEO and searchability on places like Google.
Next, number five, I believe, is to not expect results right away. Don’t expect to create a website today and then have 100,000 unique visitors on a month. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to not expect to really see any decent results within the first six months, and don’t expect to see solid good analytics for at least two years. Now that you know that, instead of getting discouraged after six months, make sure that you’re consistently posting new content multiple times a week on your one or two social media channels.
Next, number six, is to create content specific ot your target audience. Again, it seems like a no-brainer, but if your target audience is passive investors, then don’t write blogs about fix and flips. In order to determine what is the best content and the right amount of content, so how frequently you should post, you can do A/B tests. You can for maybe two weeks post seven times a day — sorry, not seven times a day; if you want to, that’d be pretty impressive… But seven times a week, and then over the next two weeks post twice a week, and then maybe for the next two weeks post once a week, and see which one results in the highest number of traffic to your website. You may think that seven times a week is the best, but it depends on the target audience, because some target audiences only wanna read a blog once a week, whereas other want two blogs per day, and you won’t know until you test it out.
Same with the actual type of content. You can write content that’s very valued and high-level, and then you can write content that’s very specific and detailed and see which one performs better with your audience.
Number seven is to have an easily identifiable value proposition on your website. On your homepage you wanna have the call-to-action lead capture form that is ideally giving away a free piece of content, so someone who’s visiting your website should be able to instantly identify and locate that call-to-action. That call-to-action should be offering something that is the most valuable to your target audience.
For example – obviously, your target audience are passive investors, so your call-to-action should be very obvious and front and center on your homepage; there should be good contrast between the actual call-to-action section and the background of the homepage. It shouldn’t be surrounded by distracting pictures or other lead capture forms, and it should offer something to the target audience that is very valuable to them. Again, “Top 10 tips for passive investors”, and if they type in their e-mail address, they get that sent to their e-mail automatically and you have captured their information.
There’s something else that you also want to do in A/B tests – test different locations of this call-to-action, different colors, different fonts, different wording, different giveaways, and see which ones work out the best. Again, you want to remove anything that is going to distract your target audience from this value proposition. So make sure that’s front and center and not surrounded by anything that’s distracting.
And then lastly, number eight is once you are ready to actually start converting your visitors, the best way to increase your conversion rate is to create pop-up sliders. What pop-up sliders are is they’re similar to the call-to-action/lead capture form we’re talked about on this episode, but rather than it being fixed to the page, it pops up once they visit a page. So they visit the homepage and you’ve got your initial lead capture form, but then you also create something that pops up, that they have to click off of in order to remove, which increases the likelihood of them actually filling in their information, rather than them being able to just simply scroll by your fixed call-to-action.
For these, again, you want to 1) offer free content in return for their e-mail, and 2) run the A/B tests with different popups, different timing of when it pops up, what pages they pop up on, and the entire pop-up in general (color, fonts, description and the content offered).
Those are the eight best practices for increasing your website traffic. This concludes part two, where you learned why the website is the most important aspect of your brand, and mostly that’s because it’s the first thing that prospective investors will see when they look up your name… And it’s also the main lead generator and lead capture source for your business.
We also discussed how to actually create your first website and when to bring on a third-party designer to create a more advanced website. We went over what to include on your initial website, as well as what a more advanced website will look like. We also discussed how to set up Google Analytics on your website, which involves that free document available at SyndicationSchool.com or in the show notes of this episode. Then lastly, we went over the eight main ways to increase the traffic to your website. Now, a lot of those ways involve creating content, and when you’re listening to it you might be like “Theo, we haven’t talked about any content yet” or “What is this content you’re speaking of?” Well, that’s gonna be the focus of next week’s Syndication School, where we talk about the thought leadership platform, which is probably the second most important component of your brand, second to the website. Then we’re also going to talk about creating your company presentation next week as well.
To listen to part one of this series, as well as the other Syndication School series about the how-to’s of apartment syndications, and to download your free documents, visit SyndicationSchool.com. Thank you for listening, and I will talk to you next week.