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Think Globally for a World of New Business

August 27 2012

200px grass world map greetingI spotted this awesome article from REALTOR.orgarticle from REALTOR.org and was inspired! It's fascinating to understand where international buyers are coming from and where they are looking in the United States.

Based on searches on REALTOR.com® and REALTOR.com® International, the top 10 most-searched U.S. cities by international buyers (as of July 2012) were:

  1. Chicago, IL
  2. Las Vegas, NV
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. New York, NY
  7. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  8. Houston, TX
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Kissimmee, FL

Interesting, right? Well, here's something even more interesting: the article on REALTOR.org broke it down even further and looked at where these international buyers were coming from. I should note that REALTOR.com® International translates listings into 11 languages. This explains the quantity and quality of their international traffic. You can read more about the site with their press release: REALTOR.com® Goes Global With Launch of International Site.

Maximize Global Buyers

This information isn't just interesting – it's useful. To explain how it's useful, let's look at a hypothetical.

Let's say you're a real estate agent in Los Angeles. By glancing at REALTOR.org's list, we see that Los Angeles is among the most-searched cities by many international buyers. This includes: Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany, India, France, China, Italy, Japan, Philippines, Brazil, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Now, some of these buyers will speak English, but many won't.

This tells me that, if I'm a Los Angeles agent, I need to find a way to make my online marketing more multi-cultural and multi-lingual if I don't want to miss an excellent opportunity to reach a larger pool of buyers.

How do I do this? To find out, I talked to our international expert, Janet Choynowski of Immobel. She's my go-to gal for all questions global marketing. She had these suggestions for reaching a worldwide audience.

1) Consider adding a fully-translated property search to your website.

Janet explains, "An English-only website is going to be available to about 28% of all Internet users worldwide, since the other 72% will be searching in other languages, and will be directed to websites that contain those languages. 72% more exposure online is a pretty big deal."

She continues, "You need to look at ways to 'globalize' your message, and this starts with making yourself easy to find on international search engines. It is easy to imagine that because you are on the 'World Wide Web' that you are equally visible everywhere. But if you think about it, when was the last time you came across a website in Chinese or Russian while searching in English on Google.com? This does not mean there are no such websites, but Google.com knows that you are using English language to search, and also that you are in the United States, and will feed you relevant content. Similarly, a prospect searching from their home in France on Google.fr has almost no chance of finding your English language website, because Google.fr knows that French language is relevant for that user. There are hundreds of search engines around the world, and every one of them uses this logic."

But beware which tool you're using for translation, Janet adds! Adding Google translate or a similar machine translation to your website will not help you; "In fact," she says, "search engines penalize your website for bad translations, even Google." Her company, Immobel, offers IDX translation services to put your local MLS listings on your website in 13 languages. "This increases your online exposure to 91% of all viewers, rather than the 28% you get with English only," she says.

 


We should also note that we haven't even talked about the huge community of U.S. citizens who speak a foreign language. This group is yet another incentive to get multi-lingual with your Web presence. They, too, are searching in foreign languages from right here in the United States. They're your friends and your neighbors (in addition to being a rich source of business and referrals) and in order to serve their needs you need to be speaking their language.

2) Think global with your social media presence, too.

"You can have Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles in more than one language, and you should strongly consider this if you speak another language (even if it's only well enough to post a few things)," Janet says. "It will really broaden your reach on Facebook, where about 75% of the users are connecting in other languages. Once you snag your first international buyer, they are a great resource for referrals, so keep in touch with them on social media and reap the rewards!"

Janet continues, "Our Immobel IDX-Buzz App for Facebook can put a 13 language property search right on your Facebook page, helping you leverage your contacts worldwide."

3) For many foreign buyers, you are selling property in "America" or the "United States," not in your local area (i.e. "Coral Gables" or "Beverly Hills").

They may start their search at the very top level and drill down. So, include your country in your site description, along with your city, state and zip code.

4) Create global content.

In addition to Janet's suggestions, there are a few other ideas you may want to consider:

  • Writing articles geared toward international buyers and posting them on your blog. These can be tips for relocating, ideas for finding work in your city, etc.
  • Creating a special "relocation resources" section of your website and catering it specifically to the needs of international buyers.

Next Steps