#169 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Isabel Affinito
This is a series of special interviews with successful up and coming real estate agents
We discuss online markeitng In this series of interviews we discuss what has work and what hasn’t worked connected to online marketing with real estate agents that are actively building their businesses to the next level.
Isabel Affinito moved to Austin Texas four years ago with her husband, with zero leads or a personal network in area! However with a lot of hard work and using modern online marketing methods she has built a successful agency. She shares with us what has worked and what hasn’t worked for her in this journey of success.
Isabel is a real estate agent with JB Goodwin, REALTORS in Austin, Texas. She stumbled into residential real estate by accident and decided to stay. She fell in love with running a business and helping people achieve their ideal lifestyle in central Austin.
She is a constant learner and is always testing out new ways to engage people. When asked about what she loves most about real estate, Isabel will tell you that it is complex human experiences involved in the process. Real estate happens to be the product, but it’s all about the people. As a real estate agent, she has learned how to run a business, sell, and negotiate with anyone.
We recommend that you also listen to this episode 150 with Michael A Giannulis connected
to using Facebook and video
Robert: Welcome back to the Mail-Right Show, ladies and gentlemen. It is the day before Halloween, my personal favorite time of the year. We are sitting with Isabel Affinito and of course, my amazing host, he always calls me his co-host so I’m just going to say host, Jonathan Denwood. Isabel, if you wouldn’t mind, we’re going to start with you this morning, if you wouldn’t mind introducing yourself real quickly, 10 seconds, 15 seconds introduction. That would be great.
Isabel: Sure. Absolutely. My name is Isabel Tinker Affinito. I live in Austin, Texas and I’m a Realtor with JB Goodwin Realtors in Austin and JB Goodwin has been in Austin for a long time. They’re a very old staple in town. I’m not from Austin originally. I was born in Oklahoma and my husband and I met in the North East when we went to Villanova and here I am selling Real Estate in Austin.
Robert: Excellent. And Jon, who are you?
Jonathan: Hi there folks. I’m the founder of Mail-Right. We’re an online service that gets you more leads utilizing the power of Facebook.
Robert: Excellent. I am a blogger. I blog about Real Estate Marketing and I also am a founder of a couple different online marketing companies that relate to Real Estate Marketing. So that the trio, the round-up. Today we’re going to talk to Isabel about some of the marketing strategies that she’s tried over her career. We got referred to her by Chris Stafford and she’s already been on some Real Estate rock star kind of thing. She’s had plenty of press and so we’re very impressed with her and really excited to have her on the show today.
So, Isabel, the format that I have suggested and I would love to hear about is I’d like to hear about some of your biggest successes and failures specifically as they relate to marketing yourself for Real Estate. What have you tried that worked and what have you tried that didn’t work? And I may ask you a couple of detailed questions. You can feel free to take a pass but I would really like to get into the numbers for our audience. Like if you tried something, I might ask how much did that cost you and like if it didn’t work or it did work. What was the ROI? That kind of thing.
Robert: All right. So, over to you Isabel.
Isabel: Okay great. Should we start with what didn’t work or what did work?
Robert: Sure. Why not? However you want to do it.
Isabel: Let’s start with what didn’t work.
Isabel: So it’s interesting being a Real Agent if you’re not on a big team, so I’m not. I’ve been independent which means that I sort of had to figure everything out for myself. You don’t have a whole lot of guidance and you sort of have to figure out marketing for yourself which also means that you’re selling homes.
So some of the hard lessons that I learned in marketing were like having a website makes very little difference. So I sort of assumed in the beginning like, “Oh, I’m going to have this website designed and I’m going to spend a good about of money doing it and then people are going to be so wowed by my website that they’re just going to reach out to me and want to do business with me.” Well, it turns out that my website got absolutely no traffic at all. I don’t know if I got any return from that or I would have people go to it, they would go and visit it, but then they would never contact me. So that was one big thing that I learned early was that just having a website was not enough.
Robert: Enough. Right. Okay.
Isabel: The other thing that I learned is that if you’re going to blog, you have to do it for years. Tell me if you disagree being in the industry, but what I found is that just blogging a few times, first of all, nobody’s going to read it and second of all, you won’t get any traffic really. And so, the biggest thing that I’ve learned about marketing, the more I’ve experimented and the more that I’ve wasted money on things, well, I don’t want to say wasted because I learned from it.
Isabel: The more money I’ve spent on things and tried things and they didn’t work, the more I’ve learned that the best strategy, at least for a Real Estate Agent I would say, is to make sure you’re coming at it for a bunch of different angles. So, at this point, my ideal is instead of focusing on marketing to everyone in Austin, I think to myself, “How does this marketing strategy fit into continuing to contact people I already know?” So my ideal is I want somebody to be on my newsletter, be on Facebook with me, be on Instagram with me, ideally, be also a friend so that I’ll run into them at parties and things like that and I need to have their phone number and their email to stay in touch with them like sometimes for years before they end up transacting Real Estate with me.
Isabel: So I guess my biggest takeaway, just to kind of sum it up, would be, in my opinion, there’s no one single marketing strategy that’s going to take people to the closing table. You have to make sure you have multiple touch points with any one person.
Robert: Okay. So here’s a couple of questions that I have. Our audience has heard Jon and I’s opinion about websites and everything else like so much to the point that I swear to God, I think we’re going to get hate mail if we cover it again. So I’m not going to cover that quite yet.
Robert: I’ll share my thoughts with you personally so that you can get my take on it because that’s directly my area of expertise.
Isabel: Okay. Excellent.
Robert: I’m going to say this. I’m curious to know. So you mentioned, you spent time and energy at least and maybe some money, so if you don’t mind me asking, when you say that, what kind of website did you build and how much did you spend on it and how long did it take you to build it.
Isabel: I built multiple websites over the last, when have I had my license, for like 6 years I’ve been selling Residential Real Estate.
Isabel: I’ve had a bunch of different websites and when I was first selling Real Estate in New Jersey, I went to a Web Developer who lived down the street from us and he did a website for me for, it was like $1,000 or $1,500 on WordPress was the platform that he used and I thought that he did a good job and that’s probably not that much in the grand scheme of websites, but when I was 22 and making all my own commissions, that was a lot of money for me to spend at that point.
Robert: Sure, sure.
Isabel: And had I known how little it would return for me, I wouldn’t have done that. I learned a lot from it. I mean, one thing that I did, I had these visions of what I wanted the website to look like and so I spent a lot of time saying like, “Well, can’t we do it this way? I really want the button to work this way instead of that way. I want it to be off to this side and then on this page.”
Like all these customizations that I could tell really annoyed him because he was like, “That’s going to take me a lot of work to do and it’s not going to make that much of a difference.” So looking back, I wish I had just said like, “Okay. You do what you do. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I just need a place for people to land to see that I’m a legitimate business and don’t let me spend more than like, let’s sit down and so an hour consultation, then you do everything.” If I could go back and do it that way, that’s how I would do it. Instead, I spent hours tweaking it and then nobody ever went to it, so why did I care about what shape the button was or whatever I was upset about.
Robert: Okay. All right. Thank you. That was brilliant.
Jonathan: Those buttons are important, aren’t they?
Robert: Stop it, Jonathan. Stop it. On the other side of the equation, being a provider of those services, if you could say, “This is a major pain point.” You just hit it. It’s like somebody who sends me a color wheel and says, “No. You got the shade of red wrong.” And you’re like, you’re sitting here looking, “They’re gradients of red.” And you’re like, “Oh my God. I’m going to kill myself.”
Jonathan: There we go.
Robert: They’re convinced that the shade of red will make a difference on the website.
Isabel: Let’s just disclose to your audience that you paid me to come on here and make your job easier. Who’s the car company right now who’s doing those real people, not actors commercials? Where they’re like, “Wow. I had no idea that this car would be so wonderful.” Nobody ever does that in real life.
Jonathan: Let’s back on track. So after the initial website and the learning lessons that you learned from that, I think on the positive side, I think what you’re talking about is, what’s the term I use? I forgot my own, to be present everywhere in front of your target audience. You said you needed to make sure you’re in front of that target audience. I just want to ask another quick question. Do you target . . .
Robert: This question has not been quick.
Jonathan: That’s true.
Isabel: But his accent is so delightful so it doesn’t matter.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s true. I can get away with it. Have you niched who your target audience is? Is there a particular person that you think you’re best suited in your market?
Isabel: I’m glad that you asked this because maybe you guys can help me. This has been something that I have wanted to nail down for years and have been unable to. So I don’t like being in a position where it’s like, “Well, I help anyone who wants to buy or sell Real Estate in Austin, Texas,” because that feels too broad to me. But as I look at the clients that I have worked with and the clients that I’ve had the most fun working with, there’s no demographic of income bracket or age bracket or anything that I can point to or even area of town necessarily. So I’ve had clients who were single and 72 and female that I loved working with.
I’ve had clients who were 23 and couples, I mean, just everything in between and every sexual orientation. There’s just nothing that I can point to and say like, “These are my people.” What I really enjoy about working with my clients is I like helping people make really successful Real Estate decisions. I have sort of a tendency to be a teacher so it’s important to me to help my clients understand what’s going on and to stay in touch with them after the transaction and help them build like a Real Estate portfolio. So when my clients call me after the transaction with questions about interest rates or whatever, I love that. I know there are some Agents who are like, “If you’re not buying or selling right now, then don’t bother me.” But that’s not me. I love for people to stay in contact with me in between. So I’ll wrap this up and just say the short answer is no. I don’t have like my niche figured out and it’s something that I would love to figure out. I just have tried for years and I haven’t been able to.
Robert: I can only answer this question from an SEO perspective. You seem like a very bright and energetic personality and you most likely just love people.
Isabel: I do love people. That’s true.
Robert: Honestly, in terms of trying to figure out a personality type you want to do business with, I don’t see that being successful. I can see like in terms of what works inside of Real Estate Marketing. What works is to create for yourself I sense of expertise online and what I mean by that is we want to go by community or sub-division.
I’ve done a lot of work in Texas and I love Austin and the beautiful part about Texas is much of it is filled with new development, which means that sub-division strategies work really well. And what works about sub-division strategies? So it also works in terms of website strategies where you build a website that silos down. And what I mean by that is let’s just pretend for a second that you do Austin Real Estate, but you can’t do all of Austin. So then you would have a website that says Austin and then you pick out a sub-territory of Austin and you click a button and now you have like a list of communities within that sub-territory and then you click that button and that drills you down into the actual sub-division.
Because one of the ways that people fail epically at Real Estate websites these days is they have to have everything be clickable with one thumb. So these search bars on these general sites that are very pretty, they have a search bar, they all fail right now. They’re not successful. I don’t care who is peddling them. They’re not going to be good for you. So what do you want? You want to decide in advance what sub-divisions in specific markets that you want to target. Now that isn’t a personality specialty, it’s an area niche.
Isabel: I like that approach. Go ahead, Jonathan. I don’t want to interrupt you.
Jonathan: No. I was just going to say you could go exactly what Robert has said. I call it geo-nichifying. You find actual areas that you want to become the actual geo areas in Austin that you want to be known as the expert. If you’re going to buy a property in that particular zip code, you’re the person that they should approach and that’s how you position yourself in the market. The other thing is choose a niche that the qualities that you initially outlined, which were quite obvious to me as you were speaking, i.e. you like people, you give an air of enthusiasm, you give an air of efficiency. So they are two very large strengths, enthusiasm with efficiency. That’s your persona. That’s the buzz that I get from you. So basically, maybe you’re the person to go to if you’re a young tech in the Austin tech tribe basically. You can literally look at the different kind of social groups in Austin and then choose where to stick your flag.
Robert: Take us to break, but I’m going to tag on to what you just said because with what she’s already said, we can tie into both one, our topic matter for today, I can ask her a couple questions about her Instagram strategies and two, if she doesn’t have a super strong focus, then I can throw some information on you Isabel and maybe help you out. So we’ll see if we can learn from each other in some way or another, but take us to break Jon.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s great Robert. So we’re going for our break folks. We’ll be back in a few moments and we’ll be back with the journey Isabel has made for Real Estate domination in Austin. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back, folks. We’ve been discussing but we’re going to go back to own main subject, domination of the Real Estate industry in Austin by Isabel. So, Robert, you had a question for Isabel.
Robert: So Isabel, to go back to the original thread of the conversation which was what’s worked, what hasn’t, you said that these days you send a newsletter, you are on Instagram and you said one other thing. What was the other thing?
Robert: Facebook. So you’re on Facebook, you’re on Instagram. So my first question for you is do you have an ROI off any of these strategies? In other words, have you made money? Have you gotten a new customer off any of these social platforms?
Isabel: Good question. So I have spent a good amount of money on Facebook and I’ve gotten enormous numbers of leads, but not of them have converted to a closing.
Isabel: Only a few of them have even converted to a meeting. So that’s been one challenge for me with paying for Facebook. I do know it’s harder to quantify this, but I know that posting organically on Facebook on my personal page, in particular, keeps me in contact with past clients and repeat clients and I have had at least one closing in the last couple months that I can remember come through Facebook because it came through Facebook messenger. It was somebody who had never liked or commented on any of my stuff on Facebook, but she goes to the gym with me and then one day she sends me a message on Facebook messenger and says, “Hey. I have a question for you about Real Estate.” And like a week later, we’re under contract. So I can only imagine that that was because she saw my stuff on Facebook.
Isabel: It’s harder to quantify that, right?
Robert: So let’s circle back around and talk about these Facebook leads. So you said enormous number of leads. Could you even place a guess for me?
Isabel: Between, let me think about this. I’ve probably, over the last year and a half, gotten between 500 and 1,000 Facebook leads.
Jonathan: That is a lot.
Robert: That is a lot. The average closing percentage off a Facebook lead is 50 to 1 for Real Estate.
Isabel: So I’m doing badly then.
Robert: So if you say you’ve gotten 500, you’re below average. However, here’s the next question and I’m going to guess you’re going to say that you don’t have a tool in place. The only way to leverage Facebook these days is to have a really sophisticated lead funnel process in place. Some tools that you could use that would actually fit the bill. Here’s, in theory, what you need Isabel. You need a tool that’s not only going to email your clients, you need to email, text message, perhaps BombBomb them.
Robert: So usually four or five different methods of touching base with this one lead usually with one tool providing all of those touches in a pipeline process. So my question to you is this. Do you have that in place?
Robert: You do? What are you using?
Isabel: But that doesn’t mean that I was using it efficiently. LionDesk is the CRM that I have used. It’s designed for Real Estate.
Robert: I’m very familiar with it.
Isabel: And I had it set up to, when a Facebook lead came in, it would populate tasks for me to call them and then it would also put them on an email drip and also on a test message drip.
Robert: Okay. These drips that you have them on, was it generating any inbound communication to you?
Isabel: Some, not a lot.
Robert: Okay. All right.
Isabel: The text more so, but the text tended to be like angry texts.
Robert: Okay. All right. Fair enough. There’s too much to get into because you know what? If Marketing was easy, guys like me wouldn’t have a job.
Jonathan: Well, Isabel will have to come back if she wants to and then we have another session.
Robert: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Isabel: We’ll do this as many times as you guys want if I get free Marketing advice.
Robert: And it’s certainly possible for us to do it, but here’s what I was going to say. So there’s a lot of secrets when it comes to getting results off Facebook, like the kind of landing page that you’re using, the message that you’re delivering. Are you using a content magnet? Are you not? So all that would come into play in terms of then what is your follow-up like. It sounds like you had a good set up with LionDesk. I use LionDesk for some of my Facebook Marketing campaigns. But the numbers I gave you are still accurate. It’s 50 to 1. So if you’re not getting the 50 to 1, then there’s something inside your process that was broken or perhaps the very start of the process was broken. When I say broken, I just mean it’s not going to get you a result that yields you an ROI. To me, any kind of marketing that doesn’t yield a profit is broken.
Jonathan: You said you’ve done a lot of Facebook advertising. Can you give us a quick outline of some of your most recent campaigns that you’ve run?
Isabel: Sure. So most recently I was working with a Facebook marketing person who I liked a lot personally and I felt like, it’s hard to find marketing people who set proper expectations and then deliver on them and I felt like he did that. So he told me what to expect from how much leads would cost and he was also willing to be creative with me in like, “Okay. Something’s not working on the conversion. Let’s tweak the emails,” or let’s whatever. So all of that was good. There’s something called the Direct Buyer Program that I have which the point of the Direct Buyer program is to give buyers access to properties that aren’t necessarily on MLS and to make sure that they’re hearing about properties as early as possible. From an Agent standpoint what this really is, is this is packaging Buyer’s Agency. So from the public standpoint, it’s a program, but from an Agent’s standpoint, it’s really just a way to explain to the public what Buyer’s Agency really is. Does that make sense?
Isabel: So the Direct Buyer Program was one good one. The others were listing focused. Like, “Here’s a listing. Get more information.” My problem with those was that . . .
Jonathan: Can I just interrupt? So basically, they seem to be aimed at buyers.
Isabel: Yes, which was one thing that I didn’t love, but what we talked about was that targeting sellers was more difficult and more expensive. Towards the end of us working together, I was asking like, “How can we get creative about targeting sellers? Because I don’t really want more buyers right now. I want to be more listing focused and so let try to figure out how to target sellers, but we ended our working together, not on a bad note, it was just like, “Look, I’ve spent $10,000 and I have zero closings. So it’s like I can’t keep doing this.”
Jonathan: I’m going to make a statement now Isabel and see if Robert thinks I’m waffling or I’ve lost the plot here, which he often thinks. He thinks I’m grouchy today. I don’t know. I think I’m very friendly.
Robert: I said dower.
Robert: All right. Go ahead.
Jonathan: He called me dower Isabel. He called me dower. I think on a kind of global view, I think I sense what the problem is. The problem is linked to the niche question really. When you find a niche, you’ll be able to target to your audience, market to your audience a lot more effectively. At the present moment, it’s a bit of a kind of effect and because you haven’t niched and then through that niche, you find out a lot about your target audience and their needs and wants and by knowing that a lot, going for a geo niche solution is hard work. But initially, it’s the most easiest because you’re just choosing an area that you really like and then you can focus your Facebook adverts to that specific area to sellers so that becomes a lot easier. But you can choose another niche and one of those I suggested to you, but by doing that, you’ll find that the Facebook Marketing and all your online marketing becomes a lot more easier. Is that making sense?
Isabel: Yes, yes. And I like the idea of going the geo route because I can think right off the bat of two or three zip codes that I like. I spend time in going to restaurants and bars. A lot of my friends live there. It’s close to my house which means that I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to go to a listing appointment or a buyer’s appointment. I can be more efficient in my business and those are the places that I hang out anyway and I enjoy selling property there and people have questions for me about, I know the gossip about the neighborhood. It would be easy for me to do that. I’m not sure what has stopped me from just committing to 78704.
Jonathan: Excluding people, I call it nichifying. I’m not sure there’s actually a word, nichify, but it’s a little bit frightening because fundamentally, in the end, you’re also restricting the amount of people that you might appeal so it’s counter-intuitive in some ways, but I can tell you that I’ve got another business and about 2 years ago, I decided to only appeal to a certain subset of my other business market. Did my business really take off? And I became the kind of success level that I was looking for. So I’m only telling you what worked for me. So I think it’s something that you should strongly consider and also it has the benefit of if you choose to niche through geo marketing specific zip codes, the general material that you talk about, videos about that area, your Instagram post, your Facebook post, the subject matter becomes self-identifying, it should be about those zip areas. It all kind of integrates and becomes a lot more easier because you have focus.
Isabel: Sure, sure.
Jonathan: What do you reckon Robert? Am I waffling?
Robert: Waffling? No, no. I would say that I agree with about 80 percent of what you said. Niches are always good, but Facebook Marketing in niches is different than websites and niches and SEO and niches. I think that targeting zip codes is going to be a great way for you to go. There’s two different types of campaigns that you can run with Facebook Isabel. We can direct somebody to a landing page that has a very fast content magnet and honestly, your expertise for a particular niche is not going to matter that much in terms of getting a better result from that content magnet or getting a better result.
Where a niche would play is you’re going to target your landing page to everybody inside a zip code and once you get on the phone with them, you’re going to be an area expert. The only time that being in a niche is going to impact your actual Facebook Marketing campaign that is not inbound or informational based is going to end up being if you’re doing video on your landing page which I would strongly, strongly, strongly suggest. Jon and I have both laughed about this in past. Some people have a face that’s made for radio.
Robert: I’m a brass knuckles kind of marketer, I really am. I call it as I see it. Some people, that’s not going to be successful. With you, it probably would be as long as your message is good.
Isabel: I have done a lot of videos on Facebook, Facebook Live. But also I have done a lot of 1-minute long videos on a topic. Like a client will run into a problem or somebody will have a question or something and I’ll record a 1-minute video explaining interest rates or explaining . . .
Jonathan: Exactly what you want to do. We’re going to have to end our podcast part of the show, but hopefully, Isabel’s going to stay on and we have another additional 10 minutes to wrap up our discussion with Isabel and then hopefully, she will decide to come back at a later stage. Isabel, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to in Austin?
Isabel: Sure. The best places to find me are on Facebook. My personal Facebook page is probably the best one honestly, Isabel Tinker Affinito. I’m also on Instagram @funkyhomesofaustin and I have a website isabelaffinito.com.
Jonathan: I love the name, funky homes. Robert, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to?
Robert: As usual, everybody can come and find me at inboundrem.com and I have more content on my website than almost any human being can possibly absorb at this point. So whatever you want to know about Real Estate Marketing, you can find there.
Jonathan: And if you want to contact me, the dower host of the show.
Robert: The dower English host like a grey cloud.
Jonathan: The dower. You can go to the Mail-Right website where you’ll be able to watch the bonus content, the additional element of our conversation with Isabel or you can go to the Mail-Right YouTube channel or you can go at 9 a.m. Pacific Standard time every Tuesday and watch our interview live with our guest or our internal discussions where we try and give you more information and more knowledge from our guests about how to make you a more successful Real Estate Agent and provide success for yourself and for your family. We’ll be back next week and I wish you happy hunting for your leads. See you later folks. Bye