17 Ways to Create the Ultimate Real Estate Website

While WordPress is by far the best website platform available, mistakes are commonly made when setting it up. This guide will walk you through the most common mistakes made when setting up a real estate website using WordPress and how to fix them.

real estate website mistakes and fixes

Whether you’re a real estate agent, the marketer for a broker, or a digital agency working on WordPress projects, be sure to read this list of common WordPress blunders to make sure your next Realtor website launches quickly and serves as the hub for the next top producing agent in your area.

17 Common WordPress Mistakes Real Estate Agents and Their Web Developers Make (and How to Fix Them)

The quick list of common WordPress mistakes on real estate websites:

  1. Not writing and optimizing content for SEO
  2. Installing too many or low-quality plugins
  3. Neglecting to backup a site
  4. Not changing the default permalink structure
  5. Ignoring WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates
  6. Using an iFrame or subdomain for their property listings and home search
  7. Changing a post’s URL after it’s published
  8. Using bad visuals (or none at all) on content pages
  9. Not resizing images for web upload
  10. Choosing a poor performing or bulky WordPress theme
  11. Using a poor quality or cheap IDX and home search provider
  12. Adding customizations to a parent theme
  13. Using the default admin username
  14. Using a weak password
  15. Failing to be selective about who gets admin privileges
  16. Accidentally blocking search engines
  17. Using a poor/cheap web hosting

Why WordPress should be your choice for your real estate website?

WordPress is both an incredible website platform (content management system) and is simple to use once you have a quick understanding of it.

While Wix and Squarespace can be great for a quick “business card” style website that simply shows an agents picture and their brief story, only WordPress allows for a site that truly offers the home search and consumer engagement tools that buyers and sellers expect today.

WordPress can be quickly set up, sometimes in as little as a few days, not counting the approval from your MLS to access the listing data.

After your site is up, anyone that can use Gmail can easily learn to add new content such as blog posts, community events, or neighborhood hotsheets. There are tons of free courses and Youtube videos that will walk through a new user.

WordPress can easily handle millions of monthly visitors if the need arises.

More than 33% of the entire internet runs on WordPress, and if you remove pure e-commerce sites from the list, the number is more than 50%. New York Observer, New York Post, TED, Thought Catalog, Williams, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, National Post, Spotify, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC, and more all use WordPress.

In fact, WordPress powers 15 of the top 100 websites in the world. Now, as your traffic grows, your hosting needs will change but the important thing is that WordPress is built for both small personal blogs and highly popular sites.

We’ve examined hundreds of thousands of real estate websites, and the vast majority of all top performing websites are all running on WordPress. It’s infrequent, if not rare, to ever find a Wix or Squarespace site ranking well for any region, city, or another local niche.

Your website should be the central hub of your marketing efforts and client relationships. You’ve already taken the crucial first few steps in securing your domain name and setting up your website. Let’s make sure you are truly prepared to be successful and take advantage of what is possible with a few quick fixes to mistakes we’ve seen thousands on thousands of real estate websites.

So, how do we make sure you’re prepared to be successful with your personal site or the site for your team? Let’s walk through the most common mistakes we see and the fix for each one of them.

1. Not writing and optimizing content for SEO

There’s a huge missed opportunity to publishing a piece of content or creating a community focused hotsheet and having put little to no thought into search engine optimization (SEO).

Google is constantly updating their ranking algorithm, and while there are thousands of factors that they consider, there are a few that have a large impact. To increase your traffic over time and get your content found by search engines, it’s imperative that you prepare your written content and images with search engines in mind.

The fix:

Make sure you are using only one H1 (header) tag on the page. Use several H2 or H3 (sub-headings) on each page to separate your content. Name your images with the keywords and/or title of the post. Make sure you use short paragraphs (1 – 3 sentences) and plenty of white space on the page. Google considers readability and the user experience as a ranking factor now.

For a guiding hand on each page and post, install a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast. They have a premium version that comes with a small fee, but most real estate sites will only need the free version. Yoast will give you a helpful checklist and set of tips to make your content more likely to rank on Google.

2. Installing too many or low-quality plugins

Plugins are not Pokémon. You do not want to collect them all.

Many so-called marketing or website experts incorrectly claim that adding too many plugins, even 5 – 12, will slow your site down. At best case, that is a simplistic view of plugins and WordPress that is often given to avoid walking a client through the much larger impact of using a discounted web hosting company (more on that later) or explaining how to choose quality plugins. However, adding too many low-quality plugins or even a single poorly optimized plugin can have a huge impact on your website.

There are more than 40,000 plugins in the WordPress repository. Just because a plugin is available does not mean that it is secure, will do what it claims, or will perform quickly. Others, such as a MLS property search plugin or email automation plugin will frequently use highly optimized servers of their own to provide a lightning fast experience.

The fix:

Make sure you are intentional with your plugin choices. Wisely choose the plugins that you install, and uninstall the ones that you do not use. If you are using a plugin with a premium service that requires a monthly license, look at the reviews for that plugin and the company behind it. You want to make sure that if you have any questions or need anything that their support team will be there to answer your questions.

Above all, ask yourself if the functionality from the plugin is really needed for your website.

3. Neglecting to backup a site

Ever work on an Excel spreadsheet or Word document and only after the application crashes or your laptop battery runs out do you remember that you forgot to save? Imagine writing a book and never pressing “save” on your manuscript.

Failing to regularly backup your website is similar. You want to back up your site to not only give you a place to restore from but to also be able to avoid potentially months of downtime if something happened.

We’ve seen hosts that claimed to have 3 different backups (1 for each of the previous 3 months) unable to restore a site due to their own bug. While we have a few hosting companies that we like and endorse, you’ll sleep better knowing that you have your own backup.

The fix:

Choose a hosting company that has an automatic backup of your WordPress that includes the underlying database, your WordPress theme, all settings, and uploaded files. Also, look for and install a backup plugin. There are a number of paid options, but you can also find some great free options that will save to your own Dropbox account.

4. Not changing the default permalink structure

The default permalink structure for WordPress is NOT optimized for SEO. While you’ll want to optimize each post/page URL for SEO when creating the page, changing the default setting is needed to properly do that. The good news is that this is easy to do.

The fix:

To change the permalink structure in WordPress, go to Settings => Permalinks and choose “Post name”. If your site has existing content under another setting, you want to redirect old permalinks (URLs) to the new ones. There are free plugins that will help you do this, or you can search for how to do this with an .htaccess file and add the redirects in Yoast.

5. Ignoring WordPress core, theme, and plugin updates

Themes, plugins, and WordPress are all updated periodically for bug fixes, to add new functionality, and to correct security vulnerabilities.

All software has some vulnerabilities but they are generally minimal and many times the internal team will find them before anyone on the outside does. Many of the updates from Apple, Microsoft, Android devices, and individual applications we use on our laptops and phones are to fix a combination of bug fixes and security weaknesses. Your WordPress site is no different.

The fix:

Make sure to keep your plugins, themes, and WordPress core up to date. Login to your WordPress admin. On your dashboard, next to “Updates” and “Plugins” there will be a number that appears if any of your plugins or WordPress core needs to be updated.

Tips:

  • Delete any unused and unneeded themes. There’s no reason to get notifications and feel you need to update files if your site does not need them, so remove them to reduce stress.
  • If you do not login to your WordPress site very often (e.g. Our IDX and home search tools capture your leads and export automatically to a dedicated real estate CRM), add a recurring event on your calendar to login and look for updates every 2 – 4 weeks.

6. Using an iFrame or subdomain for their property listings and home search

One of the plagues that infected the real estate industry years ago was the use of iFrames and subdomains on real estate websites. Not only does Google dislike these but they frequently confuse consumers and can provide a poor experience on mobile.

What is an iFrame?

An iFrame is where content from another source or website embedds on your website. Think about adding a YouTube video to your websites. Whether you use the embed code from YouTube itself or use an “add video” widget from a visual builder in your theme, this content displays on your website kind of like a window. Imagine if you could put a magic window on an interior wall of a house that would show what was happening in another country.

Why to never use iFrames?

Google and other search engines know that this content is not on your site and therefore does not reward your site for that content. Too many iFrames on your site may even hurt your rankings.

What is a Subdomain?

A subdomain is a string of characters that precedes the root domain and uses a period to separate them. In the case of www.YourSite.com, the “www” is the subdomain. If you have a home search on your site with a subdomain such as search.YourSite.com, then “search” is the subdomain.

Why use subdomains?

Many 3rd party technologies are limited in their capabilities and this is the easiest (or only way) they can add their content to your website. While there are reasons for larger websites to organize content with subdomains, this is almost never the case for real estate.

Why to never use subdomains?

Google considers a subdomain as a different website according to every major SEO expert. Google’s own Search Console requires you to set up separate profiles for subdomains. That’s another good indicator that they value subdomains differently.

Therefore, if you have MLS property listings displayed through a search on search.YourSite.com, Google WILL consider this a completely different website than your main site at YourSite.com or www.YourSite.com. Unless you have the marketing budget of a major media organization like Disney or NBC, it will be very difficult if not impossible to rank your site well.

The Fix:

If you’re building a new site, never use a marketing technology or anything else that uses a subdomain or iFrame. Adding a youtube video to a post or page, or even a landing page tool such as Infusionsoft or Hubspot, can be okay as you are not trying to rank those pages. However, if it’s content and a part of your website experience that is core to your clients’ experience, such as an IDX or MLS Property Search, only choose an offering that will work with your site as part of its core content.

If you have an existing website that relies on iFrames or subdomains, begin creating a plan to migrate to a modern solution. Some new marketing solutions will even help you make the switch effortless. As an example, if you need help easily migrating another IDX solutions, the Showcase IDX can help you retain your community pages and even redirect your old pages that have ranked in Google to your newly updated website.

If you need a new web developer, check out our list of Approved Real Estate Web Developers.

7. Changing a post’s URL after it’s published

You may be tempted to open an old post and change the URL when you’re updating it, but this is a place to show caution. When you change the post slug, you break all the existing links that may be pointing to that page. Any links to the old URL will lose traffic and provide a poor user experience that leads to a 404 error. Google will also consider the post URL a new page/post unless you do this correctly.

The fix:

Before you initially publish a post/page, make certain the post slug is the way you want it. If you know that you’ll update the post in the future, consider that in the post slug. As an example, if you page about 2019 Summer Events in Downtown Atlanta, instead of making the slug 2019-summer-events-in-downtown-atlanta, make the slug summer-events-in-downtown-atlanta.

In addition, if you have installed Yoast SEO, it can automatically remove “stop” words and shorten the post slug, as well as provide additional tips for creating a good post/page slug.

8. Using bad visuals (or none at all) on content pages

Images are critical to holding your reader’s attention, especially if it is a text-heavy article. Even normal articles perform significantly better with good visuals. Research shows that content with visual receives 94% more views than content without visuals.

Plus, the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, which can be extremely helpful if you’re explaining local real estate trends to a potential client.

The fix:

Canva.com is a great, simple, and free tool that will let you easily create visuals and find free photos for your website.

If you are using a graphics editing software (tip: Keynote and Powerpoint can be used for this too), Unsplash.com provides thousands of high-quality, professional images for free that can be used for commercial purposes.

9. Not resizing images for web upload

Images are frequently the reason for a slow site.

If you’re using a modern IDX and real estate consumer engagement tool, it will handle optimizing the property images and host them on a platform like Google Cloud (the same platform that hosts all of Google itself).

However, for images you or your web developer are adding to your site, you should consider preparing your images before uploading them. This can be done with an editor like Photoshop, Preview on the Mac, or by using a plugin to resize images and reduce their file size.

The fix:

If you’re working in Photoshop, go to Image -> Image Size. Make sure the resolution is set to 72. You’ll want to reduce the width of the image if applicable to 1,800 pixels for wide full-size images or 600 to 1,000 pixels for regular site display.

10. Choosing a poor performing or bulky WordPress theme

Having worked with tens of thousands of real estate agent, brokers, and web developers, a poor performing or bulky WordPress theme is often one of the hiccups that I’ve seen delay the launch of a new real estate website. This can often cause ongoing issues for the agent as well.

Many people look for a “real estate” specific theme when buying a new theme or they read how easy the “visual builder” makes creating a new site. While there are some incredible WordPress themes, most real estate specific themes are bulky, may slow down your site unless you pay for a premium host, and can cause issues with the Property Search you’ll pick.

The fix:

Do not choose a real estate specific WordPress theme from one of the marketplaces where you can buy a theme. Also, be careful of many of the “lists” articles unless written by a web developer that has set up dozens (or hundreds) of real estate websites. While these list articles may be great for links to their article, they are generally written from a quick Google search rather than experience and research.

Instead, look for a highly rated theme where people have specifically mentioned SEO and page speed. If you’re working with a solid web developer, the themes included in WordPress can be great as well, as much of the experience for your clients and lead generation are delivered by the IDX solution you add to your site.

We also maintain a list of the best theme for agent, real estate team, and broker websites. We have reviewed thousands of WordPress themes and are able to see the themes that work well for tens of thousands of agents and Realtors, as well as those that may cause you a headache. Just ask our concierge team for the updated list.

11. Using a poor/cheap IDX and home search provider

Many agents and Realtors think of Internet Data Exchange (IDX) as adding home property search to their site. That’s close. In fact, IDX (also called Broker Reciprocity) is a set of guidelines from NAR that “gives MLS Participants the ability to authorize limited electronic display of their listings by other Participants”.

Your IDX solution is much more than that. It is not only access to the property listing data but more importantly, it is all of the consumer engagement tools on your site including:

  • Property search (advanced or simple, what search criteria, etc.).
  • Map search and polygon search (on both mobile and laptop)
  • Call-to-action and lead generation tools
  • CRM tools
  • Automated emails and content to consumers with new and specific listing
  • Social sign-in for consumers
  • Native SEO friendly content
  • And much more

As mentioned above, many older or less-powerful IDX solutions use iFrames or subdomains to add these tools to your site. We’ve also seen agents left without a working site by choosing a company that enters real estate to chase an opportunity and then shuts down after a few months or years, leaving agents with a broken website.

The fix:

Make sure you choose an IDX WordPress Plugin that

  1. meets your needs as the backbone for your real estate website
  2. is built by a company that is stable and growing and
  3. has a support team that is available to answer your questions.

If you’re looking for a community of agents across the country to learn marketing tips and share what is working best for lead generation, Showcase IDX has an active group of incredible agents and brokers that you won’t find with any other provider.

12. Adding customizations to a parent theme

Many themes come with a child theme and a parent theme. The child theme takes the functionality of the parent theme and tweaks from the child theme. If you update the parent theme, you could be causing headaches for your site. Updates from the theme developer will generally overwrite any of your additions.

The fix:

The safest way to update a theme is with a child theme. This allows you to make changes without ruining the original theme’s code and will ensure your changes are not lost.

13. Using the default admin username

WordPress creates the username “admin” by default, which can be troublesome for security. Hackers know this and this makes it easier for them to take control of your website.

The fix:

During your initial installation, you’ll be given the opportunity to change the admin name to anything else.

If you’ve already setup your site with the admin name, you can still change this. 1) Log in as admin 2) Change email address 3) Create new administrator account 4) Log out and log in as new administrator 5) Delete original admin account 6) Associate all admin account posts with the new administrator.

14. Using a weak password

Many of us will use a weak password or one they’ve used on other sites because they do not want to forget it. However, the easier your password is for you to remember or if another site using that password becomes compromised, the easier it will be for hackers to guess your password and gain control of your website.

The fix:

Change to a strong password that includes a minimum of 10 characters, an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character. There are several great password management applications that can help you generate an ideal password and store them for you.

15. Failing to be selective about who gets admin privileges

You wouldn’t give just anyone keys to your car, and you shouldn’t give just anyone the keys to your website. While you may need to provide temporary admin rights to a support team, be mindful of who you give admin rights too.

The fix:

Login to your WordPress dashboard, go to users, and review the roles and permissions for each user. You can also use a plugin like User Role Editor to add additional functionality for restricting access if needed.

16. Accidentally blocking search engines

WordPress’s setting can impair search engine’s ability to discover content on your site. While this can be great when you are initially building your website, you will want to ensure a particular box is NOT checked when you ready for a larger audience to find your site.

The fix:

In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings => Reading. Make sure that the “discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT checked.

17. Using a poor/cheap web hosting

We know it’s important to keep expenses low and make sure you’re getting a great ROI (return on investment) for the money you invest in your website. We’ve seen many agents and brokers mistakenly opt for an uber-cheap (or budget) hosting for their website.

You may choose a great IDX solution, client engagement suite, and domain name, but if you’re using a budget host, it’s like putting cheap fuel in a Lamborghini.

Some budget web host will provide poor performance for your clients and can even cause downtime for your site and business, which will cost you money in the long run.

The fix:

You do not have to spend hundreds of dollars per month on a host to get great performance, but you may have to spend more than $5 – $10.

You want your hosting provider to be tailored for WordPress and to offer services like uptime guarantees, security, stunning customer support, and more.

Next Steps

These are the most common WordPress mistakes we see that hold back agents and broker from creating a great foundation for their marketing hub.

Have a question on one of these or another? Shocked by any of these? Did you find these useful? Please let me know in the comments below. I read every single question and comment. I’m happy to help where I can and your feedback will help shape my future articles and videos.

Servant Leadership Infographic

10 Qualities of a Servant Leader {Infographic}

Learn the framework that high-performance leaders know to truly succeed at work, at home, and in the community.

Our guest this episode is Kurt Uhlir, well known startup adviser and board member! We talk to Kurt about influencer marketing. Marketer in the Middle is where the region's top marketing leaders candidly discuss the intensity of the ever-shifting sales & marketing landscape, especially where B2B and ABM is concerned. Hosted by Mike Stiles and Michael Valverde.

Kurt Uhlir talks Influencer Marketing on the Marketer in the Middle Show

Awesome to sit down with my friends Mike Stiles & Michael Valverde for their show Marketer in the Middle to talk about Influencer Marketing and the history of Social Media.

Entrance Hall at The White House

Behind the scenes at the White House

See behind the scenes pictures from my recent trips to Washington DC and the White House. Join me on this informal tour of some places in the White House that few people get to see.

Made in America Roundtable: White House Article (video)

“We’re here today to continue our celebration of American manufacturing as part of Made in America Week. The leaders and innovators around this table create the products that fill our homes, defend our nation, and enrich our lives.”

Find Success By Choosing To Unbalance Your Life. Secret to finding success and work life balance as a high performing leader, executive, and founder.

Find Success By Choosing To Unbalance Your Life

Discover the secret to finding success and work-life balance as a high performing leader, executive, and founder.

CMO Talks: Thriving in the Influence Economy with Kurt Uhlir

Kurt Uhlir Talks Thriving in the Influence Economy

Get a glimpse into Kurt’s talk Thriving in the Influence Economy.

Welcome to the Influence Economy - Influencer Marketing

How to Thrive in the New Influence Economy

What started as a small wave of change has become a tsunami that’s changed the marketing landscape. While there is no going back, the future looks extremely bright for marketers. Welcome to the influence economy.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On How To Incentivize Your Influencers and Community Groups

Influencer marketing is a hot topic, but actually implementing and optimizing these programs can be intimidating for most marketers. The intimidation makes sense. While word-of-mouth marketing has been central to marketing for years, the wave of influencer marketing has raised questions on how to best work with, motivate, and leverage influencers .

65% of brands already have an influencer program and most of these are new programs. Learning all the nuances can be a tricky and time-consuming feat, especially if your marketing team is already running near full capacity. To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’ve put together a handy cheat sheet that businesses and marketers can use to decide how to best incentivize influencers. 

If you’re still new to influencer marketing, check my Intro to the Influence Economy7 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing is Fueling High Growth Brands and 3 Types of Influencers Your Brand Needs for a jumpstart.

Incentivizing Influencers: Do you pay them? Is that even the right question?

Should you pay your influencers? The short answer is ‘not necessarily’. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about influencers and brand ambassadors. The better question is “Should you incentivize or compensate your influencers and ambassadors?”. That answer is most definitely ‘yes’. Most influencers do want to be compensated but many times cash is not necessary or even the best option for incentivizing them.

While there are influencers that will only talk about your brand if you pay them (and companies that will take your money to match you to them), that’s called advertising and they may be promoting your competitor next week. True influencer marketing is built upon an authentic relationship with your brand – it’s like organic marketing on steroids. The best influencers for your brand are people who use and love your products, not just advertisers with an audience.

Monetary Incentives

While there are many ways to incentivize authentic influencers without cash, here are some successful strategies that involve some cost:

  • Enter your top influencers into a giveaway: No matter the type of campaign you’re running, your influencers help you promote it. Entering the influencers that drive the most results into a giveaway can be a great way to reward them and make it fun.
  • Send them pre-launch product samples: If you’re able to track the influencers that have been active with your brand before, sending them a pre-launch sample or setting aside some inventory for them is an easy way to thank them for being a loyal fan and helping tell the story. Plus, you get to take credit for retail value while paying wholesale cost.
  • Sponsor them to attend a conference or event: Is there an industry event your influencers would like to go to? Giving them passes to an event and/or covering the travel expenses for some of your top influencers is not only a great incentive, it also gives them an incredible brand experience to talk about. If you have discounted or free passes, even better for your budget.
  • Discounts on products or services: This one may not directly impact your budget and can be a great loyalty perk for your Micro Influencers. In the past many brands would verify a possible influencer’s credentials and then move them to a list where they pretty much had discounts for life. Today you can actually track the ROI of your influencers and offer discounts only to those active influencers.
  • Pay influencers directly: While most brands quickly learn that paying influencers to talk about them is really like trying to “rent authenticity”, it can be useful for driving short-term waves of traffic. If you’re one of the brands that has a celebrity that is a genuine fan of your brand, you’re in a special category and this can be a useful tactic for rewarding them.

Non-monetary Incentives

Non-monetary incentives and perks are some of the most important ingredients to a high performing influencer strategy. I’ve seen dozens of truly creative ideas that build relationships and authentic loyalty with influencers. Here are some consistent top performers:

  • Social (public) recognition: Your everyday influencers are already uber fans of your brand, so thank those that drive the most user-submitted photos, recipe downloads or anything else you’re tracking in your campaigns. Sideqik’s influencer dashboards make this easy and more fun for your influencers.
  • Status within the community: This can be a big one. Simply calling them ambassadors or coming up with a group name for your everyday influencer can be a huge reward. We’ve seen this in the outdoor sporting industry for years as they’d accept people as “Pro Staff” and with various sporting related companies that created their own “Team ______”.
  • Access channel for exclusive content or deals: Do you have any valuable or exclusive content? Release it through your influencers. It could be anything from recipes if you’re a nutrition company, to behind the scenes footage if you’re an entertainment brand or in-game content or beta codes if you’re a game publisher. Not only does this highlight your influencers, it also helps your content go viral.
  • Access to behind the scenes experience at store, conference or event: Everyone loves exclusive access. With a little creativity, every brand has dozens of these possibilities available to them. One marketer we know, simply sectioned off a private section for their influencers at a big event and provided some light snacks and sodas. It was a HUGE hit with their influencers and helped them connect online personalities with real world people.
  • Preferential treatment: This one depends on your brand but can you upgrade their shipping, list them at an event, etc. There are lots of options for everyone from e-commerce companies to consumer brands.
  • Appearance in brand videos: If your brand frequently uses videos in your marketing, think about how you can bring your influencers into them. One of our customers found that their everyday influencers were better at making walkthrough and help videos than their staff.
  • Access to tools and technology they wouldn’t otherwise have access to: Does your company make tools or technology that would benefit your influencers? One of the benefits for Sideqik customers is the ability to give influencers access to some our analytics and influencer tools.
  • Help growing their own audience and/or their influence: It’s a social world. While not everyone is watching how many people follow them on Twitter, Youtube, Twitch, Instagram, etc., some people are active community builders. We’ve seen many companies incentivize their influencers by helping them grow their individual followings and communities. The bonus is that as they become more influential that they help more people know about your brand.
  • Swag: Who doesn’t love swag? Know who your best influencers were for the last campaign, over the last month, or the last year? Send them some a shirt, some stickers or anything. It’s another place where creativity can be fun. We’ve seen several brands do small run batches of swag exclusively for different types of influencers.

We all like to be part of something bigger. Think about what’s in it for your influencers and what they’re trying to accomplish. An influencer that feels like they can engage with a special opportunity will be more likely to be loyal and drive bigger results for your brand.

Small Investments Have Huge Payoffs

Ultimately, influencer marketing is a form of earned media (i.e. media that a company earns when individuals become part of the marketing channel). There are some costs associated with building an influencer program but they’re small when compared to the massive return. Small investments in identifying your Micro Influencers and growing your influencer marketing program will pay big dividends in the months and years to come.

What other ways have you seen to incentivize influencers? What are your favorites? I know this is like asking a fisherman where their favorite “spot” is but we all grow when we help each other out.

3 Types of Influencers Your Brand Needs

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to think about each of these types, both to ensure you are utilizing all of your available influencer channels, and also to ensure you are working with them in the most effective way possible.

You will have a different relationship with each type of influencer, and the way you engage, motivate and activate them will vary as well.

Influencer Types To Build Into Your Plan

At some level, anyone that has an experience with your brand and your products could be an influencer. That includes fans/followers, those people that engage with your brand on social media, receive your email blasts and like your latest Instagram photo. They’re an important part of your marketing mix – your owned and earned audience. The key is to identify who has the most influence from those that already have a relationship with your brand and products. Would some be great brand ambassadors? Are there individuals and groups you should spend more time building a relationship with to maximize their promotion of your brand?

The first step in building a successful influencer marketing campaign is to segment your influencers into (at least) 3 categories:

#1 Micro Influencers (think long tail)

Most marketers are familiar with the long tail of search marketing (SEO). Brands used to focus their keyword marketing on just 5 to 10 top keywords. Eventually they realized that a ton of value is contained in not just those top keywords, but the thousands of other “long tail” keywords.

The same concept holds true in Influencer Marketing. Many brands today are focusing on their top 5 or 10 influencers. But the true power of influencer marketing lies in the thousands of everyday influencers – micro influencers. They are your most loyal customers and raving fans. They’re motivated by passion and interest in your products. Of the three types of influencers you should cultivate into your strategy, they are the most accessible.

This is also the reason Jeremy and I started Sideqik. We wanted to provide the tools and automation that allows any business to build relationships with and activate their micro influencers.

While these influencers may have less connections, their collective reach adds up to massive numbers for your brand. The typical ambassador has 500+ connections on social media. With the right strategy and program in place, you can build relationships with them and reach authenticity at scale.

#2 Professional and Semi-Pro Influencers

This group includes people that make a living from or are known for their personal brand, including bloggers, Youtube and Twitch streamers, executives, pro-staff, sportsmen and guides, etc.

Seth Godin talks about people and brands that have loyal “tribe”, a group of people that follow and listen to them. Often these influencers have found a niche and formed a tribe of people who value their opinions. An important aspect of working with this type of influencer is to ensure that their motivations and incentives are aligned with yours, while also maintaining authenticity. The best campaigns with these influencers are based on a real relationship with the brand, so that their recommendations are authentic.

#3 Celebrities & Journalists Influencers

How many marketers have heard their boss say “If only we had ______ talking about us”? Fill in any celebrity name, whether a movie A-lister or one of the top names in your industry.

Whether you’re looking at Blake Shelton, RGIII or PewDiePie, these influencers have massive reach. Nearly every customer at Sideqik has or begins working with celebrities in their industry by phase two of the Influencer Marketing rollout.

It’s serendipitous when a celebrity is really a fan of your company and you have a relationship with them. But most brands do not start with those relationships already in place. The problem with recruiting celebrities is that marketers often waste valuable time and marketing resources with nothing to show for their efforts.

The most successful brands have marketers that see the value in reaching not just the A-list names but also the next tier within their industry, in addition to their Long Tail influencers. Who are the athletes, players, authors, musicians and actors that your potential customers pay attention to? Who can you build authentic and mutually beneficial relationships with?

Success Comes From Quality and Quantity

Many agencies and tools will tell you that it’s the quality, not quantity, that matter for the success of your influencer marketing. While quality is always important, businesses see a massive increase in the value of their influencer marketing when they can scale their programs.

After having worked with hundreds of brands, I can confidently tell you that successful brands have found that marketing automation combined with a great influencer marketing strategy lets your brand tap into the best of both quantity and quality. Most companies are able to activate influencers that let them extend their reach by 50x – 200x what they could reach from their email list alone (link to article 2 in series), within the first phase of their Influencer Marketing program.