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Many people think of marketing as a linear event: someone sees your ad, then asks you to be their agent. However, it’s often not that straightforward. Instead, think of marketing and advertising as a valuable means to build consumer trust. Only after you have the trust of your consumers will you be able to guide them into the conversion process.

The question then is how to build trust with your online audience. One great way to connect with new clients is through a real estate blog. According to CoSchedule, there is a five-step process to convert blog readers into customers. Let’s break it down for real estate.

1. Provide content that they can connect with.

Most of the time, prospects visit your blog because they’re looking for an answer. Think about the kind of audience you work with and tailor your content to fit their needs. For example, if you work with first-time buyers, write blogs answering some of the questions you’ve received from clients. You can also share free eBooks, checklists, and other downloadable resources like this Home Buying Guide.

2. Make your content sharable.

When readers interact with your blog content (usually by sharing it on social networks), they’re not just promoting your content–they’re promoting your brand. How do you create this sharable content? Let’s face it, most people like to talk about themselves more than anything. According to Entrepreneur, “people are more likely to share content that will help define themselves to others, while 68 percent of people share to show who they are and what they care about.”

So if you’re creating blog content that certain groups can use to define themselves, they are more likely to share it, and in doing so drive their followers back to your page. For even easier social sharing, embed a widget in your blog to allow users to post snippets from, and link directly to, your article. If a reader keeps sharing your posts, you’ll know you’re beginning to build a relationship.

3. Create devout followers.

Occasional readers are nice and can help push your content into the world, but what you really want is a loyal following. A loyal follower will want to keep connecting with you and reading your new content, and they’ll also be sharing your posts and driving traffic back to your blog. You can track your loyal followers through an RSS feed or offer a blog e-newsletter. For example, on our Homes.com Blog we have an option to subscribe to an e-newsletter that emails followers the newest blog posts. It’s a great way for readers to keep up with the latest news and for us to keep in touch with our followers.

4. Inspire followers to promote you.

As your loyal readers continue to interact with your content, the goal is to turn them into advocates of your services. Similar to referrers, those who read and share your blogs are actively promoting you and your brand. Your advocates may recommend you to their friends as a valuable source of information, or consistently share your posts on social networks. Either way, they’re identifying you as someone they trust.

5. Convert to a client

Once you’ve built a relationship, your readers will be much more likely to become clients. Since they trust you and have seen the value you can provide, they’re already primed to work with you.

The first step in converting leads is getting in front of them. If you are looking for more ways to drive buyers and sellers to your blog, the Homes.com Feature Agent and Featured Office ads place you and your listings at the top of search results in your city. These ads also have a customizable call-to-action button that can send traffic directly to your website or real estate blog.