Gone are the days when you could plant a yard sign and idly wait for the phone to ring. Those distant times where you could join the local Rotary Club or BNI (Business Network International) and count on walking away with handfuls of solid leads. With nearly two million active real estate licensees in the United States, real estate marketing requires much more nowadays, and it’s up to you to make sure potential buyers and sellers can find you when they need you.
In this article we’ll explore ideas to get your digital real estate marketing started and tips for various types of real estate marketing online.
Related: How to start a real estate business
Your guide to real estate marketing online
To make things easier, let’s look at the forest for the trees, or the neighborhood for the houses, and examine three main steps, and the details within each, to get your real estate marketing off the ground:
- 1. Create your online presence.
- 2. Consider email marketing and newsletters.
- 3. Get friendly with social media.
Then we’ll wrap all this information up and outline some logical next steps for your digital real estate marketing strategy. Ready? Let’s dive in.
1. Create your online presence
You can’t market your real estate business online if you’re not really online, yet 48% of all real estate firms cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges facing their firm in the next two years.
This section will cover the importance of designing and bolstering brand identity, developing a professional website, and exploring what you can do with your website.
Building your brand identity
To build a brand that is remembered, respected and referred, you need to have clarity and consistency.
Clarity: You must be clear about:
- What you stand for
- Who you serve
- What you do best
- What value you bring to the table
- How you’re different from other agents
- What results you deliver to your clients
Consistency: You must be consistent with your:
- Color palette
- Voice/tone of writing
When it comes to both clarity and consistency, you need to establish who you are, which includes professional headshots, information about you, and photos or videos of you interacting with your clients.
Brand overhaul case study: Depend on Dakota Team
A great example of a brand that needed clarity and consistency was Dakota Riley, a real estate agent from Braintree, Massachusetts.
Dakota was stuck in 32nd place in her market center because she didn’t have the tools or know-how to succeed. She was in a tough place: she had a mix of buyers and sellers, but her cash flow was becoming an issue.
It wasn’t that Dakota didn’t have the drive and determination to succeed — it’s just that she didn’t have the online real estate marketing acumen to be successful.
With a brand overhaul to the Depend on Dakota Team, fresh headshots and some online real estate marketing magic, Dakota rocketed up to the No. 2 spot in her office in only two years and enjoyed a healthy six-figure income. It all started when Dakota established her brand identity.
Every real estate professional needs to establish two points with their prospective clients:
- You’re organized and professional.
- You can be trusted.
These people are making one of the largest purchases of their lives with you, so they need to know it will be a seamless and supported experience. If you don’t have a professional-looking headshot, spend the money to get one because it will convey your professionalism and credibility (both leading to trust).
As this will be your first digital impression, it’s well worth the investment.
When Dakota started, she had used a cropped photo from a family event. You could see the wisps of hair and sides of faces of her family members in her “professional” headshot. On top of it, the image was pixelated, so a prospective buyer or seller couldn’t even really get to know what Dakota looked like in person.
Dakota also lacked consistent information around the web. In one instance, she was “Dakota Riley,” and in other instances, she was “Dakota Riley – Realtor Keller Williams” or “Keller Williams Dakota Riley.”
Her real estate marketing information was messy, her brand name had no consistency, and it all definitely played a part in the impression she made to prospective buyers and sellers.
We worked for months to:
- Ensure brand consistency around the web.
- Develop a proper logo.
- Add watermarks to her images.
- Ensure her images told a story.
- Use brand colors throughout images and web assets.
- Create templates for future use.
The end result was nothing short of amazing.
We had essentially re-introduced the new-and-improved Depend on Dakota brand to the greater Boston area, and the results showed that we had made the right moves. To add to this comeback story, Dakota now sits at the No. 1 spot in her market center, and employs her mother along with a team of real estate professionals to help her grow the brand.
Developing a professional website
Simply put, you won’t build trust without a professional website.
According to AdWeek, 81% of consumers want to see your company’s website before they’ll even consider buying from you.
Thanks to websites such as realtor.com and dozens of television shows focused on buying and selling homes, real estate clients are more savvy than ever. As a result, real estate agents really have to bring their “A” game to attract and impress customers — and this means skilled and creative use of the internet and a balance of high-tech and high-touch.
Whether you’re an established real estate agent or a beginner, a mix of quality face-to-face interaction and strong real estate marketing via a dedicated website and social media can help you stand apart from the competition.
“You need a website, especially in smaller markets where you rely on name recognition for referrals. It’s an easy way for people to link up with you immediately. People want instant access to information.” ~ Ray Davis, real estate agent in Harrisburg, PA
What to include on your real estate website
A basic real estate website should have the following fundamentals:
- Property listings and details
- Information about the geographic area
- Short bios of the real estate team
- Links to relevant resources
Ray Davis, a seasoned real estate agent in Pennsylvania, says, “If I was starting out, I would pull out all the stops. No matter what you do, you can always do more. You just need to be realistic about how much money and time you can invest in a website.”
Using a real estate marketing blog
A website is a great place to build trust and loyalty with a blog. Most people don’t have an extensive knowledge of real estate processes and procedures. So as they prepare to make a transaction, they go online to research. They look for guides and tips to help them navigate the complicated process of buying or selling their home. Build trust by being a resource for them.
Creating and constantly contributing to a real estate marketing blog helps you bring in new clients, maintain relationships with current and past clients, and increases referral opportunities.
Think about it: you are the industry expert. You know the real estate game, and you’ve probably forgotten more than most new homebuyers will ever know. That knowledge you have can be converted into lead generation gold.
Most homebuyers (and home sellers) turn to online resources to learn more about the process before they make the first steps.
If you have a blog filled with information, then you establish yourself as the go-to resource. The trusted resource. The only resource they should consider.
What to include on a real estate blog
Blog content can include plenty of helpful topics like:
- Steps to buying a home
- Steps to selling a home
- Considerations when moving to a certain city/town
- School system ratings
- City/town government information
- Event listings
Perhaps you want to write a geocentric post that is lighthearted like “31 Things People Always Ask When You’re From Philadelphia” or “10 Tampa Stereotypes that Are Completely Accurate”. You’d be surprised: posts like these have been shared thousands of times. People love to read and share content that relates directly to their hometown, interests, or identity.
Along with writing the content, you also have to consider how you’ll distribute your posts around the web. Will you send out email marketing campaigns? Perhaps you’ll want to take a stab at social media? We cover both in the next sections.
Related: How to write a great blog post
Bonus resource: Sell Your Home marketing template
Slideshop offers an editable real estate marketing presentation template that’s specifically outlined for real estate agents of large or small companies who are introducing themselves to home owners interested in selling their homes.
Agents have everything they need to visually explain data and steps with slides containing comparative pricing charts, market history, tables and diagrams to visually explain the different processes. Simple animations help provide an engaging experience for your audience while walking your customers through pricing strategy, home inspection process, and case studies.
This PowerPoint template also comes with Pro Tips to help you edit the template in the most efficient ways.
2. Consider email marketing and newsletters
You might think the real estate market is built on houses and property. But, it’s actually built on relationships. That’s why digital real estate email marketing is so important.
And, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective means of promotion. In fact, email marketing has been shown to provide a return on investment of $44 for every $1 invested and has some of the best conversion rates of any marketing channel. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these impressive email personalization stats.
For a real estate agent to build a thriving business, you must foster relationships with new clients and stay in contact with past clients. You must keep your name in front of potential buyers and sellers because when a client has a realty need, they will call the first real estate agent they think of.
Best practices for real estate email marketing
Many agents think of email as an agency newsletter that covers various topics of interest to potential buyers and sellers in their area. Yes, it takes time. But email continues to be one of the most cost-effective means of promotion around — far more affordable than pay-per-click or traditional advertising.
Get a professional email address
Your marketing emails or newsletters might look spammy if you’re not using a professional email address that matches your domain name. Consider purchasing a professional email address, so you can keep your personal email address (@gmail.com or @yahoo.com) out of the public eye.
Add an email/newsletter signup form to your website
According to research, 98% of your website visitors will not convert. If they don’t know your email list exists, how will they sign up?
An email signup form is the form on websites or blogs that allows one to sign up for an email list. It’s usually a box in the sidebar with (at least) an “Email” field. Email sign up forms are also called web forms, webforms and signup forms.
Before you install an email signup form, watch this to learn how it all works with your prospective clients.
When a pop-up appears on a website, it triggers our fight or flight response. Do we engage with this thing that just interrupted our user experience or do we close out to preserve our overall web session? It turns out these pop-ups, no matter how annoying or interruptive, actually work in driving email marketing subscriptions.
Segment your lists
Segmenting your lists is a critical step in the email marketing process.
Imagine you send an email about a $1.2 million property you just listed to your first-time homebuyers with a budget of $150,000. It makes you look like you are ignoring their financial constraints while sending the listing to an inappropriate audience, which can cause unsubscribes and spam reports.
Segmenting usually works hand in hand with a tagging feature in your email marketing platform.
Examples of tags you would use include:
- Current Client
- Prospect or Past Client
- Stale Client
- Referral Source
You’d also want to consider geography as a tag set:
- North Shore
- South Shore
- Cape Cod
- Western Massachusetts
If you already have a list of clients, contacts, etc., then consider creating a survey and segmenting your customers based on their responses. There are a few different survey tools to consider here:
- Survey Monkey offers a free version with 10 questions and up to 100 responses allowed, but it does not provide exporting.
- Typeform also offers a free version with unlimited questions, answers, and data export capabilities.
- Google Forms is a great tool to use if you currently have a Google account. It allows for unlimited surveys, respondents, skip logic, and it will export all of the data into a Google Sheet for easy review.
Write catchy subject lines
Ah, the subject line. It’s such a small part of the email campaign with such immense impact.
A subject line can make or break your email marketing newsletter.
By reading the subject line, your recipients determine if they want to read the email now, later, or never. It’s your job as a real estate marketer to get them to open the email right now. Catchy subject lines help!
Remember that every single thing you send should serve your audience or solve their problems.
You never want to oversell or clickbait your readers — it can lead to a low open rate or an increased unsubscribe/spam click rate. When it’s appropriate, you want to make your subject lines personal to show the human side of your business. (Remember the brand identity we explored above.)
When writing your email subject lines, be sure to avoid these email spam terms, as they can land you in the spam box instead of the inbox.
3. Get friendly with social media
As a real estate agent, the name of your game is social. You need to be able to interact with leads and prospects and provide them with information quickly in order to win the day.
From a realistic perspective, there’s only one of you and so many clients that it’s hard to be everywhere and anywhere that you’re needed.
Enter social media — the amazing advent that allows you to engage with your prospects and clients right from your pocket.
Popular social networks for real estate agents include Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. Each has its own unique appeal.
- LinkedIn is aimed at networking for professionals.
- YouTube is for videos.
- Instagram for photos.
- Pinterest is a digital bulletin board of sorts.
- Facebook is a social powerhouse — helping users aggregate content of all types from brands, news sources, friends and family.
Americans spend more time on social media sites than they do engaged in any other internet activity, with Facebook as the preferred social platform. If that’s where your target audience is hanging out, that’s where you need to establish an active presence.
It might take hours for someone to return a call, but to reply to a Facebook message seems substantially more convenient and much easier. In fact, Facebook is a power player for real estate marketing.
Facebook real estate marketing tips
- Currently, 68% of Americans use Facebook. Facebook is the top choice for reaching the broadest audience online — only surpassed by YouTube. Some other stats that will pique your interest in Facebook:
- Facebook users over 65 years old have doubled to 41%.
- 66% of monthly Facebook users are logged in daily.
- Americans spend 58 minutes per day on Facebook.
- Each visit to Facebook lasts 10 to 12 minutes.
With its informal, conversational tone, Facebook is a popular platform for real estate agents to promote listings and connect with existing and potential clients.
“It is amazing to think what I’ve accomplished with social media — and specifically Facebook,” says Dakota Riley. “I have a business page and my personal page, and I use them both to promote my listings and events. But I always make sure I’m not bothering my connections by posting too much about my business.”
Dakota is spot on when tackling her social media strategy, especially when it comes to Facebook.
Use all of the social media assets you have, but make sure you’re not inundating your friends and connections with information about your business. They want to get to know you as a person just as much. Be sure to balance out the content of your posts so that you’re showing them your personal side as well.
Pro tip: Try to stay away from political or religious topics. Since you’re in the public eye and trying to reach as many people as possible, you need to walk a tight line.
Tips to get started with real estate social media
Let’s be real — you don’t have all the time in the world, and your schedule is never consistent. How can you make sure that you’re getting the best return for the time you put into your real estate social media?
Craft a buyer persona
To start, do some research to find your buyer persona.
A buyer persona helps you better understand your clients and gives you insights into their demographics and psychographics (who they are and what they like to do.)
To build a buyer persona, you have to ask yourself a series of questions to really target your ideal customer. Those questions will help you narrow down your options, so that you come out with a detailed, realistic buyer persona for your real estate marketing.
Once you have your buyer persona, figure out where they spend their time. Is it on Facebook or Instagram? Pinterest or YouTube? All of the above?
Know your channels
One of the greatest mistakes made by small business owners is to build a presence on every social media channel. Doing so stretches your brand thin and sabotages your chances of making a good first digital impression. Instead, you need to know your channels.
As you can see, Facebook and YouTube are the big players in social media, but that’s not necessarily where your potential buyers and sellers are depending on age. You may also want to consider Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
- Over 77 million users in U.S. every month
- Reaches 83% of U.S. women aged 25 to 54
- High-income and educated U.S. households are twice as likely to use Pinterest
- Two professionals join LinkedIn every second
- 154 million U.S. workers have LinkedIn profiles
- 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn
- 28% of online adults in the U.S. use Instagram
- Users 25 and older spend 24 minutes per day on Instagram
- 95 million posts published per day
- 67 million American users
- 24% of U.S. adults use Twitter
- 80% of Twitter users are affluent millennials
With all of these networks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Armed with your buyer persona, you need to ask yourself questions to pinpoint the right social media channels for you:
- Will I routinely share pictures? What about videos?
- Do I want to advertise or pay for “sponsored” content?
- How much time do I have available for creating content?
- What resources or team members can help?
- What is my budget to have someone else manage my social media?
Here are some great resources to help you learn more about the networks above:
- How to use Facebook for your business
- Learn how to use Twitter for business
- How to establish your brand on social media
- 3 ways to use Instagram stories for digital storytelling
- Make social media and email marketing work together
Following the steps outlined in these articles will help you get your real estate social media plan off the ground.
Define your goals
What are you looking to get out of your social media program? Do you want to generate a certain number of leads or drive a number of website views? Maybe you’re trying to drive phone calls or new showing appointments?
Whatever your goal is, it’s important that you have them set and remind yourself of them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to ensure you’re staying on point.
If you’re working with a social media provider, then make sure you set out goals at the onset of the relationship and revisit those goals on a monthly basis to track your return on investment.
With millions of active real estate agents in the U.S., you need to stand out on social media by providing value.
Anyone can post, but only someone who has put thought into their social media program can actually entertain, educate and engage prospects and clients.
As you create your social media content, ask yourself:
- What do I know that others may not?
- What is a differentiating factor between me and other real estate agents?
- What do I see during my workday that others might find fun or interesting?
- What can I offer to my social connects that will entertain, educate or engage them?
If you came up blank with answers to those questions, consider revisiting your unique selling proposition.
For more on creating and implementing your social media strategy, check out this beginners guide to social media.
Conclusion and next steps
You have stiff competition in your industry, but if you have a solid real estate marketing plan, then you’re set up for success. You just covered several steps to help get your real estate marketing program off the ground.
When it comes to online presence, be sure that you demonstrate clarity and consistency. Think back to how Dakota shot to the top of her market center with a brand overhaul, fresh headshots and some online real estate marketing magic. Without a clear and consistent online presence, she might still be “Dakota Riley Keller Williams” — a run-of-the-mill real estate agent with no edge.
Don’t forget the power of your real estate website and blog. With more than 80% of potential customers looking at your site before considering you as their agent, it’s important that you are well-represented and provide plenty of information to show that you know the industry. Your blog will allow you to continuously add new information with just a few clicks and keystrokes and provides you with a way to get noticed by Google and other search engines.
With website and blog running, you’ll want to look at email marketing as a way of staying connected with your leads, prospects, and clients (past and current). Remember that an email campaign should include value-added information, curated content from around your region, and a call to action to drive a response from your readers.
Finally, build out your social media program to stay connected with everyone in your sphere of influence. Consider networks like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to help you get the word out about your business, and drive more eyes to your listings and open houses. Just remember that moderation of salesy posts is critical, so you don’t scare off or alienate your connections.
With these tips and tricks, you can definitely build out a real estate marketing program to help you stand out from those more than two million real estate licensees throughout the country.