In order to come out ahead, it’s essential to keep up with consumer demands, as well as the latest technology and marketing trends.
You need to execute effective real estate marketing strategies if you want your business to grow—and we’re not talking about posting on the MLS, hosting an open house and spamming your email list.
We’ve compiled 7 essential real estate marketing tips and ideas to help ensure your business actually stands out and makes an impression with prospects—more than your competitors.
1.) Build your brand, and make sure it’s consistent
In a sales-driven industry like real estate, it’s understandable to focus on quick wins, like scoring a lead from Trulia or Zillow. However, there’s a lot to be gained by thinking long-term and investing in something else entirely: yourself. Or, more specifically, your brand.
Entrepreneur and marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk advises:
It’s FAR more valuable to build a brand so people come to you.
The proof is in the pudding: according to the National Association of REALTORS®, 82% of agents who made more than $150,000 last year had their own websites—in addition to the profile pages on their brokerages’ websites.
This is just a small indicator of what effective branding can do for your business and crucial for generating real estate referrals.
But what does branding mean, exactly? The term “brand”—interestingly enough—originates from the practice of cattle ranchers using branding irons to identify their animals more than a century ago.
In today’s terms, however, branding refers to the unique attributes which identify your product or service from your competitors. At a more basic level, this could mean a logo and colors, but as you dive deeper into developing your brand, it could also include things your voice, messaging, writing, even typography.
Your brand will also determine the look and feel of your website, real estate flyers, listing presentations and mailers, which is why it’s so important to figure out exactly who you are as a business, who you’re trying to reach and what makes you different.
Are you selling condos to Millennial first-time buyers? Do you specialize in residential homes in family-friendly neighborhoods? Or are you more focused on luxury properties? Remember the adage, if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.
Once you’ve got a handle on your brand, it’s important to make sure every aspect of your marketing efforts is consistent, from your social media to your real estate postcards and brochures.
If you specialize in commercial real estate, for example, it wouldn’t make much sense to have a sleek, corporate website, and use slang and emoji in the copy. This effect here would be disjointed and make you look like an amateur, rather than a trusted brand.
Creating a brand style guide can help you keep on track. It’s important to remember that everything—from your business cards to your social media posts—should work together to tell the same story, all while appealing to your target demographic.A sleek design like the real estate brochure template below would be similarly suited for commercial real estate professionals:
Alternatively, for a real estate agent specializing in residential properties, whose target demographic is families, using colorful marketing materials would make a lot more sense than a minimalistic and modern design:
If you find yourself uncertain over who precisely you’d like to market your services to, consider creating user personas—representations of your target audience. Once you understand their particular goals, behavior, pain points and demographic information, it’ll be much easier for you to decide the direction of your branding.
2.) Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
As of February 2019, mobile devices accounted for almost 50% of web page views worldwide, according to Statista. That means ensuring your website is fully optimized for mobile devices is no longer a bonus, but a requirement.
Failing to optimize your website for mobile devices can have dire consequences for your business and tank your real estate marketing efforts. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing, and 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
It can also hurt your reputation: according to socPub, a whopping 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site. Ouch.
The bottom line is that skimping on a mobile-friendly website will make your real estate business look dated, obsolete and out of touch with the needs of your clients. Getting your site optimized for mobile is easier than you might think. Most of the top website builder applications today – such as Wix and Squarespace – are mobile-ready by default.
Take care of this before you put the rest of your real estate marketing plan into action.
3.) Start a blog to demonstrate your thought leadership
Let’s face it: after being bombarded with an average of 5,000 ads per day, folks have become wary. In fact, it’s estimated that 30% of all Internet users are currently using ad blockers. What that basically means is unless your ad somehow involves Beyoncé serenading a pile of Golden Retriever puppies, no one wants to see it.
What people are craving is content that’s interesting, informative and relevant. In fact, according to Demand Gen Report, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Let that sink in. If you want someone to contact your business, you’ve got to give them something of value first. Something like your knowledge.
That’s where your blog comes in. It’s the perfect opportunity to not only showcase your expertise and demonstrate thought leadership, but provide potential clients with info they actually need.
Blogging should be an instrumental component of any solid real estate marketing strategy. But how do you know what your target audience actually wants to read?
Do keyword research
This is where keyword research comes in. Using a tool like Ahrefs or Keywords Everywhere, you’ll be able to determine how many people are actually searching for a particular topic. After all, you don’t want to sink an entire day writing about something you think is interesting or important, only to discover no one really cares.
Create an editorial calendar
Once you have an idea of what people are searching for, plan out your content with an editorial calendar.
Try to find ways to inject your unique spin, perspective and personality into your content. For example, a detailed neighborhood guide could be a fun way to showcase your stomping grounds while dishing on local restaurants and shops. You could also appeal to pet owners by giving the low-down on the best dog parks.
Also consider putting your real estate agent knowledge to good use by sharing tips for home buyers or sellers.
Give your knowledge away—for free!
Rather than opting for outdated techniques like gated content (i.e. forcing your website visitors to give you their email address in exchange for access to a blog post or ebook), be generous with your knowledge and build your reputation as a trustworthy and valuable source.
Hot tip: Don’t limit your content to text only. Spice up your blog with visuals such as charts and infographics.
Infographics are an especially useful tool to add to your real estate marketing arsenal if the topics you’re writing about are a little more dry or “boring” in nature.
For example, if you’re a real estate rental agent, you could create an infographic with local rent report data like this report. Presenting statistics in a visual format can be very helpful for your current and prospective clients.
Case in point: When Carrie Wood, VP of Marketing at Lease Ref—an online commercial lease review company—wanted to drive traffic to her company blog, she braced herself for an uphill battle.
Although Carrie had a wealth of information to share from her 17 years of experience—tips and guides for contract negotiation, site selection, and working with brokers and landlords—she knew it wasn’t as entertaining as, say, cat videos.
Carrie also knew she didn’t want to rely on dense, text-heavy blog posts like her competitors, which would undoubtedly drive readers away faster than a 90’s era pop-up ad.
This made her blog posts way more interesting and engaging than anything her competitors were putting out there. She even devoted an entire section of the Lease Ref website to infographics.
The best part of creating blog content? You can repurpose your content it again and again and again. Your blog posts can become Tweets, videos, or even the basis for a podcast. Podcast expert Colin Gray is a big believer in the benefits of podcasting for small businesses:
One of the biggest problems in trying to grow a small business is that of standing out and growing trust. It’s a noisy world of marketing out there, so how do you make yourself unique amongst the crowd? Then, once you’re known, how do you demonstrate that your company is trustworthy? Well, podcasting is one of the best mediums for achieving both.
You can check out this post comparing podcast hosting sites to help you get started.
4.) Use Instagram to reach a massive audience of home buyers
If you’re not using Instagram, you should be. According to Fit Small Business, only 14% of real estate agents are on Instagram, yet 59% of Millennials—the largest group of first-time home buyers—use the platform daily. This spells out huge potential to reach a massive demographic, where competition isn’t quite as steep as other online channels.
Real estate writer Julie Gurner advises:
People come to your page to see not only your listings but who you are and whether or not you are someone they’d want to work with.
Capitalize on this opportunity to showcase your personality and what makes you different from your competitors. Remember, Instagram is a creative platform, and your executive headshot and ho-hum pictures of houses isn’t going to cut it here.
Take a cue from real estate broker Ryan Serhant from Million Dollar Listings New York, who uses Instagram to showcase his fun personality, as well as his team’s success. Creative shots taken around New York City make for interesting content, especially if you’re looking to buy a place there.
His tone is also chatty, informal and engaging, and not too salesly — even as he pitches a new building. Rather than using outdated sales tactics, Ryan shows you rather than tells you why you should work with him. It’s the perfect approach on a visual platform like Instagram, where creative content is king.
In addition to letting your personality shine, consider distilling your real estate knowledge into bite-sized nuggets of wisdom that can be captured in a single Instagram graphic, like this:
Posts like this can further help position you as an expert on Instagram. You can even customize your Instagram to incorporate your brand colors, logo and typography—which is important for brand consistency, as mentioned earlier.
It’s also important to avoid relying exclusively on one particular type of post. Alternatively, mix up your Instagram feed with different types of content, so it doesn’t get stale. You can also use social media scheduling tools to help plan out your content.
Realtor Loida Velasquez had the clever idea of taking photos with her clients holding a graphic “sold” sign when they close on a home. This shows that she’s fun to work with and also demonstrates her successful track record as a realtor.
Real estate marketing specialist Aarin Chung says:
No one is going to feel a deep personal connection to an old listing photo or business logo. And personal connections are everything when marketing on social media. People want to work with those that they know, like, trust and remember.
Realtor Sarah Johnston has perfected personalization on her Instagram feed, where she offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at her business by sharing pictures of her dog.
Where some real estate agents may be tempted to post pictures of “sold” signs to signal their success in a boring and forgettable way, Sarah uses humor to show off this cheeky alternative, bringing a heavy dose of personality and fun:
Although personality is important on Instagram, it’s also a terrific place to bring your listings to life. Combine eye-catching images in your regular feed with exclusive tours in Instagram stories—complete with your own videos and unique commentary, of course. AR Creative Marketing is experienced in real estate video marketing.
Remember, don’t just focus on building an Instagram following, but connecting with the people who engage with your content.
5.) Add email to your real estate marketing mix
Email marketing may seem a little more “old-school” than some of the alternatives, but it’s not going away anytime soon. According to HubSpot, 99% of consumers check their email daily. Email also generates $38 for every $1 spent, totaling a 3,800% ROI!
Before you dive in and create your first campaign, however, it’s important to adopt the right mindset. Email marketing is not an opportunity to bombard everyone and anyone with unsolicited sales messages. For one, that’s explicitly against CANSPAM laws in the US (we’re talking $16,000 fines).
It’s also not effective, since users can simply report annoying emails as spam and poof! You’ll be banished from their inbox, never to be seen or heard from again.
Instead, think of email marketing as a chance to offer something of value to people who actually want to hear from you—your subscribers! Think back to the user personas, specifically their pain points. What problems can you help them solve?
Maybe it’s getting familiar with a new neighborhood, or figuring out where to start when it comes to tackling that mountain of information for first time buyers. Rather than sending out a purely promotional email, for example, considering creating a e-newsletter which combines your latest listings with tips and guides.
Using email marketing software will enable you to organize your subscribers into different segments—based on demographics, common interests or even where they are in the funnel. Rather than blasting out the same generalized email message to everyone, make sure your campaigns are tailored to a particular group. This will help ensure your subscribers only receive relevant messages.
6.) Elevate your real estate marketing with chatbots
Image via Automabots
The chatbot craze isn’t going anywhere, and with good reason. Chatbots not only enable you to immediately connect with potential clients, they also help you provide superior customer service to your competitors.
Think of it this way: the Internet has essentially conditioned folks to expect immediate access to information that is custom tailored to their specific needs. If they have a question, they can usually find the answer within seconds.
What happens, however, if they land on your website, wanting to know about a particular property. For starters, you might not be available right away to assist them. A chatbot can fill in. This is especially important when you consider the importance of speed. According to one report by Harvard Business Review, your chances of qualifying new leads drops a staggering 400% when it takes longer than five minutes to follow up with them.
Image via Realty Chatbot
If you think a chatbot is simply there to send automated messages to website visitors in your absence, however, you’d be mistaken. Chatbots can be programmed to serve relevant answers to specific questions, and capture your visitors’ contact information. Some chatbots can even display listing photos directly in the chat window.
Perhaps, most importantly, chatbots enable your website to be useful and relevant to potential clients 24-7, which is a major plus in such a customer-focused industry as real estate. When it comes to choosing a chatbot, there are several different options out there, from web chat to Facebook to SMS bots.
At AR Creative Marketing we’re particularly obsessed with customer service, which is why we’re such big proponents of chat support!
7.) Use SEO to boost your online visibility
Today, 80% of home buyers conduct Internet research when considering homes to buy, and 89% use the Internet to find real estate agents. This means you have to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—at least the basics.
Local SEO is a good place to start: according to GoGulf, 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information.
Make sure you’re set up with a Google My Business listing. This is essentially a snapshot of your business, showing your location on Google maps, as well as your hours, photos and customer reviews—all directly within Google search. You can optimize your Google My Business listing by ensuring it is properly filled out, using strategic keywords.
Don’t forget about your blog and website images either. According to seoClarity, Google results now contain images 34% of the time, which means optimizing your visual content for search engines is essential.
Here a three image SEO basics:
1. Compress your images before you upload them
Site speed is an important aspect of SEO, and images can really slow it down, if the file sizes are too large. Use a tool like TinyPNG to compress your images before you upload them.
2. Use strategic, straight-forward and accurate names for your image files
Remember when we told you to do some keyword research? This is the perfect opportunity to put your findings to good use.
If, for example, you determine that a lot of people are searching for “brownstones in Brooklyn” — and that happens to be your specialty — you can increase your chances of being found in Google’s image search by naming the appropriate file “brooklyn-brownstone” (instead of IMG12345, for example).
Note: It actually has to be an image of a brownstone in Brooklyn. Don’t think you can artificially boost your image SEO by naming a picture of your dog “brooklyn-brownstone”. That’s not gonna fly.
3. Use descriptive alt text
Alt text is a basic description of your image, which tells Google what it’s about. It’s also used by screen readers to assist website visitors who are blind. Providing alt text when you upload a new image — which you can do in WordPress without touching any code — is another opportunity to use your keyword, while improving your website accessibility in the process.
Back to you
Differentiating your business in the real estate industry takes time, effort and the ability to keep up with latest trends and technology.
In an age where everyone has come to expect interesting, relevant content, it’s especially important to consider the unique needs, interests and pain points of your target audience. Whether you’re crafting a blog post, creating a new Instagram story or sending an email newsletter, adapting a client-focused approach to real estate marketing will make your business stand out more than your competitors.