Real Estate Marketing Guide for 2021 (part 1)
Whether you’re a broker, realtor, or decided to start a marketing agency in the real estate space, this guide will help, as I will be covering marketing ideas, strategies, tools & software, and more.
This comprehensive real estate marketing guide will cover marketing for both online and offline methods (i.e. direct mail).
The guide, released in three parts, covers (1)Digital Marketing, (2)Technology, and finally (3)Branding.
Let’s start with the first one -- Digital Marketing Strategies.
PART 1: Digital marketing strategy
Real estate content marketing
“Content is king,” said by Bill Gates, is a common phrase among marketers.
We humans have been telling stories around bonfires since ancient times. They have been crucial to our evolution as a species - which survived by forming tribes. We used to love stories then, and we still love them now.
Today, content marketing relies on that fact, and many brands use storytelling as their content strategy and brand voice. With real estate, it is no different.
It is usually done in two main ways:
First, there’s the visual appeal. We all love seeing those gorgeous properties on Instagram, or beautiful drone footage of land that has flooded the web since 2015. You can definitely succeed if you have a winning strategy for your visuals.
Using visuals such as videos and unique infographics might seem daunting and yield no results in the beginning, but in the long term, it will pay off as you'll build your own identity, making more people share your content because it's being original.
Second, (and more importantly) there’s emotion. Buying or selling a home can be a stressful and challenging time for your clients, and they’ll be turning to your real estate agents for data, information, and guidance. They come to you for a solution.
The better you position yourself as a helping guide, as an authority in the space, the more people will tend to look up to you for help, and ultimately the sale (to buy from you).
So, yeah, real estate marketing…
Feeling overwhelmed? here are a few tactics you should use:
Write for the internet
Writing for an online audience is different from writing for print. Use lots of white space, bullet points, shorter paragraphs, and shorten your sentences while focusing on what matters first.
Search engine optimization can seem daunting, but using basic best practices like including keywords in your content will drive traffic to your website. If you feel you don't have the time (or energy) to learn and implement this, hire a copywriter who knows SEO.
Provide visual interest
Our brains process images quicker than text, so if you really want to attract attention, use visuals. Photos, infographics, charts & graphs, and quality video are all great ways to add visual interest to your content.
Leverage social media
Today, you have to promote your content relentlessly. Use social media to help you spread the word (like sharing your blog posts), or you can create content directly on the platform. For example, you can host a live Q&A video session on Facebook.
Repurpose your content
Get more mileage out of your content by adapting it to different forms: blog posts, infographics, ebooks, webinars, podcasts, videos, or any other format you’re itching to try. If you are able to content when starting out, this part will be much easier.
Sources for content
Some days you don’t feel creative or inspired to write anything, and that’s ok (and only human).
What you CAN do on days like these, is to look to others in your field to provide a much-needed dose of inspiration. Be careful not to copy-cat others, as it will lead to SEO penalties and brand identity loss.
Here are a few sources for you to review when looking to stay up on the news, learn about strategy, or gather creative ideas:
Websites for real estate news
Covers New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago - RE Journals
Midwest real estate news - Realtor Mag
The official magazine of the National Association of Realtors - Realtor.com
Websites for real estate strategy
News and best practices - Realty Times
Market conditions and advice for agents - Inman
News, regulations, marketing, and technology from real estate brands:
Creating a listing strategy
We're currently living in the age where information is accessible to almost everyone, and data is gathered from pretty much the same sources.
This makes life easier, but also tougher at the same time. Paradoxical, I know. While you can get loads of valuable info in just a few clicks, it means others can do the very same too.
The saturation is real.
So, how do you create an identity while still generating impact - standing out from the crowd?
Listing strategy is a key factor, and you and your agency should be following these 8 methods to generate more wins (leads & sales):
1. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
Believe it or not, I still see real estate agents still rely on low-quality images taken on their (or their clients’) cell phones. It’s outdated, and it shows, and it makes your brand look unprofessional. Hiring a professional photographer is the easiest way to get gorgeous images for your listing.
2. CAPTURE VIDEO
You don’t have to be a tech genius to get started with video. Start by filming inside the property, and if you want to be cutting edge, use drones to capture aerial footage of the property's surrounding areas. Video ads perform especially well on Facebook and YouTube. If you want to really be a part of 2021, check my guide on 360 degrees & 3D tours.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Having a social media page setup is one thing. But to have a social media page that actually updates weekly (daily preferably) is what you should strive for. The same goes for having a real estate blog. Online marketing can create a continuous income stream that works for you 24/7.
4. GO OFFLINE
When selling a home, market to the surrounding neighborhoods with flyers and open houses. Not only will this generate more interest in the property, but local homeowners will remember your agency when it comes time for them to sell. People buy from people - remember that.
5. KNOW YOUR AREA
It’s not enough to simply know about the property you want to sell. Make sure you do your homework on the surrounding area, its advantages and quirks, and how the housing market has performed there. Know about the good schools, crime rates, local development, new train lines & bus stops, and market trends. The better informed you are, the easier it will be to answer clients’ questions and earn their trust.
6. DIRECT MAIL MARKETING
Direct mail response rates may well exceed email response depending on your area and are generally cheaper nowadays. You can use online postcard templates to design custom postcards that include relevant information about your agency’s services and the local market.
7. HIRE A COPYWRITER
You hire a lawyer to defend you, and a tax agent to save you money. Why not hire a copywriter to do your marketing? Have them write up great copy that will convert more clients and will save you more time while you do the selling, rather than marketing. A copywriter can help you rank using link building & SEO while still writing fresh content keeping your brand voice and company identity.
8. COMBINE DIGITAL & PRINT
One does not contradict the other. Use both methods discussed here. You can share presentations and videos on an iPad. Then, to show them your brand is well-established, agents can show them a printed lookbook that covers commonly asked questions and other information.
Real estate email marketing ideas
A large, local email marketing list is a powerful tool for any real estate agent.
And while it may be tempting to purchase a list of leads online, you have no guarantee that any of those people want to hear from your real estate agency. Your list will be far more valuable if it’s built from scratch.
Try using these lead generation ideas:
Ask walk-ins for their email addresses
Promote your newsletter on social media sites like Facebook
Include anyone who’s expressed interest in your agency, like customers & prospects
Add a newsletter form to your website so visitors can stay updated with the latest news & listings
Ask current and former real estate clients for referrals; these can become your most valuable connections and influencers
Once your leads acquisition strategy and method is sorted, it’s time to start your email marketing campaign.
When you start the campaign, keep the content simple and straightforward to attract more clicks with killer subject lines. (I achieved an 82% increase in email open rates within 45 days working in Paris from one email headline).
Arm yourself and your agents with branded newsletter templates and a well-stocked photo library, so they can come up with marketing ideas and create professional-looking emails on the fly.
Finally, proofread and test your emails to make sure they look great on desktop & mobile devices. Mobile-friendly is a must nowadays when more than 70% of people search up homes on their smartphones.
Real estate social media marketing ideas
The real estate industry is built on networking, so social media is a natural fit, especially in the reality we’re living in right now where flights are restricted.
Social media marketing can elevate your brand, keep your name top-of-mind, and connect you with new clients.
Here are a few tips and ideas you can use & share with your real estate agents about how to build their presence on social media.
A) You (and your agents) should NOT use personal Facebook/Instagram profiles for your real estate marketing. Set up a business account on each platform. A business profile looks more professional, and it gives the owner access to helpful features like contests and analytics.
B) While stunning visuals always attract more eyes and attention, pictures alone never sell products (or services). It's the copy (words) attached to them that makes the sale. And still, I highly recommend investing time & resources for creating images that fit the unique size requirements of each site/platform.
C) No one wants to scroll past a deluge of advertisements. Instead, talk about your clients and their successes. Talk about the local area you serve, including news and community events. In short, it’s not about you, but about them. Benefits & results over features.
Host live Q&A sessions with video tools like Facebook Live.
Run contests and sweepstakes to boost engagement.
Have client-focused ads on Instagram stories.
D) Which leads me to preach: don’t forget to take advantage of paid social media marketing. You can set up geo-targeted ads to share real estate listings with people in a specific area. The same rules of engagement apply with ads -- compelling copy and gorgeous visuals.
Real estate mobile text message marketing
Nobody likes to wait for their prospects to check their mailbox or their inbox… and I have some good news if you're one of them.
Text message marketing can provide the quick response you’re looking for, but it takes some planning and thought to set it up correctly.
Here are three things to remember when you/your agents begin using mobile SMS marketing.
Easy to remember - Make the number you’re working with (try looking for quality service provider in the space) is easy to remember.
Give your audience an incentive
People giving you their phone number is a big step. Phone numbers are more personal than email addresses. You don’t want your content to feel intrusive. Offer something in return for opting in, like a discount or early access to new listings.
Follow the law
Text message marketing has to follow certain guidelines. Make sure your opt-out process is clear, and let subscribers know how often they’ll hear from you (e.g. “2-3 texts per month”). Don’t send irrelevant messages to your subscribers -- keep it focused on your campaign. Individual happy birthday texts and seasonal holiday texts are a plus!
Combining print + digital advertising
The best real estate marketing campaigns I’ve seen feature a combination of digital & traditional outreach strategies. When you combine your print & digital marketing efforts into cohesively branded campaigns, it boosts the effectiveness of both.
What you don’t want is for agents to spend twice as much time creating these two types of content (digital marketing & print marketing).
The more you can consolidate and streamline the content creation process, the better.
Creating a template library for you/your agents that includes both print and digital templates. These templates should balance the needs of both the agency as a brand and the individual as an agent.
Here are some tips for these templates, to make your digital & print marketing easier:
Templates are professionally designed and pleasing to the eye. Copy is still king, so make sure the visuals are great but the text is still very readable. It’s easy to update the images and text without disrupting the design.
Make sure branding elements (logos, colors, slogans, etc.) are up-to-date and protected from unauthorized changes
Templates should cover a variety of commonly used methods: business cards, flyers, brochures, postcards, newsletters, social media posts, etc.
Make templates with agents in mind -- so they can represent their own personal brand with photos, contact details, etc.
Hava a system for editing & approving edited templates. Once updated, templates can be approved quickly (within hours instead of weeks).
Templates can be distributed across multiple channels—published online, shared on social media, embedded in an email, sent as direct mail, and downloaded for print.
Not only will this save you time and effort, but you’ll be confident that your agency’s brand is being represented consistently and professionally. Each piece of communication a client receives from one of your agents will reinforce congruence & integrity of your brand and reassure clients that their trust in you is well-placed.
Real estate postcard ideas and facts
Because of its local nature, real estate is excellent for direct mail marketing.
Postcards can help agents introduce themselves to a local area and start building relationships with the people who live there. They also have several distinct advantages when compared to email marketing:
Printed postcards are tangible and more memorable than emails
Mail delivered to your door feels far more personal than an email message
They don’t have to be opened, so recipients will see your message right away
You can get creative as to where and how you spread them, for example:
Give them at church gatherings
Spread them while hosting house-warming events
Have charity & animal shelter events sponsored by you, and give out flyers there
And there are lots of ways to use postcards for real estate marketing:
Follow up with appointments
Offer promotions & discounts
Invite people to an open house
Announce new property listings
Advertise your agency’s services
Stay in touch with past & current clients (e.g. holiday greetings)
You might be worried about the time investment needed to produce all these postcards. Don’t be.
Providing your agents with postcard templates ahead of time, allows them to serve themselves within minutes.
And if you’re asking “does direct mail still work?”...
On average, U.S. advertisers spend $167 on direct mail to sell $2,095 worth of goods.
It represents a massive 1300% return on investment, and it illustrates an important point: direct mail is far from dead and buried. Despite the convenience and effectiveness of online marketing, direct marketing is still well worth the expense.
Although direct mail has a reputation of being annoying, recent surveys prove the opposite is true in certain cases:
40% of people will give new businesses a chance after receiving direct mail
54% want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in
56% believe print marketing is the most trustworthy form of marketing
There are other benefits, too.
Direct mail often earns a higher response rate than email, and brand recall is 70% higher among people who receive direct mail ads versus digital ones.
Add to these new digital capabilities like QR codes and augmented reality, and you can see how direct mail can be a powerful tool in your agency’s marketing arsenal - if they're well written.
Next, we talk about Technology you can use. Click here to read part 2 of the guide.