The real estate industry has had some interesting ups and down over the past decade – NAR (National Association of Realtors) membership hit its all-time high back in 2006 with 1,357,000 realtors before dropping dramatically with the housing financial crisis. However, since its rock bottom in 2012 (with 999,000 members), it has been steadily increasing, and with nearly 1,100,000 members in 2014, the competition among realtors is heating up.
The competition is fierce, and these days you’ll need expert online and offline marketing skills to set yourself apart from the pack.
While real estate agents are still key in the home buying process, buyers are increasingly looking to do more leg work online before involving the experts. A study from the National Association of Realtors showed that 92% of buyers use the internet to begin their house hunting quest, driving home the vital need for real estate agents to have an active online presence. If you’re not active, engaging, and networking online, then you’re missing out.
Here are our 35 best real estate marketing tips for those looking to win the real estate marketing game.
1. Set Yourself Up For Social. Make sure you have social media accounts on all the big networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and even Instagram if you snap a lot of house pics). Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties.
2. Add Social Sharing To Property Pages. Chances are, home shoppers are eager to share their top housing pics with friends and family, so make it easy for home buyers to email and share various properties online by adding social sharing buttons.
3. Keep An Eye On The Competition. What are other realtors in your area doing? What do their websites look like? How active are they on social media? Take note of what competitors are doing – then avoid their mistakes and replicate their success!
4. Make Yourself Easy to Contact. Put your contact info on every page of your website. Ideally, make an impressive contact us page that grabs attention.
5. Create a Killer Business Card. Get an awesome looking business card and hand them out like pizza flyers on a Friday night.
6. Make Use of Local Images. In many ways, you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling a whole town or area. Showcase the best that your area has to offer, with high-quality, beautiful photos of local town landmarks and familiar sites.
7. Create an Irresistible Content Offer to Capture Leads. Consider producing an ebook like “X number of things new home owners should consider before buying” or “X most valuable features of a new home.” Offering free ebooks in exchange for an email address (and zip code, in the case of real estate) is a great way to capture leads.
8. Hire a Photo Pro. Successful real estate relies heavily on great photography. Bad photos will diminish interest in even the greatest of properties. It’s absolutely vital that you have gorgeous photos of your properties. Hire a professional photographer (preferably with experience photographing homes and architecture), or, if you have sophisticated equipment and are confident in your abilities, have your own hand at it. Just remember this is one of those scenarios when it pays to bring in the professionals.
There are tons of great resources that provide in-depth detail about real estate photography – this guide from Digital Photography School is helpful (so long as you have some basic photography experience under you belt already).
9. Create a Virtual Tour. Your clients’ time is precious, and they want to understand as much as possible about a property prior to visiting in person. Virtual tours are a great way to give a comprehensive, accurate preview of the property for potential buyers.
Here’s one example of a virtual tour (although you’ll find some aspects of this video are quite outdated). If you make your own, I’d beg you to not use music that resembles the soundtrack of The Sims.
10. Local Sponsorship. Consider helping sponsor local festivals, sports teams, or school events. Signing up as a local sponsor often means getting your business a spot on t-shirts, program pamphlets, or flyers.
11. Animated Video. Consider outsourcing a quality animated video for your real estate businesses. Short, cute, high-quality cartoon videos can help establish your brand as well as give a touch of personality. You may even want to consider featuring local landmarks or sites in your animated video to make it ultra-unique and targeted.
Your animated video doesn’t have to be super sophisticated – check out this short and very simple animated ad from Geico.
12. Pinterest Boards. Pinterest boards are a great way to provide images and information for specific listings. You can create a Pinterest board for a single property that, in addition, to property photos, highlights major benefits of the area.
13. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly. Tech-savvy consumers spend tons of time on their mobile devices. In fact, a recent study has shown that 80% of Internet users use their mobile devices for online activity. It’s paramount that your website is mobile friendly. Even better, consider creating a mobile app that potential buyers can use to review listings.
14. Create a Newsletter. Email marketing is one of the best strategies for building client relationships. Collect emails from your website, local outreach, or any other methods you can think of. Send your email subscribers the stuff they’re looking for – notices about upcoming open houses, new houses on the market, news about seminars you’re offering in the area, etc. (Note: if you work in different geographical areas, you’ll want to segment your newsletter subscribers based on their location, ensuring that they only get relevant emails and updates from you).
15. Start an Email Nurture Campaign. Nurture campaigns are like the breadcrumb paths of Hansel and Gretel, except instead of a gingerbread house at the end, clients find their dream home (hopefully without a resident evil witch).
Leave your clients a trail of high-end panko breadcrumbs by tailoring your interactions with them based on previous actions they’ve taken. If they first attended an open house with you, send them an email detailing other nearby houses on the market. If they attended your first time homebuyer’s seminar, send them your “10 Things Every New Homebuyer Should Know “ ebook. Deliver content that will help your clients take the appropriate next step, depending on where they are in their journey.
16. Build Your Google My Business Page. Google My Business is the latest in Google location-based pages. If you’re feeling confused, don’t worry – it’s basically the same idea as Google Places for Businesses and Google+ Pages. Setting up a Google My Business account makes it easy for users to find you in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+. Trust me, this one is a no-brainer.
17. Consider Going Niche. If you’ve got some real estate marketing competition in your area, you may want to consider making yourself stand out by going niche. Become the go-to real estate agent for dog owners, families with kids, divorced individuals, whatever. Making a name for yourself in regards to a specific niche need can make you memorable, especially in saturated zip codes.
18. Use Emotional Storytelling. Utilize emotional storytelling with compelling copy and powerful visual elements. Humans respond to stories – tell a good one and clients will flock to you.
Take this great example of emotional storytelling from Zillow as an example.
19. Host a Webinar. If you feel comfortable enough, hosting a webinar can be a great way to garner attention for your business. Host a “12 Little-Known Things to Look For In A New Home” webinar, providing a Q&A at the end for questions. Webinars can also be repurposed as YouTube videos, with can serve as valuable video content that can live permanently on your website! Here are some more tips on putting together a great webinar.
20. Saddle Up For Social Ads. Don’t be afraid to dish out dough for paid ads on social media. With organic reach dwindling on many popular social networks like Facebook, paid ads are often the most effective way to get in front of clients. Facebook has tons of great targeting features that ensure you’re only paying to get noticed by your key target audiences.
21. Old School Mailers. The web is where it’s at, but that’s not to say traditional advertising doesn’t have its place, especially when you have targeted audiences. Consider sending out postcards to qualified leads or potential buyers in the specific zip codes you are active in.
22. Become a Columnist in Local Magazines. When it comes to real estate, it’s important that you get laser focused on local. Getting yourself in local magazines or newspapers is a great way to get the word out about you and your brand. See if you can write a column or feature for local publications. You don’t want to be blatantly salesy – today’s consumers don’t like to be pitched to. Instead, try to showcase your knowledge. Write about how rising prices of houses on the market shows that the town is doing well, or list the reasons why your regional area is becoming more popular (maybe it’s the revitalized downtown area or improved school system).
23. Host Free Seminars For Home Buyers. Make yourself and your knowledge available to the community by hosting mini-seminars. Consider providing a basic 101 seminar about the basics of home buying and mortgages.
Remember, marketing today is all about inbound, and that doesn’t just apply online. Users want you to share some of your knowledge for free before investing time and money in you. A home buying seminar is the local equivalent of a webinar. Yes, it will take time and energy, but attendees will walk away impressed and will have established a relationship with you. That relationship will be worth its weight in gold when they’re ready to shop for a home.
24. Get Branding. Branding is your buddy – that means pens, drink koozies, and all those other freebies people love. Give out some branded goodies at local festivals and events to spread your brand.
25. Partner With Local Businesses. Developing relationships with other local businesses will be key for your real estate marketing efforts. See if you can get local breakfast joints to let you buy them a set of new coffee mugs with your logo on them, or buy a place on their paper placemat setting. Don’t be afraid to get creative with local partnerships.
26. Ask for Testimonials From Former Clients. Testimonials are tremendous trust signals. Showing that real, live people endorse your services means the world to potential clients. When a homebuyer has had a great experience with you, reach out to them and ask for a testimonial. If possible, try to get a photo of them as well. Make the most of these testimonials by placing them strategically on your website and sharing them now and then on social networks.
27. Create an Awesome Website. Today’s consumers like to do a lot of legwork themselves online when making major purchases, and that includes home buying as well. I myself have only rented, but even when renting a property I’ll Google Map the address, use Street View to get a feel for the area, see which businesses are within walking distance, look at home photos, and, ideally take a virtual tour of the property.
Make it easy for users to access all this information – make sure all your property pages have great photos, virtual tours, and easy access to Google Maps and Google Earth. List the hot spots nearby and their respective walking distances (mention the bus stop that’s just a five minute walk, or the Starbucks at the end of the block).
28. Make Your Site Easy to Navigate. All the great property pages in the world won’t mean much if your site is a nightmare to navigate. Your visitors need to have a good experience on your website, so take the time to brush up on user experience design skills and information architecture.
29. Include Local-Oriented Copy. Make sure you are including some local-oriented keywords in your copy to ensure that your content is found by buyers Googling online for homes in your area.
30. Get On Zillow. Zillow is basically the Yelp of real estate, and you really need to be on there if you want any chance of being discovered – you can ignore the sun, but it will still burn you! Zillow offers the ability to advertise as an agent on their website. This can get a bit pricey, but considering the huge role Zillow plays in home buying, it’s probably your best bet. After all, sites like Zillow account for 48% of all site traffic for real estate searches on the web.
Zillow also allows users to review real estate agents, so put on a smile and rack up that rating, as a solid star rating will greatly increase your leads.
31. Shared Scheduling App. Use a scheduling sharing app to coordinate times to show a house to buyers. Scheduling apps like Doodle can cut down on the endless back and forth timeslot swapping.
32. Give a Local Care Package After Closing. Your relationship with a client doesn’t end right after they close. You want them to remember your name so that hopefully they’ll share your info with friends, family, and acquaintances who might consider moving in the future. Send a local care package to clients after they close, with local movie or theater tickets, restaurant gift cards, etc.
33. Keep In Touch. Stay in touch (even months and years later) with past buyers in order to build in that good relationship. Send anniversary cards, holiday cards, etc to stay fresh in their minds. When they have a friend who is ready to buy, they’ll pass along your info.
34. Create a Referral System. Provide incentives for past clients to refer you to future homebuyers.
35. Leverage Call Tracking. Real estate is one of those industries that absolutely must use call tracking in their paid search campaigns. Most people use the phone when trying to find a realtor or make an appointment to view an apartment, condo or house. If those calls come about because someone saw your PPC ad, you want to be able to track which ads and keywords are driving calls.