The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Marketing

There was a time when real estate marketing consisted of putting an ad in the paper or advertising on the real estate channel on TV. But as we’ve settled into the digital age, those methods just don’t cut it anymore.

Whether you’re new to the business or a seasoned agent, this guide will help you build a real estate marketing campaign that’s unique to you and designed to get eyes on your properties — and of course sell them quickly.

With this guide we’ll cover how to:

  • Set up a website to maximize your reach.
  • Create engaging images to increase your sales.
  • Create high-quality video walk-throughs of properties to increase attendance at open houses.
  • Create and run Facebook ads to consistently drive traffic to your website.
  • Optimize your landing pages to get your leads to take action and contact you.
  • Start and grow a blog to build your reputation as a trusted resource in the community.
  • Use Google Analytics to analyze, understand and improve your website’s traffic.
  • Use Google AdWords to create targeted ads that will engage your target audience.
  • Enhance your social media presence to increase exposure to your brand.
  • Run email marketing campaigns to turn leads into clients.
  • Launch a referral program to get more clients with little effort.
  • Get your properties listed on popular listing sites to reach audiences you wouldn’t have otherwise.

You’ll know what tools are available, how to use them and how to build a marketing strategy with them. Let’s get started!

Set up a website

Your website is one of the most powerful ways to market your properties. More than any other marketing technique, your website increases your reach because instead of only marketing to people within your immediate location, you can market to a larger audience. And the more people who see your properties, the better your chances are of selling houses quickly.

Chances are there are potential buyers who live outside of the community you service but want to move to it. Without a website you’d miss out on this group who’d have no idea that you offer what they’re looking for. Setting up your website is the first step to reaching a larger audience. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

1. Select your domain name

The first step in planning your site is to decide on a domain name. Come up with five to 10 options and then use a domain checker to see if any of your choices are available.

There are a few things to consider when you choose a domain name:

  • To make it easy for potential clients to find you, use your name or incorporate your agency’s name into your domain. For example, do <<firstname>><<lastname>>.com or <<firstname>><<lastname>>.<<agency>>.com. The benefit here is that you’re more likely to find an available domain, it’s easy to remember and you can build a brand around your domain.
  • If you choose a different domain name format, make it something that will be relevant years from now. So instead of focusing on specific features — like “homes by the lake” — that might not be relevant when buyers’ needs change, think of something that will last longer.
  • There are a lot of creative ways to end your domain name — like .me or .biz — but .com is still the standard for real estate.

2. Make your site IDX-enabled

Website building platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Weebly and Placester offer real estate-themed templates and have an IDX integration. This simply means that your website will be able to automatically display the listings that appear on multiple listing services (MLS) in one place. Also, potential buyers will see your most recent listings first, which will help draw attention to them so they sell fast.

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3. Increase site traffic and grow your email list

Once you’ve built your website and have listings showing, you need to get people to see them. To do this you have to use tools designed to help you manage and share all of your content. For example, you need a tool that will help you manage your email signup forms and other popups. You’ll also need a way to create, upload and send information to your audience. For example think about how you’ll create and share eBook, whitepaper and infographic downloads.

Tools like HubSpot and Sumo offer features to help you increase your website traffic. They have features that help you build your email list, onboard new customers and let customers share your site with other people — all with minimal effort on your part.

Consider adding a freebie — like a lead magnet — to grow your email list. You can give away a free market report, tips to help sellers get their homes ready for sale or finance tips for buyers ready to buy their first home. Make it something of value to your audience and they’ll be willing to give you their email address in exchange for your content.

4. Consider design and content

With attention spans getting shorter you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention. When they get to your website they scan and decide if the information is interesting enough to stay on the website. To keep people on your site longer:

  • Don’t use a lot of text. When people are greeted with a wall of text, the last thing they want to do is wade through it. Their natural instinct will be to close the tab — never to return. Instead, parse out the most important information you want to share and keep it short and simple. If you sold 10 houses in the last month say something like, “proven sales record with a 90% close rate.” Play up your strengths but get to the point quickly.
  • Use bright and engaging images. Images will catch your readers’ attention really quickly and make your site more inviting. You don’t have to invest a lot of money to get high-quality images either. Use an app like Snapseed to quickly edit pictures you take on your phone and add them to your website.
  • Make the call-to-action (CTA) clear. Do you want site visitors to give you their email address, contact you or write a review? Stick to one CTA on your homepage so visitors know what’s next. From a design standpoint a callout button stands out from the rest of your page. If your color theme is red, make the button blue. It’ll stand out instantly compared to everything else on the homepage.

Check out this homepage:

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There isn’t a lot of text, there are lots of sleek, modern images used and the orange CTA at the top makes it clear where visitors go to search for properties. Combined this makes the site easy to follow and engaging.

Optimize your images

Once you’ve set up your website, use your images to get buyers and sellers excited. High-quality images give buyers a chance to picture themselves in the homes you’re selling and gives sellers an idea of the type of quality standard of service you offer. Before potential clients meet you they have a sense of what to expect, which is important in this digital age. Most first contacts happen online so your images have to position you as the best person to help new clients.

2D images are great but you can take the images on your site one step further with 3D scans. If you’re trying to sell a house in a not-so-popular neighborhood, use a tool like Matterport to showcase the inside of the house. Matterport photographers will take pictures of your property and then create a 3D rendering of the house. Buyers can explore every room in the house — like they’re walking around during an open house — before they reach out to you for more information.

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This extra effort piques buyers’ curiosity and interest in the properties you have available and you get qualified leads coming your way. Making viewings as easy as possible for buyers is the future of real estate marketing. Use your images as a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you can deliver quality and save customers time, you’re on the right path to selling more houses.

If you’re taking your own photos — with a camera or on your phone — here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Invest in inexpensive staging or use available props to add color and diversity to your images.
  • Use a wide angle to make rooms look more spacious.
  • Use a tripod for clearer pictures.
  • Use natural light to makes spaces look more open and airy.
  • Clear out clutter to make rooms look more welcoming.

If you’re not a professional photographer look at pictures of properties similar to the one you’re selling and focus on what you like about them. Try to replicate this in your pictures. The goal is to make your images as appealing as possible without breaking the bank.

Create video walkthroughs

Video is another great way to draw attention to your site and listings. Instead of only relying on still images to tell a story, videos and virtual tours draw people in because they get a chance to explore a house at their own pace. It also helps you because viewers will have specific questions to ask when they connect with you. You can spend your time asking more in-depth and thoughtful questions to close a sale vs. answering surface questions like how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are.

You don’t even need an expensive camera or a professional videographer in some cases. Depending on your budget and the type of houses you’re selling — the expectation for images of million-dollar properties is different from that of mid-range family homes in the suburbs — use your phone to record videos. Smartphones these days come equipped with high-quality cameras so your videos will showcase your homes really well. The better your homes show the more inviting they are so that you can make a quick sale.

A few tools to help you make and share videos include:

  • Animoto – a video maker designed for realtors
  • Renderforest – a real estate marketing tool for creating videos
  • Videolicious – helps realtors make and edit videos

If you do hire a videographer or invest in a drone, use them to capture the property from a different angle. For example, record an overhead image of the property to give buyers an idea of what they’re getting or film around the surrounding neighborhood.

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Videos are also great to have on your site for buyers who are moving to the area but can’t make it to open houses. Videos will show them whether your properties have the amenities they’re looking for before they book a private viewing. It saves them time and gives you qualified leads.

Create Facebook ads

With more than 2 billion people using Facebook, it’s grown to become the dominant tool for advertising. If you target more than one group of clients — like say first-time home buyers and empty nesters because both groups are looking for condos in the city — Facebook lets you create targeted ads that speak to specific audiences. This way you can easily run multiple ads at once that are easy to track and act on.

For example, you can create one ad campaign that focuses on condos but have more than one ad set — one for each target audience so that your properties are seen by the right people. In return, this increases your chances of selling more properties because Facebook has done a good job of categorizing the different kinds of users on the platform.

Let’s say you want to target first-time home buyers — you can click on the following targeting options in Ads Manager:

Demographics → Home → Home Ownership → Renters (or Even First-time Home)

Once you’ve narrowed down your audience, run an A/B test by creating two versions of your ad — test different images, CTAs and content — to see which one results in the most clicks on your ad and converts to people getting to your landing page.

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You can also test the type of Facebook ads that perform the best with your audience. For example, instead of a single image ad, you can use carousel or slideshow ads that let you use multiple images in one ad. Your audience is very visual so also include high-quality images and videos that show off the best features of your properties. Consider showing the kitchen, bathrooms and living room — places where people spend the most time in a home.

To learn more about Facebook advertising check these resources:

  • AdEspresso – a guide to all things related to Facebook advertising to help you optimize your Facebook ads
  • Buffer – they offer a Facebook Ads guide to help you get started
  • Facebook resource center – offers inspiration to help you create ads that convert leads

When you decide on the type of ad, one way to get people to engage with your ads is to ask questions. Get to know your target audience and answer questions that relate to their pain points. For example, ask first-time home buyers “Want to know how to save big on your first home?” to get them to take notice.

Optimize your landing page

Once you’ve published your ads, you need a place to direct all of the traffic to. That’s where your landing page comes into play. It’s meant to reinforce the message in your ad and get the leads to convert.

In this example of a Zillow ad, the message is “can’t decide whether to buy or rent? We’ll help you.”

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Interested leads who clicked on the ad were then taken to this landing page with a rent or buy calculator:

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It’s important to note that your landing page should be different from your homepage. Landing pages are meant to have specific content that relates directly to your ad. Your homepage has more general information that doesn’t usually relate to your ad.

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Your homepage has lots of information about who you are, the services you offer and information about what clients can expect to get from you when you work together. The point of this page is to give people general information. Your landing page, on the other hand, has one objective and it matches the call to action in your ad. The point of this page is to turn site visitors into leads.

To find out more about how your competitors advertise, use a tool like Adbeat. Enter in your competitor’s web address and see the types of ads they publish, how much they spend, how long ads run for and the landing pages they use.

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Use this information to create landing pages that stand out in comparison. Let’s say your ad offers free home evaluations. Your landing page should include a summary of the evaluation service, what people can expect plus a contact form for them to submit a request.

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This way you capture leads quickly vs. sending site visitors to your homepage where they browse and don’t complete the intended task before leaving your site.

These types of landing pages that target sellers have a high conversion rate because this group is bottom-of-funnel and ready to sell.

Start blogging

Real estate blogging is a newer form of real estate marketing because when you provide relevant content you make it easier for buyers and sellers to find you online — and trust you. The more people who can find you, the better your chances of selling more homes. Remember, you’re not just marketing to your immediate area but a wider market.

In addition to being relevant, your posts have to be SEO focused. When you figure out what type of content matters most to your audience, use keywords to help people find you organically through search engines. If you’re targeting millennials who want to buy condos in the city, use a free tool like Ahrefs to find the keywords people are searching for.

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You can see how many people search a specific term in a month, how often they search for it and how difficult it is to rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) for it. Notice in the “keyword ideas” section you can find alternative keywords and see how they perform in comparison to your original search term.

Other keyword research tools include:

  • Keyword Tool – you can search how keywords perform on different search engines
  • KWFinder – find new keyword ideas based on your searches
  • Google Keyword Planner – find keywords based on your target content

Once you have a list of content ideas, get your readers to engage and leave comments. Get them to contact you by asking questions within each post. For example, if your posts focus on financing because that’s a major concern for first-time buyers, then ask questions like, “Want to know what you need to do to save for a down payment? Download this free guide” or “Are you ready to buy your dream home? Call me to get started.”

This way you get your audience’s attention and you offer them a solution that requires them to give you their contact information or contact you.

Learn how to use Google Analytics

Once you have a website, ads and people coming to your site, you have to figure out what people are doing on your site. Are they spending a few seconds on landing pages and leaving? Are they browsing particular types of listings? You need a tool that tracks this information so that you can understand how your marketing efforts are working and what needs to change.

Google Analytics gives your real estate marketing efforts more focus because it tracks the success of your website. It does this by breaking down who’s coming to your site, what they do while on your site and where they spend the most time.

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Setting up an account is easy. Here’s what you have to do:

  • To get started, head to https://www.google.com/analytics/.
  • Go to Sign in and click on Analytics. To set up a new account click on sign up and follow the prompts. If you’re signing into your existing account, then just enter your login information.
  • Enter your website information so that the app knows what to track.
  • Set up the views you want data to be collected from. For example, if you want to segment your data by market or location, this is where you’d do that. This way you can track how site visitors from different areas use your site.
  • Google will give you a tracking code to add to your website. This information is used to track and log data in your Google Analytics dashboard.

This will get you started so that you can start to track data. For example, you can look at site visitor demographics to build profiles of the types of people your site attracts. Is it what you expected? Are there surprises? Use your findings to improve or enhance your site to get your target audience to stick around longer.

For your blog, look to see what types of content people read the most by clicking on Behavior → All Pages.

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Use this to expand on content that performs the best. For example, if your posts on home staging do well, then expand on this idea and write about companies that offer the service, the benefits of staging or even how to use your own furniture for staging. This way these people spend more time on your site and trust your resources. You need this trust if they’re going to buy from you.

Let’s say your site is set up to drive people to the listings page once they get to a landing page. If Google Analytics shows a huge bounce rate on your landing pages — people leave your site after looking at just one page — then you know something’s wrong with your landing page and needs to be changed — like the message isn’t clear or the contact form has too many required fields. Go to Behavior → Landing Pages to see which ones have the highest bounce rates.

Or if people spend a lot of time on your listings pages but don’t call you, it might mean that you have to make the CTA clearer. For example, make the “contact me” button a bright color that’s different from the others on the page so that it stands out.

Explore Google AdWords

If you don’t want to rely solely on Facebook ads to get traffic to your site, there are other options available to you. The benefit here is you maximize your exposure by getting your ads in front of a wider range of potential customers. For example, even if people don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, you won’t miss the opportunity to market to them because you can find them on another platform.

Google AdWords is another platform to use to increase the reach of your ads. It’s Google’s online advertising service. Unlike Facebook where you can target users based on their interests or their demographics, AdWords lets you target users based on what they search for.

So in addition to finding applicable content, users will see your ads at the top of Google search results:

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Sellers might be searching for ways to prepare to sell their home while buyers are searching Google for tips on how to finance their home. Depending on the keywords used in these searches, AdWords tells you the frequency they appear in searches so that you can tailor your ads accordingly.

When you have your keywords and you’re ready to create an ad, simply:

  • Understand the quality score for each of your keywords. This tells you how relevant your keywords are to your ad. For example if your ad is for single-family homes, your keywords have to match to increase your quality score and lower your bid amount.
  • Set your bid amount. This is the maximum amount you’ll pay when people click on your ad.
  • Organize your services into categories. You have campaigns to campaigns and ad groups that fall under campaigns. You can have separate campaigns for sellers and buyers and below each one specify exactly what you offer. Like for buyers, ad groups could be financing, open houses and market trends.
  • Set your budget. You can set your daily budget and bid amounts.
  • Set your keyword match types. For example you can set negative keywords so that your ad doesn’t show up when these words are searched. Alternatively, you can set broad match or exact match when terms similar to or exactly the same as your keywords are searched.
  • Decide which devices your ad will show up on. And decide which landing pages ads will take leads to.
  • Write your ad and include your keywords. Include a clear CTA so leads know what to do next.
  • Publish your ad and track conversions. Use the results to make adjustments if conversions are low and track leads using Google Analytics to compare their actions to people who find your site organically without seeing an ad. If there’s a big difference, focus more on AdWords or on building your blog.

Make it easy for leads to connect with you by including your name, location and contact information in the ad. Make it easy for leads to find your contact information so they don’t have to search for it when they’re ready to buy or sell.

Beef up your social media presence

There’s no way to escape the fact that platforms like Twitter and Instagram offer solid opportunities to help you sell more homes. 59% of adults between the ages of 18-29 use Instagram and 36% of adults in the same age range use Twitter. These platforms help you stay connected to audiences in real-time since you don’t have to wait for them to see an ad somewhere online.

Choose the platforms you focus on based on your target audience — for example, in addition to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you can find your audience on YouTube, Reddit and Pinterest. If you’re selling houses to millennials, then Instagram is a good option to get their attention and engage with them.

Since Instagram is a photo-sharing app, the pictures you post should give your followers a look at the inside and outside of properties and the surrounding neighborhood. Get creative and show pictures of clients wandering around your open houses or pictures of you at events to show how engaged you are in the community.

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Use hashtags so that your content is at the top when your target audience searches for information. Use the following tools to help research the best keywords for your content:

  • Keyhole – shows how many people used your hashtags
  • WEBSTA – find hashtags that you can rank for vs. using overly popular ones
  • Hashtagify – shows how popular hashtags are compared to similar options

If your focus is Twitter, then tweet about all the content you offer on your website. For example, tweet about new listings or about a new service you offer. Engage with your followers by answering questions in the comments and retweeting their tweets. The key to success with your social media strategy is to provide a constant stream of content. Use a social media management platform like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you manage your content and automatically publish it for you.

Use the following tools to help research the best keywords for your content:

Explore email marketing

Email marketing is the most direct way to connect with your audience. When someone gives you their email address it’s their way of saying, “talk to me.” Based on the type of information that’s most important to your audience, set up a schedule where they receive regular updates from you. This consistency keeps you top of mind when they’re ready to make a purchase or sell.

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Consistent follow-up also positions you as a valuable resource to buyers and sellers. For example, if sellers want to know what they can do to sell their home quickly, send out a four or five email series newsletter laying out some pointers. Be sure to incorporate how you can offer value with these so that email subscribers come back to you for help.

Use a tool like Campaign Monitor to easily create unique newsletters that readers will open and read and that you can track to understand what types of emails perform the best. In addition to sending your own content, use your emails to send subscribers new listings and information on new housing trends.

Other tools to help you with your email marketing campaigns include:

Launch a referral program

Advertising can cost a lot depending on how much you rely on it to get visitors to your site. Depending on the budget you set for your Facebook ads and Google AdWords you could spend a lot on clicks and views. Another option is to get your current client base to advertise for you.

To grow your customer base quickly, use a referral program. There are a few ways to make this tactic work:

  • Ask past clients to refer new customers to you
  • Get past clients to leave testimonials on your website
  • Meet potential clients at in-person events like expos or trade shows

What’s important is to show new clients the value you offer. If you offer services like free home evaluations for sellers and financing tips to buyers include this information when you talk about the benefits of working with you.

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Use a tool like Extole to build a referral program that you can share on your website or on social media. The program should put the emphasis on what the “advocate” — the person who’s worked with you in the past — is getting in exchange for their referral.

If your referral comes from a past client, give the advocate a $100 Visa gift card that they can use anywhere. If your referral comes from a current client, give these advocates a credit to Home Depot or IKEA that they can use towards renovating or decorating their new home.

Get your listing on popular listing sites

With so many properties on the market and a large market to cater to, it makes sense that there are multiple listing sites for users to visit. If you can get your listings on popular sites, then you increase the number of people seeing them exponentially.

Sites like Zillow and StreetEasy are real estate marketplaces that list properties for sale and rent. Because of their popularity they’re a great way to get your properties in front of audiences you wouldn’t have otherwise.

But to make this approach work you have to “claim your listings” on these sites to make sure you receive the leads coming in for them. For example, Zillow sells the space next to listings that aren’t claimed on their site. So instead of seeing your contact details, site visitors see “Zillow preferred agents” information instead. Buyers contact these agents thinking one of them is the listing agent.

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If your listings are getting hundreds of views a day but none of those leads are coming to you, you’re missing out on growing your client base.

To claim your listing on Zillow, all you have to do is:

  • Create an account.
  • Search for your listings.
  • Click on “claim your listing.”

When you’re done, use the information you get from the leads to grow your email list and direct site visitors to your website to see more of your listings.

Make real estate marketing work for you

As you can see a lot has changed and with access to digital devices more common, the real estate marketing landscape continues to change.

Don’t feel that you have to do all of these tactics at once. Pick two or three to commit to in the short-term and judge how much they helped you sell properties. Slowly add in more options as your business grows and you learn more about your target audience.

About Aaron Kardell

Founder and CEO of HomeSpotter

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