Real estate marketing guide: Ideas, tips and tools

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The real estate marketing guide is a comprehensive look at real estate marketing ideas, strategies, tools & software. This guide covers both offline and online real estate marketing ideas, from direct mail postcards to email campaigns. If you’re a broker or marketing director for a real estate agency, sharing these marketing ideas with your real estate agents will help you stay on the same page as you work together to build a formidable real estate brand.

We’ll start first with marketing strategies.

Part 1

Marketing strategy

Real estate content marketing + video ideas

Digital marketers have a saying: “Content is king.” Content marketing has been around—and will stick around—because people love a good story. It’s in our nature as human beings to be storytellers, and real estate offers rich opportunities for engaging content.

First, there’s the visual appeal. From gorgeous properties to happy home buyers, there’s no end to the photo and video content an enterprising realtor can create.

Second, there’s the 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.

When you put effort into video and content marketing, it pays dividends down the road as people discover and share your real estate agency’s content, cementing your brand’s status as a thought leader among your competition.

Are your real estate agents new to content marketing and unsure where to start? Here are a few ideas to get them started:

  • Give readers value.
    Your agency’s content should be relevant, timely, and offer something new to your audience (such as information, data or insights).
  • Write for the internet.
    Writing for an online audience is different than writing for print. Shorten your sentences, break up text with brief paragraphs and bullet points, and always put the most important info first.
  • 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 real estate listing videos are all great ways to add visual interest to your real estate content.
  • Harness social media.
    Gone are the days of “If you build it, they will come.” Today, you have to promote your real estate content. Social media can help you spread the word, or you can create content directly on the platform. For example, you can host a live video session on Facebook.
  • Use SEO.
    Search engine optimization can seem daunting, but using basic best practices like including keywords in your content and landing pages will drive traffic to your real estate website. Use website plugins like Yoast to quickly add metadata and sitemaps to your site to improve your discoverability in Google.
  • Repurpose your content.
    Remember the old saying, “Reduce, reuse, recycle”? It applies here, too. Get more mileage out of your content by adapting it to different forms: blog posts, infographics, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, video, or any other format you’re itching to try.

Dive deeper into the best practices for real estate content marketing in this blog post.

Creating a real estate listing strategy

The data revolution has finally come to real estate, and today, nearly everyone has access to the same information. So, how do you create an impact and stand out in a crowded marketplace? Turns out, your real estate listing strategy can make or break your real estate agency.

Are your real estate agents following the best practices for creating their listing strategy? If you’re ready to win more listings, here’s a list of 7 listing techniques to share with them.

  1. Hire a professional photographer.

    Far too many real estate agents still rely on low-quality images taken on their (or their clients’) cell phones. It doesn’t impress online shoppers, and it makes your brand look unprofessional. Hiring a professional photographer is the easiest way to get gorgeous images for your listing.

  2. Harness the power of video.

    You don’t have to be a tech genius to get started with video. For example, real estate agents can create slideshows of photographs that act as a virtual tour of the home. The next step would be filming inside the home. Some enterprising realtors even use drones to capture aerial footage of the property and surrounding areas. Video ads perform especially well on Facebook and YouTube.

  3. Be present and active online.

    It’s one thing to have a social media page; it’s another thing to update it frequently enough to be effective. The same goes for having a real estate blog. Online marketing can create a continuous income stream that works for your real estate agency 24/7... but first, you have to put in the effort to build a content library.

  4. Go offline.

    When selling a home, market to the surrounding neighborhoods with flyers, block parties, and open houses. Not only will this generate more interest in the property, but local homeowners will remember your real estate agency when it comes time for them to sell.

  5. Know your area.

    It’s not enough to simply know about the property you want to sell. Make sure your real estate agents do their homework on the surrounding area, its advantages and quirks, and how the housing market has performed there. The better informed they are, the easier it will be to answer clients’ questions and earn their trust.

  6. Use direct mail marketing.

    Mailing lists are cheaper than ever, and direct mail response rates still exceed email by a long shot. Your agents can use online postcard templates to design custom postcards that include relevant information about your agency’s services and the local market.

  7. Combine digital & print.

    Give your clients the best of both worlds. To show them your brand is tech-savvy, real estate agents 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.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Real estate email marketing ideas

A large, local email marketing list is a powerful tool for any real estate marketing strategy. 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.

Help your real estate agents build their own email marketing lists with these lead generation ideas:

  • Ask walk-ins for their email addresses
  • Ask current and former real estate clients for referrals; these can become your most valuable connections and influencers
  • Add a form to their real estate website so visitors can stay updated with the latest news & listings
  • Promote their newsletter on social media sites like Facebook
  • Include anyone who’s expressed interest in your real estate agency, like customers & prospects

Once they have a list, it’s time to start their email marketing campaign. There are proven practices here, too. Keep the content simple and straightforward, and attract more clicks with killer subject lines. Provide your real estate 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. If your real estate agents follow this advice, they’ll save time and leave a better impression.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Real estate social media marketing ideas

Real estate is an industry built on networking, so it’s no surprise that it’s a natural fit for social media. 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 share with real estate agents about how to build their presence on social media.

First things first—don’t allow real estate agents to use their personal Facebook profiles for their real estate marketing. A business profile looks more professional, and it gives the owner access to helpful features like contests and analytics.

Next, it’s a fact that visuals perform better than text on virtually every social media platform. For that reason, it’s critical to include images with your posts. You’ll get even better mileage by creating images that fit the unique size requirements of each site. If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry—use pre-made social media templates to ensure your content is pixel-perfect.

What should real estate agents be posting about? 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. Host live Q&A sessions with video tools like Facebook Live. Run contests and sweepstakes to boost engagement. If you follow the 80/20 rule, you can pepper in property listings without seeming spammy.

Finally, 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 content and gorgeous visuals.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Real estate mobile + text message marketing ideas

Mobile is becoming increasingly important to the homebuying process. A study from the National Association of Realtors found 80% of millennials and 78% of Generation X found their home on a mobile device. Be sure your website is mobile friendly and your real estate agents are equipped for mobile-marketing strategies.

Tired of waiting for real estate prospects to check their mailbox or their inbox? 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 a few things to remember when your real estate agents begin using mobile SMS marketing.

  • It starts with a keyword.
    People will opt in to your advertising by texting a specific keyword to a 6-digit number called a shortcode. Make it short (2-15 characters), easy to remember, and relevant to your business.
  • Advertise your keyword and short code.
    Share the details on your website, social media pages, and business cards. You can even include it in places like physical “For Sale” signs, so people will see it when they drive by.
  • Give your audience an incentive.
    Texts are a personal form of communication, and you don’t want your content to feel intrusive. Offer something in return for opting in, like a discount or early access to new real estate 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 marketing campaign.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Combining print + digital

The best real estate marketing campaigns feature a combination of digital & traditional outreach strategies. When you combine your print & digital real estate marketing efforts into cohesively branded campaigns, it boosts the effectiveness of both.

What you don’t want is for real estate agents to spend twice as much time creating two types of collateral: the stuff they make for digital marketing and the stuff they make for print marketing. The more you can consolidate and streamline the content creation process, the better.

Set up a template library for your real estate agents that includes both print and digital templates. These templates should balance the needs of both the agency’s brand and the individual agent:

  • Templates are professionally designed and pleasing to the eye
  • They cover a variety of commonly used collateral: business cards, flyers, brochures, postcards, newsletters, social media posts, etc.
  • It’s easy to update the images and text without disrupting the design
  • Branding elements (logos, colors, slogans, etc.) are up-to-date and protected from unauthorized changes
  • Agents can represent their own personal brand with photos, contact details, etc.
  • 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 email, sent as direct mail, and downloaded for print

Not only will this save time and effort for your agents, 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 real estate agents will reinforce the integrity of your brand and reassure clients that their trust in you is well-placed.

Real estate direct mail marketing ideas

Because of its local nature, real estate is an excellent candidate for direct mail marketing. Postcards can help agents introduce themselves as a local business 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
  • They don’t have to be opened, so recipients will see your message right away
  • Mail delivered to your door feels far more personal than an email message

There are lots of ways to use postcards for real estate marketing:

  • Advertise your real estate agency’s services
  • Announce new property listings
  • Invite people to a block party or open house
  • Stay in touch with past & current clients (e.g. holiday greetings)
  • Follow up with appointments
  • Offer promotions & discounts

With all of these opportunities, you might be worried about the time investment needed to produce all these postcards. Don’t be. If you provide your agents with real estate postcard templates ahead of time, they can serve themselves within minutes. Check out some of our real estate postcard templates for inspiration and ideas—or to adapt them for your own.

Does direct mail still work?

On average, U.S. advertisers spend $167 on direct mail to sell $2,095 worth of goods. That represents a massive 1300% return on their 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 this 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. To learn more about direct mail best practices for real estate, check out this blog post.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Hire a real estate marketing agency

  1. Scenario 1

    Your business has doubled in size in the last three years, which is awesome! However, in the last six months, you’ve noticed a plateau in your growth—or maybe even a slight decline. You want to continue scaling your business in both size and revenue, but you’re not sure how to stimulate and support that growth.

    Solution: As head of your brand, you have a lot of responsibilities, and it might be best for you to hire a marketing expert to work full-time in-house or hire a talented consultant who could perform the marketing tasks you don’t have time for.

  2. Scenario 2

    Your real estate business has been rapidly growing since you started up. You have been running all of the marketing yourself so far. You’ve learned a lot about creating flyers and campaigning on social media, but your marketing skills are still limited. If you had more time, you could learn more skills such as copywriting and videography, but time is becoming a more and more precious resource.

    Solution: Hiring a real estate marketing agency will provide you with a professional team. They can collaborate with you to create and execute a new marketing strategy that will give your brand the boost that it needs.

  3. Scenario 3

    You’ve seen a good amount of growth in your real estate business. Currently, you and another real estate agent are running the marketing together. Lately, your marketing efforts have felt directionless, and neither of you know what the next step should be. You’re proud of your efforts and all that you’ve learned so far, but it’s time to strategize on a more sophisticated marketing plan.

    Solution: Hiring a real estate marketing agency will help your agency find the right direction. You can also choose which tasks you need the agency to complete for you, so you can better focus your time and efforts on serving your real estate clients.

For more guidance on how to hire a real estate company, visit our blog post on the subject.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

What to look for in an agency

When you’re searching for a marketing agency to partner with, there are several things that you want to consider before hiring an agency.

  1. Vision

    You’ve created a vision for your real estate business. If you want to see your vision come true, then your marketing agency has to understand and support it. The agency you hire will create strategies that impact your brand and business, so you want to make sure they’re on the same page as you.

  2. Services & skills

    Before searching for a marketing agency, you should sit down with your team (no matter its size) and discuss which services your brand would benefit from and which skills your team needs help with. Once you’ve created a list of the services and skills most beneficial to you, look for marketing agencies that specialize in those areas.

  3. Works well with you

    This might seem trivial, but it is so important that your marketing agency has similar culture and values as your own agency. You and your agents will spend a lot of time with these marketers, and to make this work environment strong, it helps to have certain things in common. The last thing you want is to hire an agency that doesn’t share the same standards as your agents, leading to a strained relationship.

  4. Flexible

    The real estate world is constantly changing as technologies develop and the housing market fluctuates. Just like your brand needs to be adaptable to these changing environments, you want your marketing agency to have the same flexibility. You can determine their flexibility based on past projects and how they’ve handled changes in their industry and others.

  5. Experience

    After you’ve discussed with your team which services and skills you require from an agency, look at the agency’s past work. Does their portfolio show that they’ve exercised the skills and services you need? Actions speak louder than words, so pay close attention to the creative output and results they’ve achieved in the past.

Finding the right marketing agency is often compared to finding the perfect date. If you discover that an agency doesn’t meet your standards or your needs, then you’ll be traversing rocky roads until you tell them to hit the trail. However, if they enhance your marketing efforts and drive results, then it will be a successful and happy relationship.

If you’re not sure whether you should hire a real estate marketing agency, this blog post can help you decide.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.


Real estate marketing technology

Marketing automation tools

When planning out your real estate marketing strategy, it can be tedious to create large numbers of emails, campaigns, social media posts, and all the other content that you need to keep in touch with your clients. This is where marketing automation tools come in.

Through these tools you can save time and keep in touch with your clients through email, social media, text and more. These tools will often integrate with the CRM software you’re already using to follow your clients’ journeys.

When finding the right automation tool for your real estate agency, there are several things to consider: price, user-friendliness, features and integrations. Here, we’ve put together an in-depth comparison here.

Real estate advertising software comparison

Organizing advertising campaigns with your team takes tremendous effort. This software is designed to make that process easier and help you create incredible advertising. Each software offers different features that make each one unique. Check out our comparison of these top four softwares. This is a good jumping-off point to investigate each product further and find out which one best suits your business.

New real estate marketing technology ideas

It seems impossible to keep up with all the new technology developments, let alone predict how they will impact the future of real estate. Our world resembles science fiction more each day with AI, facial recognition and self-driving cars. So, which technologies are already driving change in the real estate industry?

Cryptocurrency has already infiltrated the real estate industry, as more and more properties are being purchased with cryptocurrencies and property records are being secured in blockchains. Some of the most forward-thinking real estate brokerages are already working with cryptocurrencies and have been impressed with the ease and safety of the transactions.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic this year, and many people are panicking about how AI will change the workforce. Although AI is being used to advertise the right homes to the right people right now, most people would still rather have a personal relationship with their agent. Brokerages can take advantage of this by effectively combining the best real estate agents with AI—for example, by using chatbots. Chatbots can gather information from clients before they speak with an agent. The agent is more informed in less time, and the clients get faster, better service.

Facial recognition technology is not just for securing your phone or creating talking emojis. This new technology can also be used in property management. A property rental company in China has implemented facial recognition in their security systems. Tenants, employees, agents and security staff are all given access to the buildings with their faces instead of keys. Not only is this more secure for the property, but it’s also more convenient for tenants.

When you hear about technological developments in the real estate industry, don’t panic. Throughout history, we have seen industries evolve with technology that makes work easier and more efficient for both sellers and buyers. Stay up to date on the latest changes, and be ready to adapt the best innovations.

Other types of marketing tools

There are many tools you can use to grow your real estate business. Through research and demos, you can find out which products will benefit you and your agents the most. Here are some tools to consider during your search:

  • DocuSign
    Takes care of all the paperwork your real estate agents have to handle during the buying process. It’s quick & easy, and it makes storing and searching through all that paperwork simple.
    Learn More
  • Trello
    An online project management program that will help your real estate agents collaborate closer on their real estate projects. You can assign tasks to your team members and watch their progress.
    Learn More
  • Slack
    A messaging service that makes communicating with your real estate agents a breeze, because everyone is connected across all of their devices.
    Learn More
  • WeVideo
    Helps turn your phone into a video production agency. People want to see videos of the properties and areas they’re shopping in. Create beautiful and professional-looking videos with this app to offer your clients a visual experience.
    Learn More
  • Matterport
    A 3D visualization tool that empowers you to create three-dimensional tours of the homes you’re selling. This will give buyers both near and far the opportunity to get to know the property before going inside.
    Learn More
  • Realeflow
    A tool designed for beginner and intermediate real estate agents. This investment tool helps users find, fund and sell properties and manage other real estate tasks.
    Learn More
  • Marq
    A brand-templating platform. You can design branded templates for professional-looking flyers, brochures, postcards and any other marketing content your real estate agents need. The lockable templates protect your brand from rogue designers and make sharing easy between listing coordinators and agents.
    Learn More
  • Adobe Photoshop
    a powerful but complex design tool preferred by most professional graphic designers today. If you’re proficient with Photoshop, you can edit photos with a deep level of control and a wide variety of techniques.
    Learn More
  • Google AdWords
    Promotes your website with digital ads that pop up whenever potential buyers are searching for services similar to yours. It’s a great way to quickly boost traffic to your site and raise brand awareness.
    Learn More


Real estate branding

Personal identity vs. brand identity

While you’re working hard to create and maintain your brokerage’s brand identity, it’s also important to remember that your individual agents also have their own brands. Potential clients need to see consistency between your brand and your agents’ brands to trust you with their business.

We’ve heard at conferences how difficult it can be for brokerages to keep real estate agents if they find that their brands don’t work together. Our advice is to stay consistent with your core identity, but be flexible so agents can add their own bit of flair to their marketing. This will keep your brand strong but give your agents some freedom to create their own.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

3 phases of brand management

Brands aren’t merely managed—they’re shaped, guided and cultivated over time. To break down this process, we will look at brand management in three different phases: establishing, positioning and maintaining.

  • Establish the brand:
    This is where you create your brand. Now, this is more than just the logos, fonts and colors. It also includes the big ideas behind your brand. What will your voice be like? How will you interact with clients? There should be a definitive beginning and end to this phase that results in a strong brand identity.
  • Position the brand:
    Now that you’ve developed a strong brand identity, it’s time to communicate it to everyone. Each interaction with the public should set and reinforce the expectations for your brand. This phase requires that every brand player on your team has access to current brand assets and messaging.
  • Maintain the brand:
    Brand management is very important for real estate, especially because clients want to feel that they can trust you. A consistent brand and message will help buyers and sellers feel that they understand you and know what to expect.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand? Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Brand prison vs. Wild West

During our brand management research, we discovered two common scenarios that just so happen to be polar opposites. Most organizations fall into one of these:

  • Brand prison
    In the brand prison, no one is allowed to make content except for corporate staff. Designers are overloaded by all of the updates and tweaks they have to make, instead of focusing on bigger projects. Even worse, rogue content is still created in brand prison—you just don’t know about it. Understandably, designers and agents both feel stymied and frustrated.
  • Wild West
    In the Wild West, there are no brand management guidelines, or they are not enforced. Rogue content is everywhere as real estate agents make their own materials without any direction. Understandably, your brand consistency suffers.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Marketing ideas to make your brand stand out

Creating on-brand content will give your brokerage a serious boost, as you consistently give clients a positive experience with your brand. Here are some tips for how you can go above and beyond to really stand out in the real estate industry.

  • Give your real estate agents the tools to represent your brand consistently.
  • Leverage the power of social media to reach potential clients.
  • Use direct mail to target the people other agents aren’t reaching.
  • Blog about your experience in real estate to build your authority.
  • Boost your credibility with client testimonials.

Real estate agent retention

Creating a strong real estate brand will not only help you find the best potential clients, but it will also help you attract and keep the best real estate agents. By maintaining a powerful brand that permeates every communication within your company, you can share your vision with your real estate agents and easily get them onboard.

If your brand is weak and inconsistent, then real estate agents may be tempted to leave for greener pastures where they see their values and career potential reflected in the brokerage’s brand. As you’re working on your brand identity and image, don’t just focus on getting the message to your customers. Let your agents be part of the brand story you are telling.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

Case studies

So, who’s doing an exemplary job with real estate marketing & branding? There are some really impressive agencies & brokerages out there, but here are 2 of our favorites.

  1. Toll Brothers — Social media

    Toll Brothers is a luxury real estate brand that’s been around since 1967. For a brand that’s been around for decades, Toll Brothers has excelled at adapting their message to new online platforms—like social media.

    For example, take a look at their YouTube channel, where they share videos that appeal to aspirational homeowners. Not only do they cover the expected (like testimonials and property tours), there’s also the delightfully unexpected (like cooking and outdoor entertaining).

    Similarly, Toll Brothers’ Pinterest page is chock-full of enviable boards about active living and dream room designs.

    Finally, with over 50k followers on LinkedIn, Toll Brothers is serious about building a corporate brand its agents can be proud of.

  2. Cardinal Real Estate Partners — Email newsletters

    If you think email newsletters are dead, Cardinal Real Estate Partners can offer proof to the contrary. Their weekly newsletter delivers insightful, high-quality content to their commercial real estate clients—and it netted them an award in the 2017 #REMAS. Here’s what they had to say about their newsletter:  

    • “Newsletters have proven to be a fantastic way to stay relevant to one’s contacts, I’ve also found. After 25 years, I literally have a Rolodex of more than 10,000 names that I’ve built and kept fresh through my writing.”

    • “Throughout the years I’ve come to firmly believe that for a small shop it is important to highlight one’s experience and share insights, processes, checklists and other strategies and tools.”

    You can see some of the great resources Cardinal’s put together on this page. They offer eBooks, white papers, checklists, worksheets and more to guide clients through their commercial real estate transactions.

Building or maintaining a real estate brand?Download the complete guide to real estate branding.

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