Brittany Ryan

Remember the days before the internet?

If you wanted to advertise your real estate business or listings, it was all about black-and-white newspaper ads, handwritten CMAs and an MLS book fat enough to make Moby Dick look like bathroom reading.

Today, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Think of this as your go-to source for making your next campaign as inspired (and effective) as possible.

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Table of contents

  1. What makes an ad great?
  2. Facebook ads
  3. Instagram ads
  4. LinkedIn ads
  5. Email ads
  6. Video ads
  7. Outdoor ads
  8. Direct mail ads
  9. Print ads
  10. 5 awesome tools to rock your real estate ads

Thanks to the almighty internet, you can now reach thousands of people with just a click of a button.

But just because “you don’t have to put ads in the local newspaper and hope for the best anymore,” (as Jed Carlson of Adwerx so elegantly puts it), doesn’t mean real estate advertising is any easier now than it was 20 years ago.

In fact, having more options makes every advertising decision that much harder. And then there’s the little matter of increasing competition for ad space that keeps ad pricing on a cringe-worthy upward trajectory.

The pressure is on for real estate leaders to squeeze every last drop of ROI out of their advertising campaigns

Which means, they need to tell a damn good story.

Source: ActiveRain

What makes an ad great?

Let us answer that question with another question.

What’s your favorite movie?

Chances are, it’s the one that makes you laugh, cry or fist pump harder than any other.

Engaging ads are designed to connect with customers emotionally. So the very first step to any truly great ad idea is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Beyond that, there are a few more rules to keep in mind:

  • Great ads have great goals.

Think about what’s important for your business. Traffic? Leads? Or the bold goal of becoming the #1 agent in your area? (Remember 70% of people hire the very first agent they call.) What does that look like in terms of numbers? How can you break it down step-by-step?

  • Great ads (and all ads, really) need a transparent budget.

Even Pepsi had a number in mind before they rang up Britney Spears. Before you start flexing your creative muscles, make sure you know your numbers—the last thing you want is break the budget and cannibalize your ROI. At the same time, remember that you don’t have to throw down megabucks to make a big impact. Simplicity and authenticity are powerful attributes of any winning ad—use them.

  • Great ads know who they’re talking to.

Which means—before anything—you should know your people. If you want to understand your audience, don’t skimp on customer research. Find out who they are, what they’re looking for and most importantly, how they want to feel after working with you.

  • Great ads have attention-grabbing messages and high-quality images.

According to Paul Hagey, founder of HageyMedia, “Ad copy and images should communicate a crystal clear message so that consumers get the point with just a glance.” Plus, you know the deal with real estate pics: houses with high-quality photography sell 32% faster—so make sure your photos are professional (no shaky or blurry smartphone images please).

Take this Sotheby’s real estate ad for example.

Instagram: Sotheby’s Realty

How does the placement of the chairs make you feel?

Relaxed? Meditative? Successful?

Dare we say…special?

Done right, both digital and traditional ads can work wonders in your advertising mix simply by offering your customer a better vision of themself.

To give you a clearer picture, here are 15 brilliant ads from top-producing agents, brokers and teams broken down by ad type.

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Facebook ads

To kick off, let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite online watering hole: Facebook.

Facebook is visual, simple and (depending on who you ask) easy to manage—in other words, perfect for real estate. Let’s take a closer look at some examples of some stellar Facebook real estate ads.

Epic Life Realty’s – Customer success story


Why it works:

This ad tells a success story about the clients’ experience, not the product itself. Plus, the picture shows them as winners, not the brand. (Remember, your prospect is the hero of their own story, not you.)

By using a descriptive image, with real people, this ad succeeds in creating an authentic connection with its audience. Plus, it has a great sense of humor.

Weiniger Group – Value through video


Why it works:

According to Forbes, around 60-70% of people who view a company’s Facebook video visit that company’s website. Why?

Because now that you’ve presented yourself as an expert, it’s way easier them for them to trust you. By putting the value before the ask via the free market update, this ad subconsciously tells viewers, ‘We’re here to help, not sell.’

Keller Williams Realty – Classic home valuation


Why it works:

Simple and to the point—promoting an instant home evaluation is a classic way to generate leads. What’s interesting here is, the ad speaks to both those thinking about selling and those who are simply curious to know how much their home is worth. It invites leads at different stages of awareness to take one step closer to an eventual listing.

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Instagram ads

Everyone loves Instagram. It’s basically the social media version of the popular kid in class who everyone wants as a friend. And whether your goal is to build awareness or grow your organic lead count, Instagram’s definitely the pal you need.

Windermere Abode – Event ad

Source: Instagram

Why it works:

Buying your first home is a big deal. Free workshops are a great way to offer value to people who aren’t sure where to start. It’s also a great way to make sure those people remember you when they’re ready to take the leap.

LinkedIn ads

With half a billion users, LinkedIn provides a powerful platform to get your message out there. But cracking the LinkedIn ad market can be a tough one. Let’s dive in.

Kyle Hiscock – Authority-building ad

Source: LinkedIn

Why it works:

First of all, this post is shared by a respected source (and we all know professional cred gets you everywhere on LinkedIn). Second, thanks to the tagging of various well-known industry experts, it feels as real and authentic as any other post or status update. Of course, the ad also offers up plenty of value (and a seriously cute image) with its expert-authored tips for sellers.

Kyle Hiscock – Emotion-driven ad

Source: LinkedIn

Why it works:

Just one more from Kyle. (We couldn’t resist!)

The whole idea of LinkedIn ads is to post content that’s relevant to your connections, right? In this example, the ace Realtor tackles a controversial topic and a major source of pain for every single parent in his connections list. And of course, he’s offering solutions to that pain. By solving his hyper-specific pain points for prospects, this ad builds next-level trust and rapport with its audience and encourages readers to come back for more.

Email ads

Yeah, yeah, we know: “Email is dead”. But here’s the thing, when it comes to getting an impressive marketing ROI, research shows emails are still your go-to tool. Seriously.

But only if they’re done correctly—starting with relevant content that offers the audience value. Value is the bedrock of any successful email campaign. If you get this right, you can expect to see well-nurtured leads and quality long-term clients.

Trulia – Infographic ad


Why it works:

By serving up smart, digestible data about up-and-coming relocation hot spots, Trulia is cementing its ahead-of the-game reputation in real estate, while doing the same for its audience. Arm your prospects with ads that help make your prospect the smartest person at the party—they’ll never forget you for it. An infographic is certainly a great way to make an impression.

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Video ads

Is seeing believing?

According to Brian Curtis, from Curtis Realty Group “People work with agents they know, like and trust.” And nothing builds your know-like-trust factor better than video. The best part is videos are more affordable than ever before.

(Want more video inspo? Check this out.)

Coldwell Banker – video ad


Why it works:

The video directly addresses the importance of hiring the right agent, showing the viewer that Coldwell Banker is a franchise that understands the client and the challenges they face. It’s a subtle way to highlight your competitive differentiator while serving up value-driven insights to build trust with your audience.

Smith & Berg Partners – Go local


Why it works:

Because awesome, high-quality, full-width images coupled with useful location andpersonalized tips is all you’ll ever need for an impeccable ad. That, and tacos.

Outdoor ads

We know outdoor boards may feel a little old school, but they can still have a major impact on local audiences. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re placing them in the best locations possible.

Edina Realty

Source: Edina

Why it works:

Because it give the reader numbers. The data speaks for itself and in this case, it says “If you want to buy a home pick Edina Realty because we are THE market leader.” – creative concept ad


Why it works:

As a highly innovative ad, this one from Amit Bhuta uses a killer combination of great imagery and agency-grade creativity to generate intrigue in every driver that passes by. It’s simple yet modern and 100% fluff-free—perfect for young professionals who want a high-end experience.

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Direct mail ads

Whether you’re looking to send something fun, unique or simply position yourself as THE local expert—direct mail still works.

Harold’s Real Estate


Why it works:

Because everybody loves happy hour. It’s the type of event that almost always succeeds at bringing people together, which makes it a great opportunity to meet the team face-to-face in a relaxed environment. By building connections, both formally and informally, you’re investing in a real relationship with your future customers.

Land Title Guarantee Company – the holiday ad


Why it works:

If you want people to remember your name, try going out-of-the-box. An ad like this is both timely and unique, helping you stand out of from crowd at peak marketing times, including major holidays. It also shows prospects you’re tuned into local events and are basically just a fun person to hang (or shriek) with.

Print ads

For image building and brand awareness, print ads still rule the roost. In fact, according to Realtors’ Land Institute, “In addition to capturing the attention of people who are looking for real estate and those who originally were not, print ads elevate the brand identity of the brokerage and sales agent.” And it’s always a good idea to elevate.

Park+garden – the belief-driven ad


Why it works:

The sharp layout immediately draws your eye to swoon-worthy images of state-of-the-art architecture. The tagline ‘Green is the new black’ underlines the concept of sustainability and says this is a company that cares as much about the environment as you do.

Lee Wetherington – the elite ad

Source: Pace Advertising

Why it works:

First of all, the quality of the photos is very professional. The tagline ‘A higher standard of living’ tells us this ad is all about luxury and decadence. Lastly, the brand narrative ‘Discover The Difference’ makes the reader want to be a member of their very exclusive tribe.

5 awesome tools to help you crush real estate advertising

Alright. Now that you’ve got all the ammo you need to awaken your inner Don Draper, let’s talk tools.

There are a ton of different tools that can help you launch awesome real estate ads, whatever medium you choose.

Here are some of our top picks to get started with:

  1. MailChimp

This is the original user-friendly email marketing tool. And with a ton of built-in templates, you can craft gorgeous emails and newsletters without any previous design skills. Plus, they have an entire section dedicated to real estate newsletter templates along with plenty of  support articles just for Realtors.

Price: The basic start-up package is free.

  1. Animoto

According to Animoto, real estate listings with video receive 403% more inquiries. Not bad, right? Animoto makes it easy to drag-and-drop videos into your emails and marketing platform, making your listings rock and hopefully score you more clicks on your ads.

Price: Starts at $33 per month.

  1. Trello

Trello is a team-based task management tool that allows real estate teams and admins to: add and update listings, check who’s working on what and at what time, create checklists, add labels and due dates, upload attachments and start discussions. It’s a great way to manage the creative process behind every ad campaign.

Price: Basic package is free. Business Class package is $9.99 per month.

  1. Hootsuite

This social media management tool allows users to organize multiple social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and schedule content automatically. It also comes with some user-friendly analytics features to help you and your Realtors track which kind of content is trending on social media right now.

Price: Pro plan starts at $25 per month for unlimited posting for one user.

  1. Canva

Canva is a super simple way to add text to images without having to hire a full-time designer. Just log in, choose your template, upload your photos and you’re good to go.

Price: Basic package is free.

Before you go…

We don’t want to leave you with the mistaken impression that real estate advertising is a one-and-done endeavor. It’s not.

Like any job worth doing, it’s all about staying consistent, focused and intentional in your approach. Don’t be afraid to test and keep testing until you find what works for your specific audience.

As we once told the readers over at Hubspot, “Whether your dream is to become the next Facebook ads guru or a master of Zillow conversions, the only thing you really need to know about marketing is that it’s the one part of your business that never sleeps.”

Whatever approach you go for with your next advertising campaign, make sure you keep an open mind and take time to find your unique voice and ad strategy. After that, it’s all about the rinse and repeat.

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