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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
Darren Robertson, a Northern Virginia Realtor, reiterates this sentiment, “Did you know that the average age of an American realtor is 54? But, interestingly, in 2019, a staggering 88% of first time home buyers in the United States were in the 22-29 age group. This disparity could be an issue - but only if you don’t take the time to work out who your customers are and what their motivations are.
As a realtor you’re not just selling property, you’re selling a dream - which is why it’s so important to work out who your target audience is, find common ground, and then work out how you’d like to be marketed to if you were in their shoes.”
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 ad for example.
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 24 brilliant ads from top-producing agents, brokers and teams broken down by ad type.
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.
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.
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.'
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.
Bonus tip. If you own a well-trafficked website, don't forget to install the Facebook remarketing pixel so that you can reach a warm audience who is already familiar with your brand. The team at Great Vancouver Homes sees their best ROI from remarketing campaigns that target their website visitors when they are using Facebook and Instagram.
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.
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.
According to Oberlo, video is a favorite on social media. Within the last few years Instagram kicked it up a notch in the video department by adding stories and livestreams. The platform also quadrupled the maximum allowed video length since 2016, and now real estate professionals have a full 60 seconds to present themselves and convince potential buyers that this is their next home.
Even if a small real estate agency can’t afford professional drone video sequences or interactive house tours, it doesn't mean they can’t utilize the power of video in their Instagram. With little editing a simple set of images comes to life in an engaging slide show. Why try to nail just one money shot when you can combine the best 10 of them in one post?
With half a billion users, LinkedIn provides a powerful platform to get your message out there. But cracking the LinkedIn real estate ad market can be a tough one. Let's dive in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Around 74% of sites send a welcome email right after a user creates an account. Not every website does it right, though. Rentals.com realized how crucial it is to inform their potential customers about the benefits of their service even before their first listing with them. More importantly, given how competitive the real estate websites landscape is, they speak about numbers and cost efficiency right off the bat.
Old habits die hard, and acquiring email addresses in exchange for value may be just as important for global listing service as it is for a boutique real estate agency. However, the goal here is to provide real value, and not some goofy e-book written by an Upwork writer. Corcoran realizes that and provides “The Insider’s Guide to Selling Home in New York City” in exchange for an email opt-in. Valuable. Specific. Effective. Take my email.
Rarely you’ll find something more effective in marketing than a personal video addressed directly to a customer, and that’s exactly what Jay Carden did when he was working for RE/MAX Properties, Inc. He recorded a series of first contact videos based on the area and price range the customers were interested in. On top of that was a “Congratulations” video for closed listings with a personal request for Zillow reviews and referrals. The result? He doubled his real estate business, closing 33 transactions in a year.
There are few things as powerful as contacting your leads at the right time with the right message. The Follow Up Boss Pixel lets you know exactly what your prospects do on your websites and what to say to turn them into loyal customers.
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.)
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.
Because awesome, high-quality, full-width images coupled with useful location and personalized tips is all you'll ever need for an impeccable ad. That, and tacos.
Drone videos took the real estate industry by storm, and nowadays it’s hard to imagine any high-end sale without at least 360 videos involved. In fact, high volume agents use aerials 3.5x more often then low volume agents. Better Home and Gardens Real Estate LLC took it one step further. They create a visual narrative by combining high-quality landscape and indoors shootings, producing engaging and, well, beautiful advertisements.
Who said real estate tours have to be boring? Smith Group Real Estate Group proves quite the opposite. Shooting fun, and sometimes even bizarre video sketches about zombies or rap battles, they manage to sell houses and keep things fresh all the time. No wonder they are currently #1 Coldwell Banker’s team in California.
If video is where the marketing’s going these days, YouTube is the train. 73% of adults in the US use YouTube, making it the most popular online platform in America. But with 500 hours of video uploaded to the platform every minute, real estate agents have to really give it their best shot in order to win their audience’s attention. And some of them do.
More and more real estate companies turn their attention to YouTube not as a single-shot channel, but an ongoing blog (or vlog, if you will) where they can demonstrate active listings on par with useful advice for both home buyers and sellers. The Agency RE from Beverly Hills actively uses video tours around luxury listings to generate initial interest, and then adds in-person tours into the mix to bump up their exposure. Judging by the fact that their channel is just shy of 80k subscribers at time of writing, it’s an advertising approach that seems to work like a charm.
Here’s another one from Smith Group RE (we just couldn’t help ourselves). The thing about this video is that halfway along you forget that you're watching a real estate commercial and start to feel a connection with the house and the people promoting it. Now that’s emotion-driven advertising.
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.
Because it gives 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."
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.
Whether you're looking to send something fun, unique or simply position yourself as THE local expert—direct mail still 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.
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 the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.