The real estate market has changed. But then again, so has everything else. From our media habits to our customer service expectations and even the way we socialize and shop — it’s all done differently now.
New technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking consumer habits into a whole new era. But is your real estate marketing strategy ready?
In this end-to-end guide, we’ll explore proven strategies to help you create — and more importantly, execute — your own high-performance real estate marketing plan.
How to create a real estate marketing plan in 6 simple steps
Step 1. Start with your vision
Question: What's the #1 mistake agents make when setting their marketing goals for the year?
Answer: Missing the big ‘why’ behind the numbers.
With the rise of video marketing and SEO for real estate, there are endless ways to grow your business. But staying focused and consistent is key. After all, you’re never going to sit down and record video content every single week if you don’t know why you’re doing it in the first place.
When crafting your marketing strategy, get clear on vision first.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- If this marketing works, what will the additional income do for my life?
- Will it help me get debt free? Afford a special trip? A new car? College education for my children or grandchildren?
- What’s something that you’re doing great at already that you’re proud of. (Whatever your answer, ask yourself, “How can I do a better job of that?”)
- What am I most excited about for next year or the next few years?
When the marketing grind gets tough and you're behind on your publishing schedule, these goals will give you something to look forward to so that you can keep doing the work.
Step 2. Know your numbers
Even with the right goals, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to track your marketing numbers consistently. If that's you, no worries.
Sit down and compile the big-picture numbers for your business:
- Number of deals closed
- Average listing price
- Number of buyer clients
- Number of seller clients
- Total sales volume
- Gross Commission Income (GCI)
- Gross Income
- Total marketing costs
- Net income
There’s a lot of shiny object syndrome in the world of real estate advertising and marketing, that’s why starting with the right numbers is crucial.
To make sure you're implementing a high-ROI real estate marketing plan, consider also tracking the following metrics:
- Cost per lead (CPL): How much money do you need to spend to bring on one new lead? This metric measures the level of investment you have to put out to receive a return while keeping the focus locked on filling the top of your lead funnel. Closely monitor this metric, as a high CPL could affect your profits.
- Cost per acquisition (CPA): Much like your CPL, this metric measures your investment against a return. In this case, it’s the amount of money you need to put out to close a sale and bring on one new customer. The CPA can show whether you’re overspending on marketing, and you should compare it to the lifetime value of each customer to determine profitability.
- Clickthrough rate: Your clickthrough rate showcases how many people have seen an ad or landing page leading prospects to your real estate website vs. how many have actually clicked it. It’s a metric that can help you gauge the effectiveness of PPC campaigns like those found on Google Ads or social media advertising platforms like Facebook.
- Visitor to lead conversion rate: Of the people who are visiting your website and real estate landing pages, how many are filling out a contact form?
- Conversion rate: Of the leads you generate, how many of them have converted to deals over a given period of time?
- ROI: What is the total return that you can expect for your real estate marketing investment? Aim to track the ROI of each individual marketing channel in your lead gen strategy. This will help you determine which of your marketing efforts are paying off vs. which are eating up your budget.
Depending on your strategy, there are plenty of other metrics you can dive deeper into.
The following template from Zillow can help walk you through the right metrics per medium. You can also create your own, adding all of your marketing channels in the 'Tactic' column on the far left.
Step 3. Audit your competitors
To be clear, that does not mean you should copy the same strategy as the agent next door.
You need to get strategic. Look at what your competitors are doing at the highest level of their real estate marketing. Then, tailor your own plan to deliver unique value to your audience.
Here's how you can approach it:
- Schedule a marketing brainstorm session with the top-producing agents on your team.
- Ask each team member to pick a competitor and write a report on their marketing. What is their main target? How much do they usually charge? What services do they and more importantly do they not offer?
- Work together to identify any gaps and update your real estate brand positioning to make sure you stand out.
Remember, as the amount of noise increases, it pays to know what you're up against.
Step 4. Know your USP
Why should customers choose you over the competition? What are you offering that your competitors lack?
The answer lies in your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. It’s the X-factor you’re marketing to your target audience that tells them why you’re the best agent for the job. Used correctly, it’s also a key selling point that can put you head and shoulders above the competition.
To formulate a great real estate USP, it's essential to understand what you do differently.
Once you've mapped out the competitive landscape, it's time to get deep:
- Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
- Why do you continue to give every ounce of yourself to your client or your team or your business?
Our guess is it’s about a whole lot more than money. After pinpointing your USP, look for ways to embed it into your other branding and marketing collateral, including your:
Step 5. Know your audience
Traditionally, many real estate agents would create a buyer persona based on factors like:
- Family size
- Interests and hobbies
While demographics can be a big help in narrowing down your marketing, and especially social media advertising, it's important to note that they aren’t the full story.
Forward-thinking teams are expanding their real estate buyer personas to include behavioral factors such as:
- Home search habits
- Lifestyle habits
- Personal and professional aspirations
- Other decision makers and influencers
- Activity on your website
Step 6. Create your real estate marketing calendar
Time to get tactical. Your marketing calendar is the key to a real estate marketing plan that works.
Follow these tips to create a framework you can execute on consistently:
- Plot your entire marketing calendar for the year using the same structure month-to-month
- Establish brand guidelines to dictate color choice, font style, imagery selection, and copy
- Create ready-to-go social media, email and direct mail templates
- Outsource the production of marketing assets to save time
With a clear plan, plus easy branding and marketing templates for your entire real estate team to access and follow, you’ll have no problem hitting your weekly and monthly goals.
19 real estate marketing ideas to generate more leads
Once you’ve got your strategy and calendar nailed down, it’s time to execute. Here are some powerful ideas to generate even more leads from your marketing.
1. Optimize your About page
Every page on your real estate website should include a call to action, and that includes one you might have neglected because it’s “not that important” — your About page.
Use your About page to write the story of how you got into real estate and share what you love about it. And if you’re not happy with your current headshot, now is the time to hire a professional photographer to shoot an updated one.
Scan your real estate bio to strengthen your USP and make sure it actively communicates why you are the right person for the job in a sea of competition.
Consider integrating social proof, such as heartfelt real estate reviews, testimonials and customer success stories about a first-time buyer finally landing their dream home. (Bonus points for adding video to really tug at the heartstrings!)
Next, invite your visitor to take targeted action based on your marketing goals, whether that’s signing up for a newsletter, downloading a freebie, or following you on social media.
2. Order one-of-a-kind business cards
From bright colors to metal to cards that fold into miniature furniture, there’s a lot happening on the business card design front.
But you don’t need to go wild and break the budget here either.
Maybe you just want to experiment with a square card instead of the old faithful rectangle. You might also consider creating a digital business card to send out to prospects or simply updating your existing card with a QR code so prospects can scan and download your details when you meet them in person.
3. Spice up your email signature
If you know one thing, it’s that your emails to real estate clients matter.
Just as your website should invite visitors to contact you, so should your email signature.
For example, your signature can invite your email recipients to join your real estat newsletter list or link to your Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok for the latest listing photos and videos.
Better yet, include a link to bonus material, like a checklist or a guide they can’t find anywhere else.
4. Grow your email list
Speaking of email, you can have the most amazing real estate drip email campaign ever crafted, but if your list is tiny — it still won’t move the needle.
One high-return option is to create a valuable resource for the people you hope to add to your list (infographics, checklists, guides and short ebooks can work well — more on that later) and then build a landing page that gives visitors access to the resource in exchange for their contact information.
5. Use gifs in email
Believe it or not, gif files were created in 1987 (really!) and yet people still haven’t tired of snarky video snippets overlaid with text 30 years later. So why not take advantage of technology to sneak a gif or two into your newsletter?
If your gif game is strong, you might be pleasantly surprised by how your recipient reacts. Who knows? It may even move the needle on your open rates.
Pro tip: You can use this gif automatically with the Follow Up Boss Happy Birthday automation
6. Capitalize on memes
If you’ve found success with your gif experiments, then you could be a strong candidate for creating real estate memes that get shared around the country.
Whether you’re targeting real estate agents or buyers, sellers or investors, a skilled meme-maker can create something that resonates.
7. Boost your Facebook posts
There’s a ton you can do with Facebook advertising, but to start, try boosting one of your posts.
We’d suggest something other than a listing or open house post (though those are always options) — this would be an excellent tactic to use in conjunction with growing your email list, for example.
8. Start a TikTok
Many real estate agents overlook the power of TikTok. Mostly because the social media giant has a reputation for being for “the kids” due to its overwhelming popularity with Gen-Z.
But many of these Gen-Z “kids” are becoming adults who will soon be in the market to buy their first homes.
Consider creating a series of informative videos on the platform that walk first-time buyers through the homebuying process, answering frequently asked questions, and engaging with responses until you become the authority in their hearts and minds.
9. Rejuvenate your video marketing
When so many real estate listing videos are essentially just a slideshow of images set to music, it’s really not hard to make something that sets yours apart.
Consider creating a vignette of your sellers setting off for the day or coming home from work — or following their dog through the house to make it relatable for viewers.
You can always hire out the creativity, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to make a video that people will remember.
To save time and money, keep your focus on short-form videos, like those found on Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts or TikTok.
10. Launch a webinar
Webinars and digital real estate events are great ways to showcase your value.
Hype them up on social media and via your mailing list beforehand. Don’t forget to ask attendees to register so you can capture their contact information!
11. Create graphs, guides, charts and maps
Visually interesting graphics that explain the home sales process or your city through a clear, compelling layout are highly shareable.
Put together a chart every month that explains how the change in mortgage interest rates has affected the average mortgage payment, or start creating infographics about how a home’s value is appraised.
12. Publish a local market quiz
Create a quiz about your local area. Make it as difficult or as easy as you like, and make sure to tag any local businesses you’re referencing. Then publish a selection of the results on your website and share them on social media.
This is an excellent option for agents or teams who have been active in an area for years. But many of your clients and colleagues might be new to the area, so this is a chance to build a sense of friendly competition while showing off your skills.
13. Create a survey and publish the results
Think of a survey as a quiz’s more serious older sibling. Instead of testing respondents on local trivia, you’ll be asking them demographic, income, and opinion questions to try to get a feel for who lives in your neighborhood.
If you get a high enough response rate and get granular when analyzing the results, it might even be possible to get local news media interested in your survey results. Leave at least one field open for comments — you could get a wealth of future marketing ideas from it!
14. Build a local resource hub
There’s one long street in Denver that has the best Vietnamese and Mexican food in the city — but there are so many restaurants right next to each other that it’s nearly impossible for a newbie to pick a top eatery out of the crowd.
Your audience probably wants similar information, so share it with them! Whether it’s the best kid-friendly spots for barbecue or a full list of every place where you can sit down for a bite in your area.
And once you’ve crossed restaurants off your list, start thinking about dog parks, hiking trails, theaters, or event venues.
15. Create a resource guide
When a parent is looking for information about schools for the oldest child in the family, or a recent college graduate is wondering how to start saving to buy a home, they typically turn to the internet for answers.
You could be on the other end of that search if you offer a detailed resource guide for them. Local-specific guides are especially powerful for showcasing how well you know your area, but more general guides on refinancing or preparing a home for inspection are also good ways to showcase your knowledge to a broader audience.
(And of course, guides are also a great way to boost your website’s local resource hub. 😉)
16. Create a game to accompany awards shows or other events
If you’re a movie, music or pop culture buff, this might be something to try. When the Oscars, Grammys, or another big event is taking place, turn it into a game.
You can award points for every time a starlet cries or a candidate slams a fist on a podium. Lay out the game rules in a PDF that’s branded with your information and offer it as a free download to fellow fans.
17. Start a podcast
In the near future, it’s estimated that more than 100 million people in the US will be listening to podcasts. So why not consider starting your own?
This doesn’t have to be a real estate-specific podcast — in fact, you could get more listeners if you decide to focus your podcast on educating them about something local.
Maybe that’s the architectural sites in your city, or the best restaurants in town. Whatever the case, publish consistently (at least twice a month) and offer fans an avenue to suggest future podcast topics.
18. Host a contest
This could be a listing-specific contest — for example, a “golden ticket” that buyers can find at one of five high-end open houses, or something with a wider range.
You could ask kids at the local elementary school to design pages for a calendar, try something similar with pet or home photography, or maybe offer a prize for the person who best expresses local pride, such as the best recipe for green chile.
If this sounds like a lot, consider sponsoring a race or a contest at your local city or county fair as a jumping-off point.
19. Improve your organic SEO
That’s not to say that SEO is a “cheap” venture — you still have to put in the time and effort. But with an average ROI of 2,200%, it can be far more lucrative in the long run.
Kickoff your SEO strategy by:
- Choosing high-value, low-competition keywords in the real estate industry and answering key prospect FAQs
- Creating relevant locally-focused content like “Best Of” roundups that can appeal directly to your local market
- Providing valuable, relevant real estate information on your website that can help you build relationships
- Using internal links that can create a web of interconnected content throughout your site
- Building up your backlink catalog on other sites, directing potential customers (and Google’s search bots) directly to you
Get more out of your real estate marketing
Real estate marketing is changing every day. Your lead management system should be able to keep up.
With an integration-friendly CRM like Follow Up Boss, you can easily connect all your key lead sources, automatically prioritize your best leads based on site activity, and take advantage of hyper-targeted Action Plans to increase speed of response on every incoming lead.
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