As a real estate agent, effective marketing is your bread and butter. You use it to sell houses, attract listings, position yourself as an expert in your market and help buyers to secure their new home.
Back in the old days, it was enough to stick a photo of a property in your office window, create a mailbox flyer and stick out a sign on the lawn. The rise of digital marketing in real estate has changed all that. People now expect high quality, personalised service. In order to scale your business, you need to deliver that quality customer service to hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously.
“Capacity is a state of mind.”
Josh Phegan, world renowned real estate coach, argues that if you don’t think about how automation can help you become a better real estate agent, then you will quickly become bogged down in administrative tasks. Watch a free 30min webinar with Josh on Customer Experience in the New World. check out the recording here
Modern real estate marketing harnesses technology and data to create better experiences for buyers, sellers and renters in the property market, while simultaneously enabling an agent to service more clients. In the past, servicing more clients typically resulted in lower quality of service for each client. New technologies have enabled forward-thinking real estate agencies to scale rapidly, so for agents it’s now actually about minimising the amount of manual marketing you need to do.
The goal is to have complete confidence that your systems are nurturing the majority of your relationships in the background, so you only need to focus on calling clients and leads that are close to making a decision.
But with so many marketing options now available, it can be confusing to know which one to tackle first, the results you should be getting, or how all of them should work together to make your life easier - rather than pull you in a million different directions.
That’s why we’ve created The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing. We’ve drawn together the best information from some of our most successful articles, videos and white papers, to show you how to set up best practice real estate marketing from start to finish.
Whether you’re a real estate agent, agency owner, office manager or marketing coordinator, this guide will make it easier for you to navigate this exciting area with confidence in the strategies that will take your business to the next level. Not only that, you will have a clear path of implementation and tangible campaign ideas proven to generate real business outcomes.
Let’s get started.Download Free eBook
Almost invariably, the main thing agents hope to achieve with real estate marketing is to win new listings and business.
However, if we simply chased people for listings on every single channel, we’d become repetitive, boring, boorish and we’d lose more leads than we gained. The end result would be that it becomes harder to win listings - exactly what we don’t want!
So it’s important to break your goals down further. Look specifically at what you want to achieve with your real estate marketing and the best ways to do it. The end result will drive the overarching goal of generating more business.
Below we present 7 common goals of real estate marketing that can give your marketing initiatives more focus.
You want people who live in your local area or who are looking to buy in your local area to know who you are and where they can find you. A range of marketing tactics can achieve this - from making sure you own your Google My Business profile, through to your website, and even your agent profile on the major real estate portals.
You want your potential clients to know they can trust you and that they are in safe hands should they choose you as their agents. Demonstrating your knowledge of the local property market is a great way to do this - either as a video or by sharing a market report. You can make these available via your website, post links on social media, or send them out via email.
Next, you want your audience to understand how you can help them. The best way to demonstrate that is not by telling them how great you are - that’s just bragging. Instead, look at ways you can show how you’ve helped others in the past. Posting articles on your website that answer common questions about buying, selling and renting can be really useful to potential clients. Sharing testimonials and case studies can also be great here.
One of the key roles of your real estate marketing activity is to turn people you’ve just met into contacts in your database, and to turn your contacts into clients. You need a two step process in place to achieve this goal. The first step is to ensure that every name, phone number and email that you receive goes into your database. The second is to ensure that you have a good email marketing structure in place that will communicate regularly, backed up by a good phone call connection strategy.
No one can deny that one-to-one connection is the best way to deliver an amazing service. But if you personally try to always deliver all elements of that service yourself - either over the phone or in person - you’ll run yourself ragged and limit how much business you can do. Instead, you need to look at ways you can deliver what feels like a personalised service at scale and to as many people as possible. Email marketing is awesome at this type of marketing. By creating specific audiences, you can provide information that resonates specifically with different types of people and meet their needs more accurately.
Automation is one of the most powerful technologies currently taking over real estate. It’s powerful because it provides better experiences for clients and contacts, but it also makes your life as an agent a lot easier by doing the heavy lifting of your marketing. Understanding that the majority of clients are looking for similar types of information means you can create processes and structures to deliver this information either ‘on demand’ in the form of chatbots on your website or social media, or at key periods through email marketing. Automations can be as simple as “if contact is identified as a buyer, tag in CRM with ‘buyer’, send weekly hot new property listings email, through to extensive automations that deliver entire client journeys.
It costs five times more to win a new client than it costs to keep an existing one. This is just as true in real estate as it is anywhere else, even though the time between transactions can be long. Stay connected with past clients through regular emails that share information about the property market that they’ll find useful, and you’ll probably find they are not only more willing to do business with you again, but will refer friends and family to you in the meantime.
Start by choosing 1 or 2 goals that you want to focus on each quarter. Your aim should be to achieve those goals in a scalable way so that when you move on to the next set of goals, you don’t overextend yourself trying to keep multiple manual campaigns running - let automation take care of it for you. Once you’ve defined and set your goals for real estate marketing, the next step is to start organising the audiences for your marketing and start leveraging your database.Download Free eBook
Your customer database or CRM is absolutely critical in all elements of real estate marketing. Think of it as the engine that will drive everything you do with your marketing - regardless of whether that’s email marketing, phone calls or even social media.
The names and details of people you have done business with before, or met at open houses or through inquiries for properties - are the fuel that drives your marketing. Having a clean and organised database will make your marketing not only easier but more effective too.Read our article on ‘How to clean your database’ here.
The big reason for having clean data is simply this - you can segment your audience and target the right people with the right message. The better you segment, the more your marketing will resonate.
Think about it. If you’re a first home buyer in the market for a two bedroom apartment, your needs are very different to a family looking to sell their family home to upsize. You’d expect to receive different information and have different conversations. Segmenting your data makes it easy for you to do this with a lot of people, all at once.
Once you’ve got your data into shape, it’s time to get serious and segment your data. This is also a job that can initially feel overwhelming. The first rule is Don’t Panic.
Read this customer story that details the method one office used to successfully set up their own segmentation system.
The trick to segmenting is to keep it as simple as possible. When most people start out segmenting their data, there is a tendency to feel you need to put people into categories. These can be very rigid and quickly get out of date - and you’ll need a LOT of categories.
Instead, think of how you can ‘tag’ clients to identify elements of their behaviour. These can be tags that
The really cool thing about tags is that they are really flexible and contacts in your database can have multiple tags. You can add them on and take them off a contact quickly.
Pro tip: Create some rules around how you name your tags, write them on a separate document and make sure you and your team stick to them. It’s easy to accidentally create multiple tags and this can quickly get messy.
An audience is a fluid group of contacts that share a particular attribute, or set of attributes. As attributes change, contacts can be dynamically added to or removed from the audience.
Your audience is built off certain common attributes. So you create your audience by setting rules based on the fields and tags associated with your contacts. Let’s look at an example.
There are lots of audiences we can create from these examples.
See how one agency owner used rules to create audiences and reduced the amount of categories they needed to segment their database
How many people in your database do you know exactly what they’re looking for? There will no doubt be a sphere of people you are in close contact with, where you know their preferences for buying a house in a certain suburb, within a specific price range and with just the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This information is gold for a real estate agent. The more contacts you have in your database where you understand their property preferences, the more valuable the database. So how do you get more of this information? Simply ask.
ActivePipe uses a data hygiene survey to quickly and concisely collect this information from the contacts in your database. Many customers are happy to give this information over, because it means you can then give them a better customer experience. With this information in hand, you can now deliver highly targeted property emails that are relevant to their specific needs - it’s a win-win. The challenge is that an individual's preferences change over time as they progress through their property journey. This is why we recommend surveying your entire database every quarter to ensure you have the most up to date information and are providing them the best customer experience possible.
The combination of clean data that’s been segmented by intent gives you enormous power and flexibility. It will allow you to create more targeted email marketing campaigns that have higher open and click through rates, and you can also upload and use these audiences in social media like Facebook, or create look-alike audiences to broaden your reach even further. In the next chapter, we’ll focus on what channels are available to reach your audiences.Download Free eBook
The key to mastering marketing is knowing how and when to use different approaches. Focusing only on one channel to generate business not only limits the audience you can reach, it also doesn’t consider how the customer wants to engage with you, which should be your main focus.
In this chapter we will outline some of the core marketing channels that agents and marketers should be using in real estate. By the end of this chapter you should start to identify areas where you might be able to make adjustments or additions to your current approaches, but don’t jump right in and start making changes right away. Make sure to read chapter 6 first!
Your website should not just feature properties you have for sale, it should be a resource that features information to help potential clients understand the different stages of buying and selling. Look to feature answers to key questions buyers and sellers may have when they’re researching the market. It should be the place you drive traffic to from your social media and email marketing.
It’s important to consider your clients experience at every stage of their journey. For example, you can increase the amount of times your listings are clicked on by 400% with simple photography edits to make your listings more visually appealing. Agencies like BoxBrownie charge about $2 per photo edit. Small investments like these can have a huge impact on your clients’ experience and your volume of leads.
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or even TikTok, social media can provide you with a targeted audience. The trick is to post content that is genuinely engaging that people want to look at. Consider using social media higher up your marketing funnel rather than trying to convert people to use you as their agent straight away.
We see agents using social media successfully to build awareness and start conversations in their communities. They do this by posting about their local neighbourhood, market conditions or sharing beautiful properties. Being able to target posts by location and paint a picture of the lifestyle in your area can be a powerful way to build your brand locally. For example, Brett Hunter from Raine & Horne Terrigal often shares videos of surfers at his local beach to capture the local lifestyle. Read Brett’s story here.
Make the goal of your social media posts to be to encourage people to join your email list. Consider tools like HomePrezzo that allow you to create more content more often, with less effort.
While social media may seem like the queen of the prom right now, email marketing is the king of modern real estate marketing. That’s because email marketing can do some seriously heavy lifting when it comes to nurturing and converting leads. Done well, it’s email marketing that really brings all the different elements of your marketing together. Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing, delivering $42 of value for every $1 spent.
Download our whitepaper for a guide to the ROI and pros and cons of different marketing channels.
If someone has given you their email address, they’ve signalled that they see value in being connected to you and hearing from you. The challenge is to live up to that promise. Josh Phegan explains the unique power of email for real estate agents below.
The decision cycle for someone who is in the property market can easily be 12-18 months. The majority of people are not ready to buy immediately and depending on their preferences won’t need to be in contact with you every day. This doesn’t mean you leave them alone - on the contrary these contacts need your advice more than anyone.
Content written to solve the pain points experienced by the different property personas is critical. This could be delivered in the form of a blog post, in an email or via Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. The options are: write it yourself (time consuming), hire a content writer (expensive) or use a tool like RealEstate Content to access pre-written articles. Video content and reports are also highly effective ways to provide useful information about your market. These can build these in just a few seconds with apps like HomePrezzo.
The big mistake many make is to restrict yourself to one distribution channel. People consume content and engage through different channels. Using channels like SMS or Whatsapp is an important part of real estate marketing. Around 30% of real estate web traffic occurs on mobile devices (MessageMedia.com), so SMS can be a great way to stay in touch using a more conversational tone. SMS can even be automated and built into multi-channel marketing campaigns (hint: watch this space!)
Whether it’s a listing on a real estate portal or a Google Ad, there’s still a place for paid advertising in real estate. Just make sure ads are well targeted and leads are followed up promptly. Making successful contact with a lead is 100 times greater when the attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes (LeadResponseManagement).
It’s important not to rely too heavily on ads, but instead have a broad spread of other marketing activities happening at the same time. The advertising space is becoming more and more competitive (therefore more expensive) and ads are only a one-way activity. Building relationships that last relies on communication being two-way.
As an agent, you will likely be marketing in some of these channels already. Where many agents go wrong is, they will see some marketing that catches their attention and immediately goes down that path. This often results in half-complete campaigns and wasted money. Knowing which channel to prioritise and invest your time and budget in, requires first knowing your customer and what content will be relevant to them. In the next chapter we take a look at some content marketing ideas that you can implement.Download Free eBook
Now that you know what channels are available, it’s time to look at what your audience will find valuable and engaging. You might be surprised how much content you already produce or how easy it can be to turn existing messaging into new versions for different channels.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most engaging types of real estate content with some ideas around how and when to use it.
Whether someone is ready to sell now or hasn’t even considered selling yet, generating interest in the property market is imperative to the success of your business as a real estate agent. A market report can be either a physical report that you hand out at inspections or even a website landing page that can be quickly found online utilising the latest data. Check out ActivePipe’s new MarketInsights feature and the HomePrezzo Suburb Reports as options here.
Evergreen articles that answer common questions around buying, selling and renting can be extremely powerful at reassuring potential clients about your expertise when they start doing some research. Updates on current issues in real estate are also highly engaging and can attract attention in emails and newsletters. You can hire freelance writers (expect to pay up to $500 a piece) or you can take time out of your busy week to write them yourself. If neither appeals, check out RealEstateContent from ActivePipe which will provide you with a stream of professionally written articles you can use in emails, on your website or social media.
Visual information is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, our recollection of what we see visually is 4 times higher than what we read and an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article. So an infographic is a great way to engage attention and can be a really helpful way to share information about the property market. You can use tools like Canva to turn statistics about your market into an infographic or try the infographic template inside HomePrezzo to create them quickly.https://app.homeprezzo.com.au/view/mfGmMDPdvg
Grab a selfie stick, find a quiet location and bust out a piece to camera about how your local market is performing, or how your auctions fared. You can even hit the street and interview some of the local celebrities in your area to talk about why your community is great to live in. It’s not just the shooting of the video, but editing and intros you’ll need to set up. But if that feels too much like hard work or you hate the idea of appearing in front of the camera, solutions like HomePrezzo will turn the market data for your area into an engaging video for emails and social media.
Most agencies are involved in local events or support charities and great causes in their communities. But have you ever thought about what great content that makes? Invitations to events, encouraging people to donate, mobile phone video or live streams of your team conducting crazy stunts in the name of a good cause - it’s all great content you can share. Take lots of photos and you can create photo galleries that will get great community engagement.
The reason we have the term ‘property porn’ is because of the power of photography in real estate to help us imagine an alternative lifestyle in a new home. Stunning photos make great posts on platforms like Instagram where you can attract completely different audiences by posting them under hashtags like #luxuryhomes, #tropicalliving or even #designerkitchens. But empty properties, bad weather, difficult tenants or arguing couples can make it difficult to get the shots you need. Consider photo editors like BoxBrownie who can replace rainy skies with sunsets, furnish empty homes or even declutter with their editing services.
Your property listings are great content - especially when targeted to active buyers in the market who want to make sure they don’t miss a single new home on the market. Delivering these via a weekly email or ‘hot listing’ email can be very powerful. Make sure you link any posts back to your website - not the portals - to improve your ability to track the traffic. The trick with property listings is to not share all of them all the time. While unique, historic or luxury properties can work well as attention grabbing posts to a broad audience, be careful not to overdo it. Constantly post all your listings to everyone and you’ll quickly lose engagement.
From lavish top end productions requiring entire camera crews through to more real videos shot on your mobile phone, a video can tell a story about the property or give potential buyers a better ‘feel’ for the lifestyle it affords. Uploading video to social media platforms like Facebook also gets better organic traffic than static posts which means your message can go further before you need to advertise.
Virtual walkthroughs really came into their own during the Covid lockdown periods and are now here to stay. They are different to listing videos which show the elements of the property that you as the agent highlight, because they allow the property viewer to control what they see. Virtual walkthroughs can help potential buyers immerse themselves into a property and get a real feel for the flow of the home. They also provide a valuable data stream of what people found most interesting about the property. There are a host of providers including DiakritM and, Virtual Tours Creator.
Reviews and testimonials from past clients who loved your service make great content when used judiciously. Make sure your website has links to reviews and include a fresh one in each newsletter. Sites like RateMyAgent can help you collect more reviews and promote them.
By now you probably realise just how much content you’re creating on a weekly basis. To keep it all in order and make it easier to manage, use a content calendar. A content calendar helps you schedule your social media, email marketing and other tactical marketing so that you can see clearly what is going out when and how it will work together. While a content calendar works on a weekly basis, consider planning your content across a month so that you don’t get too bogged down in the weeds. To learn how to create one and download a template, click here.
One of the biggest challenges agents and marketers face is the disconnect between producing content and seeing real business return. In the next chapter we take at how to align your content marketing with your customer’s property journey.Download Free eBook
We’ve already touched on a lot of the different channels available to real estate agents, but it can be difficult to see how they all fit together. Before diving headfirst into any particular channels, take a step back and consider how your customers find you. This will allow you to better understand their needs, pain points and where you can reach them.
A tangible way to think about the customer journey is by breaking it down into two simple things - channels, and content.
Channels are the mediums that deliver messages to an audience. These include:
These are delivery mechanisms. They are where you put/post/upload/share your content. But you need to have something to say or share for them to be effective.
That’s where your content comes in.
Content is the information you’re sharing. As real estate agents, we create a huge amount of ‘content’ but we often don’t realise it. Here are some examples:
Now, you don’t want to share all your content in all your channels with everyone. That would be a lot of noise and really annoy people. Instead you want to think about how to send a message that will resonate and engage your audience. This is key to providing a world class customer experience.[Download Now: Free Real Estate Customer Journey Map Template]
When mapping out your customer journey, try to think like your audience. Think about how a typical buyer or seller flows through a funnel to do business with you. Most start out never having heard of you, or only very vaguely aware of you. They then - with good marketing campaigns in place - work their way down the funnel until they are raving fans.
It’s important to note that the journey will be different depending on whether the customer is a first time buyer, investor, upsizer, downsizer, seller or renter. For simplicity, we recommend to start by thinking first in terms of buyers and sellers.
Here’s a visual example of a real estate customer journey to help you see where your marketing can fit in.
To reach people at each stage of this funnel you need to tailor both the types of channels you use and the content that will resonate with them the most. If you think about it, this makes sense. At the top end of the funnel, you want channels that will have large audiences and can draw attention to you and messages with broad appeal. Towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re heading towards more one-to-one communication with content that is very personalised.
Our model above is just an example to give you inspiration. We suggest creating your own customer journey using this free template. You can mix and match your channels and content to something that feels right for you, and more importantly, your customers.
We’ve learnt in this chapter that different people require different communications based on where they are at in their property journey. However, keeping track of these changing states is almost impossible without the use of a CRM. In the next chapter we’ll show you how to generate and identify leads from your marketing campaigns.Download Free eBook
Arguably the most important function of real estate marketing is to generate or identify leads. But how does that actually happen?
One of the great things about digital marketing is the level of data that you can get about your campaigns. All engagement no matter how much or how little - and whether it is via social media, email or your website - can be tracked. This provides valuable insights into what is working, how well it is working and what is not hitting the mark.
It is through the different levels of engagement that the intentions of individuals in your audience start to surface. As contacts in your database start to click on your content in social media or open, click and engage with the content inside your emails, it becomes increasingly apparent who amongst them are interested in either buying, selling or renting.
There are many types of engagement, and they all reveal degrees of interest and intention. Let’s take a look at them in some detail.
To help you make sense of all of this engagement and interest and make the data that you’re getting back manageable and actionable, look to your dashboards - either in your email marketing or social media platform.
From here you should be able to see who has engaged with your campaigns and the depth of their engagement, which will allow you to see who is active, and how motivated they are, and the type of client they are likely to be - buyer, seller, investor etc.
Dashboards allow you to prioritise your actions. Your next steps could be to tag contacts according to their likely interests, create follow up campaigns that dig a little deeper on their interest area, or if they’ve shown consistent and repeated behaviour, to pick up the phone and give them a call. Ideally, once your systems are set up, the dashboard is the only place you really need to be regularly checking, while marketing automation takes care of the rest.Download Free eBook
Marketing automation is fast proving to be one of the key definers of success in real estate, but it’s still really misunderstood.
When you look at the key behaviours of top performing agents, all of them have a strategic approach to systemising their business, and setting processes in place to handle the ‘noise’ of day to day tasks. Automating their marketing is a key part of this. Automation allows top agents to spend their time working on the deals that really need their attention.
For more information on the behaviours of top agents, read The Top Performing Agents Report by OpenAgent.
Automation is different to repetition. When we talk about automation, we’re not talking about sending out an email to the same audience week after week. That will quickly see your marketing being marked as spam or completely ignored.
Genuine real estate marketing automation should be at the core of every real estate agent's lead generation and customer service strategy. Automation uses smart technology to ‘listen’ to your clients preferences and subsequently refine the information being sent to them based on their needs and engagement levels.
There are two main kinds of automations:
Done properly, marketing automations achieve the following goals:
The benefit using marketing automation to save time is an obvious one for real estate agents on the go. However, the ability to collect better quality data can’t be fully realised until you understand how marketing automation works in tandem with your CRM to give you unprecedented marketing power.Download Free eBook
Throughout this guide we have emphasised the importance of your CRM in all aspects of real estate marketing. It is the central source of truth for your contacts and where you organise your customer data so that it can be utilised for sales and marketing activities.
Your average real estate CRM has some great functionality around sending emails and may even support basic social media marketing. However, there is a saying that if the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. The same is true in real estate marketing.
The CRM should be the foundation that you build out from, rather than used to do everything under the sun. By adding the additional layers of a real estate email marketing platform, specialised targeted content and your social media management tools, you’ll find that your real estate marketing quickly becomes more powerful while also requiring less work from you.
The real power of a CRM is unlocked when it’s combined with specialist real estate marketing tools
We hope you’ve enjoyed The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing and found it a useful resource. Here’s our final summary of how to achieve a new level of customer service with real estate marketing:
The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing was written by content marketing expert Kylie Davis on behalf of ActivePipe.
Kylie Davis is a leading commentator and presenter on innovation and content marketing in real estate. She holds an MBA from the University of NSW and a 25-year career across media holding senior editorial and marketing roles at Fairfax, News Corp and CoreLogic before joining Nathan Krisanski as co-founder at HomePrezzo which was purchased by ActivePipe in June 2020.
Kylie is the author of several landmark reports in real estate including The Perceptions of Real Estate Agents series for CoreLogic, Future of Real Estate Report, Real State of Leadership (with TMJ Coaching) and The Behaviours of Top Performing Agents Report for OpenAgent.Download Free eBook