How to Begin Your Real Estate Marketing Strategy (with Free Planning Worksheet)
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Generating and executing unique real estate marketing ideas is a must for agents who want to see success online. But before a marketing plan can commence, specific, realistic goals have to be set. Know exactly what you want your real estate marketing to achieve and you’ll have clear expectations for your website, blog, email campaigns, social media presence, and any other tactics you take on. Learn how to start planning your real estate marketing strategy by completing these four core tasks below.
As an added bonus, we’ve provided a free real estate marketing planning worksheet you can download to help form your marketing goals and to understand the core factors driving your marketing decisions. This spreadsheet isn’t meant to be the sole document you use for your real estate marketing plan, but it can help remind you of the form your marketing should take, who you should market to, and how much time and money you should spend on your tactics.
Step #1: Outline the 5 Ws related to your real estate marketing.
The “5 Ws” is a great place to start: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. It’s okay to be general with these Ws — over time, you can make them more specific. For instance, if you have a very broad idea of who your audience is (maybe all sellers in one community as opposed to sellers in a distinct price bracket), that’s fine. You can always revisit these Ws and adjust them accordingly. But to get started, jot them down so you have a rough idea as to how to structure your real estate marketing plan.
Who: Identify your target audience.
Knowing who to market to is more than half the battle. Target a niche group of buyers and sellers you either have had experience working with or who you’d like to market to. Again, don’t worry if you can’t yet pinpoint an exact demographic you think is best to reach — narrowing your focus even a little will greatly improve your success.
One factor to consider in selecting a primary audience is to think of your past clients. If you haven’t earned much money going after a certain segment of buyers and sellers, maybe you should market to a new group. If you’re happy with your revenue in recent months and years, stick to marketing to the same audience.
Another factor to contemplate is what housing market statistics indicate. We live in the age of Big Data. Figures related to home sales, property values, income, and dozens of other areas influence marketing decisions for agents and brokers nationwide. Embrace this data for your local market to determine who’s worth pursuing and who’s not. For example, if stats show Millennials are buying up the majority of homes for sale in your community, chances are they’d make for an ideal core audience. Research your neck of the woods to help inform what marketing tactics to undertake.
What: Specify the metrics you want to build upon.
The one metric every real estate agent would like to improve is their commissions, but in terms of marketing, determine all the areas you want to improve. Do you want people to know about your brand? Increasing your website traffic could be a great starting goal then. Are you looking to ramp up lead generation? Then optimizing your site with lead capture forms and capabilities is your best bet. Want to cultivate future sellers? Building your email list might be your primary goal. Whatever the metric(s), plan your real estate marketing ideas around them.
This graph from a Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs report shows what many brands and professionals consider to be the most important metrics for their marketing. Note that getting site visitors is deemed the most vital to online marketing success, as it’s a substantial driver of sales:
There are plenty of other marketing metrics to keep tabs on aside from just traffic. This Academy post details five primary metrics to monitor in Google Analytics that can help you determine if your marketing is as successful as you need it to be.
When: Determine a timetable for success.
As noted in our post on how to succeed with search engine optimization (SEO), there is no exact length of time it takes every brand and professional to see substantial results from marketing efforts. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have specific goals to aim for over periods of time. Here are some examples of goals to aspire to after various durations:
- After one month: Since your real estate marketing is just getting going, simply aim to broaden more awareness of your company online. Gaining acknowledgement as a successful real estate firm in your area is a big first step to take.
- After three months: A quarter into your marketing plan, it’d be wise to target moderate goals related to site traffic, lead gen, social media followers, and general online inquiries from potential new contacts and clients.
- After six months: After the first half-year of your marketing strategy, have more sizable ambitions, like getting a certain amount of targeted seller leads or a certain number of closed deals.
Looking out further than a year down the line probably won’t do you much good since it’s so difficult to anticipate what will change with your business over the course of those 12 months, so just set goals for the foreseeable future.
Where: Pinpoint which avenues to take with your marketing.
Once you know your marketing demographic, select which channels you want to use to promote your business. The aforementioned core group of tactics — website, blog, email, and social media — are all ones you should use from the get-go, but don’t be afraid to try other worthwhile marketing ploys, like hosting webinars or podcasts, creating infographics, and writing long-form content (ebooks, reports, etc.).
The only way to find out which tactics work well is to try a variety of them. Just know your website is the cornerstone of all of these activities, since your audience is led there by most, if not all, of your marketing activities.
Why: Analyze the reasons behind the previous four Ws.
After figuring out the basic elements of your real estate marketing strategy, take a step back and carefully review the details. Make sure everything you’ve planned is realistic to achieve.
Do you have considerable knowledge of your core audience? Do you have the wherewithal to blog regularly? Are the timelines for success practical? Comb over your plan before you start to ensure you don’t have to go back to square one after months of work and completely reconfigure your marketing blueprint.
Step #2: Commit to specific marketing tasks.
From the small tasks, like getting a responsive real estate website, to larger tactics, such as developing an email campaign, break down what real estate marketing activities you’re committed to doing and over what period of time. Don’t worry: You won’t have to take on everything all at once. But it’s essential to identify the simpler daily tasks you can handle in minutes and more long-term tasks that require greater time, effort, and, in some cases, money.
Small, Short-Term Tasks
Think of what essential items you can take care of in short amounts of time. Examples of tactics to implement in your spare time include:
- Brainstorming a handful of blog post ideas daily
- Segmenting your contact lists for your email campaign
- Optimizing your real estate website for search
- Putting together a social media posting schedule
- Researching marketing automation software options
- Working bit by bit on one piece of long-form content
The foundation of your real estate marketing plan is built on completing these tasks, so find pockets of time in your day and week to work on them. Things like developing real estate blog post ideas is a constant process, since blogging never really ends. Split your time evenly on things that need to be taken care of regularly and one-time tasks that simply need to be done.
On the flip side are larger marketing efforts. These mostly entail activities related to lead generation, closing deals, and earning commissions. After all, the whole point of marketing is to lead to more sales, so remember the large-scale goals that all of your daily and weekly marketing activities support.
After a month of blogging, for instance, examine your Google Analytics to see how your posts perform. What’s the amount of time visitors spend on each post/page? How many sessions (views) have you received? Take a step back from implementing your real estate marketing plan to learn if they’re leading to the numbers you desire.
Step #3: Determine the costs for your marketing.
Many marketing tasks cost only your time, but some require a decent amount of financial investment. Creating blog posts and other written content can be done entirely free. Simply find news, stats, and other info to curate from other blogs and publications, or write your own how-to articles based on your own experiences and know-how, and just like that, you’ve got content to share with your audience.
Paid tactics — primarily advertising — require a more in-depth plan and dollars. For paid advertising efforts, take a close look at your revenue intake for the previous several months and how much you expect to earn in the months ahead. Then, select a portion of this amount to act as your ad spend. Common paid advertising venues you could use include:
- Google Adwords: The search leader is the easiest and most logical place for most advertisers to start. By targeting specific keywords you can reach a qualified audience efficiently.
- Facebook ads: The top social network provides boosted posts and display ads that can be featured in News Feeds and on the sides of pages. Ads on the social platform offer a unique way to reach your audience in a targeted fashion — that is, designating who sees your ad based on demographic criteria like interests, age, and location.
- Twitter ads: You can promote your entire Twitter account or specific tweets in the same fashion as Facebook ads. Twitter continually adds new advertising options for brands, so research its Twitter for Business page to see what ad opportunities may be right for you.
- Google Display Network ads: Whereas you can create ads that will appear in search results for various terms related to your local market and business, you can also target specific sites on which to have display ads show.
Whichever ad type(s) you work with, just know the pros and cons associated with them. Either way, it’s worth investigating each ad option. One or more of them could be the key to better reaching buyers and sellers.
Step #4: Implement your plan, analyze your tactics, and repeat.
Once your real estate marketing foundation is set, it’s time to put everything into action. Start publishing landing pages, blog posts, and social media updates, get your email and video strategies up and running, and implement any other tactic you deem worthy of deploying.
After a month or so has passed, take to Google Analytics and any other software you use to automate and track your marketing to check up on your marketing’s performance. Find out what’s worked so far, what hasn’t, and what can be done to improve your messaging, branding, and, ultimately, bottom line.
Your real estate marketing is a machine that never stops — and that machine will only become stronger the more you pay attention and build upon it. Keep experimenting with new techniques you’ve yet to try and see if they can achieve your goals.
What real estate marketing strategies have worked well for you? Tell us how you successfully promote your business in the comments below!
Published on February 13, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.