The 8 Core Marketing Ideas for Real Estate in 2023
REALTORs have been in existence since 1908 but taking a commission for selling someone’s “real property” has been around for much longer. Every year over 400 million dollars is spent in real estate marketing just in the US.
Over time, real estate marketing has evolved as the process of buying and selling real estate has changed. These are the 8 core marketing ideas for real estate for 2023.
The average homeowner sells their home and buys another every thirteen years according to NAR. The last time the average person sold their home, what was the standard process? Where did they find information? How did they find an agent?
Consider that while 13 years ago people people may have begun their home buying or selling journey on the internet, today they also also use it to complete their transaction, all the way down to the electronic signature.
Home sellers don’t use their brothers, cousins’ gardener anymore when selling their most prized possession…they are using that new fangled thing…the internet.
Unlike 13 years ago, today technology is woven into the the home buying and selling process. In 2023 almost all real estate marketing takes place on the web in some form. Print is dead.
Is using Zillow a good strategy for Realtors?
Before we go over the core marketing strategies for all real estate agents and brokers, we simply cannot ignore the elephant in the room. In real estate marketing that elephant is Zillow Group which has gained a massive share of internet traffic for real estate.
Whether someone is looking to sell their home, buy a home, or do both in tandem, many people go to Zillow first. That is unfortunate for the hard-working real estate professional who has devoted their career to the local real estate market. This is your time to shine!
Dancing with the devil
Many Realtors choose to simply outsource their marketing and just let Zillow do the heavy lifting. This allocation of your marketing spend will most likely provide some level of ROI if you spend at least $1,500 a month with them. Lower Zillow ad spends historically have a lesser chance of pulling in a consistent ROI.
As a real estate franchise, broker, team, or agent there is money to be made from Zillow and its partners. If that were not the case, they would not exist. They have to provide some level of return or no REALTOR would use them. That being said, is Zillow the best use of your digital marketing dollars?
Instead of hoping people use Zillow and scramble to get their crumbs, you can spend that money on driving that web traffic directly to your real estate brand.
As a Zillow “preferred partner” or even using their “Zillow Flex” plan, you are always hoping that home buyers and sellers find Zillow on the internet. If they request information…you get the crumbs.
You get to race against other agents, with no specific branding differentiating you from the other multitude of real estate agents that are calling them in the next five minutes. You have become a commodity. Can it work? Sure…But is a better way?
Build your real estate brand
The number one idea to take away from this article is to build your brand. Your brand may be an agent, team, or brokerage. The only exception is if you purchase a real estate franchise. As a franchise brokerage, you pay for a brand that has already been developed and cultivated so that there is no need to recreate the wheel, leaving you free to move on to the next real estate idea.
Understand that your brand should have a clear value proposition and consistent messaging across digital channels. You will want to have a professional logo and a branding color palette. Once that is in place, stay consistent with your branding across everything you do.
Drive web traffic to your brand
As already discussed, instead of getting a “lead” from a 3rd party that you can pass on to an agent or even take yourself, you can acquire that web traffic from the start. Why not have them click on a link to YOUR website?
Once on your website, YOU have control. A prospect sees your branding all over the place. You display your specific value proposition everywhere while placing strategic calls-to-action (CTAs) all over. You control if/when you have a sign-up wall and what you request or if they can log in using Facebook or Google.
If you are leveraging search engine optimization for organic rankings, you may want to look for an SEO agency that specializes in real estate because of the competition.
Real estate marketing starts with Local SEO
A huge tip for marketing in 2023 is dominating Local SEO. If you already have a brand in place and a solid website, your very first idea is to optimize your Google Business Profile. Local SEO has proven to be a game changer for real estate marketing in 2023.
It has been said for decades that ”real estate is local” and it holds true in the digital age. Although it takes some time to see significant results, in 2023 optimizing your Google My Business listing for ranking in Google’s Map Pack is by far the most effective strategy in a long-term real estate marketing plan.
Seventy percent of online marketers say that SEO is better than PPC for generating sales. Although Google Ads can drive an enormous amount of targeted traffic, leads cultivated from organic search are generally “better leads”. Eighty-Six percent of people ignore paid ads, choosing to only click on organic search results.
What is Local SEO?
First, let’s explain that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is doing the work to ORGANICALLY rank on Google – no paid ads. Local SEO (as we define it) is not necessarily ranking your real estate website, but having your Google Business Profile (formally known as Google My Business) show up for localized Google searches.
I know you know what I’m talking about…This is the map with the three listings that show on both mobile and desktop for many Google results.
Anytime that Google believes you are searching for a local business, at the top of your search results (called SERPS) you will see a map with three listings.
These listings allow the user to directly call you, get directions to you or go to your website for more information. This is also where your Google Reviews will be found.
It is important to understand how well you rank is very dependent on your exact location when making the search. If you search Google for “realtor” while sitting in your office, you will artificially rank much higher than you will ½ mile down the road.
Statistical analysis shows that many people simply scroll past the “national real estate websites” to find a local site. Home buyers and sellers will exploit sites like Zillow and Realor.com in the early stages of their real estate sales cycle but turn to local websites as they approach the end of cycle when the time comes to actually buy or sell property.
As I’m sure you have noticed, when a Google Business Profile shows up in a Google Search – one option is to place a phone call. A ranking GBP (formally GMB) will generate multiple phone calls from searches. This is fantastic if the call is answered. The only problem is that it seems that if we call 100 real estate agents, we get 95 voicemails. It does no good to rank your business and have home buyers and sellers calling if you do not answer your phone.
Many brokers have a system in place for answering the main broker number, but if you are dominating the local searches, create processes that ensure every single call is answered. Consider the money spent persuading a new client to call only to have them call your competition seconds after they tried unsuccessfully to speak with you. You may want to investigate hiring a call center like Ruby or hiring an assistant that will consistently answer the phone during business hours.
Real Estate is a Long Sales Cycle
Your next idea is to understand the sales cycle for real estate. Most of you are very familiar with it — but have not thought about how it directly applies to your marketing and the type of traffic you generate at different stages of the real estate sales cycle.
NAR shows that when the average household begins to consider selling their home and buying another one, it takes them eighteen (18) months to do so. They may become leads for multiple brokers over that period of time. Most start out searching for their home’s value and other homes for sale in their city.
Recognize that the keywords driving traffic to your website directly correlate with how far along a lead is into the sales cycle. Acquiring traffic from end-of cycle keywords means less incubation of the lead and a better chance of conversion – Dean Cacioppo, Founder of One Click SEO
Many sellers will start their home selling journey by requesting an AVM (automated valuation model) which is a computer generated home valuation. After the “real estate” type searches, home buyers generally get more granular looking for specific subdivisions or condo complexes.
What does all that mean? Well, the idea is that home buyers and sellers search differently depending on where they are in the real estate sales cycle. A lead from a condo complex search is more valuable than a lead for a more generic search such as “Savanna real estate” even though the real estate-based search gets exponentially more Google queries every month.
Specific real estate keywords indicating that someone is at the end of their sales cycle include:
- Best Realtor in *city*
- Realtor near me
- Discount real estate broker
- Real estate broker
- Top real estate broker in *city*
- Flat fee real estate
These are generally people that are near the end of their real estate sales cycle and ready to put pen to paper (or electronic signature). Be cognizant of the keywords driving traffic to your website because they suggest where a lead is along the sales cycle.
Your real estate website is at the center of all marketing
This is more of a necessity than an idea. Every Realtor, broker, or team should have a website. Your website should include a very specific branding name (and domain) that acts as the center of all of your marketing. Any marketing, whether print or digital, should drive people to your website.
Whether that is a link from Facebook or a QR code – it needs to arrive at your real estate website. That is where you brand yourself and explain your value proposition. At this moment, these real estate buyers/sellers are on your turf.
Types of real estate websites
All real estate websites are not equal. As a matter of fact, depending on the type of real estate website, they serve different purposes. Some real estate websites are the All-In-One type that include IDX, lead capture, a CRM, email marketing, and other functionality. These are very popular styles of websites for Realtors since they are lead-based and all-inclusive.
Examples of these include:
- Sierra Interactive
- Real Geeks
- and there are MANY more
Although these types of websites put everything in one package with everything working together (lead capture, CRM, etc) they generally have a lack of customization. Their main focus is on lead generation and follow-up. They have little focus on the customization of the website itself.
Because of their lack of customization, you may not be able to organically rank these types of websites as easily.
All-in-One Real Estate Website
In addition, if you have a specific vision, look and feel or value proposition, the all-in-one real estate solution may not be what you are looking for. Also, you are technically “renting” these types of websites. If you stop paying the vendor, your website disappears.
Broker provided website
Another common website is the broker-provided site. This may exist on a subdomain of the main broker website and may tie into some of your broker-provided tools. They too usually lack customization and if you leave that broker — your site is gone. These types of sites cannot be expected for real branding or even lead generation. In many instances, they don’t even get indexed by Google.
They mostly act as a placeholder. The best thing you can hope for with a broker-provided website is that you show up in the results when your name is put into a search engine.
Custom WordPress real estate website
The last type of real estate website is a custom website with unique tools. These are commonly built on WordPress and can be built from scratch or from a template. You will need to add IDX for property search. This will require a data feed from your local MLS.
One Click SEO has used just about every IDX solution over the last 20 years and we recommend IDX Broker. You will also need to incorporate a CRM. Although this sounds like work (and it is) you can get EXACTLY the website you want with any CRM that you choose.
You will want to make sure that your WordPress hosting and domain are registered in YOUR NAME and not the web developers. This insures that you have total control and ownership.
Custom WordPress websites are the most flexible but the most expensive to implement. Not only is the website totally customizable but you also choose your other tools and services that interface with your main hub.
Common add-ons to custom-build real estate websites:
- The CRM of your choice
- AVMs – automated valuation models for lead capture providing home values
- Saved MLS searches for client-level property updates
- Signup for real estate reports or newsletters
- Savings slider for displaying commissions
In addition, is that these types of sites have the capability (with a real estate SEO guru) to rank higher organically in Google and other search engines.
With a custom setup, you have much more control of your digital marketing strategy and the user experience. You also own this type of website. You will want to make sure that your WordPress hosting and domain are registered in YOUR NAME and not the web developers for true ownership of your own little piece of the internet.
Social media in real estate marketing
Everyone in real estate understands that social media cannot be avoided for digital marketing in 2023. That being said, your next tip is — in addition to posting cute pictures of your kids or asking “if anyone needs to buy or sell a house” — you could be driving traffic to your website.
Post a blog on your website about every closing, with pics and share THAT on your Facebook page.
Needless to say, you should share the crap out of any original content blog post that you have written. It’s also a good idea to even pay for some Facebook Ads, especially if you are writing content.
The key is to drive them to your website where they are bombarded with your branding and value proposition. Needless to say, a well-built custom site should have strategic CTAs (calls to action) and lead generation tools.
Facebook marketing in real estate
Although seventy-four percent of REALTORS leverage Facebook for professional purposes only ten percent of REALTORS get up to ten percent of their business from Facebook. That means most real estate agents are spinning their wheels on Facebook.
The key to leveraging Facebook is paid advertising that drives customers to your website. Organic reach from business pages are almost nil and you won’t have any friends if your personal profile is nothing but real estate stuff.
Paid, targeted Facebook marketing is the best way to incorporate social into your digital marketing campaign. In addition, we recommend leveraging your IDX feed and dynamically creating Facebook REmarkting ads.
Blogging on Your Real Estate Website – Content Marketing
For our next idea…start blogging! If you have the talent of being able to expound your real estate knowledge into words, you absolutely need to be blogging. Content marketing for real estate can drive enormous amounts of traffic while showing that you are an expert in your field.
Talk about the changes in the local market. Write a blog about new construction or a new zoning ordinance. Talk about property values using MLS statistics to back you up. There are many articles on how to write great blog posts
All of this is great content to share on social media. These blogs give you something that shows you are an expert in your field while driving traffic back to your website.
Ongoing quality content from your personal website is a solid real estate marketing strategy. You will want to start with keyword research, make sure to include on-page SEO, internal links, authority links, and of course drive traffic through social media.
Google Ads for immediate website traffic
Google ads have been a consistent strategy for successful real estate brokers and franchises for years. It was a sure-fire way to siphon web traffic from the almighty Zillow, who is generating their traffic organically from their superior real estate SEO. You can simply buy an ad to sit on top of them.
Google Ads can be a very effective way of immediately driving traffic to your website. Google Ads have been the go-to for many real estate businesses. Some brokers spend 10, 20, or 30 thousand dollars per month on Google Ads.
You can adjust the level of traffic as well as where the customer lands on your site for best conversion. In addition to having your hand on the throttle of how many people come to your website daily, there is this matter of “intent”.
When someone opens a web browser and does a Google Search for something, you can be safe that they are looking for information on what they typed. They have put forth an immediate intent to find their results. If you are paying for Google Ads for those searches, you can guarantee a certain amount of traffic with a specific “intent”.
That immediate traffic, although expensive, can generate leads, which need to be followed up on. As previously mentioned, many people become a lead multiple times through their home buying/home selling journey so if you get them early…follow-up is key.
REmarketing or REtargeting paid ads
Our most potent idea for real estate marketing in 2023 is REmarketing or sometimes called REtargeting. I will let you in on a little secret from someone who has been working with modern real estate marketing for over two decades… REmarketing is the most cost-effective PPC (pay per click) option available.
The caveat is you must be already driving traffic to your website with Google Ads, SEO, or content marketing, so you have an audience to show your retargeted ads.
Organic and paid traffic leverage the user’s intent by what they typed in Google. Whether those users sign up with a one-button Facebook or Google login or input their information on a signup form or not, REtargeting will then follow them around the web, reinforcing your brand and value proposition.
REmarketing to the people that have already visited your website is the most cost-effective marketing on the planet. Every Google search for a new blender then saw a ton of blender ads? Although a little creepy, they are extremely cost-effective.
REALTORS advertising budget
Our last tip is to set a marketing budget. In 2017, a 53% majority of real estate professionals spent less than $5,000 on their annual marketing efforts, including both online and offline avenues. However, 1 in 8 real estate agents spent more than $20,000 in the year, with the top 3% spending more than $80,000 on their marketing.
Want to find out what your marketing budget should be? Click on our digital marketing budget estimator.
You should set a percentage of your gross income aside for marketing. Many use ten percent of their GCI (gross commission earned) as their marketing budget. Needless to say, the more you spend the more it works — but you need to spend your marketing dollars wisely.
Check out our article on SEO pricing which includes Local SEO, Managed SEO as well as SEO packages and pricing strategies.
A well-thought-out real estate digital marketing plan is critical if you expect to outperform your competitors; there is no silver bullet. Simply getting more reviews won’t create market share. You need to be leveraging every avenue available including your Google Business Profile and directing all of your web traffic to your real estate website, where you can preach your value proposition.
Run extremely targeted Google Ads as well as targeted Facebook Ads while REmarketing to ALL the people that end up on your real estate website. From there, you need ongoing follow-up from a CRM coupled with a couple of phone calls and even direct mail if you have their address. All of your digital marketing efforts need to work in harmony to beat your competition.