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The 5 Steps to Smart Real Estate Agent Marketing Investments [Part 1]

Travis Balinas
July 22, 2014
5 steps to smart real estate investments

Real estate agents’ marketing investments need to be smart and backed by statistics. However, as I recently discussed in a post, real estate agents keep investing in the wrong marketing activities that target the wrong audiences and have terrible return on investment (ROI). Long story short, real estate agents will be 1,000 times more successful if they target their existing sphere of influence with relevant, valuable marketing efforts.

After writing a post about the three worst marketing investments real estate agents make, I got a lot of feedback asking about what marketing investments do make sense.

While I could easily recommend that you invest in email, social and web, those are simply channels. What you really need is a strategy for your marketing so that all of your investments work together to achieve a common goal.

I read through the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2014 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, the 2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers and the wonderful write up on consumer trends Bernice Ross did for Inman News . With additional input from the Hear it Direct conference in Austin, TX, I came up with a full marketing strategy that all agents can use to guide their marketing investments for 2014 and 2015.

5 Steps to Smart Real Estate Marketing Investments 


Step 1: Market to the Right Audiences

If the NAR customer surveys are any indication, your marketing should target the people who already know you. The cost of using search engines, newspapers and direct mail far outweighs the actual return you’ll get on these investments. And it makes sense, right? Think about how many pieces of junk mail you get that go directly in the trash. If someone is looking to buy or sell a home, they’ll go to their personal networks first, not the classifieds or junk mail.

This year’s Hear it Direct conference in Austin, TX was full of eye-opening nuggets. According to Bernice Ross, this year’s conference was “packed with powerful strategies based upon direct consumer feedback.” Some of the more interesting points that consumers brought up included:

  • Get rid of the “just sold” cards.
  • Stop sending them calendars, and instead, be seen helping at community-based events.
  • Consumers ignore the Google ads they see and go directly to the organic results

These tidbits are in line with the NAR 2014 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report. The activities listed above account for less than 2% of closed seller leads.

If people aren’t responding to those dated forms of marketing, then they’re getting their information somewhere else. 68% of all closed buyer leads came from a trusted referral, as did 71% of all closed seller leads. This means you should focus your marketing efforts on people who already know who you are! Just tap into that sphere of influence and grow your business.

Step 2: Use Multiple Touches Across Many Channels

When targeting people who already know you, the benefit is that they’re already familiar with who you are, what you do and why you’re reaching out to them. These people are also more likely to actually engage with your touches, whether that is opening your email newsletter, reading what you post to social media or participating in your referral programs.

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With email marketing, you have to remember that when done correctly, it’s very different from an email “blast.” The approach that we use for our clients is three-fold:

1)   Send them things that aren’t about real estate

2)   Send only to people who are your past clients or current prospects

3)   Keep a good cadence of sending (not too much, not too little but just right). We send emails twice a month.

This approach to email helps keep you top of mind. Sending too often means your recipients won’t open your emails and not sending frequently enough causes them to lose interest. Twice a month is the optimal schedule to maintain proper inbox credibility.


All agents know that they should use social media in their business. But what a lot of real estate agents don’t get is that it is first and foremost a social way to communicate with people online, not a direct way to harvest leads. If you’re doing social media right, leads will come your way in the form of referral business.

So use social media to present your business as human and approachable. You don’t want your pages to look like a continual stream of self-promotion. Being human means sharing and engaging with a purpose and being able to communicate on a one-to-one level.

We help our real estate agents maintain an active presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These channels are where the majority of their existing clients are already active so it makes sense to join those conversations.

If you’re not sure where to get started, we have a guide to help you. The approach you should take is pretty straightforward:

1)   Share helpful, interesting content that isn’t always about buying/selling homes. (We can help with this.)

2)   Open up about your business and show your human side. Post photos, videos and start conversations. Anything that shows you out in the world being human.

3)   Don’t wait for people to come to you. Be engaging. Reach out to people online and talk with them. Leave the passive work for your website.

This approach will help you stay in touch with past clients and existing prospects. They won’t see every post, but it’s that regular, casual visual, prompt from you that keeps the relationship moving forward. Remember, the goal is not to “market” to them, but rather to stay top of mind until they’re ready to buy or refer a friend.

Coming Up Next

Don’t miss tomorrow’s post for part 2 of the steps to making smart marketing investments. I’ll cover strategic content marketing, building an online presence and how to get referrals from your sphere of influence.

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