7 Easy Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents in 2017

Wait, did I say 2017? Yep, it's right around the corner and you'd better get ready if you want to keep competing in the rapidly changing online landscape of real estate. So if you're looking for some ridiculously effective marketing concepts to super-charge your real estate business - you've found them. Read on to see how you can put these to work for you starting today.

This list is mainly focused on showing you how to use, abuse and generally create free business from your existing customer base and network, but I'm ALSO going to show you how to rapidly grow that network using some simple tools for social media. One complaint I hear a lot from newer agents is “But I don't have any past clients to market to!”. No, you don't. But you do have a network of friends, family, neighbors, past co-workers and a hundred other contacts that you have accumulated over the years.

And I'm going to show you some very simple ways that you can grow and curate that list to create a constant source of referrals, along with a few other tips to inexpensively create leads day after day.

1. Create and Grow Your Email List

realtor marketing

A lot of agents really don't understand the importance of this one. I'm not talking about junk email and spam, I'm talking about people who REALLY want to hear from you. A really good list of 50 people you know, is way better than spamming 1000 people who have never heard of you. Also, your message will probably get through the clutter, as it will be going to people who have already communicated with you, some may even have your email in their email contacts. This means that unlike with social media platforms, you're not having your message diluted – it's only YOU that they see. Not 300 other agents, and that's important.

You can also take this list once you have it, and easily use it to target your network elsewhere like Facebook, LinkedIn etc. All you do is upload your spreadsheet to those networks and the software does the rest for you.

And did you know that most marketers consistently rank email as the #1 tactic for creating awareness, acquisition, retention and conversion? About 70% of people say they actually read emails from companies that they like – which leads on average to a 4300% Return on Investment for businesses. That's crazy. Have you ever seen a return like that on a postcard farming campaign? Probably not.

So why is this important to you? It's simple. According to the NAR, and most Realtors we talk to, approximately 75% of all real estate sales in the US comes from referrals or word-of-mouth. So while you're shelling out $3000 per month on Zillow leads, other agents are simply working their networks, staying in touch with people, and making twice as much in half the time.

YES leads are important, especially for new agents, but nowhere near as important as building a referral-based business. So how do you get started?


  1. Gather all your contacts into a spreadsheet or CRM with as much info as you can. This should include almost everyone you know, and definitely any past clients.

  2. Decide on a followup system, be it a monthly newsletter service, social media advertising (yes you can target by email address!) or simply a time every month when you shoot out a friendly email, text or phone call.

It doesn't matter what format you choose, as long as you make contact with them at least once a month. Top of mind awareness is everything in the referral game, and it can be FREE.


2. Website Lead Capture Forms

Have a website? Great! If not, you probably want to skip to step 3. Getting a trafficked website is fantastic, but not if it's not turning into business. Back in the early days of the Internet, traffic was everything and people used to boast about how many hits a day their site generated. Then it was all about unique visitors, then bounce rates, and 100 other metrics until people finally realized, I really just want customers. And that's where landing pages and lead capture forms come in.

If someone landed on ANY page of your website, is there a place they can enter their info, and if so, is there a reason to do that? More and more people are communicating electronically which means they're probably not just going to pick up the phone and say “Hi, this is John. I've got $500K in cash and I need a house.”

This is a population that now flirts by apps like Tinder instead of talking. You need to make sure you're in on the conversation, and using easy-to-complete lead capture forms is all about that. Promise a free market report, offer info about exclusive pre-market listings, tell them you'll send them a recipe for the world's best cheesecake. It doesn't matter. But you need to know your customers, and know what it will take for you to get their name, email and phone number.

For those of you who are a little tesch-savvy. I recommend a service like JotForm. With just a tiny bit of know-how you can easily use their drag and drop interface to create forms that you can simply copy/paste into any page of any website. Otherwise, talk to your web designer!

And remember, once you have that client's info, add it to your database. Here's a really good example below.


3. Build a Referral Program

realtor referral program

We already talked about how important referrals are, but they won't just magically happen by themselves. With some reports saying that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other media message, you need to learn how to consistently create referrals. Clients and contacts need a little nudge every now and again. Which is probably why only 11% of salespeople actually ask for referrals, because they don't build a system or program designed to do just that, so they don't get any referrals. It's a catch 22.

Beyond simply asking for referrals from everyone you know, taking simple steps like adding a referral request to your email signature can actually work wonders. I also know some agents who as part of their listing pitch tell sellers that their ultimate goal (outside of selling their house) is to have them so happy with the work they did as their agent, that at closing they're going to give them 2 referrals. And at every closing, they pull out a referral sheet and ask their clients to fill it in. It's a strong move, but it does work.

What I'm saying is, if you don't ask, you won't receive. Let everyone know you love referrals, put a referral page on your website with a great lead capture form. Bake referral-flavored cookies and send them to your clients. Ask for referrals as part of your monthly database touch. Just do it – and watch the business roll in.

4. Get More Reviews

realtor yelp reviews

When I ran my own brokerage, this is pretty much all my agents heard from me every time they closed a client. “That's great. Did they leave a review?”

Reviews are very closely tied to referrals, as a lot of people will check sites like Yelp to verify that what their friend says about you is true. And interestingly, online reviews are trusted almost as much as word-of-mouth referrals.

When you're an agent, YOU are the brand, so make sure that any info about you online is squeaky clean. In most markets (excluding big cities) having just 5-10 good Yelp or Google Places reviews can put you at the top of the pile and deliver immediate traffic and clients. Guess what a GREAT way to remind people about you, and to ask for referrals is? Yep, you can see where this is leading. Hit up your database with a quick email, ask for a review, and watch the referrals follow.

Make sure you claim all your pages online first (I recommend WhiteSpark or BrightLocal for this – don't even consider Yext. I loathe them.) then start asking for clients to review you on the most important sites. I would start with Zillow, Google Places and Yelp as they have the best real estate related rankings. But just to double check, google your name and a phrase like Realtor or real estate and see what pops up. That's where you want your reviews.


5. Get More Email Opens

realtor email marketing

So we're sending all these emails to our database, but how do we know they're actually getting our messages? All of this is for nothing if they're not even opening your emails. One part of this is obviously not buying email lists and making sure you only keep important people in your database, but also crafting your emails and subject lines in a way that get the desired response.

Subject lines are probably the most important. They're the first thing everyone sees, and you only have a couple of seconds to convince them to pay attention. Keep them short, keep them chatty, and also leave them thinking.

Before: Spruce up your home with these landscaping, design and repair tips-and-advice

After: Interested in landscaping, interior design and home repair?

I love including the question mark, because the only way to answer is delete the email or open it for reading. People really don't like leaving anything unanswered. Now, the most powerful method is to include their first name in the email subject line, and many free email programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer this flexibility. It's something you should definitely look into if your database exceeds the 100 member mark.

7. Instagram

realtor instagram marketing

With over 400 million active users, Instagram is proving to be an amazing marketing tool in any savvy Realtor's arsenal. At one of the real estate companies I own, we use it to generate hundreds of leads a month. And it's pretty easy once you get going. What you have to understand is that people are looking for PROPERTIES, not agents. So don't use it to promote yourself, use it to promote your listings. So, let's say you have a listing at 123 Main Street (I know) and it's in a neighborhood called Coolsville, which is a suburb of Springfied, and it's priced very well. You have some AMAZING pictures of it, which you make into a cool collage using (which is free). And your ad would read something like:

AMAZING OFF-MARKET SPECIAL. Classic 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch home in Coolsville for just $365K!! Completely updated throughout with handscraped wood flooring, new quartz counters, fresh paint, new roof, new a/c and ready for the new owner. Come see me this Saturday from 1pm-4pm at my pre-market open house! Call Sandy Realtor with Savvy Real Estate at 555.555.5555 for a sneak peak!

#springfield #openhouse #coolsville #springfieldrealestate #realestate


It's short, it's concise, it promises people something they can't get elsewhere and it includes your contact info. Notice also the hashtags I used – those are all pretty high traffic tags that people actually search by. I know, because I researched them on Instagram – it's pretty easy to see post volume when you search by hashtag!

So, using the right hashtags can definitely get you in front of people and grow your audience, but I'm going to show you a much quicker way. And it only costs $30 per month. It's called Influx Social (google it).

It's a very clever piece of software that helps you grow followers by following other people based on their location, hashtags and places they check in etc. I'm not going to dwell too long on it as it's very easy to use, and they have great how-tos on their site, but let's just say I took two Instagram accounts from 700ish followers to over 10,000 in under 4 months. That's crazy.

Finally, consistency is KEY!! Post every day, at least. Post a picture when you're out showing, or previewing, or just prospecting a neighborhood. People like content, and they want to see a Realtor who is constantly on the go. Make some posts personal and fun, and some all business. And then watch your phone start to ring.

I've included some good examples below.

realtor marketing tips

real estate recruiting

Wrapping up!

So are you excited? Are you actually going to employ some of the techniques for the coming year? We're already into the 4th quarter of 2016, so you need to get thinking about how you're going to supercharge your business for the next year. We know there is a TON of information out there, and a lot of marketing options, but I hope you'll consider these (almost) free ones above. I have helped hundreds of agents make a success of themselves using these exact methods. So give them a try, and stay tuned for more free marketing tips and ideas! Or if you want to find out how makes it super easy to find real estate jobs, please check out the rest of the website.