A realtor is more than a salesman, and a house is more than the sum of its drywall and vanilla accents.

Buying that forever home is an experience like no other. It’s a milestone symbolizing one’s entrance into adulthood. It’s a bridge to the classic 2.5 children, dog and backyard barbecue.

Property is also the largest source of wealth the average American will ever hold. These factors, among others, make real estate an eternally experiential and life-affirming transaction.

Professionals working in the real estate sector – agents, mortgage originators, appraisers, loan officers, brokers and other financial services parties – must cater to this sentiment in their marketing. Advertising low interest rates or diverse inventory may draw attention, but there is so much more real estate marketers can do to heighten curiosity, captivate prospective homebuyers and generate new customers.

This eBook details 12 content marketing tactics every real estate brand can use to increase their curb appeal.

1. Visuals of every kind

It’s no secret that much of the real estate game is won or lost on first impressions. As such, real estate marketers should prioritize visual content formats above anything else.

On a practical level, this means professional hi-res photography for staging, showcasing and open house purposes. These photographs can be reused across every marketing channel, from printed, physical collateral to social media.

In the digital sphere, websites and other online media properties should be populated with interactive carousels of visuals so potential clients can better assess homes on the market. Infographics are also dynamic assets for real estate agents, as they’re perfect for answering commonly asked questions in an illustrative format. Concepts like pros vs. cons, renting vs. owning, fixed-rate vs. adjustable-rate and condo vs. townhouse are easily visualized and shared via infographics.

2. Events-based marketing

Buying or selling a home is a very humanizing moment, even when working through real estate agents or brokers. And that’s a sentiment that carries marketing capital.

Combining digital marketing efforts with in-person, events-based marketing creates a tandem track for lead generation and brand awareness. Events may include:

  • Open houses.
  • Block parties
  • Meet and greet with brokers.
  • Real estate seminars.
  • Q&A sessions between industry experts and prospects.
  • Industry conferences.

There’s also upside to partnering with and learning more about builders, lenders, appraisers, originators, attorneys, residential and commercial landlords, municipal leaders and local officials. During these meetings/events, have physical collateral on hand, such as business cards, sales sheets, FAQ pamphlets, printed listings, etc.

Real estate marketers can go a step further and leverage social media by taking photos, starting hashtag campaigns, applying for branded Snapchat filters and expanding social networks.

3. AR/VR for virtual tours

Static visuals are one thing; interactive video is another. Services like Google Tango, roOomy and Matterport allow real estate marketers to use augmented and virtual reality video for one-of-a-kind, custom open houses.

This technology isn’t exclusive to luxury real estate. Redfin allows any listing on its site to also feature VR tours. Prospective homebuyers can select from more than 100,000 furniture and household items to virtually drag and drop into the homes they’re interested in, giving them a good idea of how their home may look once they’re actually moved in. Customers can decorate, personalize and visualize unbuilt and empty spaces with multidimensional views.

It won’t be long before open houses could become obsolete. Prospects will just use their smartphones or VR headsets to get the full experience without stepping foot in the home.

Though seeming futuristic, this technology is already in action, and real estate agents are missing a big opportunity if their content marketing programs lack dimension. Customers want 360-degree, panoramic visuals they can engage with and individualize.

4. Newsletter marketing

Hubspot recommends keeping email newsletters 90 percent educational, 10 percent promotional. Additionally, one-third of email subscribers open their emails based on the subject line alone, so brevity, utility and value are of the utmost importance.

Email may seem like an outdated mode of communication in the era of apps, texting and chatbots, but email marketing delivers the highest ROI of any channel for the average marketer.

Real estate newsletters should contain a mix of assets, like:

  • Blog posts.
  • Infographics.
  • Links to social media feeds.
  • Short videos.
  • Trending data points.
  • Geo-specific news.
  • New listings.
  • Buyers/sellers guides.
  • Helpful tangential content.

Email is an easy way to stay in 24/7 touch with prospects and previous customers – you never know when someone could be in the market for another home. And with so many automated email tools like Constant Contact and Mailchimp, personalizing a branded newsletter based off a template is incredibly quick and efficient.

5. App integration

Non-domain and non-social media platforms are integral to real estate marketing success, as much of prospects’ searching occurs not through a realtor site or Google query, but through aggregated listing services. Redfin, Trulia, Zillow, CoreLogic, MLS and Craigslist host thousands of properties, with advanced filtering and targeting options for homebuyers, sellers and renters in every stage of the real estate process, price range and location.

These applications are also on mobile, allowing 24/7 browsing for buyers and sellers – all in the palms of their hands. Integrating with real estate apps and ensuring listings remain updated and UX-friendly across web, mobile browser and mobile app is instrumental to staying in front of prospects at all times.

By casting a wide net, top-of-funnel interest is nearly limitless. The next step in the marketing funnel would be keeping all contact info, images, pricing, hyperlinks and CTAs active. Prospects should be able to contact real estate agents with one touch of their smartphone screens once they’ve moved to more of a middle-of-the-funnel stage of their property search.

6. Success stories

User-generated content, or user-complemented content, can be an effective way to allow other parties to work for you. It can also serve as a dynamic mid- and bottom-of-the-funnel tactic.

If the goal of a realtor is to obtain new customers and sell more homes, then customer quotes, video testimonials and success stories confirming his or her expertise go a long way toward assuaging any prospect fears. Much of real estate still conforms to a word-of-mouth marketing model, and testimony from friends, followers and clients is a linchpin for prospecting and client onboarding.

Data attests to this fact, as social proof – people copying the actions of others – is an unbreakable influence in our everyday lives, and also in marketing. Ninety-two percent of people trust the recommendations of their peers, and 70 percent trust recommendations from people they don’t even know.

By featuring user reviews and satisfied clients on real estate websites and profiles, marketers can convert social proof into tangible ROI.

7. Local SEO

Part of remaining a click away from prospects is being ultimately accessible via local listings. This is where an updated Google My Business profile is key.

GMB info is scraped and populated in Google Maps on iPhones and is featured on the first page of Google SERPs in various formats. Because of the all-encompassing presence and utility of Google – 51 percent of all web traffic comes from organic search – it’s vital that real estate marketers optimize their GMB.

This means a completely updated profile, accurate contact info across multiple locations, images, high user ratings, testimonials from customers and hours of operation.

Page one of SERPs and Google Maps are often the first touchpoints with prospects, and for a sector such as real estate that’s keenly tethered to location, Local SEO is a baseline marketing necessity.

8. Fact sheets and glossaries

In total, marketing is a tool for resolving customer issues and educating prospects, not all that unlike customer service or tech support. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by having a revolving door of digital and physical collateral online and on hand for events.

FAQ resource pages, glossaries of key terms to know, simple one-page fact sheets and similar guides are packed with helpful information. They can also be professionally formatted with branded features, custom illustrations and other visualized artwork so that the information is consumed through a combination of written word and graphics.

Each data point or factoid can be further broken down into small snippets to share on social media or via email, helping fuel distribution campaigns and stay top of mind. In an industry rife with acronyms, arcane tax law and myriad procedural steps, a simple, comprehensive compilation of advice, guidance and knowledge is a nontrivial piece of content.

9. Evergreen content

Though there’s plenty of variability and volatility in terms of benchmark interest rates, government-sponsored loan programs, market inventory and pricing trends, much of the core functions of the real estate industry are unchanging year to year, decade to decade.

Consumers take out mortgages from lenders; owners sell their homes. Done.

This means the pain points and questions that exist now are likely to surface in the future, too, which is great for evergreen content marketing ideas. Evergreen blogs, infographics and sales sheets can quickly be re-optimized with minimal effort, rather than having to start from scratch.

When developing a content marketing strategy, realtors should focus on articles and other assets that have staying power, since these pieces of content can accrue greater organic authority over time and be repurposed endlessly. As far as investments go, evergreen content is a surefire mechanism for long-term ROI.

10. Co-branded influencer campaigns

For all that can be gained from search engine optimization, paid advertising and even direct mail, it could all pale in comparison to the potentially lucrative windfalls of a co-branded influencer campaign.

Attracting the attention and garnering the support of prominent industry players can lead to a mutually beneficial business partnership, and real estate is a multilink supply chain comprising numerous parties. Each of these parties can benefit a real estate brand.

Think of ancillary real estate services like interior design, family photographers, professional stagers, packers and movers, suppliers of residential and office cleaning and lawn-care specialists. Embarking on a co-branded marketing campaign with one of these companies can increase awareness, produce more leads and generate additional creative ideas.

Just imagine getting the Property Brothers or Chip and Joanna Gaines to appear in a sponsored Instagram ad, or to share a Facebook post: That’s an immediate injection of virality and exposure. Local micro influencers can be just as effective, too, so it’s not necessary to aim only for marquee endorsements.

11. Storytelling

At a tactical level, marketing messaging should be able to accurately convey the intricate details of real estate decision-making, from tax deductions to easements. But real estate content marketing should also, more holistically, tell a cohesive narrative that centers around emotions, not jargon.

Owning a home is an enormous feeling, and marketing should broadcast the spectrum of feelings and moments that play into an event of this magnitude. This can be accomplished through linear storytelling via inspirational blog posts, first-person case studies and video pilgrimages.

Ask customers to tell their stories, how they chose their forever home, what owning a home means to them. Follow up with former clients from years ago and bring a video crew. Film the fact that homeownership was a vehicle for expanding their families, enjoying their communities and engaging in exciting activities.

There’s a power to passion, to comfort and warmth. That’s the story worth listening to.

12. Agent website and portal

It may go without saying, but marketing for real estate brands is a digital enterprise. And that means having a digital-first mentality in all facets of operation.

As stated before, word of mouth and physical events still play a prominent role in real estate, but today’s homebuyer places a much greater emphasis on brands’ accessibility online and frictionless electronic interactions. Eighty-two percent of millennials state buying home is a priority, and we all know that millennials are well-versed in digital communications and purchasing.

Realtors need top-of-the-line websites and portals to meet these customer expectations. This translates to:

  • Optimal site speed (less than two second load time).
  • Visually stimulating UX.
  • Readily available content.
  • Convenient appointment-booking features
  • Calculators.
  • Quizzes.
  • Chatbots.
  • Social media widgets.
  • Payments processing.
  • Maps.
  • Image/video galleries.
  • Resource center.
  • Functioning links/CTAs/contact info.
  • Social proof quotes.
  • Form downloads.
  • Logical site layout.

A strong domain lays the foundation for a powerful brand image, one that’s designed to be as customer-centric as possible.

Conclusion

A real estate business may not have the resources to dive headfirst into all of the above marketing campaigns, but with the support of a marketing agency, registering quick wins is rather straightforward.

Improving site speed and optimizing Google My Business, for instance, are free and take seconds to complete. More involved processes like crafting evergreen content or reaching out to influencers, on the other hand, take careful calculation and creativity.

As real estate agents and other entrepreneurs aim to establish differentiation in their respective markets, content marketing is one of the most effective ways to do so.

With just a small down payment and relaxed terms, a forever marketing campaign could be yours. And there are no popcorn ceilings or faux wood paneling. (Picket fences available upon request.)

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.