The 9 Most Effective Real Estate Advertising Methods and How to Create a Successful Ad Campaign

Updated January 17, 2023 07:51 AM

Ads are around us constantly - online, on TV, on the side of roads, in our mailbox, and on and on and on. Advertising your real estate business can be an incredibly effective way to help it scale if it's done correctly. Don't waste your time, effort and money throwing an ad together. Instead, read this real estate advertising guide and implement its tips to start and run ad campaigns that build your real estate business.

What is Real Estate Advertising and How Do I Use It?

Advertising means paying money to show a message, name and/or logo in a particular way, at a particular time and in a particular channel for a particular audience for the purpose of selling a particular good or service. The specific goal of each real estate advertising varies but it is most commonly used to generate buyer leads, seller leads, or to sell a house for the highest value. Ultimately, ads are a tool to grow and scale your real estate business.

As we gathered this list of the nine most effective real estate advertising methods, we evaluated each in these five ways:

  • Measurability: Low or High
  • Advanced Targeting: Low, Average, or High
  • Difficulty: Difficult, Average, or Easy
  • Effectiveness: Ineffective, Average, or Effective
  • Affordability: Expensive, Average, or Free

Before you publish your ad campaign, you need to know how to make your real estate ad campaign successful.

6 Steps to Create a Successful Real Estate Ad

Depending on the method you choose, running real estate ad campaigns can be very technical, analytical, and complex. However, it's important to remember the core of any thriving real estate business - the people! If you don't honestly help your clients or communicate well to new leads, it will be difficult to scale your business and grow your income the way you want to.

You can't create an ad in 20 minutes and expect the leads and sales to come rolling in. Instead, you need to honestly and objectively think about the people you want to attract, where they spend their time, and how you can most effectively reach them.

Here are the six basic steps of developing a successful real estate ad:

1. Determine Your Audience

If you think an "audience" just means the people who attend Broadway shows and concerts, let's be clear. In marketing, your audience is the group of people who you want to attract.

As a real estate agent, there's one immediate way that you can narrow down your audience: by location. If you live in Nevada, you probably don't want to attract homeowners in Pennsylvania. However, you should continue to get more specific. For instance, do you want to work with first-time homebuyers? Then that's your audience. Want to work with homeowners who are selling luxury properties? That's your audience.

It's perfectly acceptable to work with different types of buyers and sellers as a real estate agent. However, when you're running ads, it's best to be as specific as possible. You will achieve more success by running separate ads to buyers vs. sellers, as opposed to trying to target multiple types of people with one ad.

As you narrow down the type of people you want to attract with your ads, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where does this audience spend the most time? (Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc.)
  • Where and what do they search for when they need help?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What grabs their attention?

2. Determine the Goal of Your Ad Campaign

Ultimately, real estate ads are designed to grow your business and increase your income. However, you need to get more specific before creating an ad campaign.

The most common types of real estate ad campaigns are:

  • Lead generation
  • Listing promotion
  • Brand awareness

There are many other possibilities, but these are typically the goals for Realtors or brokers who are running ad campaigns. You need to know what the goal of your ad is in order to accurately measure and improve over time.

3. Develop a Real Estate Marketing Funnel

A "funnel" is a marketing term that basically describes the way someone goes from clicking on an online ad to becoming one of your clients. Real estate marketing funnels can become extremely complex, but they don't have to be. The important thing is that you have a plan to follow up with every lead or customer you generate from your ad campaigns.

You can create a simple funnel with just a landing page and an email sequence. You can start with a free email marketing platform like Mailchimp to generate new leads and send automated emails so that no one falls through the cracks. This simple funnel can even work for leads who don't find you online. You can direct people in person and on signs to your website, and allow your funnel to work from there.

However, as you continue to run successful real estate ads, your funnel will expand and you may want to invest in a CRM (customer relationship management) software with more in-depth functionality to follow up and market to each and every potential lead.

4. Decide Which Real Estate Advertising Method to Use

Not all advertising methods are equal. If you've never dealt with ads before, take some time to research and test a few different methods. You'll quickly find that the processes involved in running different types of ads, like print advertising vs. real estate Facebook ads, couldn't be more different.

You may also want to consider your current method of generating real estate leads. If you're already getting a steady flow of leads from Facebook, business referrals, or search engines, that might be the best place for you to start with your first real estate ad.

Read on for the top online methods of advertising and the best traditional methods.

5. Create Multiple Versions of Your Ad

This tip is vital regardless of the type of ad campaign you're running. When running an ad campaign, you should always test a few ad variants against each other at the same time. After the campaign has been running long enough to understand which variant is performing best, pause the poorly-performing variants. Continue testing new variants of the best performing variant, gather more data, pause the poorly performing variants and repeat. This strategy is referred to as A/B Testing, and if you're not implementing it when running your real estate ads, you're leaving money on the table.

Elements of a Successful Real Estate Ad

If you've never learned about real estate advertising, every ad contains:

  • Ad copy (i.e. text)
  • At least one image or video (there are exceptions, like online text-based Pay Per Click - PPC - ads or advertorials)
  • A call to action (what you ask or tell the user to do: call, subscribe, request info, book a showing, etc.)

There are thousands of articles, books, and videos on how to run a successful ad campaign but when you boil their insights down, the common thread of all successful ad campaigns is that they contain ads that grab attention, resonate and motivate a specific audience to take a specific action.

With the right messaging, your ad has a good chance of grabbing your target audience's attention. However, images can make or break the success of your ad. Psychologically, images are recognized faster and remembered faster and longer than any other format (it's called the picture superiority effect).

For example, if you were scrolling through a feed of content on social media, would this image grab your attention?

Basement before virtual staging with Stuccco

Probably not. And if you used this image in a Facebook real estate ad for one of your listings, you would be unlikely to book many showings.

On the other hand, how eager do you think the same buyers would be to click on this ad image?

Basement after virtual staging with Stuccco

It would be much more likely to grab potential buyers' attention because it includes home features that buyers want in homes. Choosing the right image for your ads is a crucial component of setting up a successful ad campaign.

Do you want to grab the attention of buyers by virtually staging your listings' photos? Get started here.

In order to make an ad that resonates with your audience, you need to identify their problems and address them. For example, if you want to attract first-time homebuyers, their pains might be that they don't know how to be financially prepared for homeownership. So you could speak directly to that fear and offer them a clear, step-by-step plan to help them build their credit so that they can buy a house.

There are various ways you can motivate the viewers of your ad to take action. One way is to offer a clear and easy way to unlock value. For example, "Enter your email and I'll estimate what your home's worth". You can also increase motivation by setting a deadline, limiting an offer's availability or rewarding action (note: only use these strategies in an honest way). For example, "Register here to attend a free first time homebuyers workshop on June 5th. Only 20 tickets will be available. All attendees will be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card."

6. Publish and Manage Your Ad Campaign

You're finally ready to fully launch your advertisements! By taking these steps, you'll already be miles ahead of your competition, and you'll see bigger results with less time and money.

As your ad campaign is running, you should consistently measure the cost per desired result (or conversion - typically a subscriber, registrant or appointment booked). Disregard cost per views, cost per click or other metrics. Unless you're running a brand campaign (which we don't recommend, especially for individual agents or small brokerages that need to see a positive, immediate return on their ad spend) these are vanity metrics.

Best Online Real Estate Advertising Methods

1. Real Estate Facebook Ads

We could write a book on the intricacies of developing a successful Facebook ad campaign for real estate agents. You won't learn everything about Facebook ads overnight and you won't see results immediately. However, the effectiveness of Facebook ads is hard to argue against if you know how to run and manage them.

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Effectiveness: Effective
  • Affordability: Average

Running Facebook ads can take time so be sure that you're ready to invest your time, effort and finances into this method of real estate advertising if you commit to do so. You also need to make sure that you're set up for success with a real estate funnel that's proven to be effective, like a website, landing page, or single property website.

Once you have a mechanism to convert traffic into a lead, you can start planning your Facebook real estate ads. According to Facebook, the steps involved in running a Facebook ad are:

  1. Choose your audience
  2. Select your ad placement (Facebook newsfeed, Facebook Marketplace, Messenger, Facebook right column, or Instagram)
  3. Set your budget
  4. Choose your ad format (image, video, carousel, instant experience, or collection, lead form)
Example Facebook real estate ad

Example of an in-feed real estate Facebook ad

Bonus: Instagram Ads

Since Facebook owns Instagram, you can also create Instagram ads using the same Facebook Ad Manager. There are even more types of Instagram ads (stories, photos, videos, IGTV ads, explore page, etc.). We recommend testing Facebook ad campaigns against Instagram ad campaigns and choosing one channel that performs best at meeting your campaigns' primary objective.

Example Instagram real estate ad

Example of an in-feed Instagram ad

2. LinkedIn Ads

The benefit of advertising your real estate business on LinkedIn is that you're targeting a professional audience. 60% of internet users who make $100k or more have LinkedIn profiles and 50% of users with an income of $80-100k are active on this platform. By running real estate ads on LinkedIn, you're getting your business in front of people who make decisions, are more affluent and may be more connected to - and influential within - your community.

LinkedIn ads are one of the more expensive social media ad platforms for real estate agents. According to Social Media Examiner, the average cost of LinkedIn ads is about $7-11 per click. If you're new to running real estate ads, we do not recommend starting with LinkedIn ads.

Example Linkedin real estate ad

Sample in-feed LinkedIn ad

Average LinkedIn CTR: 0.39%

Source: Social Media Examiner

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: Average
  • Difficulty: High
  • Effectiveness: Effective
  • Affordability: High

3. Search Engine Advertising: Pay-Per-Click Ads

Advertising on search engines means that your ads will appear in searches for specific keywords. Unlike social media advertising, search engine ads are pay-per-click, which means they cost you money every time someone clicks on them.

There are two types of search engine ads: text ads and display ads. Text ads show up in search results for specific keywords. For example, in this Google search, the top four results are text advertisements for real estate businesses.

real estate Google ads example

On the other hand, display ads can show up all over the internet. They might show up on social media platforms or on blogs, and they look something like this:

Example of real estate Google display ad

Even though display ads are appealing because they can appear all over the internet, they actually have a significantly lower CTR than text ads. There are a lot of potential reasons for this, but the biggest is most likely because text ads show up when people are actively searching for them on search engines like Google and Bing while display ads are often shown in places where users are focused on accomplishing a different task.

Real estate agents can still benefit from using text and display ads. The costs vary significantly but it can be easier to find a keyword or display ad that is more affordable than social media ads and gives you a positive return on your investment.

Average CTR of search (text) ads: 1.91%

Average CTR of display ads: 0.35% (Source: Wordstream)

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: High
  • Effectiveness: Effective
  • Affordability: High

Bonus: Gmail Ads

Gmail ads are another type of ad that can be great for real estate professionals. Gmail ads are actually a type of display ad so you create them in Google Adwords. However, they show up in Gmail users' inboxes like this:

Example Gmail ad
Gmail ads have an impressive open rate of 20%, but, unfortunately, users have to check their analytics to calculate the actual click-through-rate of the ad.


4. Youtube Ads

If you love to create videos, then Youtube ads might be the most intriguing direction for you. Did you know that Youtube is actually the world's second largest search engine in the world (behind Google). Youtube is particularly useful because it's used by all ages and can target your audience very accurately. Video advertisements on Youtube can be a powerful way of quickly building rapport at scale.

Average CTR of Youtube ads: 0.65%

Source: Store Growers

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Effectiveness: High
  • Affordability: Average

Best Traditional Real Estate Advertising Methods

5. Signs and Billboards

Before the internet, agents were limited to advertising their businesses on physical displays. Paying for signs can still be a highly effective method of building brand awareness and generating new leads. However, signs are not easily measurable. While the benefit is that you can get in front of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people with one sign, it might not be the best way to target buyers and sellers. We only recommend this real estate advertising tactic for those who can afford to invest in brand-awareness campaigns and aren't as focused on getting a positive short-term return on their investment.

  • Measurability: Low
  • Advanced Targeting: Low
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Effectiveness: Average
  • Affordability: Expensive

6. Direct Mail Advertisements

Direct mail is another way that Realtors have generated real estate leads for decades. While it can still work, the effectiveness of direct mail has steadily declined. However, as the demand for digital advertising increases, this channel's performance may start to creep back up wth time. The benefit of mailing real estate ads is that it can be an affordable way to reach a large number of people in a specific ZIP code or neighborhood.

If you decide to use direct mail, read about a few unique ways to generate leads with mailers that stand out.

  • Measurability: Low
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Effectiveness: Ineffective
  • Affordability: Average

Advertise on a Real Estate Portal

7. Advertise with Zillow Premier Agent

173 million people visit Zillow monthly and the vast majority of them are potential homebuyers. Some Realtors love Zillow advertising, and some hate it - but if you want an easy way to get in front of potential clients, this could be it! You don't have to learn how to manage ads on a new platform, create images, write ad copy, and test different versions. You can simply become a Zillow Premier Agent and receive new leads directly from Zillow.

The biggest drawback of using Zillow for your real estate ads is that your leads aren't exclusive, which means that other real estate agents could also be reaching out to the same leads. You also only receive buyer leads, not seller leads.

To make the most of Zillow ads, make sure that you use a CRM (customer relationship manager) and automate some of your follow-ups so none of your VERY expensive Zillow leads fall through the cracks.

Example of Zillow advertising - Zillow Premier Agent

Example of Zillow Premier Agents

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Effectiveness: Effective
  • Affordability: Expensive

Bonus: Trulia Ads

Becoming a Zillow Premier Agent means you are automatically able to advertise on Trulia because Zillow owns Trulia as well.

8. is another platform where you can reach a huge number of people who are actively searching for homes. Unlike Zillow, gives you opportunities to promote listings as well as generate buyer leads. It also uniquely offers "Real Estate Managed Services," which means that will screen your leads for you and only send you the leads who are ready to work with you.

  • Measurability: High
  • Advanced Targeting: High
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Effectiveness: Effective
  • Affordability: Expensive

9. Advertise with a Real Estate Lead Generation Company

Using a lead generation company is another avenue of real estate advertising. With some companies, like Real Geeks, you will be running Facebook ads and/or PPC ads with assistance. With other companies, you're buying leads without actually running any kind of ad campaign of your own.

A few of the top real estate lead generation companies are: 

Best Real Estate Advertising Tips

Advertising can be an incredibly powerful way to push yourself ahead of the competitors in your real estate market, find potential buyers and sellers, and/or grow your expertise with a specific audience. By making sure that you develop a strategy for your real estate ads and choose the right method, you'll be more likely to run a successful real estate advertising campaign.

For even more impact, use virtually staged images in your ads. By doing so, your ad campaigns are more likely to perform well, which means they generate more views of your listings and showing requests from buyers. Sign up now and get your photos in 24 hours!

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