Traditional vs Digital: Which is the Best Type of Real Estate Marketing?

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Have you ever sat down to research real estate marketing methods, only to become overwhelmed with the number of options?

One website that you read says that blogging is the best method.

Another says that social media is the best.

And the email that you just received from an approved supplier of your brokerage company seems to be saying that sending out pens or calendars is the best way to market your business.

It can be frustrating.

So what is the answer? What is the best method?

There is not a single best method.

A good real estate marketing strategy can include any, and all, of the options you have come across. The key is to find a mix of options that work best for you in your market.

However, marketing has changed. The same methods that may have been working years ago probably aren’t going to work as well for you today.

New methods of marketing – digital marketing and social media marketing – are quickly taking the place of the traditional marketing methods you may have been using for years, or seen other agents use in the past.

In this post I am going to break down the three different types of marketing that you can use in your real estate sales business.

Hopefully by the end of this post you will be able to pick the methods that can help you best help you achieve your real estate sales goals.


If you look up “real estate marketing ideas” many of the things you come across will fall into the category of traditional marketing.

In fact you probably get bombarded every day with emails for things that fit into the traditional marketing category.

Like what?

Flyers. Brochures. Pens. Calendars. Magnets.

And the countless other options for physical items that you send – or give out – to prospective clients and past clients.

For years, many of these things worked well.

Having your face on someone's refrigerator probably led to some home sales.

Having the pen that a person uses every day show off your contact information may have led to them calling you when it was time for them to see a home.

And it may still work today.

The problem with traditional marketing methods is that our attention has shifted. As a society we are focusing less and less on the things that are around us in the physical world, and more on the things that interest us in the digital world.

Did you know that the average Facebook user logs into Facebook fourteen times per day?


That's probably a whole lot more times than they looked at their fridge. Or that calendar you sent them.

So are traditional real estate marketing methods dead?

Maybe. Maybe not.

It depends on your market. What works for one person may have completely different results for someone else.

What I want to stress though is that these methods are not what they used to be. And they will most likely continue to become less and less effective every year.

If you want to keep sending out the calendars you have been sending for years, go right ahead. Just hold them accountable.

What do I mean by that?

If you begin to see that you are getting less and less business from them, you may want to consider moving some of the resources they are currently taking up – time, money, etc – and redirect it to some of the newer methods.

One of the best things about digital marketing and social media marketing in comparison to traditional marketing is that it is far easier to hold your efforts accountable.

Can you tell me how many times per day someone looks at your refrigerator magnet?

What about the number of times per day someone uses the pen that you sent them?

Or even how many of the materials you mail to people end up getting shared with friends or family?

Unfortunately there isn’t really an accurate was to measure the effectiveness of most traditional marketing methods.

This isn’t the case though with digital marketing and social media marketing…


Lets start off by answering the question, “What is digital marketing?”

It is exactly what it sounds like. Marketing that is done over digital resources.

This can be done on a computer, tablet, or a smart phone – and in the coming month and years any other smart device that will come to the market.

If traditional marketing is made up of mostly physical products that you can send to clients and prospects, digital marketing is almost the exact opposite.

It is not physical.

It is not sent to people.

It does not involve the USPS, or print shops, or anything that is used in the traditional marketing methods.

Digital marketing can be broken down into 3 main areas:

  1. Website Marketing
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Email Marketing

We will break each of them down further, starting with website marketing.

Website Marketing

As a real estate agent there are two different types of websites that you need to be using.

First, your main website.

This should be the site where people can find out more about you, contact you, conduct searches, learn about your area or niche, and access resources.

90% of your digital marketing efforts should drive people back to this website.

Your website is your home base. It is a place that you control.

Great content creation, email marketing, or social media marketing become far less powerful if you don’t have a website to drive prospects back to.

Second, single property websites.

These can be extremely powerful for helping you to advertise individual listings that you have.

Driving targeted traffic to a single property site can help you to find a buyer for a home that you have listed. It can also help you find other buyer and sellers in that general price range or niche.

But having a website – or two websites in this case – is just the foundation for website marketing.

Once you have your website up and running, it is time to focus on two things:

  1. SEO – Search Engine Optimization
  2. PPC – Pay Per Click

Let’s take a look at SEO first.

Search engine optimization is an important part of building a successful digital marketing campaign. But is is just that, a part.

Some people think that is the only thing that you need to do to get visitors to your website.

Unfortunately this just isn’t true.

A website that has great SEO, but lacks great content and marketing, will not attract many visitors. And those that it does attract won’t stick around for long.

SEO is just one piece of the puzzle.

If you want to learn more about SEO I highly recommend that you check out Brian Dean – the guy behind Backlinko – is probably the smartest person in the SEO world, and you can learn so much just from reading his blog.

Other Resources:

The second aspect of website marketing is PPC.

Pay per click marketing can be done on any of the major search engines.

If you have spent any time on Google you have seen PPC in action.

So what is PPC?

It is where you run an ad on a search engine that appears in search results based on the keyword that the person conducting the search has input.

For example, you can run an ad that targets the keyword phrase “new home for sale” and it will show up when someone searches for that phrase. Costs can vary greatly depending on the keywords as well as the placement of the ad.

If you want to learn more about PPC I would recommend that you check out the following resources:

You can also use keyword tools such as:

Some of the tools listed above can be used for both SEO and PPC. Some offer free plans while others only offer paid versions. Check them out and find the one(s) that work best for you.

Both SEO and PPC can be effective ways to get visitors to your website.

SEO tactics can help you generate organic traffic (free traffic), while PPC can help generate paid traffic.

While the temptation to only use free organic traffic may seem appealing, the work required to use SEO to generate large amounts of organic traffic will still have a cost. Either in terms of time that you put into working on your SEO, or in money that you pay someone to do it for you.

Many times PPC can be as cheap or cheaper, and result in generating traffic faster than SEO will.

A good digital marketing strategy includes both types of website marketing.

Content Marketing

Once you have a website, and have begun learning and implementing some form of website marketing, it is time to begin focusing on content marketing.

This is perhaps the most powerful of all the marketing strategies that we are going to go over.

What is content marketing?

It can be made up of anything that you create and then get out in front of your audience or target market.

This could be a blog post. Or a resource guide.

Maybe it is a educational video explaining the home buying process.

Or it could even be a infographic that helps sellers to get prepared to list their home.

There are a million options for things that fall into the content marketing category.

The key is to start creating content.

If you don’t know where to start, I would recommend a blog.

It is a great addition to you website that can help you to begin getting repeat visitors, and even encourage current visitors to market you to their friends and family.

How does that work?

Let’s look at an example…

Step 1: You create a well written blog post on the “10 steps of the home buying process.”

Step 2: A visitor to your website reads this post on your blog and gets some good information from it.

Step 3: Since they have a family member that is looking to move in the next few months, they share this post with them via email or maybe even social media.

While that may be a very basic example, this kind of thing happens all the time. In fact it one of the main ways that information is shared in our world today.

By having a blog, and creating some good content that is helpful and informative for your desired target market or audience, you are setting yourself up to allow the power of content marketing to work for you.

What do I mean by work for you?

Lets say that the post took you one hour to write, and it gets shared 3 times, that one hour just turned into you getting in front of 3 people. But what if you wrote a post that took the same one hour, but it ended up getting shared by 90 people? Your one hour has just increased in effectiveness 30x.

There is no way to guarantee that a certain number of people read, or share a post that you create. However, making sure that you focus on creating content that is informative and helpful will dramatically increase your odds of it being shared.

The average real estate blog post you read has some sort of sales pitch in it somewhere. Try to avoid this. While it is important to sell your services it should not be done with every bit of content that you create. As a general guideline, try and create a minimum of 3 pieces of content that have no sell in them for every 1 that does. Over time try increasing this to a larger number. The more value you provide to others, the more likely they will be to use your services without you ever having to ask them to do so.

Content marketing is also used in social media marketing. In fact, the most effective form of social media marketing is to use it as a vehicle to share the great blog post, infographic, or video that you just created (more on this below).

Email Marketing

This is the last of the three main areas of digital marketing.

Most real estate agents use a CRM to manage email contacts and be able to follow up with leads. However, most don’t use automated email marketing to drive traffic to their website and achieve a predetermined result.

Are you one of them?

I hope that you are using a good CRM to manage your lead follow up. If you are not, I would recommend that you look into getting one right away.

Once you have one of them in place, the next step is to pick a good ESP (email service provider).

But what is the difference between a CRM and a ESP?

The difference is that for the most part a CRM helps you to track and follow up with leads on an individual basis, whereas a ESP will help you to mass market to your contacts.

Do you really need both?


Ok so maybe that answer is a bit too vague for some of you…

The reason that I say you need to be using an ESP in addition to your CRM is that there are times you will not want to communicate with just one person at a time.

Depending on the CRM that you are using, mass email functionality might already be a feature included as part of the CRM.

So how can you use an ESP effectively?

One way is to create an automated email follow-up sequence.

We will dive more in-depth into automated email marketing in the coming weeks, but for now lets take a look at some of the basics.

The purpose of an automated email sequence is to move your new prospect from one point to another without you having to put in any effort.

An example of this would be using a 3 email series to welcome new buyer leads, and help walk them through 3 topics that you feel are critical for them to know before they begin looking at homes.

What would this look like?

Email 1:

  • Subject – We can’t wait to help you find your dream home!
  • Topic – Give the lead all the contact details that they need to be able to best reach out to you, and inform them of the communication they will be receiving over the coming days.

Email 2:

  • Subject – Here’s what you need to know about finding a home…
  • Topic – Maybe you have a specific process you go through when helping someone determine how to find the best home. You could outline that in this email.

Email 3:

  • Subject – One last thing before we start looking at homes
  • Topic – Do you have a list of resources that you feel help buyers in their home search and home purchase process? If so you could turn that into an email and send that to them.

After walking a lead through this simple 3 email series they would know the following:

  1. What to expect from you
  2. The basics they need to know before buying a home
  3. All the resources that will help them in the process

So why create this type of automated series?

Well to start off with, it gets your name in front of the lead multiple times without you “selling” them anything. They will appreciate the valuable information and it will make you stand out from the competition.

But there is another reason that it can be great. A more selfish reason…

An automated series like this can help to answer many of the questions that you get from every client when they first start their home search. This allows you to cut down on the amount of time that it may take to move that prospect from a lead to an actual client.

Time is money in real estate. The more time that you can save – while still providing the same high level of service – the better!

This is just one of the many ways that you can use automated email marketing in your real estate sales business. Like I mentioned above we will be going more in depth into email marketing in the coming weeks.

For now just begin to think of some creative ways that you could use it in your business, and check with your current CRM to see if automated mass email marketing is supported.

If it is not, you may want to check into a good ESP such as ConvertKit, MailChimp or Aweber.

I use and LOVE ConvertKit. I am also an affiliate for ConvertKit so if you choose to sign up for ConvertKit from any of my links I will receive a commission.


If you have read more than one post of mine you probably realize that I’m a huge fan of social media marketing.

And for good reason…

Social media marketing is quickly becoming the best way to market online.

Why is that?

Because as a society we are joining social networks at an increasing pace.

Currently there are over 1.4 billion people on Facebook alone. And that is just one social network.

But that’s not even the real reason.

The real reason that social media marketing is becoming extremely powerful is due to the amount of control we can have over our marketing efforts on social media networks.

As I mentioned above, with traditional marketing we are limited with our ability to analyze the results we’re getting from our marketing efforts. We’re also limited in the amount of control over the targeting options for marketing efforts.

But this isn’t the case with social media marketing.

For example, on Facebook I can target males between the age of 25 and 35, who live within 10 miles of my location, who also drive a BMW, and like to golf.

You have similar targeting control on many of the other social networks as well.

If I know that this is my ideal demographic for a potential home buyer, Facebook gives me power that I would never have even been able to dream of with traditional marketing methods.

Most of the posts here on my blog are dedicated to social media marketing so I won’t go into specifics for different social platforms like I do in most of my other posts, but lets take a broader view of how to use social media marketing in addition to the digital marketing strategies that we talked abut above.

The main way that social media marketing fits in with the other forms of digital marketing is through the use of sharing your content marketing efforts over social media channels.

If you are creating good content – blog posts, infographics, images, videos, etc. – you have great content to share over social media.

Many agents that I talk to tell me that their issue with social media is that they never know what to post. Pairing content marketing with social media marketing solves this problem.

It is great to at times share other peoples content that you feel will benefit your audience, but creating your own content and using it to drive people from a social media network to your website is by far the best type of content to share on social media.

Your content can even be turned into ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

As I mentioned above the great thing about advertising through social media in comparison to traditional marketing methods is that it is much easier to hold your costs accountable.

Ads run on most social networks will show you data such as:

  • How many people have seen the ad
  • How many people have clicked on the ad
  • How many people have taken an action you desire – such as registering on your site (this is done with the use of conversion tracking)
  • What you cost per click ratio is
  • What you cost per conversion ratio is

Having data like this helps you to analyze how well your marketing efforts are working, and decide how much money you are wiling to invest in them.

You can’t get this type of data with traditional marketing efforts.

While this is just a very basic look at how social media can be beneficial for advertising, hopefully it excites you a bit to think about how powerful it can be.

I have written more in depth posts on Facebook Ads in the past, and will be writing even more in depth on Facebook Ads and other social media advertising in the future.


My goal with this post is not to convince you that you should never again send another “Just Listed” postcard, or a refrigerator magnet with your face on it. My goal is to help you take a look at all of the marketing methods that are available to you so that you can decide which ones are best for your business.

You may be in a market where traditional marketing is working extremely well. If that’s the case, keep doing it.

But if you are looking for some new ways to approach marketing, I would highly recommend that you give digital marketing and social media marketing a chance. The control that they give you is so much greater than the traditional methods offer.

I hope this post has helped you to get a better grasp of some of the ways that you can use each of these methods. If you have questions about any of these topics, leave a comment below or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter!

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Traditional vs Digital: Which is the Best Type of Real Estate Marketing?