7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Marketing (for “Real Estate Investors”)

Cody Sperber
By Cody Sperber |

whatToday I want to discourage you.

Specifically, I want to discourage you from thinking of yourself as a “real estate investor” …

… at least insofar as it relates to the grand scheme of things.

You see, as I began to find traction in my personal real estate business, I had a startling realization – one which has sense morphed into one of my own personal mantras for investing success:

The best dealmakers are not in the “real estate” business at all; they are in the marketing business.

Yes, rather than thinking of yourself as a real estate investor, I encourage you to consider yourself as a marketer first.  You market to get deals.  You market to sell deals.  You market to raise private capital.  Etc. …

And if you don’t know how to execute stellar marketing strategies, then you’re effectively dead in the water.

So, again, my primary goal with this post is to discourage you from putting the proverbial cart (real estate investing) ahead of the horse (marketing).

But I don’t want to criticize the way most investors conduct their businesses without also offering some tips for how to become a savvy marketer in the real estate industry.  That would just be plain ol’ mean!  🙂

niceAnd since online classified ads represent one of the fastest (and cheapest) ways to generate leads from cash buyers and motivated sellers alike, I recently revised my trusty list describing 7 Habits of Highly Online Marketing.

Because when it comes to marketing properties online, there’s definitely a “right way” to do things.  But one quick glance at CraigsList and Backpage (my two favorite sites for marketing deals) reveals that most people are doing things the “wrong way”.  And that’s putting it nicely.

The cold hard truth of the matter is this:

Most of the investors I see on CraigsList and Backpage obviously have no idea what they’re doing, and I’ll bet some significant ca$hola that they’re frustrated with the poor results of their ill-advised marketing campaigns.

And since more than 80% of people start their real estate searches online, the current dearth of savvy online marketing efforts can yield a phenomenal opportunity for anybody who is interested in marketing their properties the right way.

So let me take this opportunity to explain my seven “best practices” for how to get great results from posting ads online.  I’ve been using this stuff with some of my official mentoring students, and it seems to be a major issue for most people.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Marketing (for “Real Estate Investors”)

Habit #1: Keep your ad at the top of the listings.  Craigslist, the big daddy of classified ads allows you to re-post an ad every 48 hours, and this alone may be enough to keep you at the top of the list.

desperateBut if your area isn’t very active, then reposting every 48 hours may be overkill, and you might look a little – shall we say – “desperate”.  So do some personal research to get a good feel for how quickly the listings are “pushed down” below the first page for your market, and re-post your ad accordingly.

If necessary, create multiple accounts and use them to post the ad even more frequently, without worrying about being “ghosted”.

(Ghosting is the controversial practice whereby Craigslist pretends to place your ad live online, when in fact no one but you will ever see the ad.  It is a super shady practice, and a big frustration to guerrilla marketers who are trying to keep their ads in the best positions.)

Habit #2: Always use pictures.  Pictures sell properties, especially if you are marketing to retail buyers.  And even your fellow real estate investors (who typically don’t care so much about appearances) will want to see at least an exterior shot.

A picture can truly be worth a thousand words, especially for potential cash buyers who know exactly what they want, such as brick exteriors and the famous “no flat roof” parameter.  Your provision of at least one good photo will allow such investors to glean their most vital insights about your property with a simple glance.

dealbreakerConversely, if your ad does not include at least one good photo, some investors will simply skip over your marketing efforts without a second thought – even if your property represents exactly what they’re looking for.

*Sidenote:  If you cannot obtain a good photo of your property for some reason, then include a photo of some other property that provides a good representation of what you are trying to sell.  (If you’re selling 3/2 slab ranches, don’t use a picture of a 10,000 square foot McMansion!)

Habit #3: Favor text over HTML.  Ads created with HTML script may look pretty, but text-only ads work better.  So create a paragraph or two of optimized text to describe your property or service.  Don’t clutter the ad with text, but definitely focus your ad around a localized keyword phrase such as “Searching For Discounted Real Estate in Arizona?”  Then write a paragraph or two explaining “Here’s How” you can help other investors find that for which they are searching.

However, even if you are using a text-only ad, you will still want to avoid using “Realtor” words when you’re dealing with investors. Unlike retail buyers, professional investors don’t care if a house is “charming” or “cozy” – and if you say the property has “lots of potential” you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Therefore, when marketing to investors online, use a basic text-only approach to describe (i) what needs to be fixed, (ii) an approximate estimate of the expected rehab costs and (iii) an approximate estimate of the property’s after-repair value.  The term “lots of potential” does not tell an investor anything he actually needs to know.  (Besides, everybody thinks their property has lots of potential.)

conductorHabit #4: Have a clear “call to action” at the end of your ad.  Be sure you instruct the reader on what to do next, using a clear call to action.  (A “call to action” is a command to do something in response to certain information.  It is a specific instruction to take some specific action, and it has been proven that utilizing good calls to action will increase your conversion rate as a marketer.)

So prompt your audience to contact you for further deal-related discussions, and provide several ways for them to contact you – including your phone number, email address, and website (squeeze page).

And remember to double-check (and triple-check) all of your contact information for typos.

A sample call to action would be “Visit www.CodyBuysHouses.com to get an all CA$H offer on your Arizona property within 24 hours!  Or call me at 555-555-5555!”

Habit #5: Include the property’s address.  Be sure to include your property’s street address somewhere within each online advertisement.  This may seem like common sense, but it helps your prospects to “self-select” their deals.  (And yet many would-be dealmakers still fail to mention street addresses in their online ads.)

Real estate investors do much of their due diligence before they ever conduct an on-site visit to the property in question, and your inclusion of the property’s street address will allow assist them in these efforts.  Some investors may be eager to invest in your neighborhood, and you want to help them identify your property as a prime candidate for investment.

callSimilarly, the inclusion of a street address in your online ads will also aid your own personal efforts to avoid time-consuming phone calls with buyers who are not interested in your property’s neighborhood.

And even retail buyers will also want to know where the property is located.  They might not be savvy enough to conduct any research in the public records, but they will still want to know the neighborhood, perhaps to drive by before contacting you.

Habit #6: Be sure to include an accurate price.  Put your correct asking price in the appropriate “Price” field, and double-check to ensure that it’s right.  Too many people will put in $152 instead of $152,000.  Homebuyers of all stripes purchase properties primarily based on price, and they tend to conduct their searches within a specifically pre-defined price ranges.  You want your property to appear in the proper searches.

Habit #7: Be sure to include an accurate bedroom and bathroom counts.  Always include the correct number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your online advertisements.  “Number of Bedrooms” is a specific search function within Craigslist (as well as other similar sites) and, again, it helps potential buyers to qualify the house.  And if there’s an easy way to make another bathroom, then include that important information in the text of your ad as well – especially if the house only has one bathroom.

differentHabit #8:  Make your headline stand out.  Yes, a bonus habit!  (Because I love you so much!)  Technology has come a long way from the basic “L@@k” that people used five years ago.  Nowadays you can use arrows, sunbursts, and even a variety of icons (☼ ♛ ►  ▆  ••  ◄ ★) to catch the eye of curious potential buyers.

And be sure to use the word “Investors” and/or “Wholesale Deal” in the title, if appropriate.  You are trying to catch the eye of your target market so use words that they identify with.

Although “Attention: Cheap Bastard” might be a bit of a stretch.  (True story!)

So There You Have It

So there you have it, folks…  My seven…  err… eight tried-and-true habits of highly effective online marketing for real estate investors.

Here’s hoping they serve your business as well as they have served (and continue to serve) mine.

signatureAnd here’s hoping you have already begun to enjoy a delightful holiday season with all your friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues!

‘Til next time,



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