Commercial real estate marketing shares many of the same principles, strategies, and objectives as any other form of marketing.
What changes from industry to industry are the tools available to leverage each channel and the best practices within. Commercial real estate requires a specific set of marketing tools. These tools help investors, sellers, and other real estate professionals market their businesses successfully.
Commercial Real Estate Marketing Tools
The following list shows a range of tools that exist to help real estate investors and other professionals successfully market their businesses. Some are specific to commercial real estate, and others are applicable to any industry.
From sourcing apps to content creation platforms, we are highlighting the following real estate marketing tools:
- Commercial Real Estate Lead Gen & Prospecting Tools
- Content Marketing Tools
- Paid Advertising Tools
- Marketing Operations Tools
- Marketing Analysis Tools
- Commercial Listings Platforms
- Other Commercial Real Estate Marketing Tools
Commercial Real Estate Lead Generation & Prospecting Tools
Reonomy offers a broad spectrum of tools to help CRE professionals identify LLCs and privately-owned properties not currently on the market. The platform provides property ownership details, such as phone numbers, emails, and mailing addresses.
High-quality contact information is the foundation of any marketing campaign. Reonomy makes it easy to mine this information to create a dynamic marketing plan.
The true power of the Reonomy platform lies in the filters that can be used to navigate the database.
These filters ensure that you can find leads specific to your focus. Here’s an example of the filters you can use to build a custom lead list on Reonomy:
- Asset Type: Multi-Family
- Location: Within a 20-mile radius of the last property I sold
- Sales: Haven’t sold in the last 10 years
- Last sold for over $1,000,000
With the Reonomy platform, this report would take less than five minutes to run. Then, the report can be exported into an Excel file with contact details of owners highly relevant to your business.
It would take hours to find such a qualified lead list on other platforms.
2. Google Advanced Search
Google Advanced Search allows users to build a list of recently-expired listings. For sales brokers, expired listings represent an opportunity to pick up the listing of a motivated seller who hasn’t yet sold.
To perform a Google Advanced Search, identify a listings platform, and search that platform for expired listings. Using these results, you can see which properties haven’t sold, and use that information to contact the property owners.
We cover this methodology in more depth in this article here.
3. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a range of tools for all types of business marketing. A great place to start is the lead builder tool, which allows users to search using a range of filters including job title and geography. From there, you can save individual leads or save entire search results listings, which can help you target desired clients with customized marketing campaigns.
Content Marketing Tools
The following channels are great ways to build an audience over time. Through consistent effort via these channels, inbound interest for your services will grow. Consequently, you’ll build a dynamic clientele that will increase profits.
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users. Readers discover new content based on their listed interests.
For commercial real estate professionals, StumbleUpon is a great way to build an audience and create targeted content. While there is not a CRE-specific interest on the platform, there is a real estate section, where CRE professionals can load content. In addition, there are several other categories where commercial real estate information would be applicable.
While the basic version is free, there is also a paid option to increase the size of readership.
While YouTube is a well established digital channel, the relative amount of commercial real estate content is fairly minimal.
That’s not to say there isn’t value in using the platform for CRE marketing. Allen Buchanan credits YouTube with generating $12 million in sales.
However, building an audience via YouTube can take some time. Consistency is key in building a dedicated audience. If you can provide valuable content, using your CRE expertise, viewers will follow. Ultimately, leads will follow, too.
Reddit is one of the internet’s strongest online communities. Users can submit a range of content including images, text posts, and direct links for other community members to view.
Reddit structures its vastness through “subreddits.” You can think of each subreddit as its own specific forum within a distinct community. These subreddits engage readers around topics and content specific to that forum.
For commercial real estate, the main subreddits are “commercial real estate”, “crefinance” and “creresearch”. The audience here remains largely commercial real estate professionals and would not be the correct channel to promote properties for sales. However, these forums are a great way to connect with other real estate professionals and keep your finger on the pulse of the CRE industry in your area.
Pinterest is a social sharing site made of virtual bulletin boards. The site is highly visual and is made up of a combination of images and infographics.
Pinterest has a growing community of commercial real estate professionals. Searching the industry on the platform will give an abundance of results.
The success that residential brokers are having on the platforms suggests commercial professionals could leverage it further.
For example, Debe does an excellent job of making her boards specific to the area she works in.
Rather than just featuring Charlotte homes, she has individual boards for restaurants, places, buyers’ tips and sellers’ tips, all specific to the Charlotte area. This is a great example of developing brand and audience through consistent effort.
Quora is a question and answer site with a strong community that covers a diverse range of topics. There are several CRE-specific topics on the platform, with users seeking answers to their commercial real estate questions. Example channels include, ‘Commercial Real Estate’, ‘Commercial Real Estate Marketing’ and ‘Commercial Real Estate Finance.’
Why is Quora a great channel to include within your CRE marketing? Firstly, it’s free. While there are paid options within Quora, being an active contributor is enough. Secondly, if you contribute answers within your domain expertise, you’ll generate inbound leads.
Your experience and knowledge will shine through in this forum, helping establish your credibility as a CRE exert. Readers are seeking the knowledge you have and are therefore likely seeking your services too. It also serves as a strong link-building channel to improve your overall search engine ranking.
Lastly, Quora can be used as a channel for blog ideas. The questions asked in Quora make great blog titles that focus on relevant topics.
Medium is a user-generated content community of long-form written content.
Medium can be pointed to your domain or a subdomain and replace your blog, or you can copy your other online content to this forum. Using Medium as your blog site can be extremely beneficial. The pre-built aesthetics of Medium save you time formatting and designing, allowing you to spend time on creating content.
If you don’t want to use Medium to create original content, copying your original blogs and articles onto Medium still exposes your content to a new audience. By doing so, you enable a greater audience to discover your work.
Instagram (now owned by Facebook) shares a similar value to Pinterest as both are heavily visual. Like Pinterest, Instagram serves as a channel to build your brand and develop an audience over time.
Marketing on Instagram is becoming increasingly popular. The visual medium allows CRE professionals to quickly upload photos and short descriptions, linking to longer content or other marketing materials along the way. As more and more users engage with your account, you’ll reach a wide range of potential clients, all for free.
For a list of CRE companies doing well on Instagram – check out this piece.
Canva makes graphic design easy. For one low monthly rate, business owners can create stunning handouts, flyers, Ebooks, newsletters, and more. Even those without an ounce of graphic design experience can publish professional-looking materials.
For CRE Professionals not wanting to use more complicated and expensive tools like Adobe Photoshop, Canva is a great tool to make simple changes.
Because visual marketing is critically important to CRE marketing, using Canva can give you an edge in digital branding. If you want to leverage visual social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest, a tool like Canva is all the more important.
Giphy is the leading platform to find GIFs for yourself as well as creating your own GIFs. For those new to GIFs, they look like short video clips but are actually are a repeated set of images presented in a specified order [example below].
GIFs are used frequently on social media channels and increasingly within emails and blogs. GIFs are increasingly moving to the mainstream for many reasons. Primarily, GIFS are effective at quickly telling a story, and they’re easier and more affordable than videos.
Typeform describes itself as a way to capture real estate leads in a conversational way. Implementing Typeform creates a step-by-step process to engage and qualify your website visitors. Ultimately, Typeform seeks to improve the conversion rate of your inbound lead efforts.
The best way to understand how it works is to go through one of the examples provided on the website.
The Hemingway App is an editor that makes your writing bold and clear. Anyone can become a dynamic writer using this software.
It helps to identify sentences that are too complicated or lengthy and identifies grammar and spelling errors. If you regularly write blogs, emails, or other content, this is a great way to proofread your writing.
- Example feedback from the Hemingway App
Testimonials or case studies are hugely valuable for any marketing mix. They develop authority, legitimacy, and most importantly, trust. Every CRE professional should have a Testimonials section on their website.
The creation of testimonials doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s better to have a few quotes than nothing. However, the best testimonials tell a complete story. They show the transformation your customer experienced from your services. Both written and video testimonials are effective and should be utilized on your website and social media platforms.
Grammarly’s name suggests what it does – it checks your grammar. But it does so much more than that. Think of it as an amped-up Spell Check that also checks sentence structure, voice, and even checks for plagiarism.
It is a Chrome Extension, which means it can check your grammar across all marketing channels. Whether you are writing a Facebook post, a Tweet, or a blog post, you can apply the extension and check your work.
17. Webinar Tools
Webinars, or live Q&A’s, are a great way to directly engage with your community. They’re an easy way to develop content across your channels and establish authority within the CRE field.
You can create webinars in several ways. At Reonomy, we use YoutubeLive to create webinars for our users. With the increasing emphasis on live video, many platforms now offer video options – Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Vimeo Livestream are just some of the available options.
Alternatively, there are a range of webinar-specific software tools. Depending on your nature in the CRE business, you should structure your webinar around the information you’re presenting. For example, a commercial broker might create a webinar answering questions on the latest market trends in the local area.
18. Direct Mail Tools
Though we’re primarily focusing on digital marketing tools in this list, direct mail can still be an effective marketing tactic. Direct mail can come in a range of formats; letters, postcards, and brochures are some of the most popular.
The main success of direct mail comes back to identifying your target and reaching them effectively. In other words, having the correct information. Without correct contact information, you’re unlikely to reach the people who need your services most, and you won’t see the returns on your efforts. As noted above, Reonomy helps you compile mailing addresses of property owners, giving you a way to contact them directly.
On average, a mailing campaign has a 2% response rate. This can change significantly depending on the nature and targets of your campaign.
To determine if a direct mail campaign is a smart investment for your business, use the calculator here. There are a wide range of online tools you can use to create direct mailers. Again, Canva is a great resource with a dedicated section to help you create stunning mailers.
Unbounce is a landing page generator that allows you to improve the conversion rate of traffic towards your website. For example, if you were running an ad on a particular property for sale, you could direct that ad traffic to your Unbounce page rather than your own website.
It’s easier to make changes on Unbounce than it is to your website. Therefore, you can make optimizations that improve the likelihood of client engagement.
If your current conversion rate is 4% (4% of people that hit your page from an ad take the desired action), an increase by 1% would increase the number of inbound leads by 25% over time.
- Example Unbounce Landing Page Template
Buildout is a CRE-specific marketing tool. This website uses your brand’s blueprints to automatically populate targeted marketing materials.
As its name suggests, Buildout is a great tool to further build out your existing marketing reach and current content creation efforts. Buildout also streamlines the listings process – a helpful feature for CRE brokers.
21. Blog Idea Generator
Sometimes the most difficult part of content creation is deciding what to create.
If you’re struggling to come up with relevant topics, Hubspot released a great tool to help you generate new talking points. Simply type in nouns related to your topic, and Blogspot serves up potential inspiration.
22. Google Alerts
Google Alerts doesn’t quite fit into any one category. It can serve a range of purposes for your marketing plan. Google Alerts notifies you when content related to your desired topics or keywords hits the Internet.
For example, say you’re a broker selling several listings. You can create an alert for any news or information related to those listings. Or, you can set an alert to notify you about posts regarding a specific neighborhood, city, or builder.
When Google identifies content related to your keywords, you will receive an alert to your inbox. There are a couple of ways to then leverage this information.
Firstly, it may show potential prospects who are interested in your listed property, allowing you to approach potential buyers. Secondly, it shows you content on the property that you can further leverage for yourself. If someone has uploaded a photo or made a copy of that content, you can repurpose or share this content for your own purpose.
Tweriod is a free twitter tool that helps you identify the best time to tweet based on your followers your post engagement. For ideas about what to tweet, read our article about the top CRE professionals to follow on Twitter.
Paid Advertising Tools
While there are a plethora of digital advertising options, Facebook and Google dominate. Nearly 70% of all online marketing revenue goes to these two powerhouses.
24. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads is a powerful and affordable way to market to commercial real estate professionals. Through Facebook Ads, you can optimize ads based on desired targets and desired actions.
Targeting options include serving adverts based on user interests, geographies, employment, and income or revenue.
Using these options, there are several ways to optimize your ad campaign based on what actions you want to viewers to take. For example, you can optimize ads for people to click the link to go to your website, or to fill out a lead form for more information.
Facebook’s advertising power comes from their uncanny ability to analyze user data and effectively target likely clients. When you learn how to effectively utilize this data, you’ll be more likely to reach your desired audience.
The best CRE ads are heavily image-based. Photos of properties are ideal and the carousel ad format typically performs well on this platform.
25. Google Ads
Google Ads is another powerful network for digital paid advertising. Unlike Facebook, Google Ads is based on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Here, you are bidding to place your ad as the top result in Google based user searches and keyword data.
Setting up a few ads based on a couple of search terms is relatively easy. Developing an account overtime that targets a range of different keywords can be time-consuming and complex.
Within CRE, it is common practice for brokers to bid on searches that relate to the properties they are selling. This ensures that you are one of the top results potential buyers see, exposing them to relevant information for your wbesite and your business.
26. Bing Ads
Bing Ads are very similar to Google Ads, though Bing doesn’t have the notoriety of the Google search engine. To make it easy, Bing allows users to transfer Google Ads account information directly into the Bing Ads platform.
While Bing doesn’t expose you to as large an audience as Google, Bing Ads can often come out slightly cheaper for the Cost Per Click. If you are finding value in SEM (Search Engine Marketing), Bing Ads is worth your time to explore.
Marketing Operations Tools
Here we’ve outlined some of the commercial real estate specific CRMs.
REthink has CRM products tailored for both the commercial and residential markets. Considered a highly customizable CRM, REthink labels its strongest features as prospect management, deal pipeline management, and reporting.
Another CRM tool that is commercial real estate-focused, MREN’s unique features include interconnected networks, internal communication, and collaboration tools. It also has a marketplace to support syndication and capital raises.
Apto is a broker-specific CRM system, made for all brokerage types including tenant reps and investment sales.
Because of its specializations, there are a number of additional features benefitting CRE brokers. These benefits include calculating brokers’ commission splits and setting your own brokerage’s workflow.
Six of the top eight CRE brokerage firms use Apto as its platform.
Clientlook is a CRM for professionals across CRE including brokers, investors, and owners. Clientlook allows you to track company-wide listings and automatically push them to public listing platforms.
This platform has the ability to integrate with a range of other apps and services, such as MailChimp, to further its functionality.
Clientlook also states that they are the only commercial real estate CRM that has a team of free virtual assistants handling data entry, online lead capture, and listing administration.
RealHound is a mobile-optimized CRE CRM that starts at only $20/month. It carries the same functionality of many other commercial real estate apps. However, it’s unique because it has the ability to connect people and properties, displaying your properties on a map. In addition, the platform includes email and text templates.
MailChimp is a marketing automation platform as well as an email marketing service provider. It’s the only non-CRE specific tool included in this section. MailChimp makes email creation and automation super easy.
If you run or intend to run email drip campaigns or newsletters, MailChimp executes on these with ease.
One simple implementation of MailChimp could be the following sequence:
- Step A: Website visitor enters email to access your “Top 5 tips to sell your Commercial Property.”
- Step B: MailChimp automatically emails the PDF through to the submitted email.
- Step C: MailChimp then sends emails to the user over the next several weeks. Each email goes into more depth on each of the tips.
Simply set up this process once and upload the email drip campaign content. MailChimp does the rest, engaging your customers with targeted, relevant content.
SharpLaunch is an all-in-one marketing platform for commercial properties.
The platform helps you create property-specific websites, and tells you which of your leads is viewing that content.
Custom interactive maps, document portals, and email marketing are all powerful features that are included within the SharpLaunch marketing platform.
Marketing Analysis Tools
Any good marketing campaign requires making consistent improvements and optimizations. In order to effectively make these improvements, you must successfully analyze user data. The following tools help you collect and make sense of user data to better target your marketing strategies.
34. Google Analytics
Google Analytics remains the universal tool for measuring your marketing activities. The applications for this platform are more extensive than we can cover here. But the most common tools for CRE professionals include knowing how people are reaching your website (i.e. what marketing channels are working), where in the world your users live, and which sections on your website receive the most views.
FullStory allows you to replay visitor sessions on your website, including screen views of the exact actions users take. FullStory is addictive; you’ll see what view on your website, often debunking your assumptions about how users spend their time.
It’s a useful tool because it can help you understand where there are issues on your website and where you can make changes and optimizations to reduce any issues.
36. Optimizely – A/B Testing
Optimizely is an A/B testing software; a tool to help you run experiments on your websites. These experiments are important as you continue to grow and explore new marketing channels.
It is a safety net to ensure you are not wasting money on any one marketing channel.
A/B testing software allows you to serve example A to some users and example B to other users. One case could be serving two distinct landing pages: one with three paragraphs of content and the other with one short paragraph.
The tests would reveal whether or not the landing pages containing more text improve the rate of conversion. Optimizely has a range of products with varying levels of sophistication–it’s worth taking a look at the options most appropriate to you before making changes.
37. UTM Generator
UTM tracking is a way of creating a custom URL that helps you identify where your traffic is coming from.
Say, for example, you were creating a post on Facebook that links to your blog post. You would go into the UTM generator and fill out the information, as seen in the example below:
This then generated a URL that looks different but doesn’t change the destination.
Instead, the new URL enables you to see how users access your page.
You can then go into Google Analytics and, when you look at your Acquisitions Section, the UTM Generator will correctly assign traffic from this link to the respective marketing channel.
Bitly is another link tracking tool. Like the UTM Generator, Bitly doesn’t change your original URL destination. Instead, it shortens the original link and allows you to view how many people are clicking the link.
If you are not comfortable with the full process of Google Analytics, this presents an easier way of tracking information. Creating the links and tracking the number of clicks all occur within bitly.com.
Bitly can still be used in combination with UTM tracking. It is used for internal links or within emails where marketing departments don’t want UTM’s to overwrite each other.
39. Google PageSpeed Insights
Google has a range of tools that are great for optimizing your website. One of the most popular tools is Google PageSpeed Insights.
After entering your website URL, this tool will analyze your website’s speed for both mobile and desktop mediums. Based on the results, it will give a range of feedback and suggestions on how to fix/optimize further.
While a website’s load speed may seem trivial to some, it has significant effects on your overall optimization. If a page takes longer than three seconds to load, over 25% of users will click away. Walmart.com also noted that with every second of increased age speed, they saw a 2% increase in conversion.
40. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is another free tool from Google. The search console provides a range of data, including what terms users search before arriving at your site.
This can help you identify which content is ranking well and whether your website is receiving the type of visitors you want.
It also shows you the links pointing to your site. Link building is an important aspect of SEO that improves ranking and allows content to be indexed in search results more quickly.
Using this information, you can expand your marketing to other channels or target those websites that most often link to your page. For explanations on how to implement, you can read further here.
Commercial Real Estate Listing Platforms
Presence across listing platforms remains essential to any broker’s marketing mix.
There is an abundance of listing platforms for commercial properties, but we’ve outlined some of the more popular here.
41. Commercial Search
Commercial Search is a free national listing platform that lists leases and sales for all the major CRE asset class types. The site has a strong audience with its own traffic and traffic directed from Realtor.com.
Commercial Search also has a broker directory, another useful place for commercial brokers to have a presence.
42. Leavitt Digital
LDCRE enables brokers and owners to increase local and global reach on their listings. The LDCRE’s national and international listing syndication platform pairs with city-based news websites to expand your listings’ reach.
In other words, it allows you to list your properties in one location and have it distributed through a long tail of local listing platforms.
Brevitas is an exclusive marketplace for buying and selling commercial real estate assets. An international platform, Brevitas helps to streamline the investment search and create long-term relationships in target markets.
43. Total Commercial
Total Commercial is a nationwide platform with a heavy focus in Florida. For $90/year, you are able to generate unlimited listings.
Once again, they also have a professionals directory for brokers, auctioneers, and a range of other CRE professions.
Loopnet is the largest of the commercial real estate listing/marketplaces. It covers the full range of geographies and asset classes within CRE.
There is also a range of paid options that can help increase your exposure within the platform.
Other Commercial Real Estate Marketing Tools
Podium allows your business to take a proactive approach to building and managing your online reputation. Podium is different because it gives you insight into what people are saying about your business.
With Podium you can see online reviews from the most influential review sites, send business review invites via text message, and monitor new reviews as they go live — all resulting in increased local SEO and brand trust for your business.
46. Quick Email Verification
Quick Email Verification is an email address validation and cleaning service.
Based on how you are sourcing your contacts to email, this can be an important step. It is especially important for companies/marketing professionals that buy lead lists or scrape contact information and are unsure of the quality of the emails they have acquired.
If you have too many bounced emails, your risk your sender reputation. The higher your reputation, the higher your deliverability.
Upwork, is one of the many freelance marketplaces, and can be used for virtually anything across the marketing process. Common uses within CRE are lead scraping and data cleaning of lead lists.
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’ve found something of use to apply to your CRE marketing strategy! For more great information, check out our blog. There, you can find advice covering how to use Reonomy, marketing and sales tips, and general commercial real estate industry pieces.