CHECK OUT THE UPDATED ARTICLE FROM 2018
Welcome to Agent Redefined and thanks for checking out what has been one of our most popular articles here on the blog. I’ve been writing about Real Estate Technology and Tools since 2012 and love to share everything I’ve learned since then with real estate agents from across the country.
In this list you’ll find the same exact tools that I use on a daily basis for running my real estate media production company, Agent Redefined Media.
Plus, these are the same tools that I recommend to all of my real estate agents whom I work with on a daily basis in helping them market their brand and listings online.
If you want to dive deeper into Video Gear you can download my latest Video Gear Guide below.
The Top Tools and Apps for Real Estate Agents in 2016
1. Having an Online Presence
2. Your Database (plus brownies.com and sendoutcards.com)
3. Social Media (Personal Profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.)
4. Zillow & Trulia
5. Smart Phones and the iPad
6. Photo & and Video Apps (several different tools and apps here)
7. DocuSign & and DotLoop
8. Email Communications & and Email Marketing
9. WordPress Websites
10. Facebook Dark Posts and Ads Manager/Power Editor on Facebook
11. Audiobooks, Podcasts, and Podcasting
12. HDR X App and a smartphone wide angle lens
13. Home Warranty’s as a Branding Tool
14. Open Home Pro App
15. Rethinking Business Cards with Moo.com
16. The DSLR Camera, and the DJI Ronin-M
17. The Off Button
18. Bulletproof Coffee
19. Cloud Storage: Google Drive, Dropbox, The Box, iCloud, and Carbonite
20. Intex Queen Size Blow-up Mattress w/Built in Electric Pump
21. Work-Life Balance
22. Steven Pressfield’s the Resistance from his book “The War of Art”
24. Real Estate Signs
25. Fascination Advantage by Sally Hogshead
26. The Mile iQ App
27. The Loopy Case (for smart phones)
28. Google Ad Words and the Google Keyword Tool
29. BombBomb (Video Emails)
BONUS: You find it at the end. YAY!
Technology, Tools, and Apps for Real Estate Agents should do one of two things, and if they don’t accomplish one of these then you shouldn’t be wasting your time on them.
1. They help you in communicating your messages to your clients and prospects. These are communications which entail marketing, advertising, email messages, and/or real estate websites.
2. They help make your operations, systems, and/or workflows run more efficiently. These typically can help save time, reduce extra paperwork, or eliminate mundane tasks.
A Lesson In Using Real Estate Agent Technology, Tools, and Apps
When it comes to tech, tools, and apps real estate agents mistakenly look at these for having the power to “magically” increase leads into their business. Just purchase and start using this app, or start posting on this new social media platform, and adopt this technology and instantaneously the leads will start coming in. Technology, tools, and apps don’t have any “magical powers” or any increased capabilities to bring in more leads for your business.
Tech, tools, and apps can only be effective for your business if you know how to use to them correctly in your business. But first you have to square away what your business is all about. Ask yourself these questions…
a. Why are you in business? Do you know your WHY?
Is being a real estate agent simply just a job for you?
Or, do you want to actually help people and families achieve the American dream of owning their home?
b. What is your Mission, Value Proposition, and Competitive Advantage?
Is your mission to get has many closings/sales possible for the calendar year?
Or, is it to provide a valuable and rememberable experience for your clients which builds long term relationships?
c. Are you truly offering the absolute best service for your clients?
Or, are you offering the exact same level of service as your competition currently does?
d. If you take on a new listing, do you have a truly kick-ass marketing plan for that listing?
Or, is your marketing plan to do the same as every other agent in your market?
e. Why should a buyer work with you? What makes you and your service different or better than the next buyers agents?
Do you offer buyers a great buyer experience, home warranties, e-signature services, and do you have a team of mortgage brokers, title companies, real estate attorneys, inspectors, contractors, and other professionals that can adequately help them with other real estate related needs to the home buying process?
Fix Your Online by Focusing In On Your Offline
You should start to see a theme take place in these questions about how you run your business today.
If you want to generate more leads. If you want to grow your business and incorporate more tech, social media, video, tools, and apps into your business. Then, you must first understand WHY your in business and analyze how your running it and what your offering your clients and prospects.
Fix your business first before you start incorporating tech into it and hope the tech will help you increase your leads.
It’s All About Your Clients
The key to using more tech, tools, and apps effectively in your business is to understand how it fits into your business. What is it that your clients want and need, and how do they want to receive info and communicate with you.
The only way technology, tools, and apps can help your business is when it’s used for either communicating your messages to your clients and prospects, or helping in facilitating an efficient workflow in the operations of your business.
When used correctly technology can help you leverage your business in ways which were nearly impossible just 10 years ago. It also levels out the playing field for every agent in the market. Today, a local mom & pop real estate brokerage can compete equally with any major national brokerage with an office next door. A local brokerage has access to all the same tools and technology that any national franchise will have and without the heavy costs or other barriers to entry.
The cost of using technology into your business are minimal today. You don’t even need a laptop computer anymore to conduct your business as an agent. With a mobile phone and a tablet you can execute contracts, produce a video, create photos and post to social media, and maintain & market to your database.
The questions then becomes WHAT and HOW are you going to be communicating with your clients and prospects.
What will your message be? And is it what your clients want and need?
This list is NOT about showing off the latest, greatest, and shiniest new thing on the web today. Rather, the list is a pure getting back to the basics approach for incorporating tech, tools, and apps into your business the RIGHT WAY.
You may even be surprised to find some items on the list have nothing at all to do with modern technology. Technology doesn’t necessarily need to have electricity or be located on the internet.
Technology is simply the application of knowledge for a practical end.
1. An Online Marketing Plan & Presence
You can have all of the tools and apps in the world, but they won’t help you or your business if you don’t have some basic knowledge and a plan for using them correctly. This is why you need a marketing plan for your business. With a marketing plan you can place some level of organization into all of the marketing activities and campaigns you’re executing online, as well as, offline.
A good marketing plan will incorporate both online and offline techniques and strategies. Here you can see the marketing plan I use when training real estate agents.
Download this (above) Real Estate Agent Marketing Plan
A basic marketing plan should also build a basic online presence for a real estate agent. Buyers and Sellers today are online and this ain’t going to change anytime soon. You owe it to your clients for them to be able to easily find you and everything your business represents online.
Furthermore, buyers and sellers are researching today who they do business with. They will pull up a google search on your name and when they do what will they find? Go ahead and pull up a Google search on your own name and see what comes up. Also, Google search my name, George Cuevas, and see what pulls up.
You want to be everywhere online your clients and prospects expect to find you and having a basic presence online will accomplish this task.
Here’s what pulls up on Page 1 of a Google Search I did on my own name when I was writing this article. The blue arrows indicate profiles and websites linked directly to me and my brand online.
2. Your Database
It may be traditional and old school, but your Database is the Most Effective Marketing Tool and Weapon a real estate agent has today.
Real estate is still a people business and being successful in it is a direct result on how you build relationships. Do a great job for a client today and you’ll be working with that client for the rest of your career as an agent. Furthermore, the referral’s a life-long client will forward on to you are a crucial part of building your business as an agent.
If you’ve experienced heavy “Peaks and Valleys” after 5 years of being a full time agent, then you either DON’T have a database in-place and if you have one YOU’RE NOT marketing to it effectively.
Unfortunately, there is no one single tool an agent can use for managing every aspect of a full blown Database Marketing Plan. Some systems come close like SaleForce.com and InfusionSoft, but they are pricey and not 100% perfect. (they are really close though)
In the real estate industry, many agents and brokers confuse a Database Marketing Plan for a CRM. Although they are related they are not the same. A CRM, Customer Relationship Management, is a tool which can help you maintain your client relationships through Emails, Texts, Social Media, and/or Physical Mail Pieces. Simply having a CRM in place doesn’t mean your running an effective Database Marketing Plan.
The right approach is to look at how you’re communicating with your Database and what are the most effective ways for you to keep them having a “Top of Mind Awareness” of you and your business. The Gary Keller book “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” is the template for applying a Database Marketing Plan into your business and highly recommended if you want to dive deeper into this subject. For now let’s break down the 3-Levels of what your Database Marketing Plan should be doing.
Part 1: Old School Mail Marketing
Postcards and Letters. It still works but you have to have an important message with each piece to deliver. Make your messages about your clients and not about you. Give them valuable content, if you don’t these mailers will end up in the trash bin.
Part 2: Email Marketing
How many weekly emails do you get from a fellow real estate agents advertising their latest open house or new listing?
What do you do with those emails?
Be honest. Do you even read them anymore?
Most likely you delete them as soon as you see it, only briefly looking at the subject line.
Now think about all of the other emails you get daily and how many of them you delete without even opening them up.
Your email inbox is actually the first social network that existed online. Email is a social network where messages are being communicated back and forth from active percipients and you. Today, we’re living in an On-Demand and On-Line world. We don’t have time to waste on messages, communications, advertisements, or junk that fill up our inbox, so we simply delete hundreds of messages each week without ever reading them.
If you want your email messages to get opened, start re-thinking what your sending. Start delivering valuable content, or the emails you send out will end up getting deleted or worse on a spam list.
Part 3: Social Media Marketing (Personal Profile on Facebook)
This one comes as a surprise to most agents, but your Personal Profile on Facebook is your Database. Look at the people your connected to on it. It’s your Family, Friends, Colleagues, and other people you run in the same circles with. This is your Digital Database.
Learn how to communicate with them correctly on Facebook. Remember, Facebook is the most powerful social media platform an agent has today, but if it’s used incorrectly it will backfire on you.
Part 4. Event and Real World Outreach
It’s traditional and old school, but it works.
Client parties and events, community events, sponsorships of community sports leagues, teams, groups, and associations. It still works and should be part of your overall Database Marketing Plan..
3. Social Media
Social media is a collection platforms where a real estate agent can create, build, and nurture relationships. These can be some of the most important tools an agent can use in their business, but you have to use them correctly.
There is no shortage of real estate marketing “gurus” out there who “teach” social media marketing to real estate agents. Unfortunately, most of them are teaching it the wrong way. Whenever you see some guru or marketing wizard say the following, you’re going to want to be cautious about implementing what they’re teaching.
- Ninja Tactics for Facebook
- Quick Profits/Leads from Instagram
- Make money by using Social Media in your business
- Charge up your real estate business with Twitter
- or The Ultimate Social Media Formula for your real estate business…
You get the point, right?
Let’s start by stating what Social Media is Not.
Social Media is not the place where you can post your advertisements, listings, and open houses on. If you try this approach, you will ultimately fail and waste precious time.
Social Media is not craigslist.
Social Media marketing does not produce instant or short term results. It’s a long-term play and if you can’t deal with that then don’t do it.
Not all social media platforms are the same. A post that works on Facebook most likely will not work on LinkedIn. A post on Pinterest will not work on Instagram. (did you know that Pinterest is really more than just a social platform?, it’s a Visual Search Engine)
I wish it were that easy. If you could simply just post your listings, open houses, and other advertisements on these platforms and then this would result in increased lead generation. This may have been the way it worked years ago when Social Media was still in it’s beginning stages.
Today, the game is different.
Today, how people use social media is much different than they did just two years ago. And it will change again going forward into the future.
Today, people don’t have the TIME to waste on posts which are completely irrelevant to them in the course of their day.
When your marketing online you want to create content and posts which can capture the ATTENTION of the people you’re trying to reach. In order to capture their attention you have to create content which delivers pure VALUE. It’s about THEM and NOT YOU.
At a minimum, I recommend that every real estate agent do some basic marketing on Social Media.
Above in the Database Marketing section we talked about using your Personal Profile on Facebook for managing your Database. At a basic level you should be using your Personal Profile on Facebook to build and maintain your relationships because the people you’re connected with on Facebook are essentially your Database.
Postings your listings, open houses, or an article about the latest loan program IS NOT what you want to be posting on your personal profile. This will not work and may actually backfire on you because you will annoy your connections on Facebook with your “sales” posts.
You’ll have to learn how to share and tell quick stories about your day as a real estate agent. When you see an awesome kitchen in a showing, capture a photo of it and share that moment of how cool it is. Don’t try and sell/advertise that home, but share that moment with your connections.
The goal is to create long-term “top of mind awareness” with your connections on Facebook because your personal profile is essentially your online database.
Be creative with your images. The camera on your smartphone is pretty good and can take some awesome pictures. Start learning how to communicate your messages by using images.
Images are powerful tools for how we as humans communicate. There at two slides below. Look at the first slide and take 30 seconds to think about what the first slide makes you think of. Then, go to the next slide and take another 30 seconds and do the same thing.
Using Visuals in your Marketing – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
It’s a creative process to learn how to communicate by using images and absolutely necessary if you want to be successful at marketing on social media platforms.
We won’t be able to get into all the strategy and techniques for marketing on Facebook using your personal profile because there is so much to cover. It’s not difficult to learn and you can master it quickly with the right training. Check out the Facebook Marketing Course for Real Estate Agents that I have being released in a few weeks here at Agent Redefined.
Above in the first tool we talked about the importance of having an Online Presence, and LinkedIn is one piece of the puzzle to helping you achieve this.
On LinkedIn people don’t spend a lot of time on it’s newsfeed like they do on Facebook. On LinkedIn people check out your Profile. The profile on LinkedIn is a place where someone can “check you out” and find out if you’re “for real”. Plus, your LinkedIn profile is will always pull up on that first page of Google results when someone types in your name.
Having a completed profile on LinkedIn should be your main priority on this social platform.
Most people look at LinkedIn and see is as some sort of a “digital resume” of your career. LinkedIn is not a place to talk about what you have done in the past and present of your career. It’s the place where you inform visitors to your profile of what you “can do” for them and how you can actually “help” them.
I wrote a complete article and filmed a video going step by step into completing your LinkedIn Profile. I would highly suggest you check this article out and get your LinkedIn Profile up to date.
It’s 2016. Video is already here.
The first question to ask yourself is: Why am I not using video in marketing my business, brand, and/or listings?
If used correctly, video can open doors and create opportunities for you and your business. YouTube is a powerful free tool an agent can use for getting their messages out there online.
YouTube is much more than just a social media platform. It’s the second largest search engine in the world right behind Google Search and it’s owned by Google. It’s a search engine for video content so you want to create content that the people you’re trying to reach are searching for.
YouTube is often completely misunderstood by many real estate agents. It’s not a place to create advertisements for your services in a video format.
Here’s an example of what you DON’T WANT TO DO. Here we have an agent who’s made a professional quality video, but it’s all about her. It’s basically a commercial. People don’t have time to waste on commercials today.
Again the video is very professional, well shot, the agent is very well prepared. However, it’s still a commercial. When people are searching on YouTube or through websites they are looking for solutions and answers to their questions and concerns. A pure advertisement on YouTube is not going to be the most effective way for you to make a connection with the prospective buyer/seller your making the video for in the first place. Be real, be authentic.
Next, many agents get virtual tour marketing on YouTube wrong as well. In this video you have poor music, and bad voiceover, and really bad pictures. Just simply, NOT GOOD.
When you take your first step getting into creating videos you want to put your AUDIENCE first. Make videos they are searching for online which answers the questions they have. This is formula for knowing what types of subjects to make videos about.
YouTube is also a free hosting service for your videos. It’s a good place to be able to upload videos for your website for free.
If you’re looking to add video into your overall marketing then these are the types of video’s you should be creating.
1. Content Videos: These are videos which answer questions. They are informative and they are not about you, but 100% about delivering valuable information to the buyers/sellers you’re trying to reach.
2. Virtual Tours: These videos should actually show a home and show a home in a way in which the pictures cannot. Sweeping 90 and 180 degree shots showing off the features of a home to create awareness of it being on the market.
If all you’re going to do is stitch pictures together and throw in a song, then that is not a virtual tour. It’s a photo collage.
3. Other Website Videos: Since YouTube is Free to host your videos on and if you don’t have a budget to have a PRO Vimeo account or other paid hosting service, then it’s a good place to place those other website videos you’ll most likely have if your running a info heavy website.
The most important thing to realize when your creating videos for your business is to not be afraid. Take a chance and put yourself out there. What works for one agent may not work for you and there’s no specific technique to make the best content videos out there. The only rule is making your content not for your but for your audience.
This is why you have to take that chance. Without taking the first step to create a piece of video content you’ll never get yourself started.
Below I have some examples of real estate agents who are doing a pretty kick-ass job at using YouTube the right way in their businesses.
Example 1: Jessica Riffle Edwards
This real estate agent from North Carolina gets it. She consistently produces simple videos from the drivers seat of her car and they’re are all pure content videos made for her Audience. There are a few lessons to learn from her strategy on YouTube. First, focus in on providing quality content first and be yourself when going on video. Don’t try to be fake or someone you’re not.
Second, be consistent with your video production. If you’re making good videos try and be consistent with releasing them. I can honestly say this can be a difficult thing to accomplish. I have had a problem trying to be consistent with my own content videos that I put on my YouTube channel. If I were more consistent I’m 100% certain it would have helped grow my YouTube Audience and drive more traffic to my website.
You can check out Jessica’s YouTube Channel by CLICKING HERE, and check out one of her content videos below.
Example 2: Lincoln Crum
I just love this video. Mixing a personal passion like food with a virtual tour. Everything about this video is just awesome, it’s high quality HD, you can see Lincoln’s passion in both real estate and food, just awesome.
Example 3: iCandy Realty
This is a former client of mine. It’s a young vibrant office with a really cool name. They have a great niche business on servicing rehabbers and real estate investors. Many of their videos are primarily for these investors and are used to establish themselves as being the Authority on helping them sell their properties.
Example 4: RESF, Real Estate Sales Force
This is a real estate brokerage doing some pretty cool stuff on YouTube. They are pretty huge on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram and that effort has paid off. Their social media marketing plan has helped this brokerage grow into multiple locations with over 300 agents.
The 2017 List is Coming Soon…
We are in the final stages of preparing the 2017 Top Tools and Apps List. Stay Tuned Amigos…