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4 tips for writing powerful real estate copy

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The headlines you write for your listings, website, blogs and ads can make or break your business. How effective are you at writing a great real estate headline?

One of best tools available for writing ads, blog posts or articles is the Headline Analyzer from the Advanced Marketing Institute. The Headline Analyzer allows you to see how your headlines compare against those written by professional copywriters.

To use the Headline Analyzer, begin by entering your headlines, select "real estate" as the field in which you are interested, and the Headline Analyzer will evaluate how effective your headlines are based upon three different dimensions: intellectual, empathetic and spiritual. The most effective headlines appeal to all three groups.

In terms of the scoring, your goal is to hit a score between 30 and 50. This is where most professional copywriters score. A score above 50 is excellent. You may occasionally see a score above 100. To put this into context, a score of 120 is four times more effective than a headline with a score of 30.

If you would like to test your headline savvy, here are three different sets of headlines. Can you pick out the strongest one from each group?

Set 1:

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  • a. Take the Landlord off the Payroll
  • b. Amazing Location on a Golf Course
  • c. Luxury and Warmth in One Great Package!

Of these three headlines, "b" is the best choice with a score of 33.33. This score is comparable to what you would expect if you were paying a professional copywriter to do this for you. Part of what makes "b" the best choice is that it is more specific than the other two headlines. When you compare the first and third headlines, you can easily see they are less clear and less specific. In fact, the first headline is so unclear that it scored a zero, which is rare. The third headline scored 14.29, far below the standard for a good headline.

Set 2:

  • a. Crown molding, ceiling medallions, stained glass, and more!
  • b. This is a lot of house for a little money!
  • c. Design Your Dream Home In This Unique Space!

Of these three headlines, "c" is the best with a solid score of 37.5. The first headline scored only 12.5. The reason is that the first headline just describes features, which is what most real estate ads do. The second headline has more emotional appeal since it suggests that the property is a good deal, but it still scored only 20.3.

In contrast, the third headline scores higher due to the action verb "design" plus the words "dream" and "unique." Using verbs will help you to write more compelling headlines. Also, fulfilling the "dream" of American homeownership taps into the key primary triggers identified by marketing specialist Clotaire Rapaille as motivating people to buy any type of product. (The other key words are "hope" and "fix it.") Research has also shown that younger clients respond well to the word "unique." Each person has his or her special "unique dream." This headline capitalizes upon these primary buying triggers.

Set 3: All three of these headlines scored high on the Headline Analyzer. Can you pick out the one that scored the highest?

  • a. Remarkable Price Well Below Market Value!
  • b. Updated Lovely Home — Must See!
  • c. Wow! Amazing Home — Totally Unique!

The best headline is "a." Everyone wants a good deal, especially if it is "well below" market value. This powerful headline scored 83.3. The second headline scored at 40.0. The third headline taps into the words "amazing" and "unique" as powerful buying triggers.

How to make your headlines more powerful

Here are some key tips to make the headlines and the copy you write for your listings more powerful.

1. Short, concise bullet points work best
Most people skim and scan ad copy. They don’t read full paragraphs. As a result, do your best to keep your headlines snappy and the text that follows them short and to the point.

2. Use numbers
When possible, use numbers and the word "you" in your headlines. For example, the following headline scores 11.11: "Buy Now and Save Thousands of Dollars in Interest."

In contrast, "Five Reasons Buying Now Will Save You Thousands of Dollars" scores 30.0.

3. Use the words "unique," "special" and "these"
The following headline scores 40.0 on the Headline Analyzer: "Don’t Miss Seeing This Unique Home Packed with These Upgrades."

4. Use commands
Rather than relying so heavily on adjectives, write your headlines using action verbs. The headlines in Set 2 are typical of most of the ads in the real estate industry because they describe features. People don’t buy features; they buy the benefits, i.e., the emotions they experience when they view the property.

Adjectives typically describe features, while verbs are more likely to tap into the benefits of homeownership. This is the reason that "c" in Set 2 scores so much better — it uses an action verb that puts the reader’s imagination to work designing his or her uniquely personal dream home.

If you want to write more powerful headlines, give the Headline Analyzer a try. Just one caveat: It can be very addicting!

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success." Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com. You can contact her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com or @BRoss on Twitter.

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