Most real estate agents would love to be able to generate their own leads online. The truth is that most will never figure out how to do it. If they do, it’s usually by paying a real estate portal like Zillow through the nose for real estate leads that are of marginal quality.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could take your lead generation in-house and not be dependant on 3rd party websites and BNI networking groups to fuel your business? This guide is going to show you everything you need to know in order to generate real estate leads online using your own website and with your own marketing campaigns.
The problem with online lead generation for real estate agents is that there are just so many of you and it’s difficult to stand out among your peers. To add to the difficulties, many real estate agents use real estate specific marketing companies who typically use cookie cutter, “me too” style of junk websites that do nothing for your brand or for your lead generation efforts.
While referrals and networking have always been at the heart of getting business for most real estate agents, it’s not a scalable marketing method. You can’t generate more referrals on demand, you can only wait for people to refer business to you. If you needed to get a listing next week, you can’t force people to refer you, but you can generate your own leads with your own real estate lead generation strategy.
The key to generating leads online for a real estate agent is to become a valuable resource for your community, not just a real estate agent trying to land new clients.
Starting your own online lead generation campaign can be overwhelming, but in reality, it is made up of some easy steps that anyone can do with some time and dedication. If you have all of these elements together, you are ready to start generating your own real estate leads.
A landing page is simply a page where you will be sending your online traffic to. It can be a page on your website or can be specialized landing page software like Lead Pages or Landingi. The main thing to know for a landing page is that the page should be dedicated to the type of person you are targeting and should have as few distractions as possible. So limit the links and choices on the page so people can focus on the message and goal you have set out for them. Learn more about creating an effective landing page below.
If you want people to take action then you need to make a compelling offer. You need to offer more than a smile and promise that you are the best real estate agent in your town. You need to offer something of value to your visitor, and it should be specific to what they are looking for. So if you are targeting first time home buyers, then the offer you make on the landing page should be specific to their needs, like a first time home buyers guide to getting approved for your first mortgage. If you are targeting seniors retiring to your area, offer resources that are important to them, like area golf courses, medical facilities, senior organizations, etc.
Real estate prices are also very important to people so offering some kind of report with recent home purchase prices for an area would be helpful as well. You are the real estate expert and will know the specific kind of offer that will get people to really want the information.
What you want to do is offer something valuable to them, something that will solve a problem for them, in exchange for their name and email address. Once you have their email address, you will be able to prove to them just how valuable you are when you start sending them even more valuable information. Your goal is to become the most helpful real estate agent they have ever met, all without hounding them to be their agent.
Yes, this is counter conventional real estate thinking where you try and land someone as a client on the first try. This rarely works which is why most real estate agents can’t generate their own leads.
99% of real estate agents only have hard offers on their website, which is a call to action to contact you in some way. This is a called a hard offer because the person needs to make a commitment to you to speak or meet and they may not be comfortable doing so. It’s like asking someone on a date 5 minutes after meeting them, it’s pushy and a little off-putting.
A soft offer is a less intimidating offer for someone who does not really know you yet. A soft offer may be to download a report in exchange for an email or signing up for a mini-course you offer in exchange for some information about them. If your soft offer has value, then you will get much higher conversion rates since people don’t have to contact you personally to get the offer. A soft offer warms a person up (like meeting for coffee in the day instead of a date), let’s them know you a little better, and sets the stage for moving to a phone call or meeting with you.
For your soft offer, the strategy is simple. Give them something of value (real value, something that will solve a problem for them) in exchange for an email address. Once they are on your email list, you will have a sequence of emails set up to automatically go out to them during a specific period of time. We call this an autoresponder, and every email marketing software has this feature. The goal of this email sequence is to deliver so much value to them over the course of your email campaign, that they will feel a sense of obligation to speak to you since you helped them out so much and you will be the obvious choice once they decide to pull the trigger and enlist an agent. I’ve only seen maybe 3-4 real estate agents pull off this value-packed strategy as most agents resort to talking about themselves, awards they have won or about the properties they are listing. This is a great opportunity for you since most real estate agents still don’t get this concept and are missing out on the majority of potential real estate clients.
If you don’t have a marketing funnel setup, then you are left with only targeting people who want to hire a real estate agent immediately, which is less than 1% of your potential leads. The home buying or selling process can be long and people start doing their research months before they are ready to pull the trigger. If your current marketing strategy set up to accommodate courting people for several months before they are ready to take action? Having a marketing funnel in place allows you to cast a wider net and grab that large group of people who are interested but just not ready to make a firm commitment yet.
Your marketing funnel is basically going to be made up of everything above, a landing page, offer and an email marketing program. You just need to have some sort of email marketing software in place in order to execute your marketing strategy. Email marketing software like Mailchimp will allow you to easily setup an autoresponder with the sequence of emails you will use to turn cold traffic into warm leads. If you are already very familiar with email marketing, then you may want to consider stepping up your game with marketing automation, which can be a game changer for your online lead generation strategy.
Being a listing agent is very profitable, and can be less work than driving a buyer around endlessly looking for a home. But getting listings is difficult and often comes down to referrals and lots of in-person networking, both of which take lots of time, which is your most precious resource.
Getting listings can be done online, successful real estate agents do it every day. You just need to have the right marketing funnel in place and know where to find the right audience.
What information would be valuable for someone looking to sell their home? How much it is worth and what can they can realistically get for it. The problem is that, unless they are ready to pull the trigger right now, they don’t really want to get involved with a real estate agent just yet.
This is where a market report comes in. They can simply give their email address on your landing page and get a list of recent comparables that have sold in their area over the last 30 days. They get the information they want without a real estate agent hounding them, and you get a new lead to nurture before any other agent has a chance to land them. You can make this a generic report that is ready for download, or you can offer a custom report that you generate for them on demand.
What we usually do is have the agent compile a new report every 2 weeks or so and we update the report. It gets delivered via an email autoresponder once they opt-in on the landing page. From there, we setup a 4-6 autoresponder email sequence packed with information on maximizing the sale of your home, with a gentle reminder that we can help them do all of this and get the best price for their home. It’s a strategy of delivering a ton of value with a gentle call to action that you can help.
You can also ask for more information on the landing page and create a custom report for each person, but that is time-consuming (and you’ll deal with more tire kickers) if you are generating a lot of leads and most people would rather get something quick and instant, rather than having to go back and forth with an agent. Besides, you can make the offer in your email autoresponder that you can create something even more custom if needed.
So now that you have a strategy in place, how do you find these people?
In short, Facebook Ads. Once you have your landing page, market report and email autoresponder setup, you can then start creating your Facebooks Ads.
There are hundreds of options when it comes to targeting your audience with Facebook Ads, here is an example of how you would set up your targeting.
Decide on the geographic area you want to target. I like to target my Facebook Ad campaigns down by a small geographic area, and then run several of these ad campaigns so I know how each neighborhood is responding to my offer. You can target by city, zip code, radius around an address, etc.
Decide on your demographics. There are lots of ways to target by demographics. Some examples are:
You can also narrow down even further by targeting interests life events, and behaviors, such as
There are literally thousands of different combinations you can create when targeting your Facebook Ads. It may take some time to find the right combination that will suite your needs, but the good news is that Facebook Ads has it all.
This is a great opportunity to find new buyers as they are unlikely to know a real estate agent in your area. These types of buyers rely almost exclusively on the internet to do their research. You can make it easy for them by giving them everything they need to make their transition as seamless as possible.
So with this strategy, you have to decide what to offer them and how to reach them online.
You can offer them a local area guide. This can be in an ebook format where you talk about the ins and outs of living in the area. You can also offer neighborhood information, best areas for families, retirees, young couples, etc. You can create this as a download offer on your landing page and can then follow up with additional information via email.
You can create a killer resource page on your site. You may require an email to access it or just make it freely available. On this page you can curate tons of useful content that an outsider would love to have available to them, all on a single page. The nice thing about this idea is that it is less work than creating an ebook, as you will be curating most of the content and then linking out to various resources.
Create welcome to the neighborhood coupon offers. The US Postal Service does this when you move, they partner with other retailers to give you a discount on various products/services when you move. Consider creating your own. Most service businesses would love this idea. Dentists, plumbers, landscapers, massage therapists and local restaurants would all love to grab people new in town before anyone else can reach them. See who is already advertising in your local ValPack or a similar coupon book and shoot them an email with your idea. Once you have your list of businesses, create a PDF with all of the businesses and offer it to new people when they give you an email address, or just offer it as a bonus. The key is getting a really good offer from each business, what business would want to pass up getting access to a new person in the neighborhood?
Use Google Adwords Search Ads to target people searching for properties and real estate agents in your area but aren’t located there. So if you were a Florida real estate agent, you may target the northern states and parts of Canada for people looking to retire in your area. You may target search terms like, “moving to Tampa”, or “real estate agents in Tampa”, or “retire in Tampa”, etc. You will run your ad with one of the offers above to drive them to your landing page.
If you are in a fast growing city or a retirement hot spot, you can target people with Facebook Ads that are currently in your area but do not live there. This could be people in town for business or visiting family, but it can also be people on vacation but also looking for property. These people are perfect to target as they may be looking to move or just purchase a second property for themselves. What you would do is to setup your demographic target to ensure you are targeting the right kind of customer and then make the ad very clear so that casual vacationers or business travelers won’t click on your ad, saving you some money on your ad.
LinkedIn is also a free way to look for leads. Many real estate agents belong to city-specific LinkedIn groups and look for people looking to move to the area. The idea is not to hound them but to offer them valuable information. Having a killer resource page for your city is a great tool you can use to bring these people to your website. Trip Advisor, City-Data and similar forum type sites are also great places to look for potential customers.
Create Youtube and Facebook videos. With video, you can post videos to your Youtube Channel and Facebook Page and you can also use them as targeted ads for both platforms. If I was targeting people looking to move to your area, I would create a short video that starts off with, “If you are (insert your target customer), and you are looking to move to (your city), then these are some really important things you should know.”. Then give them 5 tips about moving to your area and have a call to action to contact you to learn more and to receive their free custom market report. You can use this same template to target people in each of your campaigns.
This is probably your biggest pool of potential customers but also has the most competition online. Here you are competing against the big real estate portals like Zillow and Redfin as well as every other local real estate agent and brokerage.
The good news is that most real estate agents won’t spend money on online advertising because they don’t have a marketing funnel in place. Running an ad that says, “hire me”, isn’t a marketing funnel, it’s a waste of money.
This is your chance to be internet marketing savvy and create targeted ad campaigns and landing pages to grab yourself some new clients. The key is to segment who you want to target and have a message focused solely on their wants and desires. Create an ad targeting seniors, one targeting first time home buyers, etc. The majority of real estate agents will create one offer and send it to everyone, which results in the offer not appealing or creating desire with anyone. Again, a waste of money.
Work with your city or county and a map showing the local school zoning districts, which most parents would find valuable. Include it along with some specific neighborhood information (best neighborhoods in “x” school district) and offer it to people looking to buy. Maybe get some insights on upcoming school redistricting so you can offer that information to parents as well. Nobody wants to buy a home in their desired school district if it will be rezoned in a year.
Find out development plans for your area and make it an easy to read guide for people looking to buy a home there. Things like major construction projects, urban development, housing projects, etc, are all things people would love to know before buying a home. Who wants to buy their dream home when a major shopping center will be going up across the street in a year causing major traffic and pollution for them. Become an expert and resource in your market, not just a local real estate agent looking for clients.
Similar to people selling their homes, offer to provide recently sold data based on their home buying criteria. Let them know you can get them up to date and highly targeted information that they can’t get from the major real estate portals.
You can also create specific mini area guides, targeting individual neighborhoods. Have the best neighborhoods for young families, the best condos for young professionals, etc. The large real estate portals can’t compete with you with this kind of specific information, only real estate agents who really know the market have these kinds of insights. Make that your competitive advantage.
Create Facebook ads targeting specific audiences. Use some of the targeting ideas we discussed under getting new listings. Target young families interested in real estate and offer your guide to the best neighborhoods in your city for young families. Or use the school and city planning data you compiled. Do the same with seniors, young professionals, etc. This is a great way to build your email list with a local audience. And by separating your targeting, you will have nicely segmented email lists so you can send each of them information specific to them.
Use Facebook Ads and Google Display Network ads and blanket a small area. Many successful agents focus on a specific farm area for their business, they concentrate on a small area, sometimes only a few neighborhoods, and become the default real estate agent for that area. With this approach, you can really blanket a small area with online advertising with a small budget and stay in front of the residents in this area for an extended period of time. Mix and match different offers every week and start building your email list for these neighborhoods.
Start generating your own leads
Is creating your own marketing funnel and lead generation campaign alot of work? Yes it is, which is why the vast majority of real estate agents don’t do it. But if you are tired of not having control over your own lead generation (and business) and tired of overpaying the real estate portals for mediocre leads, then get started on it today. This time next year when you have a steady stream of leads and understand how lead generation works, you’ll be happy you started when you did.
Have questions about setting up your own real estate marketing funnel or need some help? Contact us here.
Gary Shouldis is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company that helps businesses create 360 Marketing Strategies to dominate their market. His blog is read by over 20 thousand small business owners a month and has been featured in the N.Y. Times Small Business, Business Insider and Yahoo Small Business.