I've been consulting on digital marketing in Atlanta for a little over 20 years. In that 20 years I went into full time real estate and now that I'm back to full time consulting there is one question that keeps coming up in different forms. What should I spend my money on? What can a new agent (aka an real estate agent with no money) do to generate leads online? So many of those can be summed up into What Should Newer Real Estate Agents Do With Internet Lead Generation?
Exhaust Offline First
My advice to newer agents is to exhaust the offline options first. Do all your friends and family know you are in real estate? If they don't then you need to call them. Let's stop for a second... Let's understand the whole purpose of lead generation in the first place.
The purpose of online lead generation is to create new opportunities for relationships.
If this is the case, doesn't it make sense to spend your time with people who know you, like you and trust you? First exhaust your friends and family. "No question, if you're brand new the best thing you can do is call your friends and family. Not bother them but invest in their lives, grow your relationships. Business will come as a natural by product," says Kelli Howison of Windermere Real Estate in Kirkland WA. She adds, "if you're new, just hustle. There are plenty of free opportunities such as for sale by owners, expireds, networking meetings and the like."
I know you came here for tech help, not another back to basic blog post. So let's talk technology.
Lowest Hanging Fruit
The lowest hanging fruit for some business is still "LOCAL" based sites. Local SEO for Googe My Business and to a lesser degree, Nextdoor. Of course, facebook would qualify here as well. I covered this in another post (about how to get on those sites), but basically, all you need to do is get on the site then add value.
Google My Business
It's hard to add value on this one. However, you need reviews, you need to be posting events or even "a-ha" on there. You won't be overwhelmed with business from this but you'll get business. I don't recommend brand new agents paying for services on this in the beginning.
Nextdoor & Facebook
With these two sites it's your job to be the "mayor" and weigh in on important matters. "Whether that's what movie is playing on the lawn on Friday night in your subdivision or organizing a clothing drive, my farm knows I'm all about Huntington Beach." Says Jaime Westman of Team Infinity OC of Keller Williams, "I grew up here so I'm known, but online I'm involved. I don't force my real estate on anyone but they all know I'm the local real estate agent."
Real Estate Websites
Free Real Estate Websites
There are four different types of real estate websites out there right now as I see it. There is the free websites you get from your brokerage or association. These websites are like free business cards. It's great if you have nothing else and they look professional but you aren't going to wow anyone with them.
Custom & Semi Custom Real Estate Websites
There is the other end of the spectrum and ultra expensive webistes that cost as much as $10,000 to get going. Yes, in 2018 there are companies that can still charge this. These websites often come with real estate listings that live on the actual site vs the popular solutions like wordpress as well as a CRM. The advantage of these sites tends to be on customization and they are very strong with real estate SEO.
Leased Real Estate Websites
In the middle there are two other options. There are companies like Commissions Inc and Boomtown that will allow you to rent their website and CRM solution for $500 to $1,500 a month or more. These websites aren't really that much different than the free ones you get but their CRMS that are built into these systems are much, much better. Typically you need to pay for pay per click traffic to get these sites to generate leads. These systems excel if you have a big budget and can pour money into advertisement and are weak on tech help. The downside is that there is no originality to these sites and it's hard to port your content over.
Owned & Wordpress Real Estate Websites
Finally, there is the wordpress route. Sure there are other options but if we're grouping into 4 big buckets, this would be one. Wordpress sites can be custom or templated but they almost always share their implementation to a website that is going to require a lot of content (blogging!) and will utilize a less effective real estate listing system through an IDX plugin like IDXBroker. The biggest advantage wordpress sites have over the rest is that you own the content, you can take it with you from brokerage to brokerage.
Internet Leads Are Internet Leads
A website can help you lead generate but there are so many other options out there what to choose from? I'll continue my coverage of this in other posts but the important thing to remember about online leads is that they are all online leads.
What I mean is that while there are some variations in leads they are all of the same "species. For example, like leads from Google tend to buy more immediately than if they were generated on Facebook. However, the process on how you follow up with them and convert them into clients is exactly the same. Realtor.com might say their leads are more qualified but chances are it's likely due to the fact the Realtor.com is lower on the rankings and that the same lead visited Zillow first and no one followed up and they just continued to browse. Meaning that their time horizon is shrinking and so they are more ready to buy because time has paused (the ZMOT) than because Realtor.com has some secret sauce.
The point is that you can pay for leads from a company, or you can pay for traffic to generate leads, but you need to focus on your systems first and foremost. This is why nailing the system on follow up with your past clients is so crucial.
That's it for this week, be sure to tune in next time when I cover the different lead generation techniques and vendors!