What is online lead generation?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting customers through various marketing channels. That’s the key element of any real estate business because it allows you to build connections at scale.
While there’s nothing wrong with offline channels to get new customers, people’s behavior changed drastically over the past 5 years.
Everyone is using their mobile phone, watching Netflix, or working on their laptop.
A big part of our lives happens online, that’s why it is important to adjust your lead generation strategy accordingly.
As of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day, up from 145 minutes in the previous year. (Statista Mar 21, 2022)
Our cars, home speakers, and even washing machines are connected to the internet. That’s why in this article we focus on online lead generation for realtors.
Lead – contact information that usually contains name, phone number, and email. A potential customer expressed an interest in our services and filled out the contact information.
Stages of lead generation
Obviously, lead generation doesn’t happen overnight, you can’t expect potential customers to trust you after showing your ads one or two times.
Every lead generation strategy has multiple stages that allow you to connect with potential customers and gain trust.
You don’t just compete with other realtors online, you compete for people’s attention, they see thousands of ads every day, therefore, every lead generation stage has to have a clear purpose.
What are we trying to say to our potential customers and how they will benefit from it?
It won’t work without clear benefits for our potential customers.
For real estate purposes, we use 3 funnel stages:
Every stage of the funnel has different marketing tactics and we’re going to discuss all of them.
1 Attract – Marketing tactics
The idea behind this step is to acquire customer information.
At this stage, we need a name, phone, and email – this way we can successfully provide customers additional value and ultimately convert them into customers.
Now the question is how do we acquire name, phone, and email addresses? – We have to give something in exchange. This is the key concept behind any lead generation tactic. We get customer information in return for some value. More value we can provide, the more leads we’re able to generate.
We have two sets of tactics when it comes to the attraction stage.
Organic and paid efforts:
- Organic is when people search for some information and find you.
- Paid is when we pay for your information to be shown on platforms such as Google, Facebook, and TikTok.
Organic attraction tactics
Before we dive deeper into organic tactics that don’t require any investment in a form of ad spend I have to explain what organic tactics will require.
Requirements & expectations
Organic channels are quite competitive because there’s a lot of information available on the internet and you shouldn’t expect that your blogs or videos will rank high immediately and attract hundreds of leads.
It will take 4-6 months before your start receiving meaningful traffic and up to a year when you might expect some clients from organic sources.
You need to invest time in creating content that will overperform your competitors. All organic channels require consistency and dedication.
Even if you’re not planning to become a local influencer it is important to produce some content from time to time because people will want to see your expertise online, therefore, organic tactics will work well with paid ads.
Here we have to think of:
- how people are searching for information online
- what they search for
- what platform do they use to search
How do I choose a platform?
Stay away from Facebook when it comes to organic tactics because their algorithms don’t work organically anymore, so it’s a not a good channel to post content. It works for paid ads only.
As you can imagine Google, Instagram, and TikTok are the most widely used platforms to consume information, therefore, will be the right choices for you.
Every channel has its own format – the way people consume information.
Even though it’s highly suggested to be on all platforms because this way you can cover as many people as possible, we know it’s not realistic time-wise.
You can hire a content creator or marketer to help you with the content creation and/or posting. But if you’re like the majority of realtors and don’t have time or resources just pick one platform.
Just think of a content format that you’re comfortable with. You have to understand this is a long-term game. Therefore, if you’re not comfortable with creating videos and don’t wanna spend time overcoming your fears of the camera you can stick with written content and place your bet on Google. If you don’t feel comfortable spending time writing content then stick with videos and pictures on Instagram and TikTok.
Organic platforms ranking for real estate agents in North America:
How do you come up with content ideas?
Look at competitors for inspiration but don’t copy them, try to create something unique that represents your brand and values.
Search for top-performing content pieces and try to improve them.
People will go for the most comprehensive content pieces that cover more information. Your content will always be unique because you will have your own delivery style.
Don’t try to copy someone else style because it won’t look authentic – try to find your own unique style.
Content creation is always a learning curve, don’t get discouraged by small results in the beginning. You invest in yourself, your personal brand. It takes time but it totally worth it.
The idea here is to create written content (blogs) that will rank on Google and appear when people search for it.
Good news – there are still a lot of people who prefer this format when it comes to serious topics such as real estate.
People rarely read online — they’re far more likely to scan than read word for word.nngroup.com
Due to the fast nature of the internet and the way people scan through the content think of including a lot of pictures and keep your content as simple as possible.
Start with competitive research and see what your competitors post to appear on the first page of Google. Be creative and provide more and better information than them.
Your blog articles have to be 1,500+ words long; that’s the only way you can outrank your competition. Go for in-depth comprehensive explanations for every topic, because people will want to find all the information in one place.
Try to go for niche topics, for example, posting about buying a house in specific neighborhoods. You can tell your audience about:
- type of property
- market trends
- leisure activities
- and of course specific listings
Long ago Instagram become a video posting platform, therefore I highly suggest you post more videos.
REELS (60-second videos)
The best performing format to attract new subscribers/profile visitors. These are vertical videos up to 60 seconds.
Instagram algorithm pushes this format the most, that’s why reels have the greatest potential to reach as many people as possible.
1-2 REELS a week would be a good idea.
Post images to keep people in your profile.
Consider pictures as your brand image – this is a converting tool. Reels are a good tool to get profile visitors and images help to convert them into followers.
Include in-depth written captions for your images to add extra value.
Try to post 1-2 images a week.
Stories are meant to engage with your followers. They will help you to convert profile followers into customers.
This is the most common format consumed by followers, people will more likely to watch your stories rather than the images you post.
This format will help you to gain trust. You should post about your daily routine to show your human side – it will help establish repo at scale.
Try to post 2-3 stories a day.
TikTok is the newest social media platform – video format only.
- Vertical videos only, up to 10 min only
- Dynamic video format – add captions and effects to videos – it has lots of creative tools
- Use trending videos
- You can use music and effects that you find on TikTok to create videos for yourself – it’s a TikTok feature
Some TikTok ideas:
- Show your daily routine
- Share inspirational content
- Share tips and tricks
- Show houses
- Before & after videos
The idea is to pay to appear in front of the desired audience. Every platform has different nuances, and we will discuss all of them.
Google – paid attraction
The oldest, most expensive, and competitive platform for real estate agents.
It is primarily famous for what marketers call pay-per-click advertising.
The concept is simple. Someone searches “best real estate agent new york” and your ad shows up in the search results. In this case, you pay for those people who clicked on your ad only.
Since the targeting is keyword-based, you have to know what your potential customers would search for – google calls these searches “keywords”.
Depending on the competition level, the cost will vary between $3 and $10. Expect to pay $20-$30 per lead.
Think about how your ideal customer would search for your business online, and what would they search for online. For example, you can target a broad audience including “best real estate agent new york” or more narrow once “downsizing real estate new york”.
You don’t need to guess what keywords to target because Google has the Keyword Planner tool where you can find what people are searching for, how often they search, and how much Google will charge for those keywords.
Facebook & Instagram – paid attraction
Facebook and Instagram are the biggest social media platforms in North America. The biggest advantage is a scale which makes it relatively easy to advertise because we have a wide range of people to reach with designated interests available for targeting.
Facebook has 179.65 million active users in US (Statista Jan 2022)
Instagram has 123.1 million active users in US (Stista Jan 2022)
With Facebook ads, you are paying for impressions (ad views), not clicks like on Google. With that being said, you are not only getting clicks and leads but also brand recognition and exposure.
It is important to note that when we mention Facebook Ads, we mean both Facebook and Instagram as we are able to advertise on both platforms simultaneously.
Facebook Ads Manager has been recently updated and now has a simplified campaign type selection. However, it might still be a little confusing when it comes to doing it for the first time.
Ultimately, for those real estate agents who are just starting with Facebook advertising, we suggest focusing on two main campaign types: Leads and Traffic
With the “Leads” campaign type, you are able to collect people’s contact information without sending them to your website – the whole process takes place on Facebook and/or Instagram.
Then your potential clients click on the ad, and a pop-up window appears asking for the contact information you are interested in.
When the contact information is submitted, users get a “Thank you” page with the desired action you’ve set up: website visit, call, or download
The “Traffic” campaign helps to send relevant traffic to your website. We suggest thinking about a traffic campaign as your branding ad, where you drive users to the website and make them browse around it. It is good to have several pages on the website like listings, guides, and blogs to keep people engaged.
In addition to those two campaign types, you can always consider using Engagement for videos and Awareness to reach as many people as possible without looking for them to take any action – it just helps to raise awareness around you and your brand.
If you are looking to re-engage with your website or page audiences (remarketing), we strongly suggest using the “Awareness” campaign selecting “Reach” goal to be able to show your ads to the same people over and over again until they are ready to make a transaction with you.
Lead campaigns will be generating leads without having a lead form on your website that’s why it would be the best solution for those who just starting first advertising for the first time.
In terms of targeting capabilities, Facebook Ads Manager is pretty good with this, even though, Special Ads Category has been introduced back in 2019 which limits some interests, age, and city minimum radius.
The good news is that Facebook not only takes your interests into consideration but also scans your ad copy and shows your ad to those people who might be the most interested in your offer.
TikTok – paid attraction
If you have mastered Facebook Ads Manager, you will find TikTok Ads Manager extremely similar to what you’ve already experienced. TikTok has the same campaign types, interface, and process overall.
Similar to Facebook Ads Manager, you have the ability to select both Lead Generation and Traffic campaigns as well as Reach.
Unfortunately, the targeting capabilities are not strong enough when compared to Facebook Ads Manager.
You won’t be able to target “real estate” interests. Instead, you should be more educated about what your ideal client might be interested in along with real estate.
For example, let’s pretend that we are trying to reach moms with at least one child who might be interested in purchasing a property in the future.
Along with selecting the right age bracket – 35+, we know that most moms are interested in Cooking, DIY, and Crafts – and TikTok allows us to select these interests and behaviors.
With TikTok ads, it is less obvious how to find the right interests to target but like any other platform, you should be ready to go through the learning curve path and spend some extra money until you will be able to understand what your winning interest combination is.
2 Step – Marketing tactics to convert
Congratulations, you start receiving your first leads, but it’s only half of the journey because now we have to convert them into paying customers.
Usually, it takes 3-6 months for people to make a decision, so we have to stay in touch with them somehow.
Remember, the key here is to keep providing value in your communications without annoying them. Think about what you can deliver to them more than anyone else has.
CRM – emails and texts
CRM stands for customer relationship management – these platforms are meant to build repo at scale.
They have plenty of features that will help you to provide value at scale.
Usually, we don’t need all features provided by these platforms. Emails, text messages, and landing pages are the key features we need in Real Estate.
How to choose a CRM for you?
Obviously, you have something provided to you by your brokerage. The prices vary between $50 and $300 a month depending on functionality and the number of users you can store.
Aim for the platforms that have plans with an unlimited number of contacts you can store and flexible integrations with all other platforms.
You’ll need to connect your CRM to the lead generation sources so the system works automatically, because as you can imagine it can be quite a tedious process of importing every lead manually.
Every CRM has workflows or email sequence features where you set up the automation process of sending emails to your leads.
You set up emails and time gaps between them, how often do you want to send them. I suggest sending emails:
- every two days in the first couple of weeks
- and then switching to weekly further on
Set up your email sequence depending on what type of lead you have, and have your campaigns in a way where they can be tagged in the CRM automatically, so you send relevant emails to interested customers and don’t blast sellers with buyer emails.
Generally speaking, there are two types of email sequences – buyer and seller sequences. But you should get more niche if you’re generating “downsizers” for example.
Have relevant emails for every campaign you have.
Text messages are a great way to engage with your potential customers as well.
But, be careful with this tactic, you don’t want to be seen as a pushy realtor who is just looking for a sale.
It’s a good practice to send a text message when they just submit a lead form and then follow up once a month.
It’s a very common tactic to hire some agency or a VA to set appointments for you, usually, they charge on average $5 per lead.
They promise to follow up with potential customers multiple times to pre-qualify them.
Make sure your ISA follow-ups align with your emails and text messages prepared in the CRM.
Either after the ISA pre-qualification process or right after people submit information online you need to call leads and offer a consultation.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because you know better how to establish trust over a phone call.
From the data we have from hundreds of agents I must say it is highly recommended to try to give a call within the first hour after they submitted contact information through lead forms.
Remarketing paid campaigns
These types of advertising campaigns are meant to re-engage and remind potential customers about your brand and services.
Keep them in an educational format where you keep delivering some value.
Vide campaigns will be a great way to follow up with leads at scale. Every advertising platform mentioned above will have traffic or reach campaigns to create remarketing for you.
You have to make sure you set up Pixel before you launch lead generation campaigns to collect data and be able to remarket people down the line.
Marketing tactics to delights
Budget for lead generation
We have to set the right expectations here because as I mentioned before the competition level is high. I always suggest allocating at least $500-600 a month to spend on your ads to keep the visibility level and show up more often than your competitors.
You should be able to spend $500-600 for the next 4-6 months to start seeing the conversion from your ads. It simply takes time to convince people and we need to keep our brand on top of their minds.
In the current market you expect $4-6 for buyer lead and $30 for the seller lead, so plan your marketing funnel accordingly.
You can expect a conversion rate between 1-4% from all the incoming leads, so you can calculate your bottom line depending on your average sale price and commission.
On top of lead generation, you’ll need to pay for a few tools such as CRM ($100-200 a month).
ISA services cost
ISA services will cost you $5 per lead, so see for yourself if it makes sense to pre-qualify leads yourself or hire someone else. Both systems will work.
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Measurement for lead generation
Depending on the tactics that we’re using for every stage, we define our metrics to measure it.
Sometimes the tactics that work for one agent don’t work for another. So we need to have a clear measurement strategy in place, how do we define success in every step?
Measurement isn’t the most exciting part of the overall journey but we still need to talk about it because you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Measurement attraction (lead generation)
We need to have some measurement approach for the lead gen attraction stage and for the conversion as well.
You can measure campaign performance on respected platforms.
You have to focus on these 3 metrics:
- CPL – cost per lead, measure campaigns depending on this metric, of course, you want to have CPL as low as possible
- CTR – click-through rate, measures how people are willing to click on your ads, it shows the quality of your advertising campaigns
- Number of Leads – obviously, you have to measure how many leads you are generating, more is better
As you can imagine many potential customers will want to visit your website to see who you are and what your brand is about. That’s very typical behavior for online leads, how else can people find more information about you?
You should be able to see what sort of actions people perform on your website, where they are coming from, what pages they visit, and how much time they spend on them. The best way to measure these metrics would be to install Google analytics on your website. It’s a piece of code that can be placed on your website.
Every CRM has some sort of measurement tool in place. The idea here is to measure your conversion rate, and how many leads became your customers.
Tool to ease your life
Obviously, you can go straight to setting up your campaigns on Ads.Facebook.com, but there is an official Facebook partner that can make your life easier.
If you wanna save time and optimize your lead gen for better returns there are a couple of tools that you can use.
AgentGo – is a lead generation platform that helps you to create lead gen ads on Facebook & Instagram for realtors.
It gets connected to your Facebook, Instagram, and CRM accounts and creates ads.
It has ready-to-go templates, images, audiences, and built-in analytics.
It has proven templates for sellers, buyers, investors, and tenants. You don’t need any marketing knowledge to create successful lead generation campaigns because the platform will guide you through every step of your journey.
Easy to use dashboards to track your performance. So you don’t need to waste time figuring out what numbers you should look at, we gather and visualize metrics that matter.
Wanna personalize your ads and make them even more impactful – no problem, because AgentGo has easy-to-use ad customization tools.
You don’t know how to set up targeting and what interests to choose from — AgentGo has ready-to-use Audiences that you can leverage for your real estate business.
Overall AgentGo is the most effective tool out there to get leads for your business and run any other real estate ad campaigns. You can connect it to your CRM or any other tool.
You will receive a 14-day trial right from the start, it should be more than enough to get leads. Try to work through them and then decide for yourself if you should continue the subscription.
The best thing here is that it costs $16 only a month for the annual subscription and $40 a month if you go month by month.