I have talked to A LOT of real estate agents and they all would like to get more leads from their websites. Some just have that as a goal with no plan and some have embraced highly detailed sales funnels that are driving hundreds of leads of month.
This post is going to go over the steps of making your real estate website a lead generating machine that spits out prospects for your real estate business at the other end!
I Call Bullshit
Before we get started I would like to address something that may be making you sad. Cruising Facebook the other day I was shown an ad for real estate agents that was touting getting 40 listing leads a day.
Hmmm let's think about that. If you live in town of say 20,000 people and half the people own their homes instead of renting, then there are potentially 10,000 people who have houses that could potentially be for sale.
And then let's use the “normal” rate of sale that homes go up for sale every 7 years. That means that each year there are about 1,400 available to be sold.
That means that on any given day in a year there are 3.8 potential homes for sale in your ENTIRE marketplace if you got every one of them. Heck let's say I am wrong and there are twice as many as I think. That means that every day there are potentially 8 homes that are available to list.
This makes that “find 40 homes a day to list” hype seem a little silly doesn't it?
One way that you could get a good idea of how many homes for sale are in your marketplace is to check and see how many homes closed last year and divide that number by 365 days.
Now, if you live in a big city that number could be higher, but most agents or even teams don't cover ALL of New York or ALL of LA. So do your “solds last year” for just the area you actually work!
Related Post: 5 Website Killing Mistakes Most Real Estate Agents Make
How Internet Marketing Works For Real Estate Agents
So now we are going to get into the meat of what internet marketing is. It is when you have a website where you are trying to collect leads from people who are currently or potentially going to be buying or selling real estate in your marketplace.
This is probably NOT going to be your company website because you wouldn't want to do a ton of work and then change brokers or have a big change in how they do websites. Most marketing websites today are built on WordPress with some kind of theme or template.
Now, this will probably not look as much like a Realtor website as you are used to. It will not have the big “search for homes” bar down the middle and instead will be an a “regular” site that can help give people more information about your local area, PLUS buying and selling real estate.
The next part of it is that it collects email addresses so that you can contact people later. These email addresses go into some kind of database (more about this later).
This is an example of a Realtor website that has internet marketing. Deb Ward of Clearwater has a button on her site that is trying to get FSBOs to contact her for information!
Once a person clicks on that link, they go to a “sales page” where Deb talks about what they will be getting and then there is a form they can fill out to sign up for her offer.
After that they get a series of emails with videos that “introduce” them to Deb and walk them through some common things that FSBOs have to deal with like pricing, absorption rate, showings, offers and condition.
Those people go into Deb's database are available to prospect as a warm lead who you know is selling For Sale By Owner, or at least thinking about it.
Step #1 – Functionally You Need A Database To Start
So before you get all worked up about doing internet marketing you need to pick a database to use. These are sometimes called CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) or email marketing platforms.
The linchpin of your internet marketing efforts is to get people into your database so that you can market to them for weeks, months or years until they are ready to buy or sell real estate.
There are great “realtor databases” out there like Top Producer and Wise Agent, but those are actually for working real estate agents to use with real prospects and actual clients.
They track transactions and are great for doing your “real” work, but they are not really marketing databases.
A marketing database should do some really important things:
1. Collect leads easily from the internet via forms that you can put on your website
2. Sort people into different types using tags or lists
3. Send emails out using autoresponders or specific marketing campaigns
They are meant to be catch-alls for anyone who might be interested in something you have to offer, not a collection of contacts that you are actively involved with.
Pro tip: With this in in mind, I suggest that if you are doing “internet marketing” for your real estate business you have a second marketing database for lead gen and only move a contact to your “real” database if they have expressed an interest in working with you!
Some databases that I or my clients have used and can recommend are:
Convertkit – This is the one I use now. It is easy to use, cheaper than Infusionsoft and does drip campaigns and newsletters easily. (affiliate link)
Infusionsoft – The one I used to use and is a REALLY big, unweildy beast that is for a hard core internet marketer! Sometimes called “confusionsoft”, this one is more than any but the largest teams need!
Get Response – My email gal says that she likes it a lot and it is pretty easy to use.
Active Campaign – This one is used and recommended by a bunch of my internet marketing friends.
Aweber – Not my favorite because it doesn't have the complex campaign parts but lots of internet marketers use it when they get started.
Things To Watch Out For
There are some email providers out there that seem much cheaper but which don't have or allow all things you will need for your marketing efforts.
For example, just this week one of my clients who was using MailChimp got her account shut down because they thought she was doing marketing campaigns instead of just newsletters (she was). They don't want you to do hard core marketing on their service.
Some will not let you input people you meet in person. Aweber only allows people to be added from the internet.
Constant Contact's web forms are terrible and their double opt in is super confusing to people who want to join your list.
Step #2 – Now You Need Something To Send
There are hundreds of names for what you use to get people into your database… bribe, lead magnet, free offer are some you might have heard. We are going to go with “bribe” to make things easy. Bribes all things that people would want to get from you like:
- A Free Guide to Staging Your Home To Sell Faster
- 5 Ways To Sell Fast and Make The Most Money
- 7 Sneaky Realtor Secrets You Need To Know When Buying A House
- Why You Might Be Overpaying For That New Home You Want
- Free FSBO Cheat Sheet – Tips For Having A Successful Home Sale
For each of these you are targeting a potential type of customer. For example, buyers would want home buying guides, information about neighborhoods and how to shop for a home. Sellers want to know how to sell fast for the most money, what they need to do to get their house in shape and if they really should try to sell FSBO.
Wait! I can hear some of you thinking right now, “Why should I give all of that away for free? Won't that mean they don't need me anymore?”
Well, there is a funny thing that happens when you give away your best stuff for free. People start to like and trust you. They want to work with the person that already helped them and the best part of it is that you are “helping” them with automation instead of your time!
Step #3 – Sending “Stuff” Out
Now you have something to send, you need to set up a campaign that will make this happen automatically. I am going to show you what this would look like in Infusionsoft, but they all work mostly the same way.
For this example there are:
- Sources of traffic
- A sign up form that is filled out and which starts the campaign
- A series of followup emails that go out with the bribe that Deb promised
- Finally a task to call the FSBO after the campaign is done so that Deb can talk to them in person
There are 4 emails in the FSBO sequence that makes the potential listing like Deb more!
I KNOW, that seems really easy now that you see it in action! And it is that easy. The hard part is making sure that you have something great to give away and that your followup emails or videos are amazing.
If you are just going to send out boilerplate information that they can get anywhere, they will unsubscribe in a hot minute or even worse, mark your messages as spam. You HAVE to make sure that what you give them is so good they would be willing to pay for it, even though they are getting it for free!
Step #4 – Getting People To Your Bribe
So now you know how to set up the mechanics, YAY! But how the heck can you get people to sign up for your offer?
- Google SEO – If you have a popular site that gets lots of traffic, there will be people ready to sign up for what you have!
- Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – You should make banners that you can share on your social media for free that will help people find your offer.
- Paid Facebook Ads – One of the best things for real estate agents about Facebook ads is that you can target only very small sections of people like homeowners and people who live in a tiny geographic region. You can see if someone is a newlywed (first time home buyers) or if they have high school seniors (empty nest sellers).
- Paid Pinterest Ads – Pinterest is much less targeted but your ads keep working for you long after you are done paying for them! You can post your banner link and pay for people to see it and pin to their boards.
- Direct Mail – Mailing into a neighborhood using Every Door Direct and offering one of your bribes that is relevant is a great way to do super low cost, effective marketing for listings.
- Flyers at Open Houses – When you are right there in front of a real live human being, that is a great time to tell them about the amazing thing that you have to offer and have them give you the information to get them signed up!
- Paid Google Ads – Google's ad revenue has continued to fall over the years, but it is still a great way to show up in search if you are not the first or second website option organically.
Internet Marketing For Real Estate Agents Wrapup
Well there you have it! All my best info about how to do “real” internet marketing.
My wildest hope is that hundreds (heck even thousands) of you will start to understand that there is no “realtor marketing” only “marketing”. This marketing technique has worked since the dawn of time when companies like Jello gave away cookbooks or car companies gave away maps.
People love to get things for free and you are now perfectly positioned to make yourself the “go to guy” for something in your marketplace!