What is real estate lead generation?

Real estate lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects interested in using your services to rent, buy or sell a house or property.

With the ever-expanding reach of digital media, realtors must think of lead generation in terms of inbound and outbound marketing:

  • Inbound marketing attracts prospects to your real estate business through the creation and promotion of relevant content. Inbound marketing activities include content marketing, social-media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and online advertising. Gather a lot of useful information on generating sales qualified leads with digital marketing from our post, How to Generate Leads that Generate Sales.
  • Outbound marketing is the more traditional approach. Here, real estate professionals use tactics such as direct mail, telemarketing, and event marketing to generate real estate leads.

Where buyers found the home they purchased

Source: 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Successful real estate marketing strategies use both inbound and outbound marketing tactics. Let’s dive into some of the best real estate lead generation strategies proven to work online and off.

Strategies for Generating Real Estate Leads for Realtors

Inbound Strategies for Generating Real Estate Leads

1. Personal brand website

Real estate agents must not assume that a single page profile provided by a broker creates a sufficient, or effective, online presence. Agents must create and develop a personal brand through their websites. A personally-branded website gives you the platform for establishing credibility, collecting leads, and providing clients with helpful content.

A few years ago, the National Association of REALTORS® found 82% of agents who made more than $150,000 had their own websites.

2. Landing pages

When visitors arrive on your real estate website, present them with a landing page built to prompt a specific action, such as:

  • Book an appointment
  • Determine the value of your home
  • Download a buying guide
  • Sign-up for a newsletter

The objective of the landing page need not be limited to the list above. The idea is to create a page without the usual trappings of a homepage to target different types of visitors and capture higher quality leads.

3. Local SEO

Have you used a phone book lately? Do you even have one? You use search instead, as do your prospective clients. So, it’s critical to employ local SEO best practices to have your website appear when people search for real estate agents.

Google map pack

A critical component of real estate lead generation requires optimizing your website and ‘Google My Business’ page so that they are presented when people search for relevant keywords.

4. Community pages

Buyers considering moving into a new area research not only the market at large, but specific communities as well. Create community pages to position your website as the go-to resource for your area. Community pages can cover topics such as climate, demographics, schools, public services, local businesses and more.

Community page example

Note how this site offers would-be buyers the option to gather valuable insights about a long list of Austin communities.

5. Pay-per-click (PPC)

A sizable percentage of real estate buyers and sellers begin the process online, often via a search engine. It’s far from easy, however, to win a spot at the top of search results pages. With paid search programs — including Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) — you buy instant prominence on the page and pay for the ad only when it’s clicked.

6. Retargeting/remarketing

Retargeting, or remarketing, presents digital ads to people who have previously visited your website. People who’ve shown an interest in your content or services are more prone to become quality leads when they return. Consider making your retargeting strategy highly targeted, based on specific criteria, and customized to each stage of the buyer cycle with relevant offers.

7. Social media advertising

It’s no secret that your buyers spend time on social media. The numbers indicate that Facebook and Instagram are the two leading places where you can connect with them. Paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram is often cost-effective. These networks have an enormous amount of valuable data, which enables you to target your ads to specific audiences with specific interests.

8. Native advertising

Native advertising is a less intrusive form of advertising. It differs from old-fashioned digital banner ads by blending in with the page content. While native advertising applies to search and social networks, realtors can also take advantage of the enormous reach of discovery ads.

Discovery networks, such as Taboola, place ads on large publishers’ and news’ sites. The ads tend to appear next to or following editorial content and contain phrases such as, ‘recommended stories,’ ‘sponsored,’ or ‘you may also like.’

Berlin Estates, for example, leveraged the power of content marketing to educate potential investors about security and legitimate benefits for purchasing real estate.

Berlin Estates used Taboola's Discovery networks

9. Social media marketing (organic)

While social media advertising presents a fast track to winning leads, you can also secure leads via social media organically. On Facebook, or your network of choice, continuously feature photos and videos of your listings, offer insights about your market, and engage with your followers regularly.

10. Content marketing

The formula for driving traffic to your website to generate leads — without buying media— is to publish content, a.k.a. content marketing. Real estate companies and agents that succeed with content marketing focus on answering questions and helping prospects solve problems.

In the realty business, content marketers focus on publishing articles, blog posts, infographics and videos. Most forms of content, however, are in play. This includes research, eBooks, guides, interactive content (such as calculators and quizzes) and other types of lead magnets.

In whatever form it’s offered, valuable content provides the bedrock for the advertising, search, and social lead generation strategies we are reviewing here.

Content marketing example

This realtor in Santa Barbara provides visitors with a range of relevant, helpful content for those considering buying property in the California beach city.

11. Chatbots and live chat

Visitors to your website (or Facebook page) are often more prone to chat than call or fill out a form. Live chat is an attractive and engaging option, and an automated chatbot can also engage visitors and help service prospects.

chatbot on Facebook Here’s a chatbot at work on a Facebook page. Broker Renee Hillman offers four options to help pre-qualify website visitors and generate leads.

12. Email marketing

I’m reluctant to place email marketing in the inbound marketing bucket, because the action takes place after capturing a lead. That said, I’m reluctant to leave it off this list, because email marketing plays such a big role in converting leads to customers. ‘The money is in the list,’ so they say.

Develop an email list by capturing addresses via landing pages, forms, and pop-ups that offer valuable content. Then, you can put automated email-marketing programs in place to send just about any type of content. The idea is to move recipients forward in the process. The more you can segment, or even personalize, your correspondence, the more successful your email marketing will be.

Outbound Ideas for Generating Real Estate Leads

Let’ s look at more traditional real estate lead gen strategies that are the most meaningful for successful professionals:

1. Print

Traditional print marketing still plays a role in your success. Print-based strategies include:

  • Business cards
  • Marketing collateral
  • Direct mail
  • Door hangers
  • Yard signs
  • Property flyers

2. Networking (see get referrals)

‘It’s who you know.’ Heard that one before? Network, network and network some more:

  • Join professional real-estate organizations to network with other agents.
  • Consider the Rotary Club, the Young Professionals Association and other groups that promote professional growth.
  • Join your local chamber of commerce.
  • Join forces with other business owners with the goal of helping each other win business.
  • Build contacts through friends, family and business relationships.
  • Network and build relationships with real estate agents outside your area. When people have to relocate to your area, for example, those national realtors can refer their clients to you.

3. Open houses

Of course, you want to collect contact information and generate real estate leads at open house events. Develop systems to promote your open houses and attract visitors.

4. FSBOs

‘For sale by owner’ (FSBO) listings may struggle to sell. Find FSBO leads via Craigslist and Zillow and make your case for how owners can sell faster and command a higher price by using your services.

And then some…

Here are even more lead generation strategies you might consider…

  • Run print advertising
  • Run outdoor advertising
  • Create a Zillow listing
  • Collect testimonials
  • Deliver advice via online forums
  • Create rewarding referral programs
  • Sponsor local events, teams and organizations
  • Offer webinars and seminars
  • Write for local magazines
  • Stay in touch with past clients

Commercial Real Estate Lead Generation Ideas

When it comes to commercial real estate, here are several examples of how companies have deployed a variety of tactics to generate more leads.

1. Saved Searches

Not only does commercial real estate company LoopNet offer a convenient way to search in your area for available commercial spaces, but they also offer the ability to save your search in exchange for setting up a free membership.

This function is convenient for the person looking to buy or rent space, but it’s also a great tool to generate a lead and already their location, goals with buying/renting, and their role in the real estate process. This also gives the ability to recommend listings specifically for them.

Saved Search feature

2. Email Lists 

Creating blog posts, trends and insights reports, and more industry-specific content is a great way to add value to the lives of potential commercial real estate clients, but a great way to leverage that content to generate leads is to create an email newsletter.

JLL does exactly that by offering readers of their trends & insights content the ability to sign up to have it sent right into their inboxes.

subscription option on the website

In doing so, they’re able to continue to provide value and solidify their knowledge and thought leadership while gaining the email address of an interested party.

3. Branding on Buildings

Anyone who lives basically anywhere with buildings knows this one. When a commercial space becomes available to buy or rent, nothing catches the eye of an interested passersby than a clear display of who is in charge of selling or renting the space.

Be sure to include, in large font, the name of the commercial real estate firm, the name of the agent(s) on the property, a phone number and/or email where interested parties can reach out, as well as social handles when relevant.

4. Social Media

Turning to social channels to talk to an audience of buyers and sellers, especially on LinkedIn, is a great way to show personality and entice leads to stick to lead magnets. Take this example from Newmark Knight Frank:

Social Media post example

Not only does this post inject personality, but it also invites potential leads to reach out, express their interest in a trends report, and likely exchange information in order to receive it. 

Want to learn how Taboola generates leads for two international real estate developers?

Read this post about doubling lead quality for real estate customers.

Here’s a collection of additional articles we’ve published on topics related to lead generation for real estate agents:

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