The 15 Best Real Estate Lead Generation Ideas & Strategies
June 23, 2023
Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, News, Real Estate CRM, Real Estate Marketing
The 15 Best Real Estate Lead Generation Ideas & Strategies
The difference between success and failure in the real estate industry often doesn’t come down to how well you close. Instead, what it’s really about is how well you generate leads.
Lead generation is the bread and butter of the real estate industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, you’ll always need to know how to find, attract, and nurture new leads who want to work with you. In fact, it’s so important that we’ve touched on this topic before, but this time we’re going to take an even closer look.
Let’s explore what goes into effective real estate lead generation ideas, then discuss how you can make them work for you.
What Is Real Estate Lead Generation?
Lead generation refers to the strategies you use to find new clients, reach out to them, and get them interested in working with you. In short, it is any way you generate new business.
While most real estate professionals likely already know this, many of them are still defining lead generation far too narrowly. They think of it as just pitching their services to prospects or trying to attract potential buyers to a house. Although these are certainly valid (and we’ll even discuss how you can use Sierra to make them more effective below), lead generation has come to encompass so much more.
For instance, anything that markets your brand or general expertise can now be counted as quality lead generation. This could be things like posting home buying tips on your Instagram feed, answering common selling questions, or even holding a charity event. In this day and age, anything that grows your potential audience and instills trust can be thought of as a lead generation strategy.
After all, you’re not just trying to sell property – what you’re really doing is selling your business.
High-level Tips for Real Estate Lead Generation
There are lots of strategies for generating real estate leads, but first, here is some general advice to remember as you start working out your strategy:
- Be creative: The most successful real estate agents will be the ones who are always willing to try new things to find and nurture new leads. Don’t rely on just the traditional tactics. Try to come up with new ways to reach out to audiences that may be neglected, or to get your name to rise above others in the industry. Be willing to try anything.
- Mix it up: The best lead generation strategy is the one that uses a variety of tactics to get your brand out. This means combining both online and offline strategies, as well as tried-and-true tactics with more risky ones. Keep testing out what works best for your personality, budget, and market until you land on a mix that generates results.
- Analyze results: Using technology to look closer at your lead generation strategy can help you determine what is actually working best for you. This can be tough to do by feel alone, especially when the average conversion rate hovers around only 1 percent. With those numbers, anything can feel like a win. But using specialized tools to analyze your strategy can help you consider important factors such as your cost per lead and ROI, which can help you focus your efforts where they’ll make the most impact.
- Don’t give up: Lead generation can be challenging in even the most forgiving markets – and downright discouraging when those markets take a turn. But you never know who’s paying attention to your efforts or where your next lead may come from. Even when it seems like things are going well, you should remember to continue trying new things and reaching out to new prospects. Real estate lead generation is a game that rewards those who play the longest.
Real Estate Lead Generation Strategies
The sky really is the limit when it comes to generating ideas for real estate leads. That said, below is a good mix of some of our favorite traditional strategies, as well as some newer digital strategies and even some outside-the-box strategies you may not have thought of before.
When putting together your own lead generation approach, just remember to try to think about which blend of strategies will work best for both your market and budget, as well as your own personal strengths. We may think door knocking is an effective approach, but that doesn’t mean you should do it if you can’t stand the idea.
And don’t forget to also have a strategy in place once you start collecting your leads. A CRM that can automatically move leads through your funnel and manage your relationships can help ensure you never miss out on an opportunity.
1. Work Your Sphere of Influence
Your sphere of influence (SOI) refers to your network of personal and professional contacts. They could be friends, former coworkers, classmates, other industry professionals, vendors, and so on – basically anyone you’ve developed a trusting relationship with. The simple fact of knowing you can make them much more likely to overcome any initial hesitations they may have about buying or selling a home will put you one step closer to a sale.
Of particular value is your past client sphere of influence (PCSOI), or people you’ve previously helped purchase or sell a home. While the average length of homeownership hovers around 13 years, there are many markets where it’s common for people to move much sooner. Some may even be ready after five or six years. And when that happens, you’ll want to be sure you’re the first on their list to help them out.
2. Attend Networking Events
Don’t have a wide SOI? Whether you’re just launching your real estate career or are trying to break into a new market, the best way to start expanding your pool of potential high-quality leads is to put yourself out there and start networking.
Networking events are everywhere once you start looking for them. For example, your local chamber of commerce can be a great place to start meeting other local members of the community. Look out for social events, speaking engagements, or other group events they’re putting on. Likewise, if there’s a convention center that regularly hosts business events, this could also be a great place to meet people. Or, if you have kids in school, don’t forget to bring a few business cards with you next time you go to a PTA meeting. You never know who you may run into.
3. Host Open Houses
Open houses have long been a staple of real estate lead generation. They’re a great way to attract potential buyers from all over with very little effort. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. For instance, one of the biggest headaches can be turning a visitor into an active lead. You could print out some informative brochures and hope they contact you, or even ask them to fill out a sign-up sheet, but that may still involve too much friction.
Instead, try introducing a digital element to this traditional analog approach. Using the Sierra Open House Form, you can easily capture and register leads all at once.
Host open houses to attract potential buyers and collect their contact information. Just present them with a phone or tablet and have them fill in their details. Once they click submit, they’ll be registered as a lead on your account.
Even better, you can easily turn any property listing page into an Open House Form by adding a keyword to the end of a URL. For example, “/openhouse” will create a form you can use to register multiple types of leads with one link, while “/buyer-openhouse” can be used to create a buyer-specific form.
4. Create an IDX Lead Generation Website
IDX (Internet Data Exchange) real estate websites have become a great way to promote listings. They not only give people a comprehensive and up-to-date resource for looking at properties, they also allow them to do research independently, which nearly half of today’s buyers now prefer. This makes them excellent places to generate quality leads.
But in order to turn visitors to your IDX website, you’ll have to do more than just slap a lead gen form on there. With Sierra, you can get much more granular by tailoring just how you present a lead capture form. If visitors are coming from a PPC ad, for example, it could be a good idea to allow the listing to be viewed after they register. After all, they clicked on an ad, which probably means they have more of an incentive.
If visitors arrived at the site directly, you could choose several different options instead, such as requiring them to register to look at any non-featured listings, or only displaying a registration form if they look at multiple listings, among other options. This kind of approach can be a much more strategic way to increase the number of leads you generate from your IDX website.
5. Send Direct Mail Campaigns
While some real estate professionals may think of direct mail campaigns as too traditional or old fashioned, this lead generation strategy has stuck around for a reason: it works. When sent to the right leads at the right time, the ROI of direct mailers can be as high as 29 percent. Not only that, but they can also be a great way of reaching potential sellers and buyers you may not be able to otherwise.
Plus, with a little creativity, direct mailers can be an effective way of instilling trust. Rather than just sending out a postcard or brochure with your listings, for instance, you could promote local businesses by mailing renters or new neighbors lists of recommended plumbers, electricians, contractors, and other handyman services they might find useful. Make it a magnet they can stick to their fridge and they’ll be able to see your face every day. There’s not much better advertising than that.
6. Use PPC Advertising Campaigns
PPC (pay-per-click) is a type of digital advertising in which you only pay for the number of times an advertisement gets clicked on. With the ability to target these ads toward different demographics and other subgroups, these ads can be a much more cost-efficient and effective way to generate leads. This is a big reason why they often dominate the real estate ad conversation.
While PPC ads exist across the internet, Google and Facebook are the largest marketplaces for them. Learning how to optimize your ad campaigns across these websites takes time, which is why it can be worth it to rely on a management service. Sierra makes this part easy with comprehensive PPC management services for both Google and Facebook. We can keep your ads constantly up-to-date with dynamic retargeting, build automated carousel ads with your active listings, and update you daily with performance data – among many other services.
7. Take Advantage of Facebook
Facebook deserves a special call out when it comes to lead generation. Although Google PPC ads offer an arguably larger potential audience, as well as a powerful set of targeting tools, Facebook comes with the benefit of active communities that you can tap into.
We’ve previously written about how you can utilize specific interest groups within Facebook to your advantage – but there’s no reason this can’t work the other way too. Find groups where your real estate knowledge could be useful. Perhaps a local DIY group could benefit from what you know on building codes, or an urban planning group might want to hear from you when it comes to local development issues. Getting known as a helpful resource and building your own personal list of contacts can be a creative shortcut to collecting leads.
8. Host Community Events
Hosting community events works the same as networking, except you get to set the tone and structure of the event. Plus, you get all the credit and appreciation for pulling it off. When successful, the goodwill that can come from this can go a long way.
This is your chance to really start thinking outside the box. What kind of event could you throw that will grab people’s attention (and get them talking)? Renting out a movie theater or throwing a Fourth of July picnic are generous offerings that could give you ample time to talk to visitors. You could also host a charity event. One fun idea is a karma keg. You rent out a brewery or bar, charge a fee for entrance, then donate the money you collect to a local charity. You could even hold a competition, where the winner gets to choose their charity.
Events like this not only garner goodwill, but will also earn you a healthy amount of engagement across your social media accounts.
9. Start a Blog or Podcast*
If you have the expertise and appetite for it, using a blog or podcast to position yourself as a market expert can be a great way to attract extra attention, earn trust, and generate leads. Before jumping into this strategy, just be sure to take a moment to see what others in the field are doing. Are there other prominent real estate bloggers or podcasters in your area? Is there a niche you can carve out for yourself? What kind of unique value can you bring?
Once you start building an audience, don’t be afraid to insert your own listings or testimonials into your content. Using a CRM that comes with its own CMS can make this process seamless while helping you capitalize on SEO. People will come for your advice, but stick around for your properties.
10. Leverage Testimonials and Reviews
A powerful testimonial can be more impactful than the most effective sales pitch. That’s because, in the world of real estate, it all comes down to trust. People want to know their agent is honest and will work hard for them. Nothing is better than telling them that than the words of a past client.
But don’t expect these clients to offer their reviews to you. In order to collect some good testimonials that will attract leads, you’ll have to ask for them. Reach out to previous clients to see if they’re willing. Give them a prompt to make this process easier, something like “What did you like most about working with me?” And, in order to make their participation even more likely, ask them to keep it short and simple, no more than a few sentences.
Once you have it in hand, display your testimonial front and center on your website. Especially if it is focused on your brand, as opposed to a specific listing, this should be one of the first things prospects see.
11. Engage in Outbound Cold Calling
Real estate cold calling has remained an effective lead generation tool for years. Even as newer strategies like PPC ads and email campaigns take the spotlight, cold calling is still a reliable way to reach out to potential clients and start a conversation. While it can take practice to perfect, as well as a good script, the results will speak for themselves.
Of course, even the best real estate cold callers will have to dial a lot of prospects before finding the right ones. It’s a game of numbers. To make this process less painful, it’s smart to use an integrated dialer. Sierra’s dialer can leverage the lists of qualified leads your team has already compiled, then automatically assign each lead to the right agent based on their qualifications. Other options include the ability to route calls, leave ringless voicemails, and conduct instant calls.
12. Promote Local Businesses to Increase Referral
Oftentimes, it’s not the real estate agent with access to the MLS who hears about a new listing first – it’s the plumber who just saw the owner’s flooded basement or the contractor who told them they need a new roof. Developing relationships with local businesses like this can give you an edge over other Realtors by serving as an extra set of eyes and ears. Plus, once you start recommending quality businesses to your clients, chances are they’ll start mentioning how helpful you are, too.
So how can you start developing these relationships and promoting their services? If you don’t already have a network built up, ask your own clients who they rely on. This could take the form of an online survey or just a social media post. Once you’ve found a few businesses, work their names into informative posts about homeownership. You could interview a house painter and share their top five tips on choosing a new color for your home. Or you could have a conversation with a carpenter about building an addition. Again, this is your chance to be creative.
13. Work With Divorce, Bankruptcy, and Probate Attorneys
Sometimes people sell or buy a new home because their family is growing, but the reasons can also be less fortunate. Situations like divorce, bankruptcy, and a death in the family are some of the trickier lead generation opportunities. These people are in vulnerable situations. Regardless, they may need a new home, which is where you can help.
Tread lightly when it comes to working with these distressed sellers or buyers. Be patient and give them more time to think through what they want to do. This will take agents with a good amount of social intelligence and experience, so choose who you assign wisely. The end goal shouldn’t necessarily be to make as much profit as possible, but to help out your client in their time of need. Once you get them into their new home, the word of mouth this generates may even provide you with a long-term lead gen lift.
14. Start Door Knocking
Door knocking, like cold calling, can be intimidating for many people, but it’s been a tried-and-true lead gen method for years. A big reason for this is that it immediately personalizes an experience that is often done from afar. You get to meet your prospects in person, and they get to see your face – as well as your gumption – right outside their front door.
But how do you get door knocking right without coming across as your standard door-to-door salesman? First, get your timing right. Avoid any times that are too early or too late. That will mean you’ll be walking the neighborhood when most people are at work – and that’s okay. Turn that into an opportunity to leave an informative flier on the door. If they are home, try to keep the conversation short and to the point.
And if they don’t seem happy you’re there, let them know you’re always a phone call away before wrapping it up. Who knows? They might just change their mind once they give it some thought.
15. Create Video Tours
Finally, don’t forget about video tours. Although they have become a standard tool for real estate agents across the country, there’s no one way to make them. At their most basic, these give your prospects a quick peek into one or more of your properties, allowing them to check it out from the comfort of their couch. Level it up some and you can use them to get them excited about not only seeing the property (or, if they’re a seller, getting you to film their house), but working with you and your team.
When starting out, consider how much budget you’re willing to invest in your tours. You’ll want to set a standard tone across all of your tours in order to establish your brand, so don’t get too lavish at the beginning if you can’t sustain it. Also consider your audience. Budget shoppers may be put off by too flashy of a tour and instead just want something that’s simpler and informative. For more expensive properties, you may be able to get away with the fancy drone shot.
And don’t forget to promote these videos in your ads and link to your listing website – preferably with a lead gen form.
How Sierra can enhance your lead generation strategies
Real estate lead gen is a big topic with room for your most creative ideas. That’s why we’ve built a real estate lead generation and management solution powerful and comprehensive enough not to hold you back. With Sierra, you can:
- Turbocharge your PPC ad strategy. All you have to do is set your budget. Our team will take over the work of designing a targeted and effective ad campaign across Google and Facebook that gets you results.
- Build out powerful, SEO-optimized IDX websites. Whether you need them for entire neighborhoods or for individual listings, we can help you create beautiful, responsive real estate websites that rank for top-level keywords and burnish your brand.
- Capture more high-quality leads even faster. With a range of different lead gen form options, as well as full control over how these forms are displayed, you can ensure you get more leads in your inbox for your team to convert.
- Position yourself as an industry expert. Use our CMS to publish your real estate expertise onto your website blog, while also taking advantage of the SEO opportunities. Cross-post your listings, client testimonials, house tours, ads, and more to drive even more engagement.
- Optimize and automate your cold calling sales tactics. Leverage our real estate dialer to help your team burn through hundreds of prospects every hour. Automate and track this activity to start building a comprehensive lead record database.
Check out the full range of features that Sierra can offer. Or schedule a demo to start enhancing your lead gen strategies today.
Matt Niehaus is the Senior Digital Marketer at Sierra Interactive.
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