Published Nov 9th, 2021 | Updated July 19, 2022
As a real estate agent, you need to generate leads for your business.
Whether they’re referred to you, they’re repeat business, or they’re cold incoming leads, without them, you won’t have many clients or much of a real estate business. So if you’re having an issue with lead generation, it could be a big problem for your business.
However, when you’re looking at your overall lead generation strategy, the first thing to determine is if you actually have a lead generation problem in the first place.
For example, real estate is a seasonal business by nature, with most agents doing the bulk of their business in the Spring and Fall markets; so if you’re looking at your incoming leads in December or January, less incoming leads might just be normal.
But if you notice that consistently, over time, you’re seeing a drop in the number of leads you’re generating, you could have a lead generation problem.
Here are some suggestions on how you can address it, and hopefully, build your incoming leads back up again:
★ When it comes to leads, the first step is to figure out what exactly a lead is to you. Start by reading our post: Dissecting What a Real Estate Lead Actually Is.
1. Implement a Lead Source Tracking Plan
The first thing to do is ensure you should have a lead source tracking plan in place, and if not, you need to implement one regardless of how many leads you get.
Lead source tracking is the process of determining how your leads first discovered you, your brand, and your business.
That means, you should know exactly how you initially got and converted each and every lead that you got in the past, including as much of the path they took to convert, as you possibly can; and as well, all of it should be documented so you can see the overall big picture of your lead sources.
For example, someone may have initially found you in a Google search they did for a problem they had (ie: is winter a good time to sell my home), and then a number of other things might have happened, like:
- They found you in a search result, liked what they found, and read a few other pieces of content (and also got a tracking cookie installed in their browser).
- They left your website, and saw retargeting ads highlighting you and your business, which reminded them about you over a period of time.
- They went back to your website to learn more about another topic you wrote about because you already solved a problem for them in their initial search.
- They subscribed to your email newsletter because they like your brand and see you as an authority.
- They received your email newsletter each month, and consistently engaged with it, for a year.
- They decided it was time to sell their home, and they reached out to you first because you’ve already built trust with them through previous interactions.
While it may not be possible to know this much information about all of your leads, the more you know the better you know how to plan and what to invest your time and money in.
For example, in the above scenario, it means the lead was initially acquired through SEO/organic search, but also, that consistent email marketing helped convert them by reminding them you existed and that you’re here to help. If you received several of your leads this way, then you know you should be putting more effort into your SEO, organic search, and email marketing strategies (because it worked for you).
Without lead source tracking in place, you wouldn’t know to do that. By focusing on the right marketing efforts that have already proven to bring in and convert leads, you can build a stronger, more effective overall marketing and lead generation plan.
★ Want to learn more about lead source tracking? Have a look at this post called: Using Lead Source Tracking to Improve Your Lead Generation Plan.
2. Audit Your Marketing Database
As a real estate agent, your marketing database should be treated as one of the lifebloods of your business because it’s one of your primary lead sources.
Your marketing database is the place where you store, not just your incoming leads, but all of your contacts, so you can market to them, to continually remind them you exist, so that when they’re ready to make a real estate decision, they’ll think of you and reach out.
A lot of agents will simply put everyone and anyone into their marketing database, and often, pride themselves on the 10s of thousands of contacts they have in it; and while having a lot of contacts and simply pushing out your marketing material to them is fine, there’s something to be said about having a quality over quantity approach, which is where a database audit can prove to be effective.
Ultimately, to make your marketing streamlined and effective, your marketing database should consistently be as cleaned up, organized, and detailed as you possibly can make it.
If your marketing database is disorganized and mismanaged, then it’ll directly reflect the success of your marketing strategy.
If it’s not set up correctly and accurately, then it means you won’t be able to effectively market to, or gather general information about, your leads that you have in your database. And the first step starts with having as much information as possible available for each and every contact in your marketing database.
A lot of agents simply have an email address associated with their contacts, and that’s it. While that might be fine for a general email marketing campaign, when it comes to building out a detailed, comprehensive marketing strategy that gets results, an email address is only part of the information. You need more, a lot more, if you want your marketing to be targeted and effective.
Auditing your marketing database, and setting standards for what information is needed for adding contacts in the future, is a really powerful way to build out a list of contacts that can be marketed to effectively. That can mean going through your database and:
- Merging duplicate email addresses and contact records.
- Opting out contacts with low or no engagement.
- Updating missing contact information.
- Ensuring the remaining contacts have as much information as possible about them.
After your database is cleaned up and has the most information you can get, the next step in the audit process is segmentation (or, how you categorize your contacts). Here are some examples of how you could segment your database:
- By transaction type: buyer, seller, investor, etc.
- By period of time: transacted 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, etc.
- By lead source: search engine, downloaded content, client referral, etc.
- By lifecycle stage: incoming lead, ready to buy, ready to sell, etc.
- By all of the above (it’s ok to have contacts with multiple segmentation values assigned).
To put together an effective marketing strategy, the more you can break out your segmentation the better. Proper segmentation helps you market the right information, to the right people, at the right time, which if done correctly, can directly contribute to an increase in leads and deals.
★ Want to learn more about how to build and audit your marketing database? Have a look at these posts:
- Why You Should Never Stop Building Your Email Marketing Database
- Right Now, You Should Focus on Building Your Database
- How the Quality of Your CRM Affects the Quality of Your Real Estate Business
- Choosing a CRM for Your Real Estate Business, the Right Way
3. Switch to an Inbound Marketing Strategy
Over the past couple of years, as a result of the push to digital, real estate marketing has changed substantially. The more savvy agents are investing less in their outbound marketing strategies, and instead, are focusing more on adopting an inbound marketing strategy; and because of that, they’re seeing better, more quality driven results.
What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?
- Outbound Marketing is a cold reach out to people to try to create interest in them working with you. For example: print postcard campaigns, cold email blasts, cold calling, and door-knocking are all outbound marketing techniques.
- Inbound Marketing is when is when you attract and build meaningful, lasting connections and relationships with people through providing valuable content, resources, and experiences, and then engaging with and nurturing them until they’re ready to make a decision. For example, blog posts, SEO strategy, downloadable resources, and video content are all inbound marketing techniques.
When planned and set up correctly, inbound marketing is extremely effective and can serve as a big part of your overall quality lead generation strategy for a long time to come.
But why is that?
It’s because the people that engage you, after being brought in by your inbound marketing strategy, will already want to work with you when they’re ready to buy or sell. They’ll remember you, your brand, and your business, and in a lot of cases, they won’t consider working with anyone else because they already trust you. Ultimately, it means better, more qualified leads.
An inbound marketing strategy is 3 steps: Attracting, Engaging, and Delighting. You can learn more about how it works in this post called: The Philosophy of Inbound Marketing, and Why it Works for Agents
Effective inbound marketing involves actually caring about your potential clients, providing the information they need, and the engaging them and delighting them as they go through the decision making process, and even beyond as you keep them in your ecosystem.
★ Want to learn more about inbound marketing for real estate? Have a look at these posts and resources:
- Planning a Real Estate Lead Flow Through Inbound Marketing
- Building an Inbound Marketing Strategy to Get Higher Quality Leads
- Why You Should Drop Your Real Estate Marketing Funnel (And What to Do Instead)
- Download Our Inbound Marketing Guide
4. Build a Lead Nurturing Strategy
A lot of agents will reach out to a potential lead once or twice, and then consider it to be a bad or dead lead because they couldn’t connect with them, and never reach out again; but in all likelihood, that probably means another agent is getting that lead and turning it into a deal if they’re persistent enough.
And that’s because leads often need to be nurtured to be turned into deals, which is especially true if the lead is particularly cold. Often, you may need to reach out a dozen times or more before you can actually connect with them; and there’s several reasons that could happen:
- They never got your initial response email, or any of the other ones, because it ended up in their junk folder.
- They didn’t like your initial response, and they need to be further convinced.
- They reached out to multiple different agents, and you took too long to respond.
- They’re not quite ready to convert and start a conversation with you, despite them filling out a form or emailing you to tell you that they are.
Regardless of which scenario above it falls in, any lead that has reached out that you haven’t heard from should go into a lead nurturing plan.
Depending how big your real estate business is and how many leads you get, you might be able to reach out individually to each of your incoming leads with something as simple as a checklist; or if you get a lot of leads, you might want to leverage marketing automation to nurture your leads for you.
Either way, incoming leads need to be reached out to a lot more often early on, and then less frequently if you don’t connect with them.
A lead nurturing plan could look something like this:
- Immediately after you get the lead, you should: email them, call them, and/or text them.
- 12 hours later, you should reach out to the lead again.
- 1 day later, you should reach out again.
- Then again 1 day later.
- Then again 1 day later.
- Then again 2 days later.
- Then again 3 days later.
- And so on…
The key is to have something to offer them, which should change the further down the pipeline they get.
For example, early on, if they’ve reached out to you, the offer would be a phone call, videochat, or in person meeting, to learn more about what they want and try to convince them to work with you; but as you get further down the pipeline, that offer should change if there’s no engagement.
If someone isn’t responding to you the 4th or 5th time you reach out, you should change your offer to try to get them to engage. For example, you could tell them to check out your selling and property marketing process on your website, or you could send them some stats about your sales history to prove you’re a good fit.
Once they’re even further down the pipeline, and you still haven’t connected with them, you could segment them in your marketing database, and then periodically, send them information about some successes you’ve had, like if sold a property over asking that was initially on the market by another agent for 60+ days, as part of an email marketing campaign.
The point is, if they’ve reached out, you should also reach out to them, at least a dozen+ times in multiple different ways.
And once that’s complete, rather than considering them a dead or bad lead, you should segment them in your marketing database so you can continually market to them, based on their initial inquiry.
Eventually, they may reach out and convert. And if you consider them a dead lead after reaching out just once, they’re likely to convert with another agent that took the time to properly nurture them.
★ Want to learn more about lead nurturing and automation? Have a look at these posts and resources:
- Leveraging Marketing Automation as Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
- The Strategy of Effective Digital Touchpoints
- Download Our Lead Nurturing Workbook
Rework, Restrategize, Rebuild
Discovering that you have a real estate lead generation problem can be concerning, but there are a lot of things you can do to address it, and ultimately, fix it.
By determining how you actually get your leads, cleaning up and organizing your marketing database, implementing a more modern marketing strategy, and reworking how (and how often) you reach out to your leads, you can build out a comprehensive marketing plan built for success in today’s ever changing digital-first world.
Want to drive traffic, build your brand, and engage your target audience? Download our eBook: ‘The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Marketing’. It’s a collection of some of our best marketing articles, tips, and tricks that we’ve collected over the years.