For the most successful, top 10% of real estate agents and brokers, active and continuous digital lead generation programs are a big part of their career success.
For the other 90%, paying for lead generation is usually a costly, frustrating and unsatisfying activity they try again and again like pulling the lever on a slot machine. You put money in, you only occasionally get a little money out.
So what's the reason? The answer is actually simple, but usually overlooked - or ignored:
Most agents don't understand that lead generation is a necessary part of a bigger, long-term commitment to marketing their business that can't be "dabbled" in or turned on and off like a spigot.
Unfortunately, in marketing as in business, there simply are no shortcuts.
Blindly paying to get leads without a true marketing strategy is at best a low-percentage gamble and at its worst harming your business by creating a false sense of what you will achieve.
For any business to succeed, continuous effective marketing must be the heart of the business. In fact, a business' marketing strategy should be inseparable and indistinguishable from the overall business strategy. In today's world, that, of course, means digital marketing.
What things make up a digital marketing program?
- Websites and Mobile
- Search Engine Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Paid Advertisements (PPC)
- Direct Email Campaigns
- Social Media Campaigns
However, the most important parts are the "glue" that makes all these things work for you:
- Clear goals and objectives
- Real understanding of your target customers and market
- Clear grasp of your differentiators versus others (i.e. your "product" identity)
- Continuous metrics and analysis (the "biggie")
- Competitor analysis
- Agility, or the ability to adapt quickly
- Long-term commitment to the program
When orchestrated into a monitored and managed plan, all these individual pieces can add up to, you guessed it, a marketing strategy.
For real estate agents and brokers, that means building a plan to promote your services and products so you can attract home buyers and sellers (i.e. home listings and your local area).
Real marketing is hard, though, and takes a high degree of diligence and patience. Marketing is also, in fact, and end unto itself, not just the leads you will get. You simply can't win if you don't play.
Plus, because real estate is a fairly static endeavor and changes little over time, agents get lulled into ignoring a commitment to real marketing and end up looking around, trying what everyone else is trying as a substitute for planning, designing and funding a year-round marketing strategy.
It's what I call the "Spigot Syndrome." Agents get infected with "Leaditis" and waste money, time and sometimes even give up the business in the end.
This condition also breeds other harmful, dangerous "side effect" assumptions that keep agents in a vicious cycle of wasted energy that's very hard to break. The most damaging of these? Read on...
There Isn't an Infinite Pool of Leads Out There for the Taking
Oftentimes, agents don't think they need to develop a real marketing plan, fund it, implement it and measure it over time because they feel all they have to do is pay to "dip a cup" into an infinite pool of buyer and sellers leads when they need it. Turn it on, turn it off.
It's simply not true. Ever. As the say, easy come, easy go.
Here's a "back of the napkin," but helpful way to start getting realistic about how many leads are ACTUALLY out there for you to get:
- Take the number of average monthly home closes in your area
- Multiply that number times 4
- Divide that number by 30 (the average number of real estate agents and brokers found on the first 3 pages of Google)
- The result is the number of leads you can potentially reach on any given day (well, that is if you're marketing well...read on to learn what I mean)
If you assume that, for every home that closes in your area each month, there were 4 other people interested in that home (a very liberal assumption, mind you), that gets you a good way to estimate the total pool of daily home searchers.
Since most people begin their search on the web and mobile today, it's also safe to say that the majority of these seekers who would choose a local agent would also choose them from the results on the first 3 pages of Google results.
NOTE: That means those 30 or so agents who are doing a good job of developing organic search and SEO will get the majority of leads.
Calculate this all together and you get the total number of leads you can possibly attract if you're getting in front of them each and every day; i.e. with continuous marketing.
If you're not one of those 30? Well, you compete for the few prospects who are left over after the vast majority connect with a competitor who's better able to get in front of them more quickly and consistently day in and day out.
But wait. There's one more bit of math to do.
In the real estate sector, since only about 1.5% of visits you get to your website become an actual lead, you have to multiply that last number again by that figure to know how many leads you can realistically expect to compete for IF you're doing marketing each and every day to get your brand, listings, and services seen at any given time.
Not on the first 3 pages of Google? Again, you're multiplying 1.5% times those visits that miraculously do make it to your site outside of a Google search.
Let's look at a sample calculation using a fictitious town called "Your Town, USA" that averages 250 home closes per month in one of its zip codes:
- 250 closes X 4 = 1000 Total Leads Per Day Available
- 1000 / 30 = ~ 33 Leads Per Day Per Website Available (for Those In top 3 pages of Google results for searches Like "homes for sale in your town USA")
- 33 x 1.5% = .50 (rounded up from .49) Leads Per Day in Your Town, USA (for each of those agents in the top 3 pages of Google results)
So, how many leads can you expect to get in Your Town, USA if you have great marketing?
About half a lead per day. Pretty sobering data.
Think you can compete effectively by turning on and off things like effective paid ads? Not paying to have a website that gets consistent search visits from Google?
It's just not being realistic if you do.
Putting yourself in a position to get seen by the available pool of buyers and sellers each and every day is the top reason continuous marketing is so vitally important. I call it the "Golden Rule of Realistic Real Estate Marketing."
With a marketplace of lead generation vendors out there perpetuating false hopes about the number of leads you'll get in exchange for your hard-earned cash, it's always easier - and certainly always sounds more attractive - to believe the lie than the truth.
The problem is, the addiction to unrealistic expectations can cause you to ignore the most fundamental and valuable (if not hard to do) part of your business: the "Marketing" to go with the "Sales &" part.
More Resources for You
The Complete Digital Marketing Course for Small Business - https://www.udemy.com/learn-digital-marketing-course/
Digital Marketing Strategies Small Businesses Should Adopt - https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/03/24/digital-marketing-strategies-small-businesses-should-adopt/2/#3cfd85d57fe0
Top Digital Marketing Mistakes Made by Small Business - https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2015/09/24/the-10-most-common-small-business-marketing-mistakes/#5b98a2861f8c
Quick Fixes for Top Marketing Mistakes - http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/11-quick-digital-marketing-fixes-every-small-business-startup-needs-know-2017/
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About the Author
Jason Polancich is a founder and lead architect of HomePocket, a data-driven, residential real estate marketing and lead generation network making big data work practically and usefully for agents. Polancich also originally created SurfWatch Labs, a cyber analytics firm founded in 2013 that provides highly accurate, timely and actionable information to businesses regarding the cybercrime threats they face. Polancich is a serial entrepreneur focused on solving complex internet commerce, data analysis, and cyber-defense problems. Novii Design, a company he co-founded in 2005 with Rebekah Lewis-Polancich, was based on his contributions to cloud architectures, distributed computing, data analysis and systems integration. The company assisted the U.S. Intelligence Community and Department of Defense in building some of the largest data warehouse and analysis systems ever put into operation within the government and defense contracting sectors. Novii Design was sold to Six3/CACI in 2010.Follow on Twitter More Content by Jason Polancich