Paid real estate lead generation is dead or at least dying, but before you start writing me hate mail, just hear me out. I’ve been writing about attracting business for over 5 yearsbecause I personally saw the changes in buyer and seller wants start to happen in 2013-2014. People didn’t want to be sold, they wanted to be served. Online and/or purchased “Leads” became more difficult to convert than they were in the pre-crash days (2007). Even with direct mail campaigns, leads were more skeptical than they were in the earlier days of my career.
Thats when I realized how important BRAND is. People were now more trained to be more skeptical on first touch and they now have the opportunity to look you up before they respond to any of your marketing. There’s a reason why your About page is the #3 most visited page on anyone’s website. People look you up before they hire you. It’s the same reason you read the reviews on Travelocity before you book your next vacation.
Would you hire you if you visited your website?
At the same time over the last 10-15 years the real estate industry has sprouted up with many kinds of instant gratification lead services of READY, WILLING, AND ABLE TO BUY RIGHT NOW PEOPLE! Instead of being trained to earn business through reputation, consistency, and determination, many agents pressed the easy button or lacked the traditional training of any newer agent. Many agents were trained to chase leads instead of earn business. Prospect for business instead of manufacturing it. It was easy. It was fast. BUT, it was short sighted.
If a large portion of your business relies on leads created through a source you don’t control, then you are not running business, you are just another sales person chasing a check.
I understand I am going to catch some shit for this article, but that’s fine. I’m going to tell you the truth because building a business dependent upon something you don’t own or control is the scariest thing you can do as an entrepreneur.
What Do You Mean Real Estate Lead Generation Is Dead?
Let me first clarify what I mean by lead generation is dead. I believe that “leads sources” are drying up for a number of reasons. However, agents with a strong brand presence on and offline, will not only be fine, but DOMINATE.
I believe that because information is so easily accessible on you, that agents with brand presence filled with social proof will be a HUGE advantage over those that don’t. Relying on “leads” will no longer be a viable option for maintaining a career in real estate because you’re going to need a brand to convert them.
The future of real estate lead generation will rely on each agent’s own ability to attract customers vs. buy them
I’m not telling you any of this to scare you, I’m telling this to SCREAM IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS that when there is change, there is also major opportunity!
I already know what you are thinking, “so if real estate lead generation is dead, how does a Realtor make it”. Well you shouldn’t be trying to generate leads, you should be trying to generate clients.
“I didn’t say you would stop trying to get business, but I am saying the way you do it will change”
Building A Hyper Local Real Estate Brand Is The Future Of Real Estate Lead Generation
In 2013-2014, I started to dive heavy into content marketing. I wrote blogs, created video content, and started just splashing it on my personal profiles. I rebranded to the ChicagoRealEstateDude and the “dude” became what people started calling me instead of Mike Cuevas. Before I knew it I had a brand that stood out, but the brand only existed because the of the content I created. I started ATTRACTING business through branding and generating attention, not just with me but everyone on my team too.
The exact same process I used in my local real estate business I transferred over to the The Real Estate Marketing Dude brand and the exact same thing happened. Today my podcast generates about 5,000-7,000 downlaods a week and it was never once promoted in any type of paid advertising(It’s not the best but something I’m proud of for growing organically).
The only reason you are probably reading this right now is because you somehow found me through some kind of content I created or through a group I create content for. I’m now able to create content for Real Closers because they found me through my content creation.
When someone contacts me to see if we can help them create videos, I don’t have to sell them on my expertise. The content on my website does that for me, which is also how they found me to begin with. Making sense yet?
Content Creates Engagement. Engagement Creates Conversation. Conversation Creates Trust. Trust = Getting Hired.
The good news is that for you there’s no reason why you can’t do the same. Any real estate agent in the United States can RIGHT now commit to building a brand and in a 6-12 month time frame(or less) become a very well known name within their marketplace.
You have an unbelievable opportunity to steal the ATTENTION of your database and local community because let’s face it, who else in your market is really doing it with video? And that my friend is the opportunity in itself.
The question is, will you? The answer is most of you will not, but the ones who do will quietly start stealing away that attention one client at a time.
Why Real Estate Lead Generation Is Dead: Is This You?
About 2 years ago I got a new car. I opted into a form online and I will never do it again for this very reason. Within about 5-10 minutes I started getting calls, emails, and even texts from all kinds of car salesmen. I have nothing wrong with car salesmen, but it was probably the most annoying thing ever.
For about 3-4 weeks I was hassled, cold called, and super frustrated with the cheesy sales tactics trying to “sell” me something and I told myself I would never opt into an online form for cars again or any form. They were all using the same scripts too!
Then, I thought to myself, “holy shit this is what Realtors do to people when they fill out a form on Zillow”. Holy shit, our profession is screwed.
Would you like it if you were called, double called, texted, and then emailed everyday for a couple of weeks? When I get double called and find out it’s NOT an EMERGENCY, I might want to slap you in the face.
So what makes you think this is a good way to run your business? Just because some guru told you to do it, who hasn’t sold a house in the last decade, doesn’t mean it’s right. Instead I’d ask them when the last time they sold a house and actually used that tactic.
That 💩 used to work, but today not so much.
What consumers expect from their agent has changed. No business can thrive doing business as usual when their customers expectations change. Not to be cliche, but remember Blockbuster, Taxis, AirBNB, etc?
Quit Doing What You Hate Being Done To You.
And I’m not just talking about Paid Online Lead Generation, but I’m also talking about all kinds of prospecting too. How are your expired campaigns going vs. 7+ years ago? How is door knocking today vs. 10 years ago? How is chasing FSBO’s working out for most agents? It’s not a coincidence.
Why Is This Happening With Paid Real Estate Lead Generation?
The Biggest problem has been that ALL these LEADS that have been sold you agent from Zillow, Realtor.com, and other online companies has been that they haven’t been followed up on.
This is a major reason why I think Zillow and Realtor.com are pushing towards a referral model. The “leads” they were selling Realtors weren’t being followed up the way they should and it was hurting their brand. Did you ever notice that the teams who really CRUSH IT on a high level have an incredible follow up system through multiple channels. Guys like Tristan Ahumada from Lab Coat Agents are great at converting online leads because they have amazing systems behind them. The average agent cannot afford to implement those systems or lacks the skills to do it, which is why online leads only represented 11% of closed business last year.
Although 80% of people found their home online, only 11% found their agent online
In my business, I don’t consider agents who sign up for my one of my offers a potential client, I call it a potential prospect. They are not a serious lead for me until they schedule a time to be contacted( schedule a demo with me on Calendly)
I create content to attract more business. If not how else would you find me? I can either start cold calling a bunch of real estate agents, harassing them on Linked In, OR I can attract them. This post is just another example of that. If you read this post, you will be retargeted with one of my offers until I get firm yes or no answer out of you. It’s my content that will eventually determine if you want to schedule a time with me or not.
Are You Changing With Real Estate Lead Generation?
The lead doesn’t convert on first point of contact, so it’s what you do after you get a lead that makes the difference. What are you doing differently on your follow up for leads?
What if you had a list of blog posts and videos on your site that you can send them after their initial inquiry? What if you had an educational series that helped them get the answer they were looking for? What if you had a bunch of hyper local community content that allowed your “leads” to get to you know you better? What if you then began following around your leads the Internet with personable video content so they got to know you?
“You will begin attracting business once you start creating consistent content in an authentic way. This is how you’ll build your brand”
So how do you build a brand? Simple, you consistently communicate with the same audience over time. Think about brands you follow. If they were NOT omni-present, would you still have the same connection? Probably not, which is why creating content consistently is so important to building your brand.
The death of lead generation isn’t a bad thing, because it’s always been dead(I haven’t seen it go over 11%), I’m just giving you the statistics so you quit spending your money on “lead sources” and start investing it into yourself building your own brand. .
Real Estate Lead Generation Targeting: Are You Placing Your Content In Front Of The Right Audience?
Did you know that roughly 80% of closed business for real estate agents come from people they already know, used in the past, or personally met?
If 80% of business comes from people you know, then where should you place your energy and marketing budget?
I don’t know where our industry went so far down the “lead” rabbit hold, but the truth is that most business is right in front of you. This has always been the case but somewhere in the last 10-15 years we got sloppy and forgot the basics.
Generating sign calls or open house contacts aren’t leads, those are prospects since they have already demonstrated intent. I would rather have two prospects than 30 online leads..
Referrals or potential repeat business that is inbound to you is not a lead, that’s a prospect.
It boggles my mind when I see agents spend $20,000 a year on a lead generating website and spend $0 marketing their own brand, database, or network because over 70% of consumers end up working with the first agent they come into contact with. I don’t know about you but I want to be the first agent they think of when they think of real estate. Creating consistent content helps accomplish that!
Real Estate Lead Generation Facts
10-15% of your network is moving this year and most don’t even know it yet. Did you ever have a friend or even family member not work with you or forget you are in real estate? Maybe if you constantly reminded them and built your brand it would be a different story.
At the same time, every person you know has the ability to refer you at least one person this year, but it’s hard for them to do that when they forget what you do for a living. In a referral dominated industry, top of mind brand awareness is everything.
When you create consistent content that reminds your network what you do for a living it just becomes a numbers game. People want to make one of the largest financial decisions they ever make with someone they feel comfortable with, not a stranger and certainly not a robot.
It’s not your database’s job to remember what you do for a living, it’s your job to remind them!
I am in the business of helping agents build a brand that attracts business through video content creation as opposed to real estate lead generation, so YES I have a not so hidden agenda of tying to sell you my shit, but it’s because I know I can help you. I’ve been thinking about writing this article for years, but it wasn’t time until now, and guess what, I was right! If you are serious about building your brand with video, I’d love to speak with you. Schedule a time to speak with me here.