What are the best real estate lead generation options today?
Where and how can real estate agents, investors and other related industry professionals generate more leads for buying, selling and renting properties? What are some of the little known benefits, and pitfalls of common real estate lead generation channels today?
Here are 12 ways for real estate investors and Realtors to bring in more leads:
Some popular real estate gurus have said that direct mail is the fastest and easiest way to generate new leads. It can still be very effective. In fact, as others have turned to online marketing, direct mail may have become even more effective and profitable. However, direct mail success does rely on volume and testing to hone messaging and delivery.
Cold calling on a large scale, such as using call centers, might face many challenges with regulations today, but it has still been proven to generate an effective hourly income of hundreds of dollars for Realtors. Simply picking up the phone can be one of the fastest ways to generate real estate business. It is also one of the lowest cost ways to generate leads, and can help professionals stay on top of their sales game.
Many fantastic real estate deals and listings can be uncovered by simply driving neighborhoods and knocking on doors. There are obvious obstacles in doing this, but when it comes to getting the jump on competitors, it can be hard to beat.
Google may have made reaching consumers via their inboxes more challenging, but email can still be one of the best ways to reach both the masses, and highly targeted contacts. Email lists may be rented from data companies versus buying them. Subsequently, real estate investors and agents can take control of their own email real estate and build their own lists.
Buying Internet Leads
Buying internet leads has been popular for a variety of real estate and mortgage companies since before the last housing boom. These individuals experienced somewhat of a bubble, but have now been improved with enhanced data and targeting tools. There are various types of these leads ranging from ‘aged’ leads, to live exclusive leads, and non-exclusive leads. Make sure you do your homework and understand exactly what you are getting, as well as the difference in these types of consumers, in order to maximize ROI.
Buying Lead Lists
Lead lists have been a staple of the real estate industry for many years. An almost endless array of filters can be used to laser target the best prospects with these lists. However, newer individuals and real estate companies need to recognize that they may not legally be allowed to have, or market to some of these lists depending on how the data was generated. Watch for junk, and be sure lists aren’t being fluffed out with bogus names.
Real Estate Blogging
Real estate blogging remains one of the most powerful and profitable forms of lead generation, but also one of the most underestimated. A regular blog can ensure real estate pros and companies are not held ransom by other platforms, and can go on helping to generate leads for years after posts are written. A blog can be used to draw regular internet leads, feed email list building, and fuel social media efforts.
While this medium changes constantly, social media platforms can still be a fantastic way to generate leads in real estate. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest are all great options. There are many debates over calls to action, the amount of engagement which is right, and how much should be invested off-site, versus on a real estate company’s own websites, but with the right funnel strategy, it can be fast, affordable and enjoyable.
Signage & Outdoor Real Estate Advertising
Even the simplest yard and ‘bandit’ signs can be incredibly affordable ways to generate real estate leads. With the right message, these and other outdoor advertising solutions can be used to generate a steady stream of local leads. New technology can make this even better. Call capture, QR codes, interactive augmented reality signs, text messaging options, and even links to virtual tours can be used to boost outdoor advertising performance.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be one of the best methods of predictably and consistently driving in real estate leads on demand. PPC solutions, like Google Adwords, offer the ability to drive in leads on command. This can be tweaked to be hyper local, or reach global buyers, investors and homeowners right where they are now. With a little strategy and education, real estate marketers can significantly drive down PPC costs. With a large enough budget, they can even dominate, and starve out the competition by buying every lead for a given keyword. Aside from the big platforms, more affordable online leads may be gleaned from purchasing image, text and banner ads on other websites directly.
Don’t forget print. Beyond the traditional line up of real estate mags, consider other industry magazines that will reach the same prime prospects, and even leveraging online magazines.
Referrals and Affiliate Marketing
Personal referrals can be both a compliment, and the most valuable form of lead generation. Savvy real estate CEOs are taking this to a whole new level by using technology to scale and organize referrals on a national and global scale.
The next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store, try this experiment. Scan the cover of every magazine displayed. You’ll notice a style of headline writing that not only grabs your attention but also seduces you into wanting to know more.
You might scoff at the idea that such sensationalized writing lures you, but editors follow a formula because it’s effective. If you read, “Three Surprising Benefits of Calling In Sick” or “Don’t Get Caught: How to Dodge an IRS Audit,” you might quickly add that magazine to your shopping cart.
These same principles apply to email marketing. Before writing your next email newsletter or promotion, consider trying one of these two time-tested headline-writing techniques.
1. Make It Count
Readers want to anticipate what they’ll learn by reading your email. Pique their curiosity by following a simple formula: number + adjective + noun + subject pertinent to your business. For a technology-consulting firm, the formula might generate this headline: “Four Ingenious Uses for Your Tablet Computer.” An accountant might tease, “25 Under-the-Radar Tax Deductions for Small Businesses.”
2. Read like a Tabloid
Although you owe it to your audience to be credible, that doesn’t mean your email headlines can’t sensationalize information a bit. When trying this strategy, involve every sense of the reader to create an experience without promising something you can’t deliver. This might prompt a personal stylist to proclaim, “From Bed to Door in 30 Minutes: How to Dress for Time-Crunched Mornings.” Or an employment law attorney to suggest, “Never Get Sued Again: Practical Stress-Relieving Tips for Employers.
As email spammers become more and more creative in their approach, spam filters become more and more sophisticated in their approach. If you engage in email marketing, you’re already aware of how hard it can be to get your message past your audiences’ junk mail filters and into their in-boxes. The following tips, courtesy of ePly Online Event Registration, can help keep your emails from being flagged as spam:
Free Spam Testing Tool
There are a number of free tools online, such as http://spamscore.me/, that will take a sample email, process it, and assess its likelihood of getting caught in a junk mail folder. A 100% delivery rate for your email campaign might be pie-in-the-sky, but with a few easy steps, avoiding getting flagged as spam can be as easy as cake and ice cream!
Images help readers identify with your emails quickly. From a branded logo to photography, they add interest and can appeal to viewer’s emotions. Using images in email communications helps to get your point across more quickly than with text-only messages. And, when used as part of an integrated marketing campaign, it’s even more important that the email look and feel exactly like the other media in your campaign, so imagery is key.
The types of images to use in emails include logos, product shots, photography to support an article, maps, graphs, charts or a scanned signature. You can’t just copy and paste an image into your email, it needs to be stored somewhere first, either on your own website or in an image library supplied by your email service provider. Images need to adhere to file type, size and dimension requirements. In most systems you can’t add special effects to an image after you add it into an email, but you can change its dimensions, alignment, link destination, and caption.
The challenge with email images is that sometimes recipients will not be able to view them because the email system they (or their company) uses disables images automatically or does not allow them to enable images in your email. To best accommodate this situation, follow these best practices for using images in emails:
Constant Contact is a popular and powerful email marketing service provider. For more information including detailed instructions on using images in emails, download their Image Reference Guide from the Resources Learning Center of their website at www.constantcontact.com.
Whether you use direct mail, email or both, testing and refinement can help to improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Most direct marketing managers are compulsive about testing, and for good reason: Testing yields customer insights that can help you boost response rates and increase profits.
Generally speaking, there are three direct mail testing and refinement processes:
Be sure to test only one of the following elements at a time to ensure measurable results:
Response mechanism. Some customers prefer to call, some prefer to reply via the mail, some prefer to reply online. Test what works best with your audience.
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DIRECT MARKETING, EMAIL MARKETING, MARKETING STRATEGY
Even in our digital age, direct mail and email play important roles in an integrated marketing campaign. Direct mail is a perfect partner to email communications; it conveys a quick message that either prepares a recipient for an email to come, or reminds them of an email they’ve recently received.
Using both can be more effective than using one alone, because emails are easily ignored— and just as easily deleted. Use them together and watch your responses soar! Here are eight tips for making the most of your direct mail:
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Email marketing continues to be one of today’s most economical and cost-effective marketing tactics. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that the ROI on email marketing remains far above that of search or other marketing channels.
But before readers dive into any email message, they must deem it time-worthy, typically with a cursory (and highly critical) glance at the email subject line.
The subject line has one job and one job only: to get your email opened. If it fails, your cleverly crafted content is off to the glue factory. If it works, you’re in the run for the roses, perhaps on the fast track to higher open rates, more sales and increased retention.
Use these tips get out of the gate quickly and increase your odds of finishing strong:
Regardless of campaign size or complexity, email subject lines have the same job: to convince readers they need the information contained therein. Use the tips above (and others posted here) to make your emails the favorite to win customer attention, not the long shot.
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Sure, anyone can use email to reach out to prospects and customers. But that’s the problem: These days it seems like everybody’s using email as a marketing tool. Worse still, most of these emails represent generic marketing offers. Fact is, the more emails your prospects are receiving, the less likely it is that they will open yours.
Email marketing is most effective when used in an integrated campaign along with other media, and when email communications engage customers and prospects in a personal way, something AT&T can attest to. The company recently determined that its previous segmentation effort had fallen off and, as a result, email messages were becoming less tailored to its customers’ interests. Resolving the issue meant AT&T needed to better understand its customers’ preferences.
Working with Acxiom, a global leader in technology and marketing services, AT&T sought to drive 500,000 current customers to update their preferences regarding the email communications that they received from the company. A playful and highly personalized email script was developed to encourage customers to click through to their preferences page and update their information.
Each email mentioned the customer’s name 11 times with some silly variations, such as Bobby-licious and Betty-tastic, while encouraging Bobby and Betty to update their preferences so AT&T could send them more Bobby-esque and Betty-like offers in the future.
The campaign was a huge success. Click-through rates on these emails were 140 percent higher than previous email click-through rates, including messages promoting new devices. Open rates increased 32 percent over previous email open rates. Best of all, the approach created a virtual cycle: AT&T’s future communications can be even more tailored based on customers’ stated preferences.
Improved customer engagement will make customers and prospects more receptive to future marketing communications, and more likely to become higher-value customers.