How to generate leads in real estate

In this week’s episode, Jennifer talks about the number one lead generation tool you may not be using properly. She’ll also share the 6 questions you can ask yourself to know.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Hi there and welcome to the women rocking real estate podcast, I’m your host Jen Percival and I really appreciate you tuning today.

I hope you are all doing well and that you’re staying healthy. I know 1 personally felt a lot better the last week or so, but I’m also expecting to have more periods of not doing so well. At first it was a shock and then I think people started getting used to it and adapting, but I’m sure if this goes on for more than just a few weeks, we’ll go through another period of despair.

You know I talked about this being similar to the grieving process and to not underestimate the toll that it can take on you emotionally. That process has 5 stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. People don’t go through the stages in order necessarily and they may not experience all 5 stages, but it is important to be aware of them and to recognize they are all a normal part of the journey to eventual acceptance. So make sure you’re taking care of yourself. We can all kind of go into protection mode and worry about our kids and our loved ones, but if you’re not taking care of yourself first, you won’t be able to properly care for others.

I know that I personally started feeling a lot better and found myself much more motivated and hopeful when I got distracted with purpose. Waking up with a purpose everyday has allowed me to focus on that, instead of what’s going on around me. It’s not that I’m sticking my head in the sand, it’s that I’m trying to focus on stuff that is productive and that I can control.

Ok onto today’s episode. Of all the surveys I’ve done and questions I’ve asked agents, and conversations I’ve had, the number one thing that agents say they struggle with is lead generation. I’ve tackled this subject a bunch of times in previous episodes, so if you haven’t already listened to episodes 8 and 12, tune into them for more details, but to give you a quick recap, it’s pretty simple… you can generate your own leads through referrals, door knocking, cold calling, open houses, farming, networking, online marketing and advertising. That’s pretty much it.

Now you do also have the option to buy expensive leads through tech companies, but today we’re going to be talking about why I believe relying on that is one of the biggest mistakes you can make and why when you rely on buying leads, it is actually setting you up to fail in this business. The key word there, is relying on buying leads as your bread and butter. In order to build a long term real estate career, you must implement a strategy to generate your own leads and you must be generating them consistently and on auto-pilot. When you rely too heavily on any one strategy, it’s like building an uneven foundation. You need to diversify your lead generation.

I’ve talked about this before, that business is going to come to you from 3 different buckets: Bucket 1 – people you know, Bucket 2 – people they know and Bucket 3 is people who don’t know you.
In order to build a successful real estate career, you need to be tapping into all three of these buckets.

A lot of coaches will tell you to focus solely on working your sphere of influence – which is your friends and family and then to ask for referrals from those people to tap into the second bucket which is are the people they know. But here’s the problem with this logic…First of all, you have to know a pretty big sphere of people and in order to build any relative momentum, those people all need to be in a stage of life where they’re buying and selling homes AND all those people ideally need to be all buying and selling in a localized area. When your business is solely based on your sphere of influence and how much they refer to you, you aren’t in control of your growth. You might be really well networked, but on its own, this old school approach simply doesn’t fly in today’s competitive market.

The key to a thriving real estate business is to tap into all 3 buckets, but to generate at least 33 to 60% of your business from people you have no connection to. Think of your sphere of influence business kinda like the gravy, not the meat. So the first thing you need to have a clear understanding of, is where your business is coming from. If you don’t already know what your percentages are, you need to. You need to know your business inside and out. So look at the last 3 years and put every single deal you’ve done – buys, sells and leases and look at where that business came from. Was it from your network? Was it from a referral from your network? Or was it from someone you had no connection to?

For all the people that fall into that last bucket, I want you to break it down even further. Where did they come from? Here’s the thing that throws a lot of agents for a loop. If you were given that lead because you work on a team or you purchased the lead, it doesn’t count. Do not fool yourself into thinking you’ve got a business that is building momentum, if you are not generating the leads through your own efforts.

This is something you should be tracking carefully and paying very close attention to. I’ve got a worksheet you can downloaded here. Seeing this stuff visually is super helpful for you to see patterns and more importantly gaps. Again the goal here is to be generating 33 – 60% of your business from people you don’t know and have no connection to. Tapping into that bucket will help you scale your business the fastest and the biggest.

Again there are a number of ways to generate leads from that bucket, but today I want to focus on the lowest hanging fruit and the one that the vast majority of realtors are either not taking advantage of or they think that they are, but they’re doing it all wrong….and that is through your website.

One of the things that I started discovering last fall when I launched my online marketing masterclass, was how many agents didn’t have effective websites. There’s sort of three groups of agents out there that everyone falls into – a small percentage have sites that are being used properly and their websites are consistently generating leads for them.

Then there is a really big group that have websites that they either rent from their brokerage or a third party that are really just being used to have an online presence. If someone googles them, yes you’ve got a site they can go to, but that’s it. The website basically just sits on the internet, but doesn’t do anything to actually generate leads and then there’s the 3rd group of agents that don’t even have a website at all.

So what group do you fall into? Does your website generate consistent, free leads for you? Remember if you rent your site, those are technically not free leads, because you are paying for those leads when you could be generating them yourself.

To know whether or not your your website is working for you the way it should, I have 6 questions you need to ask yourself.

Question 1:

The Number one and the most important question you need to ask yourself – do you own your own website or do you rent it from your brokerage or from a third party? If you don’t know, you probably rent. So many agents, new ones in particular and those that aren’t super techy are incredibly intimidated by websites and so they opt for the path of least resistance. Which is a real estate website that gets them up and running quickly from either their brokerage or a third party that they rent on a monthly basis.

Why is this a problem? Number 1) a lot of the sites provided by brokerages and third parties don’t have the basic capabilities that they should. Beyond lack of security, some sites don’t even allow you to upload blogs or videos or install live chat capability or pop-ups for lead magnets. What is the point of having a website if you can’t take advantage of the tools available to help you generate online leads?? Remember the purpose of your site is not just to have a presence online…it’s ultimate purpose should be to generate leads and to do that properly you need to have access to all the tools available.

The second reason it’s so crucial to own your own custom site is Because if you rent your site, you don’t own the platform that your website is based on. If you ever decide you want to change brokerages or providers, you will likely lose all of your content, It’s like renting a house and spending thousands to furnish it, but then being told you can’t take your furniture with you if you decide to leave. That’s how they handcuff you! Can you imagine losing years worth of data and content – all your listings, all your blogs, all your videos. You’d literally have to start from scratch and that would be catastrophic for your future lead generation.

Number 3) You don’t have control. We all know how fast technology changes and new tools become available. When you don’t own your website, you are at the mercy of the provider and you can’t implement new tools that could be hugely beneficial for your lead generation. You are not just a realtor, you are a business owner and you need to have full ownership and control of your assets.

So the bottom line is that If you don’t own your own website, you likely can’t market yourself properly online.

Question 2:

Are you consistently creating unique, authority building weekly content on your website through at minimum a blog, but ideally videos? What about Cornerstone content? I’m not talking about content on your social media platforms, if you want to start generating online leads, content marketing is the foundation of your strategy and that content has to sit on your website.

Question 3:

When you’re creating that content, are you conducting keyword research to make sure that people can actually find your content? If no one is searching for the keywords you’ve put in your blog titles and content, then they’ll never find your site, so all of that effort is for nothing.

Question 4:

The next question you need to ask yourself is whether you have a strategy to grow your email list. If you’ve just got a ‘sign up for my newsletter opt-in form on your website, I can assure you that you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow your list. You need an enticing lead magnet to encourage people to opt-in to your list so that you can start effectively nurturing them and building know, like and trust feelings.

Question 5:

The next question you need to be asking yourself is whether you’ve got a Facebook pixel installed on your website, but more importantly are you actually using the data it gives you to market your business? If you don’t understand the power of the pixel and how you’re supposed to be using it to grow your business online, you’re not doing it properly.

Question 6:

The last question I want you to ask yourself, is whether you have a Google tag installed on your website and whether you’re using it to create super affordable re-marketing ads? I spend about $3 a day, that’s just slightly over $1000 a year and I generated about $50,000 in business from that in 2019. That’s a pretty incredible return on investment. You might not be able to have for sale signs all over your neighbourhood, but your brand awareness ads can show up all over the internet.

If you can’t answer yes to most of those questions, you have a gap. You are not using your website to market yourself properly online and you are missing a huge opportunity to start generating consistent leads. I don’t understand why someone would buy online leads, when with a little bit of effort, they can generate their own. That’s how you build a consistent, predictable real estate business. That’s how you build enough momentum to scale your business.

There are not a lot of realtors in this day and age that have been able to grow their business where they can build a team, by solely relying on their sphere of influence and referrals. Because that is the end goal right? Being a one woman show, especially a successful busy one, is not all it’s cracked up to be. This business is exhausting after you’ve been doing it for awhile. New agents don’t realize the toll it takes on your family when you’re constantly gone in the evenings and weekends. When you can’t go on vacations without stress and guilt, when you can’t ever really turn your phone off. Your ultimate goal, should be to build a thriving business, where you can eventually take a step back and get your life back a little. Whether that’s through having an assistant, a buyer’s agent or a whole team, that is the end goal.

But even if you just want to build a business that pays your bills and puts food on the table, having an effective website strategy is one of the cheapest ways to get you there.

So many agents, new ones in particular and those that aren’t super techy are incredibly intimidated by websites and so they opt for the path of least resistance. Which is a real estate website that gets them up and running quickly from either their brokerage or a third party that they rent on a monthly basis.

They go this path versus building their own custom website for 3 reasons typically:

1) Some agents do it just to check a box that they have a website and a presence online and some of them are falsely empowered into thinking that’s going to help them generate leads. Yes you absolutely, positively need to have a website if you work in real estate. At bare minimum just for credibility, contact information and the ability to advertise your listings. But that alone is never going to start generating online leads for you.

The next reason agents often rent a real estate website site, is because they’ve been sold that if they have an IDX feed on their site, it will generate leads for them.

For those of you that don’t know IDX is basically an agreement to have your real estate boards listings on your website. In exchange you have to agree to share your listings with the IDX feed and hence your listings will show up on 1000s of other real estate websites.

The theory is that if someone is searching for a listing that’s on the market, they may find it on your site and contact you instead of the listing agent. The reality on the other hand is that you will never be able to compete on search rankings with the tech giants like zillow, Redfin and 100s of other tech companies that invest millions to rank high on google searches. If they have the authority to advertise that listing, they will always outrank you. You’re fighting a losing battle. So having a fancy IDX is also not the solution to your lead generation problems.

The 3rd reason many agents opt for a rented site vs building their own custom website from scratch is a misconception that it’s either really difficult or really expensive or both. Which is simply not true! There’s a whole lotta brainwashing happening out there when it comes to websites and it comes from two groups of people. Both like to make it feel like it’s a really complicated process to build a website and one that only experts who specialize in web development can do. They want you to believe this because that’s their business and they need you to believe that to thrive. So they either charge you and arm and a leg to build a custom site for you or they charge you an arm and a leg to rent you a pre-built real estate website.

Either way, they need you to be intimidated by the process in order for them to stay in business.

But website technology has changed and nowadays anyone can build a real estate website.

I’m just a realtor mom from Canada who taught herself how to do it and you absolutely can learn too. Is there a bit of a learning curve to it? Yes of course, but no more than learning a CRM program or Facebook advertising. If you can follow a recipe in a cookbook, you can build your own custom real estate website.

So if it’s not that difficult or expensive, why is it so crucial that you seriously consider building your own site?

Number 1) a lot of the sites provided by brokerages and third parties don’t have the basic capabilities that they should. I can’t tell you how many I’ve seen that aren’t even secured with an SSL certificate. What’s the implication of that? Soon enough Google will be warning everyone that tries to visit your site, that it is a security risk and it will certainly not rank well in the search engines. Not exactly good for your brand image or exposure. Beyond basic security though, some sites don’t even allow you to upload blogs or videos or install live chat capability or pop-ups for lead magnets. What is the point of having a website if you can’t take advantage of the tools available to help you generate online leads?? Remember the purpose of your site is not just to have a presence online…it’s ultimate purpose should be to generate leads and to do that properly you need to have access to all the tools available.

The second reason it’s so crucial to own your own custom site is Because if you rent your site, you don’t own the platform that your website is based on. If you ever decide you want to change brokerages or providers, you will likely lose all of your content, It’s like renting a house and spending thousands to furnish it, but then being told you can’t take your furniture with you if you decide to leave. That’s how they handcuff you! Can you imagine losing years worth of data and content – all your listings, all your blogs, all your videos all your cornerstone content and all of the search engine rankings you’ve acquired. You’d literally have to start from scratch and that would be catastrophic for your future lead generation or you’d have to manually copy and paste everything from your old site to your new site. But you’d still lose all your Seo rankings.

Lastly, Number 3) You don’t have control. We all know how fast technology changes and new tools become available. When you don’t own your website, you are at the mercy of the provider and you can’t implement new tools that could be hugely beneficial for your lead generation. You also may not have control of your content. When you own your website you can quickly and easily change and add new content to your site, without having to rely on anyone to do it for you. Creating new content on your site is the only thing that will get it ranking high in the search engines. They like new, fresh, valuable content, so your website is not mean to be a static thing that you finish and it just sits there. It needs to be a constant growing hub of valuable content filled with your personal insights and knowledge.

If you want to start generating consistency and predictability in your business, it starts with having a solid website strategy. Remember, You are not just a realtor, you are a business owner and you need to have full ownership and control of your assets and then you need to use their full capability to grow your business.

As I said When I launched my online marketing masterclass last year, I realized there was a huge gap for agents around websites and I decided I needed to create a resource to teach women step by step, how easy it is to build their own custom real estate website. But I could just never find the time to create the program and get it done.….well I’m happy to say that building that program has been my purpose for the last 2 weeks. It’s gotten me out of bed every day and it’s gotten me off the news and off social media and I’m really excited to say that it’s finally done.
So if you currently don’t have a website or you rent one from your brokerage or a third party and you want to create a gorgeous custom real estate website on the WordPress platform, I can teach you step by step how to do it. I really want to make this program affordable and accessible for everyone so I’m offering it 50% off for $49 while we’re dealing with the effects of coronavirus.

To learn more about the program and to see a live sample of the website you’d be creating, you can visit my website at https://www.womenrockingrealestate.com/courses. I want to make sure you understand that I didn’t record this podcast telling you that websites are important because I wanted to sell you a course. I passionately believe that websites are the foundation of your online marketing strategy and I saw a need to help women learn how to build their own site and to do it for way cheaper than it costs to rent one. That’s why I created the program.

Alright ladies, that’s it for today. I hope you all have a safe, productive week and I will see you here same time, same place next week and remember the more you learn, the more you’ll earn.

Until next time.

Jennifer Percival