Two Vital Steps to Generating Online Leads

Give clients transparent information and memorable real estate experiences that they’ll want to share with family and friends. The leads will follow.

November 24, 2015

We’ve made real estate look easy — there’s a whole cable TV channel devoted to the subject. In fact, we’ve made it look a little too easy.

Expertise and skill have been eschewed for trust, which is why family and friends win out. “My mother’s uncle’s girlfriend would never steer me wrong!”

Let’s start telling the world the truth: Real estate is hard, and true real estate experts are a valuable resource. Let’s rethink marketing, master the art of mobilizing our raving fans, and start earning and attracting leads and business rather than feeling entitled to them.

So, if the world doesn’t understand how hard real estate is, you can help change that. Take a page out of HGTV’s playbook and post information on your website such as outlining the process of a real estate transaction. Let’s educate the public on the complex steps it takes to buy a home. The best real estate transaction is a smooth one, but clients should understand that it’s smooth only because the agent is keeping all the frogs in the wheelbarrow, making sure the process is a seamless one.

Tell them how to work through the mortgage process. Advise misinformed home buyers to stop racking up credit card debt, to pay their taxes, and to postpone the purchase of that expensive new car, furniture, appliance, or pet before closing — even advise them against quitting their job before the walkthrough.

Educate buyers on how to compromise on their wish list. And, most important, let’s prepare sellers for the emotion involved in the transaction. Make sure your agents are preparing sellers to receive negative feedback about the home they’ve loved for years, and let them know it’s usually a negotiation tactic.

Be the human persona of your online presence, and vice versa. Start with your lingo. No one says “last and best offer” or “absorption rates are beating Case-Shiller numbers” outside of the real estate world.

Remember, people want to buy and sell a home; it’s an ideal they aspire to. Have your happy clients explain why they wanted to use you, rather than feeling as if they had to. It’s an important distinction when earning leads in real estate’s Internet age.

Having your happy, empowered clients speak on your behalf is arguably the most important marketing an agent and brokerage can enact today. So, in addition to providing quality, relevant, educational information on your site, you should also prominently display customer reviews.

Most consumers are going online to plan their next vacation, shopping online for new jeans, and checking out that new breakfast joint online before making reservations. So it stands to reason they’re going to Google the heck out of the single biggest financial transaction of their lives. To seal the deal with your next buyer or seller, leverage the positive social capital you earned with your last loving buyer and seller.

Make sure your messaging is consistent across online portals as you share your web content along with your reviews and recommendations from happy clients. Spread the love across the web: your website, Yelp, LinkedIn, YouTube, and portals like®’s enhanced profiles. Ask your current and past clients where they go to read reviews and then grow your presence there; make sure those review sites link back to your website to seal the relationship.

Most brokers and agents have already nailed the art of informing buyers and sellers offline, but conveying it online is the key to capturing new leads. Consider these questions: Is your online marketing different from the other stuff floating around the web? Is it trustworthy? And does it exemplify your company’s expertise?

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Nobu Hata is the director of digital engagement for the National Association of REALTORS®. Former REALTOR® with Edina Realty in Minnesota. Geek. Alaska and Minnesota have been home. Now I'm in Chicago or on the road meeting with REALTORS® and association executives to talk about NAR, their business, and the integration of digital technologies in our industry.