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Trends in Online Marketing and Lead Generation

April 11 2019

online house cursorOnline marketing and lead generation is a constantly evolving science. In the early days of the internet, simply putting a property online with text was a big chore that required agents (or their development partners) to have HTML programming skills. The next big evolution happened around 1999 when the industry launched the first Internet Display program called IDX. This allowed agents and brokers to publish all of the listings from the multiple listing service on their websites and enable consumers to search. This was quickly followed by the emergence of national property advertising portals like Realtor.com, MSN, Yahoo! and others.

IDX and listing portals delivered a great savings to the real estate industry, which was focused on newspaper and magazine advertising at the time. It was not uncommon for listing agents or brokerages to spend between as little as $300 or well over $1,500 in the marketing of a property. Online home search grew in popularity among homebuyers as access to internet connected computers grew.

The next huge growth in this category came along with the consumer adoption of internet connected mobile phones and tablets. Today, more than 50 percent of all property searches happens on a mobile device. Nearly concurrent with the adoption of mobile, popular social media sites have became conduits for accessing real estate information including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and now Instagram and Snapchat.

The options consumers have today for looking at property is almost absurd. There are millions of agent websites, hundreds of thousands of brokerage websites, and hundreds of property portals. The abundance of these options has created some interesting consolidation. It is estimated that the top 10 real estate portals in America are visited more than 500 million times a month. Given that there are only about 5.5 million transactions a year in America, it makes you wonder what all of those people are doing.

Agents and brokerages are recognizing that digital marketing and advertising is changing from "spray and pray" to highly focused and localized marketing. To accomplish this, solutions have emerged that support real estate marketers with geotargeting to a particular house, neighborhood, polygon, or Zip Code. Within those geographies, real estate marketers can tune their marketing for attributes like age, renter vs. homeowner, or any number of filters that narrow the audience.

Another major development is the connection between customer management solutions and online marketing. There is an appreciation that one goal of online marketing is to help build a database of potential customers. This famous sales strategy of collecting contacts and staying in touch was famously dramatized in The Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo DiCaprio encourages his sales team to stay in touch with the customer until they buy or die.

Some research has emerged that provides some good guidelines for real estate agents who hope to develop a digital marketing farm. A good target is to focus your efforts on a group of 2,000 to 2,500 households. With a steady focus of targeted digital marketing, agents should be able to develop a sales funnel that will yield about two trades a month. The important ingredient to developing this volume of units from this number of transactions is the frequency and quality of your marketing and lead conversion efforts. Always remember that digital marketing only works if you respond inside of five minutes to an inquiry—or ideally inside of one minute. Consumers expect you to be ready to serve them right away.

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