Lead generation is of vital importance for Realtors.

After all, if you don’t bring in new clients, the rest of your efforts will be moot. Inbound and outbound marketing are two essential elements in the lead generation equation. Integrating these two aspects can help you implement a robust lead creation strategy.

If you’re not familiar with digital marketing, terms like “lead generation,” “inbound marketing,” “outbound marketing,” and “digital marketing funnel,” may be confusing to you. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know about lead generation and how it can help grow your real estate business.

Real Estate lead generation: a house miniature placed on a laptop

What Is Real Estate Lead Generation?

Generating more leads is a priority for any business, which begs the question: What, exactly, is a real estate lead?

In marketing, a lead refers to a person who is interested in what a brand has to offer. In other words, leads are potential customers. It follows that your real estate business would want to have as many leads as possible. After all, many leads eventually turn into paying customers.

Lead generation refers to the process by which businesses find and capture the interest of potential customers. Before people know who you are, they’re prospects. Once they’re aware of you, your products, and your services, they become leads. This is also the point where they enter the digital sales funnel. Once leads enter the funnel, you can engage, nurture, and cultivate them further in order to move them through the funnel toward conversion.

Lead generation has always been part of the real estate business. Traditionally, it would have involved strategies like cold calling, conventional mail and print advertising,  trade shows, direct mail, and referrals. For decades, real estate agents have successfully relied upon these tactics for lead generation. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t be improved upon.

Enter digital marketing, uniquely fertile ground for lead generation. Content marketing, blogging, social media, SEO, videos, and other channels have changed the real estate industry — and vastly improved our ability to attract, engage, and nurture leads.

Why Is Lead Generation Important in Real Estate?

marketing funnel stages illustration: lead-prospects-customers arrow to income

Earlier we touched upon why lead generation is crucial in real estate. In simplest terms, failure to generate leads will directly impede your ability to find clients and close deals.

Meanwhile, successful inbound and outbound lead generation will help you find new sellers and buyers, fill your sales pipeline with new clients, and make sales.

With a solid lead generation strategy in place, you will no longer have to scramble to find your next client or listing. Instead, you’ll have a pipeline feeding you a steady flow of clients. While this may take some upfront work, once your lead generation strategy is up and running, it more than pays for itself in terms of saved time and maximized results.

Lead generation and lead management in real estate underscores the importance of recognizing the three-stage customer journey which moves from awareness to consideration to decision. Every sale of every product or service happens for a reason. Understanding the customer journey can help you meet your leads where they are in order to best support them.

This is especially vital in the real estate industry, where long sales cycles are not uncommon. In fact, roughly half of online leads will not convert into clients for up to 24 months, according to RISMedia.

The takeaway? Writing off leads because they don’t convert immediately can lead to major missed opportunities.

What Is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

“Inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing” are other terms you may have come across. They refer to two different approaches to lead generation. Inbound and outbound marketing both need to be in place to offer a successful lead generation strategy. The most effective real estate marketing campaigns incorporate a blend of these two approaches.

The main difference between the two is that inbound marketing pulls, while outbound marketing pushes. Another way to think about it? Inbound marketing can be viewed as permission-based. This means that contact happens on the prospect’s terms. Meanwhile, outbound marketing can be viewed as disruptive. This means that it happens on your terms.

While some people may have opinions on which type of digital marketing is better, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize: lead generation. However you get them, more leads are better for your business.

Next, we’ll zero in on what each of these marketing types is, along with noteworthy differences between these two digital marketing strategies.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a method for attracting clients to your business by generating and promoting relevant information and incentives, whereas outbound marketing has the advantage of reaching those who have never heard of your business.

Inbound marketing is all about helping potential customers find your business, products, and services. It’s not directly about selling, but rather about raising visibility, creating brand awareness, and attracting new customers. With inbound marketing, you’re not hawking your products and services to potential clients. Instead, you’re building relationships with them while positioning your business to empower them to solve their problems.

The inbound methodology can be broken into three phases: attract, engage, delight. Each inbound leads example below can help you engage and nurture prospects, including the following:

  • content marketing
  • blogs
  • social media
  • e-books
  • SEO
  • video and live video
  • Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and other paid advertising

Some traits of inbound marketing are that it:

  • Pulls prospects in
  • Acknowledges their needs
  • Interacts with its audience
  • Stems naturally from the content being consumed

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Unlike inbound marketing, which is about pulling potential customers into your real estate business, outbound advertising is about pushing your messaging out. And outbound campaign strategy comprises more conventional marketing tactics, including:

  • email
  • direct mail
  • telemarketing
  • events
  • open houses
  • cold calls

Another way to look at it? Outbound marketing is a bit like casting a wide net in unknown waters. While it can be effective, it can also take a lot of manpower and money — and still come up short.

Some traits of outbound marketing are that it:

  • Pushes out your messaging to everyone
  • Is focused on selling
  • Is one-way in nature
  • Disrupts instead of complements content consumption

Here’s an example to help you differentiate between the two. Let’s say your business sells vacuum cleaners. Outbound marketing might involve you going door to door in the hopes of finding people who are not only at home and who will open the door to you, but who also happen to have dirty floors and need the vacuum you’re selling at the price you’re selling it for.  You also have a one-size-fits-all sales pitch for every door that opens — regardless of their individual problems or concerns.

Sure, you might get lucky every once in a while, but you’re also going to end up knocking on a lot of doors just to get the occasional sale.

With inbound marketing, on the other hand, you’d put up a website designed entirely to tell your ideal buyers about why the vacuum you’re selling meets their exact wants and needs. You’d also use relevant content, social media, and videos to get the word out — and you’d use SEO to make sure that when your ideal buyers start their search, they’ll find you and your products.

In other words, inbound marketing empowers customers to find you and your brand and to recognize that your specific products and services are the solution to their particular problem. It may take them longer to find you, but the ROI makes it worth the wait. Not to mention that the average cost per lead drops over the course of a consistent inbound marketing campaign.

What Are Inbound Leads?

Inbound lead generation refers to prospects who have responded to your inbound marketing. Perhaps they’ve commented on one of your Facebook posts about the hotness of the market at the moment. Or maybe they downloaded your e-book on how to stage a home. Each of these is an inbound lead example.

Depending on the action they’ve taken, they may or may not be ready for the next part of their journey. However, in starting the conversation with you, they’ve already indicated interest. They’re also coming to you with brand awareness and trust from the content you’ve shared. Generating inbound leads is a priority because they’re likely to be higher-quality leads.

What Are Outbound Leads?

Outbound lead generation refers to prospects you’ve reached out to — regardless of their awareness or intent. There are some advantages to going out to find leads, including the ability to target specific data sets who are more likely to be interested in your products and services. However, in general, marketers report that inbound marketing produces higher-quality leads than outbound marketing.

Additionally, with outbound leads you have a jump-start on your competition. Considering many people do buy from the first business with which they engage, outbound may also have the advantage here.

Inbound Versus Outbound Leads

Because there are unique pros and cons to inbound and outbound marketing as well as to inbound and outbound leads, it makes sense that you would deploy a mix of both as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

Together, they can help you build your customer base while also optimizing your budget. For example, you can push content you’ve created for your inbound channels to outbound channels, as well. You can also use outbound tactics to promote your blog, social media, and other inbound strategies.  

What Is a Digital Marketing Funnel?

“Digital marketing funnel” is another term you’re likely to come across while marketing your real estate business. This model is an encapsulation of your brand’s target customer’s journey to becoming a client. You may be wondering, “What is the customer’s journey?” This is simply the steps a person takes on their journey from prospect to lead to buyer.

While there are different versions of the funnel concept, it all comes down to the same thing: moving prospects further down the funnel from the awareness stage through to conversion. The best part? As soon as a purchase is made, this client reenters the funnel and begins the journey again.

You may be wondering why the digital marketing funnel is so important? The answer is simple: This approach allows you to segment and target your marketing actions to coincide with where buyers are on their journeys. This lets you deliver the exact content at exactly the right time.

Not only does this enhance your relationship with the buyer, but it also helps you maximize your own efforts. Rather than spending time on actions that aren’t relevant, you can focus on the actions that are most likely to move the buyer further down the funnel, into the next phase, and toward a desired action.

How Can Real Estate Agents Elevate Their Sales and Listings?

The real estate industry is competitive, with more agents joining the fray every day. In order for your business to survive and thrive, you must stand out from the competition. A strong digital marketing strategy can help you get ahead of the competition, build brand awareness, elevate your listings, attract more people, and generate more sales.

Some specific tactics for doing so include the following:

    1. Use SEO

      Whether they’re buyers or sellers, the majority of real estate clients today let their fingers do the clicking. Using search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that when prospective clients are looking for answers to their pressing real estate problems, they’ll find you.

    2. Mobile Marketing

      While some people still surf the internet on their home computers, the majority of people access content on mobile devices. If your website and other marketing initiatives aren’t mobile-optimized, you will lose frustrated clients.

      From easy loading to digestibility, your content must be accessible with the same degree of ease across every potential channel your target audience may be using, whether a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Plus, you’ll have to worry less about overcoming objections when you give visitors a seamless experience.

    3. Video Marketing

      Video marketing is having a major moment, and shows no signs of stopping. Today’s customers love videos, which tend to have higher conversion rates.

      Not only that, but Google loves video, too. If you’re looking to give your search rankings a boost, incorporating video marketing into your website will land you higher up on the page. This is because Google prioritizes content that is engaging to viewers, and video has proven time and again to deliver in this area.

    4. Online Reviews

      Credibility is critical for contemporary real estate businesses. After all, buying or selling a home is a huge decision requiring a significant degree of trust. While building trust should be the goal of all of your digital marketing efforts, online reviews are a unique opportunity to improve your credibility.

      This doesn’t just mean getting online reviews, though. It also means responding to all reviews, whether positive or negative. In addition to showing current clients that you care, it also shows prospective clients that you will give them the care and attention they seek.

    5. Performance Tracking

      There’s nothing more frustrating than implementing new marketing strategies without the means of knowing whether they’re actually working. Digital marketing lets you use metrics and analytics to see how your initiatives are performing. This knowledge can help you understand what’s working and what’s not, so you can make more informed decisions moving forward.

And these are just a few examples. From creating a real estate newsletter to using pay-per-click advertising, there are near-endless ways to use digital marketing to build your business.

One last marketing strategy worth mentioning? Making yourself a go-to resource for a specific market demographic or neighborhood is another marketing strategy that gets results. Known as “real estate farming,” this method “plants seeds” that will grow your reputation, brand, and business.

How Do You Make Your Marketing Efforts Work?

Whether you’re already using the spectrum of digital marketing strategies available to you, or you’re just starting to think about the digital marketing game, this marketing approach is now a necessity for one simple reason: If you are not using it but your competitors are, prospective clients will not only find them first, but will already have established relationships with them.

This also means that when it comes time for them to make buying decisions, you are unlikely to be top of mind. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. You may finish reading this guide to lead generation charged up to start putting what you’ve learned here into action. Or you may be wondering how you’re ever going to manage all of these other things when you’re laser-focused on the more immediate tasks and responsibilities of your role.

Well, we’ve got good news for you. Digital marketing agencies like The Light Digital specialize in helping real estate businesses harness the remarkable power of digital marketing for lead generation and much more. In handling all things digital marketing, an experienced team of digital strategists and management consultants will free you up to focus on the business at hand.

You don’t have to waste your unique manpower and expertise on something that’s outside of your wheelhouse, when you can outsource this real estate business imperative to a real estate marketing agency where people eat, sleep, and breathe it.

Not only that, but the fast-moving digital marketing space is always evolving. While you’re busy keeping up with the twists and turns of the complex real estate industry, a digital marketing agency will remain focused on the latest digital marketing trends and developments. It will then put what it has learned to work for you.

Lead generation is the key to helping real estate businesses generate new clients and get new listings with greater effectiveness. At The Light Digital, we can help you create and implement a lead generation strategy that will get the results you need to grow your real estate business.

Whether you’re looking for advice on how to get real estate listings or you’re seeking outbound lead generation strategies, we’ve got you covered. To learn more about how we can help you reach new customers and turn them into your clients, contact us at The Light Digital today.

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