To say that the real estate lead generation strategies have been in state of flux in the past few years is a wild understatement. While cold calling and sphere prospecting will always work, technology has thrown a monkey wrench in the works.
While a growth mindset helps, you still need to find new secret sauces and to learn how to cook with them. To help you find that sauce and start cooking, we put together this list of what we think are the top real estate lead generation trends for 2018.
1. Zillow Will Form an Even Closer Bond with Agents
2017 was a banner year for Zillow with deeper rollouts of auction-based pricing and Facebook advertising programs geared toward sellers. In 2018, we find the world’s largest real estate website refusing to kick up their feet and let other sites innovate. In 2018, Zillow has already started to offer buyer’s agents more ways to stay top of mind with leads.
Example: Zillow’s New “My Agent” Program
One of the most frustrating things about working as a buyer’s agent is, well, working with buyers. Even if they mean well, many buyers end up clicking on Premier agent ads to schedule showings. Sometimes, they click on ads even when you’ve been working with them for weeks.
Less than ethical agents often don’t even ask if they’re already working with a buyer’s agent and just set up blind showings. Even with the most loyal buyers, this can lead to sticky procuring cause situations.
In order to help agents remember that they already have a buyer’s agent, Zillow’s new My Agent program offers a unique solution.
Instead of the typical sidebar of smiling Premier Agents and the listing agent, the new program will actually show your picture in the sidebar. Even better, it will show under the heading “Contact Your Agent”.
That means less confusion, and maybe even a subtle encouragement for buyers to (finally) stick with one agent for the long haul.
The My Agent program has so far been rolled out when buyer’s answer certain questions and “choose” their agent. New for 2018, Zillow now automatically displays this feature for buyers who are successfully connected to an agent through Zillow’s Premier Agent Concierge Program.
2. Mobile Will be ALL That Matters
If you’ve been dragging your feet about using a mobile first lead generation strategy, you might be giving up leads in 2018. If you’re still not convinced, I’ll let this year’s data (compiled by Buffer) speak for itself:
- Facebook: 94 percent of its monthly active users are on mobile
- Twitter: 82 percent of its monthly active users are on mobile
- LinkedIn: 60 percent of its unique visitors access LinkedIn via a mobile device
- Pinterest: 80 percent of its traffic comes from mobile devices
- Snapchat: 100 percent of Snapchat users access the app through mobile
- Instagram: No data, but Instagram is primarily a mobile first app
So what exactly does a “mobile first” real estate lead generation campaign look like? Well, this might look very different for different Realtors. That said, here are a few pointers to make sure your current lead generation strategy is focused on mobile:
- Make sure all images, videos, or animations look great on mobile
Do you have copy, or other elements of your images that won’t be legible on mobile? Make sure to look for images that look great on phones and tablets.
- Use landing page software like Unbounce to create responsive landing pages
How nice your landing pages look on mobile should be your primary concern if you’re advertising on any of the above platforms.
- Make sure your Facebook ad headlines don’t get cut off on mobile
While your lengthy headline might make sense on desktop, it could be getting cut off on mobile. Before you publish your ads, make sure your titles work on mobile AND desktop. In most cases this will involve shorter titles.
- Make sure to use large “call now” buttons on your mobile site and landing pages
Even if your site and landing pages are mobile responsive, you still need to make it easy for people to call you. While tapping text phone numbers works on Iphones, it doesn’t always work on Android. Use buttons instead.
- Use mobile first design for your email list
According to one study, mobile email opens have grown by 180% in the last three years. That means that the chances of your audience opening your email on their phone or tablet are high. Make sure they open something that looks great on mobile.
- Make sure your paragraphs in blog posts are no more than three lines tall
If you’re of a fan of my articles on Fitsmallbusiness.com, you may have noticed a difference here on The Close.Since our audience is primarily mobile, we use shorter paragraphs. Much easier to read!
3. Facebook Newsfeed is Dead… Long Live Facebook Groups!
Nick Baldwin, COO, of LabCoatAgents
Let’s face it, most agents who were using Facebook for organic lead generation are now scrambling to find a new way to get leads on the platform. While advertising on Facebook can have a great ROI, nothing beats the natural engagement and usefulness of Facebook Groups.
Here’s Nick Baldwin, COO of Lab Coat Agents on why he thinks Facebook groups will be a great way to generate leads in 2018:
Let’s face it though, building an audience with a Facebook group is time consuming. If you want to start generating lead again right away, try poking your head into established local Facebook groups and answering people’s real estate related questions.
The idea, as with all content marketing, is to provide actual value for your audience. That means holding back on pushing new listings,
4. Agents Will Finally Tap Into Big Data
Although there have been rumblings about big data “disrupting” the real estate industry for years now, we feel that 2018 is the year agents start actually using it. After all, many lead generation, appraisal, and purchasing decisions rely on massive amounts of data for accuracy.
In the past, parsing this data was virtually impossible for all but the most sophisticated tech companies. Today, that power can often be found in your Iphone.
Here are two startups that use big data and predictive analytics that we see agents and teams using in a big way in 2018:
Google Ventures backed startup HouseCanary leverages big data to help appraisers, Realtors, and consumers with perhaps the most difficult job in real estate: coming up with an accurate appraisal for a home.
HouseCanary uses county assessor records, MLS listings, and consumer, regional, and behavioral metrics to come up with an accurate value for your listing. Even better, they can parse the data to come up with a value forecast for the next three years.
Since they offer such an innovative product and have such deep pockets, many of your more savvy seller leads will expect you to use HouseCanary to supplement your CMA.
Surprisingly, HouseCanary reports are affordable enough to use for lead generation. $54 per month gets you ten reports you can share with hot seller leads.
You can also truthfully claim that you’re using the latest big data technology to help your clients sell their homes. This is sure to impress techies, or anyone who works in finance or another data heavy field.
5. Predictive Analytics Will Laser Target Lead Gen
Along with Big Data, predictive analytics is another industry buzzword that we think will finally start to become more realistic in 2018.
While big data groups together massive data sets from disparate sources, predictive analytics uses that data along with people’s behavior online to predict future behavior. If you’ve built a custom audience for your Facebook ads, you’ve already been using it.
Here’s Director of Strategic Innovation for Baird & Warner Wyllys Mann on the importance of predictive analytics in 2018:“Big Data and the behavioral modeling that accompanies it enables agents and brokerage to much more effectively target investment in Lead Gen. Where once consumers in our industry were just grouped geographically, it is now possible- even easy- to group consumers in tribes- group who share common lifestyle traits. This means that agents and brokerages can create messaging that is responsive to the pain points experienced by individuals in the market rather than broad generalized statements, like “We’re #1”. Targeted prospecting, marketing, and lead follow-up is always more effect and data is making it easier to target very specifically”
Want to try your hand at integrating predictive analytics to your lead generation this year? Here are two companies offering interesting predictive analytics products for Realtors in 2018:
Believe it or not, Experian actually offers Realtors mailing lists based on reams of data that predict when local residents are ready to move.
You can create lists based on length of residence, age and income, census tract data, and even who has children.
Smartzip not only offers predictive analytics to help focus your lead generation, but an entire marketing platform to go along with it. The platform includes emails, mailers, and online marketing.
6. More & More Agents Will Take Advantage of Messenger Apps
Here’s the thing. The changes to the Facebook news feed means more agents are going to try their hand at buying ads on Facebook. That could mean rates going up. Even if they don’t go up, learning the latest techniques to generate leads from your Facebook advertising is a smart move.
One way to get noticed in the coming dea of Facebook ads from Realtors is to try Facebook Messenger ads. Check out the excellent quick start guide on Facebook Messenger advertising from real estate Facebook advertising guru Nate Dadosky below.
7. 3D Tours Will Move from Optional to Must Have
Let’s face it. Matterport is pretty typical of first movers in the tech industry. They helped pioneer a a new technology in an industry. Of course, like most first movers, they are at significant risk of being outpriced and outperformed by smaller rivals.
Along with the Zillow 3D Home App, camera companies like Richoh now sell affordable, high quality VR cameras that are easy to use.
Zillow offers 3d tours via an app for free, ricoh camera is $300 and looks pretty good. For high end homes matterports slight increase in quality plus additional features like highlighting fixtures and appliances are going to be big.
Amazingly, for as little as $229, you can buy a fully 3D camera from Richoh that offers a pretty good approximation of the 3D image from Matterport’s $4000 camera. In response, Matterport is cutting prices and lowering turnaround time to compete.
Example: Zillow 3D Home App
In order to battle with 3D tour giant Matterport, Zillow is now offering an innovative 3D tour platform bundled with their Premier Agent app, that runs on Apple IOS. That means any agent with an Iphone may soon be able to create a 3D tour without paying for a professional Matterport camera.
That said, if you’re an Android user you’re out of luck. Zillow’s new 3D tours, the oddly named called “Zillow Group Home Capture” is so far only available for Iphones.
If you’re already invested in Matterport, you may want to rethink your strategy. After putting the time and money developing their own 3D app, there is little chance of Zillow allowing them to be uploaded with your listing. A shame, because Matterport still has far superior image quality and 3d capability.
8. VR/AR Will Revolutionize Pre-Construction Sales
If you’re involved in new development marketing or want to be, then you need to check out where VR/AR is heading for 2018.
VR (Virtual Reality) allows prospective buyers to immerse themselves in a simulated space before it’s even built. AR (Augmented Reality) allows them to swap out fixtures, tiles, paint or other finishes even on existing spaces.
To get a sense of where VR is for 2018, we talked to Mathew Shaffer of Radical Galaxy Studio. Here’s what he told us:“For the new construction and home remodeling industries, using virtual reality will become common place,” said Matthew Shaffer of Radical Galaxy Studio. “Since the abilities to change through different materials and even structural elements will save clients time and money and give them a truer sense of the finished product, they will insist that their builders and designers give them this option before they put down their deposits.”
“Being able to form an emotional connection and seeing how the different elements come together makes a big difference for clients,”
Want to see just how impressive this technology is today? Check out this demo of Radical’s work below:
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