3 ways to create real estate leads without breaking the bank

April 29, 2022
5 min read

Client acquisition makes or breaks a real estate agent’s business. Without customers to assist, an agent’s great home buying and selling expertise will go to waste—and more importantly, they won’t generate any revenue.

Real estate agents invest a great deal of time building their business. They use every available means to drum up traffic. They’re very quickly faced with a critical challenge: You need money to market, and you need to market to get leads. But you need leads to make money, and you need money to market…

Plenty of advertising options exist that won’t hurt your wallet. Before you sink your marketing budget into more expensive methods and platforms, you should exhaust the cheap or free lead gen options available to you. Here are three of the best ways for new and established real estate agents to drum up leads while minimizing spend.

Publish a Newsletter

Newsletters offer a simple, easy way to show off your brand and authority while creating opportunities for face-to-face interactions. Digital newsletters especially have exploded in popularity in recent years. You can send digital newsletters faster and to more targets at once than you ever could with paper newsletters.

Digital newsletters come in handy as your lead list grows. Those sent via email are of particular interest to younger homebuyers, with 60% of millennials expressing a willingness to sign up for multiple newsletters from a source they trust. The simple act of sending a copy of your newsletter to your lead list may reinvigorate leads you’d thought were dead or remind a procrastinating homeowner to give you a call.

Newsletter work especially well as a means for reaching out regularly to existing contacts. However, they can also be used to generate new leads altogether. One way to encourage prospects to sign up for your letter is to include it as a call to action in your website content. This enables you to capture valuable lead information while continuing to put your marketing material in front of them at regular intervals.

Write What You Know

Great content makes for a great newsletter. You don’t need to be a wordsmith to write attention-grabbing articles that appeal to the average homeowner. Readers also don’t want to waste their time reading articles about topics that don’t pertain to them. Stick with your area of expertise and write articles that:

  • Describe the state of the local housing market
  • Focus on hyper-local neighborhood news and community wins
  • Give pro tips on buying and selling homes
  • Share a recent testimonial

Keep It Short

Keep your newsletters brief to keep your readers focused on what’s important. Usually, a single 8.5" x 11" page front-and-back or even a large postcard format will do the trick. Aim to distribute a short monthly or even quarterly newsletter because:

  • Short newsletters enable higher quality articles over fewer editions
  • You shouldn’t dedicate a huge percentage of your lead generation time to a single method
  • Spacing out your publication schedule makes you less likely to over-frequent (and annoy) prospects

Use a Newsletter Template

Not comfortable with document design? Not to worry: Many sites online offer ready-to-use newsletter templates that pop.  For example, Canva offers many free-to-use templates that will help bring your content to the next level.

One of many newsletter templates available for free on Canva.

These templates work well for both digital and traditional formats. You can convert your newsletter into a proper format and send it to your prospects as an image or attachment via email. Additionally, you can create a printable version if you prefer door-to-door distribution.

Add a Personal Touch Through Print

Digital newsletters might be the wave of the future, but don’t count out good ol’ paper newsletters. You can hand valuable content off directly to people in their homes with a printed newsletter, which makes them a terrific value. The caveat with paper newsletter: printing’s not free. However, there are several cost-effective options available to help drive down the cost. Options for printing include:

  • A professional printing business. This is the highest-quality but priciest option. They’re the best option for high-volume orders or for agents looking to print color- or image-heavy newsletters.
  • Office suppliers and parcel delivery businesses. This is a more affordable option for smaller orders. For example, Staples charges 17 cents a copy for black-and-white prints, allowing you to print 500 copies for only $85.
  • Your office printer. An investment in a good printer makes for a cheaper long-term option — and one that you can use for other business-related tasks.

Print may seem old-fashioned to some, but real estate remains a personal business. People want to work with people, especially for something as stressful as buying and selling a home. Printed newsletters give you a chance to meet a prospect in person and an excuse to come back to speak with them in the future. Just remember: the odds are you won’t get the chance to meet every homeowner in the flesh. Include your contact information within your newsletter to drive traffic to your website.

Engage With Your Digital Community on Facebook Neighborhoods

Face-to-face community events were once the bread and butter of a real estate agent’s marketing approach. Recent years have seen many in-person events shift to online platforms, and Facebook remains one of the best places to build community in a digital space.

The Neighborhoods feature allows existing Facebook users to locate and engage with other users who live in the same location. The Neighborhood your business joins immediately becomes a list of potential prospects who live and work close by. You should consider everyone in your Facebook Neighborhood as a potential lead just waiting to be captured.

Neighborhoods function separately from “normal” Facebook. A post in Neighborhoods doesn’t carry over to your standard Facebook feed and vice versa. Participation requires you to build a separate profile, but the extra step is worth it. Neighborhoods users can:

  • Create, join, and post to groups around a specific interest (like Homeward’s Certified Agent group)
  • Issue surveys and polls to local users
  • Make recommendations to fellow Neighbors
Neighborhoods limits interactions to users in the same geographical community. (Source)

Simply joining your Neighborhood won’t net you prospects. You need to engage meaningfully with those in your area. For example:

  • Start or join a Chamber of Commerce–like group and periodically post business updates
  • Post surveys about the housing market and use them as a springboard for further discussion
  • Build posts focused on local listings
  • Advertise upcoming virtual and real-world business events

The content you post to Neighborhoods shouldn’t require hours of your attention daily. Repurpose your existing Facebook business posts, blog articles, or YouTube and TikTok videos to save time on content creation.

Establish Your Authority on YouTube

Never underestimate the power of a good YouTube video. YouTube still reigns supreme as the premier channel for longer, more substantial content. This makes it a perfect advertising means for real estate agents looking to build authority and trust with new prospects.

YouTube enables you to build evergreen content that engages and educates viewers while simultaneously showing off your brand and personality. You can film YouTube videos on relevant real estate topics, such as the process of buying a house before selling your own, that retain relevance for years. Any time you invest in a YouTube video will pay off through long-term returns on investment. On the other hand, filming highly time-sensitive content like a virtual walkthrough of a current listing is best left to short-form video platforms like TikTok.

The best part about YouTube, at least for real estate agents, is that it’s completely free. Once you sign up, you unlock the ability to upload unlimited videos to your channel. You’ll need to verify your account if you plan on adding videos that run longer than 15 minutes.

You also don’t need to drop significant cash to film the videos themselves. Most smartphones boast cameras of sufficient quality to film a great video. Those looking to enhance their video quality will find inexpensive phone tripods, lights, and more online. Pro tip for Apple users: Your Apple Watch doubles as a camera remote and timer.

Keep in mind the following tips when using YouTube to advertise your business:

Show Off Your Expertise

The long-form nature of YouTube videos makes the platform perfect for diving into the intricacies of real estate. Your YouTube channel should contain:

  • How-to videos on subjects like home sale/purchase preparations
  • Conversations around nuanced topics like whether or not you should look to buy or sell
  • Home tours
  • Interviews with industry experts
  • Reviews from highly satisfied customers
  • Hyper-local videos on the real estate climate of specific neighborhoods

Use Your Videos in Other Marketing Materials

YouTube contains the familiar “Like and Subscribe” features of other social media platforms that help build an in-platform following. However, you can share a video from the platform on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more to reach an audience that expands beyond YouTube’s estimated 210 million American users. You can also embed videos in emails or on your website to add pizzazz to your more static marketing materials.

Include a Link to Your Website in the Video Description

Remember that even a million unique views on YouTube don’t automatically equate to a single lead. You need to provide an easy way for your viewers to jump from your video to your website. Most successful YouTube creators rely on links in the video description to send users where they need to go next.

An example of linking in the YouTube video description. (Source)

YouTube allows you to add clickable links to the end of your actual videos, but with a catch: you need to enroll in its Partner Program first. You’ll need to accrue 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers before you’ll qualify for the Partner Program, so it’s a service you should look into once you’ve established a robust following.

Don’t Lose Your Leads

You work hard to capture your leads, so don’t let them fall by the wayside. Buying and selling homes is a time-consuming business. Your initial efforts to represent a new client may fall flat, but their minds may change as they navigate the home buying or selling process in the weeks or months that follow. Without a record of prospect names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers, you’ll have no way of staying in communication with prospects into the future.

Keep track of your leads in a way that best fits your existing budget. Agents in the early days of building their business can create a surprisingly robust lead tracker using Google Sheets. More established agents should consider investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that tracks lead information and collects valuable data and interactions as leads become clients.

No matter what method you choose, keep careful record of your prospects and the last date you reached out to them. Not every single lead is ready to buy or sell today. However, your consistent efforts to build trust with them will put you at the top of their thoughts when the time comes to make a change.

Ready to learn how to find leads buried deep within your directory? Watch this on-demand webinar hosted by Homeward Chief Real Estate Officer Brian Gubernick to discover the keys to unlocking leads in your database.

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