For Jason Weiloch, of Keller Williams Realty’s Metro Atlanta Office, putting one’s name out into the digital arena is a significant tool that agents can use to make sure that prospective leads find their way to the door.
“I think having a good online presence is… key,” Wieloch said. “You need a personal website that looks good and makes people think you do certain business, but it really is a billboard at this point. You have to be on social media and you want to be talking real estate.”
With buyers turning to the internet for information, it’s easy to see why maintaining a good online profile can attract prospective leads. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 92 percent of home buyers are using the internet in the search for their dream home, and 42 percent of buyers say that going online and looking for homes is the first step in their search process.
Agents have to be able to turn these internet searches into quality leads, and Eric Boyenga, part of a husband-and-wife team that works under Intero Real Estate in Santa Clara County, Calif., finds that presenting a good online front can prove an agent’s expertise to prospective clients.
Boyenga makes particular use of the tools the online world has had to offer. He has used online real estate database Zillow.com’s paid Premier Agent service since it was launched and maintains brand visibility with targeted online ads which appear in sidebars after people have visited his website. “We have found that to be really great at building our brand and building word of mouth,” he commented. “We do spend some money on Premier Agent… but a lot of stuff is just spending the time to build your profile, build your testimonial, keep up on advice, or add some content to Zillow.”
However both Boyenga and Wieloch stressed that online methods, while crucial to maintaining a good profile, aren’t going to be enough to generate successful leads.
“I think it’s been proven that when I’m having a relationship with my past clients and showing my appreciation, it’s really my referral sources that bring the best results,” Wieloch reflected. “It’s the cheapest way to get business. You have to invest a lot more in full prospecting in marketing and mailing and you have to talk to a lot of people to get the same results. For new agents it’s a little tougher, obviously.”
In the case of newer agents, Wieloch recommends that they “start with the people you know and get a database, get on the phone and just call, call, call.”
“You have to have your face in as many relevant places as possible,” he said.
While Boyenga is a strong advocate of building and maintaining a strong online brand, he found last year that a burst of print advertising and postcards concentrated in local neighborhoods brought him good results. After that experience, he strongly recommends a blend of old-fashioned and newer strategies, such as collecting contact information and keeping those contacts abreast of everything that’s happening in their local market, with everything from new listings to recent sales.
“As much as the industry tries to automate stuff, people want to hear from someone who’s knowledgeable in their local area,” Boyenga explained. “For someone who is new to the business, go in feet first and learn as much as you can about the market itself and be able to convey that to any prospective lead.”