• Knowing the difference between lead generation and branding is foundational to building your real estate business.
  • When you invest in lead generation, you escape the proverbial feast or famine most agents experience.
  • If your web presence is dependent upon your brokerage or franchise, you don't have a website. You have a place card -- a cheap online brochure. Get a website of your own.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make a wish about where the best place is to spend your lead generation budget and the answer would magically appear?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be guaranteed a strong return on investment and never waste your money?

Well, there is an answer, and I’m going to share it with you. But first, to have a guaranteed return, you must understand this: There are two different ways to spend money; one is on lead generation (lead capture and conversion), and the other is on branding, which is also known as exposure or name recognition.

Any money you spend online needs to be focused on capturing leads. Online lead generation is not about branding, it’s not about getting your name out there, and it’s not about exposure. It’s about lead capture and conversion. That’s it — just lead capture and conversion.

Any money spent on sponsorships, scholarships or charity involvement should be focused on giving back to your community — knowing that there is a benefit in people seeing you involved in your community. You will reap some exposure, but this form of spending is absolutely not about lead capture and conversion.

Once you understand this simple concept — the difference between spending for lead capture and spending to give back — your results will change drastically.

Here’s where to spend your lead generation money in 2016:

1. Training

Training is important and insanely valuable. You definitely want to “always be learning.” Even if you are delegating most of the tasks to assistants, you want to have a strategic understanding of what you are about to implement into your business. Don’t outsource strategy and understanding. Outsource tasks.

Take some time to figure out where your knowledge gaps are, and seek out training that fills in those holes. Don’t keep taking the same types of training over and over again.

Be proactive and focus on your deficiencies. Budget money to get the training you need, and then be action-focused and implement the training you should spent time and money on.

2. Facebook budget

A Facebook budget is imperative in 2016. In other words, if you want to generate high-quality, action-taking real estate leads in 2016, you must implement a Facebook strategy.

I’m not talking about running basic home value ads. I’m talking about an entire Facebook strategy.

This goes far beyond Facebook ads. If you want something that works all the time, without fail, that consistently brings in high-quality leads, you must implement a Facebook strategy in your real estate business.

3. Website

Wait! Don’t skip over this one. You’re probably thinking “I’ve already got a Web presence, so I’m good to go.” But I’m here to say you’re probably not good to go.

You need a website with a few key features. It needs to be:

  • Mobile responsive
  • Lead-capture optimized
  • Content-marketing focused

Every single one of these is high-priority. If you want to leverage your website to capture real estate leads and to leverage it to build “know, like and trust” relationships, you must have all three of these in your website.

If your Web presence is dependent upon your brokerage or franchise, you don’t have a website. You have a cheap online brochure. Grow your business up. Get your own website.

4. Landing page software

Yes, you need landing page-specific software. If you want to step out of the proverbial industry box of terrible conversion rates, you must have landing page software that truly converts the traffic that you drive to it.

Driving traffic to a page on your website that has a sign-up form is not a landing page. Well, it might seem like a landing page, but it’s not a conversion-focused landing page. In fact, in the majority of cases, it’s a useless waste of space.

Your goal is to grab traffic by the throat and compel visitors to opt-in. They’ll know without a doubt that you have the solution to all of their problems, and they’ll basically throw their contact information at you.

5. Email marketing software

Your email marketing software is the foundation of your entire lead capture and conversion process.

No, I’m not talking about a real estate contact relationship management. I’m talking about software (not Outlook or Gmail) whose sole job is to focus on your email marketing.

And no, I don’t mean a vendor who writes and sends your emails for you. I’m talking about a software tool like MailChimp that sets you up for email marketing success.

As an industry, we are so focused on delegating and outsourcing that we think we can outsource relationship building. We focus on only the ripe apples hanging from the tree and forget that all of the rest of the apples will ripen as well.

We think that building relationships only comes after we’ve either talked with or met in-person with someone. That’s a lie.

“Know, like and trust” relationships begin the moment a lead takes action — whether that action is visible by you or not. If a lead takes enough steps toward you and gives you their email address, you need to keep building that relationship. That comes not through “touching the lead” but through you revealing yourself over time via email.

If you want a strong, consistent and stable real estate business, you must be capturing short-term leads and nurturing long-term leads.

Access a checklist of the most recommended places to spend your lead generation budget here.

Christina Ethridge is the founder of LeadsAndLeverage.com.

Email Christina Ethridge.

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