3 Keys to Capturing Qualified Leads Online

Jesse Friedman, cofounder of content sponsor TORCHx, discusses winning web strategies to attract qualified prospects online.

One of the biggest challenges any real estate agent or broker faces is trying to generate qualified leads. Many buy contact lists or partner with real estate portals to drive traffic to their website and improve their organic search engine results position. But too often, these approaches attract “looky-loos” who aren’t serious about buying.

You don’t want to just capture more leads; you need more qualified leads. That’s where savvy pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can produce a stellar return on investment. Here are three keys to maximizing your results with this tool.

1. Target a qualified audience by bidding on relevant, high-volume keywords and locations. Use research tools such as Google's AdWords Keyword Planner to find keywords that are relevant to your business and get a high volume of searches. Adding geographic modifiers to your keyword terms augments your ability to attract high quality clicks. For example, a real estate agent or broker in Phoenix could use keywords such as “Homes for sale Phoenix,” “Houses for sale Phoenix,” “Homes for sale in Phoenix” or “Houses for sale in Phoenix.”

You can boost your click-through-ratio even further by using narrowly focused keywords that include:

  • Specific neighborhoods, subdivisions, or housing tracts (“Homes for sale in Fair Oaks subdivision”)
  • The types of housing stock you specialize in, such as condos, duplexes, apartments, or vacation homes (“Condos for sale Snow Valley”)
  • Popular school districts where homes are in high demand (“Homes for sale  school district 271”).

2. Include a unique selling proposition in your ad copy to appeal to the specific audience you’re targeting. To differentiate your PPC ads from other agents and brokers using the same keywords, focus on your unique selling proposition—what makes you different from the competition.

If you're not sure what differentiates you, think about the kinds of compliments you hear from clients. Do you respond quickly to customer questions, calls, and texts, even at night and on weekends? Well, according to National Association of REALTORS® research, 94 percent of buyers say that agent responsiveness is very important to their buying experience, so highlighting that unique selling proposition makes sense. Using keywords like “Quick response time” and “Available nights and weekends” in your PPC ad copy will grab prospects' attention.

Other key differentiators to consider:

  • Do you specialize in a certain type of property, such as condominiums or vacation homes? Incorporate keywords such as "Vacation home specialist” or "Experienced in co-op apartments.”
  • Have you worked in the same community for decades, making you intimately familiar with the characteristics of its different neighborhoods? Try key phrases such as, "Expert on local neighborhoods” or “Expert on Edgewater neighborhood.”
  • Are you a skilled negotiator who prides yourself on getting your clients the best deal on their new home? Keywords such as “Experienced in negotiation” will highlight those strengths.

3. Ensure your website has all the features buyers want. Before you ever place a PPC ad, make sure the website you’re sending prospects to is ready to capture leads. If consumers visit your website and don't find the information your ad promised, they won't stick around.

In the most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR found home buyers who search for properties online called out these elements as some of the most useful website features:

  • Photos — 99% find them useful; 89% said they’re very useful
  • Detailed information about property for sale — 99% (85% - very useful)
  • Neighborhood information – 85% (44% - very useful)
  • Interactive maps – 72% (41% - very useful)

The more details your website offers about the cities, communities, and neighborhoods in your area, the better. Ratings of local schools, images of local attractions, and statistics about the community will all get leads to spend more time on your site.

Of course, real estate listings are the heart of your website. Without them, leads won't take the next step to engage with you. Listings that update in real time make your website a valuable resource for home buyers. The more photos of each property you can add, the better. Offer search functionality that simplifies house hunting: Visitors should be able to filter results using criteria such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, specific neighborhoods, or price range.

Since 77 percent of home buyers believe searching for homes on a mobile device is very useful, it's also imperative that your real estate website be mobile-friendly, using responsive design so it’s as attractive and usable on a smartphone as it is on a desktop. Log on to your site with a smartphone and make sure your contact information is easy to find. A click-to-call button encourages mobile users to call you.

These steps will help you attract more qualified visitors online and transform your website into a resource home buyers will visit again and again.