CJ Hays: Real Estate Websites Don’t Generate Leads

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CJ Hays is the founder of Agent Reputation. Previously, he was the marketing director for Virtual Results, one of the first real estate website design companies to bring WordPress into the real estate industry. He is currently a vendor in the online reputation industry and he has an internal website design team. He actually goes back as far as AOL with website marketing. Suffice it to say, CJ knows a few things. And we’re grateful he’s sharing some of  what he knows with our readers!


Why real estate websites don’t generate leads.

CJ Hays Agent Reputation
CJ Hays of Agent Reputation

Websites are online containers for your branding, lead capture tools and calls to action (CTA’s). You could have the greatest looking website in the world with the best CTA’s and lead capture tools, but without TRAFFIC, the tools will go unused. Websites, in of themselves, do not generate leads without traffic.

Getting traffic to your site today is totally different than it was “back in the day.” Four years ago, even, if you were doing SEO correctly, you actually had a chance to appear on page one of the search engines organically whether from your own efforts or a professional SEO company.

Now that Google has removed the 7-pack and most of the page one search results are filled up with Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, Trulia, Movoto and international brokerages, organic traffic has been reduced significantly. Then again, Google has been acquiring real estate technology companies, and who knows what is around the corner.

Organic search results are dying, so you need to pay for real estate leads or traffic.

That gives you two options. You can pay for leads from the Zillows of the world, Facebook ads, seller lead systems, display ads, etc., or hire a company that manages pay-per-click campaigns on your behalf. Back in the day, BoomTown was the leader and now there are any number of companies offering PPC lead generation for Realtors.

Generally, there are two methods for PPC management companies to market their products. Companies that are strictly lead gen via PPC will loan you a website (container) with lead capture tools and a CRM as a destination for the PPC traffic. The only negative was that you did not own your real estate website. If you used their website as your branded mothership and chose to move away from their marketing company, you were starting all over in the search engines with whatever new site you chose to go with. You are being loaned your container to capture leads from PPC traffic.

The second type of company is marketing themselves as providing “websites that generate leads”. If websites don’t generate leads, how is that possible?

You are a Realtor. You see ads that state THEIR websites generate more leads or THEIR websites will generate a specific percentage of leads, leading the Realtor-consumer to believe if they switch sites they will have leads coming out their ears. They describe a Mercedes, yet they have left out your need to put gas in the car for it to run. Sure, all of these companies WILL generate leads at different quality levels, but ONLY if you pay to drive traffic to the sites.

The dollars you spend on ad buys and PPC is the gas that drives the traffic.

Please don’t think I am against companies in the lead gen business. There are some great companies out there that make enormous profits for my clients each year from the leads they are receiving. The purpose of this post is an attempt to clarify what a website actually is. So when you go shopping for a site, you know the difference between owning your own website outright versus a site being loaned or rented to you as the destination for their marketing campaigns you have to pay for.

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