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  • Writer's pictureChristy Murdock

What's the difference between buying leads and content marketing?

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When I first went into real estate, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding marketing and lead gen. So much of the advice I received was about getting what I would call cold leads -- door knocking, cold calling and so on. For many people who have had some success in real estate, I would say they are still working on cold leads, only now they are buying them from places like Zillow.

Some brokers spend a lot of money on lead gen as well, spending thousands a month to capture contact info then passing it on to their agents. Many of these brokers expect big returns for that investment, and shame agents who don't convert those purchased leads.

But as many of you may have found, the problem is not with the agent, it's with the quality of the leads. In any given batch of purchased leads, a large percentage will include fake names, fake numbers, and fake email addresses.

In addition, we know that conversion comes from fast responses. Many times brokers who don't have a good way to distribute leads to their agents create a lag time of hours, days, or even weeks, dooming any chances those agents have of converting the now ice-cold leads.

The Content Marketing Difference

So how is content marketing different from purchased leads, cold calling, door knocking, and other lead capture methods?

  • Content Marketing produces warm leads.

When a potential client finds you through your blog, a well-executed email blast, or social media marketing that redirects to an expertly crafted website, they've reached out because they like what they see.

They have a positive view of you -- your market expertise, your professionalism, or even just your way of presenting yourself in a video or podcast. That's a big difference from an ice-cold lead you get from a service or a cold-call. In those cases you often have to sell yourself just to get a listing or buyer presentation appointment, then sell yourself again at that meeting. With content marketing, they want to work with you from the jump.

  • Content Marketing works 24/7.

When you receive a cold lead from Zillow, you have only a few seconds to respond. Check out the chart below to see how fast a lead declines within the first minute.

Courtesy of Software Advice

Even if your brokerage has an incredibly effective lead distribution automation, you're probably not going to get the lead sent to you and respond within five seconds. And what do you do with those leads that come in in the middle of the night, when someone is up late searching for homes in their price range?

What if instead that late night looky-loo was checking out your blog content on their ideal neighborhood or your video analysis of market price trends in their area? They decide to start following you on social media since you clearly know what's up, then reach out to you when they're ready start looking.

A cold lead lasts for a minute but great content properly distributed lasts and remains relevant for days, weeks, months, or even years.

  • Content Marketing is cost-effective.

Say you spend $1000 a month (just for the sake of argument -- you'll actually end up spending far more) and get five leads in return each month. Let's say you have an incredible follow-up system that averages a 1 in 10 conversion to people who actually want to work with you. According to industry analysts, of the cold leads you successfully contact 95% don't work out.

That's $12,000 a year to maybe get one of those leads to the closing table. At a $300,000 average home sale price and a 3% commission, you're looking at $12,000 in commissions. Subtract the $12,000 for the leads themselves plus the additional cost of your follow-up automation system or staffing. You're spending a lot of money and time and making no difference in your business's bottom line -- in fact, you may end up in the red!

Instead, spend that $1000 on two or three custom blog posts a month, plus distribution content or social media management. Repurpose that content with an email blast to your sphere.

Over time, you'll build an audience that can't wait to work with you and unlike those purchased leads, that audience is available to you day after day. Your content doesn't get cold or go out of style -- it continues to generate new leads and new clients for years to come.

  • Content Marketing generates leads and helps to convert them.

Unlike purchased leads that just sit there getting colder, content marketing builds conversion into the lead gen process. When someone reads your insightful blog or watches your video, they are being converted at the same time that they are learning about you.

Interact with them on social media or add them to your email distribution list and you're building in nurturing and follow-up. Know what their favorite neighborhood is? Because you know something about them you can reach out to them with insights that are perfect for their wishlist and timeline. Even add a blog post or a Facebook Live from that neighborhood with them in mind.

Unlike a purchased lead that knows nothing about you, every element of a content marketing plan bakes in the expertise and communication that is key to conversion. That keeps those leads warm until they're red-hot!

A meaningful content marketing plan is the essential foundation of marketing for almost every industry. It's only in real estate that we're stuck in old-fashioned lead-gen models. Step up your marketing and create a foundation that will continue to pay dividends for years to come.

Check out Content Accelerator, my done-for-you content solution, to get started or, if you're ready to scale up, contact me to discuss a custom plan.

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