Once your sphere/database has been exhausted you need a new source for clients. There are offline methods for developing leads and clients such as open houses, door knocking and cold calling, but online is where it’s at these days.

I know your first thought may be to scroll through this article because it is long, but each point is truly is critical. This article, in order, will deal with why online lead generation is the new big thing, the different ways to generate leads online, how to convert those leads and how to turn them into over $100,000 a year in income.

Story continues below

Why are online lead-generation strategies permeating the new Realtor zeitgeist? There are a number of reasons:

  1. They work so you don’t have to. Online lead-generation strategies work round the clock; they work while you’re with clients, sleeping and while you’re taking a day off.
  2. They work continuously. They keep generating leads for the long term, which helps avoid the boom-and-bust cycles of real estate. This keeps you from getting too busy with clients to build your pipeline, then get desperate when those deals are done, then do mega marketing, get busy and repeat the cycle again.
  3. They can target your ideal client type – you choose who you target.
  4. People research real estate online before they find a Realtor. By the time they are actively looking they either already have a Realtor, or they at least have a shortlist.’

How to generate leads online


“I have a website but don’t get leads, so online lead gen doesn’t work.”

Just having a website doesn’t generate leads because people don’t know it is there. If your search engine optimization is on-point and you’re at the top of Google, then sure, that will work for lead gen. You just optimize your website for viewer-to-lead conversions. If your SEO doesn’t have you at the top of Google, then be prepared to invest tens of thousands of dollars in hiring a company to get you near the top of web searches over the next year. Yes, it takes that long. If you don’t have the money to hire a company, then spend time on courses and improving your own SEO…but it will still take that long. And realistically, 95 per cent plus of Realtors quit before they start getting results because it is such a grind and they quit/burn out before they succeed.

Another way to get leads from your website is to do paid advertising. This can be done with either online or offline advertising. But to get leads from a website you need the traffic that converts into leads. If you’re wondering how much traffic you need to get leads, keep this in mind: the average website conversion is one to three per cent (and Realtor websites are generally less than one per cent).  So, if you convert let’s say one in 50 leads, you’ll need 50 leads…which will require at least 5,000 viewers.

Organic social media marketing:

Generating leads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is the new holy grail of online business. Most Realtors, however, are more “The Knights who say Ni” as opposed to a social media ninja.

Social media marketing works for lead generation, but it is also a long-term strategy. You need to first develop your audience…because without an audience you have no strategy. Then you need to engage and grow that audience. Then you need to turn them into leads and clients. Once you have an avid follower, turning them into a client is significantly easier than a cold call or cold lead.

The challenge of social media marketing is defining your brand, establishing your audience and building it. While it’s about establishing a great connection through marketing, it is a numbers game partially. About one per cent of the population is buying or selling a house at any given time. So, if you want four clients a month you need at least 4,000 engaged followers – and that is if every person following you who is thinking of buying and selling uses you (and not their husband’s mother, cousin or best friend’s best friend). You’re not going to sign every follower looking to buy or sell, so you need a large group of ACTIVE social media followers. If you don’t have that now you need to grind to build a bigger following or do paid promotions to build your audience.

Social media ads:

I specialize in social media ads – especially Facebook lead-gen ads, and here’s why: your website isn’t going to spontaneously get leads. Your social media isn’t going to go beyond your current sphere of “friends” or “followers” without getting more exposure. To get leads online you need traffic/viewers. Period.

You can get traffic to your website or social profile, then hope someone follows you or contacts you (a low percentage), or you can get the lead from the get-go. Ad types like Facebook’s Lead Generation gets you the name, email and phone number, then you immediately pick up the phone and start a conversation. If you do paid advertising to send people to your website or social media profile(s), you’re going to lose 96 per cent plus of that traffic. And the ones you do capture then need to be nurtured just to become a lead.

The way I look at things is that instead of spending your time getting traffic to your website or social profile/page/group, only for most of them to leave and the rest to be nurtured over time to turn into a lead, spend that time/money turning them into a lead immediately. When you get right to the lead stage you take out the time nurturing them and instead turn them from a lead to a client. It cuts out the middleman.

Check out my article on ways to do authentic Facebook ads.

How to convert online leads

You have online leads – awesome! Now what?

Online leads aren’t referrals or a warm lead from your second cousin. There’s no magic bullet solution here, unfortunately. They take work. If you don’t want to work to get their business, sorry but I can’t help you (and I don’t think anyone can).

There are two major approaches to converting online leads into clients:

  1. The email list /drip campaign marketing: For those getting a large amount (at least a thousand a month) of leads from their website, have social media marketing and/or paid advertising and are too busy to reach out to each lead individually, there’s the drip-campaign (email marketing game) option. This can work well if you have a large number of leads coming in and have a great email conversion campaign. Your conversion rates will be low though, between one and four per cent.
  2. The phone call: I am such a huge fan of the good old-fashioned phone call. You can send a thousand emails and get nowhere but make 20 phone calls and get a meeting.

Choose wisely.

To convert leads you really need to connect with them on the phone, which is the precursor to in person (the only real closing capability for leads). If you want to convert online leads, you need to talk to people. Period. You can work up to a conversation, but you’ll never get their business without a meeting.

To book meetings you need to block time – and stick to that – every day to follow up on your leads. You will not succeed without this and you’ll be stuck in a boom and bust cycle forever. You need to call people one to three times a day until you reach them, almost every day. If you’re sincere about helping them they will thank you for not giving up on them.

The final thing is to look to lead-conversion training. Online leads aren’t warm referrals…they take hard work. You don’t learn how to convert online leads in real estate licensing school. There’s a ton of agents who think they are amazing at converting online leads, but when push comes to shove…. they aren’t. Do not be afraid of that. Your favourite electrician couldn’t sell real estate and you couldn’t rewire a house up to code if your life depended on it. Look at learning online lead conversion as learning new strategies that build on what you already know. The best of the best are always learning and expanding their knowledge and skills.

How to turn online leads into over $100,000 a year in income

While leads are a numbers game to a certain extent, I never believe that leads should be treated like a number. These are people, and my top clients truly care about every person they talk to. Having said that, despite how much you care about each person you talk to, not every one of them will become a client.

For online lead conversion (from lead to client) you’re looking at a rate of at best four per cent. Most of my best converters get three per cent but the bulk are at two per cent.

So, you know what it takes to get a client online. Now let’s reverse engineer your income. If you want just $100,000 a year you need to look at your average income per deal. For example, if you make about $5,000 per deal (after paying expenses), then you need 20 deals a year. That’s 1.66 deals a month.

Let’s reverse reverse engineer that. If you need two deals a month (I’ve rounded up because some deals will fall through) to make $100,000, you need at LEAST 50 leads a month.

Boom – a pipeline that will increase your business to over $100,000.


  1. A lesson in accessibility…

    Lead “presumption” to lead “generation” with or without the Web.

    Start by presuming “every” point of contact is a direct or indirect lead that might at some point in time benefit from your services, if not at the particular moment in time.

    The cost of customer acquisition at this point is zero dollars and full of potential. I can only relate to back as far as 1980, relative to real estate. The cost may have been the same forever.

    The point of contact has cost you nothing, other than an initial introduction and your having provided them your “how to contact you information,” most typically a business card. Don’t leave home without your business card. So many do.

    But really it’s your seconds of time “elevator speech” that seals the connection: your smile, your ID lapel pin, you held the door for the other person and you both noted the hot or cold or rainy weather. Or you paid them a nebulous compliment: “what a great dog, umbrella, or briefcase.” Nothing too personal. But they can immediately “see” you are an agent.

    Speaking of business cards, give the receiver a reason to keep yours; make sure your selection of font size for your business card is large enough to see your phone number, in particular without the aid of a magnifying glass.

    Never choose a “light” font, especially in a pale blue or gray colour. Silver and gold are beautiful. Leave them for the jewelry department. The graphics might be attractive, but useless if no one can read the material. Never use oversize or folded cards; they are too difficult for the receiver to file, and they cost you more money with no good value. They get tossed in the trash bin more than others. They are not rememberable or retainable. Although they might be a temporary aha moment.

    A giant percentage of our population is over 50, and even with the aid of eyeglasses, cannot read tiny print such that is often on business cards.

    And now in regard to emails. Definitely don’t type emails using a “light” font choice such as Arial Light. If you need to add emphasis use quotes, asterisks, a bold font choice, or if colour is absolutely necessary, use red.

    Reverse type, white on any colour, should never be used anyplace. And that includes websites and business cards. Magazines and print ads too. Although graphically cute or even pleasing to view, what good is it if readers cannot actually read it? Likewise advertising using high-shine paper. Often pages are unreadable. Again, for adult eyes. You would think the giant advertising companies would know such things.

    Develop a sig file that you use at the end of “every” email, that has your contact information. Use it “every” time you communicate. Don’t presume the reader kept your prior entry, or even put you in their contact list.

    Speaking of contact lists and automatic retention of your email address by “the systems.” Use your “name” in your email address (not gr @ wherever dot com, so whatever systems automatically keep your email address it’s not filed under your initials which mean nothing to anyone but you.

    Make it easy for any receiver to click on your phone number to activate a call to you. Every time.

    Note when you type, often you have to hit the spacebar (but not twice, sometimes generating a full-stop period that can interfere) after you type a domain reference dot com, email address, or after a phone number to make it an active link on the receiving end. Most domain email addresses are not case sensitive.

    At the minimum, provide your telephone number before hitting the send button. I repeat: Note that in many systems you need to hit the space bar following your phone number and or your email address in order to activate it as a touch point on the receiver’s end. Yes. So all they have to do is touch to send you an email. Or touch your phone number to dial it. Or to add you to their contacts if that is their intent. Make it easy. Use the KISS formula. It works.

    Make every opportunity easy for everyone and anyone to connect with you. Even referral networking connections.

    Don’t rely on your “Contact Us” web page to be readily accessible. And ideally don’t use enquiry @ your email address or information @ whatever corp address. Your contact info is often buried deep in your corporate website. And many people just don’t have either the patience or the time to be bothered looking for ways to find you. They simply move on to someone who is easily accessible.

    For the sake of only a few dollars, get yourself a specific domain name that speaks to who you are, and equally or even more important, “where” (the domicile) you are. And if you leave your current employer, at least people will be able to continue to connect with you directly. Truly it’s not expensive and could put thousands of dollars in your personal pocket.

    Always state what domicile is your base of operations (ideally your area of specialization). Example: Joseph Whoever @ your domain name. You can “point” your domain to many cross-references. Example: (I shut it down when I put my reg on hold) since 1997 I used “Bramptonhomes @ Carolyne dot com – that address couldn’t be misunderstood. My name and my location all in one, and my mail travelled through my personal domain and pointer sites. I didn’t use my surname, and my corporation bears my first name only. I call it the “Oprah” concept. I do know I am not the only Carolyne out there, but it worked for me. Initially I was told I couldn’t name my real estate company by only my first name. I had to fight for it. I can, I did, I do. Nearly thirty years have passed.

    Keep hotmail and gmail addresses to use when you retail shop online or for communicating with your friends or relatives. It shouldn’t be acceptable in the real estate specific-business but is in fact widely used.

    Internationally dot ca is recognized as being located in Canada. But dot ca is also a reference to California. Get two domains if you can, but for starters buy a dot com domain. It’s automatically internationally recognized without question. This, itself is nothing to do with honouring your country, it’s about being seen as one of the big guys, even if you aren’t.

    Internationally Canadians are often thought to be Americans, for more than one reason. Wear a little Canadian flag lapel pin or a maple leaf when you travel, beside your corporate one; you never know who might cross your path on an airplane, on an elevator, or even at the grocery store check out line, and put one as a logo on your website, and on your business card. If you travel to international conventions this will help make you memory-worthwhile.

    I even post the Canadian maple leaf at comments on REM. Some readers (Americans) don’t know the REM site is based in Canada. Internationally, some people think Canada is part of United States, in that we are part of North America.

    Internationally, overseas, within six travel hours you can be in several different countries. Here by air, it takes more than six hours just to cross our one country, east to west. People travelling here from overseas sometimes have difficulty relating to our distances between major cities, never leaving our country and taking six hours by air just from Toronto to Vancouver. Likewise in the States.

    If you are one of several hundred reps at a large company, have you ever visited the corporate website? Where does “your” name appear? How easily can you find yourself? If you can’t, obviously the public won’t find you either.

    I recently visited a REM comment writer’s site to learn more about the interesting commenter agent. I still always think about networking after 38 years, and add some agent names to my special contacts’ network list.

    The corporate name brand site had a dedicated alphabetical page for their agents. There was no one identified on the page – not one single agent yet the franchise allegedly has hundreds of agents. and it seemed the site had been active for a long time. Don’t agents check such things? Or the person who paid for the site, or signed off the final invoice approval? Apparently not.

    Just a thought. Something to consider. A pay it forward, I share for free. I have nothing to sell. Everything I mentioned I took into consideration in my nearly four-decade career. Every “little” thing contributed to my “big” ROI.

    Prologue: An interesting example re the saving of business cards… Often when I sold another agent’s listing (we are required to leave a business card), I would meet the MLS seller quite by accident, sometimes at the grocery store parking lot or the checkout counter. I didn’t remember the person(s). They would approach me and tell me I had sold their house, and they had kept “my” business card, “in their wallet,” due to the information on it. Big compliment, indeed. People appreciate useful instant-find information.

    Due to my being on medical hiatus, and the breadth of REM’s social media impact, if you want to connect with me privately, REM’s editor Jim will provide my direct contact info to you.

    Thanks for all the nice compliments REM readers post on the forum.

    Carolyne L ?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here