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Are pay-per-click lead generation platforms worth it?

Real estate practitioners have endless lead generation options, with pay-per-click being a popular one. But is PPC worth the cash you’ll spend?

If real estate agents are to spend any time reading the influx of agent solicitation emails that come into their inboxes everyday, they may notice that a fair amount of those emails offer leads. The truth is that an offer of leads is very exciting to agents who aren’t extremely busy or productive. After all, if an agent were busy and productive, he or she probably wouldn’t be reading those email solicitations.

If a company or individual tells you or advertises that they are providing leads, here is what you need to ask:

  • Where do these leads come from?
  • Are they already qualified? If so, how?
  • How will these leads be delivered?
  • Is there any special compensation agreement if the provided leads are converted?

And, if after everything, you decide to sign on the dotted line, you need to remember that a name, email, and phone number doesn’t always lead to a closing. However, more leads in your personal pipeline will likely equate to more closings in your future.

Lead Generation and Conversion Platforms

Looking to put more leads into your personal pipeline? There are plenty of ways to do that. One such way is through the pay-per-click lead generation platforms. There are currently several major players in this field; they include Kunversion, TigerLead, BoomTown, Commissions Inc., and Zurple among others. At the risk of oversimplifying, here’s a very rudimentary description of how they work:

The agent or brokerage pays a monthly fee for an extremely robust platform, which includes a consumer-facing home search website. Traffic is driven to the site through pay-per-click advertising. The back end (also available via app for the smartphone) includes a CRM, where agents can see every movement the consumer makes after having logged in. It includes automated drip campaigns and other tools.

While there are many ways that agents can drive their own traffic to the consumer site, the bulk of the traffic will come from pay-per-click advertising, which requires an additional budget above the monthly platform fee. The more you invest in pay-per-click advertising, the more homebuyer and home seller leads you’ll have on your site.

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The Anatomy of an Online Lead

According to Trulia, the consumer’s home-buying process is not short. Prospective homebuyers spend as long as 16 months in the pre-research phase, 6 months in research, and 4 months in the active phase. It’s tough to convert an online lead. In fact, according to Robert Clay of Marketing Wizdom, only one out of every 50 deals is put together at the first meeting. And, in the case of the online lead, you haven’t even scheduled that face-to-face meeting.

With that data in mind, when you commit to a lead generation and management program, you need to be in it for the long haul. You’re lying to yourself if you think that your phone is going to beep, you’ll dial out and set an appointment, write one offer, and collect your check. The online lead requires high-quality, structured long-term strategies to convert.

Lead Conversion Is a Multi-Step Process

Depending upon the volume of leads that you receive, you may be best served if one individual manages those leads, sends the messages, and makes the outbound calls. Many teams and offices use this “Inside Sales Agent” (ISA) model across the country. The inside sales agent converts the consumer to appointment and a hand off is made to the “outside” sales agent, who shows properties and writes offers.

Both the inside sales agent and the outside sales agent need to be masterful at their craft. If the inside sales agent cannot make the appointment, there’s no business for the outside sales agent to convert. If the outside sales agent cannot create trust and cement a solid relationship in the first face-to-face meeting, then all is lost.

Is a Lead Management System a Worthwhile Addition to Your Business Model?

The lead generation and management platform can be a great addition to your business if you are gifted in your ability to convert to appointment and then again to sale. These products are costly. If you cannot manage those two pieces effectively, then it may not be the method for you or your pocketbook.

A thorough assessment of the lead sources on your last two years of closed transactions may be where you need to start. If you find that most of your business came from people that you already know, then you may want to increase your investment in maintaining top-of-mind awareness with your sphere of influence.

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Is Zillow Entering the Mix?

In August, Zillow began testing their Zillow Premier Assist program, whereby Zillow offered a test group of agents who spend more than $500 per month on advertising the opportunity to have Zillow make the calls to their leads; this would replace the need for an inside sales agent, and possibly increase the agent’s ROI (thus encouraging agents to invest more in Zillow advertising).

Greg Schwartz, chief business officer at Zillow Group, reported to Inman News, that by using this program, the lead conversion rate (to appointment) would be higher than 26 percent.

Do Lead Generation Products Enable Agents?

All of these different lead management and conversion products and platforms have two things in common. While they aim to increase agent productivity, they also enable agents. In the case of the Zillow Premier Agent program, the agent gets the lead handed to him (or her) on a silver platter—ready for the appointment.

An agent needs to be a masterful businessperson; agents should not be solely dependent upon a third-party company for all of their business. What if the platform is down? What if the ISA is out sick?

Agents and brokerages need to create business models with multiple inbound marketing streams. They also need to have a cursory understanding of the underpinnings of each aspect of their plan—just in case the agent needs to take over and make a quick fix in a pinch.

Agents should never, ever put all their eggs in one basket. What if the basket breaks?


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Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.


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