Top 10 Traffic Sources for Real Estate Lead Generation

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Before we get to the top 10, let’s set some context. Here are some data charts from a large National agent survey we completed recently:

On first glance, they may appear similar, but they’re not.


Firstly, both groups have more agents citing Facebook than any other source. However, it stands to reason that most agents have at least a personal Facebook account and are probably counting occasional business activity posts as a ‘lead source’. Even with that included, agents closing more than 36+ deals are at 79% using Facebook compared to 55% for the 10 or less group.


Next, & Zillow/Trulia are similar probably because most agents have profiles on these sites at a minimum.Then, the big difference occurs: Craigslist, Other & Twitter come next for the 10 transactions or less group. For the 36+ crowd, it goes: Other, Google Adwords, YouTube.


That data is a GOLDEN NUGGET.


Here’s why. Look at this:

Compare it to this:

The biggie here is Google Adwords takes the top spot.


Why? It’s search marketing (people actively looking for a solution) vs. interruption based marketing vs. profile marketing.


Adwords is used by agents that know what we know: pay per click with Adwords & Bing/Yahoo is the most predictable, scalable form of internet marketing you can do. Yes, it costs money to advertise. However, when done correctly, the ROI is huge. So it really doesn’t ‘cost’ anything.


What’s apparent here is many agents are going the ‘do-it-yourself’ route and buying into the ‘free’ sources. They are relying on just having a profile on, Zillow, Trulia, etc., and running free ads on Craigslist. Those agents are not nearly as successful as agents that are using pay per click with Adwords.


That’s not an opinion, but a fact based on actual results from the survey. If you’re not using Google Adwords, mull on that for a minute: Agents closing 36+ deals a year are telling you that Adwords is their top source.


It’s also interesting to note that, in the last couple of years, the rankings have changed quite a bit for the “Best Lead Source” as ranked by agents that close 36 deals or more:


In the past it looked like this:

  1. Google Adwords
  2. Craigslist
  4. Zillow
  5. Facebook


This year shapes up like this:


  1. Google Adwords
  2. Facebook
  3. Zillow/Trulia
  5. My Blog


Facebook has jumped up to the 2nd spot from 5th and Craigslist has fallen off the list. The reason is: agents that are closing the bigger number of deals have learned to do some version of what we call Sniper Marketing for Facebook. These agents aren’t just “promoting posts” or posting to their news feed. They’re leveraging the best marketing platform on the planet. They’re Sniper Marketing (profile marketing by selecting specific interests, behaviors, and other demographics available in Facebook). They’re also setting up lead capture processes right within Facebook itself.


These top performing agents aren’t abandoning Adwords either. In fact, as you can see they still cite it as the #1 source.


With that context, here is our top 10 list:



1. Google Adwords


Pros: Cited by agents closing 36+ deals a year as the number 1 source. The reason it is so good is because it is based on marketing to consumers that are actively seeking a solution. They’re entering search phrases like “ann arbor homes for sale” or “what’s my home worth”. These are people that are identifying themselves as further down the ‘ready’ road. They’re closer to completing a transaction. The fact that with Adwords, you can get in front of these people literally within a few hours of deciding to do so makes it very powerful.


Cons: Adwords can be very expensive, and you can lose your shirt fast without much to show for it if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, it is what the top agents are using for closing transactions consistently.


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2. Facebook


Pros: Massive traffic source. Immediate results. Can target by interests, behaviors & more demographics based on 3rd party data Facebook has purchased from companies like Experian. This allows you to create marketing specifically for groups like “first time home buyers” and run very specific ads to that group only. Generally less expensive than Adwords.


Cons: Very complex platform with many features to learn including two platform modes: regular editor & power editor. In theory, even though you’re targeting select profiles, it’s still interruption based marketing which is much different than search marketing.

*** PRO TIP: For the & Zillow below, probably the most important factor is to get reviews. It helps with pre-framing you prior to engaging with consumers and we’re told by our reps that having lots of reviews actually is an important factor built into the algorithms that determines which agents get placed where: More reviews = more leads. ***




Pros: In our surveys, top agents give the edge to over Zillow for producing better leads. stresses the fact that their data is more accurate, &, therefore leads to more actionable inquiries. In addition to advertising, offers a complete suite of tools to help agents.


Cons: Can be very crowded and tough to stand out among so many other agents.

4. Zillow/Trulia


Pros: Because of the sheer massive amount of traffic Zillow receives alone makes it worthy of advertising. They’re very focused on advertising to get consumer eyeballs and they succeed. It’s easy to get setup to receive leads on their Premiere Agent program. You can also buy dedicated zip codes for your local market.


Cons: Many agents complain that it is very difficult to get the ‘good’ zip-codes. Inquiries about listings that have inaccurate data are often complained about.

5. Your Blog (Content Marketing)


Pros: You have complete control of the content. This means you can position yourself, knowledge & services in it’s best light. It’s easy to setup with services like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. If you have a long-term SEO strategy, it can be very powerful and eventually rank for terms that will get you free traffic & leads.


Cons: It takes work to write quality content. To get traffic, you still have to either advertise the site, or put effort into SEO. Results are not immediate.

6. Bing/Yahoo


Pros: 2nd tier search engines with same pros as Google Adwords above. Depending on your market, you can find some real ‘sweet spot’ terms to advertise for as many agents ignore this source.


Cons: Because it gets a lot less traffic than Google, many marketplaces have very dismal traffic, and it can be tough to get a good even flow of leads.

7. Google Local

Pros: Can get a top ranking for free without heavy SEO work. Leads from this source can be of the highest quality.


Cons: Google made a change to its algorithm not too long ago that eliminated a lot of the local real estate search results – called the “Pigeon Update”. Mainly what is left are results for searches like “ft lauderdale realtors” or “ft lauderdale real estate agents”. It is still worth exploring, but not too many people search that way. Much more traffic is available for terms like “ft lauderdale real estate for sale”. That being said, the few leads you get from local should be really good because you’ll know these people found you by looking specifically for an agent.

8. Craigslist


Pros: Once a very viable lead source and high on the list, now the word on the street is we (agents) ruined it by spamming the daylights out of it. Still it is effective if you comply with their rules and get creative by using automated telephone responses and utilize their built-in response mechanisms.


Cons: Limited with what you can post: no links, have to use their built-in image tools. Even if you comply with Craigslist’s rules, competitors can “flag” your ads and ads can get ghosted (disappear).

9. YouTube

Pros: 2nd largest search engine with a tremendous amount of traffic. Video is a medium that allows you to create a ‘deeper’ connection than just text, phone, posts or tweets. Video can allow you to produce a lot of content in a short amount of time.


Cons: To do video well, it takes effort. Many people ‘lock-up’ or have a hard time coming across how they’d like in videos. It’s pretty busy medium and people are easily distracted by the “suggested” videos.

10. Twitter


Pros:  Fast & easy to use with it’s 140 character max limit. Has two modes to make contact with prospects: the normal ‘post a tweet’ way and now they’ve launched Twitter Ads. For a great overview of Twitter for agents, check out this comprehensive “” post on


Cons: Twitter can become very much like a real-time chat. It is easy to get ‘sucked-into’ participating our monitoring all kinds of conversations. If you’re not careful, it can sap productivity.

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