How To Virtually Get Real Estate Referrals

September 24, 2021

Nir Betan

If you want to be successful in the business of real estate then you need to master the art of generating referrals. In fact, referrals are a key source of how most top-producing agents land clients.

In this guide we will teach you the art of generating more referrals both from your sphere of influence as well as from the online traffic that you are receiving on your website.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we will also focus on how you can achieve more referral leads virtually without having to do any activity that involves meeting people in person. Now, keep in mind that once the pandemic is over, most of the techniques mentioned here are still relevant and you can easily implement some of these same strategies with your face to face meetings.

With that in mind let’s dive in and decode some of the proven steps to generating local referrals for your real estate business.

Actively Seeking Referrals Vs Passive Referral Generation

When you are planning on getting referrals for your real estate business, all strategies primarily fall into two main categories. 

Actively Seeking Referrals – These are strategies that are designed specifically for generating referrals from your sphere of influence.

Passive Referral Generation – Another type of referral generation method often overlooked by most agents is their strategy to generate referrals passively. Unlike active referral generation these types of strategies are designed to bring in referrals passively and over the long-term. We will be sharing some of the best referral generation strategies that fall under this category as well.

Your Three Main Sources Of Getting Referrals Virtually For Your Real Estate Business

When it comes to the business of real estate you can get your referrals from three main sources:

Your immediate sphere of influence – This includes your clients, along with people you know in real life like your friends and immediate family members. Most of your direct referral marketing should be focussed towards your immediate sphere of influence.

Business Professionals In Your Local Area – The next segment that you should be targeting to get referrals (as well as to generate clients in your area) are the business professionals in your local community. These business professionals often meet people that are looking to buy or sell and the goal should be to get those referrals and close clients outside your direct sphere of influence.

Your Website Traffic – Technically your website traffic contains some of your clients and even local business owners in your area. However, there are others who are visiting your website that may be looking for someone else or simply browsing. It’s best to capture and convert this traffic using a retargeting pixel and targeting them with some sort of referral incentive.

Now that we have talked about the different types of audiences that you should be targeting for referrals, lets share some actual strategies to generate real estate referrals for your business.

Strategy 1: A Follow Up Email Series Asking For A Testimonial + Referrals To All Of Your Current Clients

Most agents never go after their clients proactively asking for referrals. This may be because they don’t want to appear too salesy, or it may be that they simply do not have a repeatable system to ask clients for referrals.

A proven strategy for generating more referrals is to send an automated email 7 to 10 days after the deal closes asking for a testimonial + any referral.

Now, if you do less than 30 – 35 transactions a year, we recommend you actually create a task for yourself and send out the email to all your new clients.

One of the reasons why combining the testimonial + referral in one single email is so effective is because it’s much easier to ask someone for a testimonial when they are happy and of course, in the same breath, ask for a referral (the ultimate testimonial!).

In fact you can even experiment with sending this type of testimonial outreach email followed by a dedicated email asking for referrals to your new clients.

We recommend using a real estate CRM so that you can track and see if these people have responded to your referral email allowing you to identify which contacts are more likely going to give you a referral. 

Try to stay in touch with them and send out a referral outreach email 3 or 4 times a year. 

Strategy #2: Offer Value To Local Business Owners

This strategy is one of the most effective ways of not just getting more referrals but also to build yourself as the trusted go-to real estate professional in your local area. 

Reach out to all business owners and ask if you can write a blog post or feature their daily specials in one community-newsletter to your database.

When you do that you are giving value first which is the key element to inbound marketing. When you start doing this on a regular basis not only will business owners like you and trust you but you will also be growing your sphere of influence.

You can turn these local business professionals into people who hand out referrals when they meet someone.

The key for an agent to be successful with this strategy is that this is more of a long term game and you need to be providing value first, consistently over months before you start seeing any significant result. Don’t get me wrong, the results can come faster but it all depends how proactive you are at reaching out to local business professionals while following up with them as well as giving them an easy way to refer business.

Some agents even send out a direct referral email after they collaborate with some of these business owners to accelerate the process.

The whole thing can be virtualized where you reach out to them, book a Zoom video or Facetime meeting and talk to them about featuring their daily specials or weekly specials, create a newsletter using email marketing software and send it out to your database. 

Strategy 3: Create A Story Based Marketing Approach For A Single Property So That It Gets Shared Locally

This is more of a passive real estate marketing approach where you create a storytelling-first approach for a single property which ensures that the content is not only unique but interesting enough to be shared by locals.

Let’s face it, people rarely share boring MLS listings (with the exception of immediate family members sharing properties that they are actively looking at). Creating visually powerful, story based listings is a key way to ensure your content gets shared, bringing and activating more prospective buyers and sellers to your lead pipeline.

The other type of leads are those who are planning to buy or sell within 3 to 12 months. They are not necessarily searching for a home actively but they will be intrigued if they come across something interesting. 

This is where the concept of turning one of your properties into a story comes into play.

You can either hire a professional web designer or use our drag and drop tool to create it yourself. The goal of a storybook is to create an engaging experience that people can relate to.

Ideally your storybooks should have all the details about the property but it should be presented in a way that tells a story. You can even create some content around the neighbourhood, showcase pictures of schools, collages etc. as well as local businesses.

Presenting the content of your listing in the form of a story allows for greater retention rate. Make sure you have social share buttons throughout the experience allowing visitors to share the content with their friends and family.

In order to get the most out of this approach, run a highly targeted Facebook ad-campaign to your newly created storybook and see how many of those visitors share your content for added organic mentions to their respective sphere of influence.

Strategy 3: Join A Referral Network & bring in tons of value

This is kind of  a no-brainer. If you join one of the free or paid referral networks your chances of getting referrals from other agents and business professionals are great. So we thought we would share some strategies to increase your odds.

Here are some strategies to ensure that you get the most out of these referral networks:

1. Find your niche – are you an expert for a particular area, a particular type of client like people downsizing etc.

2. Join groups and share content that brings value to other agents. For example – create a quick video on how COVID-19 has impacted your local real estate market. Share it to these referral networks and make sure you are using a call to action for referrals at the very end.

3. Reach out to agents working in niche locations, and collaborate with them for referral opportunities. For example, let’s say you work in Toronto and there are agents in Vancouver who specialize in condo investments. Collaborate with them and maybe do a joint webinar together to get some traction.