You’ve worked long and hard, spent some money, and you’re beginning to see the conversion of suspects to prospects through website calls-to-action and lead generation forms. Leads are coming in, and your next challenge is to see how many you can get to the closing table. You simply must convert online leads to contracts.
Many agents use some type of “lead funnel” concept. Their marketing and online lead generation strategies are designed to get as many people into the top of the funnel as possible so that more actual closed deals fall out at the bottom of the funnel.
It’s a good concept, and it works well if done right. However, often there is less planned strategic process involved in converting those leads and getting more of them to the closing table. Sure, we call them, email them and generally try to get some personal contact going, but we find ourselves asking how to convert online leads to real estate closings?
Remember that these online leads stayed anonymous as long as they could, only giving up their contact information in return for some irresistible offer of more information or in response to an effective call-to-action. They are not necessarily ready yet for a personal contact. How many did we lose inside the funnel by pushing when they weren’t ready in an effort to convert online leads?
Rule #1: The Optional Phone Number Field
By all means, if they give you a phone number, call them. Getting on a personal contact basis is always a faster way to build a relationship. However, this only applies if your lead generation forms made the phone number field optional and tells them that. Don’t just not make it required, put something next to it like [Optional]. You’re offering them a chance to request a phone call, not requiring that they accept one. If we had a survey of fake phone numbers entered into online forms (like 555-555-1212), it would be a surprisingly large number. Don’t demand… ask.
Rule #2: Know Your Market Cycle & Adapt
You want to begin the steps that follow with a clear understanding of your market’s average time cycle from first substantive contact to the listing appointment or property showings. Some markets are much faster than others, while a vacation or retirement home market can have cycles that are much longer, months or even years. You’ll be tailoring the prospect nurturing to your market cycle.
Step #1: Get a Good Email Drip Solution
While they preferred anonymity, you now have their email address, and you want to build a relationship that leads to a closing. The trick is to deliver more information of value and do it in a way that keeps them paying attention until they’re ready to move the relationship to the next level. Drip email is great tool for this. Get a drip solution that allows you to create emails that are attractive and deliverable on the schedule you set up.
Rule #3: Don't Invite the Dreaded "Unsubscribe!"
When you’re deciding on the content of your emails and setting up a schedule, remember a couple of things. Because they do not know what’s coming their way, why not just tell them? One real estate broker who kept track found that “unsubscribes” dropped by 75% when he told them what was coming their way in the auto-reply to their form submission or in the first email in the drip series.
Simply: “Thanks so much for your request for information (form submission, etc.). I appreciate your visit to my website and would like to point out a few other pages that are very popular with other site visitors. I’ll be sending a few emails (actually, he told them 4) over the next few weeks with links to information of value to (buyers/sellers) in the Area market.” Unsubscribes dropped significantly immediately because they knew what was coming and it didn’t seem threatening or intrusive.
Step #2: Build Niche Campaigns
One size doesn’t fit all, and your drip email campaign strategy must not be a fit-all for every prospect. If you planned properly and did a good job of calls-to-action to get these prospects, you have what you need. You have at least two buckets/funnels of prospects, buyers and sellers. This is because you developed lead generation strategies that got their responses based on the information they requested and forms specially devised to deliver a qualified and categorized prospect.
Build an email drip campaign for each defined prospect type. Emails for those who responded to buyer related calls-to-action must be geared toward more information valuable to buyers. The same goes for sellers, as well as any other niche prospects, maybe investors, condo buyers/sellers, etc.
Rule #4: Don't Send Them the SOS, Same Old Stuff, as Your Competitors
They have no idea what’s coming their way, but they do have their suspicion that they are about to be bombarded with emails of little interest. This includes those many “the smell of baking bread makes buyers feel at home” emails.
Go through your website, using analytics or other stats if you have them. Which of your pages are most visited? They are probably pages heavy with information that buyers and sellers seek. Find a few of those and determine what it is that makes them popular. Develop emails for your niche campaigns that point them to these pages and are titled something like “What our sellers are asking about local market sales prices,” or “Home buyers in [area] want to know about first offers & how low you can go.”
Rule #5: End Every Email with a Call-To-Action
Every one of your drip emails should end with a call-to-action to try and get them to contact you by phone or send an email question. You’re working them to get that personal contact that is more likely to lead to a closing. It can be as simple as “Call or email me with your questions about ……”
The Longer Cycle Strategy
For markets with longer cycles between first contact and actual appointments, your email campaigns will end, and here’s how to keep the relationship without scaring them away. Let them know when the last drip email has arrived. Use a market statistics strategy to stay in contact for longer periods, even forever.
Tell them they’ve received the last automated email, but you’re moving them to your Market Statistics reporting group. Everybody loves statistics; buyers, sellers, investors. Then send them a monthly or quarterly sold properties report. It’s easy to generate from the MLS software system, convert to PDF and attach to an email. Of course, add some commentary about the market, something that shows you are a local expert.
Do all of this and at some point you’ll hit the brakes, disengage the cruise control, convert online leads and meet them at the closing table.