Over the past dozen years or so, it’s been interesting watching the evolution of the generation of online leads in our business. All of the tried and true traditional lead generation strategies are still effective, but the Internet threw a whole bunch of new tools into the mix. How about you Realtors out there; are you enjoying the success you want in generating online leads for your business?
The Old School Real Estate Pro
This is the lead generation machine making all of the right moves to bring in business:
- joining organizations
- participating in local events
- handing out business cards by the hundreds
- networking at meetings, the courthouse and every gathering they can find
- squeezing everyone they know for referrals
- newspaper, radio, tv and magazine advertising
Why are all of these still in the mix for many top agents? It’s because they do still work, and they probably always will.
The Online Lead Generation Wizard
This real estate professional has fully embraced the World Wide Web and all of the associated technology to deliver business online leads for real estate.
- one or more websites, some niche oriented (buyers, sellers, investors)
- trying every SEO technique and some Pay-Per-Click advertising
- profiles on every social site, business pages on some
- an active blogger on a dedicated real estate blog
- using online forms and calls-to-action to generate leads
- email marketing and drip campaigns
All of these techniques work, just as do the traditional real estate lead generation methods. As with traditional marketing and strategies, success in generating quality leads is in how well the agent implements each strategy and ties them together.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to lead generation that applies to offline and online activities. As the offline traditional methods have been in play for decades, we know what works and why. However, problems or poor results are usually the rule if we do not change our mindset when working with today’s online suspects and prospects.
Difference #1 Anonymity
The Internet home shopper or seeker of real estate market information is unknown to you, even when they visit your place of business… your website. There is no personal contact and they like it that way. With more traditional offline marketing, to get from an advertisement to more information requires calling in or meeting with you. Website visitors can browse your information without your presence or a personal contact of any kind.
Rule #1 Don't Push
Your site or other online presences, such as social sites, should be informative without being pushy. If the visitor perceives a “sales pitch” or pushy effort to get their personal information, they’ll simply bounce off your site and find one that’s more friendly.
Difference #2 They Expect to Find What They Want
That site visitor isn’t identified, they’re a suspect. However, they do not want in most cases to jump on the phone and give you a call to get the question answered that brought them to your website. Especially when they arrive there through a Web search, they expect to find the information they seek. At that moment, they trust Google more than they do you.
Rule #2 Just the Facts
The average visitor has either arrived at your site to search the MLS or with a specific information need through a search site. It goes without saying that you need an IDX solution for the ones who just want to search listings. As for the information requests, you need to offer information that is relevant and will answer many questions. They’re still only a suspect, so don’t lose them to another site by not fulfilling their information needs.
Difference #3 They Have Time on Their Side
The ability to stay anonymous and not have to deal with “sales” people means that today’s real estate information seekers can start earlier and shop longer. Depending on your market, your sales cycle may be weeks or months. However, the online information seeker can start well before they are actually ready for active listing appointments or property viewings. Understand this and don’t rush them.
Rule #3 Provide a Helpful Self-Guided Path
From suspect to prospect to client, the online lead is one you want to carefully handle without pressure. Offering helpful information, answering questions and generally just moving along at their pace is usually far better than trying to force them into your timeline. Let them proceed at their pace, hopefully finding what they need on your site or other online presences. If your path is clear and easy to navigate, they’ll stay on it and not jump ship to another site or agent.
Difference #4 They'll Resist Until They No Longer Can
Because they have time and like anonymity, they will be happy staying that way as long as they can. Being helpful and providing relevant information for their use is important, but keeping the best back for the lead conversion is critical.
Rule #4 Offer Enhanced Information
For example, an online suspect who arrives at your Web presence on a search about title insurance should find some basic helpful information about what it is and why it’s of value. However, a call-to-action form offering an email with an actual title insurance binder with explanations of Requirements and Exceptions will get you a conversion to a prospect.
It's a Win - Win
By allowing your online prospects to win, you win as well. They get to stay anonymous, getting their information until there is something else they want. You give them the path, offer the enhanced information or service, and they’ll move from suspect to prospect becoming your best online leads for real estate.