People buy and sell real estate every day, no matter which way the market is headed. Many begin their search online to find out what kinds of homes are available or how much their homes are worth. Agents who can effectively provide this information are well positioned to generate many leads.
The number of prospects is virtually unlimited. Every request for information or question about the market is an opportunity to develop business. Each new lead is neither good nor bad, just different -- and each is unique.
Every lead and every contact has value. Even if a particular person doesn't buy or sell, they may refer you to to others who will. A combination of personal and systematic contacts over time will lay the groundwork for a rewarding relationship. With that mindset, here are some elements of my internet lead conversion system.
Source The Lead
Each lead that comes in is sourced in two ways: by point of origin and type of transaction. Points of origin include my ActiveRain blog, websites, Facebook pages, Facebook ads and Twitter. Knowing where the lead came from helps guide my online marketing efforts, and in cases like Facebook or Twitter, may provide additional background on the prospect to help build rapport.
The type of transaction starts with Buyer and Seller, but it's important to dig deeper. For sellers, are they an owner/occupant or investor? Are they underwater on their mortgage, and if so, will this be a short sale or will they be bringing cash to closing?
Buyer leads also come in several variations. Will they occupy the home ful-time or is it a second/vacation home or investment? Are they first-time buyers or members of the military? Do they need to sell an existing home in order to buy? Are they local buyers or relocating? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you provide relevant, useful and valuable information to the prospect.
Clarify The Prospect's Needs
Many buyer's agents limit their client's choices by not adequately clarifying their needs. Just like with lead sourcing, it's important to dig deeper. Here's an example:
Agent: How many bedrooms will you need?
Most agents take this answer literally and move on to the next question on their list. But let's lake a look and see what happens when we dig deeper:
Agent: And how will you use those four bedrooms?
Prospect: Well, my husband and I will be in the master, our son and daughter will have their own rooms, and we'd like to have a guest room when my mother visits twice a year, plus some extra storage for the kid's toys.
Agent: In that case, would three bedrooms plus a den also work for you?
Prospect:Yes! I hadn't considered that. My mother only visits 2-3 weeks per year, and we can change the den from a playroom to a study area as our children get older.
Expanding the search to include three bedrooms plus a den might be just what you need to turn this prospect into a client and help them meet their housing needs. And it's all because you used clarifying questions to dig deeper.
Provide An Easy-to-use IDX Solution
Online buyers want to see what homes are available, and they want to see them NOW. In looking at IDX solutions, one of my key criteria was to get valuable content to consumers in as few clicks as possible. My choice is RealBird. Here's a sample of the RealBird search results page:
With RealBird, buyers can search by location, price range, bed/bath, and keywords. Results can be viewed in a list (as shown above) or on a map. Individual listings have more details about the home, Google Street View, and a quick form to request more information. RealBird also has some great widgets for ActiveRain blogs and Facebook pages, as well as the ability to create custom niche searches and add analytics to your search page.
Build A Content Library
I mentioned in the introduction that "a combination of personal and systematic contacts will lay the groundwork for a rewarding relationship." The systematic part is automatic search results, your drip system, or a subscription to your blog or RSS feed. Personal content is a one-to-one, human-to-human interaction. It's that extra step beyond the agent-client relationship.
To effectively and efficiently add personalization to your conversion system, you need to build a content library. Think of all of the information about your area that never or only rarely changes -- maps, neighborhoods, schools, amenities, market statistics, area attractions.
One of the best sources for customized content is your ActiveRain blog. Here's an example of a post that uses Google Maps: Henderson Nevada's Green Valley Ranch. And here's how you can incorporate a blog post into a quick, personalized email:
Hi Teri -
In your email you mentioned that Tommy enjoyed baseball. Henderson has some great youth baseball programs available, and in 2008 our Paseo Verde Little League team was just one game away from going to the World Series!
Henderson's Parks & Recreation Department offers a wide variety of activities for all ages. The city was also recently named a Playful City USA.
I look forward to helping you find the perfect home when you visit in April. Have a great weekend!
People don't just buy homes, they buy communities and lifestyles. By providing area info that is above and beyond real estate and taking an interest in them as people, you become their go-to source and solidify the relationship.
Measure Your Results
Take time each month to review your lead generation and lead conversion efforts. How many leads do you have from each source? How many were converted to appointments or contracts? How many escrows were opened? How many closings? Are one or two particular sources accounting for most of your business?
Answering these questions will not only help you tweak your online marketing plan, it will also give you a better understanding of the internet buyer and seller. And when that knowledge is applied, it leads to a more productive lead generation-lead conversion-closed business cycle for the agent, and a rewarding and profitable experience for both agents and clients.
For other methods of converting internet leads, be sure to check out giftofshift.com/activerain where you can purchase a limited edition hardcover of Gary Keller's book SHIFT, which comes with a free version of the eBook Soci@l: Attract Friends, Followers and Connections to Your Business, written by Ben Kinney and Jay Papasan (in which Ben shares his 'ten days of pain' lead conversion method) as well as free audio versions of Millionaire Real Estate Agent and Millionaire Real Estate Investor all for $19.99.