Some people argue that an Internet lead is different than a lead coming from a more grass roots system. Well I am one of those people. The biggest mistake an Agent can make is to mis-handle an Internet lead. Used properly the Internet can be a valuable asset. An asset than can bring you a considerable amount of revenue.
The first thing you must realize is their are different types of Internet leads; those coming from forms and those coming from simple emails. Generally a well constructed form will produce the most qualified lead. Letting people just email an interest generally produces a poor quality lead that perhaps deters some Agents. I am going to focus on leads generated via forms and I believe that this is where you will have the most success. When thinking about your website you have to consider 2 things when it comes from forms;
1) The Type
2) The Construction
The type of form someone fills out can be an indicator on where the interest level is or at the least where your priority needs to be. Someone requesting "School Information" versus a "Request for a Showing" would not only give you an indicator on your priorities but also how you will incubate the lead. Good web designers always build forms with the ability to send a text page to your cell phone. What a better way to stay connected when you are not in the office. Imagine a HOT lead that wants to see that listing at 5pm today and you are out all day, only to find out when you get back at 6pm the prospect has gone somewhere else. Listing leads at the minimum should ALWAYS use text paging. Sounds obvious but I can tell you most people don't use them. Follow-up and incubation. You must follow-up quickly. Internet leads are different, they are click happy people and would be more than happy to click to someone else if left waiting. So go ahead and follow-up quick. Just like a lot of leads, most need incubation. Drip Marketing is a good way to keep your name in front of a prospect but Drip Marketing is not enough today. Social Networking is taking the world by storm. Get a blog and create a localized presence. Bring leads to you by creating that local presence.
Forms can be designed in a number of ways. Whoever your web designer is make sure these features are built in. If not you might consider finding someone who can.
- Variety- One form does not fit all. People are spurred by different stimuli and in this case the type of form. School Information, Relocation, CMA, Listing Requests, etc. all appeal to a different type of buyer and/or seller. Tailor your forms to the proper audience.
- Required Fields- Requiring information is a key to qualifying your prospect. I would suspect the minimum about of information on any form would be Name, Phone and Email. If someone does not want to at least provide you that the lead is generally a cold one. But on a CMA for example I think some information about the home is in order to further qualify the lead. This is something you need to decide. The market also dictates this as when the market is cold we tend to be less restrictive then when it is hot.
- CAPTCHA- Forms should have the option of having CATPCHA turned on to curb spamming. Not that this will get you better leads but some Agents get frustrated when they get 50 spammed leads and 1 good one. You also have the chance of missing that lead it if is mixed up with a 100 others.
- Cell Phone Alerts - Just as above, stay connected even when you are not around. Even if you have a Blackberry you can still use these alerts and assign a different tone so you know when they come in.
- Auto Responders - You polish your look when someone submits a form and then is presented with some related information on what they are requesting. "Thank you for your school request. Did you know that New Jersey schools rank....", for example.
What ever you do, follow-up up is a critical requirement. Follow-up also needs to be progressive. Some markets take over a year to incubate, don't give up and don't get frustrated. Quick response is often confused with consistent follow-up. People tend to give up too early so not only do you need to be quick you need to be consistent. Remember your prospect is busy and if you don't reach him/her right away it does not mean the lead is dead. After your planned follow-up, via calls and personalized emailing, keep them in a drip system or at the least contact them in the future by some sort of follow-up system. I know of clients that closed in 2 weeks but for most it is over 6 months and often longer. If you could close all your buyers in a week everyone would be in the Real Estate business. Today's websites can deliver good leads and be a consistent source of them if handled right. Technology such as IDX can further enhance your ability to produce leads. Be patient, be quick, and be persistent. Good Luck.