Assuming you already know why you should be collecting email leads as a real estate agent, let’s discuss the strategies involved in actually capturing potential customer emails online.
In a nutshell, the concept behind capturing online leads is quite simple: you trade the potential customer something they’re interested in, with their contact info (typically name and email address). To accomplish this simple goal, you’ll need to consider the 3 main parts of this process: where you’ll capture the email addresses, why a potential customer would give you their email address, and how to drive visitors to that email capture request.
Location, Location, Location
One of the first things you’ll need to determine is where your lead capture form will exist. For starters, lead capture forms are usually pretty simple. It consists of several text fields, asking them for their name, email, and optionally a phone number. The phone number is optional because you’ll mainly want to keep these prospective customers as part of your email marketing/communication, versus doing telemarketing for your entire list.
These lead capture forms will exist in mainly 2 places. The first place is your business website or agent profile website. This is usually the main website of your business, where prospective clients learn more about you, your team, your office, your services, and your listings. As part of your normal marketing efforts, you’ll be driving a lot of prospective customers to your website, so you’ll want to make sure you have lead capture forms of some sort (which we’ll discuss shortly) very prominent on your website.
The second possible place you might have these forms is on your dedicated property listing websites. A lot of real estate professionals don’t even create websites for their properties, and in our opinion, is losing out on a huge opportunity of capturing email leads.
You really don’t have many online locations to build a healthy leads list (just your business site and individual property listing sites), so make sure you have both types of sites under your belt as you develop your leads generation efforts.
Give Them a Reason to Opt-In
In email marketing lingo, when a potential customer voluntarily trades their contact info to receive something they’re interested in…that action is called “opting-in”. People detest spam and are usually pretty skeptical about offering their email to any website. You have to offer something extremely compelling for them relinquish their contact info, and we have some ideas how.
For starters, step into the shoes of a buyer in the market for a house. Chances are, they stumbled onto your site because you represent a listing they’re interested in. In this scenario, one great way to ask for their contact info is to have them schedule for an open house viewing. We see too many websites where the agent would just post the open house schedule on the site, but not use that as an opportunity to get potential buyers to opt-in to the open house with their contact info.
Consider another scenario that a potential customer stumbled onto your business website because they’re looking for a real estate professional to work with in their neighborhood. Instead of the traditional lead capture form that asks the potential buyer to opt-in to your agent newsletter…consider having a form to ask the potential buyer to schedule a quick 15 minute FREE consultation to discuss their needs. Consumers are often attracted by free offers, and this just might help compel them to respond to your call-to-action.
Consider also in the above scenario that a potential customer likely stumbled onto your site because they’re interested in the housing market in your neighborhood, and you’re one of the prominent agents there. It might be a good idea to offer your site visitors a downloadable PDF, perhaps a summary of your past year’s sales performance and the listing price versus sales price of each property. This mini-report might be something a potential customer would find valuable and may trade their contact info for this PDF. With this technique, you could email them the PDF report after they supply their name and email.
There are many other compelling ways to convince leads to opt-in. Whichever strategy you implement, just put yourself in the potential customer’s shoes and try to understand what they would find value in, and use those opportunities to capture their information.
All Is Set, Now Make Sure They See You
Ok great. You’ve now got your business website and property websites setup, and you’ve built compelling reasons for prospective customers to opt-in to your lead capture forms. Now, people will just come pouring into your website right?
Well, the final part of the process is driving traffic to your sites, making sure you have an audience of people to see what you’re asking them to opt-in for. Here, we’ll briefly introduce several online marketing techniques to drive traffic to your websites…and we’ll perhaps expand on each one in a future post.
We can literally write a book about paid online advertising strategies, but we’ll focus on one channel here, Facebook Ads. Placing ads on Facebook is a great way to drive prospective customers to your main business website. The reason Facebook Ads is an effective ad platform for real estate advertising is because you can really target who will see your ads. Since Facebook has a lot of information about each user, the Facebook advertising platform allows you to choose exactly who to target your ads to, including city and other demographic factors. In a nutshell, the more you target your ads, the more you save money on ad spending.
For example, say you want to place an ad to market your services around your town. With Facebook Ads, you would be able to target your ad to reach an audience located around a certain radius from a zip code. This way, you won’t be wasting advertising dollars on showing ads to people located too far from where you normally do business.
This is just one example of a great benefit of Facebook Ads. You can go a lot deeper into other benefits with advertising on Facebook, such as setting up location exclusions, custom audiences, retargeting, etc.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engine optimization basically means that you are doing all you can to ensure a potential customer might find you when they are searching for a real estate professional to work with. Like the above example, SEO is an important source for inbound traffic for your main business website. Unlike paid advertising, this source of traffic is called “organic traffic”…meaning people found your website freely and you did not have to pay for advertising to reach them.
Again, we can write an entire book on SEO for real estate marketing, but we’ll focus on one main concept here: SEO backlinks. The concept of SEO backlinks can be summarized like this…the more other websites are linking to your website, the better chances your website will show up in a given search on Google. So, your job to increase your SEO is to find a way to produce more relevant backlinks from other sites to your site.
One way of doing this is if you do have individual property websites for all your listings, make sure there are links on each site that link back to your main real estate business site. If you have a lot of listings each year, and a website for each of those listings, your number of relevant backlinks will start to grow really quick…thus increasing your SEO score.
Listings Aggregators (Zillow, Realtor, Trulia)
If you do have individual property sites for each of your listings, one of the best ways to drive traffic to those websites is to link to them from the listings aggregator sites.
Most consumers will be searching for properties on Zillow, Realtor, or Trulia. When they do find your property listed there, you can include in the property description that they can get a lot more information on your custom property site. A common thing real estate professionals do is create a custom site based on their property address, for example, www.345mainstreet.com, and link to that website in the property description. Along with the link, you’d also want to encourage potential buyers to find more information on that dedicated website and to schedule an open house viewing there.
Once you drive visitors from Zillow, Realtor, Trulia to your own property site, you’ll get all the benefits of completely engaging the potential buyer into your property and nudging them to fill out your leads form, versus them filling out the leads form for these other large sites.
Most real estate professionals would say that referrals are the lifeline of their business. If this is true, then social media marketing is critical to driving traffic to their websites. We think social media marketing is an extremely effective and affordable way to drive visitors to both your main business website and your individual property sites.
For this article, we’ll just focus on Facebook. With the Facebook platform, you really have 2 options: post activities on your personal page, or create a business page and post activities there. We recommend you do both since you’ll most likely already have a personal page with an existing list of friends, where if you’re starting your business page from scratch, you might first have to work on building up your followers (likes).
Your Facebook strategy should all revolve around consistent posting of real estate information you think would be interesting or useful to your followers. If you are representing a new listing, you’ll want to post the link to the exact website where they can find more information about that listing. If you don’t represent many listings, you can post information about properties you find perhaps interesting, a good value, or fitting for your audience.
The idea here is to post consistently, perhaps once a week, to show your friends (in the case of your personal Facebook account), or to show your followers (in the case of your business page) that you are still an active real estate professional who’s in touch with the local real estate market. When you do this, you’ll eventually drive friends-of-friends to your websites, where the hope is they’ll fill out your lead capture form.
The other reason is when you’re actively posting your professional activity on Facebook, you’re staying top of mind for friends and followers. If they’re ever asked for a real estate agent referral by their friends, they’ll easily be able to identify you and refer their friends to your Facebook account. Just remember with any Facebook strategy, to make links to your websites easy to find and click to. Since Facebook doesn’t always give you access to your friends and followers emails, you’ll still want to drive everyone to your websites to collect their emails there.