How to Use Your Real Estate CRM to Score and Segment Leads
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Once you have a clear idea as to which home buyer and seller leads in your real estate CRM software database are likely worth your lead-nurturing efforts, it’s time to rate and prioritize them accordingly.
The criteria each real estate agent uses to score and segment leads in their CRMs can vary, but generally speaking, there are certain characteristics they should look for in prospects in their lead management systems that can help them discern which are more likely to seek representation and search listings sooner and more aggressively than others.
Below, you’ll learn how to implement the ideal lead-scoring system for all leads in your real estate agent CRM. This will help you separate your cold seller and buyer leads from the warm and hot ones, so you can focus on those who are ready to act on their housing needs sooner than later and make them the primary focus of your lead-nurturing campaigns.
First, you need to understand the difference between “lead grading” and “lead scoring.”
Before you can score a lead, you need to grade them. The two may seem interchangeable, but they are actually distinct approaches to qualifying leads. Lead grading happens before lead scoring for the simple fact that you don’t want to bother scoring every single one of the leads in your real estate agent CRM database. The reason is simple: because not every lead will be worth your time to nurture — at least for the time being.
What separates a high-grade lead from a low-grade prospect? Typically you can define a high-grade lead when they’re actively looking to hire an agent or search the market, you have a strong sense of what their general timeline looks like (if they need to buy or sell ASAP), by how long they’ve already spent searching for representation or homes for sale, and if they are a prototypical client you tend to represent. If a lead fits your particular real estate niche (for instance, if you strictly work with buyers looking to purchase high-end condo units), then highly grade that lead.
Once you grade all of your leads, it’s time to segment the list of those who should be scored right away from those who can wait. Here’s a rough breakdown regarding how you can distinguish which to score and which to wait with:
- “Hot” leads — those individuals who have filled out a form or provided you their contact information in some other manner and regularly consume and engage with your content or website — should be scored immediately after they’re graded and prioritized in order of likelihood of converting them into a client. For instance, if one lead downloaded three pieces of content off your site and spent a great deal of time browsing multiple pages, they should make the lead-nurturing cut, so to speak, over a lead who downloaded one piece of content and spent less time perusing your site.
- “Cold” leads, meanwhile, should be graded right off the bat, but scored at some point down the line, given they are unlikely to turn into a client or fit your criteria for clients whom you generally represent. You can add notes and reminders in your CRM for these leads denoting when you think they may warm up (i.e. change their minds about a housing decision; end up fitting your real estate niche down the line and, thus, are a good candidate to go after). But, it’s best to hold off on any near-term marketing activities geared toward these folks for however long you prefer to wait to re-engage cold leads.
There will be criteria you add over time to determine the quality of your leads, and certain leads will fluctuate between hot and cold, but for the most part this grading and scoring process will help you develop an easy-to-implement system of organizing your prospects into unique buckets.
Here’s an example of a lead record in a CRM, with details about lead type and website and automation activity.
Score and segment only the cream-of-the-crop leads in your real estate agent CRM software.
Now, it’s on to the actual scoring of your top leads. Scoring potential home buyer and seller clients in your real estate lead management database may seem like a time-consuming task, but as long as you have clearly defined buckets fully developed — in other words, ones based on the characteristics you look for in prospective clients — it shouldn’t take you long to assign a rating to each and determine which are worth more of your marketing time and energy than others.
Consider the demographic information in leads you tend to nurture and convert to clients: If the overwhelming majority of your clients are 40 and older and have an income of at least $100,000 annually, then you know leads who fall into these two particular buckets should make the lead nurturing cut, so to speak, over other, presumably lesser-qualified prospects. That’s not to say those other prospects can’t turn into viable business opportunities. Rather, it means you know who should get stronger scores so you can allocate your marketing spend and efforts there first.
As explained in this Placester Academy infographic, there are multiple buyer personas agents tend to see. You can create relatively basic buckets and segment your leads based on this age-based criteria, or you can get more detailed and hone in on more of the niche traits your leads and clients tend to have, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Income: As noted above, many agents focus on this lead attribute as income status and property values tend to align.
- Budget: Having said that, how much a lead wants to spend or earn will be personal, so as you learn more, make those notes in their CRM lead profile, see if the commission will be worth it, and adjust the score accordingly.
- Timeline: Are your buyer and seller leads looking to make a move right away or down the line? Learning when they intend to make their housing decisions will dictate if they are ideal candidates to nurture right away (those looking to buy or sell ASAP or soon) or wait to nurture (those who wish to hold off on buying or selling).
- Engagement: This is one of the easiest lead qualities to discover, since you can view all of your leads’ activities with your real estate website’s analytics. The trick is knowing which metrics matter more than others. In the case of lead scoring, downloads and the page types they viewed (like listing pages or your about page) likely give you a good indication of their intent and urgency.
Some of this criteria you will have to pull from other sources, like social media or by asking follow-up questions. A bit of research can help you build a broader profile for them. Below is an example of how a series of lead scoring might look in your CRM.
Set a specific real estate marketing plan for nurturing the hottest leads.
Once you’ve identified the top buyer and seller leads that are worth your nurturing efforts and given them higher scores, you can start to focus on them. Decide which marketing tactics to implement and set a specific schedule in place for each activity, starting with your drip real estate email marketing campaigns.
After you segment your leads in different score categories, add each bucket to a unique drip campaign. Let’s say your score buckets are hot buyer leads, warm buyer leads, hot seller leads, and warm seller leads. Now, you just need to determine what nurturing activities you want to implement for each. For example, if you do start with drip campaigns, here’s how you can set up your nurturing efforts:
- The hot lead groups should be your first priority. Add these leads to real estate email drip campaigns that are sent weekly that provide written case studies of past clients, offers for free in-person consultations, and the like. This will help nudge them to making a housing decision and learning more about your business, which they’ll need to know a fair amount about if you want them to select you to represent them or help them find a home.
- Once this nurturing for hot leads is established, turn your attention to your warm leads. These individuals can receive similar content, but since they are more near the middle of the funnel, send them mostly content pertaining to general housing advice, like your latest YouTube videos featuring buying/selling tips and blog post series detailing the intricacies of securing a home loan, preparing personal finances, and other pre-sale and -purchase tasks. You can also leave more time in between communications.
Hot leads who engage with your email the most move to the top of your list and necessitate outreach to convert them into new business. Warm leads who open and click your emails regularly and move down your sales funnel, meanwhile, may need their scores updated and be moved into your hot leads marketing.
There will undoubtedly be leads who fall out of the funnel altogether — those who don’t interact with your email marketing in any way and stop visiting your site. These once-solid prospects can be relabeled in your CRM as cold, but even they can be added to a special drip campaign sent once every few months just to check in to see how they’re doing (a less frequent newsletter, in a sense).
Here’s an example of lead communication sent directly from your CRM.
Having an easy-to-use real estate CRM is one thing — knowing how to make the most of your lead management system, including how to use all of its core features and functionality, is another, so learn to become efficient with your real estate CRM software in this Placester Academy post.
What’s your system for scoring and segmenting your real estate leads in your CRM system? How do your prioritize which home buyer and seller leads are most worth your time and which you can hold off nurturing? Share your own personal lead management tips and tricks with us below!
Published on March 5, 2016
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.