Seal the Deal: Using Content to Nurture Real Estate Leads
By Sandra Manzanares
About Inbound Marketing
One of the hardest parts of the real estate business is converting leads into customers. With long sales cycles and complex decision-making processes, there are many points where a once-hot lead can fall out of your funnel or where you’ve wasted time and energy on a lead that did not convert.
The answer is lead nurturing: providing leads with valuable information to help guide them through the sales funnel. Overt selling won’t work the way it used to. Why? Research has shown that today 83 percent of consumers trust brands that offer resources throughout the entire sales cycle, while 71 percent don’t trust a brand that doesn’t provide promotion-free information. That means instead of focusing on sales pitches, modern real estate marketers can find success with using content to nurture their leads.
While every lead is different, you should be able to determine the typical steps a lead will take down the sales funnel, identify what types of content will help nurture your lead at each of those stages, and how to deliver your content at the right time to help meet their needs. This is often called “content mapping.”
Below are some suggestions for content you can use for real estate lead nurturing at each stage of the sales funnel to make sure leads stay engaged, all the way to the finish line.
Top of the Funnel: Awareness Stage
A lead often does research on their own for up to a few weeks before contacting you directly. This “awareness” stage is all about educating your lead and providing information and resources to help meet their needs. Whether buying or selling, novice or experienced, your lead has lots to absorb and they’ll likely be searching through numerous sources before committing to anything. You can cut through the noise by being helpful and thorough so your leads see you as a convenient “one stop shop” for getting their questions answered.
A few things that work well for this stage:
- A Vibrant Blog. Leads do a lot of investigating and reading on their own and love coming across an agent who has a strong personality and lots of expertise. Your blog should have a number of resources — both informative and visually appealing — that can help you stand out from other agents and websites. Well-researched articles are essential, but don’t stop there. Consider videos of yourself discussing the area or answering common questions, or visual posts that are exciting and engaging.
- Newsletter. Many leads will sign up for newsletters because they’re an easy and low-pressure way to engage with you. Use analytics to see what content receives the most opens and clicks. Newsletters are a great place for the latest and greatest content, as well as current listings. And make sure a newsletter sign-up form is prominent and simple on every page of your website.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
— Damon Richards
- Lists, Tips, and Market Guides. Arming your lead with lists, tips, statistics, research, and reports about their market or finances will build trust in your brand and expertise. But don’t just rely on your lead to know what to make of all this data: Always insert your perspective so the lead knows how to interpret the information.
- Free Resources. Whether a slideshow, infographic, or downloadable ebook, leads love to know that something is offered for free. Putting some of these resources behind a lead capture squeeze page (where users must enter their name or email to continue) will help you know which of your leads has viewed the resource.
- Social Media Posts. Similar to newsletters, social media is a great way to keep leads informed even if they’re not visiting your site every day. If you encourage leads to follow you on social media, make sure you actually use your accounts regularly and post great information.
- Reviews. 70 percent of consumers trust their friends’ recommendations and 46 percent trust consumer reviews. While you may not send reviews directly to your leads, you bet they’re seeing them in your Google search results and in their research. Develop a strong review base so that leads doing research see some great feedback on your services.
Middle of the Funnel: Consideration Stage
At this stage, your leads know you exist but they’re still probably comparing what you offer — expertise, service, listings, etc. — with other agents. Getting them through this funnel phase means actively proving your worth in all of these areas, while attending to their needs and pain points consistently.
Ultimately, a lead wants to see that you care. With so many different resources at their fingertips, the last thing you want to do is allow another agent to stay top-of-mind with a potential lead. Be consistent. If your lead starts to lag a bit, check in, ask how they’re doing and how they enjoyed the last piece of content you sent over.
Some content that helps move leads through this stage:
- Automated Drip Campaigns. At this stage you may notice that your lead has interacted with you in a few different ways: A few email newsletter clicks, an ebook download, or some Twitter retweets. You’ve likely reached out (or will soon), and now it’s time to take their interest deeper. Automated drip campaigns can be set up in many email management, marketing automation, or customer relationship management tools. They send prepared email communications that are released by triggers. For example, sending a lead an invitation to download an ebook when they’ve previously opened an email newsletter. These automated messages are a huge time-saver and allow you to stay in contact with leads even when you don’t have time for personal outreach.
A note about email: Keep it brief and to-the-point. You’re trying to nurture your lead, not exhaust them. With each email, be direct. Introduce your email with phrases like, “I know you have lots of information coming your way, and I was wondering if there’s any information I could provide to make your experience easier,” or, “Because you downloaded the Starter Homeowner’s Guide, I thought you’d enjoy this infographic on Budgeting for Your First Home Expenses.” And be sure to include a call to action (CTA), whether that’s setting up a time to talk or encouraging a click or download.
- Testimonials. Testimonials are great at any stage because most customers want insight into what it will be like to work with you. The more visual and personable the better — so if you can swing for video and photos, do. But some great written commentary will still go a long way to enhance your brand.
- Landing Pages. This content is usually meant to incite action, typically with a strong CTA: a click, submitting a form, or a sharing on a social network. These pages are a great way to keep your lead’s interest and encourage them to circle back to your website or to another landing page. Landing pages done well make your lead never want to click the “x” button.
Bottom of the Funnel: Decision Stage
Also known as the purchase stage, this is the time a lead is most likely to take action on your services because they now trust your expertise and know your services can help them achieve their goals. At this stage, the best nurturing tactic is to make your lead comfortable with the major decisions by offering content that helps seal the deal:
- Home-Buying & Home-Selling Checklists. Leads know the are many steps before they complete a sale, which is daunting and may stall their progression through the sales funnel. Relieve some of that stress by focusing on actionable checklists and timelines.
- Education and Decision Guides. In the same way that checklists prepare leads for the mounting tasks, decision guides around homeownership, home sales, inspections, staging, negotiating offers, etc. will help a lead who’s struggling to get through the sales process. These also allow you to spark discussions to determine how qualified they are, and when they are likely to close.
“Make a customer, not a sale.”
— Katherine Barchetti
- Open House and Listing Announcements. Posts for open houses and listings are ultimately what your lead wants. While educating your lead will do much to keep them informed, without property buying or selling options, they’ll likely lose interest. Publish these announcements as regularly as possible.
- Additional Offers. Many leads at this stage need that extra push. If your lead isn’t quite ready or it seems like their timeline has lengthened, offer a free home selling or buying consultation where you can walk them through steps, or offer to give free estimates or quotes — no pressure added. Most leads will use this free offer and will feel encouraged to move forward.
Some things to remember.
- Strong content is easily shareable, downloadable, engaging, actionable, and relatable. This allows readers to feel like they’re a part of your brand. Make sure even as you’re filling a need that your content is still exciting and optimized for sharing and engagement.
- If you have a large pool of leads, creating segmented nurture lists can help you organize your lead list for easier automation.
- While the goal is to get your lead through the sales funnel, use content to help them, not to serve you. A lead should never feel pushed. With both content creation and content distribution, ask yourself if your content is really serving the needs of a particular lead.
Want more resources to help enhance your real estate lead nurturing? Read How to Attract and Make the Most of Online Real Estate Leads and How Real Estate Agents Can Move Leads Through the Funnel.
What content have you found helpful to nurture leads? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Published on August 20, 2014
Written by Sandra Manzanares
Writer, editor, and marketing manager with a passion for helping brands enhance their content marketing strategy. I'm a firm believer that creative storytelling is an essential part of the way we communicate. Constantly striving to fill my head with as much creative and analytical information as possible.