The 6 Stages of Nurturing and Converting Your Real Estate Leads Online
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
All of your real estate leads are unique. You’ve likely already made this not-so-shocking observation just by chatting with your top prospects on the phone and in person. What you may not have realized just yet, though, is your nurture strategy for each and every one of those could-be clients also needs to be unique.
While the structure of your lead nurturing efforts should remain uniform for every home buyer or seller that you do business with, the details of each prospect’s housing situation will all be different. Therefore, you should craft a nurture blueprint that can be slightly modified and tailored for all of your real estate leads.
If you haven’t built a nurture structure for your agency, or aren’t sure how to make your email, texts and calls more relevant for each contact in your database, our newest ebook will help you start personalizing your approach.
Below, we’ve pulled together some actionable advice based on the strategies top producers use to nurture their real estate leads:
1st Stage: Cleaning Up Your Database
Roughly three-quarters of CRM users noted in a Software Advice survey they received “improved access to customer data,” thanks to their lead management systems.
If your real estate marketing mix is doing its job, new leads are consistently entering your contacts database.
Ideally, your lead management system is automatically creating dedicated profiles for those prospects so you can focus on adding photos, housing preferences, a buying/selling timeline, and other notes that will help you close deals.
In Placester’s lead management platform for agents and brokers, for instance, you can not only add in notes regarding your prospects, but you can also see their activity on your website in real-time (e.g. when they “favorite” a listing).
It’s engagement efforts like this that can help you reorder your lead list(s) by re-grading prospects after each interaction with your online presence and, in turn, know which of them deserve your precious time, attention, and energy.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Identify your highest- and lowest-quality leads — and delete or deprioritize those who aren’t worth pursuing.
Most REALTORS® are able to discern right off the bat which of their prospects are golden opportunities … and which can be placed at the back of the nurturing line (or eliminated from their CRMs altogether).
Your job is to fine-tune your lead qualification skills by looking at each new lead to enter your database and ask yourself some key questions:
- 1) “Did the lead provide accurate contact info upon conversion?”
- 2) “Did the lead share some info regarding housing needs?”
- 3) “How many site lead capture forms has the lead filled out?”
- 4) “Does the lead engage with my website pretty regularly?”
If the answer is “yes” to at least a couple of these questions (and definitely to #1), then you know the prospect is worth your nurturing time and energy. Go ahead and label them as “Ready to Nurture” in your database.
If the answer to most of the questions is “no” (including and especially #1), then they can be labeled as “Hold Off for Now” in your CRM — and you can do just that regarding your nurture efforts.
2nd Stage: Labeling All of Your Leads
The “Ready to Nurture” and “Hold Off For Now” labels mentioned above are meant to be placeholders until you can get a little more insight into just how interested they are in your real estate services.
For instance, prospects who are engaging with your digital foundation relatively often are more likely to have their sights set on you, your agency, or listings featured on your website.
It’s wise to label these “hot leads” as such so you can keep track of who should get white glove treatment.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Segment your audience into different buckets based on their quality and buying or selling criteria.
“Top Leads — Highly Engaged”: That’s an excellent bucket name to use for people who are interacting frequently with your online content (such as your website or your social media accounts).
Other quality prospects that may not be visiting your site as often or reading your emails as much can be deemed “Top Leads — Somewhat Engaged,” and, in turn, be added to a moderately different drip campaign.
And on, and on, and on you can go with the tagging specificity.
Again, as with a whole host of other REALTOR marketing activities, this is a subjective one. It requires a close analysis of the kinds of folks in your CRM database and, subsequently, an instinctive guess as to the four, five, or six types of buckets you can create for all of them.
3rd Stage: Prioritizing Your Prospects
Not all leads are created equal. Some people may browse your website in the hopes of buying a house someday, while others may be ready to start interviewing real estate agents tomorrow.
As real estate pro and author Steve Jolly explains in an episode of our Marketing Genius podcast, the buyer/seller journey has many stages, and you need to know when the time is right to help them take the next step:
- “If they’re just starting to look and find out where they want to live, I’m not taking them to show listings; I’m going to show them areas of town so they can see where they want to live first and we can focus on the detail when they get to that point. If they’re just starting to look, I’m not asking them to sign an agency agreement, because that’s not what’s on their mind at that point in time.”
By taking a deeper dive into your leads’ profiles, you can figure out who appears to be the furthest down in the inbound marketing funnel and who’s most likely to need your services soon.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Figure out who’s just entered your real estate CRM software vs. who’s been there for weeks or months, and pick a few leads to nurture first.
It won’t always be the case that the perceived “top” real estate leads will always convert quicker or before “lesser” leads, but chances are that your more engaged prospects will convert to business more frequently.
4th Stage: Adding Leads to Campaigns
As noted in our explanatory “Future of Lead Nurturing” webinar, drip email campaigns are, without a doubt, your best nurturing “play.”
Manually sent emails will never go out of style. However, automated emails to your different lead segments often do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to staying top of mind with possible customers.
Before you can reap the rewards of this email-on-autopilot strategy, you need to actually create the emails for each campaign — keeping in mind that each lead bucket requires its own flavor of nurture emails.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Assign the initial batch of leads you plan to nurture to the most appropriate email campaigns.
Start with your first-rate real estate leads — those you’ve categorized as ones to nurture ASAP. As mentioned, these prospects have the greatest likelihood of turning into new business.
Assign a campaign to them that starts when they’ve evolved from “mostly solid prospect” to “going-to-convert-soon lead.” In other words, set up an email cadence that looks a little something like this:
- EMAIL #1: Newsletter (even mix of promoting local listings and sharing area news and business updates)
- EMAIL #2: Digest (promoting your latest blog posts and home buying or selling resources)
- EMAIL #3: Multimedia (embed a video, like a brand update or listing tour, or an infographic)
- EMAIL #4: Offer (explicit call to action offering something like listing presentation or buying consultation )
Send your recipients these emails in this order over, say, the span of 2-3 weeks (patience is a virtue — and essential for a proper nurture approach).
Over that time, you may gradually pique their interest in your business … and transform them from highly qualified real estate leads to your highly cherished clients.
BONUS: Download our free drip templates guide for REALTORS to learn how to structure and schedule your real estate emails.
5th Stage: Monitoring Opens and Clicks
Generally speaking, there are 10 core email marketing metrics to monitor for the emails you send your audience.
Having said that, there are really just a couple you need to comb over daily to ensure your nurture campaigns are performing up to your standards and further qualifying your leads:
Let’s face it, if no one opens your emails and you don’t know about it, you could end up wasting a colossal amount of time (and no real estate professional wants that).
These are equally important to measure because you need to know the ratio of opens to clicks:
- If 10 people open an email, but only 1 clicks a link within it, you know your email copy is missing the mark.
- If 10 people open an email, and seven click a link, something’s working and you ought to reuse that email so you can duplicate your success.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Use your drip marketing software (or other analytics tool) to track who interacts with your emails.
To understand the true effectiveness of your lead nurture emails, you’ll need drip marketing software — or, if said software doesn’t supply these metrics, a separate platform that does.
Regardless of the tool used, it’s essential that you know how to easily access the email open and click data from the software and compile that data into a spreadsheet of some kind (either through an automated reporting function in the software or manually) so you can analyze it over time.
Without proper data analysis, you won’t be able to pinpoint the specific emails and types of emails that need to be:
- Removed from campaigns (low engagement)
- Optimized a bit more (moderate engagement)
- Duplicated (high engagement)
You may not consider yourself a data expert, but you don’t need to be one to keep tabs on these metrics over time. All you need is (1) a document where you keep all of the figures organized and (2) regular audits of your email efforts — just like you do (or should) for all your other online marketing activities.
BONUS: Read our special guide to learn how to increase your real estate email opens and clicks for your campaigns.
6th Stage: Contacting Engaged Leads
Arguably the most enjoyable stage is actually (and finally) getting in touch with the real estate leads you’ve determined are ready to start scanning the market for new and interesting listings or enlisting an agent to help them market and sell their home.
All this work teeing up leads will be wasted without an understanding of how you can sell yourself to your potential client. Practicing your sales script and general pitch can make the difference between winning a lead over and sending them back into the nurture campaign.
ESSENTIAL STEP: Practice makes perfect with lead-to-client conversion, so rehearse (and re-rehearse) your sales pitch.
Most successful real estate agents thrive because they’re good at connecting with people and really listening to what they’re looking for.
Don’t make the rookie mistake of wasting nurture opportunities by overselling, selling too early, or neglecting your “hottest” leads.
Only you will know when the right time is to make the ask of a prospect, so practice your sales pitch, refine your scripts, and use multimedia and print collateral (videos, graphics, charts) to make your case to fully nurtured leads.
Download our ebook to learn how to better nurture your real estate leads and make the most of your REALTOR CRM system.
Published on August 25, 2017
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.