Real Estate Marketing Defined: Learning About the Online Lead Conversion Path
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
For the average real estate professional, simply knowing the basics of modern marketing concepts is ideal. They understand they need IDX websites. The recognize they should blog often. They realize the importance of promoting their content.
But for some agents, this bare-bones knowledge isn’t enough.
Take the lead conversion path, for instance. Many industry pros may not clearly perceive the exact journey their prospects take to become such … but if you take a closer look at the stranger-to-site-visitor-to-lead conversion process, you’ll notice there are a number of steps buyers and sellers take along their way toward Nurtureville (a.k.a. your website).
If you’re one of these Realtors who wants to gain a deeper comprehension as to the path your audience takes to enter your marketing funnel and, in time, become workable leads, this is the guide for you. Continue on to discover more about the modern lead conversion path in this edition of our Real Estate Marketing Defined series.
“I want to learn how the entire lead conversion path works. How does my website fit into prospects’ buying journey?”
In the olden times, prospective home buyers and sellers sought out real estate pros with this thing called a telephone. They’d pick up the (usually) bulky device, punch some keys (yep, multiple buttons!), and they’d connect with an agent in their community they kind of, sort of knew — in most cases, after discovering them in ads local paper ads.
Thankfully, these days are long gone. Now, it’s all about the inbound marketing methodology (one we’ve covered here before): informing potential clients about your real estate business through a variety of digital means, getting them to your IDX website, and, if all goes well, convincing them to fork over the Big Three personal details (name, phone, and email).
Your real estate website is at the center of the entire lead conversion process.
It’s this process — one in which you get people you don’t know and vice versa to find out about your brand, drive them to your site, keep them coming back thanks to a bevy of interesting and relevant content, and enticing them to the point they decide to reach out to you (not the other way around) — that is how the bulk of industry pros build their Realtor businesses today.
The IDX site needs to be your conversion path foundation.
Your website is at the center of this entire process, as the overwhelming majority of standard lead conversions involve a) the discovery of an agent’s site and b) the nurturing of these individuals once they land on that site.
It’s certainly not a process that’s mastered from the moment your IDX website goes live … but after some savvy optimization and an understanding of which pages, calls to action, and form types (more on that in a bit) tend to aid your nurturing efforts the most, you’ll get an increasingly clearer perspective on how to structure your site to keep this lead conversion path in tip-top shape for the long haul.
“Okay, that gives me a pretty good idea as to what it is — but can you give me an example of how it works over time?”
Absolutely! There are endless possible ways by which visitors can later transform into brand new real estate leads, but for the sake of simplicity and brevity, let’s explore one of the most common scenarios: a prospect finding one or more of your website pages in a search engine (well, in all likelihood, Google).
The searcher enters your specific market name (town, city, county, or otherwise) along with a long-tail keyword like “properties for sale,” “condos for rent,” or “2-bedroom single-family homes” — the type of search that’s becoming more natural in terms of language each and every day.
Once they enter this phrase in search, the goal is for at least one — and, eventually, hopefully many more of — your real estate website pages to be the very top result on the page (don’t fret if your pages aren’t there yet; winning the game of SEO takes some time for Realtors). Ideally, your page title and meta description help “close the deal” regarding which site they decide to click. If your site “wins,” the lead conversion path has officially opened for business.
A visually stunning website goes a long way for lead capture.
Next up is an equally important facet of this path: offering a stellar, modern user experience (UX) for your visitors and making it easy for them to find exactly the content (listings, resources, community info, etc.) within seconds. Seriously: The average website user bounces within 20 seconds if they don’t immediately find value there … meaning your site is on the clock, so to speak.
Again, though, as long as you’ve optimized your website accordingly — numerous search-optimized pages, substantial amounts of agency info, lots of pertinent listings, your contact details incorporated in the header and footer of each page, and so on — you stand a really good chance of keeping your newfound visitor around.
Finally, we come to the point where they’ve deemed your website a worthwhile visit (for now, at least). Where they are in the buyer’s journey (top, middle, or bottom of the marketing funnel) will dictate when they take the desired, final action: filling out a lead capture form.
Passive forms (i.e. ones that pop up after a few minutes or after a few different pages are visited) are your best bet for converting leads in the long run, but the data varies from agent to agent, so testing different types (e.g. passive vs. aggressive, basically) is a must.
And that’s the entire process, in a nutshell: Get visitors on your site, convince them you have all of the necessary housing info they crave, then go into suavely patient sales mode by presenting them with a lead capture form to learn more, get a consultation, download an asset, or receive some other service from you in return for their contact details.
“That seems like a relatively straightforward process. There must be certain best practices to follow, though … right?”
Once again, you’re right on the money. That example, again, is one of the more abridged examples we could give. There are countless other instances in which visitors become leads over time and several factors to take into consideration with the entire lead conversion path process: the time between visits for visitors, a change in a buyer’s or seller’s circumstances, a rise or drop in search rankings for your site — the list of variables is a long one.
Having said all that, there are ways you can progressively improve your real estate lead conversion efforts over time and avoid these potential pitfalls.
The more enticing CTAs you offer site-wide, the more leads you’re likely to convert.
For instance, if you include 10 or more different kinds of CTAs across your site (e.g. “Contact Me Today to Chat About Your Housing Needs,” “Download My Free Home Buyer’s Checklist,” “Join My Monthly Newsletter for Sellers”), the better your odds are that at least one of those offers will resonate with a particular visitors.
If you only offer a few CTAs or less site-wide, you take the risk that those are the only offers that interest your visitors — and if none of them “click” with users, you may never get any form fillouts.
Another best practice relates to the very end of the lead conversion path: when a visitor has already filled out a form. This may seem like you’re all set — now all you have to do is send some generic emails and, in the next few days, the prospect will finally give you a call … except that, in most cases, this never happens.
Nope, what you have to do after actually getting leads to share their contact info is twofold:
You need to actually nurture them — and with personalized content.
Drip email campaigns are a real estate agent’s best friend, not just because they’re automated messages that get sent to your top-of-the-line leads, but also because a drip campaign is far and away your best resource for getting leads to make the transition to new business. Setting up autoresponders that instantly email leads moments after conversion ensures your entire lead conversion path setup doesn’t go to waste.
Follow up with your real estate leads as soon as possible!
Fact: Calling a lead within one minute of conversion improves your odds of turning them into new clients by 400%. You’re not going to be able to hop on the phone to get in touch with every new lead, of course, but by even touching base with them within 24 hours can still give you the edge on the competition, so make a concerted effort to dial up your latest prospects to ensure you’re the one who’s top of mind with them, not Jane Agent down the street (which, by the way, is an apt name for a Realtor, we might add).
So … it’s evident: The lead conversion path is the one of least resistance — and the one that’s going to eventually catapult your real estate business into the limelight (or expand its presence there, if you’re already an established agent).
Thus, it’s vital to allocate some time to understanding this process even more so — otherwise, you could find your shiny new IDX website is simply just a digital business card, and that won’t serve your bottom line well at all.
Watch our “Converting Seller Leads with Your Website” webinar today to generate more prospects from your online presence!
What are some other topics you’d like us to discuss in our Real Estate Marketing Defined series? Share your preferences below!
Published on March 30, 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.