We are constantly being asked, “When should you ask a lead to sign up on your website?” There are three basic strategies that we recommend:
1. Sign up to search
There’s a right way to do this and a wrong way. Some websites require the user to sign up even before they enter their search criteria or on the same page where they enter their search criteria. In the later case, once they click the search button, they’re signed into the site and the search is executed at the same time. The problem with this is that lots of folks will leave that search page before signing in at all. Instead, if you want (or are required by your MLS) to have someone sign in to view search results, you’re better off showing them results and asking them to sign up right away.
The image below is an example of how we do this in Boston Logic’s Sequoia platform. We use what’s known as a Modal Window. If you’re not familiar with the term, you’re surely familiar with the interface, but didn’t know what it was called. A modal window is what you see when the page you’re looking at goes somewhat grey and opaque, but you can still see through the grey. Another window appears over the page content, obscuring part of it from view, drawing your attention and requesting or requiring your attention before you get to the stuff you really came for.
The advantage of the modal window over requiring someone to sign up on the search form is that they can see the results. Remember, the page goes grey. They page loads and they can see the search results, they just can’t get to it. It’s your classic carrot and stick. They want access to those results. So, they’re likely to fill out the fields in the modal window. When we implemented this feature (years ago now) we saw a big jump in lead registrations. The upgrade was obvious.
2. Give them a taste
As a general rule, the sooner you ask users to sign up within your home search, the more sign-ups you will get. The numbers don’t lie. We’ve proven this time and again. That said, when you ask people to sign up right away, a higher percentage of those users will give you fake information. A gate to see data isn’t hard to get around, let’s be honest. So, if someone wants to make us answers to the questions you’ve asked, they will. If you show them a few listings and then ask them to sign up, the theory goes, they’ll have had a taste and they’ll be more likely to give you real information.
So, there’s an argument to be made that by asking for a user to sign up and become a lead after viewing a few listings, you’ll get better leads. This leads us to a different question, how do you judge which leads are better? Well, the answer there is another blog post altogether. For now, we’ll all simply agree that leads with real contact information are better than those with fake information. That’s for sure.
The question becomes, when do you get more real leads. If you allow a user to view, say, 3 listings before asking them to sign up (our platform allows you do pick the number and change it on the fly. So, it’s really up to you) and you get 10 good leads and 2 fake deals per day, you might set that as as a benchmark. Then, you can turn on the lead modal on the search results page. If this nets you 20 good leads and 10 fake leads, you’re ahead, if you ask our marketing team.
Now, we do have clients who don’t want to have any fake leads. They tell us that their agents are quickly frustrated by fake leads and start to consider every web lead to be a poor lead. Wow. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These brokers need to educate their agents. A lead with real contact information is valuable! You can market to them now. If they’d come to your site and left without giving you any contact information, you’d have little to no chance of converting them into a customer. Now, at least, you can give them a call, if they don’t respond you can simply add them to your email marketing campaigns and let them slowly incubate into the custom you want.
3. Keys to the Kingdom
The final strategy we’ll cover here is the oldest one. It’s simple. Don’t ask anyone to sign in until you need to do so. Your site may not even have a way to log in at all. You only get a user’s contact information when they ask for more information or when they decide to create an account. Within the Sequoia platform, this would be when a user performs any of the following: Asks a question about a listing, schedules a showing, emails a listing to a friend, takes notes on a listing, signs up for email listing updates, signs up for an account, wants to save a search or wants to save a listing. I think I got them all there!?!
This strategy will eliminate the fake leads. Why would someone fill out the form to schedule a showing with fake contact information. That would be a complete waste of their time. So, you only get real leads who are interested in learning more, seeing a listing, or somehow need to interact with the information in a way that requires their email address (you can choose to require a phone number at this time too, if you like).
The numbers show that if you ask a property searcher to login early in the search process, you’ll get many many more leads than if you give them the keys to the kingdom. We’ve seen as much as an 8x multiple in the number of leads generated by asking a searcher to login on the search results page, vs giving them the keys to the kingdom. Again, if you ask searchers to login early, some of them will give you fake contact information, but if you run the math, you’ll understand that you’ll come our way ahead if you ask for the signup. For example, if you see 100 leads per month when you give users the keys to the kingdom and 300 leads by asking them to sign in much earlier, but 1/3 of those leads turn out to be fake, you still have 200 good leads. That’s twice as many!
Beyond lead acquisition
Now, the real value of a lead isn’t known for some time after the lead is generated. Around here, we like to say that a lead and a token will get you on the subway. The only way to turn a lead into cash is to have the lead convert into a client. This requires follow-up. Read our post on real estate lead follow-up and you’ll be well on your way.