When it comes to digital marketing, it’s easy to focus on just a few sets of activities — content development, search engine optimization, advertising. Those are all valuable lead generation tactics, but they’re only half the story.
The other half, perhaps the most important one, is what happens to your visitors after they convert. After all, the goal of your website is to generate quality leads so you can do business with them, not just store them in a database.
In a perfect world, leads are ready to jump on a call with an agent as soon as they convert. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. The reality is that the vast majority of people who come to your website aren’t ready to speak with an agent.
What’s worse, they don’t want to. And given that 90% of people browse listings on at least 6 to 12 different sites, your lead follow-up strategy is absolutely critical to your marketing success.
But before we take a look at how email is your greatest ally in this quest, let’s take a step back and understand the online home buying cycle.
How Prospects Use The Web To Purchase or Rent a Home
The first thing to know about your prospects’ journey is that the agent comes into play only about halfway through the decision process.
In the Discovery stage, leads are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the market and the tools at their disposal. Whether this is their first rodeo, or they’ve been at it before their immediate priority is to get their “real estate bearings.”
Once they feel comfortable enough, they’ll move into the Research phase. There the goal is to start identifying attributes like price range, property attributes, and neighborhood type. This is still very much a personal, online-driven search.
Once that’s accomplished, the next step will be to narrow down a list of properties before moving on to negotiations — when the agent’s role is of utmost importance.
So we’ve got a problem on our hands.
If most prospects want to handle discovery and research without your help, how can you stay top-of-mind? How can you ensure that when the prospect is finally ready to speak with an agent, they choose to speak with one of yours?
The solution is lead nurturing. It’s a series of communications designed to engage prospects in order for them to take a meaningful action for you business (e.g. schedule a showing, contact an agent, read some content).
Although there are a few ways to engage prospects we’ll limit our discussion to email, which is still the most effective and powerful medium to communicate information with leads.
A Short Introduction to Email Marketing For Real Estate
There are three basic types of email marketing you can do as a brokerage firm: personal emails, newsletters and drip campaigns.
This is the kind of emails we’re all used to sending. They don’t require a software beyond a basic email provider. Just draft a message to a contact and hit “send.”
Obviously there are many drawbacks to just relying on this for your email marketing. For one, your private email probably exists in a different system from where your leads are housed.
For two, although it’s noble to give every prospect your individual time and attention, that’s also hard to manage. You’ll get busy and leads will fall through the cracks. And if you’re dealing with hundreds of leads? Forget about it.
And finally your standard email provider doesn’t have any analytics. So you really don’t know if people are opening your emails. Or if they’re clicking on any links. Or really anything about your email marketing.
Newsletters communicate helpful information on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly etc.). Done well, they help drive referrals, keep your business top-of-mind and increase the odds that a prospect will eventually do business with you.
Examples of the kind of content you could share include:
A newsletter is the ideal way for agents to stay in touch with their contacts. Think about it. You’ve worked hard to form that relationship. Why let it go to waste?
Send a monthly or quarterly report about an area you know your contact cares about. Maybe include a helpful blog article and throw in some interesting trivia. Best case, that person forwards that email to a friend and you get a referral. Worst case, he remembers you still exist.
Newsletters also allow you to deliver a branded message without interrupting your recipient’s day. It’s the ultimate form of advertising — cheap, highly trackable and easy to manage.
In terms of drawbacks it’s true that putting together a quality newsletter takes time. It’s a long game and the results aren’t immediately noticeable. But stick with it, grow your list and in the long run you will reap huge benefits when everyone else is scrambling for leads.
Drip campaigns allow you to automatically send a sequence of emails to prospects over a certain period of time. The goal is to communicate information which you’ve identified as important for your leads to know or take action on.
For example, when a prospect becomes a lead by viewing a property listing, you might first send an introductory message about your brokerage firm, then the next day you might introduce your agents, and a few days later you might share an article about the best beaches in the area.
There the objective is to familiarize prospects with key aspects of your business and increase the odds that they want to do business with you.
Or take prospects who just closed on a new home.
They’re ecstatic and can’t wait to share the good news with their friends and family. It’s the perfect moment to launch a drip campaign to encourage them to leave a review on Google Local and share their new purchase on social media.
Those are just two examples. There are literally dozens of ways you can use drip campaigns to engage prospects and supercharge your business.
A few points to remember:
Email Marketing Is a Privilege, Not a Right
Your customers’ inboxes are cluttered, filled with noise and offers they don’t care about. And they’re more pressed for time than ever before.
The ability to send newsletters and drip campaigns is special. Someone gave you permission to do it. And it can all end with the simple click of the Unsubscribe button.
So take your email marketing seriously. Strive to offer value, not fluff. Put yourself in your contacts’ shoes. What kind of content would you want to receive from a real estate agency? Let that question be your guiding light — your customers will thank you for it.