Seven Tips for Converting Internet Leads
Even if the shorter days and cooler nights weren't a big tip-off, I always know when fall has arrived.
Why? Because once again my inbox is flooded with requests from agents who have taken the summer off and are now feeling panicked about their lack of business.
They haven't been prospecting during the summer and haven't been keeping in touch with past clients consistently, so now they're scrambling for leads.
And in desperation, many of them decide to pay a company to provide internet leads.
There are hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of companies out there selling online leads to hopeful agents. The promise is, of course, that an agent will receive dozens (or hundreds!) of leads, which they will magically convert into commission checks. I'm not even going to get into the problems with some of those leads in the post. Instead, I'm going to pretend that each and every lead that arrives in your mailbox is a legitimate buyer or seller.
Now all you have to do is convert them with a quick email or two, right? If only it were that easy!
Question: Why does almost every agent I talk to have such a poor conversion rate for online leads?
Answer: They're not engaging with these potential clients and keeping them hungry for more. (Well, part of it may be that all those leads aren't legitimate. But again, for today's purposes, I'm going to pretend they are.)
Internet leads are very different than leads which call you, walk in to your office, or drop by an open house. The internet lead is typically looking for information... without commitment.
That's why so many people opt-out of forced forms when searching online - they don't want to share information before they're ready to do so. You have to assume that, for whatever reason, these potential clients want to remain anonymous, and most importantly you have to remember this: you have not earned the right to ask anything of them.
If you want to be successful in converting online leads, the key is to position yourself as a professional resource, once who gives freely before asking or taking. It's that simple! How does that look in real life? Let me share seven tips with you:
- Don't assume that an online lead doesn't have potential, that they're not serious about buying or selling, and that they're just using you for information. These kinds of assumptions are costly - don't make them! Online leads are searching for the right solution. Be that solution! People start their search - and research - online. Treat online leads with the same care you would someone who stopped by an open house. Don't let them start with you and finish with someone else.
- Stand out from the competition in terms of knowledge and/or service. Don't merely give an online lead exactly what they ask for. Go beyond! If they ask about a home in a certain neighborhood, provide information about the home and the neighborhood. Then also include information on similar neighborhoods which might meet their needs.
- Don't push too early for information. If someone hasn't offered more information, there's probably a reason for it. Be respectful of boundaries. But let's say you really want to get someone's mailing address. Let them know you've prepared a report that has information that you've prepared - information that would be helpful to them. Ask if you could mail it to them. When they then provide their name and address, mail it promptly! What kind of report would they want? What about appreciation rates for neighborhoods in your marketplace? That's something every potential buyer would value. Sales price and market time statistics would be of enormous value to a seller.
- Don't be too casual. Email and texting has created an environment where it's ok to be quite casual. These internet leads aren't your personal friends. Keep the conversation professional, and be sure to use standard punctuation and grammar. No smiley faces, no "U R" instead of "you are."
- Be consistent... but don't be overly persistent. Don't keep pushing and prodding and asking if people are ready to go. Be a resource, not a persistent pain in the neck.
- Be timely. If you are going to work internet leads you must make sure you are notified immediately when a lead comes in. With today's technology, that's pretty simple to do. And when you're asked for information, send it as quickly as possible. If they don't get it from you, they'll simply go to the computer and find a different resource.
- Keep it clean... and by "it" I mean your social media profile. Once a client connects with you online (or perhaps even before) they may take the time to do a little research... on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest. Be sure that the messages you're sending on these sites put you in the best possible light. Posts talking about the killer kegger you went to last weekend, or how wasted you were at your high school reunion are probably not going to help with lead conversion.
While the odds aren't in your favor given the poor quality of many online leads which are sold to you, if you follow these tips you will significantly boost your conversion rate for online leads. You can also use the same principles if you are generating leads from your own website.
There are agents in the marketplace right now who are doing a great job converting online leads using these strategies... and they're making a good living at it. They've learned the skill of incubating leads, and not expecting conversion after receiving a single email.
Know what clients want and be sure you can provide it. When someone is ready to move forward, whether they are a buyer or a seller, they typically take the path of least resistance. If you've been a good source of timely, reputable information - and you've built a respectful rapport - you will get the business.
I'll be talking more about lead cultivation this month, with segments on in-person and telephone lead conversion. Watch for those Zebra Reports in September!
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things "real estate". With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.