There are many different activities that you can do as a real estate professional to find new clients.
You could distribute flyers. You could organize open houses. You could go door-knocking to try to introduce yourself within a particular neighbourhood. You could advertise your real estate business in a local newspaper or radio.
What the world of digital marketing has done is that it only opened another door for real estate professionals to reach their potential clients.
All of these marketing activities have one goal - to promote your real estate business to potential clients. And even though all these activities have the same end goal, you probably don’t treat a person who’s calling you from a flyer and a person that has been on your open house the same way.
Potential clients (or as we like to call them nowadays - leads) that have entered your database through a Google ad require a different approach.
This blog post will underline the importance of immediate contact with online leads for their successful conversion into customers.
The key to understanding how to approach online real estate leads is by understanding how they ended up in your database in the first place.
And this can be understood by decoding something called user intent.
Let’s start with an example that has nothing to do with real estate.
You recently saw a recipe for a mushroom goulash, and now you’d like to try it out. In this situation, you would probably go to Google, type in “mushroom goulash recipe” or “mushroom goulash ingredients.”
The fact you’ve googled it now doesn’t mean you’ll be preparing the goulash right away. Maybe you’ll be cooking it later that day. Or you are just looking up the ingredients you need to buy to prepare it for dinner tomorrow. Or maybe you’re a super-diligent person, and you’re planning your dinner for next week.
The common thread between these use cases is that you’ll be preparing a mushroom goulash. It’s just that it’s hard to know when exactly. Today, tomorrow or in a week.
There are four types of intent connected to online searches:
1. Informational intent - the intent of your search is to find more information about something - the weather, a person, an event;
2. Transactional intent - you are googling with the intention of buying something. These searches are particular and narrow and often contain the words buy discount or concrete product names;
3. Navigational intent - this is the most specific search you can do - you enter a concrete business name like “Pizza Hut” or “Tom Tailor” in the search bar to visit their website, browse their products or buy something in their online store;
4. Commercial investigation intent - these searches are done when there is intent to buy in the future - near or far. This type of search is often connected to buying more complex or expensive products or services, like laptops, washing machines, TVs, and, yes, real estate. Such purchases require more consideration and thus require more research by the person with buyer intent.
Picture: Types of search intent
The Real Estate Online Lead
Now, let’s Imagine the intent someone has when googling “detached houses in Niagara” or “detached two-bedroom house Oakville.”
That person sees your Google ad, clicks on it, registers on your website and starts browsing for properties.
The search could have been sparked by the need to move within the next couple of months or a long-term plan to move to Niagara or Oakville.
When that lead enters your database, that’s impossible to know.
However, there certainly IS some kind of interest, or the person wouldn’t have been searching. Understanding where this intent lies, and understanding it as soon as possible, is what will determine whether or not that lead that ended up in your database today will be a client six months from now.
AgentLocator statistics show that the leads that come through Google Ads take around six months to convert.
But don’t get stuck on this statistic because every lead has their story and situation behind their Google search.
Buying a property is, for most people, the most significant purchase of their lives. And all these people want is to get as close as possible to buying their dream property. And your job is to make them feel like YOU are the real estate agent that can make that possible.
Leads Are Like Fruit, They Go Bad Over Time
Let’s return to the person searching for “detached houses in Niagara” or “detached two-bedroom house Oakville.”
After that person ended up on your page browsing for properties, they could have clicked back and explored another site - another ad or another organic result. In either case, if they’ve done that, they probably ended up in another database.
Or they could have just browsed casually on your page for a time and then just returned to what they had been doing before. The reason they were browsing could be pure curiosity, or they may have already started planning on moving, or they may be a step or two away from hiring a real estate agent.
No matter what the situation is, prompt contact is what’s going to be your competitive advantage.
The further away you catch your lead from the home search mode, the less likely it is that you’ll have results. Just as fruit, they’ll rot away in your database.
Prompt contact, in this case, can be a call, email or text message - whatever strategy you are most comfortable with.
Here’s how prompt contact with a lead helps you establish better rapport and gain a competitive advantage:
#1 Position Yourself Against Other Real Estate Agents
If a person browses for properties on multiple websites and they end up being in multiple databases, prompt contact helps you position yourself against these other real estate agents.
In this case, it’s not important who contacted the lead first, but which real estate agent can provide the most value to the person.
Reaching out as soon as possible gives you an equal fighting chance to win the lead over.
#2 You’re Connecting Your Name to Your Website
When reaching out to a lead, while they’re probably still searching for a property, you’re directly connecting your name (or voice) to that property search.
Most agents ask themselves about the best approach - the best time and way to reach out to leads that registered on their website.
What’s considered intrusive, what’s not?
The answer is that there is no correct answer. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with.
You can set up your system to send an SMS within 5 minutes upon registration and call the lead within the next day or two if they don’t answer.
Or you can call as soon as possible and start a conversation right then and there while the person is still browsing.
However, the sooner you establish contact, the stronger will be the connection the lead forms with your brand and their property search. Especially if they have established contact with several real estate agents, having a clear link in your lead’s mind about what you are offering vs what the other agents are offering is the key to winning new business.
Here’s what a panel of AgentLocator clients had to say about the right time to reach out to a lead after registration:
You’ll also often get leads that register in the evening or late at night.
Here is how Nick Moretti, our Live Dial Expert, handles such leads.
#3 You Are Reaching Out to Them While They’re Still in Property-Search Mode
As mentioned, browsing for real estate is an iterative process - a lead might be looking at properties today and then forget about their home search for the next few days.
Once the lead is out of their property-search mode, it’s hard to recreate what’s been going on in their minds. They have probably already forgotten about their search and the properties they viewed.
If you reach out to them within 5 minutes after registration, they’re probably still browsing and looking. They are in the mood. They might even already have some questions in mind. Questions you can answer and thus add value right then and there in your first conversation with the lead.
You shouldn’t be afraid of starting conversations right away with your leads. Look at each potential interaction with your lead as a way to provide them with additional value, not as a way of intruding into their lives.
And always remember - the longer you wait to reach out, the more likely you are going to lose the momentum - the lead will go bad, just like fruits go bad over time.