Funnels are one of the core concepts in sales and marketing. The terms “marketing funnel” and “sales funnel” have been around for a while but have become especially popular in the era of digital marketing, where a customer’s interaction with a company or product can be tracked more easily.
AgentLocator created online lead generation funnels for thousands of agents across Canada and the US. We’ve realized the success of our clients depends on them understanding the funnel from which they are getting their leads.
This blog post will explain what a funnel is, how it’s structured for a property purchase, and how AgentLocator’s LeadGen funnel works.
So, what is actually a marketing or sales funnel?
A funnel is a visual representation of your customer’s journey from the awareness to the advocacy phase. Typically, you’ll hear marketing people talk about the top, the middle, and the bottom of the funnel.
The top of the funnel usually includes broad marketing activities that help build awareness about your product or service within your target audience. This can be any kind of ad you do either in a magazine or online that is shown to a “cold” audience. A cold audience consists of people who haven’t heard about your product or service before.
Besides, the top of the funnel also includes the consideration phase. These are all the marketing activities you do to make your target audience consider your product or service when making the next purchase. The best examples of such a marketing strategy are retargeting ads available on digital platforms. With retargeting, you can show an ad to people who have already visited your website, liked your Facebook page, watched one of your videos, etc. A consideration marketing activity can also include a mass email to your mailing list. In traditional marketing, coupon codes and in-store promotions are often used as a marketing activity to drive people into the consideration phase.
The middle of the funnel includes conversion. It’s called conversion because you convert a lead/prospect into a paid customer. It includes different sales activities that will drive a warm/hot lead to convert by buying your product or using your service.
The length of the first three phases depends on the type of purchase the customer is making. In the case of everyday goods, these phases often blend into each other. However, the more expensive or complex a product, the longer and more distinct these phases are. Like in the case of buying a property or a vehicle, when you’ll be very invested in finding the best option for yourself.
The loyalty and advocacy phases are post-purchase funnel phases. A loyal customer will use your product or service multiple times. An advocate is a person through which you’ll receive a lot of referrals because of a positive experience they had with you. Usually, people first become loyal customers, meaning they’ll continuously purchase products or services from you and then become advocates. But a friend might recommend you, e.g. a dealership, although they’ve dealt with them only once. In this case, one experience has been positive enough to yield a recommendation even before a repeated purchase.
In the next part of this blog post, we’ll crystalize these phases in the case of a property purchase.
The Property Purchase Funnel
In the first step of the funnel, Awareness, people are thinking about whether or not to buy/sell their property. This phase can take years. For example, many people had plans of purchasing a home in 2021, but a predominantly seller’s market made it impossible for them, so they decided to postpone their purchase decision.
This phase is usually an information-gathering phase in which individuals are just exploring. They want to know what kind of properties are on the market and how much they go for. This phase has very low purchase intent - it might take the person several years of research to decide to make a move.
It’s important to understand that this phase has always been long in the case of property purchases. But thanks to online lead generation, we can now capture leads that are in this phase of the purchase process as well.
The second phase, Consideration, means the client has already arrived at the point where they are considering some options. This is still a research phase, however, with clearer purchase intent. People in this phase will usually purchase within the following year. They typically have set a price range and determined a shortlist of areas and property features they’d like to have in their future home. In this phase, the persons also think about which agent to use.
The third phase, Conversion, it’s decision-making time. In this phase, individuals are usually more open to speaking with different Realtors, and it is in this phase that they’ll make the two crucial decisions: who will be their agent and which property they’ll purchase. So, it’s this phase when a client might already try you out, let you organize a showing for them, etc. Nowadays, it’s pretty usual for an individual or a family to try out multiple Realtors to assess which one would be the best fit for them.
The fourth and fifth phases, Loyalty and Advocacy, come only if you’ve done an excellent job. As we mentioned, in some cases, like in the case of a property purchase, your client may never purchase another property again. However, they’ll still gladly refer you to their friends and family if they think you’ve done well.
AgentLocator’s LeadGen Funnel
AgentLocator’s LeadGen program captures leads through ads we serve on behalf of our clients on Google and Facebook. Any leads you generate through online advertising, no matter which ad network you choose /Google, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn/, are top-of-the-funnel leads, i.e. leads in the Awareness and Consideration phases of the purchase funnel.
For some agents, this may sound frustrating because it can take on average 6+ months to convert the leads you get through online advertising. However, with a good strategy, converting these leads isn’t as hard as you might think.
At AgentLocator, we generate online leads in two ways:
-> through Google Search Ads / your ad will appear when a prospect searches terms like “properties in [insert city]” or “properties for sale in [insert city]”; or
-> through Facebook Ads / Facebook uses complex algorithms and cookie data to determine which of its users are interested in buying or selling a house.
Ideally, you’d want to bring these leads to the Consideration or Conversion phase.
One useful tool AgentLocator clients have at their disposal for moving leads from the Awareness to the Consideration phase is automated listing emails. When leads land on AgentLocator’s LeadGen-optimized websites, the search criteria they enter when browsing properties are used to set up a Saved Search. This Saved Search sends new listings matching the leads’ search criteria up to three times a day. This Saved Search is also editable should the leads’ search criteria change with time.
These listing emails keep your name always in the leads’ inbox, which is an essential step in moving leads from the awareness to the consideration phase.
Additionally, you can use drip campaigns and mass emails for additional impact.
Once your leads have moved into the Consideration phase, it’s important to get in touch with them over the phone. These conversations and your ability to ask the right questions will help you move a lead into the Conversion phase and, in the end, choose you as their Realtor.
AgentLocator monthly subscription comes with free auxiliary access to Live Dial and Coaching Sessions with some of the best conversion coaches in the real estate industry. Not only are their conversion pros, but they’ve also been using the AgentLocator system for years and know it in and out.
Such sessions have helped hundreds of agents build a winning pitch and increase the number of leads they move from the Consideration to the Conversion phase.
If you want your customers to choose you for their next property purchase and recommend you to friends and family, keep in touch even after the purchase/sale has been finalized. This can be seasonal greeting cards, happy purchase anniversary gift baskets, and similar. Through these activities, you'll strengthen another pillar of your business, and you’ll be less dependent upon door-knocking, distributing flyers, doing open houses, etc.
Also, don’t be afraid of asking directly for referrals if you think you’ve done a good job and your clients are happy. Remember that your clients don’t know how busy you actually are, so they might not want to recommend you if they think you’ll be too busy. If you ask, you assume, and you have nothing to be afraid of if you just ask.
One of the most commonly asked questions we get during our demo sessions is, “How long does it take for an average lead to convert?”. Understanding marketing and sales funnels helps you get a better picture of what online leads are and why it may take some time to convert them. As well as to develop our own strategy to move your leads from one phase to the next efficiently.