When it comes to online leads in real estate, I hear some version of this sentiment all the time: online leads aren’t worth the money or effort…
- “They are a waste of time…”
- “They don’t want to hear for me…”
- “They’re never ready to act…”
However, studies show that the vast majority of online leads are simply very early in the home buying or selling process. They are starting to look at homes, explore their options, or begin their research.
So there’s definitely some truth to the feeling that they don’t want to talk to you… yet!
To make the most of online leads, you need a system for scoring leads and following up with them until they’re ready to buy. Scoring leads simply means identifying a lead’s interest, their readiness to act, and the amount of time and energy it takes you to acquire that lead and turn that lead into client.
By scoring and sorting leads, you can make sure you follow-up with each lead based on where they are in the buying or selling process. For those rare leads ready to act now, you can actively try to set up an appointment. For those further out, you can follow up over time with an email sequence that delivers targeted, relevant information.
Don’t worry–Scoring online leads is easy. We use a simple method for evaluating all the online leads that come into our system. Generally, leads fall into one of three “quality” categories:
Low Cost, Low Intent Leads
As mentioned previously, the vast majority of online leads fall into this category. These leads are early in the home buying or selling process, and can be up to 18 months from being ready to buy or sell a home. They might be someone browsing listings on your website, subscribing to your blog, downloading a free report from your website, or so on.
Think about it this way: Not too long ago, consumers HAD to contact a real estate agent if they wanted to see what was on the market. Now, nearly ALL consumers will start the buying process online. They’ll start browsing properties long before they are actually ready to move.
But that doesn’t mean you can wait to engage these leads until they’re ready to buy or sell. You need to stay in touch, offer value, establish a relationship, and build trust over time. That way when they’re ready to act, they work with you. Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else, and they’ll end up working with a different agent who took the time to provide information and build that relationship.
Medium Intent, Medium Effort Leads
These leads are a little further down the home buying or selling path, and generally take a little more effort to acquire and convert.
For example, someone could ask for more information about a specific listing on your website. Is it still available? Is there room to add a pool? By asking these types of questions, you know the lead is interested in more than just browsing, and you need to put in more effort following up with that lead.
Leads purchased from portal sites often fall in this category as well. Portal sites will do some of the lead scoring already, so the leads you receive are those that have shown they have an intent to act in the near future.
High Intent, High Cost/Effort Leads
For example, using the example from the graph above, you could use Google Adwords to have your ads show up when someone searches for that term. But because so many other agents will be bidding on that term and competing for the limited number of people searching it, those ads are going to be very expensive. What’s more, it’s going to take a lot of work to get your ads performing to the point they show up on the first page of search results.
Marketing to your network for leads and referrals can also fall in this category. Consider the amount of time it took to build those relationships in the first place, and the effort you have to put in to stay in touch now. But the leads you get from your network will most often have a “high intent” to act (they are reach out to you for a specific reason), placing them in this category!
Most agents want and prefer High Intent leads. In fact, you’ll probably want to start here. But it’s important to put a system in place to follow-up with leads in the other categories. Today’s “low intent” lead will be the “high intent” lead down the road, and it will take you less effort and expense in the long run if you build the relationship early on!
Tomorrow we’ll be sharing some strategies you can use to market to leads in each of the categories. But first, you have a homework assignment!
Today, try to figure out how much website traffic you have right now. Some of you will be able to get the information right away, but others might have to call your provider, look into WordPress tracking, etc.