As buyer demand starts to cool, agents need a competitive edge to attract, qualify and convert leads into sales.
The best agents know that it’s expensive and time-consuming to constantly fill your lead bucket, only to have buyers go cold as you try to move them through the process towards a sale. There’s never been a better time to find, and patch the holes in your marketing funnel, building a leak-proof approach that will set you apart.
3 leaks that might be draining your leads bucket
Ask yourself these three questions to find out if there’s more you could be doing to keep your leads moving down the funnel towards a sale:
- Are you responding to leads fast enough (or at all)?
This is a pretty obvious one, but if you’re not responding to high-quality leads fast enough, or in the way they want to be responded to, your funnel is going to be particularly leaky. The challenge for real estate agents is understanding which leads to prioritise, particularly when you’re spinning lots of plates. This is where agents can lean on their marketing automation systems to grade potential leads, to help you identify who needs an urgent phone call and who can be best served via an automated email response. Agents have unique skills that can’t be replicated, and should be letting technology do the work to solve the mundane stuff.
2. Are you sure what the buyer wants (and when)?
Do you know where your buyers are in their purchase journey? Some will be ready to sign on the dotted line, while others are still in the search phase. The content that buyers will need at each stage to get (and keep) them excited will vary, and it’s imperative that you deliver the right content at the right time.
Identify the key moments in the buyer’s journey and map this to the content that’s going to keep them moving down the funnel. For example:
- A buyer has found a property they love on a portal site. They are excited and want to take a closer look before rearranging their Saturday to attend an open home. Providing access to a virtual open home can give them the opportunity to determine if a property is a good fit for their needs and will encourage them to reach out to the agent directly.
- A buyer has just visited a property in person and has fallen in love. They want to show the property to their partner, who couldn’t attend the open home, straight away. Photos and videos are great, but only showcase what the photographer and videographer think are important, not what the potential buyer is interested in. Agents need to find ways to keep buyer excitement high without any additional time investment.
- A buyer is keen on a property and likely to bid at the auction. In order to make an informed bid, the buyer needs to fast-track the building and pest process while still minimising out-of-pocket expenses. Jordan Rogers, chief operating officer of Before You Bid, said, “issues with an inspection report are one of the top two reasons for contracts falling over. Losing momentum at this stage of the sale requires substantial extra agent effort. Giving the buyer access to tools like building and pest reports at a fraction of the standard price and at the start of a campaign reduces the barriers to buyers placing an offer. This means that not only are agents more efficient, but they are receiving high quality buyer and seller intent data and can often negotiate a higher sales price for the vendor.”
According to Dirk Miller, head of real estate solutions at CoreLogic, real estate agents have a unique opportunity to deliver value at every touchpoint in the real estate transaction — the key is understanding what’s going to be relevant and valuable to a buyer at each stage of the process.
“There are moments in the buyer journey where agents can provide exceptional value to buyers. This could be as simple as a well-timed phone call, or if they understand more about where the buyer is at in their journey, they can deliver more in-depth content that helps a buyer feel confident to take the next step,” Mr Miller said.
3. Are you making your customer get up off the couch to find their credit card?
If there’s one thing experts in buyer behaviour know, it’s that minimising friction is vital for increasing conversion rates. Don’t make customers get up off the comfy couch to find their credit card when they want to buy something online, and don’t stop potential buyers from progressing down the funnel when they are ready to. Research by REA has shown that excitement peaks during the search and inspection phase when looking for a new home:
This research emphasises that agents need a hybrid strategy of physical and virtual inspections to allow buyers to engage in the property search process in a way that allows for immediacy and personalisation of their journey. Don’t block buyers from engaging with a property when and how *they* want to — just as any e-commerce expert would provide a variety of payment options to prevent the customer from having to get up off the couch to find their credit card, giving them time to decide they don’t need the product after all.
3 ways to patch your leaky funnel (and build a funnel that doesn’t need fixing)
You’ve probably heard that it costs five times as much to find a new lead than it does to nurture an existing one. While the real estate process is a little different in that customers aren’t immediately looking for another property to purchase after closing one sale, recent buyers are your most valuable source of referrals, testimonials, and they will be looking for their next property in the medium to long term. Taking a leads to listings approach, one that considers every lead as a potential listing, changes the focus from constantly filling the top of the funnel to delivering value at every stage of the customer journey. This turns a funnel into a flywheel and ultimately results in a more profitable business long term.
Leak-proofing your funnel looks like:
- Identifying where your customers are in the purchase journey, and the value each lead represents. Lean on technology tools that provide you with more information about the customer than their basic contact info (or grade leads who fill out all of their contact details more highly than those who only fill out one or two fields).
- Having the right content available when and where buyers are looking for it. It doesn’t take much to understand what buyers want at each stage of the funnel — it’s all about making sure you’re keeping the process as open and transparent as possible. When we take our “real estate” hat off and put our “consumer” hat on, we know that we want instant access to products, whether that’s food (Deliveroo), transport (Uber) or content (social media). Agents that will win as the market continues to soften are those that actively reduce friction for buyers, providing them with all of the information they need to make the best possible offer.
- Making your process easy to replicate. There will be things you do every day that can be systemised. If you know something works, lean on technology to take some of the heavy lifting out of your follow-up processes.
Mike York is co-founder and chief marketing officer of Little Hinges.