Six steps for converting Web leads into gold

Half of all real estate Web leads go unanswered

Gold image via Shutterstock.Gold image via Shutterstock.

For years, agents have been addicted to “right now business” — clients who will transact in 30-60 days. As a result, about half of all real estate Web leads go unanswered.

There’s gold in those Web leads, provided you are willing to stay in contact until these potential future clients decide to transact.

If you ask most agents about Web leads, the most common response is, “Web leads are worthless.”

Their frustration results because they compare Web leads to referrals or sign calls where the lead is ready to transact now.

While referrals and sign calls may feed your current business, developing a Web lead incubation system feeds your business 12-18 months from now.

Web inquiries are excellent sources of leads. As a group, the National Association of Realtors reports that clients who use the Internet are better qualified, earn more money, and view fewer houses than traditional buyers. The catch is that you must be prepared to wait 12 to 18 months before that Web lead is ready to transact.

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To convert more Web leads into closed business, follow the six steps below.

Give Web visitors what they want

With the shift to mobile, there’s no better time than now to give buyers and sellers the four key things they want when the visit a real estate website: Those four key items are, “What’s for sale?” “What’s my house worth?” “How’s the market” and “What is the lifestyle like?”

These are the four most important links to place on your website as well as on your mobile site as well. Support these links with videos, plenty of virtual tours, links to MLS searches (IDX or VOW), as well as to your personal featured listings.

This also means getting rid of any of those pretty Flash pictures on your current site that take forever to load on a mobile device. Also, remove your picture and personal information from your home page and post it on your “About us” page.

Simplify the navigation

As you redesign your site, make it easy for Web and mobile visitors to find exactly what they want. In fact, your Web and mobile sites should be so easy that a 10-year old could figure out how to navigate the site without assistance. Also, it should only take a single click to reach any important information on your site. Remember, you lose a substantial number of visitors with every extra click they make.

Learn from online shopping experts

The two most successful on-line businesses are eBay and Amazon. Each of these sites allows their visitors to shop anonymously. Only when the customer is ready to transact do they have to identify who they are. They understand that today’s Web visitor is reluctant to provide contact information.

The same is true for real estate. Consumers don’t want to be bombarded by every agent or company whose site they visit. Only when they are ready to purchase or when they want something from you other than MLS data, will they be ready to supply their personal information.

Registration forms on mobile devices are deadly

The research has consistently shown that if you require someone to fill out a Web form to obtain listing information, you may have better qualified leads, but you will lose a substantial proportion of other leads that will list or buy a property.

Filling out Web forms is particularly difficult on most phones, especially for anyone who has large fingers or long nails. This means that as you make the shift to mobile, it’s important that you use QR codes or other strategies that allow users to use a single click or scan to obtain the information they want.

Shift to home ownership marketing

Most real estate marketing is transaction-based. Approximately 14 percent of all homeowners will move this year. This means that only 5 to 7 percent of all homeowners will be in the market at any given time. The others will not be moving and have no interest in receiving transaction-based marketing materials.

What’s interesting, however, is that people are usually curious as to what their property is worth. This means that they visit real estate websites to discover what their neighbor’s home was listed for or how much the new buyer paid.

To convert these valuable inquiries into leads, provide high interest materials that are not transaction based. For example, include information about new laws, scam watches, changes to the tax code, and other issues related to home ownership.

This approach will appeal to most homeowners rather than just the small percentage that will be moving. A great resource for this is HomeActions.net that puts this process on autopilot.

Respond “right now”

Your prospects aren’t “right now” business, but they expect you to be.

A MIT study showed that if you respond to a Web lead within five minutes, the conversion rate is 79 percent. If you wait as little as 30 minutes, that number drops to 34 percent. Waiting any longer usually means virtually no conversions.

To discover the gold in your Web leads, you must create an incubation system that allows you to stay in regular contact with Web leads during the 12-18 months it will take them to transact. Patience is critical. If you’re not focused on working with Web leads, you’re giving your pot of gold to another agent who does.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com. You can contact her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com or @BRoss on Twitter.

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