Spring is typically when flowers bloom and people make big, life-altering decisions, like relocating for a new job or buying a new construction home. However, due to the pandemic’s economic implications, the season left a bad taste in our mouths instead.
Even though businesses have found new creative ways to adapt to change, the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt by people across the world. When it comes to sales, this is especially true for most businesses that rely on handshakes as an important part of the job.
Suffice to say, everyone is hoping for summer to bring some much-needed relief. It might not be an exciting picture for real estate — but it’s not so grim either.
In April, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published this data comparing historical trends in house price growth. Compared to 2008 to 2009 and 2010 to 2011, house price growth rate has been much more stable.
But the problem of inventory, which has existed since 2019, still rears its head.
As a real estate agent, what does this all mean to you? It means that, for the most part, it’s not business as usual. You need to make changes to your processes. It also means that you shouldn’t chase the sale. Shift the focus to lead generation instead.
If you’ve lost some of that drive you started 2020 with, it’s time to pick back up and try some new things. Here are eight lead generation ideas that work in times like this.
1. Show personality with email videos
Emails have a tendency to become spammy real quick, and they’re often devoid of any personality. This is where video emails come in. There are a few reasons video emails work in times like this.
Experts agree that 70 percent to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. Body posture, hand gestures, vocal tone and facial expressions add more meaning to your communication than just words alone.
During the COVID-19 crisis, so many people and businesses gravitated toward videoconferencing, which shows that video is a meaningful, effective form of connection and communication.
Whether you’re following up with clients or warm or cold leads, you shouldn’t just focus on blindly chasing the deal. Instead, focus on building a relationship.
Here’s a great example featured on Bombbomb of how video emails were used effectively by Mark and Laura Anderson of Keller Williams Premier Realty in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. They actually take the time to sing special birthday songs for clients. Mark and Laura also send out periodic multiple choice questions where clients have the opportunity to win a free gift card just by answering questions.
As you can see, the focus here is on engagement. Build a relationship, and you’ll get the sale.
2. Create a Facebook funnel
Reggie Nicolay, Realtors Property Resource’s vice president of marketing, said in an introduction to a recent RPR webinar: “During this COVID-19/coronavirus crisis, potential clients may be on Facebook more than ever. As the world’s most popular sharing medium, the social media giant reaches all ages, genders, and lifestyles. Which makes Facebook ideal for streamlining your marketing funnel and reaching consumers.”
One of the creative things to do right now is to retarget and remarket interested leads via Facebook. That is, if someone visits one of your property pages and leaves without clicking on any of your CTAs, retarget them using Facebook’s website custom audience tool.
This would mean creating an ad campaign that is solely targeted at people who visited specific pages of your website but didn’t convert. You’ll be creating much more effective ads this way because these folks know about you and probably want to hear from you.
However, at this time, a value-based approach, like providing buyers with crucial information or options, would definitely work better than an ad that chases the sale outright.
3. Expand your digital footprint
Websites like Angie’s List, HomeLight, EffectiveAgents.com, Real Estate Bees and RateMyAgent are business-to-business service providers proposing to help customers find the best Realtors in their area. It’s a great idea, because when people start seeking out real estate agents after the pandemic, obviously, they’ll want to work with the best.
Real Estate Bees’s top Realtor tool allows prospects to select what stage of the buying cycle they are currently in. They can choose from three options: ready to hire, planning and budgeting, and other.
And even though it’s a comparatively new player in the space compared to platforms like HomeLight, Real Estate Bees comes with all the bells and whistles.
Generally speaking, getting listed in many highly relevant third-party websites and resource pages will give your own website a big boost in SEO ranking.
4. Create more good vibes on social media
This is a no-brainer. People have more time on their hands right now. So, ditch your strict social media strategy, and create content around things that people are engaging with right now. A step-by-step DIY guide on how to design a new home office would be much more relevant, actionable and engaging than the typical everyday listings.
In a HousingWire article, Dustin Brohm of Exp Realty in Salt Lake City pointed out that: “This is a great time to do what many refer to as ‘engagement posts’ or very simple, straightforward local interest content. Focus on what is happening in the community that people actually care about, such as new buildings being built, and what they’re going to be. A graphic showing the stores that just got a new shipment of toilet paper or a list of local COVID-19 drive-thru testing locations.”
Overall, you want to make sure you’re creating content that makes people feel good, inspired or confident on your social platforms. It’s always been important, even more so now.
5. Think about acts, too — not just art
It’s time to go hyperlocal. Consider working with local brands to help channel and communicate support. While most real estate brands will go silent during the pandemic, brands that communicate support and help, not just with creative words, but with creative acts, will win post-pandemic.
Based on data from a 2008 Millward Brown PIMS (Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies) study, brands that reduce or stop spending during a recession lose market share. It’s all about people’s perception of your brand. Are you going to be there for customers when they need you the most?
For example, KRCR news recently featured a partnership between Vista Real Estate and ServiceMaster, a professional cleaning company that also helps with restoration and recovery after a disaster. The goal of this collaboration is to make open houses safer for potential clients. The house gets sanitized before, during and after every viewing.
Another example of a selfless act? Community newspaper The Bronx Times-Reporter published a story on Goldfarb, a property management company that is partnering with local hospitals to provide rent-free housing for people on the front lines of the pandemic in the hardest hit regions of New York.
Partnering with reputable local businesses is a good way to generate some buzz around your brand while offering a helping hand to your community. A survey from Cone Communications showed that 7 of 10 consumers believe companies have an obligation to take action in the communities they serve. In the same survey, 87 percent of consumers said they would “purchase a product because that company advocated for an issue they cared about.”
6. Get your team up to bat for the future
Transitioning your business into the digital world has never been more important than right now. So, it’s important to invest in team communication apps like dotloop team or Basecamp.
Nowadays, client communications take on much more flexibility on places like Zoom, Skype or Hangouts. You want to have your team set and ready to go.
7. Step up your virtual game
Three-dimensional tours and video previews have replaced in-person viewing and in some cases, live appraisals and home inspections. And in many places, webinars and virtual showings have replaced open houses.
Of course, virtual showings via Facebook Live or Twitter’s Periscope are not a new thing — and that’s because they expedite showings and are convenient for everyone. It’s also worth mentioning that realtor.com recently added a new feature that informs property viewers of the date and logistics of virtual open houses.
8. Take time to recharge
Taking time off work is important, especially considering how evanescent everything becomes in the face of a pandemic. Rest, relax and do the things you’ve always loved but never found time for. It boosts your productivity and creativity.
Arianna Huffington talked about this in a blog post for Thrive Global. She pointed out that “while athletes were the first to recognize that recovery is an essential part of peak performance,” the same principle rings true for everyone.
This curve ball has shown that we all need to set our priorities right. It’s forcing us to stay inside, spend more time with loved ones and work on those long-lost hobbies like poetry writing, crocheting or just baking stuff. But it’s also a nudge to try new things and not just focus on negativity.
Alana Gaddis is a New Jersey-based blogger and freelance writer of in-depth SEO content for real estate B2B businesses. Follow her on Twitter.