Lead Generation, Conversion and Closure

Posted by: Brian Kinkade on August 1st, 2008

I recently read an excellent article published by Baylor University, “Lead Generation: What Really Works”, which articulately discusses lead generation. The three categories the writers included in this article were lead generation, conversion of the lead to an appointment, and closure of the appointment to a transaction.

One of the studies I found particularly interesting was finding out the extent that real estate agents and brokers take to keep records of their lead generation efforts. And for those who keep records, how detailed the records are that they keep.

For “conversion to appointment” only 23% of the respondents reported their records as Moderately Detailed or Extremely Detailed. With a mere 32% reporting moderately or extremely detailed for “closure to a transaction”.
With a reported 17% of the respondents marketing budget allocated on the Internet or Website activities, unfortunately, or fortunately for us, the online world remains this big black hole. And, without keeping detailed records, it shall likely remain this ominous, monstrosity, money pit for many but it doesn’t need to be this way.

HomeGain’s BuyerLink does a great job of tracking your advertising budget. I’ve been using BuyerLink for years now. The concept is that it’s up to you to keep on tracking your results from the initial lead generation, to conversion through close.

Regardless of your preferred marketing method, they discuss how are you attracting your leads? Are you “seeking” or “attracting” your leads? In today’s tough market the survey results reflected that more seek oriented (60/40) for highest lead conversion in a tough market.

Of the leads generated 58% were buyers and 42% sellers. Many brokers, including myself, consider home buyers a premium in this inventory laden marketplace.

Internet marketing is a powerful “seek and discover” method in today’s real estate marketplace.

Surprisingly, the participants consider Internet leads to be one of the least productive methods relative to their spending. My presumption is this clearly reflects agents’ attitudes about Internet marketing based on their poor results. Many agents simply don’t understand online marketing, think it takes a lot of work, costs a lot of money and what do they get but little to no success.

But, then again, besides being a bit of a technical specialist, I’ve had the benefit of being introduced to Mitch Ribak in Melbourne, Florida. Mitch, an expert in this field, really has this business of lead generation figured out.
For those reporting that they are doing better than their peers the report indicates it’s difficult to say why. My experience reflects that systems and consistency go a long way towards leading to successful closings when working with home buyers generated online.

Systems can keep you organized and on target.

One example, is how quick do you get back to your leads upon capture? And, how often do we rely on auto-responders to do the work for us? Why not let sound, thoughtfully designed, systems in place and processes to do the heavy lifting for you?

Respondents also indicated they had greater success on average by responding to their real estate leads quickly. The ideal window is less than 8 hours with little difference between 0-4 hours and 4-8 hours. They further reported follow up after 8 hours is deemed less effective in converting leads.

My thoughts tell me, auto-responders are great but continue to follow up, follow up again and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

And, never give up on the online home buyer.

Remember online home shoppers are home buyers too just as real your family, friends or neighbors, even though they might be virtualized and thousands of miles away. Be patient, persistent, responsive and considerate and your efforts will resultantly pay off.

To read more from Brian, click here.

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7 Comments on “Lead Generation, Conversion and Closure”

Acworth Georgia New Homes

With respect to generating leads, is it best to require IDX registration? I think so, but I am open to the opinions of others who handle their IDX differently.

Brian Kinkade

My experience leads me to conclude that requiring IDX is essential in converting website visitors to leads and then to buyers. Key in my opinion is to provide a quality IDX so that the visitors who choose to register on your site desire to keep coming back to search for homes; so it’s essentially a fair trade of value.

Mike Taylor

“The ideal window is less than 8 hours with little difference between 0-4 hours and 4-8 hours.”

I find this extremely hard to believe. I think almost immediate response is required for internet registrations. It would have been interesting to see what the difference to responding within 30 minutes and 8 hours would be.

Chris Brake

Without a doubt IDX is very important. A majority of buyers don’t want to mess with giving out info right away or even want to be bothered with an agents help. Their are lots of choices when it comes to IDX. Ive looked at a lot of them and there is only a small amount that give the agents what the require. Most IDX you don’t know who has been there and if they were searching for properties. We will be coming out with our IDX in October and I think it will be one of the best on the market. It will give the client a taste of the map and then ask them to sign up for listings, at that point you will be able to see what they are printing and viewing 24hrs a day. Check out our site to keep up on our new developments.

Karl Hafer

Buyers that use the internet are looking for ONE THING. Access to the MLS in the area where they are searching for properties. To be successful (make money) a site MUST have a mechanism to convert the lookers into leads and have the ability to “keep em coming back” to the site to search for that perfect home.

When it comes to contacting a lead with a phone number, the faster, the better.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this study done at MIT.

http://www.leadresponsemanagement.com/mit_study.html

We are not a lead generation or website company. We are an real estate brokerage that does 100% of its business through our broker partners across the county via the net. Last year our brokerage partners generated over 5.6 million dollars in commissions directly from the internet presence that we provide to them.

Our partners do two things. Handle leads request for information on specific properties and show them properties when they request a showing. Our system does everything else for the agents of the brokerage partner.

We handle all aspects of the sites from support of the agents, training of both the agents and the brokers and the site advertising. By the way we use HomeGains BuyerLink services on all our sites across the country because their conversion rate is the highest in the industry. On average our sites conversion rates are between 12% – 16%. And our sales rate is 1.5% – 2.0%.

If you want to be successful on the net selling properties the name of the game is speed. You can not contact leads too quickly.

When a lead gives their phone number (not required) we call them within 5 minutes and introduce our partner agent on that site.(between the hours of 8am and 8pm) We then notify our partner via text message of the new lead and set reminders for them to follow up. Our system will then begin sending the lead HTML emails branded to the agent with properties that fit their needs based on what they have viewed on the site.

When a lead sends a email inquiring on or requesting to see a property our system notifies the agent of the email via txt message to their cell phone. We do this so the agent partner can respond quicker than any of his local competitors.

If you are a broker that uses the internet and understands pay per click advertising you might be a candidate for our partnership. You can get more information at http://www.referralsincorporated.net.

Bob Wuest

I agree with a lot of what Karl said here. Having a website is all about conversions. Doesn’t matter how much traffic, if you’re not capturing their contact info.
I have to take issue with one comment, though. That “buyers are coming to your site for one thing – MLS access”. True, that’s what the majority of visitors are there for.
And, if that’s all your site offers, you’re missing out on conversions.
My website stats say that 70% of the time when I ask for contact information when providing MLS access, the visitor clicks out of the squeeze page. Most of the time they bounce out of the site altogether. Other times they look around a bit more before they leave.
So, a logical question is this: What features other than MLS access could you put on your website that will entice a visitor to give up his contact information?
Where’s the market momentum today? First time buyers. What are they looking for? Great deals. What has the media been telling them? That there’s lots of bargain-priced foreclosures out there. So a local list of Cincinnati foreclosures, emailed a couple times a week, might just appeal to them. Or, an eBook that give a few tips on how to save money buying a home. Or some information on how to improve their credit score.
Any or all of which will be emailed to them if they fill out the form (along with a valid phone number to validate their request).
Welcome to Internet Marketing 101. Creating a website that has not one, but several offers that might just appeal to a visitor. Doubles or triples your chances for a conversion.

Make sense?

Myra Frost

I was also one of the fortunate readers of “Lead Generation: What Really Works”. And I must say that it was a great read. I’ve learned new, useful tips in generating qualified sales leads. Anyway, thanks for this post.

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