With a traditional lead, an agent heads into the interaction with some sort of background knowledge – whether it’s the lead’s neighborhood, need, or maybe even a mutual friend. Online leads, on the other hand, typically arrive with a blank slate.
“An online lead is an entirely cold introduction,” says Mike Hillary, a technology coach and trainer for the Mid-American Region. “You have no reference. You have no body language. You don’t have the social credibility like a referral. You’re basing everything you do base on their reactions to your questions, so it’s a totally different approach to build a relationship from that because the context just isn’t there.”
In addition to missing context, agents also might face more immediate competition from the get-go.
“People are searching on 13 different websites, so you really have to have your systems and tools in place to speed the lead,” says Mike Duley, an expansion agent-based in Bentonville, Arkansas. And even then, the result can be a lot of hurry-up-and-wait because online leads tend to have longer conversion times than their traditional counterparts.
“I think a big difference for online leads is that our conversion percentage is a lot less, so we need a lot more volume of those than our non-online leads to get the same results,” says Jennifer Holloway, director of communication for a Houston-based team. “Historically, they’ve needed a lot more cultivation time before we convert as well.”
By understanding that online leads may require a longer burn before conversion, these top-performing agents have found tried-and-true tactics for getting the most out of their online leads, which they shared in a discussion with Zach Younger, a master faculty member of Keller Williams University and regional technology director for Northern California and Hawaii.
Six Skills to Shore up Your Online Leads
- Don’t skimp on the free stuff. When zeroing in on your online marketing strategy, don’t overlook the free options for expanding your reach. Whether it’s digital prospecting with your social media followers or posting to Facebook about what your buyers are looking for, free tactics can have big payoffs. And, if you haven’t yet, beef up your Google Local Services page with photos and reviews. “You need to be getting Google reviews from everyone that you’re doing a transaction with, from your title company, from the lender you’re working with,” Holloway says. “That needs to be an integral part of your business.”
Related reading: Oufront Social Media Archives
- Figure out what works for you. What earns everyone else big results may fall flat for your business. To focus your message, listen to these three words from Holloway: “Test, test, test,” she says. “You could hear someone say they’re killing it with certain language, but it could not work in your market, so don’t be discouraged by that test. Try different messages. Think about what you’re hearing from your clients and what their concerns are. How can you play on that in an online ad? Think about your language, and test it.”
Related reading: Six High-Converting Facebook Ads You Should Be Running Right Now
- Stay selective with what you send, and make sure it’s what the lead signed up for. How many times have you been annoyed to find yourself on a list you don’t remember subscribing to? Even putting aside the annoyance factor, email providers may begin to automatically mark your message as spam. “Your email deliverability is so critical to your cultivation efforts,” Holloway says. “Email providers look at how people interact with your email, so if people aren’t reading your emails, they’re going to learn that behavior over time, and eventually the provider is going to say everything that you send is spam. It is so critical that you monitor your sending reputation.”
- Stop the scroll. We all fall victim to the scroll, and the things that finally break up that endless chunk of text are photos, emojis, and videos – and particularly vertical videos (think TikTok). “We read images faster than we read words,” Younger says. “This is why, through human science, we know that emojis work well for online leads. We just interpret them faster.”
- Be authentic and consistent. We’ve come to be skeptical of so much that appears online, so ensure you’re being honest, transparent, and real. “Make sure you’re building that brand trust online by being authentic, having reviews to back yourself up, and marketing to people in the way that you say that you’re going to,” Holloway says. One overlooked component of trust is consistency, so layer you're messaging across all mediums and channels. To that end, Holloway adds, “In layering our message, we make sure they’re seeing it on our blog, they’re seeing it on our website, they’re seeing it on our Facebook ad, they’re seeing it on our YouTube channel.”
- Get started today. Even the experts are ready to admit they don’t have everything figured out. “We’re still perfecting,” Duley says. “And I would challenge you if this is something you want to do, you can put 15 minutes on your calendar every day. Start weaving this into your day and learning and adding to it. Start as small as just adding pictures to your Google business page, which costs nothing and is really easy.”
Will you be working on perfecting your online leads strategy? What is your first action item from this list? Let us know in the comments section.