Follow Up Hacks to Help You Grow Your Real Estate Business
Jacqueline Kyo Thomas
Building a relationship with your real estate leads takes time and effort. You can't just introduce yourself and expect magic to happen. Even if you made a good first impression, people will forget about you.
Lead nurturing is like growing a garden. After being planted, a seed needs water, sunlight, and soil to grow. Those follow ups are crucial to a seed's success. Similarly, every follow up that you make improves your chances of converting a real estate lead into a client.
Your leads need your help with buying and/ or selling real estate. They may not need it right away, but when they do, your name should be at the top of their mind. You'll do this by lead nurturing, a.k.a. following up.
Think about it this way:
Right along with food, clothing, air, and water, shelter is one of the five basic human needs. Everyone that you know needs shelter. And, at some point, everyone you know will change shelters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average person moves more than 11 times over the course of their life.
What happens when they say “no” to your initial offer to help? Do you just toss them to the side and focus on generating even more leads? Do you follow up but give up after a second or third attempt to convert?
Always remember this: Even if they don't need you right this second, they will need you in the future. Stay in touch with them until they need your services and afterward, too, because research shows that they'll likely move again.
It's also a good idea to stay in touch with former clients because they can be a valuable referral source for your real estate business.
While it's obviously important to generate leads to grow your business, it's probably more important to follow up with them multiple times.
Less than 2% of your sales will happen during the first engagement. On the other hand, as much as 80% of your sales will happen between the 5th to the 12th engagement. If you don't follow up after the first contact, you will miss out on 98% of potential sales. Even if you follow up once after the initial contact, you'll only bump your chances of making a sale up to 3%. Ouch.
Success only happens after following up with prospects repeatedly. But don't worry. Multiple follow ups won't annoy your leads if you do it right— by mixing up your follow up methods, personalizing your message, and offering immediate value every time. Let's discuss how to do that now.
Here are effective ways to follow up with your leads and stay top of mind:
Email is an obvious follow up method and one that you’re already familiar with. However, sending out individual emails to your leads manually is not a good use of your time.
Automate your email as much as possible. Create a series of valuable emails (known as a drip campaign) where you can nurture new leads and turn them into clients. However, because these are marketing emails, you can’t send them through your regular inbox. To do it legally and effectively, you’ll need an email service provider (ESP) like ConvertKit or MailChimp. An ESP works hand-in-hand with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to ensure that you can automate your marketing emails at the right time and to the right leads.
Speaking of CRMs, be sure to rate your leads on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how likely you think they are to convert to clients. The lower they rate on the scale, the less likely they are to convert. Focus mostly on the higher scoring leads, but don't forget about the ones who may not be ready for your services yet. They still need several follow ups.
When sending an email, don’t shove a sales pitch down their throat. Also, don't risk turning off your lead by writing too much. The best-performing emails average 50 words. Remember that your goal in the email isn't to keep the conversation in the inbox, but rather it's to get the lead to perform your call to action (i.e. schedule a meeting, visit an open house, etc.).
When’s the best time to send an email? Research shows that you should send an email at either 8 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon for higher open rates.
The email method also works well when reaching out to cold leads (i.e. those who’ve never heard of you or your real estate company). Let’s say that one of your previous clients has a friend who wants to sell their home. Your client gives you their friend’s email address. When you reach out to the cold lead via email, be sure to state who you are and who referred you. Keep it short and sweet, and try to get them on the phone or in person. The goal is always to deepen your relationship with the lead.
Technology has come a long way in the last couple of decades. The internet has enabled agents to scale their follow up efforts and reach more people simultaneously. However, nothing replaces the classic phone call.
The phone is important because you can personalize your interaction. You have the opportunity to introduce yourself, immediately counter their arguments, ask and answer questions, and forge a stronger connection.
Be prepared with a script that you can loosely follow so that you don’t get lost in the conversation.
If you don't reach the lead on the first try, be sure to leave a voicemail that identifies who you are and your reason for calling.
Another option is to leave a text message instead of (or in addition to) a voicemail. This may be more effective than phone calls because some people hate to talk on the phone but they're happy to text. But don't rush in with a ton of text on your message. Instead, start with a simple question like, “Hey (lead name), this is (your name), how are you?”
This type of message prompts a response, and that’s your goal: To start a conversation.
When should you call your lead? Research shows that the best time to pick up the phone is between 4 pm and 5 pm. The next best time is between 8 am and 10 am. The absolute worst time to call is between 11 am and 2 pm (a.k.a. lunchtime). The best day to follow up is on Thursday, followed by Wednesday. Never attempt to follow up on the weekends.
Also, always follow up website or social media consultation requests ASAP. If someone visits your website and leaves their contact information, don't let that precious information go to waste. Follow up with them in five minutes or less, whenever possible. Use a tool like CallPage to follow up with leads quickly and automatically.
One of the more sophisticated ways to follow up with your leads is through retargeting.
Retargeting (also known as remarketing) is a strategy for reaching out to leads who've visited your website before. You can use a retargeting tool (Facebook Pixel being the most popular) to track your lead after they leave your website. Then, as they visit other websites unrelated to yours (that allow retargeting ads), they'll see your ad. Your ad will subtly remind them about their real estate problem and position your service as the right solution.
Here's an example of how it can work:
A home buyer finds your website by Googling a keyword phrase like “rural real estate for sale in your town, MA.” They find your website, browse around a few pages, and then decide to leave. Perhaps they were distracted. Perhaps they were just getting a sense of what's available in the area.
Now, your remarketing tool springs to action. It tracks the lead across the web and then shows them your ad, which can be linked to the pages that they visited while on your site. If you work with both buyers and sellers, you can create two retargeting ads— one for each type of client that you represent.
Retargeted customers are more likely to click on your ad because they're “warmed up.”
Once you've set up the ad and routed leads back to your website, you've successfully followed up. But don't let that be your last effort. Instead of sending leads to your home page, consider sending them to an optimized lead magnet where you step up your level of engagement. They clicked your ad because they're interested. Now, offer them a complimentary CMA or a free house hunter do's and don'ts list.
But, here's the catch: Ask them to sign up to your email list first in exchange for your free resource. This gets them onto your email list where you can build a relationship with your lead.
As we've discussed, following up is a great way to stay top of mind. However, some folks don’t want to be bothered and you’ve got to respect that, especially if they’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry. As a real estate agent, you must follow the rules associated with the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call Registry. If someone is listed on the Do Not Call Registry, you cannot reach out to them to promote your services.
However, there are exceptions. You’re allowed to reach out to previous clients (even if they're registered to the Do Not Call list) as long as you call within 18 months from the time that they purchased, rented, or leased a property through you. If you wish to stay in contact beyond this period, you'll need to get written permission from the previous client.
That written permission also extends to any prospective client who wants to continue hearing from you (while on the Do Not Call registry).
If you violate these rules, you face an $11,000 civil penalty per violation.
To keep your business safe, register as a telemarketer on the National Do Not Call Registry. Massachusetts has its own Do Not Call list which you can also join. However, it's not free— You'll need to pay a registration fee of $1,100 per year. When you use the National Do Not Call Registry, the first five area codes are free. If you wish to add more area codes of data, you'll pay $65 per additional area code each year. Both registries offer an annual subscription.
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