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Turning Leads into Clients

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ACT!  CRM Screenshot

Let’s say you’ve been diligent readers of my first two Agent Genius posts, Adwords I and Adwords II, and you actually implemented the strategies. Right on!

What’s going to happen next is you will start pulling in registrations (leads) on your website IDX at the rate of 100-200 per month. In a year, you will have 1200-2400 leads! How you handle these leads will determine if it’s all been worth it.

LET’S TALK LEAD MANAGEMENT

Consider these guidelines regarding internet leads:

  • Homebuyers searching real estate web sites are typically 6-9 months away from maybe being serious. You’ve got to stick with them.
  • Internet leads convert at roughly the same rate as print leads: 1-3% ….but it’s not so clean…
  • The lead may no longer be yours by the time it converts. Especially if you drop the ball somewhere.
  • A homebuyer lead is never expired unless it opts out or the email bounces..or you lose it.

What does all this mean?  It means that you are going to need to store these leads and manage varying levels of contact with every one of them for as long as you are in the business.

ENTER THE GOOD CONTACT MANAGER – AND A SYSTEM

I use a CRM system called ACT! for lead management and here’s the system I came up with:

  1. The Lead comes in as an email from my site IDX and Outlook routes it into my RE LEADS Folder
  2. I enter it into ACT, give it a status of “LEAD” and immediately send a short intro email.
  3. I then set an alarm for two Saturdays forward to send a “T2” email, or second touch.
  4. After sending the T2, I then change the status to “OLD LEAD.”
  5. Once every 3-6 months, I send an email to all the “OLD LEADs” and delete any bouncers.

So, in plain English here’s what happens: The same day the lead arrives, I send an email, or call. Eight to fourteen days later, I send another email. If I don’t hear back from either, I change the status to “OLD LEAD” and I contact this entire old lead group approximately three times a year. Unless they tell me to go away, or their email bounces, they stay in this system indefinitely.

Now hopefully they email or call back at some point, and some of them do! When they do, I change their status to “PROSPECT” and put in notes of our conversations and set appropriate follow-up calls with them in ACT.

Sometimes a new lead initially emails or calls right in with a question or showing request or whatever and they become “PROSPECTs” right from the get go.

The LEAD Management never ends…

After a prospect purchases a home, I change their status to “CUSTOMER” and track them accordingly. I schedule calls about four times per year to just say hello. I can also quickly look up all customers and send them all seasonal things, like Christmas cards, etc.

Work your database to keep busy…

Any time I’m bored, I can look up all customers, or leads, or prospects and initiate contact with someone. Also, after a year or so, you will have daily activities scattered all over your ACT calendar as a result of you setting alarms all year. This makes you very organized and no opportunity ever gets dropped or missed.

Currently, I have about 2500 contacts in my database and this creates some activity nearly every day, seven days a week. When my database is say 10,000, then this becomes a very serious business. At that point, I’ll have to buy a Georgia Realty Group Balloon!

All this sound simple? Who else is actually doing anything like this?

Anyone else have any interesting lead management ideas or tips?

Let’s hear it!

Rob is the founder of The Georgia Realty Group, a real estate company focusing on the five large counties north of the 285 perimeter in Atlanta. Out of USF in 1991 as an Electrical Engineer, he then quickly shifted into software sales. For 12 years, he sold enterprise level Engineering Design Automation (EDA) software to Fortune 500 companies. His current focus is web site design, SEO and lead management activities and he also takes on the occasional excellent client. Find him at AtlantaRealEstateInfo.com

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56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    October 7, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I think, with a little effort, you can actually set this up to happen almost automatically with an autoresponder program like Get Response or Aweber. You could make a half dozen or so e-mails (aka drip) and have the auto-responder do the work for you.

  2. Rob McCance

    October 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Ken:

    You can but I personally don’t.

    Sometimes in my emails I will add things like “looks like you are in CA..thinking about a move from the West Coast?”

    Also, often the data in the registration will need a little massaging. like a misspelled name (typo). Or issues with caps, or last name first backwards, etc.

    Finally, if the lead looks really clean, like an out of towner (based on area code) with all perfect info, I will go into my IDX and take a look at what they were viewing.

    Then, send them a really personalized email…or call if they are looking at $2M homes.

    But, folks can drip pre-scripted emails at pre-set intervals. Certainly nothing wrong with that.

    RM

  3. EB White

    October 8, 2009 at 6:27 am

    *e-Farming is hard work……

    *Immediate response is your best weapon.

    *Create informative subject lines.

    *Your e-message has ten seconds to capture the reader’s interest. Poor writing will cause the reader to click away.

    *Use your e-message as a “sale’s tool” and not a “sale’s pitch”.

    *Send value e-mails. Example: Info about the purchase contract, a home inspection, hazard insurance, what’s an escreow?. ..etc. There are hundreds of topics that you can inform your reader about…

    *Use you, your, they etc…Do not use me, my, mine, I etc…Why? It’s not about you. It’s about the reader.

    *Use short paragraphs, lists and informative headings to aid the reader.

    *Drip campaign? You’ll convert one to three percent of your Internet prospects using a drip campaign. There is an alternative.

    *You can convert 30% of your Internet inquiries.

    Good luck.

    EB

  4. Jim Gatos

    October 8, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Would you mind if I ask you how many actual closings you get from your system?

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Rob, we do something similiar, however my system shows me when folks log back on. Those that registered hundreds of days ago and then come back are some of your best leads. They are ready now.

    My webmaster has a fantastic back-end so I don’t have to do anything other than check it twice daily to see if my Buyer agents are following up.

    The key thing is not discarding them unless they ask.

  6. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Missy:

    That’s great and you’re right about that. I call ’em “come-backers.”

    I do it manually. About once a week I go into my IDX and look at all visitors in the last 7 days. I quickly scan for older originally-registered dates.

    Then I go into them, see what they are looking at and send them an email.

    “Thanks for returning to the site, I see you may be interested in xyz community. Just checkin in to say hello and see if I can aswer any Qs for you, etc., bla bla..”

    There’s “work” involved here for sure, but it’s nothing like walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors! And it takes about 5 minutes.

    What system do you guys use there?

  7. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 9:58 am

    EB – great response and dead on. I go way farther than that on the “value emails.” Yours examples are good but still generic value emails.

    My value email looks like:

    Dear xxx:

    Thanks for visiting the site yesterday.

    You seem to be looking at xyz nhood. That’s a great nhood but are you aware that bla bla bla is going on in there?

    Looks like your area code is S FL. My last client was from FT Lauderdale. Are you looking at a move up here, or …

    THAT is a value email and with local knowledge can be crafted in seconds and be 3-4 lines long, max.

    I get pretty decent responses when I go to that level.

    I’m not a fan of drip.

    RM

  8. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Jim:

    So far this year, I have CLOSED six homes. I have 4 more solid ones in the que that will close in 2009, and two listings that may or may not ever sell. LOL.

    I operate typically in the high range, normally above $500k and 2 of those 6 above were over $1M.

    I do absolutely NO other activities other than my web site to acquire leads. The parents on my son’s sports teams do not even know I’m a realtor.

    These numbers are not impressive but the economy is horrible and I still don’t chase around poor clients, anyone that won’t sign the brokerage agreement, or anyone that’s looking at low end (I refer it to rookies).

    I’m currently working on organic SEO for my site and the goal is to someday turn off the PPC and achieve 100x my current traffic organically, build my database to 10k+ and then reassess.

    🙂

    RM

  9. Jim Gatos

    October 8, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Actually the numbers are better than I thought they’d be. Thanks…

  10. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 10:45 am

    “100x my current traffic”

    Do you mind sharing what your current traffic is?

  11. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Hey Bob, digging the shades, babe. My wife says my little pic looks like a serial killer stalking around in the woods. Lani won’t let me use my Dr. Evil photo. LOL.

    Here’s the last two months:

    Month, Unique visitors, Number of visits, Pages, Hits, Bandwidth

    Aug 2009, 1531, 2190, 6495, 24353, 378.06 MB
    Sep 2009, 2169, 3176, 10889, 33822, 623.20 MB

    Ok, so 100x might be a stretch, eh? Especially for a single city based RE Website.

    Thoguhts?

    RM

  12. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Yeah, 100x is probably more than 100% of total traffic. 10x is reasonable goal and with the right IDX and conversion strategy, you could easily get 10x the leads you are getting now on a monthly basis.

    We should chat.

  13. EB White

    October 8, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Jim:

    2006…thirty six closings.

    2007…twenty two closings.

    2008…sixteen closings.

    2009…so far eight closings and three in escrow.

    The Michigan real estate market has been difficult. Michigan was the first state to enter the recession and it will probably be the last one out.

    2010 looks promising! Come Spring; the gen-yer’s and the echo boomers will be shopping for their first home and looking to use the extended tax credit; AND their choice of communication is the held hand divice

    e-Farming pays good dividends…

    EB

  14. Portland Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    We use HomeQuest. Is is the perfect contact management system because a lead from your website is automatically entered into your account, and they will receive new listings each day until they unsubscribe. HomeQuest also lets you see which clients are active and which are not, as well as how active they are so that you can divvy up your time for the clients who need your attention the most.

    -Tyler

  15. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Tyler:

    Does HomeQuest store all your data on their servers, and you log into it?

    RM

  16. Bruce Lemieux

    October 9, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Rob – thanks for starting this discussion. I’m doing a horrible job of consistently following-up with web leads. For better or worse (for me, it can only be better) I’m planning on implementing a drip campaign with GetResponse with video. We’ll see how that goes.

    I’m curious to get readers thoughts on a database management strategy. My contacts are all over the place and it drives me nuts. I use WebEx Office as my ‘master database’ that syncs to my phone, provides basic lead management capability and my direct mail farm. It’s not integrated into my email or have robust lead management tools. It’s not integrated with my IDX (DiverseSolutions), but I expect that any IDX will be stand-alone. Thinking about moving everything over to Google so that email is integrated with contacts.

    Is anyone happy with their database strategy that supports robust lead management?

  17. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 9, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Bruce,

    Thanks. I’m also interested in how others are doing this. I’ve been using ACT! since way back before my RE days, so it’s easy for me and I know it well. But it’s just a contact manager.

    There are some manual steps in my process flow, for sure.

    However, I think we all know the information flow here and if you try to automate the entire flow you will end up with the garbage in, garbage out dealio.

    For example, why would you want an obvious SPAM contact, like daffyduck@aol.com automatically going into your database and then going into a automated drip campaign for five years?

    Stuff like that.

    In order to look unique, and interesting and like you add some value to prospects, there’s got to be a real-human contact piece to it.

    I don’t know about you, but I can ALWAYS tell when I’ve received a sutomated email, even if it’s via a slick pre written script and my actual name has been inserted at the top.

    RM

  18. Bruce Lemieux

    October 9, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I’ve never considered ACT since it’s PC-based software. I’ll only consider a web-based solution that supports a small team. I used Top Producer 7 for a while. On paper, it’s got just about everything one would need, but I found the usability lacking.

    I agree that a database requires thoughtful management – even if it’s well integrated with lots of processes.

    My core lead-generation strategy is to get listings via direct mail to a geographic farm. My avg price range is similar to yours’ and I have a very high conversion when I get the listing call. As my website generates leads, I’m getting more buyers and sellers outside of my core area. I hear what you’re saying about the spammy/smarmy nature of drip emails, but I’m simply not going to stay in touch with these leads via personal calls/emails. For me, it’s a drip email system or nothing. So far, I haven’t received a good return on my ‘nothing’ strategy.

    How do you implement a *good* email drip campaign? Here’s what I plan to do:
    – Include video to help make a more personal connection
    – Lots of links back to blog articles. By constantly driving readers to blog, my hope is leads will read other content
    – Targeted drip schedules — not one size fits all.
    – Only a couple personal touches unless the prospect converts to an ‘A’ lead.

    Well – that’s the plan and I don’t see a good alternative that I can consistently implement. I do agree that consistent, personal followup with all leads is absolutely the most effective strategy. Hats off to you for personally handling these — wish I could do the same.

  19. stephanie crawford

    October 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I do something very similar. I send 4 drips over a month and register them for my once-a-month newsletter. I do the drips manually via Outlook reminders, but I’m thinking of automating it.

    My IDX registration sends and automatic responder that basically says. “Thanks. I’m going to send you four emails over the next month. It is absolutely okay to use my site for as long as you need to. I’m here to help if you have any questions at all.”

    I attempt to “friend” them on facebook (Xobni makes this step much easier than it once was).

    Drips are all about finding a topic that will hold their attention for a second and send the lead into action. Here are my current topics:
    week 1. If your are out driving and see a listing that piques your interest go to my handheld device website and search there….
    week 2. Getting pre-approved should be your first order of business. Here are a couple of links to calculators and some great area mortgage providers…
    week 3. Thinking of buying an investment property? I now offer a great tool at Investor Loft dot com…
    week 4. Still in the information gathering stage? Click here to see my Free Reports…

    From then on, it’s a monthly newsletter like this:

  20. stephanie crawford

    October 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

  21. SteveBeam

    October 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Excellent! I love it.

    I do much the same and I to do not use 100% auto responders. I use the auto responders for basic monthly communication but I also send out personalized emails. If I can tell where they have been looking at homes I will send links to new articles I’ve posted or links to market reports for the areas they like. I love hearing brokers in my office say NET leads take too much time and that they don’t work them. I will beat the leads to death until they tell me to go away. The best is closing leads after a year or two of follow up. Good feeling to know I cultivated that relationship and got the sale. It really only takes minutes to send out regular messages and the auto responders do the rest.

  22. SteveBeam

    October 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    OMT – I use MobileME mostly but also use Agent2000 (which stinks) as my CRM. I love mobileme since I have every contact on my iPhone all the time. I can respond to leads instantly that way and it surprises my how many times I can get the client in my car within hours of the first email from my lead generation system.

  23. Paula Henry

    October 9, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Rob – Nice clean site you have!

    I actually have two sites; a blog and a website and get about 250 leads a month organically and another 100 or so through PPC. I have found online leads who have narrowed their focus are closer than 6-9 months than those who have not.

    The online visitor who searches Indianapolis, as well as several different zip codes and areas are much farther out than the one who searches for a specific suburb. Those who start their search in a particular zip code or subdivision are much closer.

    My experience with a drip campaign is, visitors tend to UNSUBSCRIBE, so I quit using one. I like the idea of more personalized emails and a monthly newsletter with “content” they can use.

  24. Rob McCance

    October 10, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Paula:

    Thanks for the props on the site. It’s not real complex: built more for speed and functionality at the moment.

    Plans inlcude adding a full blug under this main URL and adding 20-30 city specific portals under this URL, each SEO’d for high traffic long tail KWs related to each city. I.e., “Alpharetta Real Estate” “Roswell Real Estate” etc.

    Your site would be the benchmark for me at this point. 350 a month, that keeps you (or someone there) busy getting them in the database and processing them. Nice chore to have to deal with.

  25. Rob McCance

    October 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Stephanie:

    That’s an excellent newsletter!

    Also a good plan, if it’s working for you. Personally, it sounds a tick aggressive but you know what, if someone is a serious home buyer in need of a realtor, they will not mind all this attention. And this gives you the best chance of landing them as a client.

    I’m very slack compared to you with just two short emails in the first 10-14 days, then they go into the bucket with all the “old leads” and are off the hook for months.

    Probably I’m missing out. 🙂

    You have an excellent system there!

  26. Rob McCance

    October 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Bruce:

    I hear ya about ACT, it’s also has a pretty big “footprint” on the PC (there’s a SQL database under it’s UI) and it’s sometimes a pain.

    I’m currently investigating MAC based CRM systems, but talk about very FEW options!

    It makes no sense for me to go with a on-line solution, but it would be nice from a MAC/Win platform standpoint. I just don’t want all my data hanging out there, having to deal with internet connections and I have no idea what it would be like to fire off say a 1000 email merge campaign, all over a internet connection to my data. Maybe not bad, but who knows. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the monthly payment plan.

    I agree that neither one of us is going to manually drip thousands of leads on a regular basis. I do this semi-auto, well mostly auto.

    Every three months, I look up all “old leads” in ACT. (5 seconds)

    With this group up I do mail merge (email merge) with a pre written layout. So each lead gets his/her own email with their name at the top. This completes in 20 seconds, but outlook takes maybe an hour to send them all for some reason.

    That’s it.

    I set alarms in my own database record (my record) for when to do the next one. So 3 months later an alarm will pop up that says something like “spam all the old leads again” (lol).

    BTW, I like your “A Lead” nomenclature. For me, the A lead gets changed to a “Prospect” in the Status/ID field in ACT.

  27. John Wake

    October 11, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Users of DiverseSolutions IDX: They have an additional-fee product called AgentCast which allows you to set up drip campaigns. It’s not a great product, it was difficult for me to understand the non-standard logic so it took me a ton of time to set up. I recently finished setting it up.

    I use it for “D” leads, such as “Just Looking” with tips on how to set up a saved search (so I can hit their email boxes regularly with MLS listing updates). Right now it’s 3 email drip – 24 hours, 3 days and 7 days. When I set up a monthly newsletter, they’ll get that as well.

    More valuable leads are transcribed into a separate CRM system to receive more personalized attention.

  28. Bob

    October 11, 2009 at 9:38 am

    John, what percentage opt out of the drip campaign? .

  29. Bruce Lemieux

    October 11, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    John – I use DiverseSolutions as well. To improve lead capture, I’m thinking about requiring registration after 3 searches. Right now, I don’t require any registration. When I look at my IDX dashboard, it says I’m getting on average 100 users per day (anywhere from 80 to over 200), yet I’m only getting around 5 registrations per month. This seems really low. In the RE debate over the pros/cons of requiring IDX registration, I’ve been in the “no registration required” camp. Since I have so few registered leads, I may change my strategy. I’m curious about your strategy.

    Paula – Wow, what a fantastic site you have. I know a couple agents that use TigerLead and have monster lead capture rates like yours. I believe all TigerLead sites require registration.

  30. Paula Henry

    October 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Bruce – Thank you! Yes, TigerLeads does require registration. I have used Diverse Solutions as well and like it. Actually, I’ve used several different IDX solutions.

    My website is a Real Estate Webmasters IDX and also requires registration. I can set the default to have them register after so many views, but I have it up front.

    I, too wondered about the idea of “capturing leads”, even wrote about it on AG. I would rather have 100 leads who I can have the opportunity to provide service and help answer their questions, then nothing to account for all my hard work. I had to change my mindset.

    Yes, initially, people are looking for homes, but I can tell you – I receive so many responses from people looking for additional information and assistance, without ever doing anything but a simple follow up and helping them narrow their search.

    It’s a service and service is what we do. Best to you!

  31. John Wake

    October 12, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Bob, I just started using it in the last couple of weeks so don’t know yet. I don’t really care if they opt out anyway because they are very weak leads to begin with. I’m just trying to get some of them to sign up to get new listings or to email or call us. If some become serious about buying a home in the future, they might remember us from the email updates. The leads aren’t worth investing much time on but it’s probably worth taking the time to turn on a drip campaign. That’s the idea anyway.

  32. John Wake

    October 12, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Bruce: Yeah, if you want leads, you pretty much gotta turn on registration, in my opinion. I’ve tried it both ways, although right now I have is set so they don’t have to register until they look at 20 homes. After I’m comfortable with my lead management systems I’ll probably change that to, say, 5 homes.

    BTW, Diverse Solutions let’s you add custom questions to the registration form. I would strongly recommend adding something like “‘I plan to buy in ___ months’ or ‘Just Looking'” to the registation form.

  33. Bob

    October 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    John, I was asking because most grow weary of drip and tend to just report it as spam as opposed to opting out.

    When I operated my own VOW, we stopped the drip because of the problem with getting labeled as spam. We switched to a closed loop double opt in and that soothed the spma cops, but it was still a low yield exercise.

    Now we wont do drip at all. That it the purpose of the IDX property alert emails.

  34. John Wake

    October 12, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Bob, do you think I would have much of a problem with a total for 4 emails – the registration confirmation and 3 drips? How many emails did you have in the campaigns that caused you problems? (Although I would like to add them to a future monthly newsletter.)

  35. Bob

    October 12, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Good questions John. It wasnt the number in the campaign, it was the number of emails going out total. If AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, GoDaddy, etc only get a few “this is spam” reports or bounces, you have no problem. If you are dripping a large database though, the volume will get you at some point.

    We have done a good job of building large databases using VOWs and IDX. The 1st generation from 2002 to 2005, the database grew from zero to over 50k of opt in users, with an average of 8,800 property email alerts going out daily. Another agent shared the technology (hardware and software) with me, and his numbers were similar. When our volume got to the point that each ISP was seeing a few hundred a day, especially the bounces, getting blacklisted by the ISPs’ mail servers was a weekly occurrence, so we went to an opt in and stopped the drips that were not user requested per the ISP recommendations.

    Now what we use employs a filter that purges the database of any email addys that bounce. The only emails that are sent out are the property alerts on searches that the visitor has requested. In the last we year with this system we have had no blacklist issues.

  36. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Great conversations everyone.

    I currently use a regional IDX called ListingWare which is very basic. Check it out in all it’s glory by clicking Search Atlanta Real Estate at the top right on my site. Pretty boring.

    Just this morning, I sat on a WebEx of Diverse Solutions which ended up being just Corey Kozlowski from DS and myself. So it was an hour of one on one, very good.

    The system looks impressive and very customizable. They have solved many of the issues that have plagued web developers for a long time and made them super easy to implement.

    Users of DS – what are your most and least favorite characteristics of the tool?

    Bob – I know what you mean. I only have a database of 2500 and whenever I send out something to all of them, it’s a bounce fest that goes on for days. A lot of them repeat bounce as you know while the server “continues to try,” thank you very little.
    Then, I have to go into ACT and manually delete all the bouncers.

    What a chore. If that does not dissuade you from emailing your entire database, nothing will. I’ve found that I only do it like 2x a year now because I dread the process.

  37. Bruce Lemieux

    October 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Rob – My thoughts on DS:
    Pros:
    – Very fast
    – Lots of features
    – Ability to search on schools, distress sales unique
    – Streamlined/simple search interface
    – Ability to create RSS pages of listings
    – Seems to be very accurate (haven’t checked with my MLS lately)
    – Ability to manage tons of links/RSS pages

    Cons:
    – No ability to search on County – for metro DC area, this is a big gap
    – I believe they pack too much into the ‘area’ search – zip code, neighborhood name, city, etc. Again, since my MLS is a huge metro area, there’s no way to limit these list of values by county. Can be difficult for a user to easily select the areas of interest.

    I would like for them to implement a structured/ticked-based support process. As a customer, it appears that everything’s email based. This can be frustrating when you need help or want to know the status of your issue. If you are a high-profile customer/blogger, they seem to provide very personal, top-notch service. For the rest of us….

    I think they would improve their product by having an active blog or private discussion group. As a customer, I have no idea on how to provide suggestions or understand what’s coming next.

    I would recommend them. If they made improvements on support and facilitated a conversation on future direction, I could become a raving fan — not there yet.

  38. Ben Goheen

    October 13, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Bruce covered a lot of pros and cons of DS, here’s what I can add:

    Pros:

    RSS feed output, you can use a RSS to HTML tool and greatly improve your SEO
    having DS & your hosting company implement the CNAME will allow the IDX to auto-resize vertically like mine: https://www.mnhome.org/search-homes
    chat can be sent as text messages to your phone

    Cons:

    registration/login page can’t be accessed separately
    reset button only resets the fields, not the map
    updated via FTP not RETS – meaning only once per day instead of almost instantly

    There’s a new IDX out there that’s about to hit the market, and in my opinion will blow away the competition. I’ve talked to the programmer and it’s still being beta tested. He says pricing will be similar to DS also.

  39. Bob

    October 13, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    One thing about any IDX using RSS feeds to push listings is that many MLSs have a rule about redistribution. Several boards view this as violating that rule since rss feeds are a scrapers dream.

  40. John Wake

    October 13, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    In addition to what’s been said;

    Diverse Solutions is far more flexible than anything I’ve seen if you’re a geeky guy who likes to customize things, it’s in a class by itself. Best, easiest to use front-end for prospects that I’ve seen.

    Lead management is bad.

  41. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Bruce – county search would be big for me up here in North Atlanta as well. We have 5 large counties, each with it’s own very different tax structures, exemptions and school systems. Many times someone will want a specific county for a specific set of reasons. On my web site, the 50 neighborhoods (which are also PPC landing pages) are segmented out via counties.

    Also, I’m used to bad tech support. After the first few times of trying to contact my guys at ListingWare, I just gave up forever. If I can’t figure something out, I just give up or work around it. I get the feeling there can’t be more than a few people there. Maybe 2??

    Ben – what can you tell us about the new one? I’m sure the folks at the new company would not mind.

    Bob – in 4 years, I’ve yet to have a client that knows what a RSS feed is, much less try to use one. (maybe because I’m in Georgia!)

    John – today I went to 5 or 6 live sites that use DS and tested out the interfaces, trying to simulate a typical consumer. I must say that in all cases I thought the interface was confusing, too complex, too much going on, too many things on the screen and very NON intuitive. I’m very techy and was able to figure it all out but wow, I can imagine some folks just going back to google and re-entering their original search and looking for a less intimidating search interface. (like the boring one on my site)

    Does anyone else feel this way?

    How’s the conversion rate (registration) for DS folks?

    How bout the bounce rate on the registration page, for those using analytics.

    Also, maps are pretty but do searchers really zoom in on areas and run area-based searches?

  42. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 13, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Ben:

    Just played around with yours at mnhome.org and found it to be more enjoyable than a lot of the others I mentioned earlier. Did you turn off some of the features or something? I just seemed “cleaner.”

    Also, is this a new web site?

    What’s the plan for the Client Area Login, what will a client be looking at after they login?

  43. Ben Goheen

    October 13, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Rob: don’t think I turned off any features, I just prefer a clean looking site without many widgets. Yes I changed my WP theme a couple weeks ago and am working on getting everything setup on the main page. The flu and 3 weekends of weddings hasn’t helped with making changes, but they are coming soon.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I found this template with a client login area. I use a plugin that allows me to add special password protected page for each client. When they login, that page has an embedded widget (one of the few that I use) from box.net where I have all their forms. See the screenshot here: https://www.twitpic.com/lg6bp/full

  44. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 13, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Very cool, makes sense and that’s what I thought might go in that area.

    If you are expecting any traffic to that site you might want to hurry and get all the “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..” off the front page. I always chuckle when I see that on web sites because it tells me that the site was a template, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    My first site was a template site, a free one no less. It’s still up n running, ranking on page one of Google for many low volume search terms: https://www.georgiarealtygrp.com/

    Ahhh, that little bugger brings back many a fond memory.

    🙂

  45. Bruce Lemieux

    October 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Rob – When you talk to DS, see if the give you any direction for adding counties. I would like to see this added as a separate search selection. Once selected, all other values in the area field (zip, neighborhood, city & school) would be constrained by the county selection. For big metro areas, this seems like basic functionality to me.

    As far as I can tell, Bloggers are the only ones who know what RSS is. This is an example of how I integrate an RSS page in my site and why I like it – https://mocorealestate.com/new/clarksburg/

    I also agree that the user interface is not as intuitive as it should be. Here’s why I think this is the case. They have the full search and the map results on a single page – I don’t think there’s another search with a simpler-looking interface. The *problem* with this design – the user has too know how to build their search by putting multiple values into the ‘ City, Community, Tract, Zip’ field. And, these values are for the entire MLS — which would be OK for a small MLS, but not for large metro areas. Same with the schools – every single elementary, middle and high school for the entire MLS area is available for selection.

  46. John Wake

    October 14, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Ben, spectacular use of a blog to communicate with clients! I jerry rigged something similar once on a WP site with a client and it worked well except that I discovered the page showed up in my sitemap! Not acceptable. I used the page like a little transaction manager, I’d list everything I did to market the home and uploaded the docs to the page. I think it impressed the client a lot but it was clumsy and time consuming to use a WP page that way. I like your solution a lot.

    Bruce, I can appreciate your tutorial. Here’s mine; https://www.arizonahomescatalog.com.

  47. Cindy Marchant

    January 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Lot to take in on this discussion. I run pretty basic, one website, one IDX (Wolfnet) and one client follow up (Top Producer) which my team uses; I pass all the leads. We get about 45 leads a month which is peanuts compared to Paula (but then, she is the master at SEO). We convert over 10% though so my leads are strong. I require a registration after three free looks and have found it to work the best for me (I’ve done everything from no registration to one to 10 looks). We always call if a phone number is given, three times before we leave a messag. In this generation, the person seems to call us back because they don’t want to miss a call. We also, like Paula we put them on a newsletter that comes once a month and we hear this often, “love the newsletter over the last X months, do you know anything about Y subdivision” and so it starts.

  48. Rob McCance

    January 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Cindy:

    Good comments. Nice site as well.

    I like the call 3x before leaving a message. Had not heard this one before. So, you leave the message on the 3rd call? How far apart are the calls scheduled?

    Also, regarding the newsletter, I assume this is emailed. I personally have not been this aggressive with my registrants, but why not, right? Could you email me an example of your newsletter?

    10% conversion is fantastic. I’m seeing more like 1% so I’m looking to make some changes in 2010. I get around 100 registrations a month, but I sense my entire site, content, adwords, etc., is all getting a little stale. I want to move it all to a WordPress site so that it’s content is more easily managed and more dynamic.

    Thanks!

    Rob

  49. stephanie crawford

    January 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Rob,
    I moved to WordPress about 4 months ago. I made a pretty big mistake in changing domain names so my organic rankings have fallen a bit – but they really weren’t anything to get too excited about in the first place,

    Where I’m running into issues lately in Nashville is that a ton of agents in my area seem to have started using PPC all of a sudden. Our big newspaper The Tennessean has recently gotten into the website, print marketing, PPC game and apparently they’ve been pretty successful getting agents to sign-up. The keywords that used to work for me are now far too expensive and the longtails I’m trying for specific neighborhood landing pages just aren’t getting any activity.

    I have a PPC budget of $7 a day, I used to see 40-50 registrations a month with 1200 or so unique visitors. Now I’m getting about 20 registrations with 800 visitors.

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How to

Where to look for your next short sale listing

As the economy shifts, short sales in real estate continue to be a commonality, and many real estate agents are learning how to improve their skills in performing these types of listings.

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real estate short sales

real estate short sales

2012 Is Still the Year of the Short Sale

Despite what the person in the office next to you might be saying, there are still plenty of opportunities to list a short sale. The Mortgage Forgiveness Act of 2007 is still set to expire at the end of the year; this means that those who want to take advantage of this program need to get their homes listed (and closed) as short sales as soon as possible. Additionally, there are still a number of great relocation assistance programs available through many of the major servicers. With these stars still in alignment, now is a great time to take a few short sale listings.

Here are a few places where you might be able to find your next short sale listing:

  • The office. Listen to the other agents long for the days of yore when listings grew on trees and everyone was making more money than they could imagine. These same agents may not consider short sales their cup of tea. Why not approach those agents and let them know that you are willing to take those transactions off their hands and will gladly accept any referrals?
  • Your accountant. Now, this will not work if you are using TurboTax. But, if you use an accountant or CPA to prepare your taxes, know that he (or she) comes in contact with lots of folks that may need the services of a short sale agent.
  • Online. There are lots of different online platforms where you can obtain pre-foreclosure data. Three popular platforms are www.rebogateway.com, www.realtytrac.com and www.foreclosureradar.com. You can obtain data on all sorts of things, such as pre-foreclosure notices, and recent divorces. Use this data when sending out direct mail.
  • Answer your phone and return all phone calls. I make it my policy to return all phone calls. I answer tons of questions from folks all around the United States about the trials and tribulations of short sales. My general good will has lead to countless short sale listings and referrals.

So the next time you are considering going out to market for more short sale listings, you do not have to go too far. Many of the tools that you need are all around you. The question is: Do is use ‘em?

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Business Marketing

Nurture your leads to turbo-charge your business growth

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Maximizing leads

You get a new lead. Now what? Do you take down their contact details? Put them in your contact management system? Simply jot down their name and phone number in a notebook or on a sticky note?

To maximize the number of leads you convert into clients, you need to nurture your leads. This involves adding them to your contact management system (or CRM) and then subsequently assigning them to a lead nurture program (once some sort of initial contact has been made).

For hot leads, during your initial contact with them you’ll of course want to try to win their business right away. But sometimes people are not ready or don’t agree to use your services immediately and this is where lead nurture programs step into the forefront.

Avoid losing business opportunities

Failure to nurture leads will result in lost business opportunities. The fact of the matter is that there are many people who will contact you to inquire about your services or to learn more about what you have to offer. There’s a good probability that those who are interested but decide not to use your services right way will do business with you in the future. They’re just not ready right now or need more time to deliberate.

So this is where lead nurturing comes into play. It’s best defined as communicating with your leads over time in a way that they would find both valuable and relevant. By doing so, you’re staying “top of mind” until the lead is ready to become a client.

A good contact management system should allow you to create your own lead nurture program or utilize a lead nurture program that’s pre-designed for you. These programs usually consist of a series of emails and phone calls at various points in time. Each time a phone call is made or an email is sent, you’re providing relevant and valuable content to the lead so they’ll come to enjoy hearing from you. Your contact management system should enable you to automate the lead nurture emails you sent out and remind you when to make a phone call.

Lead nurturing is truly a must – effective lead nurturing results in more clients, a higher ROI for your marketing initiatives, and stronger relationships with your sphere. Make sure you don’t let your quality leads fall by the wayside.

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Lead Generation

Gear up for 2012 with short sale leads – tips and tricks

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Are Short Sales Part of Your Business Plan?

With 2012 just around the corner, everyone and her (his) mother is talking about how to make more money than ever before. It’s time to start writing your business plan, putting deals together, and figuring out those new ways to be successful next year. It’s the same every single year. When December arrives, agents assess their closings for the current year, and then they jump for joy or wince uncomfortably.

That being said, 2012 will be another good year for the short sale transaction. And, if you have gotten no other message from all of my weekly columns, get this one: you owe it to yourself and to your past clients to add the short sale transaction to your bag of tricks.

You see… Kevin Bacon aside (that’s my tribute to Six Degrees of Separation), everyone knows someone who knows someone that is having trouble making ends meet right now. So, why not help that individual out of a jam, unload the property, do a good job? This might even result in more short sale leads.

Short sale leads are all around you.

Here are a few ways to get some short sale transactions into your pipeline:

  1. Market Regularly to your Sphere of Influence. It’s not rocket science. If your sphere knows that you can work short sales, they might call you or refer you to someone who needs your help today.
  2. Use Social Media to Connect. Again, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Reach out to your online friends. Say ‘hi.’ Remind them that you exist and that you are still in the field of real estate. You might be surprised when you learn about how many did not realize that you are still in real estate.
  3. Leverage an Open House. Not sure where to begin your short sale lead campaign? Have an open house at one of your listings in a neighborhood ripe with short sale leads. Create invitations. Invite neighbors (in advance). You might be surprised. The conversation can turn to distressed properties at any given moment. Don’t have a listing? Borrow one!

Finding short sale leads is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to get out and do something. Do it regularly and consistently, and the leads will come.

 

Photo: flickr creative commons by Orin Zebest

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