I had the pleasure of attending the CMO track at Inman Connect NYC. Discussions revolved around agent recruiting, retention, branding and tech trends.
I sensed that the crowd was on different ends of the marketing maturity spectrum. On one side there were CMOs with well-oiled marketing machines, hoping to get insights on advanced topics such as automating Google keyword coverage and omnichannel marketing. On the other side were those just starting to think about optimizing ROI on small budgets, seeing if they can get traffic on their blog, optimizing listing photos, etc.
I think too often—especially for someone immersed in tech tools—we overlook simple solutions right under our nose. One that stood out was picking up the damn phone!
The discussion that highlighted that for me was one with Derek Overbey, VP Marketing & Technology at Intero Real Estate, where he tackled a huge problem that every brokerage faces: converting more leads.
Can someone pick up that damn phone?
Derek’s point was this: no one thinks about the time of day that a lead comes in. If a consumer gives you their contact details and clicks “contact me”. They mean contact me now. The world is on-demand now. Waiting until the next business day is no longer acceptable. The faster a company contacts a lead, the higher the odds of closing that lead. This is true in tech: there’s an 80% decrease in purchase conversion rates if you respond in 10 minutes vs 5 minutes. And it’s true in real estate too.
Back to Derek. He realized that Intero only responded to leads during regular business hours. That meant any lead coming at odd hours was left stranded until the next business day. Now, if you think about how people search online, yes, a lot of people search for real estate during office hours (at their work!). However, a lot of them convert outside of business hours—probably to make sure they don’t receive a call at their office! We looked at our data of conversions vs time of day to confirm:
Assuming a 9AM-5PM 7 day a week work schedule, all conversions in red would go unresponded. From the graph, conversions actually peak around 6-7 PM with Sunday evening being the most popular time to search for a home. In our sample, a whopping 75% of leads originated outside of regular business hours!
With similar data in hand, Derek is about to implement Agentology which responds to leads 24/7. Derek mentioned some impressive ROI stats (that are from Agentology as he is yet to implement) from some of their current customers, for example over 30 closings coming from leads picked up after-hours.
That sounds like a great solution for brokerages with a big budget. Still, for the rest of the room, there are hundreds of tools out there to automate the first few steps of an outreach that cost near nothing so you don’t have to be online 24/7. Here are some ideas (from simple to more complicated) for getting connected with the lead on a shoestring budget:
Give options from a templated email
I know from experience that sending a simple email notifying the lead that you’ve received their email while allowing them to a schedule a call or viewing with you (see Calendly) can increase conversion rates. Here’s the story of Virtu that doubled its scheduled appointment rate by adding a booking page on its website and Calendly on its emails
Automatically send a text
More and more people are comfortable transacting through text. If the lead form includes a phone number, you can use a tool like Zapier (via Twilio) to automatically send a text to an incoming lead without writing any code. The text should still include a link to an automated scheduler (Zapier integrates with many of them).
The round-robin approach
If you’ve got a team of agents working with you, create a round-robin format where you cycle the lead through the team until someone puts their hand up and takes it on. This is a little more tech-heavy but will reward the hungriest of your agents with the most leads.
Ok, so this is really all about ways to replicate picking up the damn phone ... without having to actually pick up the damn phone. The result, however, is the same: going from having someone’s contact details - a lead - to a new client. Sometimes that means really fancy tech tools, sometimes getting more clients is just about picking up the damn phone...