Welcoming your leads
When a new lead walks through your door, you give them a warm welcome because you know the importance of making a good first impression. This is their first experience of your estate agency, a property may have caught their eye in the window but they haven't yet decided whether they want to do business with you.
That first contact with the new lead is crucial. It's your opportunity to really sell your estate agency, to build credibility in your business, to showcase your properties and services and to banish any doubts they may have.
But are you following the same approach when you welcome leads to your agency through your website?
A well thought-out welcome journey that nurtures your lead from the moment they sign up with you can have a dramatic effect on the strength of that lead and their long term engagement with your agency. It also takes the leg work out of the process as by the time you speak with the new lead they are already warmed up and have already been introduced to your agency.
In this two-parter we will take you through the steps of creating an effective welcome programme from a lead's very first contact with you online.
By now you probably already know the importance of including an online form on your website to capture your prospect's details and this is where your lead's journey starts. You can either include a form and rely on your leads choosing to give their details or you can use your form as a 'gate', requiring them to give their details in exchange for the content they want to see. Read our To Gate Or Not To Gate article to learn more about when to use a form as a gate to your content.
When it comes to creating your sign up form it is important to plan your sign up journey and make it as easy as possible for the lead.
The more information you can gain on your lead the more you can target future communications to their needs and hopefully increase and retain their engagement with your agency until they are ready to make a purchase.
It's far more easy to get this information out of your leads at the point at which they sign up. Trying to eek that information out of them at a later date can often prove pretty uneffective and so there's often a temptation to cram as many questions as possible on a sign up form.
But this presents a problem. The more fields your lead has to complete on a form the more likely they are to give up and leave your page. They may have completed two thirds of your form but if they drop out before hitting the 'submit' button you've lost the lead and all of their details.
The question you need to ask yourself at this point is what is more important, getting the valuable information on your new leads or getting the leads signed up? An effective solution, which aims to create a balance of increasing sign ups, while gaining information on those leads is to split your sign-up process into several stages.
In the first stage you present the lead with a very simple form, capturing only the most basic information you need in order to be able to communicate to them. This could be simply first name, last name, email address and phone number.
This first form contains a 'submit' button and by filling in this first form and clicking 'submit' your leads have signed up. Even if they drop out at the next stage, you've already secured your lead and you have the basic information to be able to market to them.
The next stage is to present them with a second short form, asking them to provide more details. You can even position this as helping to refine the information and provide your leads with more relevant property listings going forward.
On this form you can ask more questions, such as the location they are searching in, the types of properties they are looking for, price range, the key requirements - number of bedrooms, bathrooms etc - and even which aspects are more important to them.
You can present these questions in a number of ways. If you're technically minded you may want to try a sophisticated slider for your leads to indicate the price they are willing to pay. Or you may wish to simply use standard drop down boxes and tick boxes.
Creating your own form from scratch requires quite a bit of technical know-how but there's a whole host of form builder tools on the market, many of them offer free versions, such as Wufoo.com and 123 Contact Form.
When setting up your form it is important to think about how you are going to use that data in the future, as the way in which you collect it will determine how it can be used.
If you are collecting information that is unique to the new lead, such as first name, last name, email address or phone number you need to use what is known as a 'free text' field, where you lead can simply type in their information.
But for other information, such as location, property price and property size you may want to use this information later to group your leads into segments and send them communications based on their requirements. To be able to group these leads together you need present these as multiple choice questions - either with a drop down box they can select from or a list of tick boxes they can select. This allows you to filter the data of all your leads later on based on the pre-defined options you gave them.
It's worth taking some time in setting up your form and experimenting with different styles and layouts. The form is such as crucial step in the sign-up process and subtle differences can have a big impact on whether the lead signs up with you or not.
Now that you have an effective sign-up strategy, a well thought-out form and you've secured your leads, the next step is to send them an email welcoming them to your agency. You may think of this as a very simple email to acknowledge the fact they have signed up and may not put a huge amount of effort into developing this email.
But its power and effectiveness should not be underrated. The welcome gets one of the highest open rates of all emails. It's the one email your new leads are most likely to open above and beyond all other emails and it is your first chance to make a really good impression on them.
In the second part of this series, we'll show you how to construct the perfect welcome email, when it should be sent and what next steps you should take to warm up the lead.