Lead Conversion: Building Your Pipeline

7-Day Lead Conversion Plan: Building Your Pipeline All Year Long

When it comes to the fall and winter seasons, you need to do everything you can to keep your business booming all the way through the end of the year. Do you have a strategy for turning your leads into real-world clients?

How you respond to and manage your leads can be the difference between a closed deal and a missed opportunity. But knowing how to make a stellar impression and engage a lead can be a challenge. With this 7-day action plan, you can master the smart strategies that will help you convert your leads to clients.

Day 1: Respond fast with the information your lead requested.

First impressions are everything. The quicker you respond, the higher your likelihood connecting with your lead. Responding to a lead within minutes can double your chances of conversion. Remember! Data shows that potential clients view an agent’s responsiveness as a proxy for quality.

Insider’s 3-Step Action Plan:

1. Make an Introduction Call—Always leave a voicemail and set expectations with the
potential client. Address any specific questions and let them know when and in what
format they can expect to receive any subsequent materials. Now is your chance to show
them why you’re the expert agent they need! Go above and beyond!

2. Send a Follow-Up Email—Maximize responses from your leads by following-up your
call with an email. Recap the main points discussed in your conversation or that you
detailed in your voicemail. Save time by creating a quick text template in your eEdge.

3. Prove Your Value—Give your incoming leads what they want! Deliver a broad
Comparative Market Analysis, home estimate or market report by leveraging Market Leader Pro to prospective buyers and sellers. And make sure they get it! You’ll want to email a copy, print a copy to mail, and—to really go above and beyond—hand deliver a copy.

Day 3: Keep working your leads.

Now’s the time to stay top-of-mind by continuing to send and share valuable materials that are related to the lead’s home buying or selling stage.

1. Call and Leave a Message—Follow up with your lead with a second phone call or voice
message. Thank them for contacting you. Ask them what they though of the home value
estimate or the market report that you sent them on Day 1.

2. Mail a hand-written note—The personal touch of a handwritten thank you note
reinforces your commitment to the client. It also helps you go from just another agent
online to a real person who can really help the buyer or seller with their home journey.

3. Email recommended or active listings for the local neighborhood – For buyers, look
closely at listings that the buyer expressed interest in, or go back to your notes about
what home features the buyer finds attractive. Use your eEdge system to send several
recommended listings that fit that criteria. Now is the time to show the prospective client
that you really understand the type of property they are interested in. For sellers, send
active listings for comparable homes in the area. Add your own personal insights as far
as the listing price, market trends or home features and relate them back to the seller’s
own property.

Day 5: Send a local market reports.

Buyers and sellers don’t consider listings on their own – the state of the local market plays a big part in a buyer or seller deciding to actively look for or list a home. You need to share with them your insider knowledge about why now is the right time to buy or sell.

Insider’s Action Plan:

1. Send a zip-code based market report—Check out local market data at Trulia
Local—http://www.trulia.com/local/—or leverage your Market Insider feature within
Market Leader Pro.

2. Place your leads in an email nurturing campaign—Subscribe your leads to an ongoing
market report newsletter to help you establish your expertise and stay top-of-mind.
Consider bucketing your leads based on where they are in their home buying or selling
process and send them relevant information for that particular stage.

Day 7: Establish your go-forward plan.

In days one through five, you should have established yourself as a knowledgeable, committed and responsive real estate professional who is in tune with your potential client’s needs. Keep the momentum going!

Insider’s 3-Step Action Plan:

1. Call Again and Leave a Message—Follow-up is key! Call the prospective client and ask
them about the local market reports you sent on Day 5. Ask whether the information
helpful and about what other questions they may have. Now’s the time to keep the
conversation going.

2. Add the lead to a listing alert email—You’ve worked to refine and understand what
your lead is looking for. Add them to a listing alert email so they’re the first to know about
attractive listings that fit their criteria.

3. Add them into an on-going nurturing email, phone call and mail series—Start your
lead on your 8×8 or 33 Touch campaign to keep them up to speed!

Source: Trulia, Inc

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Advertising Expenses – On The Tax Reform Radar

Comprehensive tax reform is guided by a simple formula that masks a complex process that produces winners and losers. The formula is broaden the base, lower the rates. This means increasing what most taxpayers report as taxable income, but taxing that larger number at a lower marginal tax rate.

To broaden the base, tax policymakers must curtail or eliminate many deductions, credits, and other tax rules. The most common set examined are the annually reported set of tax expenditures, which include broadly claimed and popular deductions like the mortgage interest deduction.

However, as part of business tax reform, other rules not necessarily considered tax expenditures could also be weakened in order to broaden the tax base. One such item included in a recent legislative draft from the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is the deduction for advertising expenses.

Under present law, advertising expenses are deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses. However, under the legislative draft a business would be required to capitalize and amortize 50 percent of advertising expenses over a five-year period. The remaining 50% could be deducted in the year of the expense. The net effect of this proposal would be to increase the after-tax cost of advertising compared to other business expenses.

To examine the industry impact of this proposal, we thought it would be interesting to use recent IRS data to examine how important advertising is for various sectors. The following graphs use 2010 (the most recent available) IRS Statistics of Income data for businesses who file Form 1120, which includes C Corporations and some S Corporations. The data exclude a number of kinds of firms, including sole proprietorships and partnerships, so the information is not a complete accounting of business activity, but rather a useful sampling to examine sector differences.

It is immediately clear that construction ranks fairly low in terms of advertising use, at least as measured in terms of total advertising dollars as a percent of annual business receipts. As a sector, the construction industry spent 0.34 percent of total 2010 receipts on advertising. This compares to 0.98 percent for all industries. The highest shares tend to be in industries like entertainment and information services where economies of scale produce more intense national completion. Taxable educational business had the highest overall advertising spending in 2010 at 5.78 percent of receipts.

These data indicate that while changes to the tax treatment of advertising would be an issue worth exploring in tax reform, the construction and real estate sector would be relatively less affected than other areas of the economy.

A more detailed look at construction and real estate firms is presented above. Advertising in 2010 was least used by civil construction and land development at 0.17 percent of total receipts. Following next are businesses who construct residential and nonresidential buildings with 0.26 percent of total receipts in advertising expenses and specialty construction trade contractors at 0.49 percent of receipts.

The only category within the real estate industry that exceeded the national average was the “real estate” category, coming in at 1.16 percent of total receipts. The industrial code reflects lessors of rental real estate, property managers, and those engaged in selling, buying, or appraising real estate.

View this original post on the NAHB Eye on Housing blog.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Business Building: Establish and Convey Your Message

Business Building: Establish and Convey Your Message

From the experts at ByDesign

As a real estate professional you are energetic, independent, relatable, hardworking, forward thinking, and you have a corner on the market. Right? But what good are these qualities and how you use them if no one knows who you are? Once you’ve identified the characteristics that make you distinctive, you need to market yourself to others. This process of communicating and promoting your unique value is called personal branding, and it’s most effective when paired with a message. So before you plaster online and in-person bulletin boards with your headshot and contact information, you’ll need to establish your message and convey it effectively. Here’s how.

Know your audience and get their attention. When conveying your message, make sure you know your audience. Your approach and voice should always be an honest reflection of you, but also identify the needs of your potential client. How you communicate with first-time homebuyers on a budget will be different from how you work with luxury homebuyers. Once you’ve identified your audience, capture their attention with a clever and appropriate tagline. Now you have the opportunity to tell them more.

Tell them what they need to know and what they get. You have a short window of time to make a first impression, so don’t pull any punches with your audience. Get right to the point and communicate what you offer and how it will benefit them. If you don’t provide anything they need, want, or admire, they’ll quickly lose interest. Consider your message from the point of view of potential clients and adjust it accordingly. And keep it simple. Use numbers, taglines, and basic but intelligent language, and avoid industry jargon.

Use multiple platforms. Convey your message using multiple yet targeted platforms to reach as many clients as possible. Brochures, postcards, personalized magazines, and other printed materials are great options to send to target clientele. (Include appropriate, high-quality photos as well to make these items visually appealing.) Also, consider your online presence with written or audio blogs, and online videos of home tours or useful industry tips.

Visit www.ByDesignPublishing.com to see how realtors have utilized the customizable cover pages of our Home By Design and Your Home and Lifestyle magazines to convey their message and elevate their personal brand. To receive a free sample of these magazines, click here.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Life in Mobile: Google Sides with Mobile Users

By Seth Kaplan

There is no better place to be than at the top of Google’s search rankings; for marketers, it’s the Holy Grail. The key component in reaching that milestone is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a process by which your site and content is ranked based on relevance. Now, with so much search traffic coming to Google from mobile devices, they are taking a firm stance on mobile SEO, and there is no question that they are standing on the side of the people.

Google first announced their Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones back in 2011; their engine that crawls and indexes sites as if it were a smartphone user. Since then, there have been a couple blog posts, but no firm lines had ever really been drawn in the sand on what will impact mobile SEO. That all changed recently when Google released a blog post announcing that it would begin demoting sites in mobile search results if they are not mobile friendly or misconfigured. The move highlights the importance Google is placing on mobile users as the future of search and sends a clear signal to marketers that either they implement a mobile solution, or alter a current solution that does not meet their guidelines.

The recent guidelines extend beyond just having a mobile optimized site and, for the first time, go into detail about implementation. The goal of the guidelines is pretty straightforward: Get mobile users to the piece of information they are looking for as quickly as possible.

Google highlighted one of the more common changes/recommendations they suggest in their recent post. The first is with regard to faulty redirects. This happens when a user is redirected from a desktop page to an irrelevant mobile page—we’ve all dealt with that frustration. The key here is to implement what we have referred to in the past as “deep linking,” which ensures all desktop pages redirect mobile users to the corresponding mobile page, thus getting the user to the exact piece of information they are looking for. In addition, they urge marketers to ensure that there are no page errors for mobile users and to test across multiple devices to ensure the highest level of usability.

If you’ve spent time, energy and a vast amount of resources on climbing to the top of the mountain with a good SEO strategy, it would be a shame to see your work come falling down by not preparing for mobile SEO. Now that Google has drawn their lines in the sand—and clearly sided with ensuring a quality user experience—there isn’t much time left to get this right. Contact your mobile specialist today and ensure that your mobile assets are following Google’s guidelines for usability.

To see how your site looks on a mobile device today, visit www.TestMySiteNow.com.

Seth Kaplan is president of Mobile Real Estate. For more information, please visit 
www.mobilerealestateid.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Branding Power: Can Brokers Compete with Portals?

By Reva Nelson

It’s no secret that the big real estate portals are on top of their branding game. With big advertising budgets, multichannel consumer branding campaigns, and ample, frequently updated content, you’d have to be living under a rock to be unfamiliar with players such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Homes.com and realtor.com®. Even amid complaints of poor data accuracy on some portals, the flow of traffic to these sites is considerable.

According to aggregate website visit metrics compiled by Experian Marketing Services, the top 10 real estate websites captured 42 percent of total visits in the space during January 2013; Zillow (9.17 percent market share) had the most visitors, followed by Trulia (7 percent) and realtor.com® (6.09 percent). Agent and broker sites, on the other hand, aren’t generating nearly as many pages views or unique visitors. Is the exposure REALTORS® can gain on these well-branded sites good for business? Moreover, are brokers and agents missing the boat on their own branding?

It depends who you ask.

Some, like Jim Abbott, owner and managing broker of San Diego’s ARG Realty Group, argue that portals are bad for brokers’ business. His firm made the decision in January 2012 to pull their listing data out of portals. Other firms, like Minnesota-based Edina Realty, came to the same conclusion in 2011.

“When we looked carefully at this after three years of metrics, we realized these weren’t good for our agents or our clients. These sites extract a very heavy cost for that exposure…your future business is the cost.” Even on portals that capture a lion’s share of home searchers, Abbott cautions that when REALTORS® outsource their marketing duties to portals, they are trading new listings and sales for hits on a website. “In no uncertain terms, hits on a portal’s website and an increase in my business could not be more unrelated,” says Abbott.

Others say all that branding attracts daydreamers – not real buyers. Saul Klein, industry principal at Point 2/Yardi, says that most consumers searching these portals are not actually interested in buying real estate. “The traffic counts of unique visitors continue to increase, but the sales numbers do not.”

Many see benefits of partnering with a portal to increase their exposure. “There are few brokers who can afford to conduct user behavior studies or run TV spots for brand awareness, so it’s useful to extend out your brand awareness by partnering with a trusted company,” says Wendy Froehlich, vice president of marketing for Homes.com.

Dan Forsman, president and CEO of Prudential Georgia Realty, describes his company’s partnerships with the big portals as “coopetition.” He describes a robust syndication strategy that includes partnerships and programs with the big players, as well as syndication to 40,000 websites worldwide. “We realize there’s a significant amount of traffic, and our agents value that.” At the same, Forsman notes, “We do extremely well with our company and agent websites, which have better and more relevant data than the portals.”

Certainly, the big portals have mastered branding. What can agents and brokers learn from these sites about promoting their own brands?

Master the local market. Real estate is local, and brokers have a distinct advantage over the portals when it comes to local data. “Over time, we will continue to fare better because our data is better and more relevant than the portals’ data. What it comes back to is we simply have better insight and knowledge locally. If we’re smart in the way we design our websites and our local apps, we can take advantage of that,” says Forsman.

To win in the local space, Forsman notes that first you have to be found. “We’ve done a lot to our own websites to make sure they’re found prominently by search engines. And, you have to provide more relevant information than the others. For example, our websites and mobile apps can do accurate school searches, whereas national databases lack accuracy. Our information is more accurate because it comes directly from the MLS and listing agents. The portals can’t keep up with our high degree of local knowledge.”

Ramp up your social media strategy. Froehlich recommends that branding efforts among REALTORS® need to be focused on social and mobile platforms, or they risk talking to an empty room. In particular, she urges REALTORS® to keep their agent profiles up to date and complete on sites such as GooglePlaces/GooglePlus, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. GooglePlaces is particularly useful, she notes. “It’s important to be getting recommendations there. That’s where their brand is getting built.” In addition, encourage satisfied clients to post reviews of your business on social media.

Master the basics. The simple details still matter in how you present your real estate business. For example, own your own domain, since this is your brand online. “Be consistent online and offline,” says Klein. “Don’t use a Gmail or Yahoo email address for your business. Instead, use your domain for both your web address and your email address. Put them both on all of your marketing materials, signs, cards, riders, flyers, and everywhere you advertise. Don’t overlook using signatures on your mobile devices that includes your brand and contact information.”

Control your data in a way that leads new business to you. It’s important to be very aware of where your data is going, and what’s happening with it. If you “set it and forget it” with portals, you are not controlling your data in a way that leads new business to you. “You’ve decided you don’t want to answer those calls,” says Abbott. “Other brokers can gather those leads and then sell them back to you for exorbitant referral fees.”

Manage your online reputation. If someone is talking about you positively or negatively online, you need to comment on it or address it, says Froehlich. “Keep that conversation going online with consumers.” Some portals, including Homes.com, offer specific tools to help brokers increase their online presence and manage their online reputations.

At the end of the day, it’s not about competing with the behemoth brands of the portals. It’s about attracting buyers and sellers by fostering credibility, trust and relationships in your local community, via traditional as well as mobile and social media channels.

Reva Nelson is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Chicago. She has been writing about real estate and professional services for more than 15 years. Reva lives with her husband, their two sons, and a Russian tortoise.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.