Why a Good Real Estate Marketing Funnel Matters
“Let’s stay in touch.”
These are 4 words no real estate agent wants to hear. Why? Because it means that a potential lead isn’t interested in talking now, if ever. Plus, the potential lead might wait so long to make a decision that they end up working with a different realtor.
After receiving a lukewarm or timid response from a lead, agents have to answer a lot of questions with very little information:
- How should they stay in touch with the lead, and when?
- What is the lead looking for and what is their timeline?
- What if the lead calls another realtor when they’re ready to list, or they find an agent through Zillow instead of remembering to call you?
Instead of guessing and hoping for the best, realtors can use an intentional nurturing process to stay in touch and learn more about their leads over time. Good lead nurturing processes will help agents maintain relationships, offer helpful insight, strengthen brand awareness, and ultimately convert leads at the right time.
Nurturing is especially important in real estate because the sales cycles can be long, and prospects might take months to make a decision. In this article, we’ll help you understand more about how an effective real estate marketing funnel can help set you up for long-term success, improve conversion rates, and establish you as the preferred realtor in your farming territory.
What is a Real Estate Marketing Funnel?
“Real estate marketing funnel” is the term used to describe a process of capturing, developing, and converting leads into clients through a variety of advertising, personal outreach, and marketing techniques. Approaches to building a real estate marketing funnel vary widely, but they usually rely on a mixture of digital marketing technology, personal outreach, and traditional advertising to reach prospects through more than one channel.
The specific channels (e.g., online advertising, social media, direct mail) used in a real estate marketing funnel often depend on the interest level of a specific prospect. Additionally, outreach methods will typically become more direct and personal as a prospect’s level of interest grows.
There are 4 basic parts of a real estate marketing funnel, explained further below:
- Awareness. In this phase, a lead learns about a brand or provider for the first time. While exposure can happen in many ways (e.g., personal referral, Google search, Facebook ad), awareness can be positive or negative. The tone of their brand introduction will usually determine whether someone is interested in learning more.
- Interest. Once they’re aware of your brand, leads will likely do some initial research on your offering and services. Leads will want to learn how your business is different, how you can solve their problems, how the process works, what the price is, and other information.
- Consideration. This portion of the real estate marketing funnel is where leads seriously weigh the pros and cons of choosing a specific provider. To help guide their decision, prospects might consult friends and family, research competitors, and read online reviews.
- Action. Whether they are pushed to action due to personal circumstances or your persistence, this phase is where prospects are presented with the option to ultimately decide if they will move forward, and when. During this stage, you’ll likely have in-person conversations with prospects and already know much more about their situation.
Clearly, the progression described above doesn’t account for emotional factors and outside influences that keep people from acting in a perfectly predictable way. In most cases, prospects might bounce between stages of your marketing funnel, or jump from one stage to the next (particularly in time-sensitive situations).
Here’s an example of how a prospect might move through a marketing funnel in real life:
- They are generally aware of rising home prices in the area, and they become increasingly interested in selling their home to move to a long-term property nearby.
- After seeing a FB advertisement for a free home valuation, the prospect clicks through to a custom landing page tailored to their geography.
- The prospect fills out the landing page form to request a home valuation.
- Once they receive the home valuation via email, the prospect continues to receive email outreach as part of the nurturing track.
- The prospect responds to a direct offer to connect and learn more about the process of selling their home.
- After the meeting, the prospect decides to move forward with listing. From start to finish, the whole process takes 3-6 months.
Now that we’ve covered the structure and flow of a real estate marketing funnel, it’s time to dive into the specifics. How do you predictably fill your marketing funnel with qualified leads? In the following sections, we’ll walk through 5 critical steps for setting up a successful process.
Step 1 | Lead Generation
Lead generation is the starting point for a real estate marketing funnel, and it’s arguably the most important step. Many services can help realtors source leads on a monthly basis. However, lead generation is not just about volume. Closing new deals require high-quality leads and a lot of context about their specific needs and goals.
It’s crucial that you start with the right data and targeting (i.e., demographics, geography, etc.) – even a good real estate marketing funnel won’t produce results if your data is bad. Quality data allows you to immediately focus on nurturing new leads and not just qualifying.
There are numerous ways to source new leads:
- Purchase leads from real estate marketing service providers.
- Advertisements placed on search engines, social media, local print publications, etc.
- Organic inquiries received through your website from SEO, social referrals, etc.
- Chat or direct outreach on social media.
- Personal contact information from events and networking.
- Real-time vetted homeowner data from a provider like SmartZip. This is the highest quality available data because it is continually monitored for accuracy and scores prospects based on their likelihood to list (called real estate predictive analytics).
No matter how new leads are sourced, make sure to capture enough contact information that you can reach out to leads through multiple channels. This information would include:
- Home address.
- First and last name.
- Mobile phone number.
- Email address.
- Intended timeframe for buying or listing.
Direct outreach is another reliable way to produce leads, though it requires a greater investment of time. Commonly used direct outreach tactics include:
- Asking contacts for referrals.
- Cold emails.
- Cold calls.
- Door knocking.
Step 2 | Immediately Engage with New Prospects
Once your investment in lead generation begins to pay off, make sure you immediately touch base with new prospects. A quick personal note or phone call can start a direct conversation and help you gather critical information for future reference. Or, if the prospect is ready to act now, you might secure a listing or buyer within a very short time frame.
Time is of the essence when a new prospect reaches out or takes action, and the quicker you can establish contact the more likely they are to respond. Once you’ve determined exactly what the prospect is looking for (especially their anticipated timeframe for taking action), consider moving them into one of two buckets for follow-up:
- High-value leads that are likely ready to convert.
- Interested prospects that need more time to figure out their plan, and their preferred realtor.
Additionally, you’ll want to separate buyers and sellers in your marketing system or follow-up sequences. Each of these qualifying criteria will determine the outreach steps you take in the future.
Step 3 | Focus on the Right Messaging for Conversion or Qualification
As you create advertisements, direct mail pieces, emails, and other elements of your marketing funnel, focus on tailoring your message to the exact needs of the prospects.
- For buyers: the ability to help them find the right properties, including testimonials from happy clients.
- For sellers: information about the local real estate market and why now is the time to act. Proof of recently sold homes in the area.
For “hot” prospects that are ready to act, use messaging that drives to a conversion (e.g., review of available properties for a buyer). For leads that need more time, try to increasingly qualify the prospects in the coming months.
What is real estate lead qualification? It’s the process of determining whether a prospect has the right qualities to eventually become a client and have a successful experience. Most agents look at basic criteria like whether the ability to buy (e.g., do they have financing, or can they get it?) and their timeline.
The right messaging can help weed out prospects that aren’t interested in all kinds of reasons:
- Not ready to buy or sell.
- Planning to buy or sell without a realtor.
- Bad fit due to their budget.
- Moving out of state.
Instead of spending time chasing down unqualified prospects, you can pinpoint exactly who’s the most interested. Work on your own criteria for filtering out “bad” leads. Sometimes, this means finding an alternate way to help the client (i.e., sending them to another realtor), or it could mean reaching out to them in 6-12 months. For others, it might mean cutting them out altogether.
Step 4 | Automate Your Outreach Process
Automation is key for conducting outreach at scale. Without some way of automating all of your outreach processes and priorities, you’ll likely get buried underneath a mountain of follow-up items and manual tasks.
Think of automated outreach like a digital sales team that’s working on your behalf to keep prospects engaged and interested. Plus, automated marketing systems give you a remarkable depth of insight into prospects’ activities, including how they’ve engaged with your marketing efforts - from landing page visits to email interactions.
With scalable outreach and follow-up plus detailed insights, you’ll have the ability to actually measure prospect activity and prioritize your personalized follow-up items with the most valuable real estate leads.
Here are the outreach tactics that you’ll most likely use during the automated nurturing portions of your real estate marketing funnel:
- Retargeting ads across social media and search engines. These are shown to people who visit your website or whose information is in your CRM.
- Mass emails. Though they can be personalized using dynamic fields that insert first names, cities, etc., these are usually sent to many people at one time.
- Personal, open-ended text messages to check in on their status and re-start a conversation.
- Postcards and other direct mail pieces can be more effective at reaching some prospects than digital marketing.
- Phone calls and automated voicemails.
The channels above are good ways to reach prospects. But, there’s another important question for determining how well your real estate marketing funnel will perform: what kind of content should you use, and what should you say in your outreach? The answer is actually pretty simple: anything that adds value, keeps leads interested, and positions you as the expert. For most realtors, this includes content like the following:
- Updates on home values.
- Information on changes in the local real estate market.
- Offers for free consultations.
- Tips for how to maximize the sale price of a home.
Step 5 | Measure What’s Working and Change What’s Not
It's important to periodically assess how well your messaging, content and specific outreach channels are working. At the very least, you should keep track of basic metrics like the following:
- Ad performance, including click-through rate and conversions.
- Email success – open rates, click-through rate, and conversions.
- Landing page visits and conversion rates.
- Text message open and reply rates.
- Response rates for direct mail (and which messaging and design worked best).
If you notice that one part (or multiple) of the funnel isn’t working as intended, try changing the messaging, call-to-action, design, or even the entire outreach channel or advertising platform.
Benefits of Using a Real Estate Marketing Funnel
Over time, a well-oiled real estate marketing funnel can provide a strong return on investment. Aside from more closed deals, consistent nurturing efforts will help with 3 important goals for all realtors:
- Build brand awareness within your target real estate farm.
- Influence the way prospects are thinking before they talk to a competitor.
- Stay top of mind and make it feel easy to reach out when the time is right.
Save Time and Money by Easily Building Your Marketing Funnel with SmartZip
There are so many marketing technology providers that it can be difficult to confidently pick one. How do you know which platform will empower you to build a real estate marketing funnel that actually converts prospects? While most platforms offer basic capabilities for foundational marketing practices like prospect storage, email marketing, deal-tracking, and online ads, they are not all created equal.
There are significant differences between real estate marketing and lead generation systems, including ease-of-use, design and deployment sophistication, campaign management, customer support, and restrictions on the kinds of prospect data that can be used.
Here are a few things to consider when picking your marketing platform:
- Do you plan to stay away from a CRM altogether? Piecing together different technologies and providers will require you to project manage a group of vendors, manage logins, maintain subscriptions, outsource design, etc.
- Is the platform designed specifically for real estate agents? Can you easily build and launch campaigns that are tailored to real estate lead generation? General CRMs often require a significant amount of customization before they meet niche needs.
- Using a tool that brings each element of the nurturing process into a single platform can save you lots of time and hassle, and help you hit the ground running much faster than your competitors.
SmartZip combines the highest quality homeowner data with cutting-edge marketing tools and proven, powerful analytics for finding leads that are most likely to list their property. Quickly and easily build an industry-leading real estate marketing funnel without an expensive team or weeks of up-front work. Want to learn more? Request a demo today and see how SmartZip’s suite of tools can help you improve your real estate farming results by 4.6X this year.