The following e-mails were written in response to the question asked right up top. They are from a free "listserv" called "Real Talk". It has approximately 3,500 members, with many contributing invaluable information on a daily basis, just as you see below. If you would like to become part of this community, e-mail them at "RealTalk@InternetCrusade.Com"
"Looking for ideas for marketing my new web site. Have ordered decals for my car, printed it on
fact sheets, business cards, and my other sites, and have installed riders on my yard signs. Now
I want to do a mailer to my geographic and sphere farms. Would love to have suggestions and samples
for a mailer and any other way to get the name out. Should I keep the http with it or just use the
domain name itself?"
"Responding to Web Site Leads"
The main source of leads generated by my website come from my free Homeseekers Request form. I receive anywhere from a minimum of 30, to a high of 65 requests per month. The initial request receives the following email (via auto signature) from me:
Thank you for your request for our FREE Homeseekers Book. You will be receiving your FREE Book via snail mail within the next few days. In the mean time, check out the various properties available for sale via our website at http://www.whatever.com - you will find the ability to search the entire Multiple Listing Service database, the ability to check out For Sale By Owner properties via the local newspaper ads, and MUCH MORE! Feel free to contact us at ANY TIME with ANY questions or concerns. We are looking forward to working with you in the near future!
The recipient then is sent a current copy of the Homeseekers Magazine along with an intro letter, some promo pages (full color) of properties I have listed, my business card, a promo encouragement for my buyer's special, etc. 10 days after I mail the Homeseekers, they then receive the following e-mail (via autosignature):
You recently requested a current copy of the North Idaho edition of the "HomeSeeker's" magazine. We are following up to make sure you received your copy. Are you still interested in receiving additional information on the North Idaho area? If so, we are more than happy to do any research for you. Let us know how we can help you!
At this point, I generally have weeded out the lookies from the buyers - a small percentage respond immediately to the first email, a very small percentage. The largest percentage respond to the second email - at which point we generally have phone contact with them as well. I then set up a buyers website with all the properties currently available that meet their parameters - they LOVE this. Then it's general followup until they come to the area and purchase a property. The hardest part is organization!
MORE FROM DAVID:
Website buyer loyalty & announced appointments:
When communication is maintained and services are performed for the buyers, they are loyal and very respective of your time. My website business provides almost 75% of my income (and I have always been in the top 10 in my area in real estate sales). The reason it provides so much of my income is because I provide buyers with something initially FREE - with no obligation on their part (a current Homeseekers Magazine mailed to them). I have not had a problem with weeding short term vs. long term buyers out of the mix - with my automated system, they weed themselves out of the mix. My short term buyers request my "Buyer's Special", which is a private webpage updated on a weekly basis with properties that match their profiles (again, NO obligation on their part). My long term buyers request to be maintained on my e-mail mailing list, but request no additional attention until they are ready to move to the area.
When buyers visit the area, they are (80% of the time) ready to make the purchase, when found, on that visit. A few buyers require more than one visit to the area. When that is the case, I don't show them properties on their first visit. I provide (again NO obligation) maps, tours, etc. for them to utilize while they are here. I also give them my private cell number for questions on any properties. I have always had my visiting buyers let me know weeks in advance of when they will be here. In fact, they tell me their arrival and departure times, and we schedule their remaining time as needed depending upon their needs. When a buyer drives, they know what day they will arrive but not necessarily the time, I simply remain available on my cell during business hours for them to contact me when they arrive.
I have found that by the time I actually meet the buyer in person (I have emailed, set up the website, spoken with them on the phone, etc.) that the buyer is ready, willing and desirous of signing a representation contract. I have also found the buyers to be extremely loyal, more so than other buyers obtained from other sources. I just found out about a problem going on in my area (told to me yesterday by one of my loyal buyers I had never met in person!!!) - when they called or e-mailed other agents on properties those agents had listed for sale, the agents told them that they HAD to use them, that they WOULD NOT co-op with other agents. That the property is EXCLUSIVELY available through them. Hum, sounds like something I am going to have to address, rather loudly, on my website. My buyers ONLY concern was not being able to see properties they were interested in listed by other agents if I represented them. Needless to say, I let them know the truth on that subject!!
Getting buyers with no listings...
As you may notice when viewing my website, I don't have an overabundance of personal listings on my website. What I do have is full access to ALL local papers real estate sections AND full access to our online mls public. I DO NOT use Realtor.com, Homeadvisor.com, etc. and NEVER will have them searchable from my website. My local MLS has an internet site for buyers, it is updated daily - why would I use services that are not reliable, send buyers to other agents, etc? I track where my unique hits come from and although I have had buyers say they have browsed Realtor.com, etc., they FIRST went to a search engine and typed in keywords. My tracking software shows my that in the past 15 months, not ONE SINGLE PERSON has come into my website via Realtor.com - not a single one. I do have many that come via ired.com and various other sources:)
Since I provide a FREE homeseekers magazine to visitors, I have a much higher retention rate than other Realtors in my area. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to say that another real estate site in the area does more business than mine does. Even the larger company ones don't have the sales I have directly from my website. Anyway, GIVE info, don't REQUEST info, stay in communication and you'll reap the rewards and build the relationships needed to make your website profitable for you.
Amos....this is right at the beating heart of it all.....My thoughts are these: every consumer who has found you and is asking you questions needs information. Importantly, they are asking YOU. It's in the manner in which you respond and create that ongoing dialogue that makes you and your site "sticky".... For what it's worth, I have found that the free-er I am with my information, the more questions and dialogue I seem to create. I usually wait until after several emails pass back and forth to gently "look into" what plans there might be for a purchase. The bottom line regarding that last paragraph is that a percentage of inquiries go nowhere.....and a percentage buy......
As an old broker once said: "SWSWSW" some will.......some won't........so what......
Aaaaaah, Grasshopper, this is the ancient mystery... In my not-so-small amount of experience, I believe the answer is two-pronged... First off, I don't believe that YOU get from inquiry to client; rather, the consumer makes the choice whether or not to do business with you, based on the level of service you give IN CONTEXT WITH WHAT IT IS THEY HAVE REQUESTED. It is critical that you don't try and foist yourself on them, and let them keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Second prong is to automate as much as you can afford, in order to reduce the time you spend on each individual. I am finding that people are coming to me as much as 18 months prior to actually moving, and those people are asking for information on a specific property about once a month. So long as I keep them updated, via my various automated processes, then I am finding it is a no-brainer to convert them, ON THEIR TIMETABLE. It's a numbers game; I've got 139 people in SOAR, I've got 247 people receiving my bi-weekly email series, and I'm getting ready to launch another information series come September. The more people you have in the system, the more you will convert, and the tighter you can make your criteria of who you work with. Of course, as in face-to-face, you gotta ask for the order.
Chris Newell, Sales Rep. e-PRO500 SRES ABR CRES JIM#1.9