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08 July 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Market Leader vs Top Producer

Market-LeaderI have been a fan of both Market Leader and Top Producer for some time. Although not ideal, I do like the Market Leader lead capture website feature and am using it to drive most of my business. Unfortunately, Market Leader has a huge deficiency in its email follow up system which has forced me to move most of my follow up campaigns and all of my CRM activity to Top Producer.

With Market Leader, the lead collection through the website usually consists of just a name and an email. Twenty percent of the leads that come in also provide a phone number, but for the most part email is it. This fact is great, but the back end marketing system for Market Leader won’t send out communications that can be read by most customers.

To clarify, when Market Leader sends out an automated email from a campaign, it takes the message and converts it to an image file. Unfortunately, 70% of the people who receive the email will get it on their phone; and android and apple smart phones will not display graphics that come across in email. In addition, a huge percentage of Outlook users haven’t changed the default settings on their email to allow graphics to be downloaded. Thus, most of the campaign emails that get sent through Market Leader just come in as blank messages to your target clients; which is not only a waste of time, but quickly alienates any leads that you may have. I have brought up this feature with the Market Leader support team, but have yet to see a solution.

In start contrast to Market Leader, Top Producer has an exceptional email follow up system with some of the best “out of the box” follow up campaigns that I have seen. The emails that go out are rich text or HTML which are visible to smart phones can be read by your clients. Their system to notify you which client needs follow up and which lead needs attention is intuitive and easy to use. In addition, the Top Producer has a much more comprehensive tool for creating drip marketing campaigns.

In fact, the only shortcoming with the Top Producer system is that of lead capture. Their lead capture system consists of comprehensive forms that users of the system can place on their own websites. The issue with these forms is simply that there is no way to pare them down. For any online form, you will lose 20% of the potential leads for every additional field that you required these leads to complete. Beyond the name and email fields, the Top Producer lead forms require users to state purchase or sales intent, time frame, dollar value, and a few other fields that may or may not be pertinent to the information that the lead is requesting. Given that most people will access your website by phone, the chances of a potential client filling out all of these fields is very small; thus their lead capture system is not ideal.

Overall, I prefer Top Producer over Market Leader for almost all of my CRM activities. Unfortunately, this lead capture feature means that I need to rely on Market Leader for my front end marketing, and Top Producer to do everything else; which is an expensive and time consuming proposition.

26 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Pay Per Click Pays Off

proI have been ignoring my business since my daughter went onto summer break.  Being six, she requires a lot of attention and there has been a flurry of distractions to take me away from my daily activities.  As such, my business has suffered.  I am down to one buyer lead capture campaign, and although it is still driving two or three new buyers to my business every day, it could use some work.   That being said, this one campaign is proof that Pay Per Click advertising can be a sound investment.  After all, I am not sure how many agents out there can claim 73 new buyer leads in a month where they took almost no action.

Notice the image on the right.  This is from my MarketLeader pro system and shows only those leads that have come in through my website over the past 30 days.  Because I haven’t been placing any Craigslist ads, every one of those leads is from a PPC ad that I am running.  Incidentally, I am only advertising on Google right now, so one campaign on one search network.

So, what is the strategy to duplicate these results?  More importantly, what else should I also be doing to double and triple them?   Well, first things first, lets talk about the strategy behind pay per click as a REALTOR.

To begin realize that in order to get a good response and traffic that converts into potential clients, you must stay away from keywords that most other agents are using.  These are often too competitive and too expensive.  Instead, create a list of at least 1,000 and preferably 10,000 phrases that your target clients may be searching in order to find a home.  For example, instead of using the term “homes for sale,”  identify long-tail keywords that are neighborhood, development, subdivision, parish, ward, school and activity specific.    Use terms such as “homes for sale near xxxx school” or in “xxx school district” as well as terms that include houses for sale near parks, lakes, activities, or anything else more specific to the area that you serve.    People like to live near certain towns or developments or entertainment centers, so make yourself visible to people searching those areas.

Going back to my current campaign, it has 1200 words that drive 30-50 visitors to my site each day.  Of those, I get about a 10% conversion rate with my MarketLeader website; which results in a cost per lead of about $4.20.  Of those leads, half add a phone number and I can usually get one out of the four phone number submitters to sit down for an appointment.   Once again, I have been pretty lax lately, so my conversion is closer to one out of ten; simply because I haven’t had the time to follow up.

Okay, so that is the current campaign.  What should I do to improve it?  First and foremost, duplicate the entire campaign on the bing/yahoo search network.  This should effectively double my daily results with a 70% increase in daily ad spend.   Next, expand the number of search terms I am advertising under to at least 10,000 and hopefully more.  This actually won’t be that hard given that the current 1200 only covers two cities in my area.  There are fifteen that I haven’t even touched within a 20 mile radius.  Finally, I should also expand the campaign to second tier search engines such as to increase the results again.  This will increase my daily ad spend by another 10% but should hopefully also increase my lead capture rate.  All tolled, when I decide to re-focus my efforts on my business, these additions should bring in an additional eight to ten leads per day; giving me more business than I know what to do with.

As I said above, pay per click does work.  However, you need to focus on your business and lead follow up to take advantage and make your business grow.



02 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Lead Getting and CRM Management Through LinkedIn

linkedincrmI have spent the last few weeks connecting with as many people as possible through LinkeIn and I am amazed at the response. What I have done is simply joined a few of the local business groups, then invited as many of the members as possible to connect with me personally. The LinkedIn system allows you to connect with members of the groups in which you are a member. When you invite these members to connect, the system refreshes and provides you with a list of the contacts who are connected to people within your network. To a point, you can simply click the connect button at the bottom of each person’s photo and an invitation will go out from you to become a connection. I do need to warn you that LinkedIn will allow you to connect and build your network this way as long as the number of people who reject your invitation remains below as certain internal threshold.

After sending twenty or thirty invitations, I wait to see who accepts. Once a person becomes a connection, I get an email from LinkedIn inviting me to see that person’s profile. I click the link in the email and compose a personal thank you note to my new connection along with an offer to help them any way that I can. I close each message with a referral request as well as a request to keep in touch.

What is great about LinkedIn is that it captures the messages that you send through their system and adds it to your profile view of your connection. The system also allows you to add reminders and notes about your new contact; similar to other CRM systems, and also allows you to schedule follow up reminders with your new connection. These features allow you to manage your new contacts and maintain top of the mind awareness with them as you nurture them into becoming clients.

My approach is to send out that initial introduction, and respond immediately to anybody who responds to me. I congratulate anybody who has taken a new position or is having a birthday, and follow up with the rest of my LinkedIn SOI within two weeks of initial contact. Over the course of ten weeks I try to get at least five personal messages in front of my entire database, then follow up once a month or so. For those that have provided addresses, or enough information that I can send a personal note to their office, I will send out a thank you card; once again reiterating my offer to help and asking for referrals. The process of maintaining your sphere of influence through LinkedIn is not as efficient as Market Leader or Top Producer, but the trade off is a huge database with only a few days worth of work. As an example, my real estate business is currently nurturing over 2,600 new connections.

20 May 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Get New Leads Through a Pre-roll Ad

vvideoI have been spending a bit of time on YouTube lately and noticed that up until recently the commercials that you see before your desired video plays is typically a high-end agency developed advertisement.  More and more however, I am seeing local businesses and services place their ads on these videos; which is why I am developing a series of ads that I too will place in front of my local demographic to get more business.

Most people aren’t aware that they can us any video that they have uploaded into their YouTube account as a commercial through the YouTube adwords system.  Because of this, there is very little local competition; even though you can exactly target the people that will see your commercial.  This gives you a huge advantage over your competition.    You can create advertisements to attract buyers, sellers, even those who are looking to rent; and because you only pay for the ad when a viewer clicks or watches 30 seconds of the commercial, the cost per lead is fantastic.

To get started with video pre-roll, the first thing you need to do is create a commercial.  What I have done is used my webcam to capture me stating an instant call to action, then switch the camera to screen capture where I show the viewer my lead capture page and what they will get once they click.  For buyers, we start with me on camera saying, get instant access to all of the discounted and foreclosure homes in the city, click here now. The screen then goes to my MarketLeader site where people can search two properties before being asked to login for more information.

For sellers, I offer my free book, How to Add 20,000 to The Value of Your Home in One Week, and show then what the lead capture page looks like when they click.   I am testing numerous different videos to determine which will give the best click through rate, then I will make them more specific to the suburbs and neighborhoods in the areas that I serve.

It will take some work, but my goal is to get my cost per lead through this medium to below $2.50.

After you have your videos created, login to your adsense account and choose to promote videos.  Set your targeting based on the type of customer that you want to attract, and once the video is approved, you are off to the races.

One thing to be aware of as you go through this process is that 80% of your views will come through a mobile device.  Plan your lead capture strategy accordingly.