03 Jun 2020 By: Dan Kenitz
Many real estate agencies hold two simultaneous thoughts in their heads:
- “I want more traffic, more leads, and a website that funnels traffic to me automatically, day by day, without me ever having to lift a finger.”
- “I also want each one of those leads to feel a personal connection with me.”
See the disconnect? You want the best of both worlds without stopping to consider how the latter might affect the former.
And the problem with a ruthlessly efficient “lead-generation” website is that you can get too focused on herding cattle and lose the personal touch that made you a success in the first place.
Long story short: if your site makes customers feel like this…
…you’re doing it wrong.
Yes, it’s possible to build a pristine sales funnel that turns your organic and social media traffic into leads.
But we at HelpSquad find too many real estate agencies approach us because they’re stuck in the cattle approach to lead generation.
The “cattle approach” isn’t something you consciously think about. It’s a mindset that evolves over time. “If we can just get enough cattle in through the front door, some of them will turn into leads.”
But have a look at your Google Analytics. Do you notice any of the following?
- High bounce rates
- Low session times
- Low conversion rates
If so, it’s a sign that your site doesn’t value the personal connection enough to keep people engaged.
Even if they don’t feel “like cattle,” your average web visitor can tell that something’s off. Something doesn’t pass the smell test. Like someone watching an inauthentic smile, they can’t put their finger on what’s wrong. They only know that something is wrong. They feel on an intuitive level that you’re not the real estate agent for them.
In the end, what else can they say?
They click somewhere else.
We don’t want that. So let’s look at some ways you can create a more authentic connection with every visitor.
How You’re Making Your Web Visitors Feel Like Cattle
It might not be your fault. You’re just doing what you’re supposed to be doing online: creating a funnel, promoting your content on social media, etc.
But if you forget to take a step back once in a while and think about things from the customer’s perspective, it’s easy to slip into cattle rancher habits.
Ask yourself if you’re doing any of the following.
Treating Customers Like “Done Deals” Before They Even Know You
96% of web site visitors aren’t ready to buy anything yet.
They might be browsing. Clicking an interesting link they saw on social media. Looking for your “About” page. Attempting to use your mortgage calculator. Doing 96% of anything except trying to become your customer.
Don’t go all “show me the money” on your customers before they even decide to be your customers. They’re just going to feel like another “mark.”
And who can blame them?
Selling to the Wrong Audience or Being Too Vague About What You Do
According to Marketing Blender, nearly 75% of customers feel frustrated when the website they’re visiting has content that has absolutely nothing to do with them. When you’re in the real estate business, “looking for a home” isn’t a niche.
Take the first-time homebuyer. They might feel intimidated by the process and looking for an agent who can hold their hand throughout.
You’ll want an entirely different tone with them than with trying to help find retirees a great condo for retirement.
If the information you give your customers is generic, it’s not useful. If it’s inaccurate, it’s not useful. And if your website isn’t useful, potential customers are going to hit “back” before you get a chance to capture them as leads.
An Impersonal Website with Zero Demonstration of Who You Are
Real estate is an intensely personal business. Writing for Inman recently, agent Jessica Di Re said that she creates content that builds a personal connection with her audience:
you don’t have to write exclusively on real estate. My focus has encompassed leadership, women in business, and other topics that I have firsthand knowledge of through my own education and career journey, and that hold personal significance for me.
According to Di Re, the leads she generates through content marketing are often her most interested buyers. That’s not a coincidence.
Using Chatbots for a “Personal” Touch That’s Anything But
Adding a chatbot to your site is a quick and easy solution.
It’s also terrible for real estate agencies.
Why? For starters, it’s not personal. It’s obvious to any web visitor when they ask a question through your chat portal, peel back the layers, and find nothing but machinery…
You’re not fooling anyone.
There’s a reason we all shout “Representative! Representative!” when we call customer support. We don’t want to be a cog in a voice-activated machine. We just want someone to answer our questions.
Chatbots add a dynamic element to your site, but it won’t be long before visitors realize that it’s just another obstacle to a genuine connection.
Make Your Web Visitors Feel Like People
So how do you fix all of these problems?
If you already know what you’re doing wrong, it’s easy to reverse course.
Just pull a George Costanza in Seinfeld and start doing the complete opposite of everything you’ve been doing.
But let’s get a little more specific than that.
Opposite Strategy #1: Treat Customers Like You’ve Just Met Them
Because you have. No longer treat customers like a “done” deal. That means no more of the following:
- Saying “Click here!” before you’ve even met them. Go ahead and keep calls to action on your site, and make them prominent. But don’t ask them to trust you without giving them some content first.
- Asking for an email address without giving them anything in return. Offer them a mortgage calculator. An ebook full of home buying tips. Something—anything—that uses the law of reciprocity in your favor.
- Don’t ask for the sale off the bat. Nurture those leads instead. Fill your site with high-quality, trustworthy content. Like Jessica Di Re, build a website that looks like there’s a person behind it. Set the goal of helping your potential leads even before they become leads. They’ll reward you with their attention.
Opposite Strategy #2: Get Specific About Your Content
Generic content designed to appeal to everyone ends up appealing to no one.
Don’t herd cattle. Speak to each customer segment individually. Here are some ways to do that:
- Identify your top customer segments. Who does your agency most appeal to? Are you looking for high net worth individuals? First-time homebuyers? People with low credit scores? All of the above? Until you know your goal, you can’t fashion the tailored content that makes an impact.
- Create unique landing pages for specific customer segments. It’s hard to feel like another cog in the machine if a website is specifically for you. Create landing pages for your social media promotions and match your message to the customers you want to attract.
- Create an FAQ that addresses the questions you’ve heard. At HelpSquad, our live chat specialists often refer to the FAQ to offer help when site visitors can’t find the answers. According to the National Association of Realtors, millennials rated understanding the home buying process as the most difficult obstacle in the home buying journey. Help them out! Even if it’s not the most popular page on your site, the presence of an FAQ is great for anyone who’s completely new to the process.
Opposite Strategy #3: Build a Personal Presence
Real estate is all about personal connections. It’s also about generating leads. How do you build a website that accomplishes both at once?
- Include a video that introduces yourself. 73% of homeowners say they’re more likely to list with an agent who uses video. And given that one recording session could introduce you to thousands of potential leads, the ROI of this kind of introduction is immeasurable.
- Build content that goes beyond real estate. It’s okay to talk about yourself sometimes. Your experiences. What makes you a person. And while that shouldn’t be the emphasis of the content you post to your agency’s website, Jessica Di Re finds that she builds personal connections by coming across as more than an agent with her content marketing strategy.
Opposite Strategy #4: Use Live Chat, Not Chatbots
The Anti-“Cattle” Real Estate Website Checklist
If you’ve been reading the above and cringing because your agency website is in dire need of an overhaul, here’s a checklist you can use to turn things around:
- Content first, sales second. Unless you run an online mega-store like Amazon, people aren’t coming to your website looking to become a customer. Even those leads interested in real estate aren’t necessarily sold on your agency just yet. Build a personal relationship with potential customers by giving them useful information that keeps them coming back to your site.
- Use CRM. Customer relationship management software is more than a rolodex these days. It allows you to keep track of all interactions you have with leads so you know where you stand with everyone who’s ever reached out to you via your website.
- Use a live chat service to respond to potential leads. We recently highlighted 65 statistics that show live chat can improve the customer experience. For example, 79% of customers say that they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it provides. This is an instant cure to the “cattle” mindset.
- Express your personality. People feel like a cog in the machine if there’s no personality attached to your brand. It’s okay to have a personality! Give your real estate agency a voice. Include content that’s about other things than real estate. Write content that sounds like there’s a human on the other end.
Forming genuine connections is the name of the game in real estate. You’re dealing with people who are making the largest purchase of their lives. That doesn’t happen unless you first have their trust. What are the ways you can build that trust, and how can you make that obvious on every portion of your web presence?