In a hot housing market with limited supplies, real estate leads are in extremely high demand. Since agencies can often make tens of thousands of dollars off of commissions in prime real estate markets, it’s no surprise that companies are willing to pay a premium for leads, often budgeting substantial amounts of money per year specifically to spend on purchasing them from sites like Zillow and Move.
But successful agents don’t get to be successful simply by buying leads from lead generation services. You need to have strategies to generate your own leads. You build your business by sourcing, capturing, pre-qualifying, and nurturing leads until they convert. Collectively, this process is known as “lead management,” and it’s a key to success in all businesses. Given the high value of each individual real estate lead, it’s even more important in that industry.
A real estate website can be a useful tool for gathering leads, but many in the industry don’t optimize their sites to take advantage of this function. Email contact information and an office phone line are not good enough and not fast enough in the modern era. In order to maximize your real estate lead management, you need a live chat platform like Formilla deployed on your site.
It’s easy to add a live chat widget to your existing site via a plugin or app, and once you do you’ll quickly find it becoming an essential part of your lead management process.
Live chat offers potential benefits throughout your sales funnel. In fact, just about the only thing on-site live chat can’t do to help your business is to attract more customers to your website. For that, you’ll need to rely on external promotions and advertising. But once you do have traffic arriving on your site from interested real estate buyers and sellers, you can maximize your chance of turning those visitors into leads and then clients by offering a live chat widget on key landing pages – or even across your entire site.
One of the critical advantages of having live chat on your real estate page is the speed at which you are able to reply. As Homes.com reports, “Most people end up doing business with the first real estate agent they speak to, so fast response is crucial. Research shows many people have come to expect a response from real estate agents within an hour of requesting information.”
On-site live chat offers a rapid response unmatched by other forms of communication, with businesses often responding in a minute or less. Having live chat agents standing by to engage with leads coming to your site is one of the best possible ways to be that “first real estate agent” a potential client interacts with, and that can set you apart from other companies that take longer to respond to inquiries.
Many real estate companies with live chat features on their sites choose to collect visitor emails at the start of a new chat interaction, and that’s an effective method of capturing leads. Since your live chat platform can connect directly to your customer relationship management software (or CRM), contact information and other relevant data about new leads can be fed to that central database from the chat. With this information in hand, you’ll be ready to proceed to qualifying and nurturing those leads through personal interactions or marketing automation activities.
Once you’ve set up live chat on your site, you don’t need to be passive about using it. “Proactive chat” refers to invitations to chat initiated by your agents, rather than waiting for a site visitor to reach out.
Proactive chat allows your marketing and sales teams to take the initiative, greeting potential clients when they arrive on your site and asking them questions in order to determine their needs. This makes proactive chat great at both gathering leads (by asking for contact information from site visitors) and pre-qualifying them.
Once you have a chat conversation started, your agents can ask questions about how ready they are to buy or sell, what their budget range is, and any specific locations or amenities they are targeting. All of this information can flow into your CRM, to be used for lead scoring and prioritization along with driving future marketing activities and guiding communication with that client.
Proactive chat can also help with lead distribution. You may have individual experts or sub-teams focused on different regions or budget ranges, and reaching out with a proactive chat to get some basic information can help you to quickly distribute leads into the best hands to nurture and convert them.
Finally, proactive chat can be a highly effective tool for nurturing existing clients, which is critical in the referral-heavy real estate industry. Your live chat agents can be alerted any time a visitor arrives on your site, and if data indicates the return of an existing customer, your agents can pull on CRM data and address the person by name.
Agents can anticipate the needs of returning customers and learn to understand their preferences, potentially even connecting the same client to their preferred agent every time. This is a great way to deepen the connection with an existing client and provide them with excellent and attentive service every time they visit your site – which in turn makes them more likely to use your agency again, and to recommend your real estate company to friends and family.
Chat bots are a vital part of the live chat lead generation strategy on your real estate website. They are simple to add to your site and to set up, and with some basic training they can answer the most common questions site visitors have without the need for human agent interaction. That leaves more time for your live chat agents to focus on nurturing and converting leads, rather than performing basic and repetitive customer service tasks.
One of the biggest frustrations for real estate agents online is the prevalence of “window shopping” browsers who aren’t seriously looking to close on a deal any time soon. These site visitors aren’t doing anything wrong, but the more of them you attract the harder it can be for your agents to sort through them to focus on the real leads. This can lead to wasted time and inefficient lead management, which ultimately costs you money.
Fortunately, chat bots can be a big help here. If you set up your chat bot to interact with site visitors first, it can act as a filter that only routes chatters to actual agents once they’ve given signals that they are doing more than just browsing. This way you’re still being helpful and attentive to every site visitor, but your live chat agents can focus their efforts on nurturing the true leads that will matter for your bottom line.
Chat bots can also be used for automated lead qualification, asking visitors a few basic questions to collect key information in your CRM. This goes hand-in-hand with a solid lead scoring strategy, since once you’ve collected this information you should be able to improve the way you prioritize and distribute your leads in order to get them the information they need to ultimately convert.
Formilla’s “direct link” feature allows you to place a live chat button or URL anywhere on your site, or even in emails you send out to customers. When someone clicks the link, it’ll automatically open up a live chat conversation with one of your agents. Businesses often use direct links within the main body of content on their sites, in page footers, and in marketing emails in order to encourage engagement with agents. This can be especially helpful in the real estate field, where potential customers are likely to have a lot of questions they need answered, and where customers tend to be older and thus less likely to have previous experience with live chat.
Direct links to open chat windows can be useful in lead management as a way of allowing potential customers to “pre-qualify” themselves as leads. On-site messaging that instructs visitors to “Click here if you are ready to buy in the next 30 days” can help to filter out the many browsers who are just “window shopping” or who are in the early information gathering stages. Anyone who clicks that link can be flagged in your CRM as a “motivated buyer,” and follow-up questions from a live chat agent can further determine whether a potential customer is a sales qualified lead (SQL) or if they are still in the marketing qualified lead stage (MQL). SQLs are ready to talk directly with a sales agent for conversion, while MQLs likely need a bit more management before they are ready to be passed over to a sales team.
One of the lesser-known ways businesses can use a conversational commerce platform is in the form of in-app messages. These messages can be displayed on your site in a sliding corner, toolbar, or center lightbox style, and offer a visually engaging and dynamic way of communicating messages to site visitors. They are especially useful for things like limited-time promotions or seasonal messaging, since they stand out from the rest of your website and clearly communicate something “extra” beyond the information that visitors can always find on your pages.
One great way to use in-app messages to build your real estate lead database is by encouraging referrals from your existing clients. Since referrals are the most common way buyers find a real estate agent, you can’t afford to neglect this aspect of lead management. Deploy an on-site message on client account pages that informs existing clients about referral bonuses, and you’re increasing the chance that those clients will help bring valuable new leads into your business.
You need to have a better plan for real estate lead management than buying leads from Zillow and sending emails. Your website can be a valuable lead capture tool, and live chat agents, chat bots, and in-app messages can serve different parts of the lead management process. Relying purely on external lead generation services places your business at the mercy of others. Instead, you can use a live chat platform to turn your real estate website into a finely tuned machine for gathering, pre-qualifying, nurturing, and converting leads.
Sign up for a free trial of Formilla today and you can quickly deploy live chat widgets and chat bots on your existing website. For assistance or more information, reach out via live chat or email on our contact page, and we’ll be happy to help you get started.