Some of our biggest wins as real estate investors come from keeping up with the homeowners that we sent direct mail to a long time ago. Being able to automate this type of follow-up, capture more of those leads, and turn them into deals is key to running a successful real estate business. This is no secret. We all know how crucial it is to stay top-of-mind, but without the proper systems in place keeping in touch with your lists can become a full-time job, leaving no time for the income producing activities that will elevate our business.
The response rate to most marketing is fairly low. This is a fact. We can move the needle a little bit by improving our mail pieces, adding education and transitional calls to action, and crafting a message that is relevant to our specific audience. Unfortunately, this is rarely enough. If you are struggling with a low response rate and lamenting that no one wants to sell their house, you are not alone. Remember, however, that the truth is not that there are no motivated sellers out there, but that we must wait until a homeowner reaches their perfect timing bubble. Our goal, as investors, is not to coerce people into selling their house prematurely, but to be there with knowledge and service when they are ready to sell.
Now, I know it seems unreasonable to have one of our acquisitions team members call people incessantly, forever. Calling hundreds of homeowners who are not ready to sell is simply a waste of resources. But, knowing that consistent follow-up is the path to more deals, what are we supposed to do? This is where digital advertising can be an absolute game changer.
Digital ads, using ubiquitous platforms such as Facebook or Google, can be affordable and effective with the correct funnel and strategy. First, keep sending out direct mail – postcards, letters, your book if you have one – that will create curiosity. Make people want to learn more. This curiosity will lead people to your website. The beauty of digital ads is, that if the visitor is simultaneously logged in to their Facebook or Google account, which most internet users are, you can send them digital retargeting ads even if they do not fill out your lead form.
How does this work? All you need to do is create a business account on your desired pay-per-click (PPC) platform (both Google and Facebook will let you do this for free at the time of this writing), create your unique tracking code (a short snippet of computer code – also free at the time of this writing), and install it on your website. If this sounds intimidating, do not let that hold you back. If you are not comfortable creating and installing this yourself, recruit any technology savvy person you trust, and they can have this set up in about an hour. You can also pay someone on a site like Fivver to handle this for you at an affordable rate.
Setting your Facebook Pixel or Google Tracking Code up is only the first step. You might be thinking “You said this was free. Leads are not free! What’s the catch?” This is where testing and customization comes in. If you are not ready to pull the trigger yet, you can simply install the tracking codes for now and let the PPC platform compile a list of interested prospects for you. You will not be able to get names and contact information, that is information that the PPC platforms keep for themselves, but you will be able to build a list of internet users that will see your ads when you choose to run them.
Why is retargeting so effective? Because the only people who will see your ads are people who have already expressed interest in you and your business, people who have already raised their hand by viewing your content. Instead of wasting time driving the neighborhood, hoping to stumble upon a motivated seller, you can wait for the motivated sellers to research options and come to you. Now, you can run hyper-local, specific ads to your ideal avatar who has already taken the first step in learning more about you and your business. You can run ads with a relatively low budget and generate greater results than by mass direct mailings alone because you will only be paying to put your digital marketing in front of people who are already interested in your services.
Trust is the most important factor to many motivated sellers when choosing a real estate professional to work with. By running custom, low-cost ads that feature your picture and perhaps a little bit of your story, your motivated sellers will start to feel like they know you. After six months or a year of seeing you around on Facebook or Google, the homeowners in your market will understand who you are and what you offer. Before you have your first in-person conversation, you will have already positioned yourself as the trusted expert, not just another salesperson.
There are many ways to follow up consistently – direct mail, SMS marketing, phone calls, ringless voicemail. The power of digital advertising and PPC is the increased time leverage and potential for a high return on investment over months and years.