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You spend a lot of time and effort on your social media campaign, your blog posts and your tweets. You invest a lot of money in sites that promise good leads. And yet, the conversion rates on the leads you get still aren’t great. This is because you haven’t optimized your web presence to create relationships with your prospects. They simply don’t care about you by the time you contact them. In fact, they never really cared about you at all—they just cared about the information you had to offer. And that’s not their fault—it’s yours.

The next seven tips are going to show you how to program your internet leads to care about getting in contact with you. The tips below will increase your conversion rates dramatically and help you close more of the leads you’ve already got coming in, rather than you trying to bring in more leads that don’t do anything.

Lead Conversion Tip No. 1 – Set Yourself Apart From the Competition

You need to find something about you and your business that is unique—a reason why they would really want to work with you over working with any other agent. It might be that you’re a great negotiator or that you have a background in finance or that you specialize in working with their type of market. It might be that you’ve got something in common with them. It doesn’t matter what it is, just find something and then highlight that differentiator in all of your communications.

Lead Conversion Tip No. 2 –Build a Relationship

Once you’ve got your differentiator identified, then it’s time to start building a relationship. On the Internet this means that you need to do things to get people to know who you are. These days, visuals are just as important (if not more important) than words. In fact, with the rise of Pinterest and the redesign of Facebook to include Timeline, you need good visuals more than ever before.

Plan out your next three months’ worth of blog posts and then get some interesting photos taken related to them – have a sense of humor about them if it fits your personality. Have you standing on top of other agents, or swooping in on a rope to get the buyer for the home, or signing the deal for the house with a big grin and the sparkle on your teeth (like in the Orbitz commercials). Feel free to spoof other fun commercials of the moment—you can ride on their good feelings. Whatever you do, it should reflect your personality—because you’re using these photos to attract people to you.

Then include these photos as you write your blog posts. No blog post should be without a photo—whether it’s one of you or one you got online. The reason for this is that Pinterest won’t pin an article without a photo to attach it to—which means you don’t get the traffic from people sharing it. You want to spark people’s desire to pin your stuff—especially since more than 80 percent of Pinterest’s 11million (and counting) users are women and women make 95 percent of the real estate buying decisions.

The purpose of all of this is to give people an idea of who you are. This is one example. You could also create a podcast (FYI this is a lot of work) or a video to get people to know you better. Be creative and let people in behind the scenes into who you really are – not some “professional” mask you’re wearing to look cool. This keeps people at a distance. They want to know you’re a real person – show them you are!

Lead Conversion Tip No. 3 – Give Something of Value

Now offer them something of value to them. For buyers, this is easy. Offer for them to sign up to have listings sent to them according to their criteria, so that they don’t have to go looking for them. You’ll need to explain how the MLS works and that you will have the listings from all the companies, but it’s something they want, so offer it. If everyone in your marketplace is offering this then come up with a free report or training program on “6 ways to save money on your home purchase” or “5 unexpected ways to ruin your chances of buying” or something of that nature.

For sellers, you’ll need to be more creative (remember, you still have to differentiate yourself). Everyone offers a free CMA. Instead, offer something others don’t, or something the seller doesn’t know. Consider a free report on “the 10 simple repairs that make the most money on resale” or “7 ways to get your house sold faster” or something similar. In short, offer them something that no one else has.

The offer of a valuable item gives you the opportunity to turn someone from a lurker (where you don’t know who they are) into a lead (where you know who they are). So make it worth their while to identify themselves. You’ll have to test your marketplace to determine whether you can get away with asking for phone numbers or not. Ideally, you’ll run a split test (look up Google Website Optimizer to learn more about these) to determine which gives more conversions and better leads. After all, if you have a choice between getting 15 people to give you only an email and you convert only one of them into a client or you can get three only people to give you their phone number but all three become clients, clearly asking for phone numbers is the better choice even though it is fewer overall leads.

Lead Conversion Tip No. 4 – Have a Follow-Up System In Place

When you get the lead’s contact information, you don’t want it to get cold (and internet leads go cold within an hour or less). Since you know you won’t always be able to respond in that timeframe, make sure your computer does it for you. Use an auto responder program to launch a whole email campaign to your prospects from the moment they sign up for one of your value services. You will want to customize the program to the offer that you made so that it looks consistent with what they asked to receive. AND you’ll want to make sure that they know that they’ll hear from you again—both by email and by phone.

Lead Conversion Tip No. 5 – Find Something That They Didn’t Know They Didn’t Know

Other than first time buyers, most buyers and sellers think they know everything they need to and that an agent is merely a convenience to get the job done. If you can find something to tell them about the pitfalls of a transaction that they didn’t even know to worry about, then you have proven that they don’t know everything and that therefore, they need you. This sort of thing is great for a Facebook status update or a tweet as a “Did you know…” comment. It can be expanded into a blog post if it’s more complicated. Don’t forget a photo to make it pinnable!

Lead Conversion Tip No. 6 – Educate and Stay Open

Hard sells are a turn-off. So staying in an education mode when you are wooing your prospects is the best recipe for success. But beware—if you educate too much, then they will think they don’t need you anymore. So you should have a set amount of education that you offer—either in an auto responder or as a podcast or as blog posts and then if they want to know more, they need to talk to you in person. The key phrase when doing an educational piece is “whether you work with me or somebody else, here is what you need to know”. Continue using this phrase in your listing or buyer presentation and you’ll immediately associate all of that knowledge they got online with you – and you’ll really come out smelling like a rose.

Lead Conversion Tip No. 7 – Tell Them That the Next Step Is a Meeting with You

People need direction – especially when they are in a new situation. If you don’t tell them what the steps are, then they don’t know. If you don’t say that they should meet with you, then they think that they are fine still wandering about on their own. When you get to a certain stage in your marketing and you’ve played out all of your education that you’re offering, tell them it’s time for them to make a phone call to you. Even if they aren’t ready to buy or sell now, they will want to put their name on your preferred buyer/seller list so that when they are ready, they’ll get to be first in line to work with you over other buyers and sellers. (Scarcity marketing—we love it!)

Remember that your communications are a pathway that you are walking your leads down. Don’t allow them to stray from the path until they have reached the final destination of talking with you face to face and allowing you to close the deal. Keep distractions to a minimum and keep the momentum moving them forward and you’ll find that your ability to convert your internet leads increases dramatically. Happy hunting!

Kelle Sparta is a national real estate trainer and the Author of “The Consultative Real Estate Agent.

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