Marketers in the commercial real estate (CRE) industry face unique issues when dealing with lead generation and nurturing through the marketing funnel. For marketers in the multifamily space, issues arise in the form of heavy competition from neighboring apartment complexes and issues with customer retention. For developers, issues arise with lack of awareness limiting incoming leads. While there are any number of methods to help generate leads, the best way to ensure continued success with leads is to nurture the leads you have. Through lead nurturing, continued strategic contact can help ensure that the leads you generate are not only properly qualified, but continue to hold interest in your CRE offerings.
While lead nurturing is critical to the continued marketing success of any business, most companies fall woefully behind on the issue. Marketing Sherpa has noted that 65% of B2B companies do not have lead nurturing tactics in place in their current marketing strategy. Yet marketing wisdom from research groups like Forrester tells us that companies with strong lead nurturing are able to generate 50% more leads at a 33% lower cost. And, Annuitus Group suggests that not only do companies who use automation to nurture their leads generate 451% more qualified leads, but also that those leads are 47% more likely to make a larger purchase than their non-nurtured counterparts.
Knowing these numbers about lead nurturing, how are so many CRE marketers missing it?
Valuing Digital Marketing Strategy
Commercial real estate is an industry known for being behind the curve on adapting to the latest trends—especially technology. The same is true for marketing techniques. For example, while over 90% of realtors use social media in some capacity, only 9% use it to market their listings.
Why such a disparity? While it has been engrained in society that digital marketing is the future, groups with no expertise in the industry have no idea how to strategically use digital marketing to meet their marketing needs. Partner this with a hesitancy to leave behind expensive “tried and true” outbound methods like direct mailers, or news and magazine advertisements, and it becomes clear that while CRE knows digital marketing is the future, they’re not quite sure how to invest in it.
The key to a strong digital marketing strategy is to attribute value to that strategy. A lot of commercial real estate marketers fail to do so, and it hurts them in the long run. When people think digital marketing, they think of items like social media or blogging, and the comments become “Oh that’s simple.” People will refer to their teenage son being able to run a Facebook Page or their niece or nephew having a blog. But for digital marketing to truly work for a business, these items must be run more strategically than a casual user. Digital marketing relies on the perfect balance of digital strategies, working together in an integrated manner to ensure consistent messaging and continued contact with a lead or prospect. This means unique content including blogging and downloadable content, unique and aggregate social media content, email marketing, website and search engine optimization, etc., all tied around a central persona, strategy and buyer’s journey. Adding these aspects together and ensuring you have the team and resources to run it all adds up. However, when compared to the average standard spend of outbound strategies, the cost is typically much less—averaging just $135 for a lead on average versus $346 for an outbound lead.
Understanding this value, a whopping 61% less, is the first step in businesses taking control and choosing to use proven digital methods like nurturing.
The Types of Lead Nurturing Methods
Typically, when speaking of lead nurturing, people instantly think of email drip campaigns, which are email campaigns automated to go out to a list over a specific span of time. While this can be a method of lead nurturing, it is often not the most effective.
The fact of the matter is that there are many types of lead nurturing emails and methods that may be used depending on your needs. And each has a benefit or strength.
Welcome and Engagement Nurturing
When bringing aboard new leads, it’s wise to nurture them while they’re still hot—that is, actively interested and engaged. Capitalizing on the novelty of your introduction to them can be a great foot in the door to a positive impression. However, it’s also important to not scare away your leads by coming off as overeager. This is where a “welcome” campaign comes into a place.
The benefit is two-fold: while getting your lead excited about and engaged with your brand, you can also use this campaign to gather information to segment the lead further. Step one of a welcome campaign is always the same—you take the time to welcome your new lead and let them know what to expect. You can also offer a free resource. Going an extra step, you can offer these leads a way to get customized information depending on their interests. This may take a lot of work on your back-end through use of list segmentation and marketing automation software, but if the framework is there, it’s work that pays off. Offer a weekly newsletter on local activities, or maybe a monthly update on housing market trends. If your company is welcoming trial of demo members, offer weekly tips on how to use your product. These little touches ensure your prospect keeps interested and will continue to read your content, namely because they have a say in what they get.
Engagement campaigns are similar in nature and can often stem as an off-shoot of your welcome campaign. Do you have a list that’s into local events? Host a meet-up, a bring-a-friend activity or even a share-campaign for a small prize. Want feedback on a certain aspect of your business? Engage a list focused on that aspect in a focus group or survey session, and motivate them to participate. In this form of nurturing, your imagination is the limit.
Another nurture campaign you can add as an off-shoot to your welcome campaign, a qualification campaign allows you to hone in on a lead in a critical interest time. Let’s say a lead downloads a few offers in quick succession. This lead is likely very interested in what you’re offering. By adding this lead to a qualification campaign, you can speak to them clearly as they try to discover the answer to whatever problem they’re facing. This is done by sending more related offers with opportunities to touch-base with your team or gather more information from them. In doing so, you can find yourself closer to making the lead sales-qualified, or at least better understand what their journey may be.
Traditional Nurturing Campaigns
Slower in nature than a qualification campaign, a traditional nurturing campaign takes your leads interest, and continues to offer relevant education material, albeit further apart. These are the types of campaigns that most often accompany your overall marketing strategy. By keeping touch with a lead, but being less aggressive, the lead continues to recognize your brand or offering, while being given small opportunities to convert. Once the lead converts or shows renewed interest, they may be moved into a different campaign to further qualify once their interest is hot, but until then, leaves lead interaction very casual.
Whether you’re hosting an event online or in person, an event campaign can help pique interest and attendance. Even if you’re trying to boost attendance to your booth at an industry conference, event campaigns are a great way to spread awareness, boost interest (usually by a unique offer), offer reminders and other great tips leading to your event, and provide an excuse for strong feedback and thank you emails that can further promote conversion.
If you have some leads you feel are on the edge of closing, a promotional campaign might be a nudge in the right direction. A promotional campaign should be a very controlled campaign, so as to not cheapen the perceived value of your product, but could be that extra factor that helps quicken a decision. A discount, free bonuses or even referral bonuses are all good ways to augment a promotional campaign.
Do you have a lot of leads that have gone cold? Purging these leads from your lists can seem like a waste, especially with natural list attrition occurring at such high rates. So instead of letting these leads go, why not implement a re-engagement campaign? Re-engagement campaigns can vary in creativity and what they offer, but all are designed to show respect to the user, whether it’s reminding them of your value or offering them something special to engage.
Don’t let the title concern you. While upsell campaigns have a negative connotation, they don’t always have to mean or reflect upselling. Rather, an upsell campaign is designed to promote your offerings to existing customers. In some cases, yes this means offering additional services. But oftentimes, it’s more likely to reflect new services that these customers have no interacted with or have been introduced to yet.
Return is in the Eye of the Beholder
Knowing that lead nurturing is far more complex than most marketers realize, the question then becomes, which form offers the best return? The answer isn’t so simple. While each of these nurture campaigns requires a certain amount of upfront investment in the form of workflows, email drafting and list segmentation, the pay-off is entirely dependent on your business.
The question comes down to which problem you’re facing the most. If your issue is moving leads down the pipeline, a qualification campaign is going to seem most beneficial to your needs and give you your desired results. If you’re working on reviving leads, or keeping leads active, engagement and re-engagement campaigns should be your go to. The highest importance is that you choose a nurture campaign tied to your strategy and business needs, rather than taking a set-it and forget it route. This is where most digital marketers, and where you can make the most significant impact on your business.
The greatest thing to note as that, save for rare cases, you will likely need to utilize each and every one of these nurture techniques at some point. Likely meaning that the campaigns you do come up with as you go along may certainly be reusable, and should certainly be optimized. Only then will you see sustainable success in nurturing your leads.