Commercial real estate marketers face unique issues when dealing with lead nurturing through the marketing funnel.

For the multifamily market, issues arise in the form of heavy competition from neighboring apartments and issues with customer retention. For developers, problems arise with lack of awareness limiting incoming leads.

While there is any number of methods to help generate leads, the best way to ensure continued success with 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 an interest in your offerings.

While lead nurturing is critical to the continued marketing success of any property, most companies fall woefully behind. Marketing Sherpa has noted that 65% of B2B companies do not have lead nurturing tactics in place in their current marketing strategy. Marketing wisdom from research groups like Forrester tells us that companies with strong lead nurturing can 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 a Digital Marketing Strategy

The commercial real estate industry is 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? Groups with no expertise in the industry have no idea how to use digital marketing to meet their marketing needs strategically. Partner this with a hesitancy to leave behind expensive “tried-and-true” outbound methods, and it becomes clear that commercial real estate marketers are not sure how to invest in digital marketing.

The key to a robust 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 of digital marketing, they think of items like social media or blogging; the comments become, “Oh that’s simple.” People will refer to their teenage son being able to run a Facebook page or their niece having a blog. But for digital marketing to truly work for a business, these items must be run more strategically than a casual user.

Finding a Balance

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 — such as blogging, offers, social media content, email marketing, etc. — should all be 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 on outbound strategies, the cost is typically much less. In fact, the average inbound cost for a lead is $135 as compared with $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. These 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 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 are still hot — that is, actively interested. 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 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 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.

Engagement campaigns are similar 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 of a focus group or survey session, and motivate them to participate. In this form of nurturing, your imagination is the limit.

Qualification Campaigns

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. 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 are facing. Sending more related offers with opportunities to touch base with your team brings you closer to making the lead sales-qualified.

Traditional Nurturing Campaigns

A traditional nurturing campaign takes your lead’s interest and continues to offer relevant educational material. These are the types of campaigns that most often accompany your overall marketing strategy. This campaign includes keeping touch with a lead, giving them small opportunities to convert.

Event Campaigns

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.

Promotional Campaigns

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, to not cheapen the perceived value of your product. A discount, free bonuses, or even referral bonuses are all good ways to augment a promotional campaign.

Re-engagement Campaign

Do you have a lot of leads that have gone cold? Purging these leads from your lists can seem like a waste. Instead of letting these leads go, why not implement a re-engagement campaign? This includes reminding them of your value or offering them something special to engage.

Upsell Campaign

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 promotes your offerings to existing customers. In some cases, this means offering additional services.

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 is not so simple. While each of these nurture campaigns requires a certain amount of upfront investment, the payoff is entirely dependent on your business.

The question comes down to which problem you are facing the most. If your issue is moving leads down the pipeline, a qualification campaign is going to seem most beneficial to your needs. If you are working on reviving leads, engagement and re-engagement campaigns should be your go to.  

The highest importance is that you choose a nurture campaign tied to your strategy, rather than taking a set-it-and-forget-it route. This is where you can make the most significant impact on your business. Only then will you see sustainable success in nurturing your leads.