Finding and Converting Leads.
Are you spread thinly and having to manually source, compete and convert leads? In this article, Matt Nally, Founder of Survey Booker and Surveyors Near Me has put together three simple steps that could help you boost your leads and increase your conversion rates with next to no costs involved.
As a tech focused business specialising in the surveying industry, I have identified a few areas that may need some improvement. For those wondering if this is going to be a technical piece, do not worry. I have broken our tips, tricks and knowledge, backed by national statistics, into bite-sized and digestible pieces.
If you are doubtful about the changes you could make, our guide includes small tweaks that you can make to traditional lead acquiring methods, designed to help accelerate the level of leads you receive and improve conversion rates.
Before we start, I ask you to consider this article from two perspectives – that of your business and your customers. We live in a customer-centric age where Trustpilot reviews can make or break a business and where work hours are extended to allow for busy daytime schedules. Anything you could possibly want in a lifetime is available to buy online with next day delivery and our phones now offer 24/7 access to information and services from anywhere in the world. With all these changes in place, supposedly bettering the “user experience”, my first tip is to contemplate your own customers’ journey.
Step 1. WEB PRESENCE & SEO
Sometimes websites are not a priority for a business, and they underperform because of the lack of planning that has gone into them. There’s a misconception that you’ll need to throw further money at a website to gain any traction up the Google ladder, but here are some ways you can climb up the Google rankings with very little time, money and effort.
Google and potential customers
We are assuming you are online and part of the www revolution but if not, then in my view, this is essential for a modern business.
As many surveyors’ websites have been created with generic informative copy offering the same explanations of the services they provide, Google has no reason to rank your website over another. The words within the website aren’t always “enriched” – or as the techies like to say, “search engine optimised” (SEO). Small edits such as the locations and services you cover on your home page will make a world of difference. So, I recommend adding those as a priority. Also, make sure your content is original because Google loves this.
Another key trick is to check what keywords your customers are searching for the services you offer in your area. Whilst you might come top for your own company name, most customers don’t know about you yet, so you need to be on page 1 results for other phrases. You can easily find these out via an online “keyword planner”. Once you’ve found the most searched for phrases, drop them into your website copy ready for the next Google sweep (search engine bots trawl sites roughly once a month). You’ll need to use your chosen phrases enough times so Google can recognise that a page offers detail about a given subject, but don’t overuse them because if it doesn’t read well Google (and potential customers) will mark you down. Be patient and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results within two to three months.
Keep your site fresh
Google favours sites that put up regular content, so this is the perfect excuse to show the world your expertise and indulge in a little self-promoting content from time to time. Every couple of weeks post a blog entry, for example, on a common issue you find on surveys that your customers might find frightening. Damp springs to mind as it is a big keyword that many customers find horrifying and search for, but they may not need to be so worried. Your post does not need to be complex, just a snappy title containing the keyword with no more than a 2-minute read on Problem, Opinion and Solution and/or advice, for example. Remember to mention the main keyword (topic) several times naturally throughout the post. The goal is to improve traffic because, the more traffic to your site, the higher you rank.
What to do with those leads
Take a moment to review your website and ask yourself what is the call to action for potential clientele? Are they required to make a further call or email or to type away in an online “contact us” form? It’s best not to dress up a contact form with the words “Get a Quote” as a lot of customers can tell if it’s a quote form or not, and if they can’t you can leave them feeling misled. Consider if the current method requires further work (for both you and the customer) to convert the lead and if they must wait for you to call or email them back about the next steps. Having reviewed hundreds of websites, we find this is often the case, taking us back to “manually source, compete and convert leads”. If you want to rid yourself of the timely tasks within your day allowing you to focus on surveying and surveying alone whilst enhancing your customers’ journey from start to finish, then keep reading.
Nitro boost and minimise workload
The consumer can now source, view, get a mortgage, make an offer and buy a property all on an iPad from the comfort of their home. So, getting your online setup correct makes your life and your customers’ easier.
Integrated facilities such as online quote, buy and tracking services are now available for surveyors looking to modernise and offer a service similar to those available in the home buying process – and the offerings do not stop there. Referral accounts can be integrated into your site allowing estate agents and conveyancers to easily refer your services and track the customer’s progress; CRMs for surveyors and administrators can provide private file notes which can be accessed on the go; and there are online messaging facilities, report uploading and progress tracking to make life easier for you and the customer. There is even business and user-friendly technology that generates leads, increases conversion rates and integrates with your accountancy software directly from your website.
Our summary is simple
Using all these advances in technology means not only is your website enriched, the customer journey is too. The peak online search hours are between 6pm and 11pm, so you need a website that can service your customers and save you time without having to work those unsociable hours. With a little investment and considering the long-term benefits, we say let technology do it for you. So, go ahead and check out what tech facilities are available to you and your business.
Step 2. ADVERTISING AND PAID LEADS
Let us now consider the traditional ‘paid print’ advert, which today may not prove to be so pocket-friendly in comparison. According to the marketing pro’s, paid print has had its day, but if it’s not broken why fix it? Local property related publications do have a market and if it works for you, keep it going. But, if you’re splashing the cash, why not use your knowledge gained from step 1 and put some serious consideration into paid google ads as this may prove to be a much more targeted and cost-effective way of promoting your business. The joy of ad campaigns, other than the ease of setting them up, is that you can easily work out costs, set daily caps and monitor the reach of your advert(s) via your personal account. Check out the costing relative to your keywords and working area radius. Small budgets can go far – just use those keywords in your adverts and you’ll appeal to the audience you want in the areas you cover. Plus, you’ll help to save a few trees.
Are your listings pointing you in the right direction?
Going back to tradition, paid print directories and directories in general are increasingly a thing of the past. The Yellow Pages is a shadow of its former self (no one is going to win an award for tearing that in half these days). Google is the world’s directory now with 92.15% of people in the UK using it as their go-to search engine, so list with as many free, online directories as possible. Most directory listings link back to your website and this magically propels your own website’s ranking on Google. Keep your address, phone number and website consistent because Google can mark you down if each listing is different. If you’re following these steps, you won’t need an all singing and dancing, upgraded listing, the free one will be sufficient, although be aware – they may contact you to up-sell and I generally say steer clear, but this is up to you.
The paid leads race
Many surveyors use pay per lead services and whilst they create opportunities and generate leads, there are a few evident drawbacks. For example, you pay for each lead regardless of the outcome; it’s competitive, requiring the ability to promote yourself and your services; and lastly, it’s a short-term solution with no long-term benefit – once you stop paying, the leads stop coming! Knowing all of this but appreciating the power of paid lead referrals, we have outlined a few tips on how you can better compete and convert your “pay per leads” with greater ease.
Quick communication is key and statistics state that calls made within the first 5 minutes of receiving a “hot” lead results in a 100 times higher success rate than those of calls made in the first 30 minutes. Even a quick “introduction call” arranging to speak at a later stage helps as these stats show it isn’t so much that you have to be a salesman but just that you have to be first.
Quick Tip: If you can’t get through, have a standard cut and paste message saved on your phone and once you’ve left a voicemail, send a quick copy of your text with a name personalisation at the top. In most cases, this will be seen before someone has the chance to pick up a voicemail and it also allows your customer to search keywords in their message folders when they are ready to call back so be sure to add “survey” or “surveyor” and/or the survey type they have requested. The seconds it takes you to carry out this step may just be the thermos flask for your hot lead!
Internet advertising may be daunting, and you may be bombarded with generous offerings to assist you with such things as SEO and Google Adverts from John the super specialist in Calcutta, but don’t be fooled! It really can be as simple as I have described and something you are more than capable of creating and implementing yourself.
Print directories are very straightforward, but we say park the pennies and review those Google or Facebook ads, making sure you get your business and services listed on every FREE Tom, Dick and Directory.
As for advancing your paid leads, as the time goes by so does your chance of converting. So, remember it’s a race and you are in it to win it. This is an inspirational article not a piece on empowerment, though we can’t guarantee once you’ve followed these crucial self-promoting steps you won’t experience feelings of self-content and satisfaction!
Step 3. REFERRALS AND LEVERAGING RELATIONSHIPS
Referrals can be a bit like marmite and surveyors and estate agents each have their own views on them. The way to approach them and decide if you want to offer incentives is entirely up to you and we are not here to try and convince you either way, however we have some pointers that may help you decide.
Let’s start with the basics
The business card: an ancient method that can unlock doors and build bridges – in the metaphorical sense of course. When collecting keys or greeting someone at a property, hand over a card. If you have a logo, use it. Make sure your card is identifiable and says what you can do for them (not just who you are).
People do business with people and if you are considering acquiring referrals and/or offering incentives, talking is a nice way to ease yourself in. If you were an agent, which surveyor coming to your office would you work with; the one that smiles and takes time to speak or the one that seems rushed and just wants to get in and out? With that in mind, engage, encourage and communicate. When you drop off keys, let them know your next steps because agents like to offer vendors timescales as this in turn improves their level of service.
Now you’re on a good footing with the agents, on your next visit arrange to see the branch manager. This is your opportunity to ask the question. By clearly portraying your ability, services, knowledge of the area and willingness to break down this barrier of communication between surveyor and agent, they’ll be happy to consider the proposal.
The golden carrot
If you are still having an inner battle of ethics, remember incentives are being paid, maybe not by you but more than likely by the next. Also, just because you pay an agent for a lead, it does NOT mean they have any say or bearing on the quality of your work, nor do they have any impact on your allegiance to your client. It is like a lead generation site, except you aren’t paying to compete with others.
Work out how you wish to structure your incentives. You can choose to add a fee on top that goes to the agent or pay it from your normal fee so that the customer pays the same as going directly to you. Either way, the agent must make this clear to the customer under new regulations (see below). Whatever you choose, communicate to the branch manager that it is an incentive to their team and that you’re seeking to build relationships with reputable local agents to ensure the surveying aspect of any transaction is as smooth and as transparent as can be.
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) has produced guidance on the interpretation and implementation of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
In summary, the regulations are as follows:
Failure to disclose referral arrangements may render an estate agent liable for criminal prosecution under the CPRs and/or action by NTSEAT for warning or prohibition under the Act.
Ultimately, only a court may decide whether any particular set of circumstances amounts to a breach of the CPRs. However, NTSEAT offers the following recommendations as a statement of desirable practice:
An estate agent should disclose in plain terms
(a) The price of its services, including any “compulsory” extras; and
(b) Where a referral arrangement exists, that it exists, and with whom; and
(c) Where a transaction-specific referral fee is to be paid, its amount; and
(d) Where a referral retainer exists, an estimate of the annual value of that retainer to the estate agent or its value per transaction; and
(e) Where the referral is rewarded other than by payment, an assessment of the annual value of the reward or the value of the reward per transaction.
Disclosure should be made in writing, to a seller as part of standard terms and conditions and to buyers by being incorporated into or annexed with the property particulars before any ancillary services are promoted.
Further guidance can be found here: http://bit.ly/2LXXGcq
It is also worth noting that conflicts of interest and referral fees are covered in the consultation currently underway on the RICS draft Home Survey Standard.
Quick tip: Sending Christmas cards to those who often refer you work and small gestures such as bottles of wine or Easter eggs for the office go a long way and hand delivering will always give you an advantage; they remember your pretty face, charisma and charm. This will help to keep the relationship alive.
Let technology assist
Getting the agreement is the easier part but making it the normal process across a branch or network of branches is the challenge. People inherently forget things until it becomes routine, but technology can make it easier for agents to integrate referrals into their routine for example, by being able to see who has instructed, who has had reports and more. Services such as Survey Booker allow referral accounts to be integrated into your website so estate agents and conveyancers can easily refer your services and track customer progress. Larger agencies have formalised their online referral process due to the ease of passing on details and tracking progress and the same setups are now within the reach of small and medium businesses. Incorporating technology doesn’t have to mean paying incentive fees, the additional quality of service and customer journey alone may be enough to clinch partnerships.
There you have it, our three effective steps on how to win more business and generate more leads. Addressing our friend, the tech atheist, that wasn’t so bad right? And if you don’t yet have a website, I hope this has inspired you to join the online revolution. I hope this guide has given you an insight into how the internet, alongside integrated technology, can assist and improve your business and that the tips will better your odds of success rates. Lastly, I hope these tips will better your everyday work life and customer journey!
About Survey Booker
Survey Booker provides online technology that gives surveyors the tools to boost leads, take care of customers and halve their time on administrative tasks.
Their unique software integrates with the surveyor’s website to provide a whole host of features and benefits for both surveyor and customer alike. Developed by surveyors for surveyors, the facility gives greater visibility of website traffic, helps boost conversion rates and reduces the time spent on sales and admin.
From quote and purchase of the services, all the way through to automated lead and customer nurturing, they can incorporate a host of web traffic conversion tactics. Survey Booker enables progress tracking for consumers and referrers ensuring a consistent customer journey. Referral accounts enable easy promotion of services supported by accounting software integrations, automated payments and e-signed terms of engagement.
Contact Survey Booker to find out more: www.surveybooker.co.uk
Surveyors Near Me
Powered by SurveyBooker, Surveyors Near Me is a success-based comparison site for residential surveyors. They are launching a free directory for RICS, RPSA and Sava residential surveyors in the next couple of months to help increase exposure – pre-register for your free account and listing now: www.surveyorsnearme.com/manage-surveys/registration