It’s the delicate balance marketers and digital professionals talk about, and agents are no exception - is it possible to find the sweet spot between branding and lead generation? Or, as some believe, does the importance of one outweigh the other?
The Importance of Branding
Take branding. It’s crucial to building recognition and expanding audience size, and it takes on a slew of marketing faces. In a way, every outward-facing facet an agent or company takes on will contribute to brand building - from email campaigns, to social media, to client testimonials, to customer service. It’s the way people shape a (lasting) impression of what a business represents.
The Value of Lead Generation
Lead generation, on the other hand, is the engine running further down the line where the visitors or customers are high-intentioned and more exchanges are being transacted (for example, an email registration in exchange for a free webinar). There is a level of buyer interest involved where they start to become a little more proactive about services offered, and this is also where agents can repurpose hard-won leads into specific goals, (list building, email campaign, sales leads etc).
The tension lies in thinking that these are two disparate systems which, in reality, actually do best when they work together. Marketers have anguished, trying to convince C-level members to nudge more budget towards brand awareness efforts, even though trying to prove the efficacy or success rate of many digital marketing metrics is still a difficult task. There’s no one exact way to measure the financial value of those metrics, because you can’t measure every brand building activity.
On the other side of the spectrum, lead generation was once usually left to salespeople and techniques such as cold-calling, but they would often lament the lack of brand awareness customers had, hindering them reaching their business goals while also risking the chance of painting the brand as a nuisance.
The Best of Both Worlds
Here are 6 best practice tips for agents to increase response while protecting brand:
- Clear messaging - all digital and traditional press and literature regarding the services offered should be clear, as it’s how agents will communicate that they are indeed capable of providing solutions to customer needs.
- Making sure things work - for example, the functionality and user-friendliness of the website is crucial. Will visitors find content relevant and timely? Will the site be mobile-responsive to their phone device? Are the CTAs clear and not overly invasive? Are keywords being reviewed and updated (and keywords become outdated regularly)? All of these steps are important because they contribute to branding but should also be gradually leading visitors down the line towards lead generation.
- Content-rich - This is often said because it continues to be true. Diverse and evergreen content of all kinds (social media, thought leadership pieces, high-res images, infographics, video etc) are now vital to brand building, because they establish the agent or brokerage as an expert in the industry - but they also prove to be early indicators to the customer that this particular ‘brand’ is resourceful and engaging. Content should also serve to enhance engagement by offering ample downloadable opportunities for visitors to connect with agents (a 30-second email or phone registration rewarding them with exclusive information regarding future listings etc or an infographic on the industry for first-time buyers etc).
- Letting testimonials do the talking - verified reviews are incredibly powerful as they are often one of the first keywords people search for. Not only will this drive traffic to an agent’s website, but also establish social proof and brand trust, as well as answer many common questions new clients may have.
- Utilizing high-performing tech to leverage the powers of both - it’s been noted that organizations that have aligned marketing (branding) with lead generation have 67% higher probability of closing, so it’s important for agents to identify the most relevant metrics that matter to both departments, keeping an eye on, for instance, specific buyer profiles, conversion rate by channel, keyword performance, and other narrowed down objectives specified by the agent. Being able to track these activities will also help minimize prospects falling through the cracks.
- Smarter Segmentation - It’s one thing for visitors to turn into leads residing in the CRM system, but great agents understand that even then, leads have differing levels of interest and priorities. It makes sense to set new criteria for segmentation depending on how ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ the lead is, according to their interactions with content, or aligning demographics according to buyer personas. This extracts more value from lead generation, allows agents to craft better emails and materials, as well as making sure that consumers not yet ready to be nudged can be left right where they are and not pushed where they don’t want to be led.
It could take a little experimentation and trial and error to get the system going, but a system that allows branding and lead generation to work to each other’s strengths will empower agents to make smarter decisions going forward, for their clients and their brand alike.