Realtors don't care much about the brand value of having people view their websites. And they're not impressed by a site that generates email leads, because as Matt Browne explains, "They don't know how to do the email follow-up game."
Realtors want phone numbers of consumers who are actively looking to buy a home in their area.
However, online or off, traditionally consumers bail on forms asking for a phone number. "Sales rep will call" is a complete turn-off.
How can you convince qualified consumers to fill out an online form and give a working phone number? As the Marketing Manager for a Web design firm specializing in realtor Web sites, that's the problem Matt Browne had to solve.
"Realtors measure us by how many quality leads come from their site. They spend fifty cents to $1.50 per click for traffic from HomeGain, and they want phone numbers from those people."CAMPAIGN
Browne decided to conduct a 90-day landing page test to determine the optimum form to gather the most working phone numbers. He kept the standard landing page as a control, and created five variations.
18 realtors agreed to be involved, so Matt split them into six groups of three. (Screenshots of each sample landing page below):
Group #1. Property search form 6-questions + short sign-up form
This was the control group using the standard Home Search form to collect leads. Along with navigation including the realtor's photo, visitors saw a short opening sentence, "Please complete the following form so I can research and send you homes that match your preferences."
The form started with six typical questions, such as "Minimum number of bedrooms." And then required name and email. Phone was asked for but not required.
Group #2. Warm-fuzzy copy + short sign-up form
This test was Browne's favorite and he expected it to win. It broke the form into two steps, with the first page just asking for brief contact data (name, email, phone) and then asking the visitor to click continue to get to a second page to fill out the rest of the home search form.
However, the realtor got the resulting phone numbers even if the visitor bailed on the second page when they got there.
Plus, instead of one brief sentence at the top of the page, there were a few short paragraphs of warm-fuzzy copy, including a strong reassurance that the visitor's email would not be given to a third party.
Group #3. Warm-fuzzy copy + short sign-up form w/ phone required
This was extremely similar to Group #2, except in this case phone number request on page one was required rather than optional.
Group #4. Combo: hotlink to property search form + warm-fuzzy + short sign-up form
Visitors landing on this page had two main click options. At the very top they were invited to click on a hotlink to a "Property Request" form (which was the old homesearch form) and told the realtor would do a home search for them and email results. (This was automated.)
Or they could take control themselves and input their name, email, with phone number optional, to get access to the "Entire MLS database right now."
Group# 5. Combo with phone number required
This was extremely similar to Group #4, except the phone number was required to get MLS database access.
Group #6. Combo with no immediate form at all
This group saw no immediate form on their landing page at all. Browne hoped this might lessen abandonment rates because some consumers automatically click away from online forms even before they read the offer.
Instead, their main top link was the offer for a "free home search" (the page with the full form that the realtor would email them results based on). The offer below that was a link to access MLS without handing over any contact data at all.
Overall 24.8% of visitors converted to contactable leads. (An additional 2.8% of total visitors entered bogus contact info.) 35.2% of total contactable leads handed over a phone number in addition to name and email, equaling a 9.7% total visitor-to-phone-number conversion.
However, there were huge variances between the six different groups.
........Bad#...% Leads...%Leads w/Phone...%Phone
Groups #3 and #5, which both required phone number, were the big winners. We suspect that might not have been the case if the landing pages didn't have photos of individual realtors' smiling faces. Consumers probably didn't worry as much about opening themselves up to an obnoxious telemarketer in the way a less personally-branded site might concern them.
The second tier of winning sites, Group #4 and Group #2, both featured very short contact forms. Consumers seem to vastly prefer just being asked for name, email, and phone, than being asked to fill out a long form in one fell swoop.
This is hugely useful data for anyone designing an online registration form. You may want to break longer forms up into multiple pages so they are less intimidating. Be sure to put the data you absolutely require to act on the very first page.
Even if a consumer leaves secondary form pages unfilled, you can use the email and possibly phone to contact them and get the rest of the information you were hoping for.
The point is to make that first page the widest part of your lead generation funnel.
By the way, you may be wondering how it's possible that the forms requiring phone didn't have 100% of generated leads with a phone number? That's because the designers decided to tell visitors the number was required, but not to actually require it. So, you could get through even if you tried to without entering a phone number.
This is probably something only a niche site can do (once you get too branded, word spreads among consumers.) But we don't think it would hurt many niche sites too much to have the appearance of "sloppy programming" in this regard. Depends on your brand and marketplace.
Browne is continuing to test additional page ideas - including stripping off extra navigation and trying different wording on the "continue" button (we strongly recommend both these tests).
"This definitely consumes me," he says. "I love it." Useful links related to this article:
Samples of the six different landing pages
Z57 Internet Solutions - the Web design firm Browne works for