This Real Estate Success Story features young up-and-coming superstar agent Blake Cory from the Blake Cory Home Selling Team in Murrieta CA. He has been working with our team for a little over a year now and in that short time span has generated over 1230 leads, most of which came from the cornerstone Facebook Advertising campaign we rolled out only 3 months ago.
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Facebook advertising has grown exponentially in the past 3 years. What was once a silly social website (mostly used for sharing goofy videos and photos) is now a ubiquitous online platform that is used by over 1 billion users per day to share goofy videos and photos PLUS communicate and stay connected with the world.
During this interview, Blake and I discuss how his business has changed in the past 12 months, the time it took to find the perfect message for his market, and how Facebook advertising became the number 1 source of new business for him. Listen to the interview through the audio player above, or scroll down a bit to read the full transcript.
I've seen first hand just how amazingly effective Facebook advertising can be, especially when it comes to Real Estate marketing. However, what works in one part of the country may not work so well in others and every market is different. It can take time to find the winning campaign that hits the right chord with your audience. And without rigorous testing every step of the way, it's very easy to miss your mark.
Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below – we'd love to hear from you!
Kristie: Today I’m speaking with Blake Cory with the Blake Cory Home Selling Team in Murrieta, California. How are you today Blake?
Blake I’m great! Yourself?
Kristie: I’m doing well, thank you. I know you’re a busy man and I thank you for taking the time to share some of your experience and insight with us today. We are going to be talking about Facebook Marketing, but before we dive into that, let’s zoom out a bit and discuss how your business has grown in the past 12 months.
Blake: Well, you know, it’s kinda funny Kristie because my business has grown from almost nothing to a six-figure business, which it actually did in less than 12 months.
Right now we are in mid-October 2015 and last year, let’s say March or April of 2014, I wasn’t even selling real estate. I was a broker for a very long time but never really cracked it, never sold real estate, never had a sphere influence. And some traumatic life events had occurred before and I was in a position where literally, in March I had to close the office doors. All the agents had already left and I had to go work out of my house and I was kinda in the corner and a really big bind. As a matter of fact, I mean, just to be living in my house I had to borrow money to put down as a deposit. Things were getting that slim.
And all of a sudden things changed.....And now here we are, fast-forward a little over a year. Back in a big office and I’m on my way to 40 closed sales this year. And in that period of time, we brought in about 4 new staff members to help.
And just in the last 6 weeks to 2 months we really hit strides with our Facebook advertising… Pretty much the main source of our business. And so far, just in the last 2 months, we produced 730 Facebook buyer leads! Appointments were happening almost every single day in this office.
And what’s amazing Kristie is that’s just one ad campaign. That’s not even, you know, the multiple ad campaigns that we are designing right now for different types of buyers.
We literally took a segment on the market, we zoned on it, focused on it and then we ran our ads to that market. We haven’t even hit the other side of the buyers market or the sellers market and that was just one segment of the buyers market which completely transformed our business and now I’m just getting to the point where I am not really out showing buyers… I’m occasionally going out there on appointments to sign up sellers. But realistically I’m sitting back, managing and watching, pretty much, the office run itself.
Kristie: Okay. Let’s talk about the Facebook Marketing because I know that we started managing your accounts probably about 5 or 6 months ago and set up some ads, and with your help as well to target a specific type of buyer. Can you tell us a little about that campaign? And why you decided to target that segment?
Blake: Sure! That campaign, it sounds funny ‘cause I’m helping a lot of agents through a big firm here in North America to coach on this specific subject.
You can’t really be everything to everybody, especially with your ads, you can’t be everything to everybody.
I found success early in the middle to fall last year, and it was going after the niche market, and it was first time buyers or buyers with very little to be able put down. And so, everybody knows, a lot of people run ads for zero down, things like that… And I ran one or two ads that way, it wasn’t really getting the best success. What I started to identify is, was “Okay, what if I started ads like this?” “What’s the highest loan amount you can get for these types of loans…” and here in California where I’m located, we’ve got a lot of down payment system programs that enable buyers to buy homes with a half percent down. In my area, the maximum loan amount you can get for that program is right around $370,000.
I started working on it and said “well, okay, we can do this, this and this…” And outside my area, it goes upwards of over $400k. I said, “why don’t we run an ad for Buy A Home With Only $2k Down?” You know? And that’s what we actually branded… The whole campaign’s branded “only $2k down, only $2k down” and all of a sudden we were running ads for hotlist properties, through SuccessWebsite. I mean realistically, that is the number one source of our success with Facebook leads, is running a hotlist of properties and we set a free hotlist of homes that require only $2000 down payment. We list the addresses, you know, how we usually run the ads and we targeted in different cities. So instead of running it in a county, we run it to that specific city, with that specific city’s name in the ad and then “poof” all of a sudden it took off like a bat outta hell, to be honest with you.
Blake: We’re tracking conversions right now, but on average, we’re paying under $3 in a conversion. You know, for people in real estate, they always think its closing a sale, no, but not with internet, not with internet-lead generation. A conversion is a name, phone number, email address. So we get their name, phone number and email address as someone who, you know, wants to sit down with a free hotlist of properties and that’s how we pay $3 a person. So kinda do the Math from there, we’re spending less than $2000 a month and we’re generating over 600 leads a month right now. It’s absolutely amazing. That’s why I’ve been a huge, huge person out there preaching learn how to do ads, work with a great company like yours to build custom landing pages for me and run your own ads, figure out what your target market wants. Let me tell you this, I was with some of the big boys before, some of the big internet marketers. The companies that sold me platforms and leads, and this and that… And honestly, when I did the conversion cost, they were costing over $20 a conversion. And I was pretty much, right now, for every 9 or 10 that I’m getting it’s the same cost as 1 and I’m actually converting more now than I was before. Not only on a higher percentage but also I used the numbers game and how could I really make a living off getting a hundred leads a month when the conversion is so small. I need more leads. And I really needed to find out what my market wanted.
Kristie: And once you tapped into that, then you found, sort of, unlimited source of leads. So if you're getting a hundreds of leads a month, like how many of those do you think you are converting, how many appointments would you say you get from those leads?
Blake: Well, I can tell you last, last week… It’s funny… For some of your listeners out there… I don't call any of the leads back, I have a full time ISA which is an Inside Sales Agent. Her job is so easy, come into the office everyday, pick up the phone and call these leads back, schedule appointments. And I actually just hired on a second part-time Inside Sales Agent who’s gonna work nights because there’s just so many leads, it’s ridiculous. The last week alone, she was able to schedule 18, either face to face appointments or phone consultations with our lender. The great thing is, with this campaign, I don't need to meet the buyer the first time they come in. I only meet them the second time they come in. One they've completed the loan application, gone through everything with our lender because we found out that’s in the best way success with these types of buyers than normal buyers would come in and I meet for the first time but for us, I mean, she scheduled 18 last week alone. We’ve so many people in the pipeline right now, our biggest problem is there is not enough hands on deck. So…it’s a great problem to have.
Kristie: It is! Looks like you’re in the midst of taking care of that, you know, hiring some more people. So Blake, how did you know you're onto something? I mean, you know, we sort of skipped a couple of steps here… I think. When did you realize that you could really make this system work for you? What was the tipping point?
Blake: For me, it's a combination of things. Number one is… Like I told you before, I’m part of a huge mastermind coaching program that’s at least, three to four hundred of the top real estate professionals in North America and cost thousands a month to be in this group. They’re making enough money to pay for just the thing thousands per month but I could really start to see that we were starting to come up with something that nobody has ever done when I was giving feedback to a group of people who were just amazed… They were in shock… They were like “you gotta be kidding me”… And at the same time, been asked to speak on this subject. Going on stage and giving an hour of presentation on what we were doing and how we developed the process and a system and to be honest with you now I found myself leaning more towards -- over the last 6 to 8 months -- Internet marketing or informational marketing more than just real estate marketing and I found that what everyone is doing… What the 99% of the market place was doing, we weren’t doing that, we were doing the complete opposite.
When I started to see that, I started to crack what the best people in the business were doing… What the top 50 were actually doing and they were all doing something similar which is absolutely amazing.
I can tell you in the last year, we don’t do open houses, we just don’t. And our entire business has been built on buyers. I mean, we less then 7 or 8 listings this year. All of our business has been on buyers and that’s where the majority of our leads are coming in. Now, we’re shifting our focus right now to buyers who own houses, to get those working. But I mean imagine, most people, when they ask me, you must have a whole binder full of listings… No, we don’t. The majority of our business has been buyer business and a lot of it is right now. Most of the people are coming in off these ads, a lot of them won’t even qualify. They were just curious, why weren’t they qualified? They’re qualified to buy a house, they have down payment. But this just peaks their interest and we were the first team to call them back and show them value after that call.
Kristie: So rather than choose to follow the herd and go after listings, you decided that you’re gonna focus on buyers, specifically first time home buyers or a buyer who does not have a house to sell, necessarily.
Blake: Yes, exactly. Its not necessarily how to get that market, it’s the way we did it. That was really the changing point. We’re not sending out 5,000, 10,000 postcards to community. We’re not doing anything like that. I’m a numbers guy, I wanna see the best rate of return, that’s return on investment. And I started to see that when I able to pick up leads for almost all under five, majority of them under $3 a piece and then it became a numbers game. And then they filled up my database. Now, we were so getting busy at night, I’m actually putting on a 30-minute webinar on this information. To give you an idea, just the last 90 days, you know how many contacts that I have in my database management system to send a blast email out to that inquired on this exact subject? Over 1,100 names, phone numbers and email addresses.
Blake: I remember, when I had agents in this business, I got a lead at an open house… Three or four… That is not how you become rich and wealthy in this industry. It’s going to be a numbers game. It's how many people you can get in front of and ultimately convert.
Kristie: Mmm hmm. Yes. And I think that conversion is key, so let’s talk a little bit about that. How does your sales funnel look? I mean, obviously, when you’re getting this type of volume, you have to have systems in place. Why don’t you share a little bit on that?
Blake: I have a lot of automated systems. A lot of automatic emails that are going out with offers. You and I right now are working on a special project to get higher conversion rates immediately when the leads are coming in. And that’s one thing I love working with you guys at SuccessWebsite. When you and I met at the Anaheim Conference, when you came up, we sat right there with you, myself and a couple other members of the mastermind group and we started just running off with some ideas… “Hey, let's try this…” And you went right back to the office and had your developer start working on it.
But for me, it's a lot of automated systems so I have a specific process that right after a lead comes in, I think it's within the first 30 days it's five phone calls, five sets of phone calls. Four, five emails… Now those emails are different than the daily updates of property emails. They're offer emails, offers built in to those five special emails. It’s about four automated text messages that go out, so besides the daily emails that they’re getting within 30 days we’re touching them something like 14 times and three different message.
I mean, of course, when we get them on the phone, we get their address and that starts an entire different sequence which includes everything that I just discussed plus letters going out to them in the mail. For us, it's just not about picking up the phone, you know, people communicate differently nowadays. It's just not about the phone, it's the best, I love phones, but some people prefer to communicate via email, some people prefer to communicate via text. Last week, I think 4 of the appointments were communicated via text.
You have to identify what type of vehicle your prospects use in their daily lives to communicate. You have to get on that level because that’s how you can start to build in trust. And trust is the key to get a face to face appointments, it really is. For me, I’m a big phone guy for work, but I get tired and so the people who work for me, I say just shoot me a text. It’s easy for me to respond. I have a soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter and it's a lot easier for me to reply via text when I don’t have a free moment to call you back. If you’re expecting a call from me, it might not never even happen. You have to assume what prospect you have out there in the market place, same thing. So that’s kind of, what our follow up program looks like.
But I can tell you this, we are always making some type of offer on the phone, via email, via text message, always some type of offer because we believe that everyone’s at the bottom or at the top of the funnel. We want them to start moving themselves down to the peak. We want the cream to rise so we know when we’re making those type of free offers, something of substantial value and they say “yes I want it!”, “yes, I want more information!” That’s telling us “okay, this is a prospect that I’m going to spend more time on.” For us, if they’re not engaging with us at all? After 30 days, we’re not going to spend any more phone time or manual time trying to get in touch with them. We will let our automated systems work for the next 24 months. And actually, right after them finishing out the process where over the next 24 months, we have emails, text messages and automated things that go out to them to try and see if we can get them back to the table. ‘Cause not everybody is ready right now. Some people are just there for information gathering stage and so we gotta be prepared for that.
Kristie: That’s right. You gotta put them in the appropriate bucket. “Now” business, “future” business, or “no” business.
Blake: Exactly! That’s exactly what I tell my sales team at the same time. I actually, always train my sales team, my inside sales team that is, you know, I pretty much tell them, yeah you have to put them in the bucket. Are they “now”? Are they “future”? Are they “never”? It’s one of the three.
Kristie: So tell us a little bit about the offers. You say you’re making these offers, can you give us an example of what that would be?
Blake: Oh sure! Yeah! For our "only 2k down" business, I actually wrote a book. I wrote a book on how to buy a home and with only a two-thousand dollar down payment and its California-based. And I put it on Amazon to bring credibility to the table. But it's a book, it's two CDs. One I paid a professional company to interview me for 30 minutes on the book and the topic. And then the other CD, I had three past clients who all used the different programs to jump on and kinda get their testimonials. So the two CDs, the book and then a sales letter, a four-page sales letter goes in that as well. And that’s what we send out. And the sales letter and the sequence of events that takes place after they get that package is to get them into the office for a consultation. So we provide that information free, we send it to them overnight… In California, we have a special overnight system that costs about seven bucks but that investment right there is about $15 a person and that’s roughly what we’re spending in that same we will get the return on that, I kinda call that “my buyer bomb”, my “Only $2k Down Buyer Bomb”.
Kristie: Mmm hmm.
Blake: But right now, we’re working on our normal buyer one, because with you guys over there we were killing it. We’re getting so many leads for pool homes (hotlist), and we’re running a pool home now. That’s what I’ve got to identify who my move up buyer wants in my market area. They wanna go from a single family house with no yard to a four to five bedroom house with a pool. Those are move ups. And now, we’re trying to pull together an entirely new offer process for these move up buyers which includes once again a book that I’m writing on how to buy a home with simple techniques, to buying a home, you know, quick, easy and for dirt cheap and it’s going to be specific to this market area. We’re actually expanding into two new market areas and so I just got to adjust the book accordingly to those areas.
My lender’s actually coming in a doing a DVD. It’s a free home education guide DVD, which goes over for about an hour, the different financing options. Once again, it will have a sales letter in there. And one of the other goodies that we're just still trying to identify what those are. And once again, all of that is working in conjunction to show enough value to get them into the office. And then of course they get other things once when they’re here, certificates and all of that mumbo jumbo but for us, we’re just trying to show how we’re different, you know, we’re the experts in our specific field. And we are the most well-known.
That’s what we're trying to show and especially, when you're working against some of the biggest teams that has been here six, seven, ten, fifteen years and we’re staying pretty competitive. In my market area, the top ten real estate agents in the area, they ended closing around 40 last year. And right now, we’re on pace to be right on there, we may end up to be in the top ten this year in the county, a very large county with a couple of million people, and then next year, we’re projected to just go and hopefully end up in the top five if not the top three.
Kristie: That’s great.
Blake: Keep in mind that the number one team in this area has got 300 transactions a year.
Kristie: Right. Right. So, you gotta a ways to go I guess until you hit that. But, you’re certainly on your way.
Blake: It’s coming faster than you think.
Kristie: I think that by providing all of that content, all that information, it really does position you as the expert. It does a lot to gain trust and to get people to basically want to work with you.
Blake: Absolutely. That portion right there is absolutely huge. Because one of the things that we don't do, unless the prospect on the phone is giving us timing and motivation and what I mean by that is I really wanna come in now… We usually don’t even go to the appointment on the initial call. We will talk a little bit about it but unless they tip their hand, we are just making an offer for this information. You allow us to send this to you right now. We have a lot of internet leads that are not ready to make, you know, we found… they are not ready to make the move next, you know, tomorrow… Some of them want to make the move in the next 30 days or 60 days, but not tomorrow. You know, of course, I wouldn’t make that kind of offer to a sign call sitting in front of my listing, well, you know, I’ll offer you a free book, no no no. You’ll kinda go for both right there at the same time, but these are internet leads… They’re a different animal. If they are on you site, they are on three, four, five other sites. The bigger question is, how can you differ yourself and provide value to the prospect over all the other real estate agents and companies, that either they are speaking to or they opted in on their websites.
Kristie: That’s huge right there. And this is something that I hear from agents all the time. They'll make a couple of these calls, you know. They’ll generate some internet leads and makes some calls and not be able to reach anyone or someone maybe who isn’t ready to move and they sort of give up. (laughs) They think “this doesn’t work”.
Blake: Oh yeah, it doesn’t work. I will tell you this. Internet leads… I think the national average of conversion on internet leads is 3%. And what I mean by conversion is actually taking to the closing table.
Blake: You have a little over a hundred, so that’s not one and a half of every fifty. Internet leads is a numbers game, so if you think you’re gonna come in and not really work… even with your management, agents need to stay involved, they need to stay engaged, they need to look and review the ads with your team every so many weeks, every two weeks. What’s working, what’s not? What’s our cost per conversion? How can we make it better?
Ad copy is a huge thing. Testing different photos is a huge thing. We ran ten ads, the copy was different… We had two sets of different copy or text, whatever you wanna call it. We have five with one set of copy, five of them had another, and then we changed the photos. Some photos were maps from the HDX [Custom Listings Portal] site, some of them were photos of houses and some of them were photos of clients, you know, holding up my signs, I have referral signs “People who buy houses with only 2k down payment” in front of their houses and say “We bought this house with only 2k down” and we test those as well because then we can see what is capturing the audience's attention faster. Because we only have a couple of seconds while they scrolling on Facebook so you better make it count. And you know, one of the things that I see… the best response so far is the HDX Map page. Having a copy, you know, copying the map, putting it out there by far is working better than any of the photo that I’ve seen.
Kristie: That’s another big topic, is testing and tracking. So, that is huge and I think what you said there is really important, that even if you have a company such as ourselves, like SuccessWebsite, managing your ads and setting them up, you do have to be involved because you know your market better than we do, right? I mean, we know how to advertise, we know how to set up ads, we know how to write ad copy, we know how to target a specific market but we don't know your prospects as well as you do, right? We need that information. And being enable to test different ad copy, to be able to test different photos, that ultimately leads you to a winning campaign that you can just put on auto-pilot and it’s evergreen.
Blake: Well, yeah and at one point in time earlier in the year I was just trying [other online lead generation products] to see what was the return of investment… I’m a big tester. Even my products, I like to test products so on and so forth. But, in testing [some products] I noticed that the type of leads that were coming in were generic buyers. No specifics, I couldn’t get specifics. I couldn’t make a specific type of offer because unless I could get them on the phone I didn’t know what they were looking for.
Kristie: Mmm hmm.
Blake: It was just like, a Google lead. Okay. I know the area, but other than that I couldn’t get specifics. These buyers [SuccessWebsite Buyer Leads] I'm able to get specific. I know what they’re searching for and that’s why I love working with SuccessWebsite, you’re willing to get creative with me, you’re willing to do those tests and see…
You know, I’ve been talking to Jeni over your office, and she calls me and says “Wow! I’m looking at your results, they’re amazing!” and that’s because we’ve taken the time to test. We’ve taken the time to develop the process and now you’re right, now it’s on auto-pilot. Now I go in there and we’ll make little tweaks here and there to do some further testing but this has become so wildly successful for me I’m actually expanding into another county and tapping into that area because I’ve seen the demographics are very close to where I am doing best and so I want to expand into that area, run these types of ads there.
It’s been working out fantastically, spending less money, making more money and filling the pipeline like you can’t even believe. Because to me, there is value in Lists (email lists). We’ve created a list of names, phone numbers and email addresses for people. There’s value. It may not be today, they might not call me for three to four months, but down the road I may get some interaction from them. And it just happened the other day, seller prospects came in. They came into our pipeline four months ago. Never answered our calls, never replied to our emails, until one day I got an email saying “Hey, I’ve been getting your emails, letters in the mail…” Things like that, “I’m thinking of selling my home, can you come over and sit down with me and talk to me about the process?” Sure! See? There’s value in that. You have to have the systems and processes in place so, to nurture and develop that lead.
Kristie: Yes. All of the big internet marketers… they say that your list is your biggest asset. And that is also one of those concepts that isn’t well-known necessarily in the real estate world or with some agents who are doing some of the more “old school” style of marketing. To have that list that you can email to and engage with, and hopefully get more business from in the future is gold.
Blake: Yeah. I can tell you this. We did a mailer campaign to a list of renters in the market area… We spent $2500… It was about a dollar a mailer so 2500 mailers, $2500 bucks and we got back, I think, 12 or 13 leads out of $2500 bucks.
Kristie: Mmm hmm.
Blake: So do the Math. I mean the Math doesn’t look that good…
Kristie: (laughs) No.
Corey: At all. That’s why I say we’re getting conversions under 3 bucks. There’s a lot of difference from the 12 that we got from the 25 hundred dollars so the real thing is understanding, if you’re a single real estate agent out there, your objective should be to get as many leads as you possibly can. First build good systems, and processes, get as many leads as you can, then get comfortable because you’re going to be on the phone a lot until you hire some help.
Kristie: I hope everyone was writing that down. That's the big takeaway, I think, from this.
Blake: The way we developed to where we're at now is through systems and processes. You know, having systems in place, and especially we’re going outside of our marketplace to find those systems, to find those processes. I can tell you, some of the biggest tools that I use in my business, not even from real estate.
Kristie: You’ve given us a lot of information today & I want to be respectful of your time. Just to circle back here, what advice can you give to new agents who are just starting with the SuccessWebsite marketing system?
Blake: First off, if you didn’t make the jump into getting a branded, less branded and HDX site you really need to reconsider that because all of them work in the conjunction together.
My branded site is the place where people go and find me and validate that I am really a live person and I use it on all my fully branded advertising. Because as soon as I get an internet lead in, I fully brand myself. Nothing is incognito, everything is fully branded and it always leads them back to my fully branded SuccessWebsite.
Then from there, the ads are all run, between HDX and the less branded page. Those are the two areas where prospects are going. We’re gonna send prospects to there from the [Facebook Ads] to go and inquire for more information, where they don't think it's a real estate agent's page, because your [branding] junk is not all over it, they feel a little more confident, “Hey, this doesn’t seem like a realtor’s page, I feel a little bit more confident giving out my information.” So, they all work together, they all have a purpose. So don’t think you can get away with just getting one, I mean, it will only do you so well. If you want to take a huge leap in your business, you want to go the next level in your business, starting making six or seven figures, you need everything. So that would be my recommendation. I can’t tell you how many agents that I still talk to that maybe have a branded website page, or branded and less branded and no HDX, you guys got to get it all because they all work in conjunction.
Kristie: Alright. This is really good stuff! Well, thanks so much for your time. We’re looking forward to getting you more leads, branching out to new markets and taking over your marketplace!
So Tell Me…
Based on what you learned, what’s one thing you’re going to do differently the next time you’re marketing on Facebook? Write it in the comment section below – let’s talk!