Lead Generation July 7, 2020 5 min read

Does Forced Registration On Real Estate Websites Work?

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What does it mean to “force registration” on your website?

This is a fairly common tactic for real estate websites to employ. It is essentially restricting access to basic information, like listing data, in exchange for someone’s personal details.

Essentially, it is forcing traffic to convert in the hopes of gaining more leads (of, admittedly, varying qualities) for you to market to and work to convert.

The million-dollar question is: does it even work?

Here at Artifakt Digital, we don’t abide by the typical ways in which forced registration is utilized. Instead, we focus on how it can be implemented with greater effect for our clients (and their businesses).

Introducing The Gatekeeper Theory

The main argument behind forced registration is couched in what we’ll refer to as the “gatekeeper theory.” This is the idea that content on your site is so precious, so valuable, that users will do absolutely anything to get it.

Now, it’s fairly bold to assume that everything on your website is worthy of this designation. So, it comes down to understanding what you should hold back, and what you should offer, to result in the highest quality of leads.

This is typically where we see the first issue with forced registration. That the ask, in and of itself, is not valuable enough to get someone to convert. This typically starts with listings.

The Issue With Forcing Registration On Listings

The problem is that the listings on your site, even those you represent, are not likely limited to only your website. They are everywhere, and that includes on heavy-hitter websites like Zillow or Realtor.com.

Of research done on our own sites, and anecdotal research done amongst our clients, leads that come through on “generic” (meaning replicable) listings are either of low quality, no quality, or the information is incorrect (John Smith at 555-5555, for example).

So, while registration may get more “leads,” we need to expand our understanding of what a lead means in these context — it basically equates to:

  • The high-quality leads your site would have captured anyway
  • Mid-quality leads that are either 3 months to a year out from transacting
  • Low-quality leads who simply want to do more research
  • No-quality leads that weren’t likely to interact in the first place

The latter two are the most commonplace, and they are the ones that forced registration captures the most.

The problem is that time spent engaging these leads may be a lost cause, which leaves less time focusing on leads who either really want to work with you or who could be convinced.

Keep in mind, though, that this discussion centers on forced registration as a strategy for all listings. There may be some utility to forcing registration of exclusive or coming soon listings, but this is more a matter of the listings you carry and for how long they remain in those stages.

Capturing The Mid-Quality Lead Pool

High-quality leads are often high-intent leads.

This means that they are likely already set on who they want to work with, or have fallen for your value proposition enough that you are the team for them. They simply need a place to convert with purpose.

That leaves us with the mid-quality leads. This is likely the most important pool of leads for any real estate website. They are serious, but not fully committed, and need a reason to come back again and again.

On their third or fourth visit, they are more likely to convert. But, that leaves us with some questions:

  • How will they convert?
  • Where do they want to convert?
  • What do they really want in exchange for that conversion?

A lead will likely only fill out their information once on your site, so you need to make it count.

Don’t Force Registration; Exchange Value!

Here at Artifakt, we are huge proponents of forced registration — when done right.

While we don’t believe leads should fill out information to simply receive listing details, because it clouds your lead pool with low-quality leads and distracts mid-quality leads for better conversion opportunities, we don’t believe you should give away absolutely everything on your website.

In fact, the gatekeeper theory proves it. If someone really wants your information, actively and not passively, they will be more than willing to give you all of the details you need — as long as they get something in return.

This boils down to offering “lead magnets.” This could be anything but typically reveals itself in a branded takeaway that someone receives in exchange for some of their information.

Not only do they keep it with them, but they have received it from your team to have forever.

Not simply to unlock the listing details for a random home that may not even be on their radar, or may disappoint them, but they now have a piece to take with them (to read through, hold on to, or share with others).

Be Consistently Aware of Your “Asks”

Forced registration is kind of like treating every visitor to your website like they are in one giant pool.

But, we know that the audiences coming to your site have varying needs — even as simple as buyers versus sellers, but there are varying levels of leads in the funnel at any given point.

That said, capturing a lead is not the same all around. You need to capture the right lead, at the right time, and giving them the right context. This typically boils down to a value-add argument.

If you provide a guide, a booklet, a checklist, or even a feature sheet/floor plan, your users are getting something in return for their information. They are receiving value, and not just access.

While we know that low-quality leads demand access, high-quality ones (particularly sellers) demand value. Giving them a branded piece, essentially for free, in exchange for their information is paramount.

Does Forced Registration Work?

As is the case with so much of real estate marketing: it depends.

I’m not here to say that forced registration never works, or that it is a bad idea across the board, I do believe that in order to get leads of ever-increasing quality, it needs to be done the right way.

That involves you, and your brand, serving as the “gatekeeper” of knowledge that leads of a higher quality want to interact with — receiving things they want to see, and something they can’t find anywhere else.

And, if you operate with intent and do it in a way that makes sense with your overall digital strategy, you’ll likely enjoy what you find — not only in terms of how many people you talk to, but how those conversations end up going.

Want to generate more sales by implementing a lead and client nurturing strategy? Download our Lead Nurturing Workbook. It’s a self-guided, interactive workbook where you answer questions about how you attract, handle, and market to your incoming leads, and put together a plan to implement a solid lead nurturing strategy that gets results. And, it’s free to download.
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