Now your branding and messaging have taken shape and you’ve begun forging your presence online with a consistent look and message, it’s time to start building the infrastructure for your investor acquisition system.
And in digital marketing, this infrastructure is known as a funnel.
As in the analogue world, a funnel has a wide entry point into which your raw materials are inserted, mixed, and eventually pop out at the narrow part at the bottom with your finished product.
In the digital world this means getting vast numbers of prospects who may know nothing about you into the entry point of your funnel, mixing them with a heavy dose of high value education, and watching active investors pour out of the bottom of your funnel, keenly awaiting your next deal while telling all their friends about you.
Your funnel is going to involve multiple, interconnected, moving pieces that start with your website, your tagline, lead generation forms, auto-responding email systems, and—of course—social media.
How to get rent free real estate
Now that your website is primed and ready to start receiving prospects, it’s time to optimize your social media profiles and don’t worry…
You’re not going to be spending all your life on social media because all posting can be automated. Isn’t that nice.
The first profiles you’ll want to optimize are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Between them, these platforms have several gazillion daily users amongst which are 99.9 percent of every single prospect in your investor universe.
These platforms are the ever-evolving culmination (is that an oxymoron?) of the most advanced direct marketing systems ever developed by mankind. They are the equivalent of digital real estate and each has a place for you on it, a place you can hang your shingle, your unique advertisement on the world wide web and the best part is that it’s completely free.
And who says ‘no’ to free rent?
Consistent branding across all platforms is an absolute must so you can build on the foundation you’ve already started with your website.
The banners and headline messaging that you have on your social channels are going to look similar to your website. In fact, they should use the same graphics and the same exact branding. That way, prospects scanning through their social media feeds will immediately know it’s you they’re seeing whether they stop to read more, or just scan past one of your posts. Subliminally, your brand will become increasingly familiar to your prospects, slowly building trust which eventually will lead to a ‘click’ to learn more—the golden egg of digital marketing.
Typically, it takes between six to 10 impressions online for a prospect to see your brand and messaging before they ‘click’ and this is why developing an initial brand guide is so important.
Your tagline and subheading (if you have one) also want to be reflected here because those are going to speak to your value as well. You want people to care about what you have to say because of how it will benefit them, and you want people to enthusiastically want to learn more.
Consistency and automation go a long way
Not everyone who stumbles upon your brand will want to learn more, which is why it is crucial to develop a wide network of possible investors at the top of your funnel.
Some of these relationships will take a long time to develop which is fine because it’ll all be automated anyway, so once up, won’t take any more of your time.
Initially, the way your marketing funnel works is that most prospects typically enter via their social media profile feeds at the ‘wide’ top of funnel. Let’s say 1,000 people see a post you put up on LinkedIn. From there, a certain number will click through and that number might shrink to 100. Then what happens is there are even fewer who come to you by telling you that they are interested in knowing more by overtly giving you their name and email address on your website’s lead-gen form.
From an initial group of 1,000, you might funnel down to 10 people who are actively interested in learning more.
Which is amazing! Multiply that by 100 posts all rotating automatically on social media and you are starting to generate some serious prospecting velocity. In fact, at GowerCrowd we have over 3,000 posts randomly going out multiple times a day over a six-month rotation on all social channels. This number grows by upwards of at least 20 new posts we put out each week (another 1,000 per year at least) which creates incredible visibility that just constantly builds over time.
And all this before you even start advertising, running webinars, conducting PR, and a bunch of other hi-octane tactics you can employ to boost mid-funnel traffic once you have the basic infrastructure in place.
Now as soon as someone signs up on your newsletter, it’s time for your automated email indoctrination sequence to kick in—this is why you want to get those lined up early on so they are ready to go (see Part Three of this series for more information on that). This initial email sequence begins the process of guiding prospects to learning more about who you are and to seeing the world through your lens of experience.
This is important. When you ‘teach’ prospects about who you are by providing high value content in your articles, social profiles, and emails, you are also showing them how to interpret real estate deals in exactly the same way as you do. This predisposes prospects to understanding your deals when you eventually pitch them, and this makes closing the deal a LOT easier than having to start fresh with each prospective investor.
Not only that, but by using instantly available, real-time data analytics (the holy grail of direct marketing in the digital age) you’ll be able to see who opens your emails and what they click on, what pages on your website they visit and in what order, how long they spend on your website, what videos they watch and for how long etc. It’s mind blowing how much data you can track and then use to create hotlists of hyper-engaged prospects who warrant special attention.
After that, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the highly anticipated invest now moment.
This is the key moment—this is what your entire funnel has been building towards.
Those who click on your ‘invest now’ button and sign contracts and wire money, they add to your ever-growing investor base. This steady drip at the bottom of your funnel just keeps on going while your network of active, repeat investors continues to get bigger over time.
Individuals or prospects get to know you because they are consuming more and more information from you as time goes on. They were first looking at posts on social media and now they're reading articles, watching videos, and they’re starting to get emails from you, newsletters and more, before eventually being invited to invest with you.
And the most beautiful thing about this is that these investors are coming to you—you are not spending your time looking for them.
Once you have this funnel in place, you can find ways to widen the top, as I mentioned earlier, which is where creating new and more engaging types of content will be especially effective. Webinars, articles, public relations placements, and more can all help increase how many people are going into your funnel, which, consequently, will directly increase the number of active investors emerging out of it.
Keep in mind that if you don't already have your infrastructure in place—website, social, lead-gen, auto-emails, content—spending money on any of these hi-octane options is only going to get you a fraction of the ROI you would otherwise get. You've got to have a solid system in place first so you can capture prospect attention with a warm welcome when they show up at your website. Inevitably, this is the blueprint for how to build your investor list.
For the advanced, black-belt real estate ninja warrior, you can start building out your platform using search engine optimization (SEO) so that people find you organically. In other words, when a prospect runs a search on Google, your website pops up. This brings high value prospects into your funnel at the moment of maximum intent which is when they are actively researching real estate investing questions for which you already have the answers.
Build over time
Keeping these things in mind, it is easy to see how investor acquisition as important as it is, has fundamentally changed with the advent of crowdfunding. As any fisherman will tell you, the best way to increase your haul is to have more lines in the water. This crucial funneling infrastructure, in a sense, is the best way for you to add more lines.
With an established brand and funnel, you’ll have your prospective investors hooked on the line. Now, it’s time to learn how to reel them in without letting any get loose. In our next (very important) lesson in this series, we are going to discuss how pitch automation can help you maximize your capital raises.
Adam Gower, Ph.D., who is an authority in real estate crowdfunding and is known as the creator of the Investor Acquisition System, combines a lifetime of experience in real estate investment and finance with best-of-class digital marketing tactics, techniques, and strategies to help crowdfund real estate syndications. Find out more in this new book, SYNDICATE or at GowerCrowd.com