Most realtors struggle with following up on their leads due to a lack of resources and time. Hassan Riggs is offering a solution to this problem with SmartAlto, a system that qualifies, nurtures, and sets appointments with real estate leads.
He took this startup from $0 to $500,000 in just 14 months.
That’s what I’ll be sharing in this post.
I found him on Reddit and his story was truly motivating. Not because he did something different or out of the ordinary. But because he did exactly what every startup should do.
Most startups fail because they want to change the world with a fancy idea. And they end up selling something no one wants to buy.– Hassan Riggs
How did Hassan knew what people actually want? How can you find what people are looking for?
Answer: Market Research
In the simplest terms, market research is gathering information about the market of a product or service to be offered for sale.
So many startups crash because they don’t have a clear understanding of the market demand.
Hassan took it upon himself to perform an in-depth analysis of the market where he wants to sell his product.
Now there are a lot of different ways you could do this. The most common ones include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and customer observation.
For SmartAlto, Hassan bought his target audience (realtors) together in a Facebook Group that now has over 7,000 members.
He used this group to figure out what people want.
For starters, he asked three basic questions to anyone who wanted to join the group.
- Where do you buy leads from (Zillow, Facebook, etc)?
- What’s your biggest challenge with following up with leads?
- Enter your email if you want my best follow up and text message templates (optional)
The most important question here is the second one. This is where he found his answer.
Most realtors’ were struggling to follow up on leads consistently and majorly because of the time.
(Remember these two words, they will be used in marketing later)
This not only helped him find the answer to what he wants to create but also helped him find his potential clients.
He also set up a Google Spreadsheet that captures the members’ names and answers to the questions. Then he shortlisted the people who were facing the problem his startup could solve.
Landing Page Optimization
The ultimate goal for SmartAlto like every other startup is to drive sales from the website, landing pages, and marketing funnels.
There are so many proven ways to increase conversion rates. Like adding popups, testimonials, strengthening your CTA, and much more.
SmartAlto implemented a lot of these…
Before starting, this is how their website looked like:
There are some problems that were addressed by Hassan. The biggest one has been that their headline focuses only on the product. Instead, it should focus on what the product does for its customers.
Similarly, they restructured the entire copy of their homepage to answer the following 7 questions.
1. What is your call to action?
Your CTA should be loud and clear. Everything else you do on your website is trying to get people to push that one button.
In this case, they want their audience to immediately get started or book a demo. They have highlighted the ‘Get Started’ button in a way that it stands out from everything else.
2. What is the product?
You’ll kill your conversions if you cannot clearly explain to the visitors what your product is. This explanation should not be overwhelming. Keep it simple!
3. Who is it for? Is it for me?
How can you expect someone to buy your product if they cannot see how it will help them? People want to find solutions to their problems… give them that.
4. Is this legit?
The world of the internet is filled with fraudsters and scammers. Prove to people that you aren’t one of them.
5. Who else is using it?
Your audience needs proof that they aren’t the only ones using your product. This is a question that will be answered with real testimonials.
SmartAlto proves it’s legit by adding a bunch of testimonials of real people posted from their social media accounts.
These are real estate agents who are using SmartAlto’s appointment setting system.
6. How much does this cost/what’s the catch?
Do you ever sign up for something without knowing the price? Neither will your website visitors. Still, you’ll be surprised to know how many people hide their prices at first.
This not only makes your business look shady but it often kills conversion.
Even if your price structure is a little complex, try designing it as clearly as you can. Take a hint from SmartAlto’s pricing table:
7. Where can I get help?
Your goal should be to help your visitor as much as you can. Even if you have answered every question on your website, there might be some left. Adding a good customer support option builds trust and increases engagement.
Firstly, no matter what’s your budget, you should always define your goals with advertising. It can be anything from brand awareness, traffic, leads, or sales. You can then optimize your ad copy, graphics, and targeting better.
In this example, Hassan ran multiple ads. Few of them worked and few didn’t. Let me explain in more detail…
1. Lead Capture Ads
For SmartAlto, Hassan wanted to start with building a relationship with people. So he used the reciprocity principle where he pays back what we received from others.
He started with the two following ads:
Both ads have the same copy, CTA, and are meant to capture leads.
But the first one didn’t perform well. Why?
- The ad creative is not engaging
- The CTA is weaker as it misses a button
The second ad performed great. The creative is capturing and the tiny download button at the bottom guides the users to perform an action.
Once someone clicks on the ad, the landing page asks for their email to deliver the templates. This is where he got his leads.
Most people would stop here. You have what you want!
But Hassan took it to another level with a thank you page.
He asked the people to join his group. And a lot of people did.
This is the same group that I talked about in the Market Research section.
The same group where he connects with his target group and
- Figures out what they want
- Introduces himself to new audiences
- Coach and motivate
- Gather testimonials and
- Soft sell his product
And with this, he has a constructive website and a pool of potential clients.
2. Retargeting Ads
Using retargeting ads is a great way to reach out to people who have previously visited your website or landing page.
And if you make this ad personal, it will increase your ROI.
One of the most successful retargeting ads for SmartAlto was this:
The copy uses the exact words like TIME and CONSISTENTLY that were used by their target audience to describe their problems.
Another smart thing was showcasing customer results and testimonials in ads like these:
3. Google Ads
Apart from Facebook, Google is another big ad platform for every small business. The basics remain the same. Set a clear goal, do keyword research, write a killer copy with engaging graphics, and target the right audience.
SmartAlto’s Google ads are simple yet effective. Like the one below focuses on “done-for-you appointment setting”.
And this one is a GIF ad that retargets competitor traffic.
All of these used the same landing page:
This page does a great job of explaining what the product does. It even has a testimonial right below the CTA, making it more enticing to click.
Once the user clicks on the button they will be redirected to a demo video with another CTA to book a demo.
All these efforts got them good sales. And once they had a few clients, they redirected their efforts into scaling up the business.
Till here Hassan has something that most startups don’t. But as I said before, he didn’t use any magic tricks here. He did what everyone else procrastinates on doing.
Build a relationship with people before you sell something. It will take time but you will get the most loyal customer base.
With the above efforts, you’ll get a few sales so did SmartAlto. But how did they multiple their existing clients?
They made a short 5-minute video that shows how they set 48 appointments in 20 days for a single real estate agent.
They used this one client to get tens of thousands of dollars worth business in a few months.
This video starts off with a simple chart in Google Sheets that shows the appointments they set for this agent. And then it walked through each appointment, one by one to show all 48 of them with the date and time too.
There was no fancy animation in this video. Yet it drove so many clients because it gave SmartAlto credibility.
Everything mentioned in this post is done by someone who doesn’t have much marketing, product, or sales knowledge. As he says he learned everything from free YouTube videos, $5 books/courses, and expensive mistakes.
But if you want to avoid the later, follow these strategies:
1. Build Relationships
Make this a part of your job to build solid connections and great partnerships. It will take some time but the results will be worth it.
2. Market > Product
Never create a product and then go looking for the people who want it. Do your research, find what people in your industry are looking for. What problems do they face? Browse Google, Amazon, even YouTube to find your answer.
3. Build a Community
Akin to the first point, connect with your community. The best place to launch a product is to a group of people who know, like, and trust you.
You don’t have to build your own Facebook group from scratch like Hassan. Go and participate in other groups where you have your target audience. You can find them on Facebook, Reddit, Indiehacker. Give them value and build influence.
4. Track your Results
Always keep a track of your tiniest efforts. Even if it’s just a Tweet, see how many people it reached, who liked it, why they liked it. The variants can be qualitative and quantitative.
These will help you see what is working and what isn’t. If you are a small business owner, chances are that you have limited resources. You can spend these on what is actually working for your business.
All this will take time, research, and a stubborn commitment. But if you do this right, you’ll have someone write a similar case study about your startup.