A guide to the real estate IDX (+ 5 proven strategies to make the most of it)

Lead Conversion
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With so many lead sources (and so little time), you might be feeling the heat to be on top of every single option out there. 

And even though the real estate IDX has been around for quite some time now, you still might be wondering how you can make the most of your IDX leads. 

Because let’s face it: at the end of the day, a lead who doesn’t convert is just another name in your database.

We’ve got you covered! We’re here to answer the IDX questions you’ve been afraid to ask and offer the insights you need to take your leads from lukewarm to repeat customers.

Let’s dive in for a whirlwind tour of what the real estate IDX is, how it fits into today’s landscape, and (most importantly) proven strategies for converting IDX leads faster.

Table of contents

  • What is a real estate IDX?
  • IDX vs. MLS: What’s the difference?
  • 5 proven strategies for converting IDX leads faster

First things first: What is a real estate IDX?

The real estate IDX — or Internet Data Exchange — works with the multiple listing service (MLS) to provide local home listings on your website. This means you can offer value to your website visitors right away, so they can quickly and easily find homes they’re interested in. 

(And because the homes are found on your site, leads are primed to choose you as their go-to agent. 😉)

An IDX isn’t a standalone site — although you can opt to use a website builder that centers around the IDX as the core foundation of your site. But with that setup, any major changes or website migrations can be tricky. For optimal flexibility, you may want to stick with websites that integrate with the IDX to make it easy for your site to seamlessly pull listing data from the MLS without losing any control over other important elements of your site. 

With the real estate IDX well integrated with your website, you can offer prospective clients the chance to search real estate listings by area, browse available and relevant listings, or both. 

The real gold mine of an IDX for you as an agent, though, is the lead gen potential. If a prospect wants to learn more or take a tour of the home, they’ll be asked to provide their contact details, and voila! The start of a beautiful friendship. 

Depending on how your website and CRM are set up, your IDX integration will (ideally) send leads directly to your lead management system to start the nurture and follow up process strong.

95% of homebuyers use online tools during their home search. Source

IDX vs. MLS: What’s the difference?

We’ve already briefly mentioned the MLS and hinted at its relationship with the IDX. But for clarity’s sake, let’s take a minute to spell it out. 

An MLS is a digital directory of property listings in a certain area, typically organized by city, county or region. It gets realtors and brokers in touch with the most relevant and up-to-date list of homes for sale. An MLS provides incredible reach and marketing opportunities by getting a listing in front of significantly more potential buyers.

The National Association of REALTORS®  explains that the idea of an MLS started long before the internet — in the 1800s, actually. At that time, real estate brokers would meet personally to discuss properties they each had available for sale and help each other sell them. 

This principle of combined efforts and an expanded reach to potential buyers — along with, of course, compensating fellow brokers who found a buyer — allowed everyone to thrive.

MLS book 1971-1980, Image Source

In today’s digital world, those principles are carried forward — with a twist. The MLS is still a central hub of available properties (online, of course). 

The IDX comes into play as either a plugin or integrated website as a whole. It allows individual agents and real estate teams to bring the listings from the MLS right to their website for clients and prospective buyers to view, but on their turf. Visitors can search and browse the listings based on what matters to them while getting to know your real estate brand as one that has all the latest info on available properties.

Because the IDX pulls from the MLS (and only those who participate in the MLS can take advantage of IDX), the cooperation and commissions from its founding are still in place. 

When used to its full potential, the IDX means wins all around: sellers, brokers, agents, prospective buyers, and the real estate community as a whole.

5 proven strategies for converting IDX leads faster

Now that we’ve discussed the wins of having an IDX-friendly website, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: lead quality

Though not universally, many IDX leads are earlier in their homebuying journey. So they can take longer to convert. Even if they opt in on your site, they still might not be ready to chat with you just yet. 

To put it into retail terms, some of your IDX leads are the equivalent of the “No thanks, just looking around” potential customer.

It might take a bit more time, patience, and good old-fashioned follow up to encourage your IDX leads along the path to buying or selling with you.

Luckily, there are some tried-and-true best practices you can start implementing right away to help accelerate conversions from your IDX leads. Let’s dive in!

1. Connect your tech

We’ve already mentioned how important it is for your IDX to connect to your website and real estate CRM in a snap. But this step simply cannot be overstated! 

You don’t have time to be constantly checking to make sure your leads are flowing into the right place — this is one area where “set it and forget it” actually should be the goal.

Case in point? Will Featherstone was losing leads — and business — due to a lack of systems. The Founder and Managing Broker of Featherstone & Co. collaborated with another agent to fine-tune processes and integrate everything through one system: leads (from any source), marketing, and calling. This gave Will the time and resources to grow his team and scale the business, and it can help you do the same.

Tl;dr — Integrate your IDX with your CRM to save time and convert more leads.

In Follow Up Boss, our open API and Tracking Pixel makes it easy to send active web leads straight into your lead management system so you can prioritize your hottest leads first.

2. Play the long game

If your IDX leads are taking their time to convert, take a deep breath — and a step back. You may want to shift your focus from conversion to nurturing. 

The truth is, IDX leads are just one part of a healthy and well-balanced lead gen plan. As with your portal leads and referrals from your sphere of influence, they require thoughtful and authentic follow up. 

Offer your IDX leads valuable resources to help them on their home search. Let them know you’re there when they need you. Demonstrate your expertise by offering tangible tips they can use to sell their home. 

Remember, these prospects may be receiving calls, texts and emails from any number of real estate websites where they may have been searching for a home. By leading with value first, you’ll set yourself apart from the other agents in your area and position yourself at the forefront of their minds whenever they’re ready to take that next step.

And if you can automate your nurtures? Even better. 

The right lead management system will let you segment and schedule by lead source. So you can craft a meaningful journey for your IDX leads that won’t be a strain on your time.

Tl;dr — Nurture leads with longer timelines by offering valuable content and resources along the way.

For top 1% team leaders like Albert Vasquez, an automated long-term buyer nurture is a core part of the lead management mix. Prospects who don’t show intent within the next two to three years are assigned to a value-led email sequence. So far, Albert and the team at AV Home Experts are averaging a whopping 40% email open rate!

3. Become a retargeting expert

Ad retargeting is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbelt for converting IDX leads. 

Using custom-branded ads to capture the attention of your prospects after they’ve already indicated interest on your site keeps you top of mind. And seeing your branding in the places they’re already scrolling reminds them of their interest in your properties.

Robert Slack runs the #1 team in the US. And social media retargeting, using an airtight Ylopo integration, keeps the leads flowing. They’ve seen some leads reactivate from the integration as long as three or four years later. In Robert’s words: “It’s like having an extra 1,000 new leads per week.” Can’t beat that!

Tl;dr — Use ad retargeting to stay top-of-mind with IDX leads and fuel their interest in buying or selling (with you!).

4. Don’t tune out

You don’t have time to wait around for leads to convert. But you should be the first to know when cooler, less-interested leads heat up again. Use tracking and automations to keep an eye on those IDX leads. 

Even if your initial outreach received a “thanks, but no thanks” response, that doesn’t mean the end of the road for your leads. In fact, staying attuned to a lead who becomes active again — and reaching out accordingly — keeps you in step with your prospects. 

Offering advice or insights, recommending a similar property to one they’re interested in, or simply checking in are all great ways to remind leads you’re there. If and when they’re ready to move forward, your time and attention will work wonders.

Tl;dr — Track when your leads reactivate and show new interest with a simple, helpful outreach that shows you’re paying attention.

With just a snippet of code, the Follow Up Boss Tracking Pixel can alert you to any new activity from IDX leads who are back on the hunt. 

5. Maintain a service-first mindset

For every one of your leads — not just those from your IDX — having a people-first mindset pays off.

IDX leads, wherever they find themselves on their journey, need to know you’re there when they need you. Making sure they know you’re listening and that you care will speak volumes and set you apart as an agent they’re excited to work with. 

Emily Smith and her team at Wemert Group Realty are living proof of that. In fact, they boast a whopping 40% referral rate! Their secret? Focusing heavily on client care. 

“We’ve stopped calling them ‘leads,’” Emily explains. “You have to care about these people for real. You have to look at them like they’re not a lead, they’re a relationship. Let’s call these people, people.” With that kind of referral rate, it’s clear that a small (but significant) mindset shift goes a long way.

Tl;dr — Treat each IDX prospect like a relationship. For increased conversions, focus on serving them well and meeting them where they are.

Level up your CRM for IDX success

If you haven’t already noticed, the keys to converting IDX leads aren’t drastically different from converting prospects that come from any other lead source. 

Because at the end of the day, no matter where or how they find you, offering people-first and value-driven support helps convert prospects faster.

From “just looking” leads to eager-to-purchase prospects, every potential client is a chance to stand out from the crowd by doing what you do best: building relationships and putting people in their dream home.

To keep up with each of your IDX leads, you’ll need the right tools and systems to stay organized, streamlined, and automated — no matter what their buying timeline looks like. 

Learn more about how Follow Up Boss can help you meet your business goals and leave no lead behind. 

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