As a real estate agent, there are some things that only you can do. Activities that require your expertise and your personal touch.
So why would you spend valuable time on redundant, boring tasks?
The best agents don’t. They leverage automation to help them save time — and energy — for only the most important, high-value activities that require their personal attention.
Automated real estate sales and marketing gives you the kind of boss-level consistency that sets successful leaders and businesses apart. It frees you up to spend more time developing your team and build a deeper connection with prospects. It allows you to focus on the most rewarding aspects of your work…instead of getting bogged down in mundane tasks.
And whether it means more time hustling to build your business, or more time boating with the family, it’s a win.
So how do you ace real estate automation? We’ll show you, with proven tips and scripts to get you started with people-first automation, plus an inside look at how Follow Up Boss can help set you up for success.
But first, we’ll give you a high-level view of some of the amazing benefits automation has to offer.
Table of contents
- The Truth About Automation
- How to Get Started with Real Estate Automation
- How to Plot a Killer Auto-Responder
- How to Create High-Converting Content for Your Automated Emails
- When Should You Call?
The Truth About Automation — and How It Helps Increase Productivity and Revenue in a Real Estate Business
While automation is designed to be hands-off, the truth is, automation and relationship-building go hand and hand. Realtors who succeed in reaping the many rewards of automated sales and marketing, are the ones who keep it grounded in a client-first philosophy.
Here are some of the boss-level benefits that make real estate automation a win for both you and your clients.
Benefit #1: Automated real estate marketing helps maximize your time — without going full robot 🤖
According to personal branding expert Judy Schramm, products with a price tag of over $10,000 need to go above and beyond the Rule of 7:
“Know that you need a minimum of seven touches and calculate upwards from there based on how much information you need to convey. When you show that you understand their problem and give them the information they need to make a buying decision, your company earns their trust and gains credibility. That’s what delivers the sale.”
But for a busy agent, that many touches can become a massive headache.
Automation, on the other hand, enables you to be there for your prospect consistently over an extended period of time...and still have a life.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated to make an impact. Well-designed automation helps you respond to new leads immediately (especially if you’re using ISAs) while allowing you and your team of agents to spend more time with leads who are ready to engage.
For example, Barry Jenkins of Virginia Beach-based Your Friends in Real Estate is an absolute automation maestro — but he also knows that real estate automation is only as good as the people behind it:
“Everybody just wants to put their leads on autopilot. The problem with that is that robots and machines are never going to be as relevant as humans are,” explains Barry. “With automation, what we’re able to do is create different tags that help us deliver super relevant content at exactly the right time in the buyer’s journey.”
Saving time and connecting more authentically with clients? That’s a win-win.
Benefit #2: Automation gives you more ROI on your paid ad investment
No matter how you slice it, leads cost money.
And marketing automation is the only surefire way to get more bang for your digital dollar.
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly seven out of ten buyers interviewed only one real estate agent when buying their home.
By automating immediate text messages and phone calls from your ISAs, you make sure that agent is you. And by using automation to nurture your leads, you can cut through the noise and stand far above the competition.
Benefit #3: Automated follow up captures your leads’ long-term value
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again: A watertight sales and marketing process is one that never underestimates the unknown or long-term value of a lead.
Buying a home is a huge decision and some of the people who register on your website might not be ready to speak to an agent for months, or even years. Winning agents keep their eye on the prize using a mix of automated listing alerts from their website and periodic automated check-ins to make sure the info they’re sending is still relevant.
Here’s a good example of an email you could send every couple of months to leads who haven’t engaged:
You’ve been getting listing updates from me for a few months now — are we sending you the right kind of homes? Or can I update those alerts to better match your preferences?
This can help you meet clients’ needs more effectively and deliver a better experience with your brand.
Just keep in mind that every email you send should still feel like it’s coming directly from the agent (i.e. a real person) to the lead. Keep it casual and make sure you end with a question to help spark a reply.
How to Get Started With Real Estate Automation
Contrary to popular belief, automating your real estate marketing doesn’t have to feel like solving a Rubik’s cube. At least, not when you have the right tools.
Here’s where to start:
- Make it simple by segmenting your leads into two main groups: buyers and sellers
- Next, create a high converting landing page to make sure you capture every single lead that clicks your ad or opt-in
- For all your new leads (including those coming from Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com), set up your sales platform to trigger an automated marketing campaign — including text, email and phone follow up
Your CRM will have instructions for this on their website or blog.
No matter where the lead comes from, you should always try to contact them immediately. But it doesn’t have to be a phone call...yet.
For leads who give you their phone number, we recommend making the first touch an automated text message with the goal of getting them on the phone asap.
A very effective text message you can send a new Zillow or Realtor.com lead is:
Hi (lead name), regarding 132 Sample St., what’s the best time for me to call? -Joe Agent
We have seen that exact text get a number of our customers a 50%-70% response rate!
From there you’ll want to send your first email: the self-segmenter (example below). Here, you connect in a casual way and ask the lead to tell you a little more about who they are so you can assign them to the autoresponder sequence that gives them the most value.
(Psst, the insights you pick up from that first text, phone call or email can be awesome sources of high converting content. Take notes!)
Segment Your Leads to Keep It Super Relevant
Here’s where things can get a little tricky. Most Realtors stick to two broad segments: buyers and sellers. And that’s a great starting point.
But taking some extra time to dive a little deeper within those groups can really pay off.
If you think about it, it just makes sense. A first-time buyer looking to purchase in 12 months will have very different priorities compared to a vacation home buyer looking to purchase within 3 months. Deeper segmentation allows you to get super specific with the content you send — it’s a more relevant experience. And that’s why it works.
Segmenting by buying timeline can also help nail down your automation cadence.
Here’s what a simple example of what that might look like:
- Lead comes in from Zillow
- Triggers self-selection email
- Lead confirms interest in buying within 3 months
- You tag the lead ‘3 months’
- Then add them to your ‘3 months’ action plan or drip campaign in your CRM
Assuming the lead hasn’t given you their phone number, here’s what your first email might look like:
Subject: Nice to e-meet you
Glad you found me!
Can you tell me a little more about what you’re looking for? When are you planning to purchase your new home?
(Btw, emails with the word ‘video’ in the subject line get an average 19% increase in open rates and up to 65% increase in clickthrough rates. Use our Bomb Bomb integration to make this first intro by video and you’ll be miles ahead.)
In most sales platforms, this level of deeper segmentation can be as easy as assigning a specific tag or hashtag to each lead. In Follow Up Boss, you have several options for segmenting leads — including a few effortless automated tools.
First up: Smart Lists.
Smart Lists allow you to create dynamic filters based on, well, anything you know about a lead. You can use pre-built tags, create your own, or design customized multi-point filters.
For example, you could create lists for:
- New Leads: Any lead created less than 7 days ago.
- High Value: Leads searching over $1M
- Relationships: Leads tagged Past Clients plus leads who were last emailed more than 60 days ago
The possibilities are truly endless. But that’s not the only trick we have up our sleeve.
That means you can see where they’re coming from, what types of homes they’re looking at, how often they’re visiting, whether they’re reading blog posts, and more — you can even see if they’re on your site right now.
Wizardry? Maybe. Super awesome? Definite yes.
Activate Old Leads and Past Clients
What if you’ve got a cold lead hanging out in your database…but they suddenly start heating up?
In most cases, you probably wouldn’t know unless they reach out to you. And that means you couldn’t do anything to make sure that lead converts with you, and not some other agent.
That’s why Automations are a total game-changer.
Of course, we’ve been talking about automation throughout this article. But at Follow Up Boss, Automations are also a special feature that allow you to set triggers that kick off an Action Plan when certain conditions are met.
For example, if you’ve got the Pixel installed on your website, you can create an Automation that triggers an Action Plan when an old lead or past client visits your site. You can even customize it based on their activity — like viewing or saving a home. Like this:
There are all sorts of ways to customize Automations to help you reach the right people at the right time so you can convert more leads and close more deals.
Want to see some of the ways rockstar real estate agents leverage Automations? Check out:
When automation is this dynamic, the sky's the limit to what you can do!
How to Plot a Killer Auto-Responder
Now that you’ve followed up before every other agent and taken the time to ask your prospect what it is they’re really after, it’s totally ok (even expected!) to send them a steady stream of check in email and high-value content.
But how long should your auto-responder be? Should you send your emails every week? Once a month?
Every market and real estate team is different so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. As mentioned, a good way to do it is by buying timeline, based on the info you receive in that first text, call or email.
- Colder leads buying in 12 months receive an automated email every month
- Lukewarm leads buying in 6 months, get one every other week
- Warmer leads buying in 3 months, once a week
- Hot leads who’re buying in 1 month, every 3-4 days
No matter how you plot your auto-responder, make sure to keep a good balance of sales and non-sales emails. We recommend the 3:1 Rule.
Here’s how it works:
For every three high-value, customer-centric emails you send, you send one email that makes some kind of offer.
It could be an invitation to join you on Facebook, schedule a phone call, visit an open house or opt-in to another piece of content that moves them further down the funnel. Again, what you offer will have everything to do what your leads want at each stage in their buyer’s journey.
How to Create High-Converting Content for Your Automated Emails
Not all agents use content marketing and drip campaigns, but for those who are spending the time and money to get that organic engagement, it pays to remember the best source for great content ideas is…
You guessed it — your prospect.
As we mentioned before, that very first text, phone call or self-segmenting email can be a great place to get ideas for high-converting content.
Here are a few other places to look:
- Blog comments (from your own blog, a competitor’s blog, or any other relevant site)
- Social media
- Other emails (those with the highest CTRs are a great indicator of a high-interest subject)
- Ask! Include a brief email in the sequence asking what else they’d like to see from you.
Once a lead has made it through the auto-responder sequence, you can add them to your regular newsletter list. But keep in mind, even with newsletters, the highest-converting content is fluff-free and reader-worthy.
When Should You Call?
Just like text and email, phone follow up can be easily automated.
Create a call schedule that complements your drip campaign and set up your sales system to alert your agents when it’s time to call.
In Follow Up Boss this is done for you automatically to save you as much time as possible. You only see the leads that are ready for a call — no distractions.
Smart Lists to the rescue! (Again.)
In addition to helping you segment your contacts, Smart Lists take the guesswork out of who to call next. And with our powerful built-in dialer, you can call any contact in a single click — or move seamlessly from one contact to the next. Each call also gets added to the Leaderboard, and you also have the option to record calls for agent coaching.
You can also see at a glance what their last touchpoint was (whether call, text or email) so that you’re always ready to make the conversation as relevant as possible. All inbound and outbound calls are tracked in one central spot.
Real Estate Automation Is Here to Help (Not Hurt)
Though it may seem daunting at first, real estate automation creates a more relevant experience for clients and makes it possible for you to have a life and a seven-figure business.
“I have a son with special needs and I need to pick him up from school at 2pm every day,” says team leader Barry Jenkins. “So I go into the office at 9 o’clock and I leave at 2pm, Monday through Friday. In addition to running my team, I’m also the Realtor in Residence for Ylopo and I’m a Club Wealth coach. With automation, I can pack all that in within 5 hours each day.”
Despite popular belief, automation can be a force for good. With an intentional strategy and the right tools to back it up, automation can help you work smarter, deliver a first-class client experience, and close more deals — without giving up the things you love.