Can you imagine life before automation?
You’d still be waiting in line to pay your electric bill every month.
Though we don’t always realize it, much of our life is already automated. And that is a beautiful thing. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average CEO could save 25% of their time on tasks a machine could do.
And if you’re leading a real estate team — heck, even if you’re flying solo — you ARE the CEO of your business. Question is: Where do you want to spend your time, money and effort?
Why the best agents automate
While we’re on the topic of CEOs, management assessment firm, ghSMART, made it their mission to discover the secret ingredient that separates the top-performing execs from the rest — so naturally, they launched a study. Their research (awesomely titled the CEO Genome Project) took ten years and included 17,000 C-suite assessments, making it the largest study of its kind.
Know what they found?
The #1 thing that separates the best from the rest….
Ability to deliver reliably.
Yep. Good ol’ consistency. It may not be sexy but it’s the stuff true grit is made of. In fact, according to their research, CEO candidates who delivered reliably were 15x more likely to succeed as leaders.
What does this have to do with automation?
Done right, automated real estate marketing gives you the kind of boss-level consistency that makes good businesses great.
It frees you up to spend more time developing your team and building a deeper personal connection with prospects. It’s not as counterintuitive as it sounds.
The truth about automation
There’s a ton of info on the topic of real estate automation. (And enough ‘humans vs. robots’ hyperbole to rival the plot of Ex Machina).
Truth is, automation and relationship-building go hand and hand. Realtors who succeed in reaping the crazy 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 humanizes your sales funnel
One thing many agents forget is you can’t close a real estate deal without speaking to a human.
But buying a home is a particularly long sales cycle and 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.”
So how can you be there for your prospect consistently over an extended period of time (and still have a life)? Automation is the answer.
But be careful. There’s a very real temptation to become overly focused on crazy complicated automation structures and rules — and that’s missing the point. The real goal of real estate automation is to start a conversation with your prospect. 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.
Drip emails in Follow Up Boss are designed to be conversational, and look like 1-to-1 emails from agent to prospect or client – click here to learn more about how that works
Benefit #2: Automation gives you more ROI on your paid ad investment
If you’re investing in paid advertising, rest assured: You’re not alone.
The digital world is flooded with marketers wanting to capture those clicks, and the price of paid ads will continue to rise. Bottom line: Leads cost money. 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?
Every email you send should feel like it’s coming directly from the agent to the lead. Keep it casual and make sure you end with a question to help spark a reply.
Benefit #4: Automated real estate marketing eliminates the ‘off-season’
Come hell or high water, you’ve got to keep your team engaged.
By capturing a high volume of leads online, you effectively drought-proof your real estate business. With thousands of prospects in your database, your team will never run out of leads to call and deals to land — they’ll love you for keeping cash in their pockets year round.
Learn more about how to convert more of your leads through a combination of automation and targeted follow ups in our Lead Conversion Masterclass
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 CRM 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. In Follow Up Boss, it’s part of our action plans feature.
No matter where the lead comes from, you should ALWAYS try to get them on the phone immediately.
For leads who give you their phone number, we always 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. In fact, according to the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
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.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to go crazy sending leads emails on their birthdays, but you should consider segmenting by buying timeline to help nail down your automation cadence.
Here’s what a simple example of segmenting by buying timeline 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*
*More on that below
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 CRMs, this level of deeper segmentation can be as easy as assigning a specific tag or hashtag to each lead. (In Follow Up Boss we use you can easily add someone to an ‘action plan’ to automatically manage your follow ups based on their identified segment)
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
- Luke warm 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.
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 are using content marketing, 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.
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.
For more awesome ideas check out this rundown from our pal Vanessa Rombaut, Digital Marketing Guru over at PieSync.
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 CRM 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.
We use a feature called ‘Smart Lists‘ to take the guesswork out of who to call next
You can also see at a glance what their last touchpoint was so you can make the conversation as relevant as possible.
And if you and your team are feeling a little strapped for time, consider bringing on a couple of high-octane ISAs to help with phone follow ups. You can get the full 411 on ISAs in this webinar with Mitch Ribak (better known as the ‘Grandfather of Lead Conversion’).
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.
Take the time to set it up and you’ll reach mega-agent status in no time. Just remember to keep it human.
And if you need help just give us a shout on facebook. We got your back!
Who are We?
GrowthHouse is where ambitious agents and teams come to learn strategies and tactics to grow their real estate businesses.
The team behind GrowthHouse also runs Follow Up Boss, a sales driven CRM dedicated to helping agents and teams focus and follow up for more appointments and sales. Click here to learn more about how Follow Up Boss can help you accelerate your growth.