30 Second Summary:
Marketing automation technologies can substantially improve all aspects of the client and prospect experience for real estate professionals. Many technologies can be seamlessly leveraged to save time, increase engagement, and build referrals. These include automated and interactive text messaging campaigns; automated lead correction and enhancement; and full-service call centers to virtually “extend” your hours to 24/7/365.
It is surprising how few real estate agents and real estate professionals take full advantage of marketing automation technology. In our view, there is literally no more effective way to consistently engage with prospects and clients, and in turn generate repeat customers and referrals.
In order to explain some of the ways marketing automation can be used by real estate professionals, I will break down both how we typically implement funnels for real estate professionals and what additional services we use to enhance and integrate their marketing automation systems.
As a first step, it’s useful to segment your leads. For a typical real estate agent using Infusionsoft, we would create segments / campaigns / funnels arranged something like the following:
First, we recognize that there are essentially three major categories of leads — buyer prospects, seller prospects, and other prospects. The last category would contain leads such as vendors, past buyers / sellers, and “COI” (Center of Influence) contacts. The goal for the first two major categories is obvious — conversion into someone to whom you sell a home and conversion into someone for whom you sell a home. The final category goal is to generate repeat business and referrals that go into the other two funnels.
Next, we realize that how we market within those categories is going to differ, so we do more segmentation. Often it is better to have distinct campaigns/funnels, but in some implementations, it may be sufficient to use tags. So, essentially we create the following campaigns:
- Inbound (Potential) Buyer Leads
- (Your) Active Buyers
- (Your) Buyers Post-Closing
- Inbound (Potential) Seller Leads
- (Your) Active Sellers
- Expired Listing Prospects
- For Sale By Owner Prospects
- COI (Center of Influence) contacts
- Vendors (if segmenting out of COI)
- Past buyers / past sellers
Feeding the Funnels
While one of the primary sources for many of these funnels will be data that an agent or their staff will simply manually add as contacts, there are numerous ways to automate the addition of new clients to funnels.
For example, consider Inbound (Potential) Buyer and Seller Leads. While most would recognize that website contact forms can automatically add leads into marketing automation funnels, there are many other ways to get lead data. Here are a few more “advanced” methods we sometimes see with real estate professionals:
– Inbound SMS inquiries (e.g. when a property yard sign advertises the ability for a driver to text a short code to a phone number to obtain property information). These can collect lead data and ask additional, pertinent questions to help place prospects into funnels.
– Around-the-clock inbound calls when using a suitably-equipped call center solution (such as that available from some of our partners) — i.e. going beyond a simple answering service, a contact center – Infusionsoft integration can allow 24/7/365 lead data collection, provide immediate answers to basic questions, and impressively demonstrate your responsiveness.
– The above two technologies can also be combined: in the inbound text message scenario above, the texter can be asked if they’d like an immediate callback to discuss the property they’re interested in. They will receive a call within minutes from your contact center.
– Facebook Lead Ads (collecting lead data from *within* the Facebook application, avoiding lead drop-off due to landing pages)
Enhancing Lead Data
Filtering out bad lead data (e.g. spam/scam leads) and enhancing the data you obtain from inbound prospects is also helpful. Specifically in the area of real estate prospects, there are a couple of useful enhancements that can be directly integrated into your funnels, available from companies like JGRobo:
– Demographic enhancement — lead data is automatically “enriched” with available demographic information for the inbound lead, such as the presence of children in the home.
– Property data — lead data can also be enriched with property data including parcel information, owner, estimated value, and sales history.
Additional enhancements can improve the quality of your lead data:
– Address validation/correction — ensuring you have a properly-formed and valid mailing address helps both if you wish to send direct mail, and helps to verify the validity of inbound data. Similarly, phone numbers can also be verified as live and valid.
– Spamtrap detection — helps ensure you were given a valid e-mail address before you potentially jeopardize your sender reputation via emails you may send to an inbound lead.
– Litigant detection — serial TCPA litigants for example, although not as common when it comes to submitting real estate leads, are known to sometimes target those they know to be using SMS/MMS messaging as part of their marketing automation campaigns.
Using the Funnels
Campaigns / funnels should be customized for each segment in terms of content. A significant amount of content can be evergreen (or close to it) — e.g. what to expect during the closing process, testimonials, advantages of using a real estate professional for a transaction, moving tips, etc. Other content — particularly in the “Other Prospect” funnels may tend to be more “news” content, such as quarterly market conditions, news about new developments in the community you serve, and so on.
Perhaps the bigger point though is that one need not and should not be limited to boring, text-only emails. Custom video content is far more engaging, and can be surprisingly affordable to produce and integrate into funnel campaigns. Automated SMS (text) messaging is also increasingly useful, especially given its exceptional deliverability and very high open rates compared to e-mail, and can be used both interactively (for example as discussed above) or as part of static “drip” campaigns. Your email lists, if large enough, can also be used for social media campaigns (e.g. ads targeted at your specific prospects). And, even physical mail can be leveraged in a completely automated way, and linked to specific steps and actions within your sales funnel.
If you’re interested in how we can help you implement advanced marketing automation technologies in your real estate business, let’s talk! We offer free, half-hour consultation calls, with absolutely no pressure to purchase!