Imagine running an ad for a new property listing and seeing your inbox and voicemail fill up with interested new leads. Your ad clearly hit the mark; now all you need to do is follow up and turn these leads into customers. But wait, you still have contracts to submit, leads from last week’s open house to enter into your database, and current customers to get back to. You end up not following up with your new leads, so they move on to the next available real estate agent.
Without real estate marketing automation, these missed opportunities mean business growth suffers.
Part of being a successful real estate agent depends on how good you are at building strong relationships with leads and current customers. A big part of developing these relationships — and closing sales — requires adding value to the customer experience. This is why automation is a vital part of managing a lot of the work you do.
Automation helps you stay on top of paperwork, data entry, social media, and other tasks so that you can spend more time nurturing leads and closing sales.
Let’s take a closer look at what automation means for real estate marketing, and how to incorporate it into your business.
Why automation in real estate matters
Real estate marketing automation takes tedious, manual tasks and facilitates their completion quickly and accurately. Tasks like data entry and appointment follow-ups are important, but they take up time you could use to focus on customer engagement. Automation is based on different apps and tools to minimize the amount of intervention from you.
Since you work with multiple customers at one time, there’s a lot happening at once. You have to:
- Follow up with leads from open houses
- Email new customers listings to review
- Book viewings for other customers
- Prep and run ads
- Update social media posts
- Respond to emails from other agents
Plus much more. The good news is that a lot of these types of tasks can be automated to free up your time to focus on customer experience.
Based on the bottlenecks you deal with on a daily basis, here’s how real estate marketing automation changes things for the better:
- You manage multiple relationships at once, and every customer’s at a different stage of their customer journey: Automation helps make sure no one falls through the cracks.
- You have to send contracts to other agents and back to your customers: Automation simplifies processes, so work is completed quickly.
- You juggle following up with new leads and current customers: Automation helps you set up campaigns that help you follow up in a prompt manner.
- You have to manually enter lead names and contact information: Automation simplifies data entry and ensures accuracy.
- You interact with leads who are ready to move forward with their sale or purchase: Automation helps you move leads through the sales funnel quicker.
- You have to follow up and confirm bookings for property showings: Automation helps you confirm at the right time.
Given the fact that 83% of customers start their real estate journey online, it makes sense that they’d want to work with tech-savvy realtors. With this in mind, let’s look at how you can use automation to give your audience what they want and serve them as best you can.
Real estate marketing automation in action
Since there are so many moving pieces in real estate — calls, paperwork, advertising, and more — there are lots of opportunities to automate your tasks. The first step is to list all of your processes and identify which ones take up the most time, so you can flag them for automation.
To help you get started, we’ve identified six areas that benefit from real estate marketing automation. Also included are some of the apps and tools you can use to complete these tasks and examples of them in action.
1. Lead management
Your ability to attract and manage new leads determines your success as an agent. The more leads you get, the better. The more leads you can turn into customers, even better. What you likely don’t have time for is manually entering and then analyzing the lead data you collect. For example, if you use a sign-in sheet at your open houses to collect visitor information, chances are you’ll run into some of these issues:
- Illegible handwriting
- Missing information like an email address or phone number
- No information from some visitors
- Minimal insight into visitor needs
An app like Spacio can be downloaded onto an iPad or tablet to help you collect leads at your open houses. As visitors sign in, their information is automatically added to your CRM database.
What’s great about Spacio is you can set which fields are required, so you avoid getting incomplete information. The app also lets you include questions, so you have a little more information about the leads. For example, you can ask about their budget, how soon they want to buy, or if they’re working with an agent or looking for one.
To help you manage your leads and keep them engaged after they leave the open house, Spacio lets you send automated emails. This way, you don’t have to make a mental note of what each visitor shared with you. Spacio takes the information leads enter and turns it into a follow-up email.
This way your follow-up email sounds more like this:
It was great to see you today. Based on your budget of $500,000 and your preferred close date of 60 days, I’m confident I can help you find what you need.
Can I call you to discuss this more?”
Great to meet you today.
Give me a call if you need anything.”
Plus customizing each of your follow-up emails manually would be incredibly time-consuming.
2. Email marketing
Studies show that 94% of real estate agents prefer to communicate with customers via email. This is handy considering emails have an open rate of 20-40%. Email marketing is an important part of business because you can personalize campaigns, include simple calls-to-action (CTAs), and track results to make emails more meaningful.
Email inboxes are private and personal spaces, so people don’t give access to just anyone. Once a lead or customer gives you the green light to send them emails, use automation to send timely and relevant information.
For example, you can create drip campaigns that send people 9 or 10 emails over the course of a few weeks. These campaigns are meant to guide leads through the sales funnel.
A tool like Mailchimp lets you segment email subscribers, so you can send them each custom content. For example, you can:
- Segment by lead magnet. Send people who clicked on your lead magnet an intro to you and your business and a series of emails that highlight the services you offer.
- Segment by landing page lead form. If you run ads and redirect people to a landing page, you can send emails that are specific to the ad content. For example, if you offer free home estimates, your emails can talk about the value of estimates, what they can be used for, and your guarantees.
- Segment by event. If you’re at a trade show and meet your audience, you can send them follow-up emails about the event and links to new listings.
[Source] Create segments based on the actions they take
There are lots of other ways to segment your audience; the point is you can automate and personalize all of the emails you send with very little effort.
3. Facebook ad generation
Facebook ads are a great way to find new leads to nurture and convert. As WordStream, a search marketing company, puts it, “Facebook advertising does this by allowing you to target specific audiences that are likely to be interested in your products and services by leveraging the immense wealth of data Facebook has about its users.”
This is important in real estate because the more you know about your audience, the better you are at creating relevant ads that result in a higher conversion rate.
If you’re just starting out with Facebook ads, they can feel a little intimidating. Plus, since the first few ads you run might be experimental, you’ll probably lose money since they may fail to generate new leads.
To save time creating ads to market your new listings, use a tool like Boost to create ads for you. Whenever one of your new listings goes up on MLS, Boost takes information like the price, location, and description to create a custom ad for people in your target audience to see. You don’t have to tinker with audience targeting, budget, images, or description. Boost takes care of everything for you.
Boost also creates landing pages for your ads, so you can track how many times they’ve been seen or clicked on. Since creating custom, targeted ads and analyzing the results can easily take up the majority of your day, automation frees you up to follow up with the leads you get from your ads.
If you have a strong following on other social platforms, like Instagram, Boost also creates ads to appear there. This removes the need for you to manually set where your ads appear.
4. Social media engagement
A 2017 report by the National Association of REALTORS found that 82% of realtors are comfortable using social media. Considering the fact that billions of users are on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it makes sense that more agents are using social media to build relationships.
The report also shows that 80% of agents use Facebook. Most agents use Facebook to:
- Post pictures of properties
- Share customer testimonials
- Promote upcoming events
- Share real estate advice and tips
- Survey and poll followers
- Advertise their services
If your social media strategy includes any of these posts, chances are that posting takes time. Automation helps by taking care of posting for you. With a tool like Hootsuite, all you have to do is upload the content you want to post over the next few weeks or months and set a publish time.
Set aside a few hours every few weeks to map out the content you want to share, create it, and then schedule it. Hootsuite also offers analytics that let you track engagement for your posts, how many new followers you got, and how many posts you’ve shared.
You can even share reports with your team that show performance on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not only do you save time posting on social media, but you have access to simple reports that help you tweak your social media strategy as needed.
5. Agreement signing
One of the most time-consuming aspects of real estate is the paperwork. If you’re working with a seller, you have to show them comparable homes in their area, decide on a list price, and then submit paperwork to list it. When an offer comes in, the buyer’s agent faxes or emails the documents to you, which you share with your customers. Whether they submit a counteroffer or accept the original offer, you still have to send back signed documents to the buyer’s agent. You waste precious time scanning, printing, and emailing.
A more efficient approach is to use automation software like PandaDoc. It’s an eSign platform that helps users create and share documents digitally. It simplifies workflows and makes collaboration so much more efficient so that what used to take hours to complete, takes minutes.
Some of its key real estate features include:
- An editor with drag and drop features that lets you create documents in minutes. Templates are also available to cut down creation time even more.
- Documents are available on the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere. There’s no need to head to your office to print off documents if you’re already on the road. And customers don’t have to go to your office either; you can meet them anywhere.
- PandaDoc speeds up the negotiation process even though there’s still back and forth until an offer is signed.
- eSignatures mean you can ask customers to sign anything from a buyer’s agent agreement to home inspection reports to purchase agreements — all in one place
Also, depending on the CRM system you use, PandaDoc can integrate to streamline data entry. You literally tell PandaDoc which customer the documents are for, and it can email the forms and notify you when they’re sent.
6. Customer collaboration
Our belief is that the relationship you have with your customers is the most important part of your job. Depending on what they’re looking for and their experience in real estate, your customers depend on you for guidance. Open and timely communication makes this possible. This is especially important with new customers.
Sending emails and texts are effective, but another way to guide your customers through their experience is to use a tool that combines real estate insights with customer communication.
Connect gives you a centralized place to share personalized updates with customers and share homes they might be interested in. Connect also saves you the time it would take to search MLS, save applicable listings, write an email, and then wait for a response. All of this is done in the app with a few taps.
What’s also great about Connect is you and your customers can use the mortgage calculator to quickly figure out if factors like the mortgage, home insurance, and down payment are affordable. No manual calculations are required on your part.
Tips for making real estate marketing automation count
Once you decide on what tasks to automate to free up your time, there are a few best practices to follow. These make sure automation pays off.
Here are a few key tips:
- Segment your customers and leads depending on workflow. You have multiple leads and customers who’ve reached out for different reasons and needs. Since customers value personalization, segment them, so the same types of customers receive similar, but relevant, information. For example, it’s OK to have multiple email drip campaigns depending on whether your leads are new subscribers, new service signups, or event signups.
- Use lead magnets to act as automation triggers. Automation usually takes place after a lead or customer takes action. This might mean submitting an email address or booking a viewing appointment. Based on the automation you use, think of what kind of trigger will start the process.
- Create sales funnels so that automation has a purpose and guides leads. Each of your real estate marketing automation should be designed to move visitors to leads to customers to referrals. With each automation strategy you use, think about what you want customers to do or get from the experience. For example, if you automate social media posts, the objective might be to increase website traffic. Make sure your posts always include a CTA to encourage followers to click-through to your site.
As you learn more about your customers’ preferences, you can track what your customers respond to and use automation to customize your outreach.
Relationship building in real estate
Real estate marketing automation is a game changer, but don’t feel pressure to automate everything at once. Start with your biggest bottlenecks to see results quickly, and then gradually smooth out other processes.
Some manual tasks add value to the customer experience, and whether you make the switch to automation depends on customer preferences. For instance, calling open house leads after their visit shows you care, and some customers will appreciate the personal touch. Other leads may be more receptive to text or emails, so you can do some experimenting to find which works best for your customers.
Wherever you choose to use automation, you’ll be more productive and efficient with your time — and your relationships will benefit.