5 Real Estate Marketing Tasks to Automate (and 5 You Shouldn’t)
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Time: We all want more of it. One way to eliminate hours spent on your real estate marketing strategy is to automate many of your tactics. Automation helps everyone, from the experienced professional handling multiple social media accounts and email drip campaigns to the novice just setting up their Facebook account and website. For real estate agents, there are tasks that can be scheduled to reduce the amount of time they consume — but there are also some duties that need to be handled manually. Knowing which activities can be automated and which should be dealt with on a regular basis can be difficult for marketers of any experience level to discern, so keep reading so you can adjust your real estate agent marketing plan accordingly.
5 Real Estate Marketing Activities You Should Automate
The tasks you can automate still require legwork to get up and running. Aside from finding the perfect software to use to automate your real estate marketing strategies, you should produce, publish, and promote an appreciable amount of content and have a marketing plan for each channel and content type. Once these are set up, you can automate the following five marketing functions.
1) Sharing Real Estate Website Content on Social Media
Some marketing pros will tell you not to do this, but as long as you create numerous tweets, status updates, and other social posts with unique copy and imagery, you’re good to go. But a set-it-and-forget-it strategy — only setting up a few posts to rotate for each social network — can doom agents. Think of the social media messaging you see from other brands: Are you more likely to engage with one that publishes the same boring posts to Facebook, Twitter, and the other social channels over and over again, or would you gravitate toward brands that take the time to craft and share distinct posts, even if it’s for similar content? So long as you hone your content creation skills (start with blog posts, then give ebooks, infographics, SlideShares, and digital magazines a try), you will be able to automate your social media marketing with ease. Hootsuite and Buffer are the most talked-about social media marketing automation tools, but don’t be afraid to try other lesser-discussed options on the market. Also, don’t neglect the effort needed to create amazing-looking social media images to accompany your posts. After all, social media statistics have shown imagery has a huge impact on posts’ success: It can be the difference between 100 followers, favorites, likes, and retweets or 1,000 of them.
2) Curating Others’ Content for Your Social Accounts
Add one part marketing automation with one part other people’s content creation and what do you have? Answer: The perfect recipe for saving yourself hours of marketing development, promotion, and — arguably the most important element — energy. Not even full-time content marketers share only their own content. They realize there are equally effective pieces of content across the internet and find content they know will influence their prospects. Use one of the countless content curation tools that exist to identify blog articles, how-to guides, ebooks, online magazines, and other unique content to dispense to your audience via social media and email. Take some time now to figure out which curation resources to use so you can save time in the long term automating an essential portion of your content marketing.
3) Sending Newsletter or Digest Emails to Subscribers
Once your social media is set to go with the latest and greatest automation tools, it’s time to turn your attention to your real estate email marketing plans. Given the importance professionals in all industries place on email — more than 70% say it’s a core function of their marketing strategies — it’s not surprising there are plenty of sleek, modern automation systems to help craft, organize, and measure campaigns with ease. First, create a sturdy backlog of content to dispense to your audience. Consumers only pay attention to brands they trust and who have proven to develop unique content, so be authentic and consistent with your content marketing messages and production. Use email automation tools to build and schedule campaigns, featuring mixes of various types of content and listings.
4) Adding New Real Estate Leads to Your CRM Database
It’s not just your day-to-day promotional tasks that can be automated — you should also find ways regularly to add leads into your customer relationship management (CRM) database based on their stage of the inbound sales funnel. Say you have 20 real estate website visitors in a week’s span who fill out a form with their contact information. Instead of going into your CRM and manually adding the new leads’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, and job titles with your existing platform, use a lead management platform that does all that for you and more. The best real estate CRMs remove much of the grunt work that goes along with getting leads into your database, backing up their information in the cloud, and following up with them to learn all about their needs. Testing various solutions is your best bet to find the CRM that fits your business needs, so go on a free-trial rampage with the most popular software on the market and eventually you’ll land on the lead management resource that makes your nurturing efforts a cinch.
5) Setting Lead and Client Follow-Up Reminders in Your CRM
Before you can automate emails to new leads in your CRM, you need to set up a scheduled workflow that defines when you’ll get in touch with them, how often you’ll send them email, and what kinds of messages to send them. That’s how real estate email drip campaigns work: They’re not simply made up of a random set of emails to share with prospective clients, but a meticulously crafted group of messages with different intents based on the actions taken by your leads. Let’s say you have a new home seller lead who immediately contacts you by filling out a form on your website saying they’ve vetted several agents and you’re one they’re strongly considering. Then, you get another lead who opened a newsletter email and clicked on a blog post. The former is far different from the latter — thus, both require distinct email drip messaging since they’re at different stages of buying or selling, so just keep that in mind when automating your email.
5 Real Estate Marketing Tasks to Perform Manually
On the flip side of the coin is the realization that not every activity you partake in can be automated. So, which activities do you need to handle manually in order to keep your online marketing strategy a well-oiled machine? There are five primary tasks that stand out.
1) Providing Customer Service to Your Clients and Leads
A home buyer lead wants more information on the schools in your market’s district. A former client has a referral for you and needs to know how they should get in touch with you. A seller has second thoughts on a bid and wants to negotiate. There is no limit to the types of customer service requests you will handle during your time as an agent. Because each request will be unique, a standard “Thanks for getting in touch — I’ll help you shortly!” email doesn’t cut it. Rather, distinct, individual messages need to be shared with each of these contacts. Fail to do so and you run the risk of alienating your prospects and clients and, even worse, losing their business. Many of your customer service requests will come through your Facebook Page and Twitter feed, and while the temptation to keep the conversation strictly on these social networks is strong, your best bet is to figure out their problem via the social channel, then take it offline to help them in a more personal manner. While it may be tempting to put your customer service on autopilot, spend the time and energy needed to truly solve your contacts’ issues. Make them feel special. Address specific steps as to how you’ll help them and reassure them you’re the right person for the job by meeting their expectations. Automation lacks personalization, so taking this route to ensure client (and future client) satisfaction is essential.
2) Engaging with Your Audience Through Social Media
Social media engagement can go a long way in developing your real estate brand reputation and possibly even help you go viral for all the right reasons. Having said that, it’s far easier to resolve problems, assuage any concerns, answer questions, and provide information your contacts crave face to face or, at the very least, over the phone. Think of it this way: Hearing a lead’s voice or seeing the body language of a client in person can give you far more insights into their dilemmas and anxieties than a 140-character tweet ever can, so invite your contacts out for coffee or visit them at their residences when troubles arise and questions need to be answered, instead of sending a stock status update saying “Help is on the way!”
3) Sharing Special Promotional Messages on Social Media
Each social network is different and unique, so posting the same message promoting your business on each one won’t do you any favors. Instead, craft responses tailored for each social outlet: short and sweet messages for Twitter, lengthier updates for Facebook and Google+, and more visual-based posts for Pinterest and Instagram. Here’s a prime example: Many real estate agents like to offer free home buying or selling webinars or consultations to prospective clients. Let’s say you decide to host an online Google Hangout with leads, but will provide different tips in each webinar you conduct. Promoting each individual one with the same standard social media post — “Be sure to register for my next home buying webinar!” — and accompanying image featuring you and “Join my webinar!” won’t make your your events unique or memorable.
4) Generating Real Estate Marketing Analytics Reports
Some software allows professionals to generate reports on a regular basis (weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc.) that feature general metrics for their websites, social media channels, and email marketing. This is certainly helpful, but to get a full grasp of what is and isn’t working for your real estate marketing, you’ll need a more intricate exploration into these analytics. An analytics report that’s automatically sent to you via email from a third-party service, for instance, can only give you a high-level understanding of how many visitors your site had in the previous couple of weeks or how many clicks your calls to action (CTAs) received, but if you want to know which pages received the most traction and engagement and which CTAs garnered the most clicks, you need to spend some time manually viewing Google Analytics and any other analytics platform you use.
5) Qualifying and Scoring Your Real Estate Leads
There is no shortage of services out there that can help real estate agents score and qualify their leads on an array of criteria — from how often they open emails to the last time they called. It’s easy to assign specifications in a software platform that automates what grade to assign to your leads, but there are intricate details for each prospect in your real estate CRM that can’t be quantified, so it’s best to use your judgment when assessing leads. Use an objective grading system to qualify your leads, like the actions they take, but feel free to add in some subjective classifications for each prospect as well. A seller lead may have indicated a week ago they were nearly ready to put their home on the market, but if you receive an email from them after that call saying they “may consider offers soon” or “might want to host open houses,” that could indicate a newfound hesitancy to sell. There are obviously many subjective situations that can occur when scoring real estate leads, so be sure to add notes manually after each touch you have with a lead so you remember exactly what their mindset is and can, in turn, understand which leads to pursue, which need more time, and which you can designate as “cold” and pass over.
Want more info on how automation can improve your real estate marketing strategy in the short and long run? Then check out this comprehensive Academy post, which explains the ins and outs of automation for agents.
What real estate marketing ideas do you have for automating your various activities? Tell us what tactics and techniques you need to automate most for your real estate marketing plan in the comments below.
Published on August 5, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.