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Modern Real Estate Marketing
Introduction to real estate marketing
As a real estate agent, effective marketing is your bread and butter. You use it to sell houses, attract listings, position yourself as an expert in your market and help buyers to secure their new home.
Back in the old days, it was enough to stick a photo of a property in your office window, create a mailbox flyer and stick out a sign on the lawn. The rise of digital marketing in real estate has changed all that. People now expect high quality, personalised service. In order to scale your business, you need to deliver that quality customer service to hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously.
“Capacity is a state of mind.”
Josh Phegan, world renowned real estate coach, argues that if you don’t think about how automation can help you become a better real estate agent, then you will quickly become bogged down in administrative tasks. Watch a free 30min webinar with Josh on Customer Experience in the New World. check out the recording here
What is real estate marketing?
Modern real estate marketing harnesses technology and data to create better experiences for buyers, sellers and renters in the property market, while simultaneously enabling an agent to service more clients. In the past, servicing more clients typically resulted in lower quality of service for each client. New technologies have enabled forward-thinking real estate agencies to scale rapidly, so for agents it’s now actually about minimising the amount of manual marketing you need to do.
The goal is to have complete confidence that your systems are nurturing the majority of your relationships in the background, so you only need to focus on calling clients and leads that are close to making a decision.
But with so many marketing options now available, it can be confusing to know which one to tackle first, the results you should be getting, or how all of them should work together to make your life easier - rather than pull you in a million different directions.
That’s why we’ve created The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing. We’ve drawn together the best information from some of our most successful articles, videos and white papers, to show you how to set up best practice real estate marketing from start to finish.
Whether you’re a real estate agent, agency owner, office manager or marketing coordinator, this guide will make it easier for you to navigate this exciting area with confidence in the strategies that will take your business to the next level. Not only that, you will have a clear path of implementation and tangible campaign ideas proven to generate real business outcomes.
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Defining your goals
Almost invariably, the main thing agents hope to achieve with real estate marketing is to win new listings and business.
However, if we simply chased people for listings on every single channel, we’d become repetitive, boring, boorish and we’d lose more leads than we gained. The end result would be that it becomes harder to win listings - exactly what we don’t want!
So it’s important to break your goals down further. Look specifically at what you want to achieve with your real estate marketing and the best ways to do it. The end result will drive the overarching goal of generating more business.
Below we present 7 common goals of real estate marketing that can give your marketing initiatives more focus.
1. Create awareness
You want people who live in your local area or who are looking to buy in your local area to know who you are and where they can find you. A range of marketing tactics can achieve this - from making sure you own your Google My Business profile, through to your website, and even your agent profile on the major real estate portals.
2. Build a reputation
You want your potential clients to know they can trust you and that they are in safe hands should they choose you as their agents. Demonstrating your knowledge of the local property market is a great way to do this - either as a video or by sharing a market report. You can make these available via your website, post links on social media, or send them out via email.
3. Show how you can help
Next, you want your audience to understand how you can help them. The best way to demonstrate that is not by telling them how great you are - that’s just bragging. Instead, look at ways you can show how you’ve helped others in the past. Posting articles on your website that answer common questions about buying, selling and renting can be really useful to potential clients. Sharing testimonials and case studies can also be great here.
4. Convert contacts into clients
One of the key roles of your real estate marketing activity is to turn people you’ve just met into contacts in your database, and to turn your contacts into clients. You need a two step process in place to achieve this goal. The first step is to ensure that every name, phone number and email that you receive goes into your database. The second is to ensure that you have a good email marketing structure in place that will communicate regularly, backed up by a good phone call connection strategy.
5. Deliver better service to more people
No one can deny that one-to-one connection is the best way to deliver an amazing service. But if you personally try to always deliver all elements of that service yourself - either over the phone or in person - you’ll run yourself ragged and limit how much business you can do. Instead, you need to look at ways you can deliver what feels like a personalised service at scale and to as many people as possible. Email marketing is awesome at this type of marketing. By creating specific audiences, you can provide information that resonates specifically with different types of people and meet their needs more accurately.
6. Make your life easier with automation
Automation is one of the most powerful technologies currently taking over real estate. It’s powerful because it provides better experiences for clients and contacts, but it also makes your life as an agent a lot easier by doing the heavy lifting of your marketing. Understanding that the majority of clients are looking for similar types of information means you can create processes and structures to deliver this information either ‘on demand’ in the form of chatbots on your website or social media, or at key periods through email marketing. Automations can be as simple as “if contact is identified as a buyer, tag in CRM with ‘buyer’, send weekly hot new property listings email, through to extensive automations that deliver entire client journeys.
7. Remain in touch with past clients and keep them in the loop
It costs five times more to win a new client than it costs to keep an existing one. This is just as true in real estate as it is anywhere else, even though the time between transactions can be long. Stay connected with past clients through regular emails that share information about the property market that they’ll find useful, and you’ll probably find they are not only more willing to do business with you again, but will refer friends and family to you in the meantime.
Start by choosing 1 or 2 goals that you want to focus on each quarter. Your aim should be to achieve those goals in a scalable way so that when you move on to the next set of goals, you don’t overextend yourself trying to keep multiple manual campaigns running - let automation take care of it for you. Once you’ve defined and set your goals for real estate marketing, the next step is to start organising the audiences for your marketing and start leveraging your database.Download Free eBook
Utilising your customer database
Your customer database or CRM is absolutely critical in all elements of real estate marketing. Think of it as the engine that will drive everything you do with your marketing - regardless of whether that’s email marketing, phone calls or even social media.
The names and details of people you have done business with before, or met at open houses or through inquiries for properties - are the fuel that drives your marketing. Having a clean and organised database will make your marketing not only easier but more effective too.Read our article on ‘How to clean your database’ here.
The big reason for having clean data is simply this - you can segment your audience and target the right people with the right message. The better you segment, the more your marketing will resonate.
Think about it. If you’re a first home buyer in the market for a two bedroom apartment, your needs are very different to a family looking to sell their family home to upsize. You’d expect to receive different information and have different conversations. Segmenting your data makes it easy for you to do this with a lot of people, all at once.
1. Segment your data
Once you’ve got your data into shape, it’s time to get serious and segment your data. This is also a job that can initially feel overwhelming. The first rule is Don’t Panic.
Read this customer story that details the method one office used to successfully set up their own segmentation system.
The trick to segmenting is to keep it as simple as possible. When most people start out segmenting their data, there is a tendency to feel you need to put people into categories. These can be very rigid and quickly get out of date - and you’ll need a LOT of categories.
Instead, think of how you can ‘tag’ clients to identify elements of their behaviour. These can be tags that
- identify who they are (buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, past client),
- give more details about their needs (first home buyer, upsizer, downsizer, investor)
- identify the time frame in which they want to act (now, three months, six months, next year)
- recognise their status (hot, warm, cool)
- Recognise who they belong to (Michelle’s contacts, Andy’s contacts etc)
The really cool thing about tags is that they are really flexible and contacts in your database can have multiple tags. You can add them on and take them off a contact quickly.
Pro tip: Create some rules around how you name your tags, write them on a separate document and make sure you and your team stick to them. It’s easy to accidentally create multiple tags and this can quickly get messy.
2. Create audiences
An audience is a fluid group of contacts that share a particular attribute, or set of attributes. As attributes change, contacts can be dynamically added to or removed from the audience.
Your audience is built off certain common attributes. So you create your audience by setting rules based on the fields and tags associated with your contacts. Let’s look at an example.
- Buyer, first home buyer, hot, now, Michelle’s contacts
- Buyer, upsizer, warm, 3 months, Michelle’s contacts
- Buyer, upsizer, cold, one year, Michelle’s contacts
There are lots of audiences we can create from these examples.
- We could create an audience of general buyers, and share general information about buying and send it out on behalf of Michelle.
- We could create an audience of upsizers, and send out information specifically pertinent to people looking to upgrade their property to show Michelle’s expertise in this space.
- We could create an audience of buyers who have said they are interested in buying in about a year, and put them into a nurture campaign that keeps Michelle in front of them without being intrusive.
- We could create an audience of buyers who have told Michelle they are ready to buy now or soon, and share the latest properties we’ve listed to keep them active.
See how one agency owner used rules to create audiences and reduced the amount of categories they needed to segment their database
3. Survey your audience on their preferences
How many people in your database do you know exactly what they’re looking for? There will no doubt be a sphere of people you are in close contact with, where you know their preferences for buying a house in a certain suburb, within a specific price range and with just the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This information is gold for a real estate agent. The more contacts you have in your database where you understand their property preferences, the more valuable the database. So how do you get more of this information? Simply ask.
ActivePipe uses a data hygiene survey to quickly and concisely collect this information from the contacts in your database. Many customers are happy to give this information over, because it means you can then give them a better customer experience. With this information in hand, you can now deliver highly targeted property emails that are relevant to their specific needs - it’s a win-win. The challenge is that an individual's preferences change over time as they progress through their property journey. This is why we recommend surveying your entire database every quarter to ensure you have the most up to date information and are providing them the best customer experience possible.
The combination of clean data that’s been segmented by intent gives you enormous power and flexibility. It will allow you to create more targeted email marketing campaigns that have higher open and click through rates, and you can also upload and use these audiences in social media like Facebook, or create look-alike audiences to broaden your reach even further. In the next chapter, we’ll focus on what channels are available to reach your audiences.Download Free eBook
Real estate marketing channels
The key to mastering marketing is knowing how and when to use different approaches. Focusing only on one channel to generate business not only limits the audience you can reach, it also doesn’t consider how the customer wants to engage with you, which should be your main focus.
In this chapter we will outline some of the core marketing channels that agents and marketers should be using in real estate. By the end of this chapter you should start to identify areas where you might be able to make adjustments or additions to your current approaches, but don’t jump right in and start making changes right away. Make sure to read chapter 6 first!
Your website should not just feature properties you have for sale, it should be a resource that features information to help potential clients understand the different stages of buying and selling. Look to feature answers to key questions buyers and sellers may have when they’re researching the market. It should be the place you drive traffic to from your social media and email marketing.
It’s important to consider your clients experience at every stage of their journey. For example, you can increase the amount of times your listings are clicked on by 400% with simple photography edits to make your listings more visually appealing. Agencies like BoxBrownie charge about $2 per photo edit. Small investments like these can have a huge impact on your clients’ experience and your volume of leads.
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or even TikTok, social media can provide you with a targeted audience. The trick is to post content that is genuinely engaging that people want to look at. Consider using social media higher up your marketing funnel rather than trying to convert people to use you as their agent straight away.
We see agents using social media successfully to build awareness and start conversations in their communities. They do this by posting about their local neighbourhood, market conditions or sharing beautiful properties. Being able to target posts by location and paint a picture of the lifestyle in your area can be a powerful way to build your brand locally. For example, Brett Hunter from Raine & Horne Terrigal often shares videos of surfers at his local beach to capture the local lifestyle. Read Brett’s story here.
Make the goal of your social media posts to be to encourage people to join your email list. Consider tools like HomePrezzo that allow you to create more content more often, with less effort.
While social media may seem like the queen of the prom right now, email marketing is the king of modern real estate marketing. That’s because email marketing can do some seriously heavy lifting when it comes to nurturing and converting leads. Done well, it’s email marketing that really brings all the different elements of your marketing together. Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing, delivering $42 of value for every $1 spent.
Download our whitepaper for a guide to the ROI and pros and cons of different marketing channels.
If someone has given you their email address, they’ve signalled that they see value in being connected to you and hearing from you. The challenge is to live up to that promise. Josh Phegan explains the unique power of email for real estate agents below.
Targeted Content Marketing
The decision cycle for someone who is in the property market can easily be 12-18 months. The majority of people are not ready to buy immediately and depending on their preferences won’t need to be in contact with you every day. This doesn’t mean you leave them alone - on the contrary these contacts need your advice more than anyone.
Content written to solve the pain points experienced by the different property personas is critical. This could be delivered in the form of a blog post, in an email or via Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. The options are: write it yourself (time consuming), hire a content writer (expensive) or use a tool like RealEstate Content to access pre-written articles. Video content and reports are also highly effective ways to provide useful information about your market. These can build these in just a few seconds with apps like HomePrezzo.
The big mistake many make is to restrict yourself to one distribution channel. People consume content and engage through different channels. Using channels like SMS or Whatsapp is an important part of real estate marketing. Around 30% of real estate web traffic occurs on mobile devices (MessageMedia.com), so SMS can be a great way to stay in touch using a more conversational tone. SMS can even be automated and built into multi-channel marketing campaigns (hint: watch this space!)
Whether it’s a listing on a real estate portal or a Google Ad, there’s still a place for paid advertising in real estate. Just make sure ads are well targeted and leads are followed up promptly. Making successful contact with a lead is 100 times greater when the attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes (LeadResponseManagement).
It’s important not to rely too heavily on ads, but instead have a broad spread of other marketing activities happening at the same time. The advertising space is becoming more and more competitive (therefore more expensive) and ads are only a one-way activity. Building relationships that last relies on communication being two-way.
As an agent, you will likely be marketing in some of these channels already. Where many agents go wrong is, they will see some marketing that catches their attention and immediately goes down that path. This often results in half-complete campaigns and wasted money. Knowing which channel to prioritise and invest your time and budget in, requires first knowing your customer and what content will be relevant to them. In the next chapter we take a look at some content marketing ideas that you can implement.Download Free eBook
Content marketing for real estate
Now that you know what channels are available, it’s time to look at what your audience will find valuable and engaging. You might be surprised how much content you already produce or how easy it can be to turn existing messaging into new versions for different channels.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most engaging types of real estate content with some ideas around how and when to use it.
1. Market Reports
Whether someone is ready to sell now or hasn’t even considered selling yet, generating interest in the property market is imperative to the success of your business as a real estate agent. A market report can be either a physical report that you hand out at inspections or even a website landing page that can be quickly found online utilising the latest data. Check out ActivePipe’s new MarketInsights feature and the HomePrezzo Suburb Reports as options here.
2. Blogs and articles
Evergreen articles that answer common questions around buying, selling and renting can be extremely powerful at reassuring potential clients about your expertise when they start doing some research. Updates on current issues in real estate are also highly engaging and can attract attention in emails and newsletters. You can hire freelance writers (expect to pay up to $500 a piece) or you can take time out of your busy week to write them yourself. If neither appeals, check out RealEstateContent from ActivePipe which will provide you with a stream of professionally written articles you can use in emails, on your website or social media.
Visual information is processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, our recollection of what we see visually is 4 times higher than what we read and an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a text article. So an infographic is a great way to engage attention and can be a really helpful way to share information about the property market. You can use tools like Canva to turn statistics about your market into an infographic or try the infographic template inside HomePrezzo to create them quickly.https://app.homeprezzo.com.au/view/mfGmMDPdvg
4. Suburb or Market Videos
Grab a selfie stick, find a quiet location and bust out a piece to camera about how your local market is performing, or how your auctions fared. You can even hit the street and interview some of the local celebrities in your area to talk about why your community is great to live in. It’s not just the shooting of the video, but editing and intros you’ll need to set up. But if that feels too much like hard work or you hate the idea of appearing in front of the camera, solutions like HomePrezzo will turn the market data for your area into an engaging video for emails and social media.
5. Community events and sponsorships
Most agencies are involved in local events or support charities and great causes in their communities. But have you ever thought about what great content that makes? Invitations to events, encouraging people to donate, mobile phone video or live streams of your team conducting crazy stunts in the name of a good cause - it’s all great content you can share. Take lots of photos and you can create photo galleries that will get great community engagement.
6. Quality photography
The reason we have the term ‘property porn’ is because of the power of photography in real estate to help us imagine an alternative lifestyle in a new home. Stunning photos make great posts on platforms like Instagram where you can attract completely different audiences by posting them under hashtags like #luxuryhomes, #tropicalliving or even #designerkitchens. But empty properties, bad weather, difficult tenants or arguing couples can make it difficult to get the shots you need. Consider photo editors like BoxBrownie who can replace rainy skies with sunsets, furnish empty homes or even declutter with their editing services.
7. Property Listings
Your property listings are great content - especially when targeted to active buyers in the market who want to make sure they don’t miss a single new home on the market. Delivering these via a weekly email or ‘hot listing’ email can be very powerful. Make sure you link any posts back to your website - not the portals - to improve your ability to track the traffic. The trick with property listings is to not share all of them all the time. While unique, historic or luxury properties can work well as attention grabbing posts to a broad audience, be careful not to overdo it. Constantly post all your listings to everyone and you’ll quickly lose engagement.
8. Property Listing Videos
From lavish top end productions requiring entire camera crews through to more real videos shot on your mobile phone, a video can tell a story about the property or give potential buyers a better ‘feel’ for the lifestyle it affords. Uploading video to social media platforms like Facebook also gets better organic traffic than static posts which means your message can go further before you need to advertise.
9. 3D Walkthroughs
Virtual walkthroughs really came into their own during the Covid lockdown periods and are now here to stay. They are different to listing videos which show the elements of the property that you as the agent highlight, because they allow the property viewer to control what they see. Virtual walkthroughs can help potential buyers immerse themselves into a property and get a real feel for the flow of the home. They also provide a valuable data stream of what people found most interesting about the property. There are a host of providers including DiakritM and, Virtual Tours Creator.
Reviews and testimonials from past clients who loved your service make great content when used judiciously. Make sure your website has links to reviews and include a fresh one in each newsletter. Sites like RateMyAgent can help you collect more reviews and promote them.
Bonus: Content Calendar
By now you probably realise just how much content you’re creating on a weekly basis. To keep it all in order and make it easier to manage, use a content calendar. A content calendar helps you schedule your social media, email marketing and other tactical marketing so that you can see clearly what is going out when and how it will work together. While a content calendar works on a weekly basis, consider planning your content across a month so that you don’t get too bogged down in the weeds. To learn how to create one and download a template, click here.
One of the biggest challenges agents and marketers face is the disconnect between producing content and seeing real business return. In the next chapter we take at how to align your content marketing with your customer’s property journey.Download Free eBook
Mapping customer journeys
We’ve already touched on a lot of the different channels available to real estate agents, but it can be difficult to see how they all fit together. Before diving headfirst into any particular channels, take a step back and consider how your customers find you. This will allow you to better understand their needs, pain points and where you can reach them.
A tangible way to think about the customer journey is by breaking it down into two simple things - channels, and content.
Real Estate Marketing Channels
Channels are the mediums that deliver messages to an audience. These include:
- Your website
- Email marketing like ActivePipe
- Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
- Real estate portals such as realestate.com and Domain
- Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger or standard SMS
These are delivery mechanisms. They are where you put/post/upload/share your content. But you need to have something to say or share for them to be effective.
That’s where your content comes in.
Real Estate Content
Content is the information you’re sharing. As real estate agents, we create a huge amount of ‘content’ but we often don’t realise it. Here are some examples:
- Photos and descriptions of the properties you’re selling
- Blogs and articles - either evergreen advice or market updates.
- Market reports
- Videos. These can be market performance, property walk throughs or even interviews with local personalities.
- Testimonials and reviews
- Your agent profile
- Events you’re hosting
- Community activities and fundraisers that you support
Real Estate Customer Journeys
Now, you don’t want to share all your content in all your channels with everyone. That would be a lot of noise and really annoy people. Instead you want to think about how to send a message that will resonate and engage your audience. This is key to providing a world class customer experience.[Download Now: Free Real Estate Customer Journey Map Template]
When mapping out your customer journey, try to think like your audience. Think about how a typical buyer or seller flows through a funnel to do business with you. Most start out never having heard of you, or only very vaguely aware of you. They then - with good marketing campaigns in place - work their way down the funnel until they are raving fans.
It’s important to note that the journey will be different depending on whether the customer is a first time buyer, investor, upsizer, downsizer, seller or renter. For simplicity, we recommend to start by thinking first in terms of buyers and sellers.
Here’s a visual example of a real estate customer journey to help you see where your marketing can fit in.
To reach people at each stage of this funnel you need to tailor both the types of channels you use and the content that will resonate with them the most. If you think about it, this makes sense. At the top end of the funnel, you want channels that will have large audiences and can draw attention to you and messages with broad appeal. Towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re heading towards more one-to-one communication with content that is very personalised.
Our model above is just an example to give you inspiration. We suggest creating your own customer journey using this free template. You can mix and match your channels and content to something that feels right for you, and more importantly, your customers.
We’ve learnt in this chapter that different people require different communications based on where they are at in their property journey. However, keeping track of these changing states is almost impossible without the use of a CRM. In the next chapter we’ll show you how to generate and identify leads from your marketing campaigns.Download Free eBook
Arguably the most important function of real estate marketing is to generate or identify leads. But how does that actually happen?
One of the great things about digital marketing is the level of data that you can get about your campaigns. All engagement no matter how much or how little - and whether it is via social media, email or your website - can be tracked. This provides valuable insights into what is working, how well it is working and what is not hitting the mark.
It is through the different levels of engagement that the intentions of individuals in your audience start to surface. As contacts in your database start to click on your content in social media or open, click and engage with the content inside your emails, it becomes increasingly apparent who amongst them are interested in either buying, selling or renting.
Using engagement to identify leads
There are many types of engagement, and they all reveal degrees of interest and intention. Let’s take a look at them in some detail.
- Open rates
In email marketing, it all starts when your contacts open your email. The way to encourage this is to write interesting subject lines, and test what does and does not resonate with your audience. Consistently providing useful and interesting information creates an expectation that your emails are worth reading because they’re relevant to your audience. High open rates demonstrate that your emails are valued by your audience. Low open rates can be evidence that your emails are either poorly targeted or are not hitting the mark with the information they’re providing, so your audience is not engaging. If you’re getting a low open rate, start testing out new subject lines.
Whether it is on social media, or clicking a link on an email, clicks are an indication that the information you’ve shared is interesting to your audience. You’ll be able to see just how interested they are by the time they spend with the content, or by follow up actions like sharing it further. If they’re clicking but then bouncing straight off, it means your content was disappointing to them. If this happens a lot, you may need to rethink what you’re sharing. To encourage clicks, make sure you always include a call to action in your emails and make sure that you use engaging language to encourage that particular action.
- Content engagement
When members of your audience click on your content it is a clear signal that you’ve provided something valuable to them. If your content is generic, you’ll only get general intention back which can make it difficult to differentiate buyers from sellers, and highly engaged audiences from just browsers.
The trick to differentiating the signal from the noise in content engagement is to provide content that will be attractive to a specific audience. So an article on ‘How to Buy Your First Home’ is likely to be clicked on by first time buyers, but not by upsizers. While a piece that looks at ‘6 Tips for Investors’ will flush out any potential landlords. Equally, highlighting the latest family home listings could be a signal that someone is ready to upsize.
Even more important than clicking on the article is the length of time your audience spends with the piece and what they do next - ie: sharing it with friends, or responding to a call to action. The deeper the action, the greater the connection.
Renowned real estate coach Josh Phegan explains the value of using this engagement to build better relationships in this short video.
- Sign ups
Sign ups are one of the most valuable signals that you can get from a contact. It tells you that the person sees value in having a relationship with you and is interested in what you have to offer them right now.
Sign ups can come in the form of prospects requesting an appraisal, open home attendees signing up to your listings newsletters, content downloads from your website or social media, or subscribers to something like an ‘off-market’ club where sign ups receive exclusive first access to new listings before they are promoted generally.
Contrary to popular belief, unsubscribes are not necessarily a bad thing. They’re a clear signal that the person in your database no longer wants to be in connection to you. Ideally, this will be because they are no longer looking to buy a property, or their circumstances have changed and they are no longer a good prospect for you. As such, unsubscribes are a way that your database remains ‘clean’ and only full of potential prospects. Here’s an article we wrote on why unsubscribes are an agent’s best friend.
However, if you find your audience unsubscribing en masse, this is a signal that there’s something wrong with your email strategy. Either your content is not hitting the mark, you’re sending too frequently to the same people, or you are being regarded as spam. The real estate industry has a relatively high average unsubscribe rate of 0.7% (Hubspot), so unless your unsubscribe rate starts to creep well above 1% you’ve likely got nothing to worry about.
Equally in social media, if you find you are being ‘unfollowed’, this is a signal that the information you’re sharing is not working and it is time to adjust your course.
It’s common to find ghosts in your database. These are people who receive your emails or have followed your social media, but never engage with you. They don’t open emails, they don’t click on content you share. But that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.
Some people ghost you because they can’t be bothered to unsubscribe, while for many more of your contacts it’s likely to be a signal that they’re happy to hear from you, but they just don’t need you right now.
Tom Panos says the purpose of digital marketing is to ‘be the agent they need before they need an agent’. For those people in your database who are ghosting you, it can only take one subject line to spring them back into action so don’t write them off just yet. If they need you, they have the security of knowing they can look through their email and find you quickly.
You’ve got two approaches you can take with the ghosts in your CRM. You can do nothing and keep sending emails and sharing content as you currently are, or you can work on campaigns a couple of times a year to flush them out and re-engage. Try sending out a “have your property needs changed?” communication to see where they’re at.
To help you make sense of all of this engagement and interest and make the data that you’re getting back manageable and actionable, look to your dashboards - either in your email marketing or social media platform.
From here you should be able to see who has engaged with your campaigns and the depth of their engagement, which will allow you to see who is active, and how motivated they are, and the type of client they are likely to be - buyer, seller, investor etc.
Dashboards allow you to prioritise your actions. Your next steps could be to tag contacts according to their likely interests, create follow up campaigns that dig a little deeper on their interest area, or if they’ve shown consistent and repeated behaviour, to pick up the phone and give them a call. Ideally, once your systems are set up, the dashboard is the only place you really need to be regularly checking, while marketing automation takes care of the rest.Download Free eBook
Understanding marketing automation
Marketing automation is fast proving to be one of the key definers of success in real estate, but it’s still really misunderstood.
When you look at the key behaviours of top performing agents, all of them have a strategic approach to systemising their business, and setting processes in place to handle the ‘noise’ of day to day tasks. Automating their marketing is a key part of this. Automation allows top agents to spend their time working on the deals that really need their attention.
For more information on the behaviours of top agents, read The Top Performing Agents Report by OpenAgent.
Automation is different to repetition. When we talk about automation, we’re not talking about sending out an email to the same audience week after week. That will quickly see your marketing being marked as spam or completely ignored.
Genuine real estate marketing automation should be at the core of every real estate agent's lead generation and customer service strategy. Automation uses smart technology to ‘listen’ to your clients preferences and subsequently refine the information being sent to them based on their needs and engagement levels.
Types of automation in real estate marketing
There are two main kinds of automations:
- Chatbots - Whether sitting on Messenger or your website, chatbots can be powerful ways to provide information at all times of the day or night when buyers or sellers inquire. They provide relevant information and can answer basic questions at the time that suits your client, no matter how trivial the inquiry and pass the qualified lead off to a human.
- Email automation - Genuine email automation means intuitive, thoughtful and targeted communications - the polar opposite of spam. ActivePipe for example, sends out millions of emails on behalf of agents every week that are completely tailored to the individual receiving them, based on their personal preferences for property price, features and locations. See how our SmartMatch feature analyses all of your contact’s interactions, ranking the most relevant properties for each contact.
But automations don’t just work once. They can also tag and re-tag clients based on their behaviours around those initial emails and engagement levels, creating powerful customer journeys that feel really valuable to the clients on the receiving end.
4 key benefits of automation
Done properly, marketing automations achieve the following goals:
- Automations help you get to know your audience better
Automations collect information about your audience with every interaction - identifying what is working, who is relating to your content the most and what is falling short. Real estate marketing automations provide an extensive data set that help you understand the type of information your audience really engages with and to get better and better at delivering it. In the video below, world renown real estate coach Josh Phegan explains how automation can help you stay more informed about your customers needs.
- Automations deliver a better customer experience
Clients love well executed automations because they feel personal and deliver information specific to their needs. Even though a bot may be driving the execution, they have been set up and thought through by humans, and getting the information you need at exactly the time you need it is a much more empowering experience than waiting for days for an agent to call you back. Josh Phegan explains how clever automation can deliver better customer experience in this short video.
- Automations boost your productivity
Done well, automations allow you to ‘set and forget’ knowing that the heavy lifting of caring for your initial client inquiries and lead nurturing is being taken care of to a very high level. This frees up your time to concentrate on more important work like connecting on the phone (with your newly qualified leads) and closing deals.
- Automations help you avoid mistakes and repeat what’s working
The data that comes out of marketing automations provide you with powerful guidance about what has worked - and what hasn’t. Seen as a single view, this helps you zero in on what has been successful and repeat it, while scaling back on activities that have not been so successful.
The benefit using marketing automation to save time is an obvious one for real estate agents on the go. However, the ability to collect better quality data can’t be fully realised until you understand how marketing automation works in tandem with your CRM to give you unprecedented marketing power.Download Free eBook
Amplifying your CRM
Throughout this guide we have emphasised the importance of your CRM in all aspects of real estate marketing. It is the central source of truth for your contacts and where you organise your customer data so that it can be utilised for sales and marketing activities.
Your average real estate CRM has some great functionality around sending emails and may even support basic social media marketing. However, there is a saying that if the only tool you have in your tool box is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. The same is true in real estate marketing.
The CRM should be the foundation that you build out from, rather than used to do everything under the sun. By adding the additional layers of a real estate email marketing platform, specialised targeted content and your social media management tools, you’ll find that your real estate marketing quickly becomes more powerful while also requiring less work from you.
The real power of a CRM is unlocked when it’s combined with specialist real estate marketing tools
There are 5 main reasons for this:
Real estate email marketing platforms like ActivePipe or social media platforms for real estate like Spoke make it super easy to set up your real estate marketing strategies and get results quickly. You don’t have to be a digital marketing genius and learn the ins and outs - they’re designed to be set up and functioning straight out of the box.
As specialists in the real estate space, real estate marketing platforms are designed with tools that solve specific challenges that are unique to real estate. Some examples include functionality that makes sharing property listings quick and efficient, templates designed specially for the property industry and audience segmentations that reflect real estate needs. They also have support available that understands the common questions agents have.
While your CRM can probably create a one-off monthly newsletter satisfactorily if you put the time into it, we all know that modern real estate marketing requires consistent and regular touch points. These can be extremely time consuming when done manually. Modern real estate marketing platforms have sophisticated tools to make it easy to set up automated campaigns that take your contacts on a journey with the goal of establishing, building and nurturing your relationship with them. Some providers even have pre-built campaigns that you can run out of the box. This means you can have marketing working for you for many months at a time.
- Behavioural targeting
Whether it is in social media or an email, whenever someone clicks on a link or interacts with your content, new generation real estate marketing platforms have the smarts built in to tag contacts, understand their behaviour, and automate the next piece of communication with them. Taking the example of sending an email newsletter through a CRM, this would require you to go back through each response and manually flag the actions that need to be taken every time you send something out. Because modern real estate marketing platforms have these responses built in, communications are more relevant, consistent and save a huge amount of time.
When a client engages with the content you have shared either through your email marketing or social, that can be a powerful signal that needs a quick response (ideally within 5 minutes!). While most CRMs will record a note against the contacts record, real estate marketing platforms like ActivePipe alert you the second leads convert, and can even suggest properties matching the leads’ preferences so that you can deliver quick, personalised service. Typical marketing platforms also use dashboards enabling you to see leads at a glance that have surfaced as a result of your campaigns. In the highly competitive environment of real estate, simply being slow to contact a lead can easily cost you thousands in commission.
There are many exciting capabilities that can be achieved by investing in specialist real estate marketing platforms to amplify the power of your CRM. However, the most beneficial reason of all was mentioned at the very beginning of this guide. Real estate marketing is all about using technology to minimise the amount of manual marketing you need to do. Set up your systems once and reap the benefits for years to come.
We hope you’ve enjoyed The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing and found it a useful resource. Here’s our final summary of how to achieve a new level of customer service with real estate marketing:
- Scale your ability to provide great customer experiences.
Real estate marketing is about providing better customer experiences with less manual effort. If you don’t put systems in place to manage large numbers of relationships, either volume or quality will suffer.
- Get detailed with your goals.
We all want to generate more business, but think about the specific goals that are going to get you there. whether that’s building a strong reputation or staying top of mind with past clients, set goals that give your campaigns focus.
- Data is the fuel that will drive your marketing
It all starts and ends with the quality of the contact details you have in your CRM so put practices into place to clean and organise your target audiences.
- Know what channels your prospects use.
Don’t limit your marketing to one or two channels. Identify all the touchpoints where you can interact with your prospects and always consider how and where your customer wants to engage with you.
- Content identifies intent.
Sharing content is the best way to gently identify intent inside your database. Different types of content engage at different levels of the marketing funnel, but creating a rich array of material is probably easier than you think.
- Match your marketing to your customer.
Never launch marketing campaigns on a whim. Think like your customer and always make sure you understand their needs, pain points and where you can reach them. This will inform decisions around the content and channels you should use.
- Great real estate marketing drives leads to your business.
The purpose of all of your real estate marketing is to drive leads to your business, but this is now a sophisticated journey, not a blunt force instrument. Recognise there are degrees of engagement, while also keeping your eye on the end goal.
- Set up automations to save time, stress and money.
Real estate marketing today needs scale, and automations are more effective than humans in this area. Think through and set up automations so that they do the heavy lifting of identifying behaviour and surfacing leads so you and your team can focus on following up the leads!
- Unlock the power of your CRM with specialist tools.
Don’t try to do everything with your CRM. Instead, build on it by adding specialist tools that utilise and enrich the data in your CRM, and open up a world of new capabilities that modern technology enables.
About the Author:
The Scalable Agent: List & Sell More With Modern Real Estate Marketing was written by content marketing expert Kylie Davis on behalf of ActivePipe.
Kylie Davis is a leading commentator and presenter on innovation and content marketing in real estate. She holds an MBA from the University of NSW and a 25-year career across media holding senior editorial and marketing roles at Fairfax, News Corp and CoreLogic before joining Nathan Krisanski as co-founder at HomePrezzo which was purchased by ActivePipe in June 2020.
Kylie is the author of several landmark reports in real estate including The Perceptions of Real Estate Agents series for CoreLogic, Future of Real Estate Report, Real State of Leadership (with TMJ Coaching) and The Behaviours of Top Performing Agents Report for OpenAgent.Download Free eBook