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4 Steps to Drip Marketing Success

Drip_1 Melani Gordon is back.  Last month she examined the growth of online real estate ad spending, this month she's bringing it with some email marketing tips.  Melani is regularly published in Realty Success Magazine, and we're honored to be able to pin her down for another pearl of wisdom.

Online Marketing: 4 Steps to Drip Email Marketing Success

By Melani Gordon

I recently attended Inman Connect expo this past July in San Francisco geared toward real estate Internet marketing. The topic was titled, “The Web, Its Opportunity and Its Limitations for Real Estate Customer Acquisition.” The moderator focused the guest speakers on what they do now and what methods and/or tools don’t work. The panel was comprised of 3 successful brokers and one technology provider.

Imagine a hotel conference room filled with 130 real estate agents and brokers. These were a group of professionals who were chomping at the bit to get the next golden marketing ticket. Half way through the session a top broker from Florida spoke up about her thoughts and the use of “drip marketing” in her business. She stated that, “My brokerage doesn’t utilize drip marketing. I don’t recommend my agents use this approach. I mean really, what consumer wants to get an email 60 days later after contacting an agent about how to make chicken cacciatore?”

As the room fell silent, I chuckled to myself and found myself wondering what everyone else was thinking. I purchased a home 2 ½ years ago. Now my husband and I are ready to sell our Pt. Loma condo in San Diego.  The original buyers agent has failed to stay in touch with us over the last couple years. Rest assured she will not be getting a phone call from us. The first agent who came to mind was the one who happened to be top of mind. 

Let’s take a step back and walk through what we like to call a proven 4 step process to success. This is a system to help keep you top of mind with your clients AND prospects. Let’s take a peek at just how important it is to have a lead follow up system, even if that means sending automated emails to your sphere. Granted, the email content doesn’t have to revolve around your favorite recipes for the holiday. Be a persistent marketer and utilize a drip email marketing system to stay in touch with your sphere of influence. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

  1. Don’t try and email your list of 300 clients and prospects manually. This can be very time consuming and tedious. I still see real estate professionals thinking they can handle this on their own. If this sounds like you, you are wasting precious time.     
  2. Do subscribe to a drip marketing campaign system. This will automate the process for you. Begin arranging your client and prospect lists into some predefined campaigns.  I’ve seen this range from a first time home buyer campaign that will run for six months, and send up to 2 or 3 emails a month to each contact in that campaign. I’ve seen systems with predefined client email campaigns with targeted emails on touch points for the audience who already bought a home from you.  A couple great systems to check out are  www.birdview.com and www.sharperagent.com.
  3. Split your email list into specific neighborhood or demographic segments. Customize your email content to match this target audience. For example, if there is a hot condo market or      neighborhood in your area, send relevant emails to this group. Demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable in your market.
  4. Track the results. It is very important to understand your email statistics. When you have 110 prospects in one campaign and only 2% of that 110 are opening the email - it’s time to reevaluate. Be sure to check if you have valid email addresses and you are sending relevant content to that target group.

So, if you are still standing by waiting for the golden ticket, take this one. Be a persistent marketer and realize the importance of an ongoing drip email marketing system. This will yield results over the long haul.

If you are looking for some one-on-one consulting feel free to contact Melani direct: 619-224-2455 or email. She promised me that a quick 15 phone conversation will help you increase your prospect lead conversions.

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Comments

I'm curious to know how you handle the issues of permission marketing and html messages. I am asked constantly by agents how to create and spam just listed e-mails and other drip campaigns that are basically entire microsites in one page. None have given any consideration to things like adhering to the "can-spam" federal laws regarding unsolicited e-mail, the fact that more and more internet empowered consumers are getting smart and blocking html and image laden messages and many more issues.

Using e-mail as a marketing tool is a slippery slope, and from what I've seen, even the so-called professional service companies that facilitate this type of spam are doing a disservice to their clients. I tell every person that asks me about this, "If you do not have an e-mail or a signed document that gives you permission to send an unsolicited e-mail to someone, don't do it."

Drip campaigns, e-mail or traditional are great ways to keep "top of mind" brand presence. If agents would get smart about permission marketing at the very beginning of their established client relationships and give people easy and fast opt-out methods, I'm all for it. I haven't seen it implemented that way yet though.

Now I know what I have been doing wrong. I misunderstood and have been marketing to drips and not having much success. I guess sometimes I just jump into the flavor of the day without doing my homework.

It's very easy to avoid the spam issue - ensure you have a system that 'double opt-in's' your prospect - in other words, they fill out your lead generation form, then they get sent an email to "click this link to verify your subscription" - and you're set. Issue? Many won't click that link - but those that do, you can drip to all the live long day.

Also, a good system should be able to send both plain text and html email simultaneously, determine which version the receipient prefers - and deliver that version.

If you do put some thought into your drip system, it would be very easy to implement Melani's suggestions - if you have a 'Find your dream home' form on your site, have submissions go into the custom 'buyer' drip. If your form can pull what area they're interested in, then you can push them into that specific drip campaign.

While there are some decent drip services out there such as Intersend.com, Powermarketingcenter.com - I prefer my custom scripts that allow me to have up to 10 custom fields for my forms (such as city, bedrooms, bath, etc.) That way, I put a weird code like !neighborhood into my drip campaign scripts and when that email goes out, my system replaces that code with the user data from their form submission.

So, they get something like... "I see you're looking for a three bedroom in the Phenix City area..." Custom - and much more personal than rehashed buyer tips or recipes that your end user would probably guess is going out to all your other leads as well.

Just my $0.02

For Michael Price on adhering to the CAN-SPAM law. Renting lists and spamming consumers is UNEXCEPTALBE. I do not work with any agent who wants to deploy this strategy. The agent teams I work with have been in real estate for at least 3 years if not more, meaning they have a list of at least 50-100 people WITH emails. This list of emails is all people they have personally shaken hands with.

You have to start somewhere.

Cheryl makes some great points. But I find myself wondering when you start mentioned things such as ‘double opt-in’ and custom scripts I know I’ve lost most of my clients!

The point is to use a great system and also have someone help you or coach you on using it. I have some great affordable drip email marketing systems I’ve used with my medium sized businesses and they’ve been thrilled.

We have to keep it simple for our agents and brokers.

True, Melani - I forget how geeky I am sometimes.

Some agents I've worked with have had success with their website lead generation forms by putting a small disclaimer near the 'submit' button that asks them to click a checkbox to confirm they'd like to recieve more information by email (often including a link to their privacy policy). That's a form of "Double opt-in" - just a way to confirm that indeed, the end user is aware that they will get emailed.

If an agent has a form for "Get new listing updates by email" or "Get a free Market Analysis" then it is intuitive to the user that they'll be getting information, so the opt-in is automatic.

With any good drip system, if you want it to be truly effective - you have got to put a bit of homework in and think about what you're trying to accomplish with it. You weigh that against most folks natural obversion to getting tons of junk by email. If you do that, then you can decide the frequency with which you want to drip and decide just what you want to say in those drip emails.

Some of the drip services online are canned content - old and stale news, tips and real estate articles. My point about "custom scripts" was meant to point out that it might be better to consider writing your own drip messages that make sense for your market and are less generic than canned content. If you're in Phoenix, it might make sense to offer a drip message to a potential seller client on how to clean the pool or hide the air conditioner unit in the backyard.

And if you're shooting to become 'Real Estate 2.0' - why not encourage folks to subscribe to your blogs RSS, point them back to other great sections of your website - event calendar, market update page. Think outside the box and plan before jumping in to drip marketing and you may have more success.

$0.02 from the RE Geek :)

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