As a real estate agent, you’re constantly looking for ways to free up more time. Using an online marketing platform can streamline your marketing processes and improve customer retention. Discover what marketing automation is and how to use it in your business.
Marketing automation, in a nutshell, is the process of using software to undertake or manage repetitive marketing tasks, rather than people.
In recent years, a number of online marketing platforms have arrived on the scene that are in essence a much more advanced version of your real estate CRM system.
Not only do these marketing automation systems contain a central contact database, but they also help you to schedule and track all your online marketing activities. Helping you create a more streamlined and integrated marketing approach across your entire real estate business.
What marketing automation IS
Automated marketing systems are designed to save you and your team time, money and most importantly help avoid any duplicate data management effort.
But the best part of all, where they truly come into their own, is that these systems are designed to use predictive analytics to help nurture vendor or prospective client leads.
An automated marketing system is far more effective than your real estate CRM and emailing systems alone, because these systems enable you to personalise your marketing messages and content, right down to the individual interests of the contacts in your database.
In turn, you are showing prospective clients that you understand their needs, their lifestyles and day to day challenges, making you a more attractive choice as a real estate agent.
What marketing automation ISN’T
Marketing automation is not just about email. Oh no, it’s far more sophisticated than that.
It’s not about sending out spam emails unless you tell it to (which you obviously shouldn’t be doing). Instead, marketing automation tools encompasses your marketing campaigns across a variety of channels including phone, email, web pages and social media.
Marketing automation isn’t a magic wand. You still need a detailed marketing strategy, and you have to put the time and effort into setting up and monitoring your system. Meaning that, your customer database and marketing content still needs to be kept clean, organised, and up-to-date (just like your home!), in order to function effectively.
And, this is the part where many people fall down.
Even if you subscribe to the best and most expensive marketing automation systems available today, they are only of use to you if you have an experienced team like us at Hoole.co to help you set up your system, assist with the production of content and campaigns, and show you how to get the most out of the automation and segmentation features.
My advice is to start small. All online marketing platforms come with plenty of bells and whistles. But initially, you only need the most basic features so go for a cost-effective option that ticks just enough boxes to cover your initial needs. You can always upgrade at a later date if you find you’ve outgrown the system you’re using.
Marketing automation is so much more than a CRM system
In your real estate business, you’re probably accustomed to using a CRM system to manage your customer data. Automating your marketing won’t change this – a marketing automation system can’t exist without a CRM.
Your CRM is an integral part of the process as it’s your database of records. Your marketing automation system integrates and expands on this, becoming the communication engine for your real estate agency.
CRM systems are designed around the needs of the sales team. A marketing automation system still caters to these needs while focusing on making the job of the marketing team far easier, too.
What features do marketing automation systems bring to the table?
If you read the feature lists on the different systems’ websites or write-ups and reviews about each individual marketing automation tool, you’ll probably find yourself nodding off to sleep.
I use these systems, and I still have trouble deciphering what some of the features are when I research individual system websites. So, I’ll explain some of my favourite features here in layman’s terms to show you why I use a marketing automation system to power my company, alongside the marketing programs we run for our real estate clients, and why I wouldn’t go back to a boring old CRM system ever again!
1. Marketing automation systems all come with a contact management database (CRM)
Contact management is an important feature to tick off the list. All the automated marketing systems come with contact management functionality out of the box, meaning that you won’t have to scout around for a separate CRM that’s compatible.
2. They send and track email campaigns
Your email newsletters, property alerts and one-off email campaigns can all be scheduled using marketing automation software. You can create your own templates and set them to be sent manually or automatically, for example at the same time each week, fortnight or month.
Additionally, you can set your emails to send out every new property listing you have or every new post on your blog the moment a new listing or blog is posted, ensuring everyone on your list gets real-time marketing of the latest properties, news and advice from you.
So, right now you’re pretty much on a par with what your standard real estate CRM will do. And, with a little technical help (from us!) you can have your property listings included in the mix too.
But there’s more to come. Here’s the main reason I love and couldn’t live without my marketing automation system:
3. They track website visitors
You know how most email delivery programs will show you how many people clicked an email to open it, and then how many went on to click a link in your email to visit your website? A marketing automation system builds on this and makes it so much better.
Your marketing automation system gives you tracking code that can be added to your website (in a similar way to how Facebook gives you a tracking pixel and Google gives you conversion code).
The purpose of tracking code is to help you see people (from your database) returning to visit a page on your website, such as checking out your agent profile or visiting the Thinking of Selling page. In fact, as long as they are already in your database, you’ll see their name and contact details.
This is a sure indication that your contacts are in the market to buy and possibly sell a property. Sellers will pop up as visiting your About page and Selling page too! As soon as these people come back to your website, you’ll see their name pop up on your marketing automation system’s dashboard. This is the perfect time to give your leads a follow-up call.
And let’s face it, this feature in itself is truly real estate marketing gold! Because a local homeowner in your neighbourhood has just identified themselves as a potential vendor, hence they go straight to the top of your call back list.
4. Forms glorious forms
Another bonus is the ability to embed forms from your marketing automation system into your website. This is what we do with all the real estate websites we build at Hoole.co for clients. Ensuring there’s no need to copy and paste from emails received – all the forms on your website can be fed straight into your contact database within your automated marketing system.
Additionally, you can attribute tags that classify how far along your marketing or sales funnel this contact is when they fill in this particular form.
For example, on my website, I have a popup form to capture subscribers when people are reading my blog. I also have forms that must be filled out to gain access to my very best ‘downloadable’ content, and forms you can complete when you want help.
Each time you fill in one of these forms, my marketing system keeps a record of where you were and what you were doing, including your geographical location.
I’ll admit, I’m so attached to my marketing automation system that I’ve given him a name. He’s called Migel (yes, it’s a unique spelling) and he sends me helpful alerts to tell me when someone has taken action on my website and wants some help.
He literally says, “Melanie, someone wants some help”. Admittedly I told him to say that, but it’s still a pleasant message to receive! And yep, I have forms on my website filled in several times a day. Woo hoo!
5. Sales automation
Migel, my marketing automation system, also takes care of all the follow-up emails (drip email campaigns) I send out to new prospects.
He’ll invite you to book a time on my calendar for a phone chat. And, if you don’t book in, he will send you friendly reminders over the course of a week.
If you’ve not booked in after 7 days, I figure you weren’t quite ready for help yet. So Migel and I will just keep sending you the free advice from my blog until you are.
6. Sales funnels
An automated marketing system also has a tracking board for monitoring sales deals or conversations with prospects over time.
Then, once a service or package has been chosen and the deal is done, I can drag and drop my prospect and mark them off as won.
7. Drip or nurture emails
Whether you are a client of mine or a follower, my automated marketing system helps me track what you’ve looked at and how engaged you are with my content and range of services.
I can easily create campaigns that would be of interest to you, boosting engagement and brand awareness.
8. Facebook custom audience integration
This opens up the possibilities for attracting new leads. All my clients and I sync our contact databases to Facebook so we can additionally reach our contacts with our advertising on social media. This helps to ensure that we stay front of mind and are seen by potential clients across a number of different touchpoints.
Ideally we want to pop up in at least seven different locations across the web, map searches, the portals, review websites, social media sites, as well as in people’s email inboxes and messenger apps.
Which marketing automation system is best for real estate agents?
There are a large number of sophisticated systems on the market now, many of which I have used with my clients.
I’ve listed the most popular ones below, but the most appropriate system for you will depend on the individual nature and size of your real estate business. I’ve placed them in order of size, complexity and cost.
1. Marketing automation systems suitable for large agency groups
I’ve worked with these marketing automation systems over the years, some back in my corporate days, and seen them develop and grow. These systems are best suited to enterprise level organisations such as the head office teams within large real estate franchise networks.
Market Cloud by Salesforce (formally Pardot)
2. Marketing automation systems suitable for SMEs and individuals
The following marketing automation systems are more popular with small to medium businesses, coaches, trainers and marketing agencies.
These marketing automation systems are relatively cost-effective and have just the right amount of bells and whistles for small business marketing management needs.
Then there are these marketing automation tools that I haven’t personally used. However, I came across them as alternatives at the smaller end of the scale in my research. So, I’m throwing them into the mix for you too.
Delivra (more of a hybrid email & drip campaigns system)
Hopefully, I’ve given you plenty of information to help you get a general understanding as to the virtues of a marketing automation system. But this is just the beginning. There’s a whole heap more that I am happy to chat to you about if you’re actively looking for better marketing tools to run your real estate business. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.