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A Drip Marketing Primer for Real Estate Agents
One of my favorite real estate brokers once said there are no bad leads, only bad agents.
While you might quibble with the statement, there’s no arguing that staying in touch with leads who are not yet ready to buy or sell is a critical part of developing your sales pipeline.
“Drip marketing” (sending automated messages over time) is one of most scalable and effective ways to automate a stay-in-touch program. The idea isn’t just to keep your name in front of potential clients, but to engage them by providing something important, interesting and actionable on a regular basis.
Drip marketing is different than email blasts or newsletters. It is a sequence of emails that start when your client takes a specific action. Most importantly, once you set up a campaign, it keeps running in the background.
How effective is drip marketing?
In large email marketing programs that I have run, drip campaigns get open rates of 50% to 65%. That compares favorably to 15% to 35% open rate for straight blasts or newsletters. Roughly 20% of our new agents at Real join us from drip marketing campaigns. Over the years, I have found these numbers reflected broadly in marketing, whether in real estate or software sales.
In addition to working well, drip marketing helps your list accrue value over time. Say you have a list of 500 leads. If each month 5% are in buy/sell mode, and you win 20% of those deals, that’s 5 deals a month. As the list grows, the output does as well.
So how does drip marketing work?
To run a drip marketing campaign you need:
- Contacts who take an action
- A drip marketing tool
- A series of messages
- Data to personalize the messages
- An action that triggers the messages
- A time interval between messages.
1 – Contacts who take an action
The best way to build a list is with an offer. In real estate, the offer often to learn more about a property. It can also be an offer for free real estate advice that you advertise via car stickers, an offer for a what’s your home worth report via social media and your email signature, and so on. Once someone responds, you add them to the list via a landing page form or manually.
2 – A drip marketing tool
There many drip marketing tools that real estate agents can use these days. I like MailChimp, which is free for lists of up to 2,000, and Robly, but you have to build everything out yourself using broad-based tools. At Real, we recently rolled out a new drip marketing feature in our app that is prebuilt for agents. Here’s an example:
3 – A series of messages
The first message should address the action. So if the action was requesting information on a a home for sale, after you’ve sent the report, the first automated message could be a thanks for the request. Following that, messages could include additional homes in the area, home-buying tips, school information and more. The first drip campaign in the Real app is a “new listings” campaign that will alert people to new listings based on their search criteria. It also offers them a home-buyer’s guide.
4 – Data to personalize the messages
Ideally, you’re using fields from the your list database to personalize the message. An example of simple personalization is inserting the client’s first name. More sophisticated personalization is inserting new listings based on the client’s past search criteria. You’ll want to make sure you’re segmenting your list as well. For instance, you don’t want to send a home-buyer’s guide to someone you just helped buy a home.
5 – An action that triggers the messages
The action is typically filling in a form on Zillow, Facebook, your custom landing pages. It could also be a direct email, text or phone call. Once a person takes an action, you add them to your list and the drip begins.
6 – A time interval between messages
Finding the right cadence is important, but good, high quality messages are more important than cadence, so you can space them out if need be. For instance, if you have 6 or so messages lined up, you could set the interval to one a month and have 6 months of stay-in-touch messages ready to go every time you add a lead to your campaign.
The best part of drip marketing is that once you set it up correctly, it just works.