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Automation is simply the use of control systems

I use drip campaigns to staying in touch with my clients, stay in touch with my leads and stay in touch with my sphere.

First let me say I know a lot of folks here don’t like drip campaigns. They feel they are spammy. Yes, they can be, no doubt. But, they can also be a great way to to stay in contact with your sphere, your clients and your leads.

Since 1999 I have been using a drip campaign for my potential buyers who register on my search site.  Currently the criteria they put in for their home search will automatically go into my IDX site and when a new listing comes up that matches their criteria it will automatically send them the new listing.  They can save that search, or save any search they want to.  They can choose NOT to receive any emails. Very few chose that option. The client is in control.

Every drip campaign has a opt out feature on it so the visitor can stop whenever they choose.  Every drip campaign has been personalized and tweaked over the years.

We get comments like these all the time:
•    “Thanks for sending us all the new listings, we love it.”
•    “You sent me a new listing yesterday, can we see it”?
•    “Even through we are not buying you have been sending us listings and we are learning about home prices in our area, can you come list our house”
•    “Hi, you have been sending us listings for a year and we are finally ready to move, when can we get started?’
•    “Remember me, my husband got accepted to medical school so we are ready to look”.

Listings

One of Trulia’s new features is we can automatically send out client reports to our sellers on the activity of their home.  I think you can use Realtor.com to do this too, but it costs to do it, Trulia is free, you set it up once for all your sellers and then once a week they get the reports from you, automatically.

This is a great way to stay in touch with your sellers on a weekly basis.

Used Properly

There is nothing wrong with automation if used properly.  Automation saves you time. Automation doesn’t mean you NEVER call the client , your sphere, your lead, it is an enhancement to your verbal communication not a substitute.  Automation helps leads remember your name if they are house hunting by looking at hundreds of websites.

Has automation got a bad rap because of abuse?  In my opinion yes, but automation can be just one system you use to and stay in touch. Automation is there when you are not.

I have campaigns set up for:
•    Internet Buyers
•    Relocation Buyers
•    After the sale campaigns for both buyers and sellers
•    Sellers during the listing

Doing the Same things over and over

Why would you want to re-write the same emails over and over again? Why would you want to lose touch with people by not staying in contact?  If you are selling 50 plus homes a year and been in the business for years it is impossible to manually stay in contact with all of them.

If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, it is time to automate the system like in email signatures.  Why keep typing the same message over and over again… automate it.  I have a multitude of email signatures set up in Outlook and with one click out the door the message goes.

If you are generating hundreds of leads a month from your blog or website it is not humanly possible to communicate with folks on a consistent basis.

The program I use for these campaigns is Intersend.com. I gain nothing from it, and am not promoting it here but just so you will know. I have tweaked the messages many times over the years, they are short and sweet and I try to add value in the message.  I set up the exact day they go out and have spread the message to go out over a year.

Again, let me be clear automating your business, and your follow up doesn’t mean ONLY using automation to stay in touch, it is simply one tool.

Photo Credit

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    May 29, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Missy,

    Touch programs like the ones you describe are at the heart of growing your business. The statement “Since 1999 I have been using a drip campaign….” just goes to show why your resume now reads the way it does in the “About the Author” tab.

    Kudos for putting automation in a context that all of us can appreciate and apply.

  2. Mark Eckenrode

    May 29, 2009 at 10:52 am

    i’m a HUGE advocate of automation but one of the reasons it’s gotten a bad rep is, as you pointed out, people tend to be spammy. or, more accurately i think, irrelevant with their follow-up. automation does not mean just throwing stuff into a drip… as with any marketing campaign, it needs to be designed with a purpose in mind and it can work wonders with rapport and credibility. thanks for the article 🙂

  3. Brandie Young

    May 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Hi Missy, I’m with you and Mark E – work smart, use tools! The perception your clients/sphere have of you has already been established, so this is more of you being delivered to them. You are simple dropping in to say hello via automated format. It’s still you. If it’s an email, people can delete if the subject line isn’t terribly interesting or relevant at the moment. And, we all still love Bday and other well wished throughout the year. Good on you!

  4. Lani Rosales

    May 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Fantastic roadmap, Missy! Thanks for all the links and sharing your practices with us!

  5. Derec Shuler

    May 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I’m a huge fan of automation and staying in touch. The key is to add value. Sending updated listing via your automated IDX search tools: providing value, touching your clients, and saving you time.

    The standard email campaigns you may find in Top Producer or other CRM: no value, generic, and typically don’t address the needs of the consumer.

    Take the time, invest some one and create custom campaigns. Take the little fish, that may not be ready to do anything when they sign up, feed them, and be there when they become big fish.

    Great article Missy!

  6. Missy Caulk

    May 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Joe, it is one tool for touching those folks throughout the year, if it didn’t work I would have stopped it years ago.

    Mark, I know some agents probably just add a contact and forget about them, but you can’t do that.

    Brandie, funny you should mention birthdays as I did snail mail for years, then switched to electonic, now I am back to snail mail on the birthday cards. Why? I got more calls and emails thanking me and it was a way to touch base again.

    Lani, your welcome and off to FB after commenting here. LOL

    Derec, going fishing? I like that.

  7. Ben Goheen

    May 29, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I get a TON of spam daily from other Realtors who buy email lists to use in their drip campaign. This is most likely why many think of it as being bad for the client. But if you keep the information relevant (and fairly short) it works very well.

    After testing a few different companies out I’ve finally settled on MailChimp – the interface is very easy to use and it’s very affordable.

  8. Missy Caulk

    May 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Ben, you are probably right on why Realtors complain. I don’t do lists only people who have made initial contact with me, clients past and future and sphere.

    I will take a look at that although I have been with Intersend since 1999 and very happy.

  9. Dan Connolly

    May 30, 2009 at 1:09 am

    First off, I know drip email works and have no problem with anyone who decides to do it. I don’t do it personally and I have several reasons why.

    First, I don’t want two of my clients who might know each other to get the same email. The same little personal note that sounds like it was written with them in mind.

    Second, For me, there is something….slightly “off” in my book, about writing a note that somehow implies that I sat down and wrote them a personal letter, when I didn’t.

    The news letter addressed to everyone just seems better to me than the basic drip email. I send a calendar every year with a letter written to everyone, thanking them for business and asking for referrals. I would do that a little more often if I could only find the time.

    My theory is that with positively outrageous service, you will get referrals with out having to remind people more than once or twice a year.

    I just think 5 emails a day written from the heart, will contact, (5 days a week, 50 weeks a year) 1250 really personal contacts in a year. At 50 transactions per year you would contact all clients for about the last 14 years 2X a year. Throw in a yearly calendar and a birthday card and you have 4 touches a year.

    To me, that is enough so that people will remember you. A lot of people tell me that they see my face every day on my calendar and they feel like I am with them always.

    If you do a really good job for the clients you have, they will remember you even if you don’t remind them.

  10. Ken Brand

    May 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Excellent explanation, detailed, simple. Tools used wisely, wrapped in “relevance” and stamped with your personal brand will attract opportunities. Thanks for sharing this, I’ll be sharing this with our Team of Icons.

    Thanks.

  11. Brandie Young

    June 1, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    That’s sweet, that you are sending cards via snail mail. What do you do when your clients *like me* choose to stop having birthdays? 🙂

  12. Missy Caulk

    June 1, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    They don’t send the information back. LOL

    I don’t go digging but most do send it back at my client survery at the end of the transaction.

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Business Marketing

Easy email signature builder quickly updates your info

(BUSINESS MARKETING) When’s the last time you updated your email signature? That long? You might want to look at just sign, a new, quick, and easy, email signature generator.

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The last thing any of us are thinking about right now is email. While we’re all staying safer at home, though, it’s a good time to think about all the little things that need our attention, but typically get neglected: clearing out the email inbox, unsubscribing from things no longer relevant, and updating our email signatures. Why the email signature?

Oftentimes, we change emails when we change jobs and forget to change our signatures to reflect our new address. The same is true with social media; if we happen to change jobs, due to our own choice or by necessity thanks to the virus, we may need to update our social media profiles accordingly, especially if the new job suddenly makes this a requirement.

One of the fastest ways to update your email signature is with a generator. An email signature generator can help you quickly make a professional looking signature in about half the time it would take you to manually add each individual component.

Just Sign is one of the quickest options I’ve seen. This email signature generator is ultra simple, ultra easy, and ultra effective. It allows you to add clickable social links, a profile picture or logo, and all relevant contact information. It also allows you to choose a color scheme and tailor the formatting a bit to your preferences. As you begin to add options to your signature, you can see a preview of what the final product will look like in the right-hand panel.

Just Sign welcome

This allows you to make any necessary changes before downloading the finished product. When you have your signature perfected, simply click the purple “generate signature” button and you’re ready to go.

Just Sign is an easy, quick way to check another thing off your to-do list while we’re all at home. If you have already updated your signature, you might save this link for later use as it’s a good idea to revisit your signature a few times a year. Oftentimes, I revise mine simply to keep the attached picture updated. Have you updated your signature lately? Do you plan to? Let us know what you think of Just Sign.

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Business Marketing

How one employer beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make personnel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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Business Marketing

in 2021 the EU will enforce ‘right to repair’ for phones and tablets

(BUSINESS NEWS) The EU says NO to planned obsolescence by…letting you fix your own stuff? The right to repair has started to make headway again.

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Right to repair

Not to be a loyalist turncoat about it, but sometimes the European Union comes out with stuff that makes me want Texas to go back to being Mexico, and then back to being Spain.

The latest in sustainability news from across the pond is that in 2021, the Old World is saying no to Euro-trash, and insisting on implementing:

Right to repair laws
Higher sustainable materials quotas
Ease of transfer for replaced items (ie: letting you sell your old phone without the need for jailbreaking anything)
and Universal adaptors for things like phone chargers, and connection cables

Hallelujah!

Consumers worldwide have been feeling the pinch of realizing their (cough cough, mostly Apple brand) technology not only breaks easily, but either can’t be fixed afterwards, or requires costly branded repairs.

The phenomenon has given rise to rogue mobile repair shops, Reddit threads, and renegade fix-it philanthropists like Louis Rossman. And while they certainly HELP, the best thing for a problem is to cut it off proactively. Since companies were making too much money not picking up the slack, the EU’s decided to take the steps to force their hands.

I’m always on my soapbox, but I’ll stack another one on top for this: Planned obsolescence and the assumption that a company has any right to tell you you can’t repair, restore, revamp, or re-home your own possessions are obscene. And to be fair to Apple fans, it’s not just in tech—it’s in damn near everything that’s not meant to be EATEN. Literally.

I bought a STAPLER for a volunteer gig I had. A good, sturdy Staedtler one that I figured would serve the project and continue to stand me in good stead for a while. After a few dozen price tags attached to baggies, the stapler jammed, as staplers do. No worries, you find a knife and wedge out the stuck staple…except I couldn’t. Because the normal slot for that was covered by a metal plate literally welded in place so that I couldn’t perform a grade-school level fix on something I paid for less than 24 hours prior.

Rather than stand behind a product that’s supposed to last, companies, even down to simple office ware, have opted to tinker away to force consumers to trash their current products to buy newer ones. Which I did in the stapler case. A rusty second hand one that didn’t HAVE that retroactive BS ‘Let’s create a problem’ plate on it, meaning no company but the resale non-profit I was helping out in the first place got any more money from me.

Consumers are wising up, and fewer lawmakers are still stuck in the fog of the 90s and 2000s surrounding our everyday machinery. The gray areas are settling into solid black and white, and SMART smart-businesses here stateside will change their colors accordingly.

Now while we’re all still quarantined and hoping for these laws to wash up onto American shores…who has craft ideas for the five-dozen different chargers we all have?

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