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Automation

drip

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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