Connect with us

Business Marketing

Automation

Published

on

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.

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Marketing

Simple ways to improve your organic reach on Facebook

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Facebook continues to make businesses and pages pay to play, but businesses still have a shot of improving their organic reach, according to experts in the field.

Published

on

Facebook open on laptop with white desk and small potted plant, open to organic reach.

Facebook organic reach is not dead, but you will need to work harder to get eyes on your pages. Here’s a rundown of what experts are saying will help you reach your audience. Facebook is still the top social media platform that marketers use and where consumers tend to look for and follow brand pages. So don’t despair!

Those running Facebook business pages have been seeing ever diminishing returns on their effort at getting their content in front of their audiences and fans, especially since around 2016. Yet Facebook remains the #1 platform for building an audience. Once upon a time, Facebook was incredibly fertile soil to grow our entrepreneurial and creative gardens in, at little to no cost to us. Many businesses are seeing a drastic reduction in reach, meaning that a tiny percentage of people are seeing our posts, even among those who follow our pages.

Have you ever heard something like, “The first one’s always free; that’s how they get you”? This has long been a business philosophy to hook prospective customers, used by savvy marketers and drug dealers alike. Facebook went and took that to the next level, introducing an easy-to-use platform where almost anyone could find and engage with their target audiences of customers, fans, members, and more.

Of course, there had to be a reckoning, and now that Facebook has more than 2.6 billion active monthly users worldwide, they continue to change the rules. Consider the amount of users and the amount of posts being made, and it makes more sense that Facebook tries to narrow the audience for any single post to a reasonable chunk. Otherwise, our brains would explode (okay, my words, not an actual medical opinion). Really, you don’t need to reach everybody, because not everybody is interested in what you’re offering. You need to reach the right people who are going to engage and build a smaller, engaged loyal group of diehard customers.

Community is key
Here are some of the latest tips and best practices to increase organic reach in 2021, provided by Facebook pros. Mark Zuckerburg keeps bringing up the concept of community, and the algorithm favors engagement, not only on Facebook, but across platforms. Nobody wants products and services constantly jammed in their faces.

This is a conversation, not a one-way portal into your customers’ brains and wallets. A constant barrage of salesy content, urging people to buy buy buy, grows real tedious real fast. “If you build it, they will come.” Only instead of a baseball field in the middle of nowhere, work to build a community.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you creating conversations?
  • Are you using your platform to act as a resource and provide helpful or inside information in your niche or area of expertise?
  • Are you asking your audience what they want and would like to see more of from you?
  • Are you taking current events and trends into account, reacting to local/national/world news at all, and creating timely posts?
  • Are you using a variety of post types (photos, videos, links) and taking advantage of Facebook’s built in post tools?
  • Are you taking data into account for what content people are responding to favorably and when?
  • Do you ever invest in Facebook ads or boosted posts for important content or events?

Find the answer to these questions to reevaluate your strategy, work on promoting a dialogue with your audience, and ideally you will see more engagement on your pages, fruitful interactions that ultimately lead to loyal customers and bigger sales.

Create Conversations
Zuckerburg himself comes back to this point repeatedly in his regular updates on the state of all things Facebook and how the algorithm works, saying Facebook will “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” Not every industry lends itself to deep thoughts, but it can be simple enough to engage your audience with community questions. People love giving their opinions or talking about a shared interest.

Community questions can be fun, lively, and create fun interaction between your audience and the business. A simple This or That question posted on one of the background color templates can get the conversation started. If people don’t have to invest a lot of time to answer, then great! Depending on the industry, these can be easy one-offs: Red wine or white? Beach vacation or mountains? TikTok or Reels? Mac or PC? Harley Davidson hogs or Kawasaki crotch rockets? Early bird or night owl?

Hot takes, unpopular opinions, are another way to get people chatting. I’m not espousing trying to stir up controversy here, unless that is appropriate for your business, but people get emotional as all get out for something as simple as pineapple on pizza or beans in chili. What’s a popular or common opinion in your field? How can you introduce a hot take to get people chatting? For an entrepreneurial page, you could put out a hot take on a cluttered desk, or making lists, or standing desks.

Sure, these conversations may start out superficial, but who knows? When people begin interacting on your page more, they begin seeing more that you post, and that’s when you can introduce something a little weightier, asking them to share their expertise or advice on a relevant topic.

Become a resource
Whether your business is a science journal, digital marketing, interior designing, or a Texas Hill Country resort, your business and your audience is unique. Real estate agencies have become good at this, so we’ll use them as an example. If you are selling or leasing properties in Austin or San Francisco, sell the area. Don’t only post the properties you’re selling or agent profiles. Post those, yes, but also post industry news and local attractions.

When people are interested in moving to a new city or a new neighborhood or investing in opening a business there, they need to know why the area is attractive. What is the business climate? What are the financial perks associated with living there? What is the area known for (local restaurants, live music hiking trails, swimming holes, no traffic)? Has the area made a list for quality of life, affordability, great job prospects in X industry? Sharing blogs, articles, infographics, videos, and photos highlighting any of these can help your page serve the interests of your target audience. This is a good thing.

Ask your audience
This is a simple tip for keeping things closer to your audience’s interests, helping you identify areas where your page may be lacking–and opportunities for growth, and keeping the conversation going. Be careful not to overuse this one, but it’s an important tool.

  • Try a simple question, such as “What would you like to see more of on this page?”
  • Create a poll, which is much faster to answer, and helps you narrow answers down to what you really want to know.
  • Similar to the community questions, ask them to share something that has helped them. A classic example would be “What is the best entrepreneurial advice anyone has even given you?” Or “Please share some tips to fight procrastination.” Or “What is the top time-saving tool you use in your business (or for scheduling)?” Having your page followers (and hopefully others) chat with each other this way is helpful for them and for your organic reach.

Take current events and trends into account
This one’s simple: Read the room. This goes both ways. If there is renewed interest in, say, downtown lofts or sea shanty dances on TikTok, can you use this momentary heat to bring interest to your page? On the other hand, if there is a natural disaster, tragedy, or financial crash that has caused great suffering in an area? That’s a good moment to review your scheduled posts and delete or postpone anything that could be unintentionally triggering or offensive.

Some types of businesses are better suited to jumping on the latest trend. Do you have a bar or restaurant with a fairly young, social media savvy crowd? Go ahead, Photoshop that Bernie-Sanders-in-mittens image sitting on your patio (only if you can do it as the trend is hitting). Are you targeting an area that has recently been hit by extended power outages? I’m sorry to tell you, but this is not the time to promote that popup restaurant where diners experience eating in the dark.

Mix it up and use native Facebook tools
Of course you want to stay on brand, but please don’t get caught in a rut where all of your posts are one type. Consistency is one thing, but beware that this doesn’t turn into monotony. Assess where you can change things up. Add photos, videos, links to relevant blogs and articles, or community questions. Different people respond differently to different types of input. Use all the tools at your disposal to generate interest, draw people in, and get them reacting to and engaging with your page.

Facebook and all social media platforms have built in tools. They want you to use them. Often, this is a Facebook effort to capitalize on a similar, competing app. Trust me when I say, you will get brownie points (higher reach) when you take the time to use these native tools. Facebook Watch, Facebook Live, Facebook Stories, even using a background color template from the Facebook options, are all ways to show Facebook you’re paying attention and want to optimize the tools they are giving you.

Use provided data
You need to be able to look for patterns, evaluate the factors that made a particular post popular, and know when your customers and followers are likely to see your page and interact with it. Facebook provides a number of insights in the platform, but there are numerous external marketing tools you can purchase or sometimes use for free (depending on how many pages and platforms you are running, and how in-depth you want your data to be).

Posting willy nilly is not the most effective way to be. Decide what data is useful to you and make time to study it, and be willing to make changes to your content strategy based on the data. Like many other aspects of marketing, expanding your organic reach is a mixture of art and science, a balancing act of intuition and cold, hard numbers. Use them.

Consider paying to play
I know, I know, this story is about organic and not paid reach, but the fact is strategically paying for a Facebook ad or boosting a post to highlight a launch, event, special deal, or other important news will bring more people to your page. If the other tips, tools, and best practices referred to here are in place, once they find your page, you have the ability to keep their attention through organic means.

Keep on truckin’
These tips should help you expand your page’s organic reach. More importantly, they should help you build and support a community, earn loyal followers and customers, and generate positive buzz about your business. Keep working on becoming a resource and sharing helpful information. Have fun with it and experiment with new media and types of posts. Know yourself. Know your audience.

Continue Reading

Business Marketing

Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.

Published

on

Man working in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”

Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.

Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.

Four-Day Workweek Trials

In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.

“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.

Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.

With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.

“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”

Trial Results

Company Productivity
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.

However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.

The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.

Employee Well-Being
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.

What’s in store for 2021?

Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.

“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.

The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.

For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.

Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.

If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.

But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.

“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.

Continue Reading

Business Marketing

Should your content management system go headless?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) You may be familiar with your typical content management system, but had you heard of a ‘headless’ model? Let’s dig into it together.

Published

on

Person using content management system with hands on keyboard and small bit of desktop visible.

At some point, you have probably worked with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. If you haven’t already, you at least know that this computer software is used to manage website content.

But, have you ever heard of a headless content management system before? We didn’t. So, we set out to find out what it’s all about and how beneficial, or not, it can be for your company.

What is headless CMS?

Unlike your classic CMS, headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. It decouples where your content is stored and authored (body) from the front-end where your content is displayed (head).

This CMS isn’t tied to a particular output like a web page. Content is transmitted as data over an application programming interface (API). It’s a content repository that delivers content seamlessly to any device.

Benefits of Headless CMS

More versatile
Headless CMS isn’t your classic “monolithic” CMS so you aren’t constrained to an all-in-one system that might work for websites but not mobile devices.

Content is consumed by customers in more than one place now. Headless CMS provides a more versatile way to deliver multi-channel content to websites, Android and iOS apps, and even IoT (internet of things), like a smartwatch or in-store kiosk.

Businesses will benefit from this because only one back-end is needed to manage and publish content for different services and products.

No need for specialized developers
Developers aren’t tied to a specific programming language or framework. A developer can choose between using Javascript, PHP, Ruby, or any language they prefer.

If you already have a talented developer, you don’t have to scramble to find someone else who specializes in a specific system or language you are moving to. Your current developer can do the job for you in the best way they know-how.

Better Security
Security is important. Not being married to the front-end, headless CMS has a security advantage a regular CMS doesn’t. Usually, content provided to a headless CMS is read-only, and the admin portion lives on a different server and domain.

With the back-end detached from the presentation layer, there is a smaller target area to attack. Also, layers of code can be used to hide the content-delivering API making it safer than a traditional CMS.

Real-time collaboration
With two separate systems, content editors and web developers can work concurrently. This shortens a project’s timeline and helps get your product and services to market quicker. Also, content editors don’t have to spend more time creating the same content for each system. Designers and developers can take care of that.
Downsides of Headless CMS

As with anything, headless CMS isn’t perfect and isn’t for everyone. It has its disadvantages.

More technical
Little technical involvement is called for in a traditional CMS. As a result, the tool can be picked up quickly by almost anyone.

A deeper understanding of CMS, coding languages, and front-end technologies is needed when using headless CMS. You must have a developer that can build the web or app just for you.

Increased maintenance
With the body separated from the head, there are two systems to maintain. Implementation and maintenance could potentially become complex.

Bigger price tag
Building a system from scratch costs time and money. With a traditional CMS, there is one account, and, most likely, one payment. With headless CMS, you’ll have multiple payments for the CMS, a developer, and the infrastructure running your website or app.

Your custom CMS also isn’t coming from a pre-built content management system. All that hard work takes time (and patience) to get it done right.

Conclusion

Headless CMS lets you create a unique user experience and allow for cross-platform publishing, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all content management system.

Before you jump ships, take inventory of all your content needs. Does your content need to be published on different platforms? Will a simple stand-alone website work for you? Only you can decide what works best with your business, but we hope this information helps.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!