A few months ago, I decided to do a little test. I gathered about two dozen Realtor names from within 10 miles of my home, found their websites and I submitted a general contact request form or used an email address listed on their website to send them a note.
You see, I wanted to see how many of them responded, how quickly and with what specific information.
Here's what I got:
- In over 90% of the cases, I never got a reply - automated or otherwise
- In over 90% of the emails that did reply, I got no auto-response email
- For the emails that did have an auto-response, all of them had a generic email reply
If you're keeping score, this exercise told me a few very important things about how real estate agents work digital leads (i.e. email or contact originating from the web or social media):
- Most agents have not yet learned how to work digital leads
- Most agents who have websites are not set up to effectively capture, respond to and engage digital leads
- Most agents are losing out on converting more digital leads because they don't know how or are not engaging them properly
- Most agents don't prioritize digital leads as highly as referrals or phone calls
It's a huge problem and one that isn't going away. You see, lead generation is evolving. And it's moving faster than ever to select against those agents not hip to technology or set up to diligently work digital leads.
Get Digital, Get Competitive
Now, the art and science of getting and working digital leads is a big subject area. But simple things like how you respond to contact emails can be critical to how you compete for leads.
Why? Well, the web. And mobile. And eCommerce.
You see, these things have changed our expectations about how fast we should expect contact back from things we do on the web.
In most cases, digital leads expect to be contacted immediately or almost immediately after pushing send on an email or a form on a website. In this day of drones delivering you perishable goods in 24 hours from the time of ordering, well, you can go ahead and expect this to get worse.
So, how can a simple autoresponder help you a bit in the battle to compete for leads and lead engagement? When done properly, it can mean a lot (well, assuming leads get to your site from Google or bing in the first place).
Here's what timely, automatic and well-constructed auto response emails tell your leads:
- You care about their needs and expectations
- You take the time to make sure your customers are attended to
- When you will get back to them (and what they can expect when working with you!)
- What else they can do to reach you or an assistant for faster service
- Other valuable info that further assists them or adds value
- Info that compels them to wait on just you - and not go to another site
Here's are some simple rules for writing and using auto-reply emails:
- Use them - For starters, most agents don't use autoresponders at all. Whether your business runs on Outlook, Gmail or uses an advanced CRM, if you don't set up automatic responses to all your specific web forms or emails that come in while your busy, you can't engage leads at all. You can't win if you don't play.
- Set Expectations - Part of any good engaging, valuable autoresponse email should be to tell the user when they can expect to receive contact from you and how. For example, "I'm out showing homes right now, but I'll reply to your email personally as soon as humanly possible. Most of the time, I respond within just a few hours." Don't you think that would make you feel better having received that instead of "We received your email."
- Offer Value - Every single opportunity you get to interact with a lead should never be wasted. In the case of an autoresponse, it's great to point them to another location on your site, your blog or your site's home search that actually does something to help them. One of the best auto responses I ever got from a Realtor included hyperlinks to properties by price range in the hottest areas of their zip codes, as well as links to highly-engaging video overviews of each area. Helpful. One note on what not to send to buyers? Links to homes you've sold. No one cares about what's gone, only what's left. To address buyers too, it's great to send a link to an instant home valuation page as a starting point.
- Keep it simple and personal - Don't go overboard with your info. Your email should look like an email you'd send a friend or family member. Authenticity is paramount for engagement. I got an autoresponse once from one Realtor with 4 pages of market data filled with charts and graphs and brags. Offering value is a tricky thing. Since these folks contacted you, save the best for when you get them on the phone. The more personal and simple this email is, the better your chances to engage them. A good tip? Try limiting yourself to only 2 or at most 3 sentences.
- Explain why you are the right choice (and why they should wait) - Simply put, emphasize your values. When I contacted my last Realtor after two prior ones had botched the job of selling my home, I chose him because his email included a simple, powerful fact: "...I've been the top selling Realtor in the county for 10 years in a row and my average time-to-close is 97 days." Simple. Powerful. Makes making a decision, well, easy.
Too often, agents ignore the simple things that help gets leads and instead focus on big, costly and often misunderstood tools and techniques that "get results" instead of the simple, hard-working things they can do each and every day to engage, convert and keep more leads. Well-written autoresponders take only moments to do but can be the difference makers in keeping a lead from your local competition.
It's always the little things. They add up.
Finally, here's an example email to get you started from a real estate group in Maryland:
Thanks so much for reaching out today from my site! I'm glad you're interested in Anne Arundel County real estate!
I'm helping other clients at the present but will respond to you in the next 3 hours. Again, apologies, but I'll be in touch asap!
If you want to see the latest listings sorted by price range, just click here: https://www.movewithmelissa.com/about-the-area/
If you want to find out what a given home is worth and have the address? Just enter the address here to see comparable/competitive listings:
Give me a few and I'll call or email. I'm the hardest working agent in the county and the busiest agents are your best option! Check out what other clients say here in the reviews section at the bottom. Talk soon!
Can't get leads to your door in the first place? We guarantee you it's your website. Find out why:
For 99% of new customers who we get here at HomePocket for our marketing, lead gen or website services, their sites are getting NO Google search visits.
About the Author
After having spent my career in Information Technology and government service for the US Intelligence Community, I'm helping build a better, more direct way to connect home buyers and sellers. We think real estate can be a better, more convenient experience for everyone involved and we're out to make it happen! Our solutions will change the way buyers, sellers and realtors market themselves and connect with one another. We're just getting started! In fact, it's our goal to make the home buying and selling experience as much as possible like what we've all become accustomed to with the likes of Amazon, Zappos, LetGo and other powerful, simple, easy and convenient solutions that have transformed our lives as consumers.Follow on Twitter More Content by Rebekah Polancich