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Put the Power of Text Message Marketing to Work for You
As you read this story, four out of five Americans own a smartphone. Include in that number those folks who use phones that aren't app-friendly, and you get 96%. It's a sure bet nearly everyone who needs your real estate services also uses a mobile phone daily. And although not all phones can play Angry Birds, virtually all are designed to receive text messages. Formally called SMS text––the acronym stands for Short Message Service—text messaging has exploded in popularity over the last decade. And texting isn't just for teens any longer. During 2017, experts estimated that about 26 billion text messages were sent each day in the United States. That adds up to over 780 billion texts monthly and more than 9.3 trillion every year. People of all ages use text messages. Because they will often text with friends and loved ones instead of calling, texters are likely to check their messages within minutes of a new notification. Sure, there are some caveats. Most people aren't checking texts in the middle of a meeting at work––we hope. All in all, though, mobile research firm MobileSquared says 90% of people read a new text within three minutes of getting it. Three minutes! Not surprisingly, this means text messages rock for real estate professionals. In a report published by the National Association of REALTORS®, 94% of REALTORS® said the method they preferred to communicate with clients was text messaging. In 2020, there are huge horizons for growth. And there are plenty of good reasons why you should take advantage of text messaging for your real estate business. Stop Calling, Start Texting If someone reaches out to you on your website, calling them right away makes good business sense. Calling a prospect back within five minutes is estimated to increase your chances of a successful contact by a factor of 100. After all, they are expecting it. And the faster you are, the more impressive it is! But what about all those times when a prospect or lead isn't interested in a call? An unwanted phone call is about as interruptive as it gets. It's exactly what people think of when they think of pushy, unwanted sales behavior. On the other hand, people willingly look to text messaging when they want to communicate––but don't want to stop their whole day to do it. With that in mind, text messaging is a phenomenal way to stay in touch. From the sales associate's perspective, texting makes plenty of sense. Texting is extremely cost-effective. Compared to virtually any other marketing technique you can name, you'll pay fractions of pennies for your text messages. You can customize texts and even automate the process based on each prospect's interests and past behavior. That means texting gives you a superpower all associates should have: Personalization. From email to social media and everything else in between, effective digital marketing thrives on personalization. Every communication should be relevant, friendly, and helpful. Text messaging makes it easy: Your messages arrive when your prospect is most likely to see them and contain only information useful to that person––without having to do it all by hand. But there is one caveat before you begin. Understanding the Ins and Outs of Opting Out Are you using your real estate website to turn prospects into leads? You should be! The odds are good you're already collecting some information about your prospects as they use your site. You may even already have an email subscriber list. Just as you can't send emails to people without their consent, you also need to be sure they affirmatively opt into texts. Rules about this are much more strict in Europe, but the U.S. is catching up. America's most comprehensive data privacy rules recently went live in California, and other states are following. So, whenever you collect phone numbers, be sure you set expectations upfront. Forms should never come with an "accept text messages" box pre-ticked, and your text should let subscribers know how often they can expect to hear from you before they commit. Likewise, anyone on your list should be able to withdraw consent at any time by texting back. Sending unwanted texts after an unsubscribe request could expose you to fines. Luckily, many of these issues are automated for you with the right software. How to Use Text Messages to Convert More Leads Texting has a tremendous amount of potential. But how do you tap into it? Luckily, there are a few powerful formulas for effective real estate text messages: Text Important Property Listings and Updates - In 2017, the National Association of REALTORS® found that 62% of all buyers prefer having property info sent to them via text message. You can start this process even before you speak to a prospect, based on the listings they've spent the most time on while browsing your website. Once the relationship develops, a text is a great way to send leads info about a weekly spotlight property. Start New Conversations With a Question - It's important to talk with prospects, not at them. Text messages should provide an opening for conversation––and a question is very difficult to ignore. Keep it short, simple, and personalized: "What's the #1 thing you're looking for in a home, Bob?" will get Bob thinking about his ideal next home and give you details to start narrowing down his interests. Follow Up From Live Events Like Open Houses - Open house attendees are active leads, but they can still take months to make a decision. Follow up with your event attendees by text – right away and again if you don't hear from them in three to five days. The property they saw might not have inspired them, but the text can keep the fires burning. If they're still interested, roll out those property listings! Rekindle Cold Leads with Follow-Up Texts - Since it only takes a few seconds to read and respond to a text, most people don't mind getting them even if they've fallen off the radar. Again, a question works well: "Hi, Joan. Are you still interested in a home here in Walnut Creek?" In most cases, the worst thing that can happen is nothing at all. But now and then, you could open the way to another great sale. A Quick Text Can Move Mountains In a service-oriented field like real estate, the key to marketing is to be where the customers are. It only takes a quick look around at a store or restaurant to see most of them are on their phones! Phones are now an intimate part of our lives, shaping our daily experiences. And even the most important professional relationships, like yours with your clients, can start and develop there. Sure, you won't do all your marketing by text message. But it is a powerful way to expand your presence and augment the other marketing you do on your website and in person. In real estate marketing, the right emoji at the right time can be worth a thousand words! Not getting your copy of Delta Media Group's magazine, Real Estate Marketing & Technology? Sign up today. Your subscription is FREE. To view the original article, visit the Delta Media Group blog.
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Everything You Know About Open Houses Is About to Change
From its invention more than 100 years ago and until recent events, the open house has remained much the same. While agents rushed to provide virtual showings to fill the immediate void, "open houses" are starting to return, but they are not the same. In fact, everything you know about open houses is about to change again with an innovative new service: Open House Every Day. Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad, who parlayed nearly 20 years of experience in the wireless industry into the creation of the VoicePad platform, has applied his penchant for innovation to creating a new kind of open house. Open House Every Day is safer for sellers and one that buyers can schedule from the curb. And it asks this basic question: Why wait until Sunday? And while Standard admits he didn't invent the concept of holding an open house every day of the week, the new out-of-the-box service he is offering real estate agents is innovation and iteration at its finest. The result is a solution tailored to our times that can help agents and teams win more listings. How it works Open House Every Day is driven by the same well-proven call-to-action process that VoicePad has perfected for its core platform. Standard notes that for all real estate tech, great ideas are defined by the processes behind them. "Good processes always make their way to the bottom line," he says. "Open House Every Day has taken a good call-to-action message and improved it with an exceptional process." Like all traditional open houses, it begins with the yard sign, which is amplified in online listings and social media posts. VoicePad provides an agent with a custom, text-enabled phone number for the agent's Open House Every Day yard sign or yard sign hanger. When a potential home buyer calls the phone number on the sign, up to 10 agents' mobile phones will "ring" simultaneously. This assures that someone is available to take a call. The first available agent to answer the phone gets introduced to the potential buyer. Agents called are limited only to those the listing agents know and trust to show the listing. When an agent's phone rings, they immediately know it's an open house lead calling about scheduling a showing — so the call gets answered. The system delivers the potential buyer's contact details to the agent who was first to accept the call. The system also automatically assigns the caller to the agent in the system's CRM. The Open House Every Day mobile platform allows the agent to schedule the appointment instantly with the buyer, offering available times that are pre-determined by the agent and the seller. The dealmaker feature The Open House Every Day yard sign has a dealmaker feature: an auto-scheduler via text. With millennials comprising a growing share of home buyers, this text feature stands apart in the Open House Every Day offerings. The mobile web schedule interface is attractive, intuitive, and very easy to use. A potential buyer texts the keyword "Open" to the agent's Open House Every Day number. The buyer gets a return text with available showing times. The location of the request is geo-located, so an agent can see where the showing request was initiated. Listing agents control appointment availability as well as the last appointment time of the day, all from their mobile phone. Potential buyers are prompted for additional information (best phone number, name, and email address) to complete the scheduled request. This information is collected and added to the appointment request notification. It just might be the safest open house ever An additional — and essential — benefit to agents using Open House Every Day is the enhanced level of security and safe viewing that it provides. Because of how the process is designed, an agent or team can limit the number of people visiting the home to one client at a time. Safety is increased as agents can vet potential buyer candidates before they enter their client's home. The automatically captured contact information can run through agent safety systems, ensuring the protection of everyone involved. Open House Every Day can also optionally be set up to record agent-client phone conversations automatically. The voice prompt alone is likely to deter someone with evil intentions: It notes, "This call is being recorded for safety and training purposes." Consumer-focused Open House Every Day addresses the elephant in the room when it comes to the "why" when buying any real estate technology: It makes home buying and selling easier for consumers. "Agents and teams suffer from tech fatigue," Standard says. "But agents and teams still desperately want technology that significantly improves the consumer experience while keeping more income 'in-house.' It's also an excellent way to generate additional referral income from agents who show your listing." Agents can win more listings Open House Every Day is available at a flat rate of $39 a month. That makes its benefits-to-investment ratio remarkably attractive. Agents can offer a better open house for sellers as it maximizes the exposure of their home. It's better for agents because it eliminates wasted time that comes with house-sitting. Agents can win more listings by offering sellers what nobody else will: "an open house every day." Agents receive the best leads as the system is designed to capture ready-to act-home buyers. The auto text feature gives consumers — and especially millennials — what they want, when they want it. Plus, that text feature captures contact details automatically and delivers it to the agent's CRM. And Open House Every Day follows the rules of real estate. It can filter out buyers who are represented by another agent — because friends don't hand out buyer leads when they already are working with another agent. Open House Every Day asks the caller if they are an agent or represented by an agent. With Open House Every Day from VoicePad, leads can be answered in real-time, helping customers avoid what they dread most: voicemail. With Open House Every Day's "simul-ring" technology, buyers' calls are answered by an agent, which is what buyers want. Standard says early adopters have found another way to leverage Open House Every Day by using it on existing listings that are not selling. "It's a great way to avoid a conversation about a price reduction, refreshing an otherwise stale listing." This can be the go-to option when an agent's digital strategy fails. Open House Every Day is today's way to hold an open house: it's better and safer than ever. The days of sitting an open house while juggling groups of prospects touring all at once apparently are gone, but most agents will tell you that's a good thing.
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