Ringless voicemail marketing (RVM) is a popular follow-up strategy with real estate investors, and no wonder! Ringless voicemail can be used either as an effective lead generation method or as one of the multiple touchpoints with leads who are already in your funnel. But what about the compliances you have to adhere to when using this marketing strategy?
That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article, as well as how to and how not to use ringless voicemail. But first, let’s cover the basics.
Ringless voicemail (also known as sly dials, or voicemail drops) is a method that allows you to deliver pre-recorded messages to recipients without their phone ringing. The recipients are not charged for the message by their carriers and they can access the message (i.e. listen to the voicemail) at their convenience.
In most ringless voicemail marketing campaigns, the goal is to get a “call back” from the recipient, although you can ask them for engagement on other channels as well (for instance, “If you like to schedule a house inspection, book a spot on our online calendar”).
Voicemail drops are used in many industries, but they are appealing to real estate investors in particular because these messages are a cheap and efficient way to reach thousands of prospects. However, they also have some drawbacks, so let’s discuss the pros and cons in the next section.
Laws and regulations on telemarketing vary across states, so make sure you check the specific laws that apply to the audience you try to reach. What works in Florida, might not work in California. This is especially important for those who wish to enter into a new real estate market, to target out-of-state or absentee owners, or to close a deal remotely (virtual).
Simple steps like checking the local do-not-call list can eliminate homeowners who would report your RVM campaign as intrusive. Also, be aware of timezone constraints and elementary marketing etiquette: don’t broadcast after 8 PM, and thin out the sending frequency – schedule a RVM drop once a week or so, but not more than that.
The whole point of ringless voicemail campaigns is to get a call back from motivated house sellers, so why would you miss that call when it does happen? It sounds counter-intuitive, but real estate investors are sometimes guilty of missing call backs. Solopreneurs with a regular job respond to calls from seller leads when their schedule allows them to (for instance, at their lunch break).
Set up a system that enables you to respond to RVM call backs. This builds your credibility with house sellers and even if you don’t get the deal, you won’t get flagged as someone who sends suspicious telemarketing traffic. If you don’t respond to a call back (for whatever reason), sellers can report you.
Ringless voicemail recipients respond more favorably to a female voice. It’s sort of a scientific fact, or at least a well documented phenomenon. Real estate investors always struggle to earn the trust of motivated house sellers. On your website you can use testimonials, during a meeting you can be yourself, but when reaching out through RVM, you have a split second to make an impression.
So do what most voice-based services do (for example, Alexa) and give the copy to someone with a soothing female voice. Again, this will lower the chances of your campaign being flagged as inappropriate.
Ensure that the message you send is in sync with your overall branding. If you are the real estate investor who lives in the same ZIP code as the motivated sellers you try to reach, then develop a ringless voicemail message script that reflects this. People’s guards go up as soon as they hear an automated message.
Write a script that is genuine and speaks directly to house sellers about your service. Make it clear and short, and you will increase engagement.
Real estate investors usually do ringless voicemail marketing on their own – it’s easy to do and it saves time and money. However, if you are worried about being compliant with local telemarketing regulation, you can hire an agency that does RVM professionally.
Hiring someone else to do RVM for you will increase your costs, but it can also provide you a shelter from legal pitfalls you aren’t even aware exist. They can give you tips on improving response rates from RVM campaign, especially if they service other investors in the industry or are familiar with a hack that works for specific types of audiences.
Now, let’s take a look at the ways in which you can use RVM.
It’s recommended to send RVM only to recipients who’ve expressed consent to get one from you. This limits your options since these are practically leads who already converted, but it’s your safest bet if you don’t want to have a run-in with the law. So, you can use a ringless voicemail campaign to
Voicemail drops can be easily optimized to improve the results from your follow-ups. They are one of the most convenient methods for scheduling campaigns; the second time around, you can send them on a different day of the week or at a different time of day. This can help you close on leads who need to experience multiple touchpoints.
Now, let’s turn to some bad examples.
Some investors fail to take compliance with regulations on ringless voicemail marketing seriously. It’s actually quite easy to follow the guidelines – you just need to include an opt-in in your lead capture form. Something along the lines of: “By providing contact details in this form, I express consent to be contacted by phone with prerecorded messages through computer assisted dialing.”
However, this significantly limits your prospective audience for the ringless voicemail campaign. It practically eliminates RVM as a lead generation effort, so it’s easy to understand why real estate investors ignore these guidelines.
We won’t go too deep into methods that enable you to bypass telemarketing regulations, but we will quickly touch on popular practices among real estate investors. Usually, investors hire data companies to run skip tracing on property owners from a house seller list. This is really easy to do as the same company that provides motivated seller lists also offers skip tracing. In fact, it’s how data services for real estate investors make some of their profit.
So, skip tracing incurs extra costs ($0.20 per contact), and this is on top of the fee for obtaining the motivated seller list in the first place. But the real cost of skip tracing comes in the form of a lawsuit.
The fine for unsolicited telemarketing is from $500 to $1500 per violation. These fines are often the end result of a class-action lawsuit, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is deliberately vague to discourage marketers from ruining the phone user experience. And who can blame them, just look what we’ve done with email marketing – email service providers have to filter staggering amounts of spam to protect their users from harmful or unsolicited traffic. If we do the same with SMS marketing and ringless voicemail drops, people will respond less to future campaigns.
TCPA is clear on how to avoid the risk of fines. You simply need:
prior express written consent is a written agreement between the caller and the receiver of the call that clearly authorizes the caller to deliver ‘advertisements or telemarketing messages using an automatic telephone dialing system [(ATDS)]or an artificial pre-recorded voice.
Hence the recommendation to include this towards the end of the conversion process on your website.
Ringless voicemail marketing, like SMS marketing, can help you close more deals from the leads that are in your funnel. It’s a useful tool for following up with prospects, especially if your CRM allows tracking multiple touchpoints across different marketing channels.
However, as a lead generation effort, ringless voicemail can cause a lot of problems for your real estate investing company. You’ll either do your best to comply with recent voicemail drop regulation, or you’ll risk getting a fine from the odd voicemail recipient that will sue you. It’s simply not worth it, especially since there are other marketing channels (digital in particular – PPC, SEO, and social) that bring leads to you hassle-free.
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