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How To Use SMS Marketing as a Real Estate Investor

How To Use SMS Marketing as a Real Estate Investor

The use of text messaging in daily business operations is common among real estate investors. Although these SMS messages aren’t always used for marketing in the strict sense of the word, they do help investors close more deals because they make follow-up procedures fast and cost-effective.

In this article, we are going to outline the ways in which you can use SMS and share tips on improving their effectiveness, i.e. the response rate of text campaigns.

Let’s dive in.

Text Messaging as a Marketing Trend

Most professional marketers would agree that the effectiveness of marketing channels fluctuates. At one moment, the hottest marketing channel is email, then it’s social media, regular mail, etc. This has to do with trends when it comes to how the general population prefers to communicate.

Usually, when a channel is novel it attracts a lot of attention. For example, back in the day, everybody was checking their emails. As time went by, users became accustomed to getting all sorts of offers in their inboxes (including spam) which has made many reluctant to open messages from brands or unknown senders. Once the novelty wears off, the response rates go down, and another marketing channel takes over.

Text messaging is no exception to this rule of thumb, especially since most people own a smartphone nowadays. So, if you promote your business through text messaging, you’re bound to get some response considering that, on average, people spend up to 6 hours on their phones daily. Also, users are used to responding to texts, so you are likely to get a response fast.

Text Messaging for Real Estate Investors

Even if you close just a couple of extra deals a year from SMS marketing, the channel is worth it. And since we are into methods that allow investors to get more value out of their leads, we find text messaging campaigns to be very useful. Every tool that helps you close deals from leads that would otherwise sit idly in your client relationship management (CRM) system should be considered.

That being said, let’s take a look at the benefits of SMS marketing for real estate investors.

Pros of Text Message Marketing for Real Estate Investors

  • SMS marketing has relatively high response rates – there will be house sellers who ghost you, however, if the channel is trendy at the moment (as texting is right now), people will at least open, if not respond to the texts.
  • You will get a quick answer – people respond fast to text messages – they open it, read it, act on it (either respond or don’t bother), and go on with their lives. Sometimes this happens within minutes. When you send a direct mail campaign (or you do SEO), you need months to see the effects of your marketing. Also, people usually open text messages more often than they open emails – the response is faster than what’s typical for most outbound marketing channels.
  • Texts replace phone calls – cold calling can be very stressful, especially if you’re dealing with a difficult person, so it’s much easier to deal with some leads via text. Also, you have more time to think up an answer, measure your words, and personalize the exchange.
  • SMS marketing increases the value of leads – we already mentioned this, texting is a great tool for following up with leads that are already in your CRM.

Cons of Text Message Marketing for Real Estate Investors

  • You reach out to leads, not the other way around – texting is a form of outbound marketing and this means that you interrupt the daily life of the recipient. Inbound marketing (house owners reaching out to you) usually delivers leads that are motivated to sell. Take PPC campaigns for instance, your ad appears on the screen when motivated sellers need a solution, while texts can reach a recipient at an inconvenient moment.
  • Text messages have a length limit – you have to keep your message under 160 characters. It’s actually harder to be short and to the point when your ad copy length is limited, particularly if you need to include links in the body of the text.
  • Some people don’t want to be contacted via text – as SMS marketing is picking up, people receive fraudulent messages and keep their guard up when they get an unwarranted message. Just because someone entered their phone in your lead capture form, it doesn’t mean they expect an SMS from you. And if you got the phone number through skip tracing it’s even worse, and you might get a harsh response.

Now that you know the pros and cons of SMS marketing, let’s see how you can use text messages to close more deals.

Ways To Use SMS Marketing as a Real Estate Investor

There are many ways in which real estate investors can decide how to utilize text messaging in their regular operations. We will focus on these four:

  • onboarding new leads
  • following up with leads
  • re engaging old leads
  • finding cash buyers

Let’s explore each in the following paragraphs.

Onboarding Through SMS

Text messages are great for onboarding new leads. Leads are hot when they enter your funnel (this applies to sales across industries) so the importance of making that first contact can’t be overstated.

Some say you have to respond within five minutes, it’s an actual metric that’s called lead response time.

Since motivated house sellers usually convert on your real estate investing website, and this can happen at any time of day, it’s recommended to automate the onboarding SMS sequence. This allows you to bring your lead response time down so you can start building rapport with house sellers right away. Onboarding can also be done through an email, so you’ll have to decide between the two (or maybe send both an email and a text).

The copy doesn’t have to be something complex, simply ensure the recipient that they’ve visited the right website and tell them what to expect (for instance, “You will get a call from us within 12 hours”).

Following Up Through SMS

Automated sequences are useful for onboarding, but once you start processing the lead in your funnel, at one point, someone from your office will have to talk to the lead (a phone call, a meeting, house inspection, etc.). And scheduling this next action can prove difficult, because other investors are after the same deal as well.

There are CRMs that are designed specifically for real estate investors and they use action based algorithms to schedule this next interaction with house sellers. Some of these CRMs make follow up with SMS available directly from the dashboard, (without opening another software tool). It’s really useful if you chase the lead on more than one marketing channel (phone, SMS, email, social media, etc.).

The copy of a follow up text message should include three elements:

  • remind them how they got there,
  • explain what to expect from the process, and
  • explain what’s going to happen next.

We’ve dedicated an episode on our REI Marketing Nerds to this, and a good example of SMS copy for follow up is: “Hey X, Jack from XYZ company here. You provided property details on our website and we can provide a no obligation offer on your house within 48 hours. Redeem your offer by responding to this message.”

Reengaging Old Leads Through SMS

This text message is very similar to the follow up SMS, the only difference being – you are doing this with an old lead in your funnel. To get a response, you might need to follow up several times (we will expand on rules on SMS frequency further below). The text should have the same three essential elements from the previous section.

If the house seller isn’t engaged, they’ve either made a decision not to sell the house, or they’ve sold it to someone else. It’s very important to try to reengage these leads (through SMS or other channel) because some of them might end up selling their house to you. Even if they simply inform you that they’ve sold the house and don’t want to hear from you again – you’ve learned something new about the lead, and you can place it in an appropriate category within your CRM.

SMS can be a useful tool when you build a comprehensive follow up process for your real estate investing business.

Finding Cash Buyers Through SMS

You can engage house buyers with text messages as well. The actual text copy and the contact list will vary based on the exit strategy for your properties.

Suppose you have a handful of prospective cash buyers and a couple of properties to sell. By sending the same text message to this group of buyers, you will not only get your property sold, but you will also create an investor profile for each of them, based on the responses you get. One category in the investor profile can be real estate market (ZIP code). House price (range) can be another, type of property yet another, etc.

These text message campaigns are great for finding cash buyers for wholesale deals, but they can work on other type of demand for your properties. For instance, you can send the same text message to a group of renters if your exit strategy is the BRRRR method.

It’s a form of creating an off market listing to a group of cash buyers (or renters) you know.

SMS Can Be Used in Any Campaign

We’ve provided only four types of text messages that can be used in a campaign, but hopefully you can adapt them to whatever goals are a priority for your real estate investing business. You can contact people through SMS to complete any business goal. However, if you want to get a favorable result from text message campaigns, you’ll have to make sure they are crafted in a specific way.

Let’s take a look at practical tips on crafting a text message that gets a high response rate.

Tips on SMS Marketing for Real Estate Investors

As SMS marketing campaigns become a trend, there are certain steps each business can take to ensure that their campaign performs well relative to what other businesses do. Each marketing channel has its own unwritten rules and we will provide a short breakdown of the most important rules for text messaging for real estate investors.

Create an Automated Text Message Sequence

You are going to face a limited number of scenarios when you interact with house seller leads. Automated text message sequence will help you to streamline your responses to each possible outcome during the exchange. Perhaps this sounds more complex than it actually is.

Take automated email sequences for example. They have been around for some time and, in essence, they include different email copy based on the action of the recipient, like following a link that was placed within the body of the message. In the same manner, you can develop an SMS messaging script for every possible outcome.

Most real estate investors automate the first SMS that’s sent out to their new leads anyway. You can introduce a choice point for each following text message and if you do it right, leads will qualify and filter by themselves.

Personalize the Copy of the Text Message

At first glance, this advice might seem at odds with the previous one. However, you can add personalized details to your copy automatically, too. Keep things simple and start the message with a salutation followed by the first name of the house seller, or include the full address of the house in the SMS. If the lead was converted through your real estate investing website, your lead capture form probably collects these personal details, so it would be easy to pull the info from the form.

Digital marketers report that personalization can increase response rates for ecommerce sites. And even though selling a house is a much bigger decision than, let’s say, buying a new watch, and personalization might not play a big role in bumping response rates and conversion rates, you can nevertheless test this approach in your real estate market.

SMS Sending Frequency Should Be Low

You might be tempted to send a text message to your house seller leads every day. While we do advocate being persistent in your follow up process, if you cross personal boundaries by sending too many text messages, you will create an opposite effect.

A good rule of thumb is sending one SMS each week. This rule is not set in stone, however, sending more text messages without receiving any kind of response from the recipient is deemed excessive. Make sure your SMS copy is straight to the point and these 4 messages in a month will help you close deals.

Keep the SMS Copy To The Point

We already mentioned that your text message shouldn’t exceed 160 characters, so you’ll have to pack everything you need to say in as few words as possible. Provide shortened links in your text messages. This will not only allow you to have more characters for the actual words, but will also increase response rates.

However, don’t take space saving too far by using abbreviations in the SMS. Abbreviations are subject to interpretation and don’t work with all demographic groups. Also, avoid using symbols as well. You are having a business exchange, and misinterpretation can cost you a lost deal, so make sure everything is communicated clearly.

Sending Time Affects SMS Response Rates

As with other marketing channels, response rates for text messages vary based on the time of day they’re sent. You can’t really know the daily schedule of recipients, but you can try to reach out at a time when they probably commute or are on their lunch break. So the time slots before and after the typical 9-5 working day are your best bet.

Sending a text message after 8 PM is not appropriate, and texts sent on Monday’s have traditionally low response rates. Apps and CRM systems allow you to schedule sending a text message in advance, and this can be very helpful for setting up weekly SMS alerts so that you can dedicate your time on other aspects of your business.

Segment Recipients To Make the SMS More Relevant

Create different audiences in your contact list so that you can target a specific group of leads with the same message. This is an approach that was originally championed by social media, and it can bring results in your SMS marketing, too. Even if the group has only a dozen or so contacts, this will still allow you to craft a targeted message.

For instance, you can create a group for text message that is sent as a response to unanswered calls. But there are many other ways to segment your audience: based on real estate market, based on the type of text message they need to receive, based on the size of their house, etc.

Offer Recipients to Opt In More Than Once

Opt in is simply a step in the text messaging sequence that allows recipients to express their consent about receiving another SMS from you. It’s a method to increase engagement from recipients and to improve the overall response rate, since you are texting only leads who are interested in hearing what you have to say next.

This is very important because there aren’t really spam filters for SMS marketing (like there are for email campaigns). Sometimes telecommunication regulation varies by county and if you don’t take this into consideration your SMS may be filtered out (or not delivered at all).

Regulators have introduced two separate categories of text messages in an effort to sort text message traffic: peer to peer (P2P) and application to peer (A2P). The distinction is made based on the number of recipients, sending frequency, patterns in the body of the message (spam trigger words like “free gift,” “apply now,” etc.) and other general features. The perfect scenario is when your recipient engages in a two way conversation. If you use A2P text messaging system, you’ll need to study compliance regulation closely to ensure a high response rate for your campaign.

Track Results To Improve Your SMS Campaigns

Monitor the performance of your text message campaigns. SMS marketing provides a lot of metrics (not as many as digital marketing, but still) and you can use them to analyze the effectiveness of campaigns.

The rest is similar to what we say about online marketing: perform split testing (A/B), track open rates and response rates, modify recipient lists (audiences), and try different timing for campaigns. Keeping all these metrics in mind will enable you to tweak your next SMS campaign to deliver better results.

Takeaway

Text messages can support your efforts to close as many deals from the motivated seller leads in your funnel. People text a lot as they go through their day, so you can bank on the fact they’ll spend all that time looking at their phones. SMS can be used for onboarding, following up, checking old leads, creating cash buyer lists, and other business operations or marketing campaigns.

To make your SMS campaigns more effective, run through the following checklist:

  • create an automated text message sequence
  • personalize the text of the copy
  • sending frequency should be low (once a week)
  • keep the SMS copy straight and to the point (no abbreviations and symbols)
  • be mindful of sending time (catch people on their break for a better response rate)
  • segment recipients into audiences to make the SMS relevant
  • offer recipients to opt in more than once (to comply with regulation)
  • track results to improve your next SMS campaign

These days, people often forget they’ve provided details in a website form. A well-crafted SMS campaign can help you get more value from the leads that are in your funnel, as long as you follow up persistently. Leaving all those deals on the table is not an option for successful real estate investors.

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