Every real estate investing company would run its daily operations more efficiently if they are automated. However, since investors set up their companies around different business plans and follow personal preferences in the process, the software tools that are useful for automation differ as well. What is new and useful software for one real estate investor, might be old news for another. Hence, we will provide a general overview of tools that can help all real estate investing businesses automate their marketing, regardless of size, organization, and goals.
In specific terms, these are pieces of software for lead management (and nurture), real estate email marketing, social media marketing, phone messaging, and apps for managing ad campaigns. We’ll offer a general description of marketing automation tools in each category along with a list of apps and programs that are available on the market (some of them for free, others for a fee).
Before we dive into this, let’s check why real estate investors would benefit from integrating marketing automation software in their in-house processes.
For some this is a no-brainer – apps already play a part in their workflow. Since real estate investing as an industry is slow to pick up IT trends, we will quickly run through some of the reasons you should adopt marketing automation software, to help out those who are on the fence. In no particular order:
All that said, join us as we get into specifics about each of these functionalities and apps.
There’s a general push toward programs that automate as much as possible when it comes to managing an ad campaign. Dan noted this in the last episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast for 2021:
..advertising channels are moving to an algorithmic paradigm..There are less buttons to push. There are less levers to pull. There is simply less control and we have to be okay with that…
So, what do these automated ad campaign managers do? In essence, they offer most of the things that are available to you on platforms like Facebook Business and Google Ads:
Examples of such apps include:
Trapica – an AI powered marketing platform that can be integrated with paid search and social media campaigns. It can help you segment audiences based on interest, intent, and online behavior. Moreover, you can optimize ads and automate ad campaigns.
Oracle Eloqua – is a marketing automation platform which can be used to design a campaign, to perform advanced lead scoring, and to nurture leads. It’s not made for real estate investors specifically, but some users find the interface to be good and easy to use.
AdRoll – it’s an app that utilizes machine learning to help you better define your audience and to stir engagement across multiple channels. AdRoll boasts about the elaborate campaign metrics they offer to users.
As soon as you start considering automated ad campaigns, you note that the line between software for managing ad campaigns and lead nurturing is thin. So, let’s turn to lead management apps.
Motivated seller leads is what matters most to real estate investors. It’s all of the processes you employ to make the most of the leads in your sales funnel: lead capture, lead qualification, lead nurture cycle, lead prioritization…a lot of tasks centered around leads.
In respect to day to day business operations, lead management is done through lead capturing forms, client relationship systems (CRM), follow up processes, and tracking touch-points. There are dozens of apps in this category and the real challenge for investors is to find a way to integrate as much of these shortcuts into one system (usually the client relationship system).
Email is one of the oldest means for doing lead management online, so we will start with email marketing automation.
You know the old school approach – once a homeowner provides their contact details to you through a lead magnet on your landing page (or on social media), you start hitting their email address up with marketing messages. When it comes to metrics of email marketing campaigns, like email open rate, click through rate, and email response rate, the figures fluctuate over the years, however, email marketing is still relevant for nurturing leads as a real estate investor.
And it’s so easy to automate, whether by using a number of templates for ad copies, creating an email sequence for on-boarding leads, or scheduling requests for referrals from homeowners who sold a house to you.
You can check out the following apps to automate your email lead nurture campaign:
TextExpander is great for saving templates that can be used across virtually all platforms. It’s more of a productivity hack than a piece of software, but will allow you instant access to saved replies as you face similar scenarios along your lead nurture process.
MailChimp it’s a full blown email marketing service, but it’s particularly useful for managing mailing lists, automating email sequences and getting a dedicated server for email campaigns.
Drip is an automated marketing platform that can help you manage a multichannel lead generation campaign including email, SMS, pop ups, and social media. It’s integrated with many other software tools – for instance, you can easily import your Facebook audience into their product.
ActiveCampaign is a cloud software platform that is used in all sorts of industries. It’s good for email marketing automation, through email segmentation and subscription forms, but also offers SMS messaging, CRM pipelines, chat bots, lead scoring, split testing, and web personalization – all of which come handy during lead nurture campaigns.
ConvertKit is usually used by podcasters and creative folks, but real estate investors can also find its sign up forms, site add-ons, and lead capture tools useful. You can easily segment audiences and manage email campaigns with this product.
Now, you can take all these email workflows, automated notifications, and task scheduling hacks to the next level with CRM systems.
We focus a lot of our energy on systems thinking and automation because experience shows us that this is what sets well performing real estate investors apart. CRM systems allow you to automate lead nurture tasks, in general, not only those closely related to marketing.
This will become evident as we run through the features of different CRM systems.
InvestorFuse is a client relationship platform designed specifically for real estate investing acquisition teams. Investors can sync entries and note interactions that happen across lead channels (website, phone, email, etc). InvestorFuse uses action-based algorithm that enables users to schedule the next action, assign task to team members, mark status of leads, and events down the lead journey.
Podio is a project management software, however, many real estate investors use it to manage leads. Since this tool is originally developed for collaboration on projects (as opposed to lead acquisition in real estate), you’ll have to do a lot of tweaks to keep track of your leads.
Realeflow is an elaborate real estate investing software. It allows you to source mailing lists for ad campaigns (direct mail, social ads, etc.) the way data services do. Realeflow also packs a lot of tools, including rehab costs estimator and software to analyze offers, but it also has a unique feature that enables you to find a private lender for the deal without leaving the CRM system.
Zurple is a platform developed for marketing and lead generation, mostly used by realtors. Since it’s made with real estate deals in mind, you can easily track both house buyer and house seller leads, optimize follow ups, and improve conversions from website traffic.
Follow Up Boss is a popular CRM for managing real estate leads. It’s forte is integration of platforms and sources like Google Calendar, Gmail, Office 365, iOS, Android, and others. FollowUpBoss pulls leads from many sources, it can schedule actions through the use of smart lists, and offers templates for drip campaigns.
Spacio is an app for managing listings and open houses, however, it also has a number of lead capture tools and allows you to communicate with leads directly. It’s not a CRM per se, but you can easily integrate it with the system you are using, and Spacio features like automated email follow up come handy for processing leads from open houses.
Spectora helps you automate house inspections. They provide web based reports and lead management features (filters) which can be used along with digital marketing tools to grow your business.
Keap (fka Infusionsoft) is a CRM systems for entrepreneurs that allows you to manage email campaigns, text messaging, and convert leads through landing pages. Keap has ecommerce features that are of no real use to real estate investors, but their automated follow up and marketing tools can help you streamline processes.
Call Porter is the ultimate lead qualification service most solopreneur real estate investors need. They have agents who are trained to sift through real estate leads and many investors use them. It’s not automation in the strict sense of the world (the work is done by Call Porter representatives, not by software), but it takes the pressure off your lead acquisition team.
This is a short selection of real estate investing CRM systems, but we have to draw the line somewhere – there are a lot of other options on the market (Jumplead, Hubspot, Pardot (SalesForce), Revealbot and Octoboard). Let’s take a peak in the next category: marketing automation of social campaigns.
Every entrepreneur values the merit of maintaining social media presence for their company. What people who don’t do social media marketing don’t understand is that it’s a proper work. As we shared in the piece on Pinterest marketing:
…The output of prominent real estate pinners is between 3-5 pins a day. That is between 1095 and 1825 pins in a year…
The workload when you publish content and sift through leads on other social media platforms is along the same lines whether you talk about Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or other platforms. So, no wonder real estate investors look for social media marketing automation software to bring the noise to signal ratio down to a manageable level.
Here are some of the apps that do this:
IFTTT stands for “if this, then that” and it allows you to program a response to a social media event in advance. You can also automate specific actions, for example, immediately archive each photo posted on your Instagram profile – an action you would otherwise spend time to complete. IFTTT can easily adapt a post from one social network to be used on another (i.e. a Facebook post into a Twitter post).
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows users to integrate their social campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube through a single dashboard. Hootsuite has millions of users and is used to build brand awareness, but it can be helpful for real estate investors as well.
MeetEdgar is the ultimate social media scheduling tool. You can pull posts from your library and publish them within social media campaigns on Facebook pages and groups, Instagram feed and stories, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (company pages).
SocialPilot is social media marketing automation tool that allows you to also schedule posts for campaigns in advance. SocialPilot is cheaper than it’s competitors (only $50/month) and delivers great user experience. Also, you get reports helpful for marketing analysis through engagement metrics.
Sprout Social is one of the most popular social media management tools on the market. It’s used for social media scheduling, reporting, and offers advanced brand awareness solutions, like social media listening (what is being said about your company on the internet). Sprout Social is good for real estate investors because it makes team work easier and it’s an elaborate tool.
Buffer is a piece of software that does what most entries on this list do: schedule social media posts, report on audience engagement, and track marketing metrics. It has a mobile app and can be used for managing posts on social network (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Instagram Stories, Pinterest, and LinkedIn).
There are a lot of alternatives to these specific pieces of social media automation software, however, in essence, they all focus on providing the same type of services for entrepreneurs. Now, lets consider the aspects of marketing automation you should be wary of.
You should keep in mind at least three aspects of marketing automation before you go ahead and do it: systems security, time management, and losing touch of working with people.
Most of these marketing automation tools handle a lot of your data, so you should make sure that the data is protected. While user friendly interface is always great, these dashboards, platforms, and clouds are systems that can be hacked, especially if you have a remote team.
So, take data security seriously. It’s a layer of security that traditional real estate investing companies didn’t had to deal with since back in the day everything was locked at the end of the day at the office.
Generally speaking, marketing automation serves to increase speed and save time, however, this is not guaranteed, particularly if you use multiple platforms to handle leads. Even though the primary reason to automate is to save time, run an analysis to check if this is the case. If your automated marketing systems end up eating your time and money, you have two choices:
There is no point in spending time to log into five different platforms to do something that can be otherwise completed faster if you do it manually. It’s important to keep track of performance metrics so that you are aware if there are unnecessary time consuming tasks in your process. Best way to do this is to start gradually (with a plan in mind) and test its efficiency so you can adapt your workflow over time.
This works on every level – when you automate a marketing task, you are losing touch from interactions with people, both within your team and with motivated sellers. Real estate investing is an industry in which people skills are very important, and if you automate everything, you run the risk of losing your mojo for dealing with people.
The trend to eliminate interactions with actual people is the forte of iBuyers. As an individual real estate investor, your knowledge of local markets and the human touch is your competitive advantage relative to these behemoths backed by venture capital. You can’t compete with them on automation and handling large data sets even if you wanted to, they simply have more resources.
So, proceed with caution when you automate your marketing. Just because you can stack these apps, it doesn’t mean that you should do it. If it ends up adding a higher degree of complexity to your process or takes up your time, maybe you are better off with only a couple of marketing automation products that really help you achieve more.
Most people get into real estate investing and try to do everything on their own. They try to find their own deals, put in their own money and even try to do the “sweat” work all by themselves. This is a recipe for disaster and burnout. If you want to clear 7 and 8 figures
The future of real estate is changing with technology finally catching up. With anything that technology touches, it leads to more efficiency. This scares many as old ways of doing things become obsolete and real estate investors fear losing profits. That’s the bad news. The good news? By embracing new ways of doing things, technology