Marketing tools and technology include a confusing set of terms to the unfamiliar. In the past, most of our tools were stand-alone tools that were not integrated across the customer’s journey nor across the company’s processes. While useful for their single purpose, they did not provide any insight or data outside the area of utility.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software allows a Real Estate agency to automate repetitive tasks through workflows, design and measure the performance of email campaigns, create marketing campaigns and landing pages and score prospects engagement to know where salespeople should concentrate their effort for best results.
TYPES of CRM’s
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software was developed to overcome the silo affect and manage the customer experience from initial interest to repeat sales. The CRM compiles customer data from multiple channels, the company website, telephone, email, chat and social media.
Different types of CRM have different flavors; an operational CRM automates the marketing, sales and customer support functions to provide a summary of customer interactions (and the ability to dive into details) across company processes, an analytical CRM will analyze customer data to identify ways to improve the customer experience and increase sales, a Collaborative CRM seeks to allow internal and external stakeholders to share feedback to improve processes and solve problems. Many CRM’s available today incorporate features from multiple types and the ability to customize the product allows for a unique solution for the business.
An evaluation of all the CRM products available today is outside the scope of this blog and could include over 1,000 products. However, there are a few that are worth mentioning due to the popularity in the real estate industry. Keep in mind, the tools and features continue to improve. For example, Active Campaign recently added the ability to do A/B testing directly in workflows and select the best option and continue the campaign. I evaluated several CRM’s over 6 months ago, but due to the continual improvements to the platforms would likely re-do my research to get the most up to date info if I was selecting one today.
Contactually – is billed as an easy to use CRM that integrates with mobile and Google products. It uses a bucket system to categorize clients, which is easy for Agents to understand and set up. It is attractively priced at $35 per user and affordable for even single agents.
Boomtownroi – Designed specifically for the Real Estate market, this CRM includes tools like maps, community info, IDX updates, lead generation and provides a website template. It can be more expensive than other alternatives but may require less customization since it is built with real estate application in mind.
HubSpot– is an industry recognized tool, not only to real estate agencies, but for all types of enterprises. It is scalable so one can begin using it for free and add features and capabilities as the organization grows. Unfortunately, the free version only shows leads activity on your website for the first 7 days.
Active Campaign – is a robust tool with capabilities that rival industry leading software with attractive pricing that makes it affordable to smaller agencies. It includes responsive email marketing, drag and drop workflows designs, CRM and sales automations, social media monitoring and more.
Benefits of CRM’s
The ultimate goal of the CRM is to improve customer satisfaction. We have all experienced the frustration of explaining a problem to multiple customer service representatives. A CRM allows every Representative to view the customers’ history and all previous communication; this provides insight to the organization and allows Agents to provide effective assistance.
Personalization goes beyond using the customer’s name in your automated email to them. The CRM tracks details regarding the customers’ preferences. The message to the customer is that they are important and recognizes their individuality.
A customer who inquires about a particular property for sale most likely does not want to see a message about selling a property. However, sending an automated email for more helpful resources based on another action the customer took will likely be viewed positively. A CRM allows the real estate company to perform segmentation based on multiple criteria.
Segmenting the real estate client can be based on buyer/seller, location, price range, purpose (vacation home, commercial, investment or residence) or prior actions taken on the website (download, click on email, engaged on social media etc).
You can customize the marketing message to each of the customer segments. Most CRM’s allow you to set up emails with dynamic content. The workflows your real estate agency sets up can be as simple or as complex as you want or need them to be.
Most CRM’s are rather flexible to be able to accomplish whatever you have in mind. If you have a winning method that you wish to automate some of the tasks, the CRM will allow you to do it.
Sometimes the client is not ready to act immediately or is shopping for Agents. The CRM can be set up to measure engagement so the Agent can take action while also continuing to provide helpful information to the client who is not quite ready to act.
You need to have content that is appropriate for the stage the client is in on their buyers or sellers journey. You can use automated workflows to deliver the appropriate content to the appropriate client to lead them through their journey. Perhaps, the client is just beginning and learning about the area. Sending them detail prospectus on an investment property is likely not to strike a chord. The right content, to the right person at the right time, should be your goal.
Cross Channel Intel
Some CRM’s can also help you to manage social media and perform social listening. This allows you to hear what customers may be saying about your brand on social media. You can also publish and manage your social media profiles and content with a single tool. Analyzing the social media success in context of the entire marketing mix is useful to determine where you should place the most effort.
Once you decide to embark on using a CRM, take some time to consider your firms needs and evaluate platforms, costs and capabilities. There are many features, bells and whistles, available. The costs can vary from free versions to many thousands per month. HubSpot offers a free version that can be scaled as the firm grows.
Take the time to understand the processes you currently use. You may discover ways to improve the process and will need to decide how you will use the CRM and which processes to automate. It will take 60 to 90 days to customize the CRM to work for your real estate firm. It will also require on-going monitoring to get the most out of it. The CRM will provide info to allow you to improve your processes and better serve customers if you manage it. Even when you are initially successful there are always ways for continual improvement.
A tracking code is added to your website to track customers with cookies. Once a client submits a form or reaches out, then they will appear in your CRM.
Many platforms will also show social media accounts associated with the customer which can be valuable to further engage personally with a shared interest or gain additional insight about the particular customer.
As a client engages with your content and email nurturing campaign, you will gain additional insight about that customer (and perhaps ways to improve your content).
Lead scoring allows you to add and subtract points for any activity to measure interest and engagement. A customer who makes several visits to your website, downloads an ebook and opens and clicks on an email is scored higher than someone who completed only one task. However, the less engaged client can continue to be nurtured through automated workflows until they become more engaged.
Clients can also be removed once engagement level has dropped below a threshold to maintain focus on the most valuable clients and to reduce the cost of using the software (most platforms charge according to number of contacts).
Engaged buyers can also be shown a customized list of new listings that have come to the market based on their criteria, like price, bedrooms or location. Buyers and sellers can also be assigned to Agents based on internal criteria. The CRM will effectively prompt agents for tasks and follow-ups as they work their way through the purchase and sale process.
Most CRM’s require some set-up and are not one size fits all out of the box. However, one does not have to be a programmer to be able to set-up most of the customization. The software is user friendly enough that a layperson familiar with “If/Then” statements can set up workflows, create emails, landing pages and the like. Sometimes, a Webmaster may be required for adding tracking codes to the website or integrating agents mobile devices to work with the CRM. Overall, the effort to set up and ongoing management and improvements is worth the customer insight gained by using the system. The CRM can also link to other lead generation portals, like Zillow, Realtor.com to automatically add clients who inquire on these sites to be added to your CRM.
Past clients are important to keep in touch with. The frequency and type of communication will likely be different than a potential current buyer or seller. A separate email can be designed for past clients to highlight community events or new developments that would interest them. This will help to keep your firm top of mind until they decide to make another purchase or sale. You can also automate sending personal messages like birthday or anniversary wishes.
Most CRM software has a dashboard view providing a snapshot of performance. Additional reporting allows you to dig in, like peeling an onion, to increasing levels of detail and valued insight.
A lead generation and internet marketing team is an asset for any real estate agency. Let Paveya show you how. From solid website design, SEO, social media management, content generation, email marketing and analysis, we get results that make a difference for your company!