Real Estate Text Marketing: The 6-Step Quick-Start Guide
Response times make or break real estate leads. Studies show that the average response time for real estate leads is 917 minutes (over 15 hours), while a whopping 90% of texts are read within the first three minutes of receipt.
Text is more convenient, efficient, and cost-effective at scale than any other communication option. Beat other agents to new listings and sales with text marketing.
Text - or SMS (Short Message Service) - communications allow you to communicate quickly and effectively with leads and craft customized replies when an opportunity presents itself. With a 98% engagement rate texts are the perfect way to provide a fast response that you know your leads will see.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about real estate text marketing: the steps to get off to a great start, tips that will keep you from making rookie mistakes, and how to further your text marketing education. We'll show you more of what other successful agents and agencies are doing with text marketing below and how easy it is to get started. This is a resource you’ll want to reference again in the future, so make sure to bookmark it.
Here are the six steps you can take to prime leads and keep you away from your desk.
The Real Estate Text Marketing Guide
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about real estate text marketing: the steps to get off to a great start, tips that will keep you from making rookie mistakes, and how to further your text marketing education.
6 Steps to a Fast Start in Real Estate Text Marketing
1. Pick the Right ProviderNow that you have some campaigns in mind, it’s time to find the best text message marketing platform to fit your needs. Our real estate account specialists recommend the following for consideration. One of the reasons real estate agents are falling in love with bulk text marketing is that it’s simple and fast. Here are the six things to look for in a text marketing platform:
Ease of Use
Text messaging isn’t complicated. There are no hidden algorithms to optimize for (like Facebook or Google), and there are no filters between you and your contacts. With email, for example, you have to come up with witty (or even clickbait-y) subject lines to get people to open the message. With text messages, you don't have to do that. Our internal studies show that 98% of people read the text messages sent from our platform.
So, basically, every text will be consumed by your contacts.
Just as text messaging is simple, the platform you choose should be straightforward and intuitive. If it’s hard to understand how to use the service, you and your team will be less likely to use it. But how do you know up front if a text marketing platform will be easy to use? One quick test to try is signing up for a free trial. If that process is cumbersome, the software will probably be frustrating as well. Our sign-up process includes a simple, automated tour which highlights the important functions in the system. Look for a smooth onboarding experience as you evaluate services.
1-on-1 Chat CapabilityWhile most of the major benefits of a mass text messaging platform come from the features which facilitate 1-to-many communications, you’ll also benefit from the ability to engage 1-to-1 with contacts. Most people have indicated that they prefer to use text messages rather than phone calls for these types of conversations.
The best text marketing systems include a chat function to facilitate this 1-to-1 communication. The messages look like a text replies, even though you’re actually using the online interface and a full-sized keyboard to type. And, the chats are easily organized and saved in the platform for future reference.
Long links obviously eat up valuable real estate (pun!) in an SMS message, so don’t overlook the opportunity to shorten those links to make your texts look clean and professional.
Our real estate text marketing experts have found that agents get a lot of value from monitoring the clicks which come through shortened links. When you use a link shortener from within the texting platform, as opposed to an external service like bit.ly, the clicks are instantly and accurately matched to your contacts, so that you can see who is interested in what.
When you talk to a lead or client, you’ll know up front what properties they’ve viewed. That information can help you present the right homes and selling points to your contacts.
Picture Messaging (MMS)
As you’ve seen in the examples above, including images can make a huge difference in the engagement of your messages and the professionalism you project. Keep this in mind as you evaluate text marketing platforms. Be sure to ask if MMS messages cost more than SMS. Most providers use credits to allocate your spend for a certain number of texts. MMS messages may require more credits than SMS in some services. You’ll be using a lot of images as a real estate agent, so don’t forget to take this into account.
You could also take advantage of MMS capabilities by sending a short (30 seconds or less) video introduction of yourself as part of a drip campaign to new contacts who haven’t met you in person.
Text to Landline
Many agents are surprised to find out just how many people assume their advertised number is a cell number and try texting it. It’s more common than you would imagine. If you’re using a landline number which is not text-enabled, you’re probably losing business without even knowing it.
Check to see if the provider you are considering offers the capability to set up a text-enabled phone number which you can use for landline calls or text.
To see more of the capabilities a great text marketing service should provide, read The Features of Text Message Marketing Software That Can Revolutionize Your Business.
2. Upload and Segment Contacts
Once you’ve settled on a service provider, the next step is to upload and segment your current contact list into groups. Keep in mind that just because you have someone’s phone number doesn’t mean you have permission to text them. You have to have explicit consent from contacts to send mass text messages.
If your contact database is a hundred or less, it would probably be easiest to copy and paste the info into the platform. If you have a larger list, you can upload a spreadsheet. Don’t hesitate to include a lot of data rows in your spreadsheet. You can use this data to segment your contacts into interest or activity groups so that you are sure to send them relevant messages.
Our platform offers unlimited groups for contacts. Here are some ideas for group segments that you might want to set up.
- Individual neighborhoods
- Price range
- Home style preference
- Bed or bath requirements
- School districts
- Warm and cold contacts
- Demographic info
3. Reserve Your Keywords
You’ve seen examples of Keywords in the planning section above. In the “Text ‘NEWLISTINGS’ to 474747” example, ‘NEWLISTINGS’ is the Keyword and 474747 is the shared short code. A Keyword can only be used once per short code, so you’ll want to claim a branded Keyword or two up front. For instance, if your agency decides to get a single Keyword for the entire office, you could include the franchise name and/or city as the Keyword -- ‘GREENVILLE’ for the office in Greenville.
Once you’ve settled on a Keyword, reserve it with your provider and start promoting it. Providing incentives for people to join your text marketing list is the fastest way to make it grow exponentially. “Text ‘GREENVILLE’ to get listing updates and a free doormat from your local home pros!”
Include your keyword and offer anywhere you market your services.
Website Email signatures Business cards Property spec sheets Printed materials Social media Yard signs Also, consider setting up a Keyword for individual properties using the address as the Keyword. Example: “Want to see inside? Text ‘111MAIN’ to 474747 to get interior photos instantly.”
4. Setup Autoresponders
Once you’ve reserved your keywords, set up autoresponders to reply to contacts who opt-in. You can use autoresponders not only to deliver instructions on the incentive you offered, but you can begin to introduce yourself to the new contact or ask for more information about their needs. For instance, you might ask new contacts to reply if they’re a buyer or seller so that you can provide them with useful information.
Our autoresponders automatically include opt-out information (“Reply STOP to unsubscribe”) as required by law, so that you don’t have to remember to add it.
5. Set Up Recurring Texts
One of the great benefits to text marketing is the ability to schedule texts to go out at any time in the future. This can be especially helpful in the use case of seasonal home maintenance tips as we mentioned above. You should also consider sending appreciation messages to contacts on their birthdays or the anniversaries of their home purchase.
You can set up recurring messages based on absolute dates (such as calendar dates) or relative dates (such as the day they became a contact or bought their home).
6. Monitor and Optimize
The key to success in real estate text marketing is finding what works for you. Use the reporting feature of your text messaging platform to evaluate campaign performance. Monitor response rates to determine what time of day or day of the week performs best for your sends and adjust your future campaigns to get the maximum impact.
Learn what types of messages resonate most with your audience and provide more of what they like best. Test sending frequency to find the sweet spot between too much and not enough.
Grow Your SMS Marketing Capabilities
Tips for Real Estate Text Marketing
We’ve helped over 50,000 companies succeed with text message marketing, and quite a few of them were in real estate. Here are some tips we’ve picked up as we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t from our real estate customers.
Mention Who the Text Is FromWhen you use a shared shortcode with other organizations, the “from” number will be a common five or six digit number rather than a number that is specific to you or your agency. If you don’t identify yourself in the body of the text, your contacts won’t know who sent the text. That certainly leads to frustration.
Don’t Send Too OftenAdjust the frequency of your texts to the interest of the contact. When you get a new contact who responds, feel free to send daily texts, but don’t push with contacts who haven’t interacted with your texts in a while. It’s often a good idea to tell people how often they’ll receive texts before they opt-in, so they’ll know what to expect. If you advertise that you’ll send monthly, don’t send weekly without giving them the option to stay on a monthly cadence.
Only Send with ConsentWe mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating. Bulk text messaging is a permission-based activity. If you send text marketing messages to contacts who haven’t given you consent to do so, they’ll get upset, and you could end up losing the ability to send through your provider or carrier.
PersonalizeEngagement rates are much higher when you send messages which are both relevant and mention specifics about the contact. Use groups to segment your contacts so that you are sure to send them information which will be useful to them. Don’t send sellers info which is intended for buyers, for instance. Your text message service should give you the option to include personalization tokens like
Include a Call to ActionWhat should your contacts do with the information you send them? Only on rare occasions should you send a text with no obvious next step or response clearly outlined. Give the contact a link to click or let them know the best way to reply.
Continue Your Real Estate Text Marketing Education
As we mentioned in the introduction, real estate agents are surprisingly slow to respond to leads. By using smart autoresponders, you can beat the average agent’s response time by 15 hours! Then, use the campaigns and tips we’ve outlined here to provide exceptional value to your leads and close more deals.
We’ve covered a couple of ways to grow your contact list in this guide, but we have more to share with you in our free eBook, The Guide to Growing Your SMS Marketing Campaigns. In that resource, you’ll discover even more ways to put your contact list growth on autopilot. We talk specifically about how to use social media, your website, and print ads to get new prospects to opt-in to your marketing campaigns.