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SMS Marketing for Estate Agents

In recent years, there has been a shift in the property market towards a new generation of estate agents who are leading a push away from the traditional high street model. With new generations entering the housing market and changing customer behaviours, estate agents are having to look for new ways to attract both buyers and sellers. SMS marketing is one tool which could help. In this article, we explore how estate agents can use SMS messaging to attract and engage with customers.

Your message – in the right hands

It is no surprise that the majority of house searches are now conducted online. Estimates indicate that as many as 80-90% of buyers begin their search via the internet – and of these, as many as a third use a mobile phone. Now, as this significant potential clientele have already chosen to use their mobile, it makes perfect sense to take advantage of the possibility SMS marketing offers to literally place a message into the palm of their hands. The law requires that you obtain express prior consent before any message can be sent, but this can be satisfied on a mobile website with a very simple tick box and accompanying statement. Encouraging mobile visitors to sign up for SMS alerts at the earliest possible opportunity means you maximise your chances of converting website viewers into leads and ultimately sales.

So once you’ve got your website visitor to sign up to your SMS marketing list, what next? Here’s a look at how you can use SMS to best effect.

The SMS Marketing process

Property matching

A perfect time to prompt the visitor to sign up for SMS marketing is when they are browsing a particular property on your website. The likelihood is that they have arrived at this listing as a result of a search based on specific criteria which reflect the customer’s requirements or preferences. As soon as the customer has signed up, you could demonstrate that your company is committed to proactively helping prospective buyers by sending a message such as:

“Hi, would you like to receive updates when new properties matching your current search criteria are listed at www.househunter.com? Reply HOUSE to 87007 and you’ll be the first to know. Reply STOP if you do not wish to receive these messages in the future.”

The message is personal and relatively informal in tone but could be easily adapted depending on your particular profile. An upmarket estate agent with high-end property would want to approach their customers differently.

By presenting a question and inviting the viewer to agree, the message shows a respect for their personal preferences and privacy rather than blanketly assuming that this is something they would like. This means that any follow-up messages will be sent to an audience who have already shown an interest in receiving them, making the likelihood of them converting significantly higher. The phrase ‘you’ll be the first to know’ creates a sense of exclusivity – proven in marketing to be a powerful motivator. Finally, the message complies with EU-wide regulations requiring an opt-out to be included.

Of course, the key to success in any business is to deliver on your promises. So if your customer has requested SMS updates, make sure you have a system in place to provide them. This is where the Fastsms system’s option for API integration into your CRM system can prove to be of tremendous value.

As well as new listings, SMS updates are ideal for status changes – when there is a change in the asking price of a property, or when a property is re-listed after a failed sale, for example.

Let’s assume that your customer is internet savvy and has opted to book a viewing online. You’ve invested in a perfect system that sends an immediate email confirmation to his or her inbox and job done. Maybe you go a step further, and send an email reminder the day before the viewing. This is all well and good, but did you know that a huge proportion of emails go completely unread, and even those that are read often don’t get seen within anything less than ninety minutes. There are several reasons why email is not as effective as SMS when it comes to open rates. Firstly, the ever increasing volume of spam means that people tend to heavily filter their inboxes – even at a subconscious level. Many people are simply too busy to be constantly checking their mailbox, and mobile users, in particular, are likely to see an on-screen notification and leave it at that. The end result – no shows that cost you time and money. And evidence suggests that the vast majority of no-shows are simply because people forgot about the appointment. Sending an SMS confirmation followed up by a timely reminder is likely to be the best way to ensure your viewer comes along. Adding the option to change the viewing to suit their needs demonstrates great customer service and helps to build trust – an essential element of the relationship. An example message might read:

“Thank you for booking a viewing at 28 Riverside Terrace SW10 2RW on Friday, Aug 4th at 2pm. Your viewing will be with Susan Smith. To change the time or date, don’t hesitate to call us on 0330 346 542. We look forward to seeing you soon, Househunter.com.”

By including the name of the person conducting the viewing, the message becomes much more personal and again helps to foster trust. The message generally emphasises the overall “we’re always happy to help” message.

A follow up sent the day before the viewing might read:

“Hi, this is Susan from Househunter.com to confirm your viewing at 28 Riverside Terrace SW10 2RW tomorrow at 2pm. If for any reason you can’t make it, call me on 0330 346 543 and I’ll be happy to rearrange.”

The buying process

We will now assume that the customer has been highly impressed with your company’s customer service and has decided that the property is ideal for their needs and aspirations. They will now enter into the buying process, which has a number of distinct steps, beginning with the customer submitting an offer. SMS messaging is a perfect way to keep the customer informed and updated at each step and let them know if any action is required from them.

An ideal moment to send a message is immediately after a formal offer has been submitted. You might wish to thank the customer for choosing to buy through your company, and give them a named point of contact should they have any queries. This is also a great time to send a link to any relevant pages on your website.

Following this, send relevant updates to the customer at regular intervals to let them know how things are progressing. Some ideas here include sending them an SMS if you need them to call you to go through anything, or if they have been asked to send a document to the office, confirm that it has been safely received.

All of these seemingly small gestures will help to remind the customer that you are willing to go that bit further for them and as a result, their experience of dealing with you will be exceptional rather than average. In a world where reviews carry huge influence, this is key to maintaining your reputation.

Finally, if the sale has gone through successfully, be sure to congratulate the buyer! For most people, this is a significant life event and you should be the first to acknowledge it.

Reviews and ratings

As we’ve just mentioned, reviews play a huge role in influencing people’s choice of business today. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense to use SMS messaging to collect feedback and encourage reviews. There are many ways to do this, both natively within SMS or by sending links to online platforms. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but the most important thing is to make it as simple as possible for the customer to participate and respond.

If you are interested in using SMS Marketing in the property sector would like to talk to a specialist in your field, give our team a call now on 0800 954 5305 and we’ll be happy to connect you with an expert.

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