Forms and Drip Email for Effective Real Estate Website Lead Follow-Up

Getting them in the front door is no good if you're losing them out the back.

Follow-up Real Estate Drip Email
Follow-Up Real Estate Drip Email. iStockPhoto

I am the world's WORST real estate professional when it comes to any type of personal networking. I simply do not do it. Because I'm also a writer, when I'm not involved in a real estate transaction, I'm sitting in my writer's chair pounding the keyboard. I'm somewhat of a hermit. I tell you this because I know that you can be successful in generating real estate website leads and a nice business flow without doing any personal networking.

If you also network, all the better, and more business for you.

Using PPC, Pay Per Click, advertising since the day I moved to the state and town in which I currently live, I've built a nice business. 100% of my business has come from my website, and always will. Yes, I get referrals, but they come from clients and customers who first found me on the Internet, then used my services and referred me. So, the second tier of client came from the website as well.

Let's assume that you've read other articles, perhaps in series with this one, that have convinced you that you can succeed with website marketing. You've followed the "best practices" tips for how to do PPC advertising, create the ads and landing pages, and place great content on your website. You've also created some special reports, white papers, or an eBook to offer your site visitors in return for their contact information. You're ready to place these report offers on relevant site pages, and it's time to develop a "form" to gather their contact information and place them into your system for follow-up.

This is critical, as they're probably weeks to months away from a transaction, so you need to stay top-of-mind with every prospect.

You may have a CRM, Customer Relationship Management, system that can take the information from a form and create a new prospect profile. I'm going to be giving you specific tools in this article to create a form, have it place the prospect into a follow-up system, and automatically send them a series of emails.

I'll be using two tools that can be absolutely free, but definitely are very low cost. These tools work together to automate your lead capture and follow-up to keep more prospects until they're ready to do business.

There are a number of good website forms creation applications, both as software and as online services. I settled on Wufoo forms for several reasons:

  • free or very inexpensive, depending on the number of forms and traffic
  • easy to use and create forms that look good on my site
  • integrates with the auto-responder and drip email solution I like

MailChimp is my follow-up email solution, and I'll go into some detail on the next page. However, MailChimp's forms application wasn't what I wanted, and Wufoo integrates well, so that's why I'm using the two products.

At the free service level, Wufoo provides 1 user, 3 forms, 3 reports, 10 total form fields, and 100 form entries/month. This may be enough for many real estate websites, but the next level significantly expands the capabilities and features.

Wufoo Forms Features - Go to the site for details, but Wufoo forms can be customized with various field types, styles and even branded with themes. Fields can be required or optional, including drop-down type fields for choices.

Wufoo Reports - Using the Reports builder, you can create reports with charts and graphs to show you at a glance how your lead capture is going.

Wufoo - MailChimp Integration - Since it's a bit difficult to find, the page for integration of Wufoo forms into MailChimp is here.

Real Estate Website Forms Tips

While you may have done everything right up to this point, getting the site visitor to a relevant page and generating interest in a report you're offering with a form, you haven't won until they submit the form. Some tips:

  • Keep the form short and simple, too many fields will cause them to stop and leave.
  • Only require name and email for most forms, as requiring a phone number will cut submissions.
  • Keep the form close to the explanation of the offer, report or eBook.
  • Have a thank-you message pop up when they finish.
  • Tell them in the form what's going to happen, like "Your report will be delivered automatically by email.

I have Wufoo deliver the report automatically and immediately after they submit the form. Then the integration with Mailchimp sends their information over for more email follow-up. Once you've achieved a balance of valuable free information on your site and special reports and enhanced information offered by these forms, you'll begin to see new leads.

Whether you've paid for a site visitor with PPC, Pay Per Click, marketing or managed to get them to your site with SEO or other site marketing, it's what you do after they arrive that makes the difference between nice website stats and a commission. Assuming that you've managed to get them to fill out a form and give you their contact information in exchange for a report, eBook or other material, now it's time to follow up in a way that keeps them engaged until they're ready to buy or sell real estate.

While there are many good drip email services, I chose MailChimp. The free level has been good enough for my uses so far, as it allows some liberal emailing to a list of hundreds. The free level allows up to 1,000 subscribers and 6,000 emails/month. However, the other features will more than justify moving up to a paid level.

What You Can Do With Your MailChimp Account

  • Create single auto-responder emails
  • Create a series of auto-responders, drip email
  • Track opens, unsubscribes, link clicks and much more for every email delivered
  • Have MailChimp handle all subscriptions and CANSPAM requirements
  • Integrate with other services like Google Analytics, Wufoo Forms, Facebook and more
  • Compare the performance of your email campaigns to all real estate related accounts with MailChimp

How I Use ​Real Estate Drip Email for Follow-Up

I probably have a very different strategy for follow-up, or drip email, than other real estate professionals. I'm very low-key and do not want to risk alienating my prospects. One way that I do that is to have a short series, usually only 4 emails, for a drip campaign for new subscribers. In other words, when someone new fills out a form and is pulled into my automated system, they are only going to get five emails. This would be the one that delivers the material they requested, usually immediately, followed by a series of four emails over a couple of weeks.

I found that telling them what was going to happen cut my "unsubscribes" significantly after delivery of the first in the four email series. In other words, I tell them in the first email that there will only be four. This takes away the "unknown" factor about how much I'm going to bother them. The next page of this article contains the text of all four of my emails after the one delivering their report. You'll see how I try to keep them engaged and my site as the preferred place to go for local real estate information.

My Goal for a Drip Email Campaign

I have found through 10 years of experience doing this type of marketing for a real estate website, that an email every three months is enough contact with my prospects. This is in addition to a VERY occasional email about statistics or releasing a special report of some kind. Remember that I said VERY occasional. So, my quarterly email becomes a quarterly statistical report of sold properties for the previous 3 months. I link the recipients to the PDF report online, and I've experienced CTRs (Click Through Ratios) that greatly exceed the industry averages. That's because prospective buyers and sellers both want to know what's happening with the market.

Feel free to get ideas or even copy text that works for you out of these email examples. I am currently sending a four email series to new prospects from report delivery forms on my real estate website. Here is the text of those emails and the schedule:

Email #1 - Goes out 2 days after they hit the list.

Thanks & More Taos Info

We appreciate your recent request for information or special reports from [brokerage name here]. We wanted to follow up with this email and another three over the next couple of weeks to familiarize you with the website and the wealth of Taos area and real estate information there.

One of the first questions many visitors have is how to know where all of these MLS, Multiple Listing Service, areas are. There are more than 40 of them, and since we cover an area larger than Taos County, knowing where these areas are can help in tailoring your searches to provide listings where you really want to be.

Just take this link to a map with all of the areas pinned, or even better, take this link to a page with the areas named and linked to specific information about each. There will be maps, water well depth information, and photos or videos for most of the areas.

Thanks again for your interest, and remember that [brokerage name here] is a Buyer Dedicated Broker, not taking listings in order to serve buyers without any conflicts of interest.

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>>>Note: This first email tells them what's going to happen, no surprises. Doing this cut my first email unsubscribes substantially. It also offers them valuable help in sorting out all of the MLS areas.

Email #2 - Goes out 5 days after they hit the list.

Let The System Do Your Taos Real Estate Searches

If you're like most Taos real estate searchers, you come into the site on a regular basis and enter your search criteria again, looking for new listings you haven't seen before. However, you don't need to do this.

I can create a custom alert search for you that takes your criteria and tells the MLS to send you an email alert with the details of every new listing that matches your search criteria, and on the day it's entered. It will also alert you when one of your matches has a price change, allowing you to watch for bargains.

To get one going for you, just go to this form and give me the details of the type of property you are interested in. I'll build your custom search and you'll start to receive alerts right away.

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>>>Note: Those who opt for these automated reports are my best prospects, as it usually indicates that they're closer to a buying decision than others. Almost every one of my buyer transactions is with someone getting these alerts.

Email #3 - Goes out 8 days after they hit the list.

See Much More Taos Listing Info

When you're using our Taos real estate search page, you are seeing what's called an IDX search. All of the brokers in the Taos MLS have agreed to participate so that you see all of the listings in a search on any broker's site. However, this agreement limits the amount of information, or number of fields of information, that we are allowed to publish.

So, you're seeing the same fields of information no matter which brokerage site you're searching on. The difference in using the [brokerage name here] search is the exclusive form on the left side of the search screen. Notice that there is a form for entering your name, email address and MLS numbers. When you come across listings in your search that you'd like to know more about, you can enter the MLS numbers as you go in the form.

Once you're ready, submit the form, and it will send me those MLS numbers. I will create a report for you with those listings, but with MUCH more information, at least 40 more fields of information actually. You'll know a LOT more about the listing, including a link under the main photo which takes you to documents the listing broker has attached, like surveys, floor plans, disclosures and more.

To speed this manual process, please enter your MLS numbers with commas between them as in #####,#####,#####.

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>>>Note: This works quite well, as many will send these in more than once, sometimes several a week. The system only puts a new email address into the auto-responder email campaign, so they only get this series once.

Email #4 - Goes out 12 days after they hit the list.

Future Reports & Email

At the beginning, we informed you of this four email series, and this is the last. I hope that the information in reports and these emails has helped you in getting a better understanding of the Taos real estate market.

Though there will be no more emails in this series, in fact no other automated emails, if you remain on our list, there will be a few emails every year all about statistics and market commentary. I'll send out, no more often than quarterly, Taos real estate market reports with MLS sold property statistics. This will help you to keep track of the market. Of course, please continue to visit the [brokerage name here] site. Also, you can pick up updated statistics at the stats page on the site.

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>>>Note: I wind it up with telling them what's going to happen long term. I almost never get an unsubscribe if they get this far.

That's the whole series!

You can almost certainly find four valuable content pieces for emails to set up your auto-responder or drip email campaign. They shouldn't be too long, and each should give them something of value. You've promised them regular statistical emails, and you'll find that those emails will experience very high link clicks to get the reports. It's worked well for me.