As you read this––maybe on your phone––four out of five Americans own a smartphone. Include folks who use phones that aren't app-friendly, and you get 96%.
Long story short, it's a sure bet almost everyone who will ever need your real estate services also uses a mobile phone every day. And although not all phones can play Angry Birds, virtually all of them are designed to receive text messages.
Formally called SMS text––the acronym stands for Short Message Service––text messaging has exploded in popularity over the last decade. It's not just for teens anymore, either.
For 2017, experts estimated that about 26 billion text messages were sent each day in the United States. That adds up to over 780 billion texts monthly and more than 9.3 trillion every year.
People of all ages use text messages. Because they will often text with friends and loved ones instead of calling, texters are likely to check their messages within minutes of a new notification.
Sure, there are some caveats. Most people aren't checking texts in the middle of a meeting at work––we hope. All in all, though, mobile research firm MobileSquared says 90% of people read a new text within three minutes of getting it. Three minutes!
Not surprisingly, this means text messages rock for real estate firms. In a report published by the National Association of REALTORS®, 94% of REALTORS® said the method they preferred to communicate with clients was text messaging.
In 2020, there are huge horizons for growth. And there are plenty of good reasons why you should take advantage of text messaging for your real estate business.
If someone reaches out to you on your website, calling them right away makes good business sense. Calling a prospect back within five minutes is estimated to increase your chances of a successful contact by a factor of 100x.
After all, they are expecting it. And the faster you are, the more impressive it is!
But what about all those times when a prospect or lead isn't interested in a call? An unwanted phone call is about as interruptive as it gets. It's exactly what people think of when they think of pushy, unwanted sales behavior. On the other hand, people willingly look to text messaging when they want to communicate – but don't want to stop their whole day to do it.
With that in mind, text messaging is a phenomenal way to stay in touch.
From the sales associate's perspective, texting makes plenty of sense.
Texting is extremely cost-effective. Compared to virtually any other marketing technique you can name, you'll pay fractions of pennies for your text messages. You can customize texts and even automate the process based on each prospect's interests and past behavior.
That means texting gives you a superpower all associates should have: Personalization.
From email to social media and everything else in between, effective digital marketing thrives on personalization. Every communication should be relevant, friendly, and helpful.
Text messaging makes it easy: Your messages arrive when your prospect is most likely to see them and contain only information useful to that person – without having to do it all by hand.
But there is one caveat before you dive in.
Are you using your real estate website to turn prospects into leads? You should be! The odds are good you're already collecting some information about your prospects as they use your site. You may even already have an email subscriber list. Just as you can't send emails to people without their consent, you also need to be sure they affirmatively opt into texts.
Rules about this are much more strict in Europe – but the U.S. is catching up. America's most comprehensive data privacy rules recently went live in California, and other states are following.
So, whenever you collect phone numbers, be sure you set expectations upfront. Forms should never come with an "accept text messages" box pre-ticked, and your text should let subscribers know how often they can expect to hear from you before they commit.
Likewise, anyone on your list should be able to withdraw consent at any time by texting back. Sending unwanted texts after an unsubscribe request could expose you to fines.
Luckily, many of these issues are automated for you with the right software.
Texting has a tremendous amount of potential. But how do you tap into it?
Luckily, there are a few powerful formulas for effective real estate text messages:
In a service-oriented field like real estate, the key to marketing is to be where the customers are. It only takes a quick look around at a store or restaurant to see most of them are on their phones!
Phones are now an intimate part of our lives, shaping our daily experiences. And even the most important professional relationships, like yours with your clients, can start and develop there.
Sure, you won't do all your marketing by text message. But it is a powerful way to expand your presence and augment the other marketing you do on your website and in person.
In real estate marketing, the right emoji at the right time can be worth a thousand words!