7 minute read

Technology has left its mark on just about every moment of our waking day.

See, for starters, the screen currently glowing in front of your face.

The software solutions of today—whether impacting our digital marketing strategies or otherwise—promise to make our strategies effective and practically effortless. They boast capabilities that far extend beyond our own, making us, by association, smarter for making use of them.

We’re confronted with this realisation time and time again with client discussions around marketing automation. If you’re able to set and forget all of those daily repetitive tasks (i.e. sending emails, posting to social media, updating your blog, etc.), you should, in theory, have much more time to convince and convert, right?

On paper this makes sense. Save time in one area, make more time in another. The issue, however, manifests when real estate marketers expect marketing automation platforms to do all the work for them.

From Spam to Public Perception

At our Digital Marketing Essentials workshops, it’s not uncommon for agents to approach our team with many a question and concern over their current marketing efforts. During our most recent round of workshops, however, we noticed a new recurring (and alarming) trend among attendees.

A significant percentage of our attendees were telling us that they’re dealing with a recent spike in the number of negative reviews on their Facebook and Google profiles, all of which originally stemmed from spam emails. Subscribers were requesting to be removed from mailing lists but were remaining very much active on the backend – so these local homeowners were voicing their concerns online for the world to see.

Using popular marketing automation tools, glitches like these may not seem like a big deal when you’re first starting out, managing small lists and visitors to your website. But even then, realise that you’re directly reflecting upon your real estate brand image with every haphazard public send and share.

These two elements directly impact the success of the other. Poorly managed content distribution channels put on autopilot lead to dissatisfied subscribers. And if you’re relying too heavily on these platforms to ‘build relationships’ with consumers, you’re setting yourself for defeat.

Don’t get me wrong, these platforms can bear fruit for you in the short term. But once those ‘seller ready’ contacts dry up, you’re left with the overwhelming majority of people in your local market who are not ‘in the market’. And if they ask to be removed from your lists, you’re wise to listen and respond accordingly.

For real estate agents, this downward spiral is amplified by the fact that Australians consistently report their views of agents to be highly unethical. This is the current reality. The cards of public perception are stacked against us as the perception of our industry professionals and spam is certainly not helping.

5 Reasons Why Marketing Automation Fails

While we don’t want to deter you from marketing automation efforts altogether, we want to help reset an understanding of the purpose it should serve. After all, there is only so much time in the day and if you’re working on a small budget, your time becomes that much more precious.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which marketing automation can fail for real estate agents.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

As you research marketing automation solutions online, you’re bound to be confronted with a lot of promises. In a highly competitive, emerging market, this is to be expected. These tools want to differentiate themselves and amplify the capabilities of the “patented technology” they’re boasting.

Many marketing software solutions outside of real estate have built their success on the back of selling consumer products and training solutions. Stuff that people buy and sell every day. Real estate is a very different beast. People don’t buy and sell their homes every day and the gestation period for ‘warming up’ a lead is very different from generating sales of an online course or a new handbag.

And while this isn’t to say that the functionality promised is a scam, it is a suggestion to approach consideration with a grain of salt. Don’t underestimate the value of a demo but make the most of however much time you’re given to trial a product. The vetting process should be all about asking hard questions and familiarising yourself with the actual gaps you need software to fill.

2. Automating All or Nothing

Automation shouldn’t be viewed as an all or nothing game. This is to say that just because software exists for blogging, building landing pages, SEO planning, managing social media, and building email campaigns, doesn’t mean you should be automating all of these activities.

Jumping into everything all at once is a recipe for disaster. This is because it takes time to familiarise yourself with the nuances of marketing automation in general. These aren’t out-of-the-box solutions that’ll start generating results overnight. Simply flipping the switch on multiple tools across the board will lead to more mess than success.

3. Sacrificing Brand Voice

Across marketing automation, we’re likely to see more offerings in the realm of AI (artificial intelligence) content generation. Technology will advertise itself as fluent in your audiences, able to quickly create and push engaging copy in front of them on behalf of your business.

These tools will continue to evolve with time, but don’t rely solely on a robot to shape your brand voice. As a real estate agent, you are your brand. You are your own voice. How do you expect potential clients to connect with email, website copy, or digital ads that haven’t been touched by you in any way?

Great businesses use AI to assist them with building relationships. Not outsource them.

4. Irrelevant Messaging

In a similar light, setting up a bunch of triggers for the sake of sending emails or displaying ads doesn’t mean much if your audience segmentation doesn’t match up. And more importantly, audience segmentation means nothing if you don’t know how to differentiate content across each group.

Also, many businesses don’t spend any time customising ‘out of the box’ settings inside the software they’re purchasing, so once every agency in the land is using the same software we’re back to the same issue our industry has always faced – a lack of differentiation.

It’s fair to claim that most audiences seek a personalised experience online. They want to feel seen, their needs understood. Approaching your digital marketing strategy as a numbers game (i.e. pumping out as many emails, blogs, and social media posts as possible) used to work. But consumers know what you’re doing today and this process will get you nowhere long term. The same can be said about bringing a plethora of marketing automation tools into the mix for no clearly defined reasons—this will also get you nowhere.

5. Mismanaged Marketing Goals

Whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned veteran in the real estate game, marketing goals matter. They should also heavily influence the types of tools you need to align with in order to achieve them.

For example, if you’re in the beginning stages of marketing your business, you’re highly focused on the top of the funnel. Awareness is key because consideration and conversion inevitably can’t take place without people actually knowing who you are.

If you’re simply plugging tools into play for the sake of “more efficiency” without taking into account where your focus should lie, time is being wasted more than it’s being saved.

How to Better Approach Marketing Funnel Automation

Before casting a wide marketing funnel automation net, take some preliminary steps to get a better understanding of your audience’s needs.

Here are a few ideas to help:

  • Map the journey of your potential client from the first touch to contract. Consider how you can move them from one stage to the next through tactics like blogging and relevant ad placements.
  • Do research around other competitors in your area to get a sense for what they currently provide to audiences. Are there any gaps in content or offerings, and/or elements of voice that could help differentiate your personal brand?
  • Connect the dots between every piece of content you want to generate and how it’ll play out across different audience segments. Focus on quality over quantity to start.
  • Simplify your marketing automation needs. You’ll be much better off in the long run by focusing on and perfecting one automated workflow, rather than trying to learn and activate as many as possible from the very beginning.

Final Thoughts: Why Marketing Automation Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Marketing automation, like any piece of software or process you may utilise, is bound to surface negatives with the positives. This doesn’t mean you forego the option altogether, it just means you approach it in relation to your real estate business with caution. For the sake of your personal brand, make sure you approach automation as complimentary to your marketing foundation—not to serve as the foundation itself.

Interested in attending one of our upcoming workshops? Book tickets for all dates throughout October/November in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.

Author: Josh Cobb

Phone Number: 0427 184 183

Email Address: josh@stepps.com.au

Stepps was founded by Josh Cobb in 2014. Josh has advised more than 100 brands since starting the company and hundreds of agents who have attended his workshops. He is the host of the popular Real Estate Pros podcast, oversees digital strategy for top performing real estate agents and teams, and travels the globe with several international speaking engagements each year.

Recently, Josh was named as a finalist in the 2017 REB Awards for Industry Thought Leader of The Year and the winner of  Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2017 – Marketing, PR & Events.

In addition to web development and digital strategy consulting, the company also runs Stepps Media, a fast-growing education company that produces an iTunes top-ranked podcasttraining events, email and webinars.