How Agents Can Use SMS Marketing More Effectively

Most CRM systems for the real estate industry now include Bulk SMS functionality and many agents are now using this service quite effectively to keep in touch with their database en masse via bulk text messaging out to their customers’ mobile device.

The number of people who are using their mobile devices for browsing the internet is growing rapidly and it only looks like continuing to increase dramatically into the future.

Most CRM systems for the real estate industry now include Bulk SMS functionality and many agents are now using this service quite effectively to keep in touch with their database en masse via bulk text messaging out to their customers’ mobile device.

However, I’ve also noticed that some of the trainers and/or suppliers of CRM’s don’t seem to embrace the user functionality that now comes as almost a standard within mobile phone technology and embrace the fact that the internet is now accessible via the iPhone, Android, Smart Phones, etc.

One of the reasons why I say this is that so far within the standard SMS templates that I have seen uploaded within these systems, I haven’t come across anyone who has suggested that the SMS message should contain a website URL within the body of the text message.

This seems unusual because when you send an SMS which includes the full URL of a website, the link normally becomes hyperlinked on the mobile device which makes it very easy for people to press their finger onto the hyperlink on their screen and visit the website via the mobile internet browser within their hand-held device.

It helps to build your profile and reinforce your branding.

Doing this could not only help to drive lots more traffic to your website, but it could also help to remind the people of who you are and help keep your company branding message top of mind.

Providing a link also makes it easy for the customer to visit your site and identify who you are and maybe read more about you and your company while they are out and about.

To create a link to a URL within a text message is really easy, you simply include the website address within the body of the text.

But it’s important to note that whenever you insert a URL into an SMS make sure you insert the full website address, including the http:// or www. prefix. If you don’t then the mobile device wont identify it as a website address and won’t hyperlink the URL.

If you don’t include the full website address and the URL doesn’t become hyperlinked, the SMS recipient would then need to write down the URL and type it into their browser, which will then reduce your click-thru rate dramatically.

Use a short URL within your text message.

The only real issue with inserting a URL is the length of the domain name. Most mobile providers only allow 160 characters per SMS and the last thing you want to do is send out 2 separated text messages, because it will increase your unsubscribe rate.

Some agents will want to send people across to one of their latest listings or a property that they have just sold, but normally the website address for these listings can often be coded in such a way that the URL is actually longer than the 160 characters allowed.

So the solution is to either use a URL shortening service like TinyURL.com, bit.ly or alternatively you could insert the website address of an Individual Property Website (eg. www.555AnySt.com).

To demonstrate the difference in the URL’s, here’s a live example of a property.

The URL on ZILLOW is http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2603-Stallions-Ln-Celina-TX-75009/83732918_zpid/

The URL on TRULIA is http://www.trulia.com/property/1047635093-2603-Stallions-Ln-Celina-TX-75009

The URL via ListingDomains.com is 2603Stallions.com

So, for instance in the www.2603Stallions.com example, if the agent wants to send out an SMS about the property, the web address has only 21 characters (just over 10% of the characters allowed within an SMS message) which leaves plenty of room within the SMS for the rest of the message.

Sending out an SMS about your Individual Property Websites will not only help you to drive more visitors to your listings, but it will also show prospective clients the unique way that you can now showcase their home ‘exclusively’ over the internet, which could be just the innovation that helps you to win their listing over the competition.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can easily and affordably create an Individual Property Website for your clients, visit ListingDomains.com – its where a HOME gets a WEBSITE of its own.

Note: I have included the link to the ‘Live’ example listing appearing on Zillow and Trulia only as a reference. I don’t recommend sending links out that direct traffic across to your listings appearing on the major portals because it can lead to sending potential clients across to your competitors listings.

How to Protect Your Domain

David Airey is a well known graphic designer. In 2007, his Website was hacked and the hackers tried to get ransom money from him in exchange for giving him back control of his Website. He eventually managed to gain control of his domain without paying the hackers, but it must have been quite an ordeal!

This can happen to anyone who owns a Website. Hackers and spammers are out there and they target all kinds of sites, big and small. Your real estate site could be next! But there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are the basic steps we all need to take to protect our domains:

Pick Your Registrar Carefully

It’s best to register your domain  through a registrar that makes it very difficult to change the domain or the account information. While this could make YOUR life more difficult, it will also make it more difficult for hackers to steal your domain.

Pick a Good Password

This is important for any account, including your domain account. Password should be a random sequence of letters and numbers and should be at least 12 characters long. Never use easy to guess words or numbers such as “password” or your date of birth. Change your password frequently – at least twice a year – and don’t keep it in your email. Ideally, don’t store it on your computer either.

Avoid using a Free Email Address on Your Domain Records

Free email accounts are often easier to break into. Since domain transfers usually require email authorization, this could facilitate a domain hijack, as happened to David Airey who used Gmail on his domain account.

Lock your Domain

Most domain registrars will let you lock your domain against transfers. This means that no one can transfer the domain to another registrar, which is one of the top ways that domains get hijacked.

Renew on Time

Don’t rely on a reminder email from the registrant. Mark your calendar and renew your domain before it expires. Once expired, domains are often snatched up within seconds by speculators running automated programs. If your domain name is critical to your business, consider renewing your domain registration in five year increments to prevent the annual hassle of renewing and to prevent your domain from accidentally expiring.

As a real estate professional, your domain is part of your brand and of your professional identity. Make sure you do everything you can to protect it.

Mobile Web is HOT!

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of having an agent website, but the reality is that just having a website is not enough anymore. You need to have a mobile website, or at the very least make sure your existing site is mobile-friendly. You also need to have an interesting, dynamic, fun website with lots of features and user interaction. A plain old boring static website just won’t cut it anymore.

Mobile Internet is on Fire

One of the things that real estate agents need to be aware of is the rapid development and adoption of the mobile Internet. Recent research by Morgan Stanley about Internet trends for 2010 shows that the mobile Internet is growing faster than desktop Internet did.  People are buying more mobile devices than PCs and notebook computers, and they’re downloading and using mobile applications constantly.

A Different Internet Experience

Consumers today expect a very different Internet experience than just a decade ago. The entire Internet experience is changing, and as real estate agents, we must be aware of that and adapt. Today’s Internet is fast, accessible, it’s always there at the palm of your hands. It is fun, social, chatty, and it never ever slows down or goes to sleep!

Local Searches

The Internet experience is also becoming increasingly local, with people using mobile search to quickly find local attractions in their immediate area. This is good news for real estate agents, because our business is location-based.

Your Next Step

So what does this mean to you as an agent? Design your agent website to appeal to mobile users; be social – use a blog and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter; and remember that the “fun” aspect of the Internet is more important than ever. Supply your prospects with lots of fresh content, interesting tips and facts, and use lots of pictures. Most importantly, have fun! This is what the Internet is all about.

Free Internet Tools for Agents

People these days expect much more from their Internet experience than they used to expect just a few years ago. These days, a website needs to be fresh, fun, interesting, and – above all – interactive. Here are a few free tools you can use to provide Internet users with what they’re looking for. They will reward you by staying longer on your site, and – hopefully – by referring friends and by becoming your clients.

Free Tools for Agents

Got your own agent website? Good! But now you need to make your website interesting to users. People these days expect much more from their Internet experience than they used to expect just a few years ago. These days, a website needs to be fresh, fun, interesting, and – above all – interactive. Here are a few free tools you can use to provide Internet users with what they’re looking for. They will reward you by staying longer on your site, and – hopefully – by referring friends and by becoming your clients.

ActiveRain

ActiveRain.com is a large real estate network that allows agents to blog. A blog is a wonderful way to establish yourself as an expert, so whether you blog on ActiveRain or or any other blogging platform, make sure to blog regularly (once a week is good) and to share your thoughts and observations with clients.

PhotoSynth

Photosynth.net takes your photos, mashes them together and recreates a 3D scene out of them that anyone can view and move around in.  It’s a wonderful tool for real estate agents and a great way to showcase an area, a neighborhood or a home.

Twitter

Twitter.com enables you to send out short messages with updates. It’s fun and interactive, and you can update it as often or as seldom as you’d like. One of the best things about Twitter is that you can reach out to people in your area and follow them. You can also set up regular searches for your local area and respond to questions of people who are looking for a home. Being helpful is always a good idea and will help you establish yourself as an expert.

Facebook

Facebook.com is a much richer social platform than Twitter. It enables you to post longer messages, notes, pictures, videos and more. You can create a personal profile on Facebook, or you can create a page for your business.

Flickr

Flickr.com lets you upload photos and share them. Needless to say, it’s an ideal tool for an agent. You can add comments for each photo, and others can make comments on them too.

AgentWidgets

AgentWidgets.com offers free Web widgets for the real estate professional. Adding widgets to your site or blog is a great way to keep users engaged and to make the site more fun and interactive.

Google Analytics

Unlike the previous tools which are interactive, this tool is meant for your own internal use and is a great way to monitor your website traffic, see which pages and keywords are getting the most traffic, and fine-tune your online efforts accordingly.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be! Start with just one of these tools, focus on it, and after a few weeks, once you’re comfortable using it, move on to the next.

Real Inventive Launches new Facebook Page

Join our community of real estate professional sharing inventive and innovative ideas across social media. Our goal is to inform our readers about new technology, the latest trends, innovative ways to market your listings and yourself on line as well as offer free tutorials, webinars are more. Got a Real Inventive idea? Share it on our wall or blog about it at RealInventive.com

Welcome Social Networkers!

Join our community of real estate professional sharing inventive and innovative ideas across social media. Our goal is to inform our readers about new technology, the latest trends, innovative ways to market your listings and yourself on line as well as offer free tutorials, webinars are more. Got a Real Inventive idea? Share it on our wall or blog about it at RealInventive.com