Automating E-mail Contacts

Mr. Internet explains how to keep the interest of online prospects.

May 1, 2002

Dear Mr. Internet:
Many prospects from my Web site aren’t ready to buy or sell for several months. How do I keep their interest until then? —Frank Tierney, RE/MAX Homes Northwest, Lake Zurich, Ill.

Dear Frank:
It used to be very difficult and time-consuming to keep these folks interested during their information-gathering stage. But now, thanks to the advent of e-mail “drip-marketing” systems, the entire process of staying in touch and even building the relationship with online prospects can be automated.

An e-mail drip-marketing system consists of one or more targeted campaigns, each containing a series of e-mail messages that are automatically sent to a designated prospect or client. For example, suppose first-time-buyer prospects stop by your site and request more information. You could offer to include them in a free series of educational e-mails about the entire purchase process—a first-time buyer campaign that you devise. The table below gives you an idea of how the campaign might be structured.

The beauty of drip marketing is that you can have campaigns with different messages and different time schedules for any number of target markets or situations—FSBOs, buyers after closing, relocating buyers, and so on. This kind of interactive program will start converting prospects to new clients and past clients to referral sources.

Although you can buy drip-marketing software, three Web-based options are worth mentioning:

iPersonalservice ( This option is the simplest but also the least flexible of the three. It offers essentially one campaign, but you can modify the service’s prewritten messages.

Intersend ( If you’re an intermediate user, you can create as many campaigns as you want, using your own originals or choosing to modify one of Intersend’s 16 prewritten campaigns. Because the messages are constructed using templates, you have a limited ability to adjust the look and feel of the messages you send.

Proautoresponder ( For the advanced user, this is by far the most powerful e-mail drip-marketing engine I’ve come across. It allows an unlimited number of campaigns, and messages can be sent simultaneously in both text and HTML formats. Also, it automatically senses AOL recipients and adjusts links in their messages. For even greater impact, you can attach an automated voice message.

Sample Drip Marketing Campaign

Message sent
Introduction: a brief overview of what prospective buyers will learn over the course of the campaign
Needs assessment: how to realistically determine what they really need and want in their first home
Financing: a review of the prequalification and financing process
Home search: how to search for homes that meet their requirements and what to look for
The offer: how to structure well-priced offers that sellers will accept
Post-offer: a checklist of things that need to be completed prior to close
The closing: dos and don’ts of the closing process
Hire a professional: the advantages of using a REALTOR®.
Homeownership: helpful hints on maintaining their newest investment

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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