Everyone and their mother recommends using your website to collect emails, so that you can hopefully convert those email leads in a paying customer later on.
It’s actually a good and sound recommendation. By building your email list, you are building an asset that is your own.
The only thing you need to take into consideration is the email open rate.
But do you know what gets more than 4 times that? Chat, and particularly, Facebook Chats.
Therefore in part 3 of my real estate Facebook marketing campaign article series, we will get a bit deeper into Facebook Chats or better Chatbots and how we can use them to generate real estate leads.
Chatbots for Real Estate Pros
If we believe the statistics of this website more than 90% of text messages are opened and read within three minutes.
That’s another advantage such as the above mentioned higher open rates.
Why is that?
Well, when you leave your house next time, look around and observe the armies of people with future neck problems about to happen because they only look at their devices and not to the person next to them or at their surroundings.
Also, most smartphones have notifications activated by default.
So, unless they don’t deactivate notifications for all apps, people get notified when they received a message.
So chats are real-time and a more advanced form of text messages.
And if you don’t want to be clinging to your phone or chat software 24/7, chatbots help to automate the communication process for you, so you don’t go crazy.
And you could go crazy trying to fulfill expectations if you want to serve potential customers well when they are expecting a response to their questions almost instantly.
So, all types of real estate pros, be it investors, realtors, developers, etc. are basically expected to be reachable 24/7.
But how would you be able to do that by yourself?
What if you are on a call to discuss an important deal with a partner wholesaler or you are on a showing?
Well, you could have staff dedicated 24/7 to the communication needs of potential customers. But this can become costly.
To be able to respond on time, chatbots can come in handy because they can mimic almost all types of communication scenarios. Additionally, they help you to scale.
If you have just a handful of customers texting you, you might still be able to handle it somewhat alone, but what happens when 10 people text you at the same time, while you are in the car driving to a property?
If you can handle a situation like this, you should rather apply for a job as an air traffic controller, they have less stress.
So, What’s a Chatbot?
Do you remember the phone answering systems where you hear something like “For English please press 1. For Spanish please press 2. If you want to speak with a sales representative, please press 3”? Well, they still exist.
A chatbot does something similar, it’s just a better version of an answering system.
It’s basically an automated text messaging answering system.
Don’t worry if someone wants to talk to a human, you can configure a chatbot in a way that it can connect the potential customer to a human representative.
You can program almost any communication or sales scenario with a chatbot, but usually it’s programmed to answer basic questions (e.g. FAQs.) to prequalify or segment a new lead.
Depending on how the lead is segmented, it can direct the person to a certain website or even forward the lead to a real human.
Chatbots usually use the application programming interface (API) of chat applications such as:
And, as you can see by the picture below from Statista 2018, the Facebook Messenger beats them all with 103.55 million unique users per month in the U.S. alone.
According to Statista, in the year 2019, there were even 130 million users.
Since it’s my real estate Facebook marketing campaign article series and due to such high user numbers, there is a reason for focusing on chatbots for this messenger.
Why Do People Prefer Messaging?
In comparison to calling or emailing, it’s not intrusive.
I myself could see when this switch happened a few years ago. I promoted a commercial property I am co-owner of and in the beginning, more people were still calling, but then they began to contact me more via the WhatsApp Messenger.
I think it also has to do with more and more people using their smartphones on which they have faster access to the messenger which they are using all the time, and they just don’t want to talk that much over the phone anymore.
Other reasons this article found are:
- Customers are busier
- Customers don’t want to wait anymore
- It’s just a quick question
- People being always on the go
- No wish to talk
Why a Chatbot
As already mentioned, you can systemize and automate your communication via messengers (e.g. the Facebook Messenger) via a Chatbot and establish a relationship with a new contact.
You also get access to a person’s phone. It is already quite difficult to get a valuable email address from a person, and even more so to get a phone number.
However, with a Facebook Messenger Bot, you can get even both, and the email you get from there is even more valuable because it’s not some kind of trash email people use when they opt-in to some newsletter.
This is their email and phone number they are registered with on Facebook.
Besides that, considering a real estate Facebook marketing campaign with a messenger bot might also get your costs per click down, since it’s still not used as much as the other campaign objectives on the Facebook Ads Manager.
And as you might know, the more crowded and more in demand a marketing platform is, the higher the costs per click can turn out to be.
The Facebook Chatbot Strategy. But It’s Not All Sunshine And Rainbows
As already mentioned in part 2 of this article series, you can start a messenger campaign by using the campaign objective “Messages” in the Facebook Ads Manager.
Instead of sending visitors to a Facebook lead form or your landing page, you can send them to the Facebook Messenger, which is hopefully connected to a chatbot such as one from the list below.
Once they clicked on the chat button, they are your subscribers and you can have your chatbot communicate with them instantly about all kinds of offers you provide.
The chatbot could then:
- Ask them which kind of property they are looking for and suggest the right ones to them
- Schedule a phone call to discuss their buying or selling plans
- Schedule a showing of a property
- Make a valuation of their property and then promote what you have to offer
- Ask them for their email and phone number (this part is quite important because of the new Facebook Policies)
Great, now you can use the chatbot like an email marketing program and send leads promotional stuff on a regular basis. Unfortunately, very soon you will not be able to do that anymore.
From March 2020 onwards, this new Facebook policy will be put in place, which only allows you to engage in promotional communication with your leads within 24 hours after they have subscribed to your chatbot.
If you want to contact them after that 24 hours window about your offers, you would have to start another messenger campaign targeting your messenger subscribers with sponsored messages.
What Can You Do About It?
You can try to get all the promotional material out within the first 24 hours of the first contact with your messenger bot. This could overwhelm your leads if you overdo it.
The better approach is to collect quite early already their email address and/or their phone numbers so they enter in your e-mail marketing funnel.
The Facebook Messenger allows asking for this kind of information in a very easy manner and users can submit their email and phone just by clicking on a button, no form has to be filled out manually.
Don’t Worry, You Don’t Have to Program a Messenger Bot Yourself
Now, you might have thought that you will need to lock yourself up in the basement together with some techy nerds and get some lines of code going to access the Facebook Messenger API.
Worry not, there are already several Facebook Messenger Bot builders out there that make it very easy to program an automated chat sequence for your messenger communication.
Here is a list of the 18 most well-known ones:
- WP Chatbot
So, to conclude, if you start to test chatbots with your real estate Facebook marketing campaigns, you might benefit from higher conversion rates with the right chatbot sequence aligned with your overall marketing funnel, get email addresses of better quality, have a higher open rate than with email campaigns, and, while it’s still kind of new, get your costs per click down.
Stay tuned for the next part of this series, where I will analyze a bit further the different chat bot builders for Facebook mentioned above.
And please, don’t forget to share this article, if you liked it.