We’ve all been there. You fired off a carefully crafted email only to receive the immediate chirp of a new message…  You’ve got an autoreply. Everyone has their own opinion on the use of these tools and their impact on your client’s experience and the bottom line. I have no intention of arguing for or against the use of email automation by real estate agents in this post. However, I do hope to provide some tips and advice on situations where I’ve seen autoresponders used well, and situations where I can’t help but imagine that they’re driving customers away.

Let’s start with the bad…. 

The “You’re all the same” approach:

Thanks for your email, I check my email intermittently at X any Y times each day and will sure to get back to you when I read this. 

In effect, this type of autoresponder says “Don’t worry, I’m not ignoring you, but you’re so unimportant that you’re getting an automated email from me”.  If you’re like everyone else in the real estate industry, every email you send has multiple phone numbers in the signature, if it’s urgent, someone will give you a call.

Imagine if a new client got in touch with you and got this email back. This screams: 1) I’m probably relatively hard to get in touch with and 2) My time is more important than yours.

If you truly like the idea of only reading email at certain times, then consider putting that line in your email signature instead.  This way the people you speak to regularly (likely the only ones who would need you urgently) will know that email is not the best way to reach you.

The “I know you’re all different but I’m going to treat you all the same anyway” approach:

If you’re interested in one of my listings call me at 444-555-6666. If you’re an agent trying to show one of my listings, if it’s in the MLS, go ahead and show. If you’re interested in renting, please contact Mike Smith at mike.smith@example.com

In this case, all of my points about the first example still apply, plus there’s the added issue of requiring the person to perform another task without adding to the conversation. This approach may help you free up some time in the day by not having to confirm for other agents that your listings are still available or respond to every rental lead to say that Mike handles rentals for you. However, have you ever thought about how many leads you might be turning away in the process?

The good…

There are plenty of situations where using a autoreplies or system generated emails can be great, providing that you target your audience correctly. Our company and others, provide software products to help you respond to certain types of inbound emails with more applicable autoresponder. It may even be possible to set up basic filters and autoreplies right in your email program, depending on which email client you use.

Here’s an example for a new inbound online prospect:

Thanks for your online inquiry. I hope to be able to help with your real estate needs. When’s a good time for me to call to discuss more?

As you can see, when you’re able to categorize the types of emails that you receive you can autoreply more effectively. The online lead could have come from Zillow, Trulia, or the agent’s own website but the response is specific enough and short enough to seem personal.  The email ends with a question to further the conversation by encouraging a response (and it may even schedule a call for you).

Other places I’ve seen this strategy used effectively:

  • Agent websites that provide system generated emails based on which properties you’ve viewed on their site.
  • Autoresponders to agents that have recently shown your listing
  • Open house software to allow you to collect visitor data and send an automated “Thanks for visiting” email

As you can see, I’m certainly not a fan of the universal autoreply. But, with a little bit of forethought and technology, you may be able to bundle some of your emails into similar enough categories that a carefully worded autoresponder could save you time while improving the client experience.

Do you have any thoughts for or against the use of autoreply?