This post was originally featured on Bigger Pockets.

This is the third part of a series of automation projects we’ve done in 2017 for our buy-and-hold real estate business.  This post will show you how we’ve automated much of our marketing of available homes.

Nearly all of our marketing is done online.  We’ll occasionally use directional signs and a sign in the front yard for our hard-to-find homes, but these are rare and calls are few.

For our mobile home and land niche targeting low-income tenants, we’ve found Craigslist, Facebook, a local classified paper, and the popular real estate websites to be the most effective places to find potential tenants who have never heard of this.  We also use an email list through Email Octopus and texting list through Cheapest Texting to reach out to those who want updates about our newly available homes.

Finally we use a project management chat bot in Slack called Kyber that helps us keep track of several areas of the business, including our available homes.

We use Appfolio, which has a one-click feature to post to all of the popular real estate websites, but as you probably know, manually marketing in all of these places takes up a lot of your time or your assistant’s time.

We’ve found a neat solution that involves a mail merge and running a script.

Mail Merge

If you’re creating the same documents over and over with minor changes, you should look into using mail merges .  We have these set up for rental agreements, offers, thank you letters, eviction paperwork, marketing, investor paperwork, and several others.  It’s not only quick but also much more accurate than trying to make sure you or your assistant is editing all of the correct fields.

Our marketing mail merge begins with the user inputting the basic information of the property into a specific Google spreadsheet.  They run the mail merge using a Google Sheets addon titled Autocrat.  The mail merge creates a new Google document from the template document with all of the needed information.

Running the Script

Our newly created marketing document contains several sections of text that will be used in various parts of the marketing.  Currently each document contains one form of English marketing and one form of Spanish marketing.  (It would be very easy to create 5-10 marketing templates inside each document to provide some variety to the marketing.  We plan to do this in the near future.)      

The document also contains instructions for running the marketing.  For us we put our notes in a specific order in the property’s Appfolio page.  Once completed, the marketing can be ran by the user inputting the given web address into his browser.  The script runs for 30-60 seconds and then displays a notification as to whether or not it ran successfully.

It takes some time to do this as each script corresponds to a specific task (one script for Kyber, one for our texting list, etc…) but can also be done in the background while the user works on other tasks.

This has been the most challenging automation project for us.  Scripts can break, especially due to the large number of websites involved, and there’s more chance for user error in this project.  Over a few months of improving the scripts and both self-diagnosing and learning from user errors, I’m happy with where it’s at.

Contact me if you’d like assistance in getting something like this set up for your business.

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