The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Home Builder Email Automation

It seems almost too good to be true. Marketing that generates more traffic, more appointments and more sales while working almost entirely on autopilot. But that’s exactly what email marketing automation does.


Email marketing automation – also referred to as autoresponders – is simply a sequence of emails that you set up to be delivered at specific times based on a specific action such as registering on your website. Automation doesn’t replace email marketing or salesperson follow up. Instead, it adds additional support.


How to Use Email Automation

Marketing automation can be used to nurture web leads to an in-person appointment, generate homeowner referrals, increase homeowner satisfaction, and more. Once you’ve established a core home builder email marketing strategy you can begin to leverage email automation to make your marketing systems more efficient.


Here are a few ways that home builders can use automated email workflows:

  • Small teams that cannot immediately follow up with each new web lead
  • Ensure every web lead receives 7 points of contact for a higher conversion to sale
  • Keep web leads warm even if they do not respond to salesperson follow up
  • Nurture leads with a series of educational emails such as “A Parent’s Guide to Choosing a Neighborhood in Phoenix”
  • Educational email series that helps custom builders builder trust with potential customers
  • Create excitement for an upcoming neighborhood Grand Opening
  • Streamline the process with existing buyers by sending reminders of key milestones such as loan approval and design selections
  • Generate higher homeowner satisfaction and more referrals with a new homeowner sequence
  • Generate excitement for resort developments leading up to peak seasons


There are many more examples of how home builders can use automation to make their marketing more efficient. However you use it, automation can be a powerful tool to increase appointments, traffic, referrals and sales.

Before you set up your first campaign we recommend that you outline an automation strategy based on the specific business goals you are trying to achieve and the home buyers you want to reach. This will help you determine the right schedule, content, and objectives for your automation campaign(s).


Here’s how to set up your own email automation sequence.


Step-by-Step: Your First Automation Campaign

We’re using Mailchimp for this example but there are several marketing automation tools available. We like Mailchimp because it’s easy to use, fast to set up (even if you don’t have any technical or design skills), and affordable. Mailchimp offers a free account but you will need a paid account to use their automation feature.


Step 1: Go to the Automation Tab



Once in you are in the Mailchimp dashboard choose the Automation tab from the top left menu. Then click on the “Add Automation” button to create a new workflow.


Step 2: Choose the Type of Automation




Mailchimp includes several automation formats to choose from. For now, we’ll choose “List Activity” from the left side menu and then choose “Educate Subscribers.” This is an email sequence about your homes that will be delivered each time someone new registers on your website. 


Once you select your automation sequence a pop up will appear. Enter the name of your campaign and select the list that you want your campaign to go to. Then click next.


Step 3: Set Your Triggers




Next, select your triggers. Triggers indicate when you want each email to go out. This will vary depending on how you are using automation, but here’s a general schedule that you can use for people who sign up on your website for the first time:


  • Immediately
  • 3 days after registration
  • 7 days after registration
  • 14 days after registration
  • 30 days after registration
  • 60 days after registration
  • 90 days after registration


Again, your schedule may vary. One of the decisions you will want to make is whether the automation should go out to prospects that you add to the list manually. For example, if you want the series to go out to people who register on the website and registrations that you add manually from your sales office.


Step 4: Create Your Schedule



Next you will want to determine which days and times you want each automated email to send. One of the primary benefits of email automation is that your prospective home buyer is “touched” regardless of time of day. Someone who registers at 2 a.m. will still receive an immediate, warm welcome message.


However there are exceptions. An automated email that includes a call to action for prospects to contact your team by live chat should only be sent during the hours that live chat is available.


There are unlimited possibilities so get creative and test often to see which schedule works best for you.


Step 5: Choose Your Segment (Optional, Advanced)



This is a powerful, advanced feature that you can use many different ways. Segments are people that are separated within your list. For example, let’s say that you have a list of people who have subscribed to your blog. When they filled out the subscribe form on your website they answered a questions about their timeline for purchasing a home. They were able to choose from three diffrent options: 0-30 days, 30-90 days, or 90 days or more.


Based on what your prospective buyers chose you can create a different automation sequence for each segment. Someone who needs a home in the next month will be on a much different automation schedule than someone who needs a home in 6 months. The topics will be different too. You may focus on a move-in ready home for someone who needs a new home quickly and build-to-suit homes for people with a longer timeframe.


(Of course, this is in addition to salesperson follow up which is the most effective way to communicate with buyers, especially those looking for a new home immediately.)


Segments can be based on many different factors such as plan preference, whether or not they have a home to sell, neighborhood preference, if they are a broker or working with one, and more.


This is optional and not at all necessary to get started. It’s perfectly fine to start with one email automation to all leads. Simply skip this section when setting up your workflow.


Step 6: Design Your Email



The next step is to design your email. Since you will be creating multiple emails you will want each one to have a similar look and feel. To save time, design the first email in your series, save as a template, and then use that template to customize the remaining emails.


Mailchimp’s design interface features an easy drag and drop editor so you can include photo galleries, video, call to action buttons, and more.


Step 7: Activate Your Automation

The next step is to activate your automation. This is a good time to for quality control. Read and re-read your copy to check for typos and errors. Send yourself test emails and look at them on all of your devices. Triple check the links and make sure they work properly. There’s no such thing as being too diligent during this step. Check and re-check everything. Ask someone else to review as well.


Once you are confident that your automation sequence is 100% you are ready to start your workflow!


Step 8: Measure Your Results

Once your workflow is up and running you will want to track which emails are working well and which ones are not and make adjustments accordingly. If one email has a lower open rate than the others you may want to adjust the subject header to be more compelling. If one email has a lower click through rate the call to action may not be resonating with prospective buyers. Try different wording, different visuals, different copy or a different reason for buyers to click.


Marketing automation is not a magical instant fix. It requires a meaningful amount of time to develop a strategy, write winning copy, create compelling visuals, and continue to optimize for maximum results. But once you’ve invested the time this will be a powerful tool to move prospective home buyers through each stage of your sales funnel.


Are you using marketing automation? How is it working for you? Tell us in the comments below or leave a comment on our Facebook page.


Need help developing an advanced home builder marketing strategy? Contact us for more information about our home builder digital marketing services.

Dawn Sadler

Dawn Sadler is the Founder and CEO of Builder Target. She is also a speaker, author, and content strategist.

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