How do you rate in responding to emails??

We have recently completed a survey of email response rate from enquiries sent from the website. This is a survey which we have undertaken annually for the past 2 years.

The good news is that response rate and timeliness of response is improving – the bad news is that out of 100 email enquiries sent from the site – 12 were never answered!! – those emails could have been genuine enquiries from buyers!

The research carried out by an independent company was undertaken in late April and surveyed the response rate of 100 enquiries sent from the site on a random basis across the country to a representative number of listings per region. Here are the key findings and some observations / recommendations:

1. Overall response rate 88% answered. This compares to 87% last year and 69% 2 years ago – things are improving

2. Regionally Auckland performed worst (78%) with the rest of the North Island performing best (96%)

3. Excellent responsiveness – 43% responded to an email within 2 hours, 86% responded within 24 hours. A year ago only 68% responded within 24 hours

4. Email is the preferred method of response – 86% of enquiry that asked for an email response got one by email, however 23% of enquiries asking for a telephone call were responded by email only

So what can this information do to help you – or rather what can you do to ensure you do not miss important leads, here are a few tips:

1. Ensure that the email address we have in our system for your listings is correct – test our website. Send a test email to yourself from one of your listing on our site – it’s free and if you get the email in your inbox it immediately all is working OK – if not then let us help try and find why – call the team on 0800 732 536

2. Find ways of being kept informed on email enquiries – use a mobile phone that can receive emails or get someone in your office to text you to inform you of new enquiries

3. Set up home email so that you can respond at the end of your working day

Have a read of the full report to fully understand how your approach may help in gaining more from email enquiries – pdf file (0.4MB file)

Click here to download the full report

June 04 2009 | Online marketing and Research | No Comments »

Handling email enquiries

We are currently undertaking a series of presentations around the country sharing insight with licensees, salespeople and admin staff on all aspects of real estate marketing and the online world. One of the components discussed at these presentations is the best way to handle email enquiries coming from the web. Every day we pass on emails from website visitors keen to seek more details regarding your properties or to schedule meetings with you to discuss properties, handling these in the most professional manner will leave these people with a great feeling of support and assistance from you.

As a guide I would like to share some observations on handing email enquiries which come from research from the web and conferences I have attended. There are 4 basic principles:

  1. Be responsive – timeliness is key.
    Enquiries are often looking for answers to questions. The sooner you can respond the better – expectation is that emails should be answered in 2 hours or less. Look to see how within your office you can receive alerts on your phone by text or email so even though you are out an about you can respond and be kept informed.
  2. Be respectful and don’t be pushy.
    An enquirer has emailed you for a reason, in choosing to email they did not want to start a conversation and in general want to remain anonymous. Try and avoid being pushy and insisting that they call you receive information. Remember they could be the buyer you have been looking for of your listing and you need o create a good impression.
  3. Answer their question.
    The majority of email enquiries are a question, the question is best answered simply and directly (if you can) – this builds trust.
  4. Recognise that the person sending the email may be at an early stage of looking for a property.
    This is probably the most important thing to think about when answering email enquiries. The more you respect the sender and respect their anonymity the more they are likely to come back to you.

Taking a practical example let me share an example of how an email could be handled by you.

Hi,
Could you please give me an estimate of the land area of this property please?
Thanks Graeme

My recommendation on a reply would be

Hi Graeme,
Thanks for your email regarding the property at 45 North Street. The property is described in the legal title as being 645 m2.
I recognise that you may be at an early stage of looking for a house in this area, however if there is any further information you may require on this property or any other property you may be interested in please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours Sincerely

Regards

The outcome of this email response from you could be one of two things – firstly the enquirer could feel very comfortable, the question was answered and the response let the person feeling valued by not threatened. Alternatively the second outcome could be that the enquirer immediately emails or picks up the phone to say to you that they want to discuss this property immediately – by placing them at ease they are far more likely to want to work with you.

Email responses

Over the course of the past two and a half years we have sent out over half a million emails leads to this industry from the website, together with a similar number of referral links back to your website. It is always at this point that we leave you to make the connection and facilitate the sale of the property. We do not however forget that whilst we cannot facilitate the sale we value that lead as it came from a visitor to our site.

We have in the past undertaken research as to the number of emails that are answered by agents and how quickly they are answered – remember that the expectation of the public is that agents should ideally answer an email within 2 hours!

These two prior research studies back in 2007 and 2008 showed that whilst performance of email response was improving there was still a long way to go. An original response rate of 69% of all email being answered increased to 87% – however that still means that 13 out of every 100 emails were never answered. This month we are repeating this research, we will be anonymously sending out 100 emails from the site – if your listing is chosen then we will respond (once you respond) to let you know that the enquiry was part of a research programme.

I appreciate your assistance in this research – I will publish the results when they are available.

April 20 2009 | Online marketing | 7 Comments »

Delays experienced by allrealestate.co.nz in responding to email enquiries

It has been brought to my attention that a major problem experienced by the website of www.realestate.com.au in Australia may have had consequential impact on the email delivery of buyer enquiries from the NZ website of www.allrealestate.co.nz. I just want to share the facts and ensure firstly there is no confusion regarding which website experienced problems.

Firstly let me say that I am detailing this situation so as to ensure there is no confusion as the industry does at time experience confusion between realestate.co.nz and allrealestate.co.nz. I am not out to defame the operation of a competitor. Secondly I also want to make the point that issues such as delays in delivering email enquiries damages not just the website experiencing the problem, but all website operators as the experience can cast concerns over the operation of website in managing leads.

The facts of the problem experienced by realestate.com.au in Australia are already being reported in the main media and in the industry communication channels of blogs such as Business2.

The company has sent out an email to all the buyers who made enquiries of the realestate.com.au website for which emails were delayed. This is the copy of the email.

I have been told by people in NZ that this problem was experienced by enquirers of the allrealestate.co.nz website and this message was also sent to prospective buyers in NZ.

Just to confirm – this issue effected realestate.com.au in Australia and apparently the sister site in NZ which is allrealestate.co.nz, both of these website are owned by the REA Group, a listed Australian media company. This problem has not been experienced by realestate.co.nz which is a NZ owned website, 100% owned by the real estate industry here in NZ.

This incident has highlighted the critical importance of timely attention to emails at all stages of their life – at realestate.co.nz we have always monitored outbound email traffic and with the exposure of this situation we we be ever more vigilant in the future, equally it is important for all in this industry to understand the expectations of enquirers using emails who expect speedy response. It is worth noting that our system does send an email immediately to the buyers who sends an email from our website providing full details of the agent including telephone number and direct email address.

June 27 2008 | News | No Comments »