Before I get too far into the difference of systematization and automation, I want you to read something intentional. When my husband and I started over in real estate in 2010, we were completely broke. We had no credit cards or loans and we had lost our fortune. We were eating top ramen to survive and had nothing to “float” us while we got started building our real estate business. We could not afford to automate. Everything I did online had to be manual. I systematized everywhere I could, and only used free tools for any kind of automation. As you read this blog post, you will see me mention tools. Just know this – I had to EARN my way into these tools, and they are by no way needed to do the work we do online. I call them “Bells and Whistles”. They are “extras”, not requirements. Don’t talk yourself into “I can’t do this because I don’t have the tools”. That will be a lie. You can do anything you want, it may just take you longer.
Systematization is defined as: Putting into a system; arrange according to a plan or scheme.
Automation is defined as: The technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.
Although both have a plan in online marketing, they are not at all the same thing. And when you replace systematization for automation in Search Engine Optimization, you could be creating a lot more work for yourself later by not doing the work today.
When it comes to online marketing, one never wants to ask “how do I make this easier?”. The correct question is “How can I systematize this?”
Here’s an example:
You write blog posts every week. Each time, you strategically do your keyword research (as taught in The Ballen Method), come up with a title, write the content, add a branded image, and in some cases, syndicate the content on other blogs.
The question in this case would not be “how do I automate?”, but rather “How can I systematize this?”.
Step 1: You spend a bit of time creating a content calendar. (We use Co-Schedule) Doing much of your keyword research in advance and determining your topics takes this piece of the steps when you get down to writing.
Step 2: Create a blog title for each week using the research you did. Place this title on your editorial calendar. Considering using Co-Schedules headline analyzer to optimize your title for social as much as search. For search (SEO), we want our focused keyword phrase in the title. For Social, we want to also drive emotional words.
Step 3: If you are going to be using ghost writers, consider ordering a months worth in advance and give them extra time to work on the piece. Setting up several at a time gives you the peace of mind that those articles are in the works and on the way. Using ghost writers is not automation or systematization as much as it is leverage. However, it becomes systematization when you make it part of your overall process and it becomes a “checklist” item. Here’s a link to who we use for Ghost Writing.
— TIP: Ghost writers can be hired for as little as a few cents a word. The more you pay per word, the more skilled the writer. If you are looking for personality, I would suggest no less than a 3 star writer through the company I suggested in the link above. I find 2 star writers to be adequate for “wikipedia” style writing. These are great for community pages, “things to do” posts, locational information such as weather, transportation and so on. I would NOT have 2 star writers interpreting the real estate market!
Step 4: Design your graphics all at one time. Spend one sitting designing the 4 graphics you will use for the month (based on 4 blog posts). This will allow you to stay in the mindset of design and in the tools you use to design.
First, you’ll want to find your copyright free images. Next you’ll want to design them in a way that they look less “stockart-ish”. Maybe you want to add a filter or your logo or even combine a couple of images together to make one new image. We use Canva for Work to design. Using the Magic Resize, you can change your image dimensions to work on social networks such as Twitter or Instagram.
Step 5: Put it all together. Each week, you’ll now simply have to pull from your content calendar and add in the pieces on your blog. Title, Content, Image. DONE. If you have gotten clever with your tools, you may now be able to add in AUTOMATION!!! One of the tools we use for automation of blog publishing is Co-Schedule. If you create your blog post in WordPress and have this tool, you can schedule your blog post to re-publish to the social networks again and again. You can change the title, type of post, image, and send times each time. Now This is Automation done well! Careful though, if you are publishing from multiple calendars for different blog sites, you may have some serious overlap.
Another great tool for scheduling posts that is not specific to WordPress is Sprout Social. You may want to check it out as well.
Where else you might Automate and Systematize:
Drip Email Campaigns
Your drip email campaigns should be part of a system already. The best drip email campaigns are the easiest ones to operate, that may have taken a lot of work on the front end. You’ll want to automate the process wherever possible in the system. We use Infusionsoft today. (Again, we had to earn our way into this system. Our first real estate CRM was a simple spreadsheet). You’ll want the best solution possible that creates a funnel at the point of lead entry/registration. The best system will send your lead from any source into you your CRM (We use Parsey.com to funnel the leads into Infusionsoft). It will then tag your lead in a way that automatically adds it to the campaign. You would also want to automate the unsubscribe so that you are not spending your day removing people from the email system in your CRM.
Anytime you can, you’ll want to create an automated process for sending an offer your web visitor requested. One example would be the home valuation offer. When done well, a simple PPC or Facebook Ad can bring in hundreds of request for home values. What you must know is that many of these have no interest in selling the property, and in some cases, don’t even own the home. (Don’t get me started on this topic!).
Because of this, you’ll want a way to give them what they want automatically, while still providing YOU the opportunity to convert the lead into a seller listing.
We use ListingsToLeads automated home valuation tool. Others I know use Brivity Valuations which I’ve heard are fantastic as well. The tool we use is powered by the Zestimate. Our cultivation process begins with an email that says “Your Estimate may not be right”. The user is sent a video and to a landing page with an article explaining why a professional agent estimate would be better. This is all automated once we set it up. The user is then entered in to our seller campaign and receives a “VALUE” piece each week. These value pieces are specifically designed to inform the seller of the process and how to get the most for their home. They are NOT SPRING CLEANING TIPS!
Still working on my new camera. A videographer, I am not 🙂
This is another area you may want to automate. Anytime you offer a free report, or guide, or list (which we do a lot), you’ll want to automate it. This ensures that your customer gets the item and then you don’t spend all night delivering them. You might be able to do this through your current system, or though Google Forms, or through a site like Wufoo.com as well. We use LeadPages now for this. One of the reasons we chose this tool is that we can measure conversion per offer. With this tool, we also can build landing pages and lead links which are now part of our system for building a great funnel (mailing listing and drips).
Where you do NOT want to use automation
Do not automate your website content. This is so dangerous when it comes to SEO. Do not spin articles or find ways to create multiple articles or blog posts from one piece of content. Do not set up systems that post the same content to each page on your website only allowing for a minor change in between. We do have every day page placements on templates such as the addition of community pages, a featured listing carousel or grid, or call to action for home values, but your overall content should be unique, quality content. If it’s easy to create, you may run into an issue with Google AND with your customer. Remember, Google wants quality content for it’s end user, you must be willing to create this for them.
Also watch your automation on Social Media Channels. While some auto posts make sense, you still want to keep your VOICE and personality active on social. Don’t try to AUTOMATE your social voice.
If you are looking to learn more about online marketing, Check out our comprehensive training academy for real estate agents. You’ll find it at www.TheBallenMethod.com
Looking to find someone to do many of these pieces for you? Contact Jeff at Ballen Brands to discuss set up and build of WordPress, Community Pages Content, Monthly recurring hyperlocal content and more. 702.917.0755 firstname.lastname@example.org