As a real estate investor, you are a marketer first. Your success hinges on your ability to effectively market your business. Regardless of your specialty, you may use some of the well-known, effective marketing methods. These methods include, but are not limited to; bandit signs, newspaper classifieds, yellow pages, billboards, business cards, radio, television. The effectiveness of these methods vary per market, per design, per marketing-message, etcetera. You need to analyze and conclude what works best for you.
To be a smart marketer and a sound entrepreneur you must track every effort you make for analysis. As they say in Martial Arts, “Don’t do something for nothing” meaning, if you’re going to throw a kick, kick to break a rib, if you’re going to throw a punch, punch to knock-out. So if you’re going to spend money marketing, don’t just close your eyes and funnel the money into various methods and throw a Hail Mary pass. Sure you may get some leads, but you will have no idea where they came from. You won’t know what’s working best or what’s working the least. You need to track your marketing efforts. I’m going to focus on how you can track these efforts for a minimal cost with Google Voice.
Google Voice is a telecommunications service by Google that launched in March of 2009. This free service allows the selection of a single U.S. phone number with your area code of choice. Incoming calls to the number may be configured to ring any number of your phones simultaneously. You can set custom call forwarding schedules, allow different callers to hear different voicemail messages, transcribe voicemails, and the list goes on. There are enough Google Voice features to warrant a dedicated blog post. Today, I’m just going touch on how you can use Google Voice to inexpensively track your marketing campaigns.
Using Google Voice to Track Your Marketing Campaigns
1. I suggest that you get one Google Voice phone number for each marketing method. Get one unique number for your bandit signs, one for newspaper ads, etcetera. Create a separate Google account for each number that you need.
2. Sign-up for free Google Voice invites. The wait varies on the invitations, my first invite took about 2 months, my second invite took about 3 weeks. Each invite for Google Voice allots you with one phone number. For my additional phone numbers I went to eBay about purchased my invites, no waiting period. They are going for about $6 a pop there. This is a very reasonable cost. Time is money so you have got to love eBay!
3. Once you have your invites you will be able to proceed with your Google Voice account configuration and phone number selection. Make sure to login with a unique Google account prior to proceeding with the ‘invite’ link and configuring your account.
4. While configuring your account, you may make various customizations to suit your preferences. You may choose to forward the number to a main number of yours (or to a Virtual Assistant), or you may choose to keep it strictly virtual and just have the callers leave voicemails.
With dedicated phone numbers and Google Accounts for your various marketing campaigns, you will be able to track specifically who called upon what. You will easily be able to see what is working better than others. You may then make an educated decision to reallocate your marketing budget.
Personally, I set up five numbers* so that they all forward to my Vonage number (VoIP is another great technological tool). I disabled the “Call Screening” and “Call Presentation”. I also set it so that the Caller ID doesn’t display the callers’ number rather it displays the Google Voice number. The Google Voice numbers are programmed in my phone for what they are attributed to. So for instance, when someone calls on my classified ad, the Caller ID says, “Classified Ad”. This prevents me from being blindsided by an ad response, when I’m expecting a call from my accountant. I forward all of my Google Voice phone numbers to my Vonage office line which also rings my mobile phone. I do this so that I can use the Vonage Dashboard to monitor all of my calls and not have to specifically login to each Google Account to track different calls. They all show up in an activity feed and are identified by their number.
* Google currently only allows two Google Voice numbers to share the same forwarded number. Since I have 5 numbers, the first two are forwarded directly to my Vonage office line. The second two are forwarded to a Vonage virtual number that is forwarded to my Vonage office line, this goes for the 5th number as well.
This is just one of the many ways you can use Google Voice. The more you embrace the advances in technology, the smarter your decisions become and the more efficient you will work.