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What’s Happening with SMS Real Estate Marketing in 2023?

Gavin Finch
Written by Gavin Finch 

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How do you communicate with your friends and family most often? Do you call them out of the blue or do you initiate conversations via text? For most people, the answer is the latter. For over a decade now, texting has been the most popular way to have phone conversations, and for good reason. It’s harder to ignore but it doesn’t break the flow of everything else going on in your day.

So naturally, text messaging has become one of the go-to marketing channels across the real estate industry. It’s fast and lets investors connect with multiple prospects simultaneously. 

Once SMS real estate marketing started gaining traction, investors quickly started sending thousands of texts a day to potential sellers. Unfortunately, well-intentioned real estate agents and investors weren’t the only ones using large-scale SMS marketing. Political campaigns and scammers became notorious for indiscriminate text blasts that no one wanted, or worse, scammed people out of their money. In fact, 2021 was one of the worst years on record, with scammers taking $59 million from American consumers. 

So the FCC and phone carriers took matters into their own hands. Now, texting regulations have changed significantly. What worked two years ago will now get your numbers flagged as spam within just a few days or get you banned from buying numbers from carriers altogether! So to help you market effectively and navigate SMS real estate marketing in 2023, these are the things you should know about SMS marketing.

How 10DLC changed real estate texting campaigns

The changes to text message marketing have been increasing over the past few years. In early 2021, wireless carriers introduced 10DLC, which stands for 10 Digit Long Code. It was originally an answer to the problem that short code texting caused, but it also allowed carriers to vet businesses before they started texting consumers. Essentially, it allowed them to find and block scammers before they could scam anyone.

10DLC accomplishes this by requiring businesses to provide several pieces of information, including:

  • Legal name
  • Address
  • Tax ID

Businesses are also required to explain the intent behind their campaigns and provide an example of a message that they plan to send to customers. So if you plan on running an SMS real estate marketing campaign, you must take these steps into account. 10DLC is intended to work against scammers, but if your processes make you look like a scammer, they’ll work against you too. 

However, getting 10DLC verified doesn’t give businesses a free pass. The rise of spam texts has led to very strict guidelines on what you can say to a prospect in your first text message. For example, you can’t start a conversation by asking someone if they’re interested in selling their house.

This kind of message will set off spam filters, which will block your message from getting through to the person you’re texting. Send enough of these, and you’ll catch the attention of carriers and your numbers will get flagged as spam.

Some of the keywords you should avoid, at least in your initial texts are:

  • Interested
  • Selling
  • Offer
  • Property
  • Cash
  • Local Investor
  • Purchase
  • Looking
  • Mortgage
  • Loan
  • Insurance
  • Debt
  • Lend

Cold outreach

Real estate businesses are also struggling to effectively launch campaigns with messaging services because of the strict laws around who they can text. Regulations require businesses to have opt-in from consumers before texting them. The good news is that real estate investors aren’t usually sending sales texts, so they don’t always need explicit permission to start a text conversation with someone.

However, real estate agents who want to notify people of property listings or send them SMS reminders about open houses don’t have this same benefit. Because they’re selling a service, they now have to get explicit permission to text someone before they send messages. Building a contact list is fairly simple if you have an established list of clients, but using SMS as a new agent or investor can be challenging. 

Mass texting

Most importantly, text messaging has lost one of the abilities that initially made it so useful: text blasts. One of the reasons that real estate text message marketing became so popular was that investors and wholesalers could quickly contact thousands of people in a matter of minutes. 

All they had to do was write a few opening messages that followed best practices and then send them. However, evolving carrier and FCC guidelines have made this a bad idea. Carriers quickly flag high-volume cold texters as “Spam Likely,” which slashes their deliverability rates.

To avoid this fate, you shouldn’t send more than 50 texts per phone number per day. That means that if you want to contact a lot of people, you need to have a lot of phone numbers. Even then it’s unwise to text at the same volumes that made SMS marketing for real estate popular. It will still catch the attention of carriers, but it can also rack up spam complaints, which can eventually go beyond decreased deliverability and lead to spam investigations into your business.

Can you still use SMS real estate marketing?

These changes may make you think that the days of texting in real estate are completely over, but there are still some great use cases. If you’re a real estate agent, texting is a great way to send appointment reminders or notify people who’ve opted in that you have an open house coming up.

If you’re a wholesaler, you can use text messags to check in with motivated sellers while you’re looking for a cash buyer. You can even leverage SMS to share your deals with your cash buyers list, as long as you’ve been in contact with them before. 

However, there’s no getting around the fact that regulatory changes have altered how you can use large-scale SMS real estate marketing. But the good news is that there are still many ways to reach out to motivated sellers. 
Cold calling has been an invaluable option for decades, and while calling regulations are changing, it’s not going anywhere. Thankfully, the likelihood of federal regulations that affect direct mail, networking, and bandit signs is also minuscule. So while the changes to SMS real estate marketing may make it more difficult to connect with prospects, they don’t have to get in the way of your marketing machine. There are still plenty of ways for you to land winning deals!

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