Lead Management - new REW 2.5 techniques & technology

The new features at REW - what they are and how to use them

The purpose of this session (this was written for presentation at our 2009 conference) is to introduce the new REW 2.5 enhanced lead management system & calendar module. I will be taking you on a tour of the new UI & features as well as providing commentary as to the purpose of each feature and discussing functional use to increase conversion while reducing time spent managing leads.

So what's new in the lead manager?

Calendar Module - Where this all began (available to users logged in as Agent or Super Admin)
After the release of CMS 2.0 we received raving reviews from our customers about the improvements to the user interface and to the implementation of a functional lead management system. Over time, we worked out the kinks and had a pretty solid system. That being said, one of the most common requests from our customers to be added to the wish list was a calendar module, or way to sort leads on a more granular level than just by day, this week, this month etc. Thus started our journey in the development of CMS 2.5 enhanced.

We weren't satisfied with simply plopping in a calendar, improving the date functionality and calling it a day - we figured "while we are in there" we would implement tons more of the wish list items which I am proud to present below - but first - the calendar module (screenshot below)

What can one do with the Calendar module?

The baseline function of the Calendar Module is to do all the scheduling of what we call "events" and to provide reminders at custom intervals for said events as well as to organize and manage their details and attendees. We intentionally kept the calendar very light and functional - through the add event section you can:

  • Create custom event types (and manage your event types)
  • Provide a title/description for your event
  • Set a priority of low, medium or high for your event
  • Set a time and date for your event (you may set multiple dates for recurring events)
  • Select attendees from your lead management system to attend the event
  • Set pop-up or email reminders minutes, hours, days or weeks before the event (you may set multiple reminders for your event and a combination of pop up (in system) and email notification reminders as well.

Once events are added to the system you can then view your events by day, "this week", "this month" or set your own custom date range using the new persistent date range application. This is a tool we are very excited about and as a development and sales team have been relying on and using extensively since nearly the beginning of 2009.

Persistent date range settings (Agent and Super Admin)
In the new enhanced lead manager you now have many more options for populating information (all types of information, not just the leads screen). We have created a new calendar system that employs "persistent" memory so that once you select a date range on the calendar or use the new custom from / to date range selector, that selection will now follow you throughout your lead management session (until you logout or close the browser). This not only allows for more flexibility in how you query information – it also allows for more efficient reporting on the super admin side in terms of new leads, returning and all leads over time.

Action Plans (Set by Super Admin, Applied to agents)
Action plans are a system of accountability and a training tool. Super admin can setup one or more action plans which consist of a series of activities that will be required by the agent to complete and check off once they are assigned to that action plan. These action plans serve as a great reminder system for the agents that there are "basics" that need to be followed up on for each and every lead, each and every time. If these lead management 101 steps are followed, conversions will increase and agents are less likely to get complacent or lazy with the leads they are assigned.

The action plans system also allows you to view how a particular agent is doing with their lead follow up by viewing their action plan as incomplete, complete and total report. This is a summary view that can also be looked at via a date range to educate or enforce lead management policy.

Current Mode Vs System Mode (Super admin only)
For day to day management of leads as super admin (assigning leads, checking up on agent activity etc), current mode allows you to process the information and then once a lead is assigned it is no longer visible / available on your screen (it's dealt with and is out of the way). But there are times (such as wanting summaries for a specific date range) when you want to be able to see all lead activity whether the lead has been assigned or not - a simple toggle to "system mode" and all information is now readily available to the super admin.

Date Range Searching (Super admin and Agent)
A new addition to the lead manager search function is start date and end date. Now you can search for a particular set of leads from a specific date range. This helps in trending leads over time, especially when comparing to campaigns such as PPC.

Using the system

Groups - Add and Manage (Super admin and agent)
Groups are a fundamental building block for your lead management campaign. Groups are used to separate leads into refined segments for the purposes of targeted email blast and drip campaigns. Before you can create a drip email campaign, the first thing you must create is a group.

Some example groups:

  • Registered IDX Users
  • Buyers
  • Sellers
  • Relocating
  • Condos Only
  • Land Only
  • Called in from sign
  • Referred by a friend

Documents / Categories / Templates (Super Admin and Agents)
The documents system is one of the least used systems currently in the 2.0 / 2.5 system. It's unfortunate because it is quite a powerful system that has many uses all geared towards saving your time in lead management, and reducing redundancy in your writing.

Before you write, organize. Categories are your folders on the web.

In order to start writing documents you must first have a category to assign them to. Categories are your way to keep your documents organized. Think of them like folders that you would use in a Windows environment. Each kind of document has its own category. For instance:

  • Form letters for buyers
  • Form letters for sellers
  • Form letters to agents
  • Drip email for IDX users
  • Drip email for moving in 6 months+

By using the categories system effectively, it will reduce headaches when retrieving documents for single email tasks, blast emails and of course (probably most importantly) drip email campaigns.

Now that you have categories it's time to start writing: The Document System

The document system in its simplest form is a way to write html or plain text documents and store them for use in several different ways in the system. Here is a list of some of the common ways a pre-written document is used.

#1 - Form letter. If you find there is a very common question (or several questions) that you are having to write email responses to on a case by case basis - take some time and write a document that answers these common questions, store it in the document system in a category called "form letters" and give it a logical name like "buyer FAQ" (for example). Even if you need to tailor the response each time, the "import" feature of the lead manager makes it so you can import the document into your email screen, and edit or tailor prior to sending. This saves tons of time, and allows for you to constantly tune and improve the response as opposed to writing the same response in different words each time with no iterative improvement.

#2 - Drip emails - Before you can set up a drip email campaign, you need to have each of the documents (drops if you will) written. I suggest creating a category for each drip campaign such as "buyer drip" and then storing the individual drops as logically named and sequential documents within that category. "Buyer drip day 1" "buyer drip day 5", etc.

#3 - Blast emails - You may not have decided exactly which groups or segments of your leads a blast is going to and you may want to massage it a bit before sending out a blast to a large group of leads. Use the document system to write your drafts and make edits before sending your final blast email. Remember, once it's stored as a document you can select it anywhere you can send an email (to a single user, in a drip, as a blast).

#4 - Works in progress - You may be working on a document for your lead management, website, or other (perhaps a writeup for the paper etc) - and you might want to store this document on the web so that you can access and work on it from any workstation with an internet connection. This is yet another use for the document system.

*Note this is a web based system – as such it can fail if connection issues or timeouts occur - as a best practice (and remember this any time you are writing something on a web based application) I suggest you get in the habit of clicking on the content area, and then clicking Ctrl + A then Ctrl + C. This will copy the content to the clip board prior to hitting submit. That way, heaven forbid something goes wrong on submit (like your session timed out, or your connection failed) you will still have your work stored to the clipboard. Remember, save often and always copy to your clipboard first. This simple habit can save huge frustration in the long run, as nobody likes to lose something they just spent a ton of time thinking about and then writing.

Templates - making it pretty

On the 2.5 (and 2.0 for that matter) REW Lead management systems you can create and customize your own html templates should you wish to have a more custom look for your outgoing emails. A word of warning: using html version emails does somewhat decrease their reach as they are more often going to go straight to junkmail - however at the same time, there is a considerable increase in professional presentation and appeal to a well done template. I personally use an html email for my auto responders, and drips.

Once you have an html template setup (you can set up multiples btw), you can then choose to selectively apply it wherever you send out emails from the system. In drips, mass email blasts or just to individual leads.