I have had three articles published on Inman in the last two months. For a blogger, guest-posting is an excellent way to gain exposure in your industry. There is also an opportunity to add email subscribers to your list, which is something I have focused on during the last two months. I believe that email marketing is alive and well — and that it remains a critical part of any marketing strategy.
I took a look at the numbers for my email subscribers that came from the last three posts I wrote for Inman. I was shocked by what I found.
The first week in January, I wrote a post about millennials and real estate. This is a hot topic right now. From that post, 19 people signed up for my email list. Then, the first week in February, I wrote another post about millennials. From that post, 30 people signed up for my email list. Finally, on Feb. 19, I wrote a post about email marketing. This topic is not as popular as the millennial topic. But just four days after the email post went live, 54 people had signed up for my list.
That is three times the number of people subscribed to my list from post one to post three.
I immediately sat down and worked through why this happened. There are specific reasons why I tripled my email subscribers. These are three key things I changed between my post in January and the one I wrote in February:
1. I created a landing page.
Inman kindly allows all contributors a short bio at the end of every article we write. This is our opportunity to let people know more about us. Contributors will often include a link back to their websites.
For the post I wrote in January, the link in my bio went to the home page of my website. It was my hope that people would take a look at my website, love my posts and immediately want to sign up for my list. Ha! You can’t build a business hoping that people will do what you want!
In February, I worked hard and created a landing page on my website. A landing page is a custom page on a website with a specific goal: to convert the website visitor into a prospect. One way to do this is to get the prospect to sign up for your email list. Another way is to get their contact information. Email sign-ups are the easiest to get because people don’t like to give out their contact information. They worry that they will get slammed with sales calls or emails. (This is especially true in real estate.)
For the landing page, I created a blank page without any bells and whistles. It is plain, with a lot of white space and no sidebar. There is no social media information or visible contact information. The goal of my landing page is to welcome Inman readers and ask people to sign up for my email list.
For my February posts, I created two landing pages. One was about marketing to millennials and one was about an email marketing checklist. (Click the links to see the examples.) I then created two separate URLs for these pages. I placed each URL in my bio link at the end of my Inman post.
Takeaway: Do not send people to the home page of your website. If you are targeting certain markets, send them to a landing page on your website. Make this page all about them to drive leads for you.
2. I fixed my opt-in.
In January, I confessed something both publicly on my blog and privately over email. My opt-in offer in January was terrible. Terrible! I even had one real estate agent email me after downloading it and tell me how bad it was. Ouch! But he was right, and I knew it.
Email is more sacred than ever before. Why? Because we are sick and tired of getting junk email. I get it. I feel the same way. Never would l want to send people junk emails. By offering a terrible opt-in, however, I was showing people that I was capable of bad writing. That’s not good. I had to fix it immediately if I was going to have any luck of getting people to subscribe to my blog. (And not only subscribing but also staying subscribed after downloading the opt-in.)
So I went to work. I was writing another article about millennials for Inman. I created a plan to have a better opt-in when that post went live. I brainstormed marketing ideas for millennials. I brainstormed traditional marketing ideas that needed to change for millennials. Then I developed my free report, “10 marketing ideas to reach millennials.” I carefully researched every point and included real-life examples for real estate.
But I also took it a step further. I added a cover page and a table of contents. I added graphics and a bonus page. I added a thank-you page. Finally, I added information about myself at the end. My goal was to write a free report that people finished reading and thought, “I can’t believe I got this information for free. I can’t believe she is just giving this away.”
A couple of weeks later, I had a post go live on Inman about email marketing. I thought maybe I would just use the same millennial landing page. I figured everyone cares about the millennials right now, so it would work. Plus, I was so busy that I didn’t know how I would find the time to write a new report. Boy, am I glad I got over that idea!
I decided instead to work on another report and discovered something interesting. Because I had already done all the hard work one time, the second time it was easier. It was also less time-consuming. This time, I decided to create a checklist about email marketing and the “10-point email marketing checklist to get more clients” was born.
Takeaway 1: If you have a terrible opt-in idea, people will not subscribe to your list. They will judge it as not valuable and ignore it. Create each opt-in offer for your custom audience. Otherwise, you are wasting your advertising dollars and your time.
Takeaway 2: Take the time to build an opt-in offer that has fantastic content, structure and graphics. Doing it the right way will dramatically increase your email subscribers. You will also show your subscribers that you are intelligent and value their time. This will earn the trust of your subscribers, and they will become loyal to you.
3. I made some small changes.
I made two minor tweaks between the millennial and email landing pages. On the millennial landing page, I had the email opt-in offer below my most popular posts.
On the email landing page, I moved the email opt-in offer “above the fold” so it was the first thing people saw when they came to my landing page.
On the millennial landing page, I wanted people to like my posts and then sign up for my email list. I didn’t want to annoy people by boldly asking for their email address right off the bat. More of that hopeful thinking again, mixed in with some fear. I decided on the email post to conquer my fear. My goal of the landing page was to get email subscribers. I am 100 percent confident that once people are on my list, I can wow them from there.
The second tweak I made was to add testimonials to my email marketing landing page. I have a few people who have given me unsolicited testimonials about my blog and newsletter. After asking their permission, I included the testimonials on this page. I am a big fan of putting testimonials wherever you can on your marketing pieces. Prospects want to know that real live people like you and trust you. It builds your credibility. So I took my own advice and stuck a few testimonials on my landing page.
Takeaway 1: Test, test and then test your landing page some more.
Takeaway 2: Don’t be afraid to boldly ask for what you want on a landing page. Identify your goal and go after it!
These three changes contributed to me tripling my email subscribers in only 30 days. The main takeaway for me was to know my audience. I researched the topics they wanted to know more about. I learned what they needed, and I wrote about it. I gave them something of value, and in return, they trusted me with their email address.
The same things that I did can be applied to real estate. You just have to research your market and know the pains of your group.
Ideas for targeted landing page marketing include:
- Run an open-house ad on Facebook. Send the visitors to a landing page on your website that is only about the listing. If you have a video tour, include it on the landing page. Add an email sign-up form above the listing information. Offer a free report like “10 things buyers in [your city] need to know before buying a house.” People want to know they aren’t doing something wrong before they buy a house. But what will really hook them is that you are being personal and talking about their city.
- Do some research and uncover a big problem your target audience is facing. Create a free guide with solutions to the problem. Examples are down payment assistance, getting your house ready to sell with inexpensive makeovers or how to make moving easier on kids. Then include links to your free report on social media and in your email signature. Include the links in any marketing that you do for these targeted groups.
- Stop offering a free CMA (comparative market analysis) on your website. Stop the “enter your address to find out your home’s value” landing page. People see that as a sales pitch and will click away. If you do get their information, I bet the leads aren’t nearly as good as they would be if you gave them the targeted information they want. Plus, every agent is doing this! Do something different! Instead, offer a free report exclusively for sellers with a solution to an issue they face when listing a home for sale. One idea might be “Do I really need a Realtor to sell my home?” Or “13 things a Realtor will do to make your life easier when selling your home.”
- Take a look at your advertising. Are you inviting people to visit your website? When they do, are you catering to their needs? Are you giving them the information they are craving? If not, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to get leads from your website and have it work for you. Take the time to create a landing page and an opt-in offer that brings you business. It will be worth it!
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Jennifer Snyder is a real estate marketing consultant, speaker and blogger at Marketing Ideas for Agents.