- Follow industry best practices and use the latest technology to make sure email delivers on its promise.
With so many different marketing options available to connect with buyers and sellers, it can be tough to figure out where to double down. Email is often overlooked as old school or unimportant, but oh contraire, email still rules!
In the U.S. alone, over 90 percent of adults are using email regularly, and despite the rise of social messaging apps.
As more real estate agents employ advanced CRM (customer relationship management) systems and data for personalizing their messages, email marketing is producing higher ROI than ever.
You can’t expect results without effort. Agents and brokers have to follow industry best practices and use the latest technology to make sure email delivers on its promise.
I love email. Email is one of the most cost effective channels for converting new leads and nurturing old ones.
As a businessperson, email is powerful: it’s private, permission-based and pervasive. Here are four pillars of email marketing to share with your team or to use as a refresher to up your game.
Feed and nurture your lists
A list by itself isn’t valuable; it’s the relationship with your list that’s the most valuable asset you own. You need to consistently communicate with your list in a valuable way to keep your relationship alive and healthy.
Odds are, you already have a list of client, past client and prospect email addresses. If you haven’t contacted the list in a while, send a helpful reconnect email message to all of these people and remove all of the ones that “bounce” or unsubscribe.
It’s important to send this reconnect message to everyone on your list and include them in your ongoing communication, mostly because everyone could potentially refer you to someone you can help.
Pro tip: Continually add contacts to your list.
List building method 1
The best way to get more email addresses is by driving people to your website through online advertising and social media — and giving them a reason to register with you.
When you ask the people who visit your site to share their email address, offer them something in return.
Let visitors know that they can register for exclusive free content, such as a consultation or e-book, tip sheets and resource guides, and/or invitations to customer appreciation events.
When collecting emails on your site, there’s an inverse relationship between registration completion and the number of fields required. So, for first-time visitors (or those who have not previously opted-in), ask only for an email address and a name so that you can follow up with personalized email.
List building method 2
Method 2 is to actually talk to people, either in person, over the phone, online via SMS, social or email. The key is to have a meaningful conversation with other people using whatever media you’re most comfortable with.
Talk to people who are most likely to buy or sell with you, focus on the people who live in your community, community leaders and fellow members in the local groups you participate in.
That said, everyone is a potential for your list. Everyone you meet may have access or could refer you to your ideal customer or client. You just need to ask for their email address.
At the end of a relevant conversation, let them know you want to stay in touch, and just ask for their email address. It’s that simple.
Create compelling content
Consumers now expect personalized experiences. Janrain reports that 74 percent of internet users get frustrated when presented with irrelevant content. Even though you are offering “free” content, it still must be valuable content. Otherwise, your prospect will unsubscribe and you will sever the tie you created through the original registration.
Here are a few ways to create valuable content:
Welcome email: New subscribers are the most likely people to open your emails. Sending personalized welcome emails creates a connection with first-timers and builds trust. Welcome emails might educate recipients about your value proposition, ask them to tell you more about themselves and provide resources and helpful information personalized to their interests.
Newsletters: Newsletters are a way to build trust, nurture leads and foster retention. You put your brand, content, products, services, tips, tactics and whatever else you choose in front of your prospects and customers at regular intervals. To create newsletters efficiently, you can compile relevant content and news from sources inside and outside your company. Many of the best newsletters feature a steady stream of curated content.
Digests: Digest-style emails are simply lists of content, usually blog posts, though they can include podcasts, infographics or anything you can click to get. Digests typically include short descriptions of the content and links to it.
Autoresponders: An autoresponder is a series of emails — usually focused on a specific topic — and often on a specific persona. Autoresponders are delivered in a predetermined sequence at predetermined intervals.
Special occasions: Special occasions can make for special emails. Consider emails to recognize your readers’ special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or important milestones in their lives or your relationship. Or emails for special events that you might host.
Transaction emails: You can follow-up with transactions of every sort (seller updates, property alerts) with tips, FAQs, invitations to community pages, requests for reviews and testimonials, and more.
It’s easy to create mediocre content, and most do. They find something that’s performing well and create a copycat version. It seldom works. Among the oceans of content, the “me too!” stuff fails to make a ripple.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying “don’t go there” if the topic you want to tackle is a popular one.
In fact, you should.
What I am saying is you need to make your content better than the best that exists now. As with most endeavors, to do something remarkable, you need to put extra effort into it.
Segment your list, and be personal
Personalization is the reason marketers and salespeople segment their email lists: you slice and dice your list into segments based on what you know about each user — like, where they live, how well they know you and what’s important to them — then you contact each segment in a personalized manner to increase the likelihood of converting them into a customer, repeat customer, referral or testimonial.
Below are the three segmentation methodologies that the majority of CRMs and coaches use. In reality, you may end up using some combination of all three systems.
- Future buyer
- Past buyer
- Future seller
- Past seller
- Friends and family (invite to events, show how you treat clients)
- Segment geographically
Simple rating segmentation
Heat system segmentation
Then there are customized versions of segmentation that work for the specific agent or broker. I ask a few successful folks to weigh in so you could see the possibilities.
Segmentation can seem overwhelming if you’re just getting started, but don’t worry about it. You’ll have friends, family, customers, prospects, referral partners and acquaintances on your lists — everyone you’ve ever communicated with or have possibly known. And that’s OK as long as you communicate with them regularly.
Remember, it’s just email; people can always unsubscribe if they don’t want to hear from you.
Although segmentation is powerful, don’t let the guilt of “I have to clean up my database” become your excuse for not leveraging email to nurture your list.
Measure and refine your tactics
Because email marketing is thoroughly measurable, you can easily assess the performance of your campaigns and continuously improve performance. Basic email metrics to track include:
Open rate: Your open rate is an indicator of the success of your subject line (and probably reflects your reputation). Look at open rate as a means of comparison from email to email.
Click-through rate: The CTR is your most important metric because it suggests how compelling your email is, or isn’t. Try to trace the reasons behind specific emails that score unusually high or low CTR.
Conversion rate: The conversion indicates the recipient performed a desired action, such as registering, filling out a form to download an asset or setting up an appointment.
Bounce rate: This is the percentage of your emails that is undeliverable. If your bounce rates increase, reassess your opt-in process because you may be collecting bogus emails.
Unsubscribes: You must expect a small percentage of your recipients to unsubscribe, but this rate should stay steady. If you see a sudden spike, you may be sending emails too often or sending content that is not relevant. Take action immediately to discover the problem and resolve it.
To continually improve your metrics, test your email content.
Consider the following:
Subject line split tests: Set up A and B versions to be sent to samples from your list. Send the higher performing version to the bulk of your list.
Day of the week: Experiment with the days you send emails. You may find a significant difference in response rates when you compare early, mid, late-week and weekend deliveries.
Email copy: Split-testing versions of the copy will help determine which style or message resonates best with your readers.
Layout and design: Experiment with the way your information is presented. Consider testing header designs, number of columns, lengths, images, color schemes, fonts and styles.
Call to action: Having a CTA that results in an action is critical, so test variations, not only of the wording, but also the location of the CTA within the newsletter, font style and color, and the landing page to which the user is directed.
Offers: You may have an assortment of offers — special events, neighborhood guides, sellers e-books and free consultations. Invest the time to test offers with a sample of your email database before blasting the whole list.
Email may seem to be less sexy than other marketing tactics, but it remains one of the most powerful online marketing tactics you have.
“Your database is your business,” said Stacie Staub of West + Main in Denver.
That list of clients, past clients, prospects, referral partners and anyone else who could refer you, list with you, buy with you or help you grow your business — they are the most important people in the world.
Start nurturing them today, and make email a part of your strategy!