“I sent them an email and they haven’t replied” was a common response when I would ask our sales associates how they were doing with their Internet leads.

My standard response to theirs: “How many emails do you get each and every day and how do you decide which ones you are going to reply to?”

Without fail, silence ensued.

What makes your email STAND OUT from the others enough to prompt a “reply”?

email image via shutterstock

Before we answer that question, we need to understand, and accept, that our consumers lead “busy” lives (much like ourselves). They have jobs, families and the responsibilities that come along with them (much like us).

If they don’t reply to ONE email, it’s not you, it’s them!

As real estate agents, we must accept that our consumer has been to more than one real estate website. If they have inquired on ours, they have probably inquired on others. How many automated responses and/or “canned responses” have they received? How many inquiries have been ignored?

Once we empathize with our real estate consumer, we can begin to communicate with them.

The “subject line” is critical. They can’t reply to an email they won’t read!

There have been numerous studies and reports issued on what makes an effective “subject line” — which words to use, which words to avoid, how many words to use, etc. It was on Copyblogger that I read about the “subject line” that had the best open rate (people actually opened the email). Here it is:

“You Are Not Alone.”

I tried it. It works, as far as “opens” go, but I still didn’t get the “replies” or “click-throughs.” A great subject line is not enough. They want and need more. And obviously we shouldn’t use the same subject line on every email (they catch on real quick), but I would make every subject line about them, i.e., use of the word “you” and “your.”

“Where’s the beef?”

The key to effectively soliciting an email reply is the “body” or “beef” of the email itself. Once we succeed in getting them to open our email, we must reward them by making it worth it. We have to give them something of “value” but not too much, because we want them to want more, i.e., “reply.”

And, what does every real estate consumer want? LISTINGS!

Here is an example of the body of one of our emails:


I created a list of JUST LISTED homes in INSERT TOWN/COMMUNITY that may not have come up in your original search:


I reserved time to show you homes this weekend but I need your confirmation by Thursday. Any information you could share with me, to help us find the home that is right for you, would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to working with you,



Please, please DO NOT write/type the words “call me” anywhere in your body if you do not have an online relationship with the consumer!

Please DO keep it short and sweet; remember how many emails you get. What do you do with the long ones?

I would suggest eliminating images, logos and icons in the body of your email. Many of us receive/read our email on our smartphones, and images may come across as attachments or dilute the body in general.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! Our brokerage has a “10 Days of Productivity” Internet lead follow-up system (adapted from Ben Kinney’s 10 Days of Pain). The real estate inquirer receives a unique email nine out of 10 days or until he replies.

Can I see who “opened” what and who “clicked” what?

It is also important to have an email marketing system that tracks and measures the effectiveness of your campaigns. Personally, I use MailChimp, but I know a few others who are effectively using REMessenger, Aweber and Constant Contact.

We must know “what’s working” and “what’s not.” These email marketing systems provide the tools and education to help us become more effective.

It’s not personal, it’s business. My father always told me, “People are going to do what is best for them at that time.” If you don’t get a “reply” right away, perhaps you didn’t provide what was “best for them at that time”? Try, try again; it’s not you, it’s them!

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