Part One: Email Infrastructure
Your lead generation efforts will be ineffective if you can’t communicate with your potential customers. Unfortunately, I know there are many customers not receiving your emails from some of the common tools in real estate. Having confronted this problem directly, I’m sharing the steps to improve your email delivery so you stop wasting your money and time on customers you can’t communicate with. The purpose of this article is to give you some of the basics of email deliver-ability, and to provide a small and easy project that will help you improve your email deliver-ability. This project will also set you up for a later project that will improve it even more.
Bottom line: If you want to be effective in your lead generation and conversion efforts via email, this article, today’s small project, and subsequent articles on email deliverability will make you more money.
For this short article and project, I’m assuming you are using a domain name you control, like www.goodlifeteam.com, or www.yourname.com. If you are not you really should be, for two reasons. First, using your own domain name builds your brand, and distinguishes you from the agents that don’t have a brand or memorable email address. Second, if you use a free email host, you can’t control all the technical aspects that affect email deliver-ability, since those are tightly controlled by Google, Yahoo, or the email host that you are using.
Three Parts of Email Deliverability
There are three parts to managing and improving email deliver-ability. The first is what I call “Email Infrastructure“. Email infrastructure consists of all of the different tools you use that send email on your behalf and how your domain is configured. Email infrastructure is the subject of this article.
The second is your content. This is the actual content of the emails you send, including the subject line, text, images, and links. Your content is screened by spam filters and mail servers, so it plays an important role in deliver-ability.
The third is your domain’s reputation. There are many “black lists” and “white lists” that control the delivery of a domain’s email to recipient’s email servers, and it’s important that these lists are monitored and managed to make sure your emails aren’t going to no where.
We’re starting our work with email infrastructure, since if this is broken the other two components won’t matter anyway.
Today’s Small Project on Email Infrastructure
1. Inventory Your Tools That Send Email
Start this project by creating an inventory of tools that send email to your customers. This is a quick list of tools I came up with that are commonly used in real estate:
• Email host (Google, etc)
• Email marketing program (Constant Contact, Vertical Response, others)
• Market Snapshot/Altos Research market reports
• Your website host (if you use any autoresponder forms)
• Your hosted CRM system (Top Producer, Salesforce, any hosted CRM that you can send email from or that uses email drip)
• Combined services like number1expert, realprosystems.com.
• IDX system(s) like Wolfnet, Diverse Solutions, etc
2. Set up test email accounts on the “big four” email providers
Yahoo.com, hotmail.com, gmail.com, and AOL.com are the most frequently used mail hosts for people’s personal email accounts, so it is important to start with these to test your email deliver-ability. You’ll have the opportunity to use these accounts again when we test content delivery, so having these four “test” accounts available to you will be useful in the future. (note: there are paid services you can use for this type of delivery monitoring, but we’re doing this DIY style so you understand what those monitoring services provide).
3. Test each tool you use with your test email accounts
Now we test! For this part, go to each one of your tools and make sure it can send email to each of the four test accounts. This can be as simple as registering each account on your IDX and checking if you get the registration autoresponder. You can also enter them in your CRM system and mass email the test accounts. I recommend using standard names in your customer database system, like “Gmail Test”, “Yahoo Test”, etc so you can easily reference all of your “test” accounts.
4. Fix it!
If you discover a problem with one of your “tools”, you’ll need to have your technology geek (not it! I’m just the author of the article.) make some changes to your domain records for your personal domain. I wrote a detailed article about these changes here:
Let me know how your tests go in the comments, and if you discover some tools that are problematic we can work together to come to a resolution.