Real Estate Email Tips, Pt. 1 – Don’t Do This!

In the highly competitive Real Estate market, agents bend over backward to earn business and close sales, and to differentiate themselves from the rest. They’re some of the most aggressive and industrious salespeople out there.

A lot of them are adding permission-based email to their marketing mix (which naturally we think is great :)), but they aren’t sure how to use it to build their business. Maybe this is the situation you find yourself in.

While they recognize the need to build and follow up with a list of subscribers, agents can easily fall into the trap of taking the “easy way out” when it comes to how they implement email marketing. Namely, they use email solely to send out listings and solicitations for business.

That approach is probably better than nothing, but it’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off.

Let’s take a look at why not.

Define Your Purpose

What goal/s have you set for your email marketing campaign?

In general terms, most Real Estate agents are looking to increase their sales. That’s a good broad goal, but not quite what I’m getting at.

What I mean is, what have you defined as the way to grow your sales via email?

One goal that a Real Estate agent may have is to make subscribers aware of current home listings, and get them to contact the agent about those listings.

Let’s Take a Look at That Strategy

Say I sign up to your list because I’m interested in seeing what properties/prices are out there. I get an email from you later that month with new and/or featured listings.

A few weeks later I get another one. And then another one.

So What Have You Accomplished?

Well, you’ve shown me some properties, which may or may not be in my price range. (Sure, you could ask me what price range I’m in the market for when I sign up, but then you run the risk of me abandoning your form because it’s too complicated, or because I don’t yet want to tell you how much money I have to spend.)

You’ve also done the same thing that I could do directly on your website, or on your competitors’ websites – browse available properties.

Whoop-dee-doo (pardon my enthusiasm). That’s not a whole lot of incentive for me to get on – or stay on – your list.

What Haven’t You Done?

You haven’t…

In addition, you’ve probably ensured that I won’t be listening to you for long – I can only take so many listings before it’s just not worth my time to open your messages. Even if I don’t unsubscribe, if you’re not delivering value, I won’t open your emails.

So What’s My Point?

For this discussion, we defined our goal as making subscribers aware of current home listings. And then we talked about a way to do that.

The thing is… there’s a lot more to buying a house than picking the one that looks pretty on the computer. And there are a lot of places that subscribers can view house listings already, on a timeline that they choose.

Your real estate business sells houses. Nice houses. So do a lot of your competitors.

To differentiate your real estate business from the rest, get away from just giving out a “catalog” via email, and start focusing on the other sources of value that you can provide potential customers.

Until Next Time…

I’ll be following this up with ideas on alternative goals you can shoot for with your email campaign.

In the meantime, start thinking about how you can better market your Real Estate business via email. We’ll compare notes next week.

(By the way – if any agents have taken the “catalog” approach to their email marketing and have found it to be the most effective, or even moderately effective, please chime in. You’ll note I’m not quoting any numbers above – this article is my perspective and is totally qualitative and open to discussion/rebuttal.)

Want to Learn More?

For more information on email marketing for real estate, view our complete Email Marketing for Real Estate Agents Guide.

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Naturally, as a permission-based email marketing company, we respect your privacy.


UPDATE: My post on real estate email marketing ideas is now up on the blog – take a look and let me know if you agree/disagree/have other ideas on how to best market to potential buyers!

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Justin Premick is the former Director of Educational Products at AWeber.

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33 Comments

  1. Great Info!!!!!!!!!That was very helpful and I can not wait to see the alternives. I am a new developer in South Carolina. Check out my site for comments

    4/10/2007 12:24 pm
  2. Great article but i would add what has helped me over the past year in my newsletter.

    1. Build trust with readers because people buy from those they know and trust.
    2. Become a leader and an expert. People respect, follow and buy from leaders and experts.

    3. Diversify your real estate business with teleclasses, workshops, seminars and also sell electronic products like reports and ebooks. Those that dont buy a house could easily purchase an ebook on how to save money on their first purchase. Thats working less for more! :)

    4. Give them great information, articles, resources. Become the leader and the resource for your market and then promote yourself!

    5. Send out a weekly packed newsletter with educational material, send solo emails promoting your reports, classes, seminars, etc.

    6. Create an affiliate program on your website. Those that recommend your services get a piece of the pie.

    Well.. Those are my tips!

    Diana

    4/10/2007 8:19 pm
  3. Thanks for this nice piece. You seemed to be echoing what I told one of my agents yesterday. Please tell us about the alternatives. I am very anxious

    4/10/2007 9:05 pm
  4. Buying a property is a huge financial risk/investment.

    Number 1 concern: What is the market likely to do in the future?
    Assuming you’re not clairvoyant, the next best thing an agent can offer is an analysis of the LOCAL real estate market.

    This is how you differentiate yourself from thousands of other agents. In effect, you become an expert in the geographical area that the buyers are interested in.

    Another concern: What are interests rates going? Offer an analysis of some sort.

    4/10/2007 11:00 pm
  5. A client of mine that I’ve helped implement aweber with is actually a very successful agent (top 5 in the state) using aweber email campaigns. He calls them "drip" campaigns.

    I’d be happy to hook you up with him if you’d like. I’ve made an aweber believer out of him and he’s doing amazingly well.

    Jim

    4/11/2007 2:30 pm
  6. Jim,

    That’d be great! If he’s interested, I’d love to get his feedback and talk to him about how he’s marketing to his clients.

    4/11/2007 3:30 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  7. Great peice, excellent advise.

    4/12/2007 11:56 am
  8. Good food for thoughts. It seems that the majority of websites are image sites which do nothing more than show off the credentials of the site owner and have a bunch of listings on them. This does nothing to buyer’s and seller’s problems. People want to know how their problems will be solved, such as how the heck do I get in a home (or out of one). email, like websites, needs to inform and captivate.

    4/30/2007 5:47 pm
  9. Realtors need to offer their cell phone number, a video of them speaking personally to the person visiting the site, and a fun incentive to stick around (stickiness of the page) the site, including, but not limited to, video games, a free report, a poll, perhaps include a funny video and an updated blog or quote or prize for daily visitors to get them returning.

    It seems that realtors have such inflated egos with their fancy suits, latest hairstyle that looks ridiculous, especially the ‘Jennifer Anniston’ doo when everyone else is doing this and it’s boring to begin with, anda their fancy credentials, that they seem as if they’re participating in their own myth.

    Be down to earth. Be fun. Be accessible. Offer free help. Establish trust and reliabliity.

    Thanks for the is article. It is well written and informative and we can all use this advice.

    Not a realtor but might become one one day

    6/5/2007 9:31 am
  10. Great advice. Our business isn’t just getting customers to buy a house, it getting them to buy two or three as investments. We need that compelling message to show our clients where the deals are. No one cares what the property looks like it is all in the numbers.

    Thanks! I will implement your tips right away.

    6/5/2007 9:17 pm
  11. By keeping "Top of Mind" with prospects, it will allow you to build a relationship with the prospect, whether they are buying or selling. Email and direct mail used together can be a powerful 1-2 punch.

    Consider adding a direct mail component to your campaigns. By approaching them from multiple mediums, you increase your chances for a future contact.

    Call Capture systems can gather mailing address information that you can use to supplement your database of contacts.

    Hope this helps..

    6/5/2007 11:54 pm
  12. Feature success stories… and I don’t mean just talking about recently sold properties either.

    Tell your readers about harsdhips sellers or buyers faced that you helped them overcome… and the same goes for buyers.

    Bring your readers "heart felt" stories that show you truly care bout your clients, other agents, other agent’s clients & more!

    Care… care… and care some more…

    6/6/2007 12:04 am
  13. Kris,

    Great point about being down to Earth and accessible. When your clients perceive you more as an individual/authentic as opposed to the archtype you noted, they’re going to come to you first – and again later.

    Lee,

    I agree – success stories are critical. I make some mention of this in my subsequent post on real estate marketing – but your point about overcoming difficulties even outside of the immediate transaction itself is well-taken, and one I didn’t think of before.

    6/6/2007 8:23 am | Follow me on Twitter
  14. Great Articles Justin,

    I especially liked the line that the realtor has not

    "given me any reason to contact you over the hundreds of other agents in your area…"

    This line hit the nail on the head for me. Give the potential client a reason to open up your weekly emails, maybe because you offer great information about future plans in the area, info on clubs and social groups, testimonials of happy buyers and sellers, discount coupons to local suppliers etc in addition to new listings.

    Developing a relationship within a newsletter campaign puts your name in the forefront of potential customers, so when they decide to take the next step you should be the one they turn to.

    Great job.
    P.S. I don’t see realtors using case studies as part of their marketing plans anymore?

    6/17/2007 1:29 pm
  15. Maria,

    Case studies are definitely a tool that realtors could use. They’re a great way to provide an example of how others are benefiting from your services, and testimonials naturally work their way into case studies.

    Another possibility would be to blog a client’s home purchase (or home sale), from their first meeting with you to the closing. This would give you the opportunity to work in advice/tips/testimonials with the story, as well as show potential customers all the work that you do on their behalf.

    6/18/2007 8:47 am | Follow me on Twitter
  16. I haven’t tried AWeber yet but I have been using drip email campaigns and they are intially time consuming to set up, but once it is set up it is a real time saver and pays off very quickly. I’ll probably give this service a try in the near future.

    7/10/2008 3:14 pm
  17. I want to get started on a Drip campaign. What is the best article or tutorial I can read to get started? I want to do about five emails spaced a week apart. Also, I want to embed video into my email newsletters. Should I just add a link to YouTube or is there a better way?

    9/22/2008 12:53 pm
  18. I haven’t done much with videos. My drip email includes the same or similar information I put in my blog entries. I recommend starting a blog, read other people’s blogs to get an idea of what looks good to you and what doesn’t, see what other people are blogging about, and then put together your drip email campaign and start managing your blog at the same time – killl two birds at the same time while building more traffic to your website – you do have a website right? You will be increasing your blog traffic, creating drip emails, getting customers to return to your site and submitting info a couple of different directions at the same time. Visit my website, request some information about a home, and you will start receiving my drip emails as an example….

    9/22/2008 3:13 pm
  19. The question many real estate brokers have is at what point should we prompt a visiting home buyer/ seller to provide their contact info or email address? Should Realtors or Agents ask for the site visitors name and email address prior to allowing them to view any real estate or should they be allowed to view x number of properties before having to register? Collecting visitors email addresses via newsletter signup or waiting for inquiries doesn’t always produce such great results. If you "open it all up" you end up having a ton of visitors (even real estate brokers) using your MLS data web site as a research tool. I am in favor of allowing 5-7 clicks before prompting them to sign-in.

    10/10/2008 10:34 pm
  20. Justin,

    Your blog series mentions much about methods & tips for us (brokers) to use email marketing towards our real estate buyers/ sellers….what about email marketing directly to other real estate brokers?

    I see others doing this to promote listings, open houses, etc. I looked into doing this on my own and found some services that wanted upwards of $100 to send out 1 email to brokers around me but this isn’t a longterm, ongoing solution that the email medium offers.

    I found a database/ list of over 1,000,000 USA real estate agents & brokers for $47, which is the same one used by the companies that charge hundreds of dollars to send out a couple of messages. If I purchase it then I own it and can send to it as I see fit. Has anyone else had success with this?

    I looked it over and it is Can Spam compliant:

    http://brokerbroadcast.com/cf/agentlist.htm

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    10/21/2008 12:20 am
  21. Joan,

    That’s something I strongly discourage you from doing.

    In addition to being prohibited at AWeber (see our Service Agreement and Knowledge Base), buying email addresses is spamming and simply not a good idea (see this post on our blog).

    CAN-SPAM compliant or not, buying email lists will bring you nothing but headache.

    10/21/2008 9:21 am | Follow me on Twitter
  22. Very informative. Lots of information to learn from.

    6/8/2010 3:11 pm
  23. Justin,

    Very good information. I end up reading your post while searching an effective sample email.
    I would like to know if you can let me see any sample.

    11/28/2010 4:16 pm
  24. Thanks for the useful Real Estate informational post! I have reviewed your blog carefully.
    Thanks

    10/7/2011 7:26 pm
  25. I agree, we really need to step up our game, so to speak, and start thinking of new ways to market via email. I think it’s always best if you do something that no one else does, make your own path…

    10/30/2011 5:58 pm
  26. It’s hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    11/18/2011 9:47 am
  27. Six years later this is still relevant. Providing listings is just part of the equation…we need to ensure quality information about the local market, subdivisions, FAQs, etc. are also made available. Whatever we do, canned drip campaigns are NOT the answer.

    9/22/2013 12:13 pm
  28. Very informative. Lots of information to learn from.

    1/12/2014 1:07 am

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