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Creating content and sharing it with your sphere of influence is a major goal for many agents. However, it can be frustrating to put together an email blast then watch it go unopened and unread, with no follow-up questions or conversations.
“Too many agents are just hitting forward on market reports that the national franchise is writing for the agent,” said Craig Rowe of Inman. Being active and engaged yourself is key to ensuring the effectiveness of an email marketing strategy.
How, then, do you create content that gets your email marketing material opened, read and responded to? Here are some expert tips to ensure your email strategy produces better results.
Which email product should I use for my email newsletter?
Real estate agents have a host of options, including standalone products such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact as well as the email capabilities of the agent’s brokerage-provided CRM. Deciding which product to use depends in large part on the purpose of the newsletter and the location and shape of your database.
According to Rowe, for many agents, the email newsletter or marketing effort is not intended to be a standalone element but is going to be tied to other aspects of their digital marketing.
Since most emails are intended to drive traffic to a website or blog, promote a virtual open house or new listing, or promote some existing content, Rowe suggests using the email marketing feature in the CRM you’re currently using. That will offer a more integrated and convenient way to accomplish the overall marketing task.
If you don’t like or don’t use your CRM, you can use a standalone service or an integrated content provider and email marketing service. According to Mike Feller, the chief revenue officer of ActivePipe, a service like theirs allows you to both distribute the content they provide then manage the data associated with it — all within the same product.
Avoid getting marked as spam
Whatever product you use, you’ll need to ensure that your email reaches its intended audience and doesn’t get sent to a spam folder. According to Rowe, in terms of keeping your delivery as clean as possible, there’s not much difference among the different email products.
“From a security perspective, they’re all going to be the same because they all have the same CAN-SPAM Act rules to abide by, so they’re all held to the same standard of security,” he said.
Danielle Cyr, vice president of integrated marketing at Co-Communications, offers three big things to watch out for:
- Be sure to work with an opt-in email list.
- Avoid words that trigger SPAM filters.
- Stop sending to recipients who bounce or unsubscribe.
By practicing good email list hygiene, you can avoid a majority of potential deliverability problems.
How does the design of my email affect deliverability?
According to Rowe, the design of an email — photos, graphics and other elements as well as text — should not make much of a difference in terms of getting past firewalls and into inboxes.
Depending on the recipient’s security settings, some images may not load initially. However, you should still include images in your design, and the recipient can choose whether or not to open them.
Rowe’s one exception is with content that’s meant to read as personal — perhaps a follow-up communication or a high-interest email sent out to a select group of recipients. These can be formatted as a text-only email to make them look and feel more personal and more targeted.
For maximum deliverability, Feller suggests checking text-to-image ratios and optimizing as needed. Rowe concurs here, adding that image quality is also important: “You can’t just throw any image in there.”
For Cyr, the subject line is of premium importance. “If your subject line doesn’t convey value and compel people to open the email, the content is nearly inconsequential.” She suggests monitoring open rates for both subject line and timing to determine which may be causing the problem and to avoid topics that are becoming over-saturated.
“If you look outside real estate to healthcare, for example, COVID fatigue is a huge issue, and declining open rates aren’t unlikely,” she said. Look for similar topics that readers may be over familiar with or tired of in your own content repertoire.
How often should I send out an email blast?
Feller says that stats in the email marketing space generally say that it takes “7-13 touch points with a client to get to a transaction. We are seeing more and more data points that consumers are simply not ready to speak to an agent immediately after submitting an inquiry.”
For as many as 95 to 97 percent of potential clients, consistent value-added communication and content is the most important element of your email marketing effort. “They will raise their hand when they are ready to talk,” said Feller.
Rowe suggests gradual increases in emails until you find the right formula. If you’re just starting out, you may want to begin with twice-a-month communication, then gradually increase until it’s weekly.
The most important thing, however, no matter what your frequency, is consistency. “Far too many agents see [email marketing] as a passive marketing effort and something they should do. Just like blogging, if you do it, you’ve got to commit to it and make a concerted, consistent effort,” said Rowe.
How can I increase engagement in order to create better results?
We asked our experts what hacks they could suggest for driving increased engagement, and higher open and response rates. Here are five factors to focus on.
“The most productive email marketing is going to come from segmenting,” said Rowe. “If you have people who are interested in ‘X’ create a separate list and send them things that are only focused on that topic. That improves your messaging and subject line relevance.”
According to Feller, meeting clients where they are in the buyer or seller journey and letting that drive highly personalized content will help build a good, engaged audience. Value-added information that shows your expertise is a must.
3. Client Focus
People like to learn about themselves, according to Cyr, so it’s important to keep the focus on the client and his or her needs. Know where they are in the process and what they’re looking for — valuations, listings or other personalized information — to drive engagement.
According to Cyr, “Conveying an email is time-sensitive or an offer is time-bound can help boost an open rate.” That could involve making a webinar or special piece of relevant content available with a deadline for signup.
“The best way to know what content your audience wants is to ask them. A five-question survey to clients and partners about the content they want from you over email and social can save a lot of headaches and ensure resources are being allocated to topics/activities that will yield the greatest ROI,” said Cyr.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.