The personal touch has always been key to the real estate business. Buying and selling homes and property can be a very personal thing. That’s why many realtors try to provide face-to-face services wherever possible, from guiding folks around a property to sitting down at a desk and working out the fine details together.
However, it’s not possible to be there in person all the time – especially when it comes to marketing. Realtors need a form of marketing which can provide that personal touch from afar.
Email is the perfect marketing platform for developing close and personal relationships with your customers and subscribers. For a start, emails land in the individual subscriber’s own inbox rather than being shown to a more general audience on open media. So, from the get-go, it’s a much more intimate form of communication. Then there’s the fact that email allows for almost unlimited personalisation techniques, allowing you to give your email subscribers content that’s relevant for them (often in real-time).
A 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors discovered that 93% of realtors prefer to communicate with their clients by email. It’s more personal than social media and, dollar, email marketing delivers the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
Personal human connection is vital for building customer relationships that convert in the real estate world. And email is by far the best channel through which to build those relationships.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to set up your own email marketing operation for your real estate business, with the help of this handy guide.
Here, we’ll go into how realtors can use email marketing to engage with customers and prospects online, and nurture both buyers and sellers through each step of their real estate journey.
Email is an integral part of the real estate business, so it’s likely that you’ve already got much of what you need in your existing email operation. Running an audit will help you to take stock of the current state of play, and give you an idea of what you can build upon.
Subscriber source data tells you a lot about what’s drawing people to you. If you don’t have source data, don’t worry – it’s not a dealbreaker! There’s still tons you can do with your audit. But we do recommend that you build source data gathering into your new strategy.
We recommend that you do some deep research into strategizing if you want to be the very best email marketer you possibly can – it’s a big topic, and there’s a lot to learn!
Real estate agents have a head start when it comes to strategy. Buying and selling property requires a lot of strategizing! Now, it’s time to take what you know about strategy, and apply it to your email marketing.
Think of it like baking a cake. The ingredients you use to make the cake are your tactics. The recipe is your strategy. Without the strategy, your tactics are just a mess on the kitchen counter.
You can establish this by using the analytical frameworks SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and PESTLE (Political Economic Social Technological Legal Ethical):
Do you want to encourage more property sales? To shift those hard-to-sell lots? To reach a wider audience? To raise awareness of a new service you’re offering?
Whatever you want to achieve, it’s important to clearly define your goals and objectives.
Goals are the end result that you seek. Objectives are waymarkers along the way. So, for example, your end goal might be ‘Add more property to the company portfolio’. An objective helping you towards that goal might be something like ‘Get more engagement from prospective sellers’.
Clear and well-defined goals and objectives are vital for reaching your ultimate goal.
Know Your Audience – Your audience are at the beating heart of your strategy. Everything you do is to feed and nurture your audience.
Real estate audiences tend to be pretty diverse. From first-time buyers to career landlords and everyone in between, realtors deal with a huge range of people.
In order to reach every customer and client on a personal and engaging level, it’s important to study your audience data deeply, consistently, and on an ongoing basis.
The better you know your audience, the better the content you can deliver to them, and the better your ultimate results will be.
Tactics like segmentation (which we’ll be going into in more detail later) can really help you to get deep and personalized insights into your audience’s likes, dislikes, preferences, pain points, engagement styles, and more.
But remember – there’s a reason why you did all that auditing and strategizing before approaching this point. To get the very best results from your tactics, you need to tie them closely to your goals and objectives. The more relevant your tactics are to your wider strategy, the better they’ll work.
By providing yourself with ways to track your metrics and KPIs, you can adjust your strategy and tactics in real-time, steering your campaign towards opportunities and dodging any problems which loom on the horizon.
For more on how to build the perfect email marketing strategy, check out our guide
This step is why we mentioned subscriber sources back at the audit stage. Knowing where your subscribers are coming from is a massive help when you’re trying to maximize organic gains. For example, if a lot of people are signing up to your email from signs outside properties you’re selling, it’s worth making the email link on these signs even more prominent and inviting.
The ways in which you build your subscriber list will probably be personal to your brand and your customers – but here are a couple of general rules to get you started:
However, while making your subscription link visible and easily accessible, try not to make it too obtrusive. If you use a popup, make it easy for the customer to dismiss. Don’t let your subscription link get in the way of the content your customer came to see.
The signup button is prominent, well-placed, and well-designed, but it’s not impeding the customer’s experience of the page.
Don’t forget that you can build your list face to face as well as online. Realtors do a lot of face-to-face with our clients – use these opportunities to gather email addresses. Hand out signup forms at open houses, viewings, and so on.
The signup form is prominent, well-placed, and well-designed, but it’s not impeding the customer’s experience of the page.
Your sender reputation is what ISPs use to determine whether or not your email is worthy of landing in the inbox, or whether it should be bounced or sent to spam. The chances of falling into a spamtrap (sending to an inactive or fake address, thus telling ISPs that you’re not engaged with your audience and may be a spammer) is much, much higher than average if you’re using a list bought from a third party.
Once you’ve fallen into a spamtrap, it’s very hard to dig your sender reputation out. So, only use contacts that you’ve gathered with direct consent.
This is where we circle back to that ‘personal connection’ stuff we were talking about earlier.
As we’ve mentioned, the personal touch is key to running a successful real estate agency. Especially in this hyper-connected world.
Modern consumers are bombarded with digital pitches for their attention at every moment of the day. So, with a surfeit of choice and (often) a deficit of mental energy to spare, they will only dedicate their precious attention to things which are relevant to them.
If your content is not catering to the individual’s personality, preferences, and tastes – well, there are hundreds of other real estate brands out there who are.
So, it’s vital to bring that personal touch into play. Make your emails as relevant and personal to the individual customer as possible.
The content here is friendly and personal. By addressing the customer directly, JK establishes a sense of personal relationship right from the get-go.
This email is targeted exclusively to people who are selling their home. JK have segmented their list, to make sure that everyone is getting content relevant to their particular needs.
By dividing their contacts into ‘segments’ according to certain criteria, they can fine-tune their content to appeal on a more personal level than would otherwise be possible. You can do the same.
You may find it helpful to assign ‘personas’ to your segments, based on the engagement patterns and data points which are most relevant to them.
For example, you could call your first-time-buyer segment ‘Sam’, and assign ‘Sam’ characteristics like ‘Younger’, ‘Technologically engaged’, ‘Likes more informal language’, ‘Uses mobile more than desktop interfaces’ and so on.
For a more detailed look at segmentation, read our in-depth guide here.
Email templates will save you a lot of work down the line when it comes to content creation. We recommend coming up with a variety of templates for different types of email, tweaked and adjusted to suit the needs of each of your segments.
Templates are especially useful when combined with automations. We’ll be going into this in more detail later – but, in brief, when you set up automations to respond to certain behavioral ‘triggers’ from customers, the automation will be able to deploy the relevant template automatically, in real-time’ (for example, someone requesting a meeting may automatically get an email acknowledging their request etc).
Here are a few email categories to consider creating templates for:
Virtual tours of property for sale.
Newsletters, like this one from Palos Verdes Real Estate.
Invitations such as open houses – like this one from John Smith Realty:
New Listing Alerts : These are especially useful when targeted closely to each of your segments, based on their property needs. Here’s a great example targeting people looking for a new family home:Click to preview
And then, of course, there are the miscellaneous templates which will be unique to your brand. Answering property-related queries, for example, or sharing testimonials, or directing prospective buyers to affiliated services like surveyors and mortgage brokers.
Subject lines give your customer their first impression of you. If you can dazzle them at this stage, you’re off to a great start.
For something that’s only 45 useful characters long, your subject line has a lot on its shoulders!
Given both the short format and the importance of your subject lines, it’s worth putting a lot of work into composing them. Here are some tips:
Put the most important words at the beginning. As above, email clients often only show the very first portion of your subject line. Plus, it’s likely that your audience will only give the subject lines in their inbox a very quick glance before deciding what to click. Get to the quickly.
For example, to a new customer, a subject line like “Our next steps” is short, to the point, and tells the customer exactly what to expect when they open the email (without giving away too much at the outset!).
The use of first names in subject lines can make them feel more personal – but first names may also take up a lot of valuable character space. Asking direct questions (“Still interested in [PROPERTY]?”) can have the same personal effect while simultaneously making it clear what the email is about.
There are various ways to compose winning subject lines, and they’re changing all the time. As customers grow tired of old formats, new ones pop up to take their place. That’s one reason why automations are increasingly being used to compose subject lines.
By parsing the data from millions of subject lines and their engagement metrics, automations can help to pinpoint the perfect keywords, to direct your phrasing, and to guide you towards the themes which will make your customers click.
A/B testing helps you to get down to the nitty gritty of what is and what is not working for you.
For example, if you’re struggling to get the clickthroughs you need, you can A/B test things like CTAs and templates to establish where the problem is and how you can solve it.
For A/B testing, you need elements aligned to a specific metric. For example, subject lines align well with opens. While nothing is set in stone and sometimes metrics may align with surprising features, it usually doesn’t take long to isolate the feature which could benefit from A/B testing against your problem metric.
To A/B test, you send out different versions of your content to portions of your list, and use the subsequent engagement metrics to work out which format works best for you. It’s a hugely helpful thing to do both for ironing out the wrinkles in your campaign’s performance and for learning about your audience’s preferences.
For a better idea of how this works, check out our video.
Automations are a massive help to marketers. They take a huge burden from the shoulders of human workers, and perform complex tasks with a speed and efficiency which adds massive value for customers.
Running the right automations will free you up to concentrate on doing what you do best – selling property.
Because they never take breaks or time off, automations are also capable of connecting with customers in real-time. Human marketers cannot possibly respond in a timely and personal manner to every single ‘trigger’ behavior across your digital channels. But automations can.
For example, when someone requests a property’s details from your website, an automation can automatically dispatch those details to their inbox immediately. This not only makes the customer feel acknowledged, it also capitalizes on their real-time impulse to purchase property.
This kind of real-time engagement capitalizes on those ‘in the moment’ impulse clicks, as well as ensuring that your engagement levels always stay high.
Automations are great for ‘drip campaigns’ – email campaigns built into multiple workflows and automated to keep customers engaged via a constant ‘drip feed’ of content.
For example, home buyer leads can be fed new property emails as and when something relevant comes onto the market. Or a roundup of housing market data can be sent to your clients on a semi-regular basis. New or first time buyers can be sent buyer resources, and sellers can be sent content which will help them to sell their homes.
Automations aren’t just for drip campaigns, however. They can also be used to keep your lists in order and your campaigns running smoothly. For example, automations can help you to clean (remove disengaged or inactive users) and dynamically segment your lists with far more speed and efficiency than a human marketer ever could. They’ll also feed back a constant stream of data which you can use to draw valuable insights about almost every element of your campaign.
Much of the work done by automations is the kind of thing that human marketers would find tedious, fiddly, and labor-intensive. For example, things like the list-cleaning we mentioned above are absolutely vital for keeping your sender reputation high and for dodging spamtraps – but it’s dull (and a massive time drain!) for a human marketer to go through your lists and pick out the disengaged by hand. An automation, however, can do this tirelessly and speedily, in the background, on a constant basis.
Landing in a customer’s inbox may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s actually one of the most challenging aspects of any email marketing campaign. Deliverability is vital, so it’s worth getting it sorted early.
Covid 19 was a tricky time for real estate agencies, and BREL Real Estate in Toronto was no exception. To re-engage their subscribers and to re-ignite the market when property started moving again, they launched a friendly, upbeat campaign encouraging people to (safely!) get back out there.
As you can see from these examples, their strategy focused around a positive, dynamic tone. That’s set right at the start with “We’re baaaaaaccck!”Click to preview
As the email continues, BREL adds value for their customers by providing relevant, up-to-the-minute articles on how to sell a home safely during coronavirus and so on. These are well laid out, with engaging graphics and clear CTAs.Click to preview
They’ve driven home the personal touch both through that friendly, informal language and the pictures of the team. As personal connection is so important in the real estate business, it’s great that the team have provided a tangible link to their human selves in this email.
What you can’t see from this email content is all the behind the scenes work which went into creating it: the segmentation which allowed BREL to target customers interested in selling their homes, the market research which told them what customers were concerned about and the content which could encourage them to put their fears aside and safely buy, the development of goals and objectives which helped them to deploy this strong, engaging tone.
All in all, BREL have developed an email marketing strategy which allows them to reach out to customers in a strong, positive, and personal way during a difficult time.
For many realtors, email marketing has been the key to unlocking peak performance.
With the right email marketing strategy, you too could use email to develop customer relationships which ensure that you’ll be the one everyone turns to for buying and selling real estate.
We hope that you’ve found this guide helpful. If you’d like to learn more from us about the art of email marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us.