Email Marketing for
Real Estate

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.

Audit Your Existing Email Marketing Program

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.

If You’re Not Sure Where to Start With an Audit, Here Are Some Things to Consider :
  • Your KPIs : What are your KPIs – and are you hitting them? Is email helping you to onboard new buyers? To add new property to your portfolio? To keep up with landlords and tenants?
  • Your Engagement Data : Engagement data can tell you an awful lot about what’s working for you and what isn’t. Look at the emails that are getting the most opens, clicks, and so on. If you’ve segmented your audiences (for example, into buyers and sellers), compare engagement rates and styles with audiences. How can you use this knowledge to boost engagement going forward?
  • Subscriber Source Data : Subscriber source data tells you where your subscribers found you. For example, they may have signed up after seeing an ad on social media, they may have been recommended by a friend whose house you sold, your print ads may have caught their eye, and so on.

    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.

  • Remember : what we’ve gone through above are just general recommendations for conducting an email marketing audit. Don’t forget to think about and include metrics specific to your particular real estate subscribers.

Create an Email Marketing 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.

Here Are the Key Areas to Consider :

  • Understand the Difference Between ‘Strategy’ and ‘Tactics’ : Tactics are a big part of any good strategy. But they’re not the strategy itself. Instead, they’re the tools you use to deliver your strategy to your audience.

    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.

  • Review the Current Marketing Situation : If you conducted one, your email marketing audit will have given you a rough idea of the situation with your specific program. Now it’s time to take a step back and consider the larger context. What’s going on with your brand, what’s going on with the property market in your area, and what’s the current situation like in general?

You can establish this by using the analytical frameworks SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and PESTLE (Political Economic Social Technological Legal Ethical):

SWOT

  • Strengths – What have you got going for you? What could you leverage to get the very best out of your resources?
  • Weaknesses – What aren’t you so good at? What should you work on improving, or try to avoid?
  • Opportunities – Sometimes, opportunities and weaknesses can be very similar. For example, a disengaged audience segment could be seen as a weakness, or it could present you with an opportunity to do an engagement drive and break into new audiences.
  • Threats – What’s standing in your way?
PESTLE

  • Political – How could the current political situation (for example, things like local lockdowns and restrictions on house moving) affect your marketing?
  • Economic – Are things like interest rates, economic policy, and the general economic climate likely to have an impact on you and/or your customers?
  • Social – How are social factors (like the current zeitgeist, pressing social issues etc) likely to affect your marketing? Should you engage with or avoid certain issues?
  • Technological – Is there new technology coming available, which could help you to deliver your message? For example, many real estate brands are now using VR technology to deliver virtual tours of available properties.
  • Legal – How might legal issues, such as misrepresentation legislation, or data protection affect your operation?
  • Ethical – Modern consumers demand ethically sound services. What are you doing to ensure that you’re beyond reproach.
  • Define Your Goals and Objectives – Armed with greater knowledge of your brand, your audience, and the wider context, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts: what do you want to achieve with your email marketing?

    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.

The Best Goals and Objectives Are SMART :


  • Specific – clear and precise, not vague and open to interpretation.
  • Measurable – goals and objectives should ideally be linked to specific metrics. This enables you to measure and track your progress.
  • Achievable – it’s great to be ambitious, but it’s also important to be realistic. Make sure that your goals and objectives are genuinely attainable with the resources you have.
  • Relevant – each objective should be tied to the overarching goal, and ideally to the values and mission of your brand.
  • Timely – set an end time for each objective. Objectives with open-ended time frames tend to slow up your campaign’s overall drive.

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.

  • Establish some tactics : Tactics are the fun part! Here’s where you get to break out your creativity and come up with fun ways to engage your audience and build those all-important relationships.

    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.

  • Evaluate : You should perform a full evaluation and analysis at the end of each marketing campaign, sure. But evaluation also needs to be an ongoing thing – something you build into your strategy from the bones up.

    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

Build a List of Contacts

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:

  • Provide Plenty of Subscription Opportunities : Don’t make people hunt hard for your subscription link. Put it in plain sight, wherever you can. From QR codes on printed media to subscription links in your company blog, make it nice and easy for people to sign up for your emails.

    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.

This Example From Trulia is Perfect:
Click to preview

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.

  • Don’t Buy Lists : Purchasing contact lists from third parties is increasingly becoming illegal across the globe. Even where it’s theoretically legal, it’s still unethical, and can deliver serious blows to your sender reputation.

    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.

  • Offer Incentives : Every marketing interaction should provide value. Start as you mean to go on! Whether you’re telling potential subscribers about all the benefits they’ll enjoy from your emails, or you’re offering a free gift to new subscribers (in the below example, new subscribers gain a free book in PDF form), incentives are a fantastic way to bring in new leads.
Click to preview

Segment Your Contacts for Greater Relevance and Personalization

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.

Check Out This Example From Jaclyn Konopka:
Click to preview

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.

Features by Which to Segment Could Include :

  • Neighborhood
  • Buying/Selling
  • Style Of Property
  • Price Range
  • First Time/Veteran Buyer

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.

Create Different Types of Email Template

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:

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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.

Compose Winning Subject Lines

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:

  • Keep It Short : How short? Honestly, as short as you can get it without losing relevance. Some email clients only display a tiny snippet of your subject line, so it really is worth condensing as much as possible.

    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.

  • Keep It Focused on the Subject of Your Email : Don’t deceive people with a subject line which promises something the email can’t deliver. That will frustrate your audience and reduce their trust in you as a sender.

    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.

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    A/B test your email features

    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.

    Use automations

    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.

    Check deliverability issues

    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.

    Here are some things to think about when optimizing your deliverability:
    • Your sender reputation : Your sender reputation is affected by things like low engagement, spamtraps, spam reports, and son on. Basically, if your engagement metrics start dropping, ISPs get suspicious that you might be a spammer, and they could block you from the inbox or send your content straight to ‘Spam’. Keep your list clean and make sure you’re sending real estate content that they find relevant and engaging in order to improve your sender reputation.
    • Your subject lines : We’ve gone into this above, but it’s worth repeating here! Your subject lines provide audiences with that all-important first impression. Nail your subject lines, and deliverability will improve no end.
    • Your disengaged users : Sometimes, users fall out of love with you. It happens. Maybe they’ve bought their house and your emails are no longer relevant to them. Maybe they’ve moved out of your area. Whatever the reason, they’ve quit reading your emails. Sometimes, you can entice disengaged users back with a re-engagement campaign, but other times it’s best to let them go. Help people to leave gracefully (rather than getting frustrated and hitting the spam button!) by making it easy for them to unsubscribe.
    • Use double opt-ins : By using double opt-ins, you can make really, really sure that your subscribers want to hear from you right at the get go. Not only does making the opt-in process more thorough make it impossible for people to subscribe accidentally, it also shows that they’re engaged enough with your brand to put more than a throwaway click into signing up.

    Email Marketing for Real Estate


    • Step 1: Audit Your Existing Email Marketing Program
    • Step 2 : Create an Email Marketing Strategy
    • Step 3: Build a List of Contacts
    • Step 4 : Segment Your Contacts for Greater Relevance and Personalization.
    • Step 5: Create Different Types of Email Template
    • Step 6: Compose Winning Subject Lines
    • Step 7: A/b Test Your Email Features
    • Step 8: Use Automations
    • Step 9: Check Deliverability Issues

    Case Study: BREL Real Estate, Toronto

    Click to preview

    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.

    Making Email Work for Your Agency

    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.

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