One of the oldest forms of marketing via technology is email marketing. With the proliferation of email and an influx of marketers entering the email marketing arena, however, email marketing has lost some of its usefulness. According to a 2013 Constant Contact study, the average open rate of a real estate-related email is 17.49%. (Source) While this may seem like a low percentage, it’s still a considerable amount of people that you can be reaching. With a few extra steps, incorporating email marketing into your online business strategy could prove profitable. So, how do you start?
Understand the Rules
Before you being on any venture into marketing, you have to understand the rules. Just as there’s a “Do Not Call” list for telemarketing, there’s a “stop spamming me” act called the CAN-SPAM Act for email. The Federal Trade Commission has a number of rules and regulations surrounding email marketing that you should review before you begin.
The biggest issues I’ve seen real estate agents encounter with email marketing are two-fold:
#1. Stop using your regular email service for email marketing.
Your email, whether it be GMail or Outlook or any other program, was not designed for mass email on a regular basis. Continuous use of your usual email service for email marketing can result in you getting permanently locked out of your email account. If a number of receiving email programs or people identify your email messages as spam, your email provider can shut down your account without notice.
#2. Stop sending out email without an opt-out message.
I often receive email marketing messages, usually sent through regular email providers, that give me no apparent ability to opt out of receiving future messages. Not only is this extremely annoying and tends to dissipate any goodwill toward that agent, any email marketing message without an opt-out or unsubscribe message is in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, and thus makes you subject to hefty fines.
Use a Known Email Marketing Program
Most email marketing providers nowadays have all of the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act automatically built into their systems. You don’t necessarily need to make a big investment in a 3rd-party provider; most CRM [Client Relationship Management] systems (e.g. Top Producer, Market Leader) have built-in email marketing systems. These systems make it very easy to import addresses, build email messages, schedule and send out emails with opt-out messages. If your current CRM doesn’t provide you with an email marketing system, there are excellent, inexpensive options you can explore like MailChimp and Constant Contact.
You’re not limited to traditional email marketing, if that’s not sustainable in your business plan. Companies like BombBomb and Happy Grasshopper offer unique alternatives to email marketing with proven results. BombBomb offers both traditional email marketing templates and embeddable video options. You can quickly and easily customize an email message with video without needing fancy equipment. With some personalized input, Happy Grasshopper will create a complete email marketing campaign, tailored just for you and your clientele. If you don’t have any extra time on your hands to spend on marketing, Happy Grasshopper may work for you!
Test and Measure
Whatever method of email marketing you choose, you shouldn’t just implement something and walk away. No matter what kind of offline or online marketing you use, you should have a plan and consistently know the efficiency of your investment. Without a plan or measurements, your email marketing will fail. Before you begin sending anything out, know what kind of content you want your messaging to contain. Understand your audience, and what they want from you. Watch your open rates and your bounce rates, as open rates will give you an indication of the efficacy of your headlines and content (and effort!), and bounce rates will let you know you need to get updated contact information from your clients.
Make It Fun!
Finally, have fun with your email marketing, and make it fun for your audience. Entice opens with interesting headlines (not just “April Real Estate Newsletter”), play around with the content and throw in some “C&C” (coupons and contests) to encourage interaction. Remember that in an age of short attention spans, images and graphics are more likely to convey information than paragraphs of written content. If you’re including written information, keep it short and sweet and easy to read.
Email marketing can be an effective part of your online marketing plan, as long as you prepare properly, stay consistent with your messaging and continue to test, measure and tailor.