Do you remember when we liked getting email? We liked it so much that Hollywood once made an entire movie about it. In You’ve Got Mail, the charming and feisty shop owner (played by Meg Ryan) had an email flirtation with the business savvy but slightly annoying corporate executive (played by Tom Hanks.) Each time they heard the addicting ding signifying a new message, they couldn’t wait to read it. Remember that feeling? It goes without saying that these days, things may have changed a little bit.

It’s estimated that the average adult spends between 3 and 6 hours of his or her working day on email. (source) Surprisingly, there are more email users than social media users, with an estimated 255 million email users in the US projected by 2020. And, it’s estimated that over 90% of people check their emails daily. That may account for a general lack of excitement when it comes to emails these days. And yet, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach your database consistently.

The fact is, email marketing continues to score higher conversion rates than searches and social media combined, and emails deliver a 122% return on investment. 80% of sales professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Compare that to the next closest channel, social media, at just 44%. (source)

As a Realtor, your email list is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. It’s not only key to reaching your past, present and potential clients, but it can be one of the easiest ways to create and build relationships with them. So how do you build a powerful email list? Here are some guidelines:

Define your goals.

Start by determining why you are reaching out. Are you converting leads? Staying in touch with past clients? Creating referral relationships? Nurturing your geographical farm? Staying top of mind with future clients? Establishing yourself as an expert? Creating a tribe of fans & influencers? Each of these are great reasons to communicate with your database. Having goals will help you to consistently deliver messaging that adds value.

TIP:   Choose one or two key goals for your list, and then expand over time.
Build your list to last.

It’s tempting to simply dump all of your contacts into your database and start filling their inboxes with stuff. This is the worst way to go about it. There are laws preventing you from spamming people, so you’ll need to allow your subscribers to opt in legally. You will also need to ensure that you are using a mail service that allows for an unsubscribe option on each of your emails. The very best list is built over time, with subscribers opting in from your website, via a landing page or a sign up option. These types of subscribers are much more likely to read and respond to your communications, and much less likely to unsubscribe or report your emails as spam.

TIP:   Use a tool like MailChimp to manage your list and send your emails. It allows you to create a template so you are not starting from scratch each time.
Segment smart.

This can be the most time consuming process, but it’s worth every minute of effort. Breaking your list into categories will make sure you get the very best results from your marketing.

Often we are taught to divide our contacts into categories such as “hot, warm & cold” – but the more specific you can be, the more you can tailor your messaging. Consider creating several categories or tags, which allow you to customize content for each group. Some examples:

  • Buyers
  • Sellers

  • Homeowners

  • Hot / Warm leads

  • First time buyers

  • Past buyers / future sellers

  • Referrers

  • Vendors / Partners

  • Just looking

  • Farming area

  • Investors

  • Family & friends

  • Other Realtors

  • Renters

  • People with kids

  • People with pets

  • For Sale by Owners

  • Expired listings

TIP:   Many of your contacts will be in more than one category.
Target your message.

It’s not just about putting people into lists. It’s about learning the right questions to ask so you can provide just the right response. Once you have categories, you can start to create a profile of the contacts in that group. For example, you might provide very different messaging to first time buyers than you will to current homeowners. Once you know their needs, fears, motivations, and frustrations, you can speak to them directly. A first time buyer will benefit from rent vs buy comparisons, seasonal stats, and neighborhood information, whereas a current homeowner might be more interested in comparable sales and local events.

TIP:   Your goal is twofold – not to send everyone in your database the same thing, and to send more than listings. Both of these will set you apart from your competition.
Be consistent.

Once you have your list segmented and you have determined the needs and interests of each segment, the most important part of the process is consistency. Sending too often can be off-putting, and sending too infrequently can result in less engagement. Email marketing works best when it’s consistent in both delivery and tone. Schedule your emails to be delivered on a particular date and time. Many email marketing tools have analytics that allow you to calculate the best time to send for your list.

TIP:   Your email marketing messages should sound like you – so don’t be afraid to incorporate your own tone and personality. Remember, this is a personal message from you!
hand on tablet with papers
Track your results.

Once you start your email marketing campaigns, don’t set them and forget them. Track whom is opening them, what links they are clicking on, and which calls to action are most effective. This will tell you which content you should provide more of!

TIP:   Remember to adjust your lists as your contact’s status changes, and add new leads and contacts as you grow.
Shake it up.

Last, but not least, look for creative ways and reasons to reach out to your lists. Weekly notes, monthly newsletters, neighborhood alerts and developments – these are all great ways to stay in touch. Include seasonal needs such as local event information, tax assessment data, and market news.

TIP:   Remember that you are positioning yourself as the local expert, so don’t forget to include those local tidbits that showcase the community.

The most important thing to remember about email marketing is that you are addressing the needs, questions, and concerns of your contacts. Double check that all of your messaging isn’t just about you. If you are providing real value, email marketing to your database can be one of the most effective and rewarding ways to turn leads into relationships.