If you had to guess the most effective digital media tool for acquiring new customers, what would you say? Facebook? Twitter?

Why market through email? It’s still the #1 mobile activity, it’s what more people do first thing in the morning — even before that first cup of coffee — AND, it’s free!

While Facebook and Twitter rank high on the list of marketing and lead generation media, email marketing has been found to be 40% more effective in generating new leads than Facebook and Twitter combined. In fact, email marketing is considered to be the medium with the highest ROI, even over TV and traditional print advertising!

According to Optin Monster, a popular email marketing platform, Email marketing yields $44 back for every $1 you spend – a 4400% ROI.” But just sending out a handful of emails won’t ensure a 4400% return on investment. If you want to see this kind of return, here are 6 things you’ll need to do before clicking “send.”

1. Gather quality leads.

You MUST collect quality leads from a variety of sources: open houses, website traffic, social media campaigns, and even through conversations at outings and events. (Need to build more leads? Check out some ideas here.) Remember, if someone willingly shares their name, email address and/or phone number, treat this information like gold, because it is.

2. “Segment” your list.

We will assume you have already chosen a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform that fits all the needs of your real estate business. If you still need help finding one, check out this list of real estate CRMs from Capterra.

Once you have the leads entered into your CRM, you’ll want to “segment” your list, which means creating categories or “buckets” for different types of leads. A well-segmented list allows you to 1) keep the records organized, and 2) more effectively meet their individual needs.

There are many ways to segment your email list. A good place to start is by separating leads into buyers and sellers, then according to where they are in their transactional journey. Are they looking to purchase their first home? Are they current homeowners getting ready to sell? You’ll want to note the source — where you collected their contact info. Did you get it from an open house, through a referral, or maybe through a social media campaign? Don’t forget to ask them about their hobbies, affiliations, and interests in a natural way in conversation and record this data in your CRM. It would be easy to do a quick search of all your leads who enjoy cycling and send a friendly email letting them know about the upcoming summer sale at the local bike shop. “Hey, Joe, I saw an advertisement for this sale and thought you might be interested!” They would probably appreciate the thought!

3. Send appropriately timed emails.

Once you have your list properly segmented, it’s time to start sending appropriately timed, relevant emails.

How many emails are too many? Zeroing in on just the right email send frequency can be tricky. It is important to stay engaged with your leads so that you are the Realtor® they think about when it’s time to buy or sell, but you don’t want to barrage them with daily doses of what will essentially become background noise. Instead of a daily email, consider setting up a high-quality “drip” (a sequence of emails used to “drip” relevant information) every few days.

For example, if they are hot leads, it may make sense to set up a drip email that sends an introduction email on day 1, then a market update email 2-3 days later. If your leads are current homeowners looking to sell, you might consider sending a “Free Home Estimate” email a few days after that.

The goal is to slowly bring these leads into your sales funnel, step-by-step. After sending them relevant, useful content on a consistent basis, they’ll start to feel like they already know you. When they’re ready to buy or sell, you’ll be the agent they turn to.

Keep in touch with clients through email beyond the current purchase or sale. Make note of special dates like anniversaries of their home purchase or their birthdays and continue sending warm, friendly emails throughout the year.

4. Write compelling subject lines.

Just as the 3 most important things in real estate are “location, location, location,” the 3 most important aspects of a successful email are “subject line, subject line, subject line!” According to Invesp, a company that uses customer research and analytics to increase conversions (the act of “converting” a lead to a customer), “In a sea of run-of-the-mill marketing emails, it is not enough for your message to simply arrive in an inbox. Your email also needs to be opened.

How do you get the reader’s attention by making your subject line stand out? Here are some ideas for higher open rates:

  • First, make it short and sweet. Long subject lines will get cut off, so try to include the most powerful, relevant words at the beginning of the subject.
  • In most cases, you want to indicate what will be in the content of the email, so avoid any kind of false advertising.
  • Try experimenting with odd or unexpected subject lines on occasion. (If you use this tactic too often, it could become tiresome or expected.)
  • Ask a compelling question that poses a direct challenge and promises helpful, personal information. People want to know what mistakes to avoid, what they should and shouldn’t be doing. “Are you making these mistakes?” “What questions should you be asking your contractor?” Ask questions to excite the reader’s curiosity.
  • If your email marketing service allows it, add an emoji to your subject line for visual interest, but take care not to over-do it. One or two emojis per email that augment rather than replace text should be plenty. MailChimp email platform offers this tip: “Emoji characters are well supported in many email clients (especially on mobile), but they don’t show up everywhere. Make sure your message is conveyed without them.”

Too many emojis can come across as unprofessional and can be problematic and frustrating for blind and low-vision readers as their screen reader narrates each emoji as a separate word.

  • Personalize it! If you can, use the recipient’s first name in the subject line, use the first name option in the salutation of the email, and for the “reply to” email, use a real person’s name instead of the largely impersonal “noreply@.” Who is “noreply” and who would ever feel motivated to reply to them?
  • Make recipients feel like they’re on the “inside” with special invitations. Words like, “Private invitation,” “My gift to you,” or “Exclusive offer” can have a positive psychological effect.
  • Do NOT use all caps or go crazy with punctuation. This can signal spam filters. Even the word “free” can sometimes send a valid email to the junk folder. Instead of writing, “Get your FREE home estimate!!!”, you might consider writing, “How much is your home worth?”

An exciting or enticing subject line can be the difference between emails that get read and emails that get moved to the trash (or even worse: the junk folder).

5. Always include a call to action.

Be clear as to why you are sending the email. What do you want the recipient to do? You need a call to action — also referred to as a “CTA” — to move this lead from the email to a destination.

  • Are you having an open house this weekend? Include a preview link to the listing or to the Facebook invitation with a clear call to action. “Open house this Saturday. Please join us! Click for more information.”
  • Are you offering a free home estimate? Include a “Contact Me” button.
  • Did you write a blog for first-time home buyers? Something as simple as, “Click here to read my new blog article packed with tips and resources for first-time home buyers!” should get the message across.

Use a bold font weight for your CTA or make it otherwise easy to spot, so that it stands out from the body of the email.

Know what action you want your leads to take and make it easy for them to figure it out. They’ll appreciate the clear direction, and you’ll see greater conversions!

6. Make sure not all your emails are “sales” emails.

Email marketing is an important tool that should be treated with care. If your contacts organically signed up on your email list, they are trusting (or at least hoping) you’ll have their interests at heart. Refrain from using this platform to hard sell to your leads; rather, use email marketing as a way of providing value and establishing trust and rapport.

The goal of email marketing is to stay top-of-mind as a Realtor® by showing your clients the value your expertise and service bring to the home-buying table.

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