If you're a real estate agent / Realtor, I'm sure you're trying to be seen by anyone who's ready to buy or sell a home. But by the time they're looking, it may be too late. Why? If someone doesn't bother to actively research agents and find the right fit for them, they may simply call the name on a listing sign. Right?
But if they do go searching for an agent, who are they going to find? Chances are, they'll find:
In all these examples, I could be talking about you. But the vast majority of real estate agents are not doing these things. Many will simply take calls through their agency, and will perhaps send out some printed letters or postcards in hopes of attracting some clients. Some will also use social media, but the world of social media has changed, and even if you build a big following, only a small fraction will ever see your posts unless you "pay to play."
This is why email marketing is so critical for real estate agents, just as it is for any business. Most marketers will list this as one of the most important things to do from day one in a business. Yet many real estate agents / Realtors never understand the importance in building a consistent clientele in this way.
And given how inexpensive email marketing is, there's no reason you shouldn't be doing it.
How Would You Use Email Marketing?
In some cases, you can catch people at the exact moment they're ready to buy or sell a home. But if you want to think long term about your business, then it's important to develop a list of people who grow to trust you over time and remember you when the time is right.
This is why email marketing is so powerful. It lets you stay in people's minds on a weekly or monthly basis by sending out a newsletter. And this doesn't have to be some in-depth email that few will ever read from start to finish. I know one Realtor who used to send out a monthly email with one tip per e-mail that most people would find useful, even if it had nothing to do with real estate.
This way, he continued giving people value, building on the power of reciprocity (where people want to pay you back for the value you have given them; this is built into most people). He also branded himself by following the tip with a reminder about his success in real estate. This helped with both trust ("he's successful") and recall.
Another form of content could be special deals you've scored with local businesses exclusively for your readers. People love to feel exclusive, and anyone who used the deal would get a clear financial benefit for reading your newsletter. Make sure they get their deal by mentioning you to the business -- this way the business can track the benefit of working with you, and YOU are making people say your name and associate that with a great value.
Of course send out your listings. If you have local readers, share your listings. If you happen to have so many that this would overwhelm readers, send a weekly digest of new listings, or send your best ones. You never know who's starting to think about a move, and what listing might strike a chord. Plus, your readers may know someone else who's looking for a listing.
Automatically send your blogs. That's right ... a good system can automatically send out the blogs you write on your site. So if you're having an open house or have other news to share, there's no need to spend time writing an e-mail to your list about it. The system can send this news out automatically. I recommend using one blog for this kind of news and a separate one for your listings and NOT automating your listing e-mails. That's because you'll want to more carefully prepare a listing e-mail. For instance, check out the section on "Images" below.
Think of all the time or money you put into trying to land clients. With email marketing like this, you could spend just a couple hours a month (at most!) putting together an honest tip or deal for your readers. You could have a boilerplate reminder about who you are at the end of each email. It wouldn't take long, and a good autoresponder system (see my recommendations below) can cost just $20/month.
Now imagine that you've built a list of 500 people in your community who hear from you each month. If each one moved only once every 10 years, that would be 50 people per year, or about one a week. Each one might represent both a home sale and purchase. If you only landed 10% of these (5 per year) as clients, wouldn't that be a pretty solid return on a couple hours of effort per month?
Now what if you scored more than 10%? Or built a larger list?
This is the power of staying in people's minds and giving them value over time.
How Do You Build a List?
Of course it's one thing to talk about staying in touch with a list. It's another to figure out how you build that list. While I can't explain all the following in detail in this blog, let me give you some ideas:
Wow Your Readers with Impressive Graphics
At the time of this writing, animated gifs (images) are just starting to be used in email. This is a real eye catcher and can encourage people to read your news.
Have a video of your listing? I can turn part of it into an animated gif and can even include a flashing "play" button on it to encourage clicks. If someone clicked on the image, you would simply send them to the video online.
My Two Recommended Services
Hopefully by now you see how obvious it is that you should be email marketing by building a list and reaching out to that list at least once a month. And hopefully I've stimulated ideas about how to build that list and what to do with it.
Now what service should you use for your email list? If you want to understand WHY I only recommend the following two services, you'll want to read through this blog. It also discusses RocketResponder in great detail so you can see if it appeals to you. But in short, the two offer largely the same service, but I've outlined some of the differences here:
The best choice for you is whatever you will USE. If you need something that's easy to use RocketResponder is a great solution. In my opinion, the advanced segmentation options of AWeber are best for ecommerce businesses. But check them both out -- one will be a good fit!
BONUS: if you choose to join one of the services above through my link, I will sign up for your first mailing list to provide you with feedback on the signup experience from a user's perspective. This may help you to improve the onboarding process and ultimately get more people onto your list. These are affiliate links, so I earn a little something from you using them, which covers my time in helping you like this. These links do NOT increase the pricing.
Please share! I hope you've found this information on email marketing useful and that you'll share it with other real estate agents! No, of course not your competition. That would be crazy talk. But share it with your friends in real estate who you want to see succeed. Thanks!
This review now includes updates from 2017.
I've been using RocketResponder since its launch several years ago, and I felt it was high time to put together a true, in-depth review to really help people understand the value it offers and how it can be used. So this review will include screen shots and videos along with tips you could use with any newsletter / autoresponder system.
If you're looking for this type of system, I strongly encourage you to read this entire review because of a particular RocketResponder feature that can greatly impact your email delivery rates (helps you legitimately get through spam filters) at a fraction of the cost you'll find elsewhere.
This review will also include details on when you might not want to use RocketResponder, because I want to make sure you're getting the best system for your needs.
On a final note, my links to RocketResponder are affiliate links. This doesn't increase your cost of the system, and if you choose to sign up through my link, I will be happy to test out your first sign-up process (I will sign up to see what a subscriber sees) and give you feedback on any area I think could be improved. This is input from someone who does writing and digital marketing for a living, so I hope you'll find this to be a great value!
What is a Newsletter / Autoresponder Service?
Just to make sure we're all on the same page, a newsletter service allows you to capture e-mail addresses into an email list and then to e-mail those people whenever you want (as long as they don't unsubscribe). This is what people talk about when they say "the money is in the list" -- you're building a list of people you can communicate with. (But you want to treat them as people -- not as a source of money. Provide them with value and in turn they may want to buy from you over time.)
Usually these services come with an autoresponder feature, which means that you can automate a series of e-mails to those on your list as well. You can set the schedule these e-mails are sent out on -- one e-mail the day they subscribe; another the next day; another 3 days later; and so on.
Since I see autoresponders as critical to most marketing efforts, I'll only discuss services that include that feature. But if you only want to build a list you can e-mail from time to time, and you don't want any bells or whistles, and you don't expect to build a large list over time, you could check out TinyLetter, which is a free service by MailChimp (so it's reputable). Please note that TinyLetter has a list of things you cannot do with its service, including sharing any sort of work from home, MLM, or affiliate marketing information.
A Brief Review of Other Services
As promised, I said I'd mention when it makes sense to use another service based on your specific needs. Here's my overview on this subject:
RocketResponder's Claim to Fame
There are many features to show you inside RocketResponder, and we're getting to all of that. But the two key points to RocketResponder are these:
Now onto the details. Let me show you what RocketResponder includes and how easy it is to use.
Creating a RocketResponder List
On the topic of easy, let's take a look at what's involved in setting up a RocketResponder list. Obviously you first sign up for their free 30-day trial. Then under "Manage Lists" you click "Add a List" and just fill out the page below. Save. Done.
They also have a TOUR to walk you through each step to get going. If you don't need this tour, you can click in the dropdown menu in the upper right and turn it off.
Below I will show you ways to get people to join your list, but notice that as soon as you've filled this out, you already have a page where a form will be hosted and can technically get people to sign up immediately.