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 (including a link to your listings.) It wouldn't take long, and a good autoresponder system (see my recommendations below) can cost under $20/month. (Or FREE up to 500 subscribers if you don't mind their branding included and don't need more advanced features.)
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:
My Recommended Service
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? Honestly, there are a lot of good ones that start at "FREE" if you don't mind their branding and missing a few advanced features. That said, as a professional, you might not want to show their branding, and it's under $20 to have up to 500 subscribers.
I personally recommend AWeber because they're less restrictive than others about sending things like "affiliate" emails. So if you ever had an arrangement, for instance, to promote something to your list (besides homes) that you earned from, that could be a problem with other providers. If you do look at other providers, just make sure to check out their Acceptable Use policies.
$19/month for your first 500 subscribers. (Less when paying ahead.)
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!