We ALL know that the money is in the list, right? But how much money are you loosing every day that your web site isn't collecting emails? (hint - for you to market to!) Do you have a system set up to collect email addresses from both Sellers and Buyers? Today, an email address = potential lead = $$ down the road.
I have come across a few "canned/custom" sites that will let me look at a few properties, then force me to register to see more. I feel that this is ineffective, as most people will just go away and find the information elsewhere. Maybe I'm wrong, but.....
What you need is an effective "squeeze page" that gives something of value in exchange for their email address - for both buyers and sellers! This could be as easy as a short ebook that you have written, or internal company information that you have rewritten to fit your needs. It could be an exclusive area on your web site that offers a video walk-through of your listings! With some of the popular "flip video cams" going for under $200 bucks, there is no excuse to NOT be shooting videos and posting them! Think reality TV and how popular it is! What ever you choose, you are trading their email address for something of value -- this is key to remember.
You're a professional, so treat your email customers in a professional manner! Ditch the freebie email account and register your own domain for your site and email. Nothing says part-time like "LoveMyDoggie@hotmail.com" or "GrannyofTwo@yahoo.com".
Now here's where we get into the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts of an effective email marketing business. You need to set up an account with a service that has an "autoresponder". Some of the popular services are Aweber.com, GetResponse.com, InfusionSoft.com and ConstantContact.com. I use Aweber, and if you look around, you can find a coupon and get their service for under $20 a month. Why spend the money? All these guys do is email, and they get your email delivered fast and in the "In" box. If you look around, you can find a discount coupon for Aweber and even get the first month for just $1.
Soooo, what is an "autoresponder" and how can it simplify your life? Let's say you have buckled down one Monday and wrote a few ebooks - 2 ebooks targeting sellers and 2 ebooks targeting buyers. An autoresponder lets you put your ebook on your web site "on demand". A person would fill out a form on your web site (name, email address) with the promise of your ebook, and your autoresponder takes care of it automatically! The ebook is then delivered to them as an attachment to your automatic email response, or autoresponder.
Here's where it gets interesting..... Since you have asked nicely for their email address, and it is a REAL email address, you then can send them your weekly (or daily) email newsletter of listings and other information. Of course they can "opt out" of your email list at any time, but if you deliver quality information in a pleasing way, most people will stay. This now gives you a way to send your new listings out to people that have raised their hand and asked for more information. If the person registered as a potential seller, your autoresponder series could be geared toward information on selling. Here's the key -- you put together ONE email, and it gets sent out to hundreds or thousands all at once. Never again will you have to hand craft an email to an interested buyer or seller -- they just join the list. (well, unless they are a hot lead!)
The goal here is to develop at least a series of 4 email lists:
1. Autoresponder series for sellers
2. Email newsletter for sellers
3. Autoresponder series for buyers
4. Email newsletter for buyers
Ok, now that looks like work, so let's break it down and make it easy.
The autoresponder series, is a series of emails that start when someone first signs up for your list. So let's say Bob signs up today for your Seller list. Bob gets email #1, next week he gets email #2 and so on. Susan signs up two months from now. She is delivered email #1 and so forth - she starts from the beginning of your series. With your autoresponder series, you DO IT ONCE, SEND IT OUT MANY TIMES! You have short, personal, content rich information that you develop and plan on sending out as an email training series. This is an autoresponder that markets weekly to your potential leads, while you take care of other things. As you put more emails in your autoresponder series, pretty soon you have several months or a year of information ready to go! Remember to not reference dates or holidays, since they will be sent out as a series.
The newsletter is a weekly thing, but if you have a really good template, doing a weekly or daily newsletter can be a snap! For instance: Your email could feature 4 homes, and a short note from you. If you templatize this, all you need is the listing live on your site (a web link), a photo, a short description, price, and you're done! Depending on how many homes you list a month, you will always have one of your homes featured. :-) If your office allows it, you can also promote listings of your buddy in your office. Don't reinvent the wheel each time -- templatize things, and get a system in place. The key here is a template and a system.
Your Goal: Ultimately you want to outsource the web site and email work to someone who is competent. Either you can find someone that is local, or hire a virtual assistant or VA that can take care of the work. If you are just starting out, web savvy and you are on a shoestring budget, you can get the ball rolling yourself, and look like you are a a high roller!