Do you remember when it was called Electronic Mail & very few used it? Well Email has become an essential part of your life & an essential part of your real estate practice and can be a great tool if managed well. These guidelines can help you communicate more effectively with clients and other contacts in your daily life.
1. Organize and Prioritize. Create prioritized folders with a labeling system that makes sense to you. Customize folders for "Reply ASAP," “To Do,” "Friends," etc. Searching for buried email is a time waster, so shift messages to their respective folders as soon as you open your inbox.
2. Act Now. More often than not, your clients have come to expect a response within 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. The first time you see an email, respond immediately, delete it, and set it as a task to accomplish at a specific time, or move it into the appropriate folder.
3. Bridge the Gap. You can’t always get back to every sender with the information they want immediately, but make sure they know you’re not ignoring them. Send a short note explaining you’ve received and read their email, and you’ll need to get back to them about it later. The simple act of acknowledging their message will most often encourage patience, and can make all the difference between a positive and negative impression.
4. Keep it Short. Try to keep your responses as concise and to-the-point as possible. Summarize requests so they understand your response in context. For example: “You asked if we could meet Wednesday at 4, but I won’t be available until 5:30 that day. If that won’t work for you, please let me know how Thursday morning looks.”
5. Structure Your Message. Use short paragraphs and include blank lines between each one. This layout is easier to read, and will make your message more approachable.
6. Proof It. Using a spell checker is important, but it might not catch everything. Typos and errors can form other valid words (e.g. contact vs. contract) that may not be corrected, so be sure to reread your message before sending it. And keep in mind that some phrases or thoughts might get lost in translation. Sarcasm, irony, and humor are often misinterpreted via email, so make sure your meaning is clear.
7. Create a Personalized Signature. More than likely, you send out quite a few emails daily and many of those may be forwarded to other recipients. Use each message to market you and your listings by simply including a link to your website, blog, or social networks in your email signature.
8. Exercise Email Etiquette. Greet your recipient by name (Hello, Mike) and close with your name on its own line (Regards, Tom). It only takes a few seconds, but can change the tone of your message and establish a certain level of respect. AVOID USING ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS; it may be interpreted as shouting. Don’t send unsolicited attachments, as many users have become wary of potential computer viruses. Get permission before sending large files, as they can tie up the recipient's mail while being downloaded. Use acronyms (BTW, LOL) and emoticons sparingly.
9. When in Doubt, Send Plain Text. Using special characters (bullets, ampersands), images, fonts, and colors, runs the risk that your recipient might not be able to view your message properly.
10. Stay in Touch. Having a client or prospect in your database isn’t worth much if you don’t communicate with them. Send your contacts periodic updates on the market in their area, tips on home buying and selling, and even personal notes on birthdays and anniversaries.
11. Keep Your Contacts Current. Some of your contacts may have moved or found a new job since you last spoke with them. If their information is out of date in your address book, your emails may be undeliverable. Keep your list fresh by using a system that automatically searches the web for any updates, and then sync them to all of your devices.