The “email-is-dead” argument was an interesting — and very short-lived — mini marketing controversy just a handful of years ago.
The theory was that few people actually want to receive a stream of emails from brands they kind of know and like, and that social media had overtaken the medium in consumer popularity and preference. Opponents claimed that email is still a viable — and profitable — tactic. And they’re correct.
It’s painfully obvious to see why: Email marketing has helped brands in many industries steadily earn, nurture, and close prospects — including real estate professionals.
As BombBomb CMO Steve Pacinelli indicated to Placester during an exclusive webinar with our team of marketing experts, there is simply no substitute for email when it comes to nurturing your real estate leads from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom.
Steve’s worked in the real estate technology space for roughly two decades, so we suggest using the insights he shares below to mold your own real estate email marketing plans.
Some brands nearly ruined email due to excess consumer messaging — but it remains tops in terms of ROI today.
While many people say they have never been fans of email, Steve notes there once was a period during which the majority of consumers not only tolerated email, but actually really enjoyed it.
“Think back to the year 2000 and the way that you used email in 2001, 2002, maybe even earlier, if you were an early adopter of email,” Steve says. “You used to love email back in the day — everyone loved email back in the day. I know there might be some repressed thoughts you have deep down inside your brain: ‘No, I never loved email!’ No, there was a point in time when everyone was excited.
“Picture this,” Steve continues. “It’s 1999. Your computer’s off. You go to the corner of the room. You turned it on. You were excited because you checked your inbox and you had three new messages. What did you do with those messages?
“You read each one from start to finish and likely responded to each one in detail, because they were probably from someone you knew … and it was something you were really excited to do as a consumer of email … but it was also something exciting for you to do when you were sending emails, because marketers like me didn’t come in and mess it up yet.”
According to Steve, certain companies overuse email as a marketing channel to connect with their audiences. He estimates 90% of consumers’ inboxes are “junk,” meaning it’s on consumers to sift through the unwanted messages to find the 10% that applies to and interests them.
This is where Steve says Realtors need to be with their email strategies: in that 10% of high-quality, educational, and enlightening real estate emails people actually want to read and interact with. Once this is accomplished, the agent’s foot is in the digital door — and the attention of recipients is theirs.
Email has a clear-cut advantage over other marketing channels like social media and print for one simple reason: It isn’t owned by anyone else.
Steve shared a story from several years ago, when he and his partner decided to both build their email list and a Facebook page for their agent advice blog.
The blog started out really well — reaching tens of thousands of followers, nearly all of whom checked out the page weekly, according to Steve. But then something happened that changed his ability to connect with his audience on the social network.
“We figured, ‘Why would we need email if we can go right to Facebook and get this engagement that’s live, that’s interactive, and is so amazing,'” said Steve. “Then, Facebook changed the rules and said, ‘Now when you post something, we’re only going to show that to 5% of your audience, if you’re lucky, and if you want more people to see it, you have to pay.”
The end result of this drastic alteration to Facebook’s content-sharing algorithm (of which there have been several others since) was a realization he and his partner needed to make better use of email.
“Because [Facebook is] owned … they need to make money,” Steve noted. “The rules changed, and now you needed to pay money to reach your audience.”
And that’s where email has a distinct advantage over Facebook — and most other mediums Realtors can use to advance their real estate marketing plans: You own your email list and strategy. No one else is capable of affecting your email marketing efforts.
“It’s a very simple concept: No one owns email,” Steve elaborated. “So no one’s going to be able to change the rules on you tomorrow and make your email completely ineffective like the rules were changed on me running that [Facebook] Page.
“My messaging was completely ineffective through Facebook, unless I paid a ton of money. That’s why email will persevere. That’s why email will also even longer. Because every new ‘thing’ that comes out will be owned by someone, and email isn’t.”
The hardest part of getting started with campaigns is list-building, but don’t forget the “ART” of email sending too.
Once you get going with your real estate agent email campaigns — that is, compiling a list of email addresses for general contacts and potential leads — it’s important to focus on the value you plan to provide these individuals. Failure to contemplate their wants and needs and meet those preferences in a timely manner could result in unsubscribes that make all your hard work fruitless.
“Every email you send trains people to open or delete your next email,” Steve says. “So when you’re setting up your campaigns or you’re setting up an email workflow, you want to make sure that you come from a place or a point of value.
“We call it the ‘ART’ of email sending,” Steve explains.
That stands for:
“And if you follow those guidelines — if you know people are going to want to read your emails, you’re relevant and talk about something they want to hear, and then talk about those things they want to hear in a timely manner — that’s a good place to start.”
As you’re developing ideas for specific drip Realtor email campaigns you want to send your list(s), think about how you can offer beneficial information for your current and future leads — something that keeps them intrigued by your business and visiting your IDX website.
Steve says, “Whether you’re sending out a mass email, because you want to start sending out a monthly update to your sphere of influence, or to your buyers or to your sellers, or you’re responding to a lead, obviously you want to provide some type of value. That value would be to try to give them something they can’t Google.”
“What’s something you know about the market that you could share in a monthly real estate email newsletter, or share to an individual who was requesting more info about a property that they can’t immediately go and find somewhere else? You want to make your unique selling proposition tangible somehow. Give them some valuable information in that email.”
At the end of the day, whether someone opens your email or not comes down to three essential real estate email factors.
When you optimize your IDX website for search engines, you don’t see instantaneous success. Rather, you’re building a bridge to eventually reach your organic marketing goals.
The same goes for your real estate email marketing: You need to gradually construct your strategy from the ground up and lay the foundation for future, long-term success. According to Steve, consistently high email open and click-through rates depend on a few key factors: “People look at three things and then decide whether they’re going to open your email or swipe you into oblivion on their mobile phones. Those things are the sender, the subject line, and the pre-header. So if they don’t know you right off the bat, that’s a major strike one.”
He continues, “Your only goal with the subject line and the pre-header is to get your email opened.”
Once you’ve tested out different subject lines, crafted compelling copy for your pre-headers, and ensured your sender address is consistent and trustworthy (like yourname@yourwebsiteURL.com), Steve says you’re well on your way to thriving with your Realtor emails.
Want more real estate email marketing insights from BombBomb’s Steve Pacinelli? Watch the full webinar below: