Best Practices for Writing Marketing Emails

Services for Real Estate Pros with XL Technologies, LLC The Maker of eCampaignPro

The Art of the Email Flyer

Not surprisingly there are best practices that increase your odds of success, both in terms of getting your email through to the intended recipient as well as getting that person to read your email.

Now I am going to follow up on my previous post "Why Can’t I Just Send Out My E-Mail Marketing Myself?”

In this post, we’ll go over the most common mistakes made in writing copy, the best way to write the subject line of the email, and explain that:

  • The subject line is more important than you thought
    • Mistakes to avoid

    • Items to include and not include
  • You should choose your words carefully in the body of the email
    • Personalize where possible

    • Include a call to action

    • Include all important details

Words really do matter!

The way you write your email can impact if your email is effectively delivered and whether or not it is read once it does arrive.

Statistically, the subject line is the most important line in the whole email. The subject line of your email should tell the recipient what’s in your email, not try to sell your email.

So, what are the most common mistakes made when writing the subject line?

  1. Too! Much! Punctuation! Avoid exclamation points, dollar signs, percent signs, questions marks, slashes, dashes, commas.

  2. Ever see an email with LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS in the subject line? It feels like the sender is screaming at you. And what’s worse, you get the feeling they’re not being completely honest about whatever it is they’re yelling!

  3. Misleading information. If it’s not true, don’t say it. It’s against the law. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 specifically prohibits misleading information in the subject line.

  4. A subject line that’s too long greatly decreases the odds that the recipient will even take the time to read it because, after all, who is going to spend that much time reading a subject line in an email from a person they may not even know? That was a mouthful. Surely there was a more succinct way to say that.

  5. You should try and limit your subject line to 50 characters or less. More than that and it may get truncated upon delivery.

  6. Spam Trigger words should be avoided

    • In the real estate world, there are certain words that are technological and psychological spam triggers. Even if your email gets through the filter (the technology part), the person who gets it is likely just going to delete it (the psychological part).

    These words include: Sale, Free, Money, Income, Mortgage, Opportunity, and the newest one… Pre-Foreclosure.

    • There’s a more complete list of spam trigger words here.

    • Just to be clear, you generally need more than one of these words to trigger a spam filter. Filters use a point system to add up all “offenses” (it’s actually a fairly complex algorithm). If they pass a certain level, the email won’t make it through. You need to be conscious of this so you know what to avoid.

Here’s the best way to write a subject line for a real estate marketing email:

  1. A friendly, short sentence explaining why they may be interested in the listing.

    • Include information about a high split rate, or some unique or desired feature of the house.

    • Remember, you don’t have to say everything in the subject line. 2) Include your company name. It helps.

    • If you don’t put your company name in the subject line, then make certain it is in the “from” or “display” field.

Here’s a great example of how NOT to write a subject line:

FOR SALE – only $249,000, Free Upgrades !!!! (See figure 3)
Subject Line
(Figure 3 -In this example, we’ve got too many capital letters, a dash, the word “free,” and too much punctuation)

Here’s how it should have been written:

Price reduced on colonial full of upgrades (See figure 4)
Subject Line
(Figure 4 – This subject line is grammatically correct and written without hyperbole)

That’s it. Studies show that hype in a subject line greatly decreases the open rate. So, tempting as it may be, you should avoid it.

For more information check out and learn more about setting up your real estate email marketing flyers.

Comments (21)

Harrison K. Long
HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney

Thanks for this helpful post with recommendations on marketing emails, including subject line, which is so important.

Jun 05, 2009 01:01 PM
Diane Schubach
Laffey Fine Homes - Port Washington, NY

I've been using Vertical Response for my e-mails and they provide some pretty good guidance. They will warn about the length of the subject line as you're creating it. I have to remember not to use exclamation points!

Jun 05, 2009 01:24 PM
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Robert: I send out a monthly newsletter to real estate agents. I have found that by tweaking the subject line I do get a better open rate. I use a program which gives me all kinds of statistics about open rates and "click thru's" to other resources. I'm going to bookmark this post and refer to it when I send out my next newsletter. Thanks!

Jun 05, 2009 01:44 PM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Thanks, Robert. Your post was most timely. Just today I was thinking how I need to learn to write better headings, subject lines, and captions. You've given me lots of good tips.

Jun 05, 2009 01:58 PM
Robert Dodd
XL Technologies, LLC The Maker of eCampaignPro - Sarasota, FL

Thanks for all the positive feedback. These last few posts are based on a guide that we published called the Insiders Guide to Email Marketing. We have made it available as a free download on our site. If you are interested in reading it you can download it here

I know that you said that you are using constant contact, which is a good service. However, our service eCampaignPro is specifically designed for Real Estate Agents. Not only do we give you the ability to geo target and email our database of 1.1 mil agents, but once you create your flyer you can post it to CraigsList, Active Rain eBay backpages and more.

In fact, we recently added the ability to post your finished flyer to Twitter.  If you are interested in checking us out visit our website www.eCampaignPros.comIf you like what you see use this link to receive a special discount for Active Rain members.

If you sign up using this link I will waive the $35.00 activation fee and give you 10,500 free email credits. Plus we offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

I hate to sound as salesy as the ShamWow guy, but I think that we have the best email marketing product for real estate agents out there. Plus and I am one of the founders of the company and CEO so I am a little biased. :)

Thanks again for the comments. If you have any questions just email me at and I will be happy to help you out further.

To your success.


Jun 05, 2009 02:09 PM
Alisa Stone Herring
Stone Real Estate Group, LLC - Panama City Beach, FL

Thanks for this. I had no idea not to put the word "sale" into a subject line.

I am going to use your tips. I look forward to using them.


Alisa Stone Herring, CRS, GRI
Stone Real Estate Group
850-596-2456 Cell

"The Georgia Peach that Sells the Beach"

Jun 05, 2009 02:44 PM
Robert Dodd
XL Technologies, LLC The Maker of eCampaignPro - Sarasota, FL


Thanks for the comment. I am glad that you found the post useful.

To your success


Jun 05, 2009 02:50 PM
RealSupport, Inc.
RealSupport Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
- Virtual Real Estate Marketing

Hi Robert!

Great post and great advice!  We are telling our clients many of the same things.  Having an effective subject is so essential and most importantly, a CLEAR call to action!

Have a great weekend!
Real Estate Virtual Assistant - Erica Parpan


Erica Parpan, Operations Manager

RealSupport Inc.
Phone: 847-705-1655 x201
Our Real Estate Client Testimonials
Our Real Estate Marketing Samples
Real Estate Virtual Assistant Team

RealSupport Inc. - Providing superior Real Estate Virtual Assistant services to Real Estate professionals nationwide since 2000.

Jun 05, 2009 03:01 PM
Robert Dodd
XL Technologies, LLC The Maker of eCampaignPro - Sarasota, FL

Thanks again for all the positive feedback.

I just updated the post and included a link to a more exhaustive list of spam trigger words.




Jun 05, 2009 03:04 PM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

This is all very good information.  This is a great and unique post.  I have it bookmarked.

Jun 05, 2009 04:23 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

The media are always looking for ideas, I'm going to be very proactive about this.

Jun 05, 2009 04:51 PM
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

Pretty funny trying to stop realtors from hyperbole! You can always purchase or subscribe to marketing emails that might be more practical if you're having trouble even thinking of a lead line!

Jun 06, 2009 01:10 AM
Debra Valentine
Designing Details ~ Staging & Design, LLC - Bountiful, UT
Utah Home Staging for, Bountiful, Salt Lake & Surrounding Areas

Robert: Thanks so much for sharing these ideas with us. I'm launching my first newsletter in June, but I'll check your site out before I do that.

Jun 06, 2009 01:44 AM
Jim Shaw
Premiere Plus Realty Co. - Naples, FL
Real Estate Sales Associate, Naples Luxury Real Estate

I like it, I like it!

Jun 06, 2009 02:18 AM
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Commercial - Whittier, CA
Top Producing COMMERCIAL Team 30+ years experience

Robert. Interesting. Thanks for the advice. I will work on the Subject line. Thanks for taking the time to help.

Jun 06, 2009 06:41 PM
Robert Dodd
XL Technologies, LLC The Maker of eCampaignPro - Sarasota, FL


It is my pleasure. I am glad that you find the information useful.



Jun 07, 2009 03:21 AM
Trish Giassa, Crested Butte, Colorado. RSPS
Homes In Crested Butte - Crested Butte, CO

Thank you Robert. 

I am about to launch an email campaign - in fact, that's what I was doing when I found your post (yes, multi-tasking!) and I appreciate your input and will follow your advice.   Best regards, Trish Giassa  

If you like hiking, mountains, flowers, festivals, good food and drink and friendly locals, come visit me in  Crested Butte, Colorado for your next vacation.

Jun 07, 2009 04:39 AM
Walter Espejo
Weichert Realtors - The Andrews Group - Nashville, TN
Bellevue TN Homes for Sale


Never realized that words like Free and Sale were trigger words. Thank you for sharing with this post.

Jun 08, 2009 04:00 AM
Al Dobbs
ADD Real Estate - North Chicago, IL

I am looking forward to making my e-mail easier to read.

Jul 05, 2009 10:34 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

 Always remember that you need to be very careful about what you say in your work-related e-mails, especially when you are representing your client’s interests.

Sep 30, 2015 05:35 PM