Want your email opened? Avoid saying “Learn…”

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Want your email opened? Avoid saying “Learn…”

Bob Bly’s monthly collection of marketing tidbits arrived this morning – and of course contained items worth sharing.

For instance:

***Words to use and avoid in subject lines***

A recent British research report tells copywriters which words in
subject lines increase or reduce open rates compared with email

--Emails with the word "alert" in their subject lines have 38%girl studying
higher open rates.
--The keywords "free delivery" have a 50% higher open rate.
--The keyword "bulletin" has a 16% higher open rate.
--On the other hand "report" has a 24% lower open rate.
--And the keyword "learn" has a 35% lower open rate

Source: The Levison Letter

So, even though you’d love for your sellers to learn how to get their homes ready for a photo shoot or how to tactfully avoid answering intrusive questions if they can’t leave home during a showing, don’t use an email subject line to suggest that they “learn.”

This goes along with the whole premise that we humans are lazy. We want things to be effortless. Learning generally involves study – and who wants to do THAT? (Well yes, some of us do, but we’re not talking about some of us.)

A better word might be “discover.” Any other suggestions?

And speaking of suggestions, what might you say in place of “report?” And why don’t people like that word anyway?

  • Is it because they’ve been offered too many reports?
  • Is it because reports are quite often dry – and way too long?

Your thoughts?

Next – I’d equate this one to Myth Busters, but… how do they know? How do you measure ROI (return on investment) of email as compared to social media marketing?

***Which has better ROI: email marketing or social media?***

According to a ClickZ article (6/14/17), email continues to have
the highest ROI of any marketing channel. So when some smartass
tells you email marketing is on its way out, and that you should
be doing SnapChat, don't you believe them: Email -- not social or
SEO -- is still the "killer marketing app" on the internet.

Perhaps they’re talking about the cost of placing ads in social media, but how do you measure the financial cost of email marketing? Both have a time involvement, which in my eyes is a “cost,” but not too many systems charge you on a “per email sent” basis, so …?

I believe this conclusion to be true, probably because marketing on social media doesn’t even create a blip in my awareness, but I still want to know – how do they know?

These marketing snippets appear courtesy of Bob Bly's 
Direct Response Letter. www.bly.com/reports

I'm really beginning to believe that all marketers should invest a little time and effort into taking a class or two in basic psychology. (I wonder if there's a class on marketing psychology?) 

So many factors affect the success or failure of any marketing effort - from the words we choose to the delivery medium, to the places we choose to advertise. And what does that all come down to? Psychology - how our message "hits" our audience.


Image courtesy of tiniroma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments (56)

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Marte, you could say "find out" instead of learn or discover. It might appeal to a person's curiosity. 

Aug 07, 2017 06:25 AM
Marte Cliff

Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES - yes, I think that might be a good alternative.

Aug 07, 2017 07:48 AM
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

80% of your effort should go into the subject line and intro sentence. One small hack is to use lowercase, because it makes the email seem off the cuff.

Aug 07, 2017 06:46 AM
Marte Cliff

Luke Acree - I would agree with you except for one thing: Lately I have stopped clicking on articles from 2 or 3 "news" sources. The people who write the headlines do a masterful job - but when you get to the articles, there's nothing there worth reading.

The subject line is important, but you need the content to follow or people will start ignoring your mail.

Aug 07, 2017 07:50 AM
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Good information.  It is true that the subject line can determine whether I hit the trash button or the open button.  Removing "learn" from my subject lines!

Aug 07, 2017 06:59 AM
Marte Cliff

Shirley Coomer - Since reading this information I've been paying attention to the email coming in - and which ones I delete immediately.

Aug 07, 2017 07:52 AM
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

Interesting Marte. Thank you for sharing. Somewhere in my notes, I have a link to a web robot that will analyze your subject line for maximum readership - it scores your subject line and will suggest the use of specific words. Great is you use a newsletter. I'll see if I can find it.

Aug 07, 2017 07:33 AM
Marte Cliff

You sound like me, Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR - "Somewhere in my notes..."

Aug 07, 2017 07:52 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Email subject is a big one, as the spammers and tricksters know, if they can get you to open they have you. Lots of good advice here we can use straight away.

Aug 07, 2017 07:37 AM
Marte Cliff

Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543 - this whole subject is fascinating to me - and some of it is funny. For instance, marketing tests show that the word "free" appeals to most people - but for a long time we were warned that to use it in an email subject line might get that mail labeled as spam and thrown out by the email gods.

Aug 07, 2017 07:56 AM
Ross Milroy
Compass - Miami Beach, FL
Broker specializing in waterfront properties

Hi Marte - I agree that email marketing has the best ROI, especially when you deliver value add local information, insight and knowledge. Staying in front of ones clients and network is critical to forging a long term relationship, referrals and repeat  business. Especially in such a transient city such as Miami !

Aug 07, 2017 08:00 AM
Marte Cliff

I think it's crucial everywhere Ross Milroy - if you don't stay in front of people, they forget you.

Aug 07, 2017 01:14 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Thanks for this Marte - lots of good info here.    I wonder if Americans' e-mail "behaviour" might be different than Brits?

Aug 07, 2017 09:26 AM
Marte Cliff

That's a good question, M.C. Dwyer - does anyone here know the answer?

Aug 07, 2017 01:14 PM
Ron Tissier
Chapman Hall Premier Realtors (404) 580-9069 - Atlanta, GA
Defining Homes. Defining Lifestyles.

I find the opening of and response rate to emails one of the most frustrating part of this biz and my marketing efforts.  Even after someone has taken the time to provide their info on my website, it's crickets.  Do they go right to their spam folder?  Who knows?  I've experimented with different email subject lines and apparently have not found the right one.  I'll give those mentioned in the article a shot. 


Aug 07, 2017 09:41 AM
Marte Cliff

Ron Tissier - I think for one thing it has to depend upon the true interest level of the person who left their information. When I want to access something and it demands an email, I use my gmail account (unless I know I want continuing information). Then about once a month I go there and delete everything.

Be sure you're returning something really interesting and/or useful in response to their signing up. Then make sure your email shows that it's more from you.

Aug 07, 2017 01:18 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I am not sure if I benefit as a realtor sending endless email to stangers.  When I was doing lots of open houses I would send them something of their interest. As I am more engaged to referral business I do not see any added value. I doubt anyone here who does not know any realtor or ten....  

Aug 07, 2017 11:51 AM
Marte Cliff

Sam Shueh - having most of your business come from referrals is a goal to aspire to, and I'm glad you've gotten there. However, unless you're finding ways to stay in front of those who refer to you, they can easily forget you. A combination of email, postal mail, phone calls, invitations to lunch, and even social media interaction should keep you top of mind with them.

Aug 07, 2017 01:20 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Great points.  They make sense once you bring them to our attn.  I agree that learn sounds tiring.  I generally don't use this word...I do things more like "how to ..." or "7 tips to accelerate" or whatever.

Oh and generally email marketing has highest ROI and way higher than social media.  That being said, some people have found a formula that works super well for them (the minority) - sometimes via paid, sometimes due to luck or early entry, sometimes super smart strategy. 

For me, pinterest has by far yielded the best results and I'm hoping to grow it much more (currently getting 13,000 clicks/month...have a goal of 100,000/month by end of year.

Aug 07, 2017 04:22 PM
Marte Cliff

Debbie Gartner - I suppose whether social media works depends on your audience. If you call Active Rain social media, it works for me.

However, anyone trying to get my attention on Facebook or any of the others will wait a long, long time - because I just don't go there.

I DO review my email messages several times a day.

As a replacement for report - it would depend on what you're reporting. Is it an update? Is it news? Or - is it the results of a study or poll?

Aug 07, 2017 04:37 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

not sure abt replacement for report...maybe results?

Aug 07, 2017 04:24 PM
Janice Zaltman
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL
South Florida Residential Real Estate

Keep hearing that email open rates are falling and it's better to text or use social media. We are already so inundated with endless email's each day. Will test these words in subject line. Thanks

Aug 07, 2017 04:25 PM
Marte Cliff

Janice Hope Zaltman LEED AP - again, it depends on the audience. However, I think the reports of email open rates falling are probably rumors started by those who want you to pay for ads on social media.

Aug 07, 2017 04:39 PM
Jerry Murphy, CRS, SRES
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

Thank you for the these tips Marte.  Having had some experience in direct mail marketing I understand how important just getting people to open the mail is.  Doesn't matter what the message in side is if they don't even open the envelope...so to speak.  Best wishes to you.

Aug 07, 2017 04:29 PM
Marte Cliff

Yes Jerry Murphy, CRS - whether it's email or postal mail, job #1 is to get the message read.

Aug 07, 2017 04:39 PM
Amy Gutschow
RE/MAX - Sheboygan, WI
Professional Real Estate

Very Interesting!  I loved the suggestions

Aug 07, 2017 08:07 PM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Amy Gutschow

Aug 08, 2017 07:05 AM
Eli Quinn
Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Making It Happen Together

Apart from the helpful content, this article is a fine example of concise, focused prose   Nicely done.

Aug 08, 2017 07:20 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Eli Quinn - I appreciate that critique.

Aug 08, 2017 08:41 AM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727

Eli Quinn 
Welcome to the 'Rain! When we are lucky to have you as a Rainmaker, others outside the AR community will benefit from YOUR concise, focused prose.  

Be sure to check out the ActiveRain University for lots of learning opportunities!
All the best - Lynn

Aug 09, 2017 08:18 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Interesting post about email marketing, yet, I was also led to believe that email marketing was ineffective, however, it's the headline in the subject line that gets the attention to take action, regardless of the medium, doesn't it? So, thanks for the refresher and information.

Aug 08, 2017 10:39 AM
Marte Cliff

Hi Kimo Jarrett - what the big direct marketers are saying is that email is still working just fine - and way outpulling social media. And yes - it's that subject line that gets people to actually look at what you sent. The first line is pretty important too. And then - it's important that you give them whaver the subject line promised.

I've gotten several emails lately that promised something, but it wasn't there when I clicked! Either than or the email invited me to click to somewhere else to find out. No thanks.

Aug 08, 2017 08:40 PM
Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

Thanks for the tips Marte Cliff !!

Aug 08, 2017 12:18 PM
Marte Cliff

You're very welcome Kathy Schowe.

Aug 08, 2017 08:40 PM
Pat Braithwaite
Braithwaite Realty - Marietta, GA

Marte, Great and helpful blog. We work hard to write the perfect email and it would be terrible to think they did not even glance at it. I usually incorporate a question to assure they at least viewed it but have lately gotten a wonder little helper from gmail called boomarang. It tells me if they opened my email and if they have not, wonderful opportunity to send it again...with a different and better subject line.

Aug 08, 2017 06:07 PM
Marte Cliff

Pat Braithwaite - that IS a wonderful helper! Questions are always good in subject lines, as are "how to..." and "3 ways to.."

Aug 08, 2017 08:42 PM
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Marte Cliff You just let the cat out of the bag with this one. Now all the internet scammer will be following your advice to get us to open their virus-infested and phishing emails Still, you do deserve accolades for your effort to educate us; Thanks!

Aug 24, 2017 07:44 AM
Marte Cliff

Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI NMLS#1483386 - hopefully those Internet scammers don't read my blog. However, the smart ones might read the Levinson Letter, which was the source.

Is ANY email safe to open these days? I don't know. Guess we have to either live dangerously or stop using email.

Aug 24, 2017 08:10 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I signed up for the emails from Bob Bly. Thanks for the tip. We can always "learn" something new. :)

Aug 26, 2017 07:22 AM
Marte Cliff

Yes, Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS - I'm always ready to learn something new, but I see why it might not work in a subject line. Too many emails lately offer to let you "learn" something, but if you click you see that you first have to buy an ebook, video, etc.

I hope you enjoy Bob Bly's messages - I sure do.

Aug 26, 2017 10:08 PM