Goodbye Vertical Response: NO MORE automated email

Services for Real Estate Pros with John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. 13013

I've spent HOURS formatting email campaigns, changed the subject, graphics, offers, information, etc. 

I have sent out multiple automated emails to hundreds of contacts.  I have repeated them.

I have had absolutely NO positive results, a few meager responses from only my own area, none from those I really wanted to contact and create a business relationship out of town and out of state.

The latest scoop from the marketing press are these salient points (from

  • For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect a return of $42
  • 81% of SMBs still rely on email as their primary customer acquisition and 80% for retention
  • The average open rate for a welcome email is 82%
  • Personalized subject lines generate 50% higher open rates
  • Adding videos to your email can increase click rates by 300%
  • 49% of consumers said that they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis

I stopped using Vertical Response for 5 months after using it for about 4.

Of course, I am not an IT specialist in this game.  After reading a few articles about this subject I retained ONE bit of information that apparently is crucial and that I was not doing! (in the list above, in fact)

Three days ago I read about a lovely town in Canada that I had visited about 25 years ago.  It was like we came upon a Swiss village by a lake in the alps.

Kelowna was in the news recently and so I looked up a few custom builders online.  The first one's web had some very interesting information.  He really liked Frank Lloyd Wright and he was my hero in college.  A few of his projects looked appealing as well.  I decided to send him a PERSONALIZED email intro.

After all, I could say that I had been to Kelowna, met with a custom builder years ago, and thought it was a really nice place, compliment him on his work, and then pitch my services.

So I had a couple of paragraphs, added 15 images and sent it off.  Fingers crossed.

As I was looking at other builders, I added their names, email addresses, web urls:


I sent two or three more out the same evening.  

In the past, before purchasing the Vertical Response system, I would do basically the same and put a 'Dear Sir' or "Hello Mr. or Mrs. ________" and proceed with the spiel.

I never referenced their work directly or mentioned how I liked this or that of their projects, etc.

The next morning, I had three emails in my inbox.  All from the same first contact.  He is interested in doing work together and liked my porfolio.  
Today, I sent a modified form of the original email to the rest of the builders on my contact list.

I believe that only one or two may respond as I haven't appealed personally to any of their interests, beliefs, or mentioned their built work.

The key to this whole exercise is to look at it like an interview.  If you are going for an interview, either to work for a company or to ask that company to contract with you, you should do a bit of research to see how they operated, how many years they've been in business, what their staffing might be, the regional extent of their business, etc.

I will try this experiment locally by indicating that I am familiar with the name, quality, awards, years in business, etc.

I have a hunch that only that type of effort will garner a response.

I often get emails from students or professionals seeking employment.  I can tell that I have been culled off the internet and they have no clue how I operate, etc.  When I see that, I don't even respond.  I will only do that if there is a hint of an understanding in what I do, a compliment, etc.

And that's how I think this all works!  I am not good at cold calling; it tends to be a bit forward and assuming.  I have knocked on doors even.  I think the email is possibly the best online tool.

Here is part of my initial email, notice the subject line:


By the way, whilst looking for a good photo of Kelowna online, I read that this town is the number one investment opportunity in western Canada!  Who knew??  Maybe a few of you on AR!!!  If I'd researched THAT statistic, I would have modified my email to include the fact that I knew how Kelowna was growing and how world-class design would be appreciated and expected! 

The bar graph at top is from


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James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning John.

Good to hear you finally found something that works.  Now, here's to some more good news via email campaign

Jul 15, 2020 02:13 AM #1
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello John - I admit there are some things in your post that although important go over my head(with reason and for other reasons) but as  James Dray commented:  I believe finding what works(or might work) is a step in the right direction.

As an aside:  before my ActiveRain membership, I remembering reading an article about Kelowna British Columbia.  Since then, found that Steve Higgins practices real estate there.  Small world, huh? 

Here's to connections of all kinds.   

Jul 15, 2020 03:57 AM #2
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hi Michael Jacobs   Education is a great workaround for learning things the hard way...  I think I will look up Steve and ask him a few questions!  Thanks for mentioning him.  There are only 6 degrees of separation...

Jul 15, 2020 04:49 AM #3
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Good morning, John... your story is precisely why I stopped sending "drip" emails a long time ago. People can "smell drip." All of my emails to new leads and prospects is very personalized.

Jul 15, 2020 04:54 AM #4
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

John Henry, Florida Architect - I believe in personalization. That's where I get the most results. For me, drip campaigns are very expensive and when I don't get results, I'm pretty sure they end up in the landfill. It's like flushing money down the toilet. 

You are very persistent and I really do think you pay attention to the details, taking every little detail seriously. When standards are high, quality shows and respect just follows.  

Jul 17, 2020 06:10 AM #5
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Thanks very much for your characterization, Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP .  I wish I could live up to it!!!  I don't have a consistent marketing campaign.  I start and stop.  If something is not working, I try something else.  But you simply cannot continue to put endless hours chasing ghosts realizing 98% of your effort will get tossed.  Personalization seems to work best!


Jul 17, 2020 11:45 AM #6
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Inspiring, John.  You are so honest in your likes, dislikes of approaches, instead of saying "should should".  Thank you for the refreshing take. No wonder you got interest from you email letter.

Jul 22, 2020 12:44 PM #7
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Personalizing your email(s) is a great idea, thank you for sharing. I'm so glad to hear you had a response from your first email. I hope you have on your others as well!

Aug 01, 2020 05:38 AM #8
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John Henry, Florida Architect

Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design
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