Real estate newsletters: the good, the bad, the ugly

30 Jun 2021
Estate Agents Co-operative
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Sitting at her desk last week, one of our EAC team members received an email newsletter from a real estate agency, featuring their latest hot listings.

Nothing weird about that right?

Wrong!

This particular EAC person attended one open house with the real estate agency, and without her consent, the agent signed her up to receive the company’s newsletters – which came flying into her inbox almost every day.

Email newsletters are still one of the most effective channels for communication, alongside the likes of social media ads. But when used poorly, a seemingly innocent newsletter campaign can really damage your brand and business.

Here are some tips for doing real estate newsletters right.

  1. Creating your database – always get consent

Privacy, spam, data protection laws have all been top-of-mind over the last few years, as big companies have been thrust into the spotlight for their mismanagement of consumers’ data.

Big brands like Facebook, Google and even the odd dating site or two, have been splashed across headlines because they were using data in ways they shouldn’t have been, or not protecting data in ways they should have been.

In Australia, we are governed by several federal laws, state laws, and potentially also international laws like GDPR. The basis of many of these laws is, if you want to collect the identifiable data of someone, and use it for marketing, you need to have their consent.

When creating your database, always ask a person first if you can collect their details, and ensure they know you intend to use it for newsletters and other such activities.

Similarly, to comply with the law, you also need to ensure you give them an opt-out.

Whether they click a button at the bottom of the email to remove themselves from the list, or they give you call and ask you to stop emailing them, in most cases, you are legally required to do exactly that – stop contacting them.

  1. Segment your lists

Perhaps even more interesting about our EAC teammate’s email, was that she had ended up purchasing a house in the regional area – a point the offending agent had been made aware.

So why send her hot listings? How likely is she to be ready to buy again right now?

Use your Client Relationship Management (CRM) software to segment your email lists into property buying and selling lifecycle stages so you can send contacts the most relevant (and least annoying) content, for them.

At minimum, segment into buyers and sellers and update your list regularly, so you aren’t bombarding a recent buyer with more and more meaningless listings.

  1. Timing is everything

Learning to use email newsletter software, can be a little confusing. Or so we learned when a colleague pointed out they were receiving real estate emails at 2am in the morning.

When they let the sending agent know, just to be helpful, the agent had no idea why – worse, they weren’t aware they were sending overnight spam!

Timing and frequency of email campaigns is really important. Data can tell you the best times of the day, and best days of the week to send emails, and a little research will reveal how many emails is too many.

Contacts can get ‘email fatigue’ just the same way they can get ‘advertisement fatigue’ — they see the same thing the right number of times and it triggers a positive response.

They see it too many times and it’s like they don’t see it at all anymore. In the case of email that means your newsletter ends up ignored at best, or in the trash or spam at worst.

If you have the means – and many CRMS and email platforms will do this – allow your user to determine their best frequency for receiving updates from you.

  1. Use the right tools

You would be surprised how any real estate agents still send out an email newsletter, created in their everyday outlook email account. Or maybe you wouldn’t…

They copy and paste and throw in clipart and stretched out property pictures, and then wonder why their contacts don’t read it, don’t receive it or complain that it looks terrible.

Email campaign software is incredibly cost effective – the bigger your list the more cost effective, with emails at only a percentage of a cent each.

If you can make the time to do it, you can afford to do it properly!

Ask you CRM provider if email campaigns are included in your package or look at very cost-effective options like MailChimp.

Most of these platforms are drag and drop design, with some great templates already included.

  1. Measure your results

Perhaps the biggest advantage of using the right tools is the extra insights you receive through data analytics.

No more are you relying on a read receipt to see who received your email, but for any given campaign, you can see exactly who opened it, when, what they read, what they clicked on, how their behavior for this campaign compares to their behavior towards other campaigns.

With some careful monitoring, you can determine which demographics are more likely to open your emails, what content they like and engage with most, what time and day they open and click most, and much, much more!

This can help you get really strategic about your email campaigns, and make the most of this marketing channel. You can refine your content, frequency, segmentation and timing so it is much more effective.

  1. Get a little personal

Research tells us that people like to work with businesses they can trust and relate to, businesses with similar values to theirs.

Rather than just throwing the latest listings at these often cool contacts, why not keep them engaged and on the hook with content that helps them.

Perhaps you help them better understand the market, maybe you put the spotlight on a relevant local service, you could be sharing home styling expertise from your internal expert.

Whatever it is, show them a bit of your personality, of what you value, and why you are the person they should want for their next sale or purchase.

Over the years, so many small businesses have developed a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality relating to their website – that creating their website was just another box they had to tick.

We see this trend a lot with newsletters too, but with a little extra elbow grease, genuineness and some true customer or contact care, you can create something really special.

Image by Stephen Phillips.

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