If you’re a regular reader, you know that here at Adwords Nerds, we advocate the use of multichannel marketing for generating leads as a real estate investor.
The reason is simple: the REI industry is changing, and these days, you need to build a relationship with your audience before they become motivated sellers. And, given the impact of referrals on potential future deals, this relationship extends long after you’ve put the house under contract.
The rapport you have with your target audience before, during, and after the deal is very important. But what is the best channel to build and sustain this relationship? Obviously, opinions vary. You can nurture the “before” through social media, you can solidify the “during” through paid ads, and you can maintain the “after” through email. When clients make a big (sometimes once-in-a-lifetime) decision to sell their house, it’s hard to identify the conversion point within your marketing efforts. However, most will agree that using email along with the other marketing channels is, generally, a good idea for REIs.
In the following section, we will explain the benefits of using email marketing as a real estate investor. However, if you are ready for the details, you can go straight to the “how to” section which comes right after.
Notice that we didn’t say free, just cheap. Depending on the size of your target audience, you might have costs for using mailing servers or other services for managing an email campaign. Aside from that, email is potentially the most cost-effective marketing channel for REIs.
We often encourage REIs to start a digital marketing campaign because the number of social media users constantly increases. But those numbers are dwarfed by the stats on email use. , Granted, not all of those email users have a house to sell, but you are effectively casting a wider net, and that includes people who don’t use social media.
Email marketing is not only cheaper than direct mail but it’s also delivered instantly. REIs who launch a direct mail campaign depend on the postal service for the physical delivery of parcels, and the process may take weeks. The conversion process in REI is long, which is why the fact that emails get to their intended destination quicker is a big plus.
Who doesn’t want feedback on the success of their email marketing campaign? As a real estate investor, you can’t establish a direct link between a closed deal and a specific call to action in your email newsletter, but you can gather data on engaging topics and content. Metrics include:
You simply don’t have these kinds of insights in a direct mail campaign.
… and that’s way better than indiscriminately offering your services. Do your best to maintain a clean mailing list, add a double opt-in for your subscribers (more on this below), and allow people to unsubscribe from your REI email campaign. This will reduce the overall number of recipients, but those who do get your emails, be they motivated sellers or buyers, will be hotter leads.
This is also known as crafting an email sequence or the drip technique. It means that you can pre-draft a series of emails (for example, a welcome series for new leads) which can get triggered as your clients complete a milestone (for example, filling out a form on your website). It can be used to further qualify an REI lead based on data in your client relationship manager.
This means sending different messages to different groups of leads. What is engaging for motivated sellers within a certain ZIP code might be irrelevant for others. Audience segmentation in email marketing mostly depends on data shared by clients, so it’s not as diligent as Facebook targeting. Nevertheless, it helps your emails hit closer to home.
As with any other digital marketing campaign for REIs, email marketing allows you to switch up elements of the message and track the feedback from recipients in real-time. It’s a nerds’ playground: you can change the subject line, you can change the content (text), the graphics, the fonts, the color or position of call to action buttons, etc. You simply can’t do this with direct mail marketing.
Since real estate investing attracts people from different backgrounds (some tech-savvy, some not), we will start with the basics of email marketing for REIs. Of course, if you’re a long-time practitioner, you may pick up some advanced tips along the way as well. Even those of you that have done email marketing in another industry and are making their first steps as real estate investors only now will discover that email marketing for REIs has its specifics, too.
Let’s dive in.
So, you want to start an REI email marketing campaign. You have your mailing list, you put together a message, and you send out bulk emails. That’s it, right?? Of course not.
First, you need to make sure you use your own mail server for the campaign or at least use a shared email marketing server that exists for this specific purpose. Free email providers (like Protonmail, Outlook, Gmail, or Yahoo) have email sending limits: both in the total number of messages you can send and the recipients you’re allowed to reach. These protections are set in place to distinguish legitimate messages from malicious or unsolicited messages. And since sending an email is virtually free, there is a lot of illicit traffic in email marketing.
Now, if your mailing list is fairly short (less than 500 email addresses) you can use the email address associated with your website (or domain name) without a problem. After all, some REI’s send handwritten yellow letters in their direct mail marketing campaigns, so if your marketing strategy is to replicate this in the digital space, you can certainly go for it.
However, if your email campaign is designed to cover different real estate markets and you want to reach thousands of motivated sellers with the same email, then you have two options: you hire an email marketing platform or you share an email marketing server with other businesses to save on costs. Yes, there is a learning curve to email marketing for REI’s, but in essence, you want to go for one of these options so that your message passes through spam filters and gets to the inbox of your target audience.
Don’t worry, none of these will draw a lot of bucks from your REI marketing budget.
So, you’re sending emails to build relationships with motivated sellers – but what type of content do they want to receive? And how often do you touch base with them?
These are the questions you need to address when you develop the content strategy for your REI email marketing campaign. One common mistake is to commit to a frequency that’s unrealistic or unsustainable in the long run, like sending an email each week. Only commit to what you’re able to deliver to avoid this trap.
But a lot of other aspects of your email content, like the type of messages, their structure, and the feedback you get, should be incorporated into your strategy.
These days, a lot of marketing is done through email across many industries, and practice proves that the use of different types of emails keeps audiences engaged. As an REI, your choices might be limited, but you can still adapt these positive experiences to your needs so they can suit your audience.
The newsletter is the central type of message in email marketing for REIs. In a way, a regular newsletter is a digital equivalent to all those leaflets, brochures, and prospectuses published on paper, which were standard for REI marketing back in the day.
To ensure you offer value in your newsletter, you can follow the universal guidelines for content marketing: educate your audience, solve their problems, or help them make better decisions. And, of course, refer them to your main channel, be that your website, a social network page, or your physical office, so that your newsletter actually moves your leads along your marketing funnel
As far as actual topics for email newsletters for REIs are concerned, you can go with any of the following:
You probably noticed that some of the topics in the list have nothing to do with promotion or marketing in the strict sense. But that’s the point – the email newsletter allows you to cover a wide range of content – and preferably make subscribers come back for more.
This is an automated series of emails tailored to qualify new leads through a standardized onboarding process.
For example, you set up the system to send a welcome email once the person has opted to receive your notifications. In the next email of the sequence (after a week or so), you can ask them to continue on to the next step – like filling out a form – so you learn more about them, i.e. are they a motivated seller, a private lender, or a buyer.
You probably know this, but leads are best when they’re hot, and sending an automated email right away may be the reason they choose to sell their house to you, instead of to another REI.
This sequence is on the other end of your REI funnel. In an “after closing sequence”, you can ask motivated sellers and other clients for testimonials and referrals. It costs you nothing to ask, but it can end up increasing the number of leads in your hands because we all know how big referrals are in the REI industry. Also, your emails in this sequence can cover issues that are relevant to house owners, like tips on maintaining a garden or tips on saving power.
There are many other types of emails you can include in your content strategy. You can send holiday cards to your subscribers (once or twice a year), or you can mark some special occasion (like celebrating success). You can steal and recreate techniques such as the “abandoned cart” email that is widely used in email marketing for e-commerce. So, maybe once a week or once a month, you could send your subscribers a breakdown of the properties they have checked out in the listings on your website. Obviously, you are free to take this in whatever direction seems useful for your business.
Written text remains the biggest forte of email marketing campaigns. In theory, you can write a long message in the email, and sometimes this is appropriate. However, you also need to keep in mind that people don’t have much time on their hands, and what’s more, they are bombarded with dozens of other emails in their inbox. Some of those emails come from REIs who are your competitors. So keep the text in the message on-point. Check out the examples below:
There are email templates specifically developed for real estate investor marketing and you can check those out, but we won’t get into them, because the copy you use to approach potential clients is a whole discussion in its own right. However, we do urge you not to use words and expressions that can trigger spam filters (urgent, certified, special promotion, fantastic deal, and hundreds of others). Your email might end up being blocked as a result, so run a spam test before you click send.
Aside from text, you have a whole arsenal of media you can use to catch the attention of your subscribers including photos, video content, doodles, QR codes, and augmented reality.
Be mindful of the size of your email, though, because if the message is too big, it will either load for a long time, or not show up in everyone’s inbox, so you’ll lose some of the potential impact of the email. One workaround is to divert your audience to a channel where the visuals are stored (YouTube, your website, your social network feed) via a thumbnail. But don’t do this too often, because this is not a substitute for original and engaging email content that recipients can engage with right from their inbox.
There’s a lot of subtlety involved in crafting email campaigns that perform well, something you can learn and get better at as you go along, through trial and error, or even better, A/B testing. We’ll leave you to discover some of it as you gain experience, but we also want to draw your attention to some of the most important things you want to keep in mind from the very beginning.
Maybe you haven’t been motivated to notice up until now, but your inbox shows the metadata of the messages you receive. This is known as an email envelope and it consists of:
Since the digital envelope can make a message stand out in the recipient’s inbox (and we all have an inbox full of unread emails), the subject line and the preview text are a focal point of email marketing campaigns. Catchy subject lines and carefully selected preview text can affect the number of sales in e-commerce (more people open the email, more people click on links, and more people buy what you sell).
Now, as a real estate investor, you won’t get a motivated seller to sell their house to you with a catchy subject line alone. It’s not the kind of decision clients make after they’ve read an email from you. But, being mindful of the importance of email envelopes can improve the effectiveness of your marketing and give your initial hook more punch.
You can build on your experience with direct mail marketing (if applicable). For instance, the preview text of an email is very similar to going for a window envelope delivered by post. When you send a letter, you carefully place a specific part of it to be visible through the window envelope. When you send an email, you can also tweak the preview text in the email envelope, so that it stands out in the recipient’s inbox.
Beware though, because not all brick-and-mortar tricks employed by REIs apply to email marketing. In a direct mail campaign, you can go with a fake priority mail envelope, but using a misleading subject line in an email REI campaign can actually get you blacklisted.
Once recipients open your email, throw an engaging call to action their way. An REI’s email marketing isn’t just about conversion, and a big part of it is getting the audience through your funnel. So, be deliberate in placing calls to action in your messages.
What do you want your audience to do? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to schedule a house visit? Whatever your goal is, be clear about it. If you want to grow one of your marketing channels, you can divert them to subscribe to your YouTube channel, to join your Facebook group, to listen to your podcast, or to fill in a form on your website.
Don’t overwhelm your audience with multiple calls to action and the whole process all at once. Simply provide them with a straightforward way to make the next step, regardless of whether it’s their first interaction with your REI business or you’re following up on cold leads.
Your mailing list (or those who have subscribed to receive your emails) works best when it contains only good leads. This goes back to the method you’ve used to make the list in the first place.
If you used a lead magnet (eg. in the form of a free PDF report) to get people’s email addresses, chances are, not all of them would like to keep receiving emails from you. But if you send your REI newsletter to leads who are already qualified in your CRM, you are more likely to engage clients. Unfortunately, most of your audience doesn’t need you until they become a motivated seller. And when that happens, they need to sell their house fast (within weeks), so they might not be into your email marketing.
So don’t be surprised if most of your subscribers are actually contacts you interacted with on other channels, and maybe even done deals with as opposed to new leads. Also, don’t fret too much about getting requests to unsubscribe from your mailing list. If someone wants to leave – let them go. In fact, include multiple unsubscribe buttons in visible spots – this will improve the quality of the engagement of your remaining subscription base.
Building a good mailing list from scratch is hard and this makes REIs turn to buying email lists full of hot leads. Of course, we would advise you against doing it. If these email lists were so hot, would someone be selling them to others? And if you could “buy” an audience, wouldn’t every REI out there dominate real estate markets?
Our recommendation: grow your mailing list organically. You need to incorporate this aspect of your email marketing efforts in your overall strategy for lead generation. Ask people to subscribe to your mailing list. Add a subscription form on your website, announce your newsletter through social media, include a link for subscription in your signature for business emails, etc.
There are many ways to do it. Make your email subscription memorable. Your branding and general marketing can help (the logo, the motto) and if you want to mix it up, you can also give your subscribers a catchy name, something that makes them feel as if they’re part of an exclusive community. Your audience of motivated sellers is approached by many other REIs at the same time, so do your best to stand out.
This will improve both the deliverability and the success of your REI email campaign.
Almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Email marketers invest a lot of time and effort into making sure people can access their email on a mobile phone without a hassle. Also, there’s a multitude of devices, all with their unique software – different operating systems, internet browsers, and the like. So, this is something you need to keep in mind about email marketing and optimize your emails to be easily read on smartphones. If you launch an REI marketing campaign on a social network, someone else takes care of this issue.
There are two remedies to this: one is to test your emails before you hit send and the other is to use a marketing platform that will sort this out for you. Whatever your choice, cover the issue of formatting the message so that it can be accessed by everyone on your mailing list.
Email marketing platforms with thousands of customers have a lot of data on campaigns across industries. Hence, they are in a position to share reports on metrics that show the effect of email marketing, and all entrepreneurs want to have a look at the numbers.
But before we check the metrics, let us first introduce what they’re all about:
Bounce rate – the percentage of messages that did not reach the recipient (probably because the email was deemed spam). There is hard bounce – when the email address doesn’t exist or you were blocked – and soft bounce – when the email is not delivered due to a temporary issue, like the server being down, so resending the message can solve this.
Open rate – the percentage of emails that were opened by the recipient. Some platforms may share average email read time, or the average time recipients spent viewing the message, but the read time metric is less reliable than the open rate.
Click-through rate – the percentage of recipients who clicked on the links in the email. This is useful for checking whether your content is relevant. If you want to take it further and know where your traffic is coming from, you can also “attribute” your client’s visit back to a specific link. Email attribution works best in eCommerce, when you want to discover details about the inbound journey of buyers, but you can use it to learn which of your pieces perform well, too
Conversion rate – the percentage of recipients who clicked on a specific call to action. It helps separate the successful calls to action from the under-performers.
What are the benchmarks for REIs when it comes to these email marketing metrics?
Well, there aren’t studies focused exclusively on real estate investors (if you find one, kudos to you), but you can find a benchmark for real estate in general. For example, MailChimp found that their clients who work in real estate have:
As with many other indicators, especially regarding marketing for REIs, you can expect your numbers to be even lower than those which apply to real estate in general.
Assessing the value of an email campaign for REIs goes far beyond following industry benchmarks. Most of the techniques in email marketing are utilized by companies that have a product to sell. As a real estate investor, you offer your clients a service (a fast and convenient selling process), so not all of those tricks will be applicable to you. This doesn’t mean you can discard the role emails can play, just because you’re not into e-commerce.
On the other hand, this means that you’ll have an easier time conquering the learning curve of email marketing. For example, the sending time (day of the week, hour of the day) is very important in email campaigns for small businesses, but since your motivated sellers don’t arrive at their decision based on an email, you can excel faster in other aspects or metrics that are more relevant to your process.
Aside from evaluating the feedback from email recipients, you can also take a look at what your competitors do. Maybe you can’t crash their office to study in-house processes concerning closing deals, but you can definitely subscribe to their REI email marketing campaigns and compare your newsletters. You will learn both what to do and what not to do.
Ultimately, it rests on you to choose whether email marketing is for you. But, these days, it’s fairly easy to learn how to draft, create, and execute your first email newsletter – even for those of you who’ve never run a digital marketing campaign. It’s simply an extension of what your copywriter and the marketing team would do to promote your business offline anyway.
Email marketing won’t bring you a trove of motivated sellers overnight. You’ve heard us talk about consistency in REI marketing before, and that applies to emails as well. Start your campaign and test an option that works best. There are more reasons to try email marketing as an REI than there are drawbacks, so good luck!
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