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Email Lists: A Marketing Tool Every Real Estate Agent Should Use

Rachel Burris11 minute-read
October 31, 2019


As an agent, growing and maintaining your real estate business is just as much about how well you communicate with people as it is about how skilled you are in buying and selling properties.

You may think that skillful networking is the key to increasing your clientele and obtaining more leads, but that’s just the beginning. You need to know how to make the most of the contacts you’ve made, which is why you need an email list.

Why Should You Have An Email List?

According to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, approximately 3 million people within the United States hold real estate licenses. This number is large but may not be surprising given the fact that everyone you meet seems to have a friend or family member in the business.

This fact means that if you want to get ahead, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. When someone you’ve met is looking to buy a new home, sell their current property or refer a friend, you want your name to be at the forefront of his or her mind.

While using social media can be a helpful tool for increasing your exposure, you want to be certain that your marketing is actually reaching the individuals who are most likely to require your assistance. Having an email list that you regularly send marketing messages to is the best way to ensure that your contacts think of you before reaching out to any other real estate agent.

“All real estate agents should collect and retain an email list,” says Mike Opyd, managing broker and owner of RE/MAX NEXT in Chicago. “Email is an effective marketing tool when used correctly. It’s a way to stay in regular contact with your clients, build relationships and grow your business. Email gives you the opportunity to reach out any time of day or night.”.

With their low costs and high returns on investment, email lists have become a crucial real estate marketing technique. However, not all email marketing is effective. To get the most out of yours, you need to know the best practices for building, segmenting and engaging your email list. But before we get into all of that, you should have a better idea of what email marketing automation is and which email service providers can help you do it.

What Is Email Marketing Automation?

Email marketing automation enables you to send timely, personalized information to subscribers automatically. Through email automation, you create messages in advance and have them sent out whenever a subscriber performs a particular action. To ensure that your email marketing is consistently reaching out to and nurturing your contacts, you can also set up weekly or monthly emails to be sent automatically.

How Should You Use Email Marketing Automation?

When individuals subscribe to your email list, it’s common courtesy to thank them. But sending out a thank you email every time someone subscribes would take up way too much of your time. So instead of responding to each individual manually, you would set up a thank you message that automatically welcomes your new subscribers.

Welcoming new subscribers is just the beginning. In order to build a relationship with them, you must consistently follow up. After all, many of the individuals you’re reaching out to may not be ready to buy or sell a home yet. By sending out marketing emails regularly, you can ensure that your name is not forgotten, and that your expertise gets the attention it deserves.

Which Email Service Provider Should You Use?

In order to get started turning contacts into leads, pick an email service provider to help you with your email marketing. Choosing the right one will have a tremendous impact on your ROI. The provider you choose will not only be responsible for delivering your emails but also for creating them.

Each provider offers different email marketing software, so you’re not just choosing based on quality and cost, but also ease of use. Remember, your time is valuable, and email service providers are meant to help you streamline your marketing. If the features of the provider you choose are too complicated, you may find that the time you have to spend tinkering is not worth the returns.

There are many email service providers to choose from, including some that are specifically geared to the real estate industry. However, there are a few companies that are favorited by seasoned marketers and real estate agents alike. MailChimp, Constant Contact and GetResponse tend to be the most popular due to their affordability, straightforward interfaces and available online support.

“I love MailChimp. It is the easiest and most effective platform to use, along with being the most cost-effective,” says Opyd. “We have 2,000 people we can email before having to upgrade. We can build templates to use over and over as well and build as many as we want. We can also schedule emails to go out when we want. The upgraded version does a lot more, but for anyone just starting out in the industry, I highly suggest MailChimp.”

How Do You Build An Effective Email List?

Once you have a service provider in place, it’s time to start building your email list. As tempting as it may be to buy a list from a company, purchased lists don’t actually increase your customer base. If you’re sending marketing emails to random people, you’re actually sending spam.

The primary purpose of email lists is to build and maintain relationships with interested parties, which means that you need to ensure that everyone on your list is, in fact, interested in hearing from you.

Given the laws around spamming, you can’t even add the email addresses you already have to your list without express permission. Just because someone came to your open house and wrote down their email address when they signed in doesn’t mean that you’re free to add them to your email list. You need to ask first.

So building an effective email list means getting individuals to opt-in. You could ask everyone who gives you their email address whether they’d like to subscribe to your email list, but there are more manageable ways to get people to opt-in. While there are multiple strategies you can use to increase your subscribers, the easiest ways are through your website and social media accounts.

Adding a prominent opt-in form to your website will encourage individuals who are already interested in your business to subscribe to your email list. By including opt-in forms in multiple places on your website, you can increase the chances that you’ll capture the interest of anyone who’s happened upon your page.

Another useful way to build your email list is to promote free offers or contests on social media. By running campaigns on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you can get individuals to opt-in in exchange for free content or advice.

“One of the most effective tactics for all industries is to sell your byproducts,” says Jordan Rooney, president of Ridge Point Media, a strategic media and marketing company. “The byproduct of the real estate industry is specific knowledge in homes. By building a list of subscribers around content about the adjacent industry, for example, home renovations, do-it-yourself fixes and a variety of other topics generally surrounding homeownership, you’ll build a larger, more effective and more trusting audience.”

As you build your list, just make sure that you always provide an option to unsubscribe and actually remove anyone who requests to no longer receive your emails. You certainly don’t want to end up annoying individuals whose business you’re trying to secure.

Why Should You Segment Your Email List?

Once you’ve started building an email list, you need to think about the similarities and differences between the individuals on it. Your potential customers have diverse needs and interests. As a result, the content that they will be interested in will also be diverse. For your email marketing to be effective, you need to make sure that you’re sending the right messages to the right people.

If you want to ensure that you’re sending appropriate information to each of your subscribers, you need to segment your email list. This means grouping your subscribers based on their needs. As you begin to grow your email list, these groups can be as general as those looking to sell, buy or rent.

But as you gain more subscribers, you should continue to segment your list to include categories like:

  • New homeowners
  • First-time home buyers
  • High-end buyers
  • Likely sellers
  • Repeat customers
  • Newlyweds
  • Empty nesters
  • Those who aren’t quite ready to start the process

By segmenting your email list, you can analyze the stage of life each category of subscribers is in and determine what type of information will be the most useful for each one. The more appropriate the information is to the subscriber, the better the chance that the subscriber will turn into a lead.

“At the end of the day, email marketing for real estate is all about getting prospects to say yes to an appointment. A personalized message has better chances of achieving this objective,” says Mayank Batavia, the marketing and partnership manager of QuickEmailVerification, a company that verifies and validates email addresses on marketers’ mailing lists.

“When someone buys a property, especially a residential property, there’s a very good chance that the decision has a lot of emotions involved,” he adds. “A more beautiful place for the family, a better neighborhood for the kids, a warmer place to host memorable family reunions. A segmented list helps real estate agents understand the emotions of the prospect and connect better by evincing genuine interest.”

How Often Should You Send Out Marketing Emails?

Since the purpose of email marketing is to ensure that your contacts keep you in mind whenever they have real estate needs, you must be consistent in sending out marketing emails. You can’t just send your subscribers an email once a year and expect to see any returns. Effective email marketing requires that you send emails on a regular basis.

You may worry about annoying your contacts by constantly filling up their inboxes, but  the only way to ensure that you’re remembered is through consistent reminders. If people subscribe to your list and don’t receive emails immediately, they’ll forget about you, and your email marketing will have been a waste. So ditch the guilt. Remind yourself that your goal is to grow your business.

To get the most out of your email marketing, you should be sending messages to your subscribers multiple times a month. Most agents find that sending out an email every other week is sufficient, but some view weekly communication as an even stronger strategy. Your decision to send biweekly or weekly emails should depend on who your subscribers are and how skilled you are at creating content.

After you’ve segmented your email list, you may choose to be more aggressive about sending emails to unconverted leads to ensure that they are frequently reminded about you and your knowledge of the industry. However, you need to make sure that all the emails you send are creative and high quality. If you’re struggling to create content, you may want to limit your emails to biweekly.

As you determine the frequency of your communications, you must also think about when you will be sending them out. “Pick a day and time and send your emails out on a regular basis,” says John Livesay, keynote speaker and author of “Better Selling Through Storytelling.” “Tie your emails to a theme like Monday Motivation or Friday Fun. When people know to expect your emails on a regular day and time, they will look forward to them.”

People are creatures of habit. They like knowing what to expect. So regardless of how often you send emails, you should always make sure that your subscribers are receiving them at the same time on the same day of the week. Since people tend to check their messages before they go to work, sending emails on weekday mornings tends to lead to the best results.

As a real estate agent, your schedule fluctuates. You may not have the same amount of time to dedicate to these emails each week. Not to worry, that’s where the automation comes in handy. “You can write a whole month in advance and set them up to go out on the same day and time automatically,” says Livesay.

What Should You Include In Marketing Emails?

The content of your marketing emails will determine whether they actually build and nurture relationships with your subscribers. Although we all know that these emails are a strategy for selling yourself and your services to your subscribers, you still need to be subtle about the way you do it. If your marketing emails are all about you, your subscribers will stop reading them.

Emails that are too heavy-handed in their sales tactics lead readers to question the sender. If you’re going to enhance your business, you need everyone on your email list to trust you and have confidence in your expertise. That means that your marketing emails must provide value to your subscribers.

Rooney’s notion of “selling your byproducts” is crucial for ensuring that your subscribers see value in your marketing messages. The people on your email list should see you as an expert on everything related to homes, which is why you must create content that goes beyond your everyday business.

“Consistently sending out information that appeals to the broader market will perform much better than anything that is listing and buying oriented,” says Rooney.

Some specific ideas for content include:

  • DIY guides for fixing up homes
  • Before and after photos from home remodeling projects
  • Local news and events
  • Market updates
  • Restaurant reviews
  • Home improvement trends
  • Mortgage and insurance information
  • Interior design tips
  • Landscaping advice
  • Neighborhood guides
  • Cautionary tales
  • Budgeting lessons

The opportunities are endless. Just keep in mind that while you may want to use your marketing emails to show off your recent deals, your subscribers aren’t benefiting from a rundown of your business. Content that instead revolves around the ins and outs of homeownership, local news or the state of the market will engage your contacts and make them excited about receiving your emails.

If you’re worried about your ability to write engaging content, you can also provide links to articles written by others. Our Quicken Loans® Zing Blog and Rocket HomesSM Blog are great resources for finding engaging content related to the real estate industry.

How Can You Ensure That People Actually Read Your Emails?

If you’re spending time creating content for your marketing emails, you want to be sure that your subscribers are actually reading them. Email service providers allow you to track the number of people that read your emails through open rates and click-through rates.

To ensure that your subscribers are actually reading through your emails, you should focus on increasing your click-through rates, which track the number of individuals who click on any link that you’ve included in your email.

“The best way to improve click-through rates is to have a title that grabs people’s attention in the subject line. ‘What I Wish I Knew Before I Sold My Home’ or ’Never Lose Another Offer On Your Dream Home Again,’” says Livesay.

Writing compelling, snappy subject lines is the best way to ensure that your subscribers are motivated to read your emails. Livesay also explains that people are more likely to read emails that provide information on how to avoid mistakes as opposed to tips for improving their actions or decisions. So instead of writing a subject line like “3 Tips To Do To Sell Your Home,” he recommends “3 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home.”

What’s A Call To Action And Why Should You Always Include One?

A call to action is a tool used by marketers to entice audiences to perform a specific action immediately after engaging with content. After reading your email, you don’t want everyone just to delete it. You want the individuals on your email list to know what they should do next.

“Have one call to action and don’t make that call to action, ‘Let me know if you want to buy or sell real estate’ and definitely stay away from ‘Please send me your referrals.’ It’s cheesy, and it looks desperate,” says Regine Nelson, REALTOR® and owner of Wealthward Realty in Austin, Texas.

Your call to action needs to be persuasive enough to get your subscribers to act. So it must be viewed by your subscribers as a valuable opportunity.

“Invite people to an open house and also invite them to get a free assessment of how much their home is worth,” says Livesay. “Make it easy by giving them a link to click. Offer a contest on social media where they might win a free cleaning or gift certificate from Home Depot.”

By volunteering a free home assessment or a chance to win a gift certificate, you’ll demonstrate to your subscribers that you have something worthwhile to offer them. That’s how email marketing enables you to foster new relationships and enhance the loyalty of your customers.

“The more value an agent provides, the more that person is going to look at them as an expert and the person to go to if they or anyone they know needs anything real estate related,” says Opyd.

So as you create marketing emails to send to your subscribers, always ask yourself: What’s in it for them? If every email you send provides your email list with useful information and rewarding opportunities, you’ll convert more contacts into leads and ensure that your customers always return to you for all of their real estate needs.

Now that you know the importance of a call to action, here’s one to end with: sign up for MyQL Agent Insight to receive information about your clients’ mortgages, news about the industry and great educational resources.

Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.