How to Build a Real Estate Email Marketing List
By Sandra Manzanares
About Inbound Marketing
Email marketing is the backbone of lead generation and lead nurturing, and it’s only growing. A 2013 study estimated email marketing ROI to be as high as $40 for every $1 spent, and it had higher conversion rates per website visitor session than search and social media combined. Most of all, real estate email marketing helps you attract, nurture, and retain visitors to your real estate website, so it’s important to create a strong email list that gives you direct access to your target audience and prospective leads (91 percent of whom check email at least once daily).
Whether you’re starting at square one or already have some contacts, use these tips to attract website visitors and easily convert them into email subscribers.
Define what you want from your email list.
It’s important to define why you want an email list because that will determine how you’ll generate subscribers and how you’ll use the list once they’ve signed up. Are you focused on brand awareness and traffic, or lead generation and sales? Your answers will help you build out your strategy.
Assess your number goals for subscribers.
Decide early on what an acceptable number of subscribers is for you to reach within a year, then work backwards to determine how you’ll break that goal into small benchmarks throughout the year. Noah Kagan of OkDork.com has provided a great worksheet so you can develop a real estate marketing plan that will grow your email list. Using it helps you assess your current situation, decide how many subscribers you’ll strive for, and determine the amount of traffic you’ll need to generate to reach your goals. Having this plan in front of you makes growing your email list much more tangible and scalable.
Decide who you want on your list.
Customer personas are as critical for your email list as they are for creating website content. You’re tasked with communicating with subscribers (who you’re hoping will eventually be actual customers), which means you have to meet their needs and provide them with valuable content. Additionally, as you create email copy and subscription solicitations, your tone and language will be heavily determined by these personas. Learn how to create great personas here.
Optimize your website for email list conversion.
If you want to make email sign-ups a priority, your real estate website should be optimized to convert visitors to subscribers. Most website visitors will not intuitively know how to get on your email list, and you’ll want to give them ample, highly visible on-page opportunities to sign up for your email list, even within the same page.
“Attract. Engage. Convert.”
— Lee Odden
This is where opt-in forms and boxes come into play: They act as a marked area of your site dedicated to visuals, copy, and forms serving the sole purpose of getting someone to join your real estate mailing list.
Features of a great email opt-in area.
- Header. The header is where you’ll outline what that box, page, or form is attempting to “sell,” which in most cases will directly mention your email list.
- Pitch. This is where you push the value you’ll offer the reader if they agree to sign up. Many times this is supported with stats or social proof to boost value.
- Call to action (CTA). This is how you’ll tell the reader exactly what to do (sign up).
- Clear incentive for email sign-up. Why would someone want to sign up for something without a clear sense of how it would benefit them? Email has become a near-sacred space for most people, and they only want the most important messages getting to their inbox. Develop a description of what being part of your email list entails.
- Visuals. Visuals can help catch a reader’s eye, but depending upon your site capabilities, this may or may not be included in your email opt-in area.
- Minimal detail request. While you might get excited to ask for all of a visitor’s personal details, don’t. The email sign-ups that convert best ask for email only, or email and name at most.
Types of On-Site Email Sign-Up Features.
Below are a few popular types of email list opt-in opportunities you can implement on your website, as well as great examples of each. (Note: Don’t go overboard using every option available. Rather, start with a few options and measure how well they convert.)
Feature Box or Pop-Up
A feature box sits at the top of your web page and is the first thing users see. Because of their prominence, feature boxes have increased some blog subscriptions as much as 51.7 percent.
All of these options are great because they are the most prominent types of email opt-ins you can implement on your site — the reader certainly won’t miss them.
A Feature Box from CoSchedule:
A Feature Box from Marketo:
A Placester Pop-up:
A NewsCred Pop-up:
Sidebar opt-ins are one of the most popular locations for email sign-ups, so readers can anticipate looking for your email list sign-up feature there. If your pages require lots of scrolling, consider adding a sticky widget that will float your opt-in feature wherever your visitor is on the page.
Litmus offers a visual in their sidebar sign-up:
KISSmetrics Sidebar Opt-in:
End-of-Content Opt-in Area
If someone has taken the time to read through to the end of your content, it’s important to keep them engaged. You’re probably already creating CTAs to get readers to continue to click through your site, and this area is also a great opportunity to offer an email subscription field. Language like, “Enjoyed this article? Get more in your inbox. Sign up here” is simple enough to hook readers, showcase the value of the offer, and provide an action for them to take.
Hubspot’s End-of-Content Subscribe Box:
Content Marketing Institute uses both a pitch and access to more content at the bottom of their content:
Dedicated Email Sign-up Landing Pages
Setting a dedicated landing page for your email list sign-up has numerous benefits. Here you can use a full page to outline the benefits of your email list, offer links to great content and free resources, improve your search engine optimization by using focused long-tailed keywords, and use the URL to advertise your mailing list off-site. When creating these landing pages, make them clean, with few distractions. Each landing page should have a single-action goal (but keep in mind that creating more than one email sign-up feature — boxes, forms, etc. — per landing page is okay). Provide an eye-catching headline, bulleted lists of benefits and features of your email list (many people will include social proof here to highlight their content, accolades, or the amount of subscribers they have), a CTA that focuses on telling your web page visitor to provide their email, and the actual form where they can provide their personal contact details.
Copyblogger‘s Email Landing Page:
AWeber Email Landing Page:
Content That Converts
When AppSumo ran an ad, they realized they only gained 100 subscribers, but when offering a free resource, they were able to get 600 people to sign up for their mailing list. Putting great content behind a required email subscription opportunity gives visitors more incentive to sign up. You have two choices when it comes to these sign-up opportunities:
- Add in an extra check box where the visitor can sign up automatically while accessing your content.
- Make sign-up a requirement for them to receive the free resource.
To increase conversions, make your free resource something that is applicable to the majority of your website visitors and is well-trafficked. Customize each pitch and CTA to match the opportunity (e.g. If your content resource is a checklist for home sellers, make your pitch and CTA relevant to that persona). If you don’t have a free resource or download, learn how you can repurpose content you already have on your site and republish it in new formats for download.
Contently‘s Content-Based Email Opt-in:
Social Media Examiner‘s Content-Based Email Opt-in:
A CoSchedule pop-up that uses content to capture email:
Sign-Ups Integrated with Other Actions
Make email list sign-up a natural step when visitors and leads are interacting with other parts of your site and content. Encourage email sign-ups when creating RSVP lists for upcoming open houses, as footer CTAs when personally emailing new leads, or as an extra box leads can click as part of lead capture forms. Use enticing language that outlines the benefits of being a part of your email list.
Placester adds an area where visitors can easily opt-in to marketing emails while they request more information or ask a support question:
MarketingProfs lets contacts know they’ll be opted-in to email marketing when signing up for a webinar:
Byline CTA and link
You also have the option to include a link next to your author name in your blog posts that leads to a subscription page, which gives users another opportunity to join.
“Success is the sum of small efforts — repeated day in and day out.”
— Robert Collier
Use off-site tactics to grow your email list.
Now that you have your real estate website optimized to convert visitors to subscribers, it’s time to think about all of the folks you want to interact with who may not be visiting your website daily, and generate off-site tactics to convert them to email subscribers.
Share your email list sign-up landing page to increase conversion opportunities.
Having a dedicated subscription landing page offers you an unique URL you can reuse in multiple places off-site to generate traffic. Just as you would with your domain name, use your sign-up landing page URL everywhere:
- Provide to other bloggers, colleagues, family, and friends
- Add to email signatures for new leads who haven’t yet opted-in to your email list
- Include in the bottom of newsletter emails (works well if your email is forwarded to anther contact)
- Add to your social media bio
- Add as a pop-up on SlideShare or YouTube
- Publicize in posts on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. (do this biweekly or monthly)
Optimize your guest posts.
If you’re writing guest posts on other sites, you’re already getting lots of new eyes on your content, but don’t just rely on content to get visitors to your site. Optimize your post to increase email list conversions: In your bio or introduction, mention your company name and link to one of your landing pages that also hosts an email sign-up box. Also, see if you can reuse the tactic of including a link next to your byline that leads to an email sign-up page.
Best Practices for increasing and retaining subscribers.
Inbound marketing proves that great content and lead nurturing is key to growing your fan base and generating new leads. Here are tips for how to create an email strategy that generates quality readers and keeps them engaged.
Start the nurture process early for new subscribers.
Email unsubscribes are highest 10 days after signing up. That means you need to start providing value to your subscriber early on. Start by sending automated messages that welcome the subscriber, offering them resources and an outline of how you’ll continue to email them. Then, you should check in personally with that subscriber in the first couple of weeks to make sure they’re finding what they need from your email list.
Hubspot‘s Email Welcome:
Inman News‘s Email Welcome:
Offer valuable emails.
Part of building an email list is not simply aggregating tons of emails and hoping they’ll stay for the ride. You want to create great value by delivering content-rich emails that give users a benefit for reading. This also increases the likelihood subscribers will share your content with their network.
Increase email engagement.
Retention is just as important as generation when it comes to subscriber lists. Examine your open rates and click-through rates to see how you’re growing and whether users are actually benefiting from the emails you send. As of August 2014, real estate email marketing had an average open rate of 25.86 percent and a click-through rate of 6.83 percent, with unsubscribes around 0.18 percent. If you’re significantly low on open rates and click-through rates, but high on opt-outs, you’ll need to revisit your email strategy and determine how you can create better engagement tactics. Here are some tips for effective emailing:
- Eye-catching subject lines are concise, direct, and use adjectives that signify the benefit of what’s inside the email.
- In your email body, it’s best to use emotion and effective storytelling to slowly reveal the email’s value.
- Offer free resources for download so that readers will feel they have an “in” by being a part of your email list.
- Your email should focus on achieving one goal — a reply, viewing a listing, reading a piece of content, etc. Use a strong CTA to get the action you want.
- Personalize emails by using names and personal details specific to the recipient.
- Determine the best times to send email to your audience so you reach them when they’re more likely to open your email. Mornings and weekends work well, and emails relating to property were found to be opened at high rates between 3–5pm.
- Avoid using spam trigger words like “free,” “percent off,” “reminder,” and “help.”
- Use your actual email in the sender field, not a “donotreply” address.
- Use reactivation emails for subscribers who aren’t opening emails for an extended period of time to see if there’s more you can do to help keep them engaged.
Use data to retarget and deliver what readers want.
Use your customer relationship management system (CRM) or email newsletter software to determine what leads click on most. This gives you clues as to what your subscribers love to read and can be used to develop targeted emails that they are more likely to engage with.
What tactics do you use to build your email list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Published on October 17, 2014
Written by Sandra Manzanares
Writer, editor, and marketing manager with a passion for helping brands enhance their content marketing strategy. I'm a firm believer that creative storytelling is an essential part of the way we communicate. Constantly striving to fill my head with as much creative and analytical information as possible.