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Real estate email marketing: How It Works (and Helps)

Real estate email marketing: How It Works (and Helps)

12 min read
Real estate email marketing: How It Works (and Helps)

When it was first introduced in 1971 to a small group of people, did those people know that email would become such a huge part of our collective lives? We use it to communicate for work and pleasure, to send invites to everything from weekend barbecues to birthday parties, and even to log into (and protect and secure) our various social media accounts.

For the most part, in 2022, humans are in their email all day, every day. Which makes email marketing an obvious component to a real estate agent’s job—and a real estate broker, too! It’s a fantastic way to reach your audience, track their engagement at a granular level, and iterate on what works.

If you’ve never considered email marketing as part of your arsenal of real estate tools, we’re going to walk you through how it works and what you’ll need to implement it.

Real estate email marketing 

The first question to answer: Who is your email marketing audience? In real estate, you have essentially three (sometimes four) different types of audience you can target with email marketing campaigns.

  • Active buyers
  • Active sellers
  • Current homeowners
  • Current renters (maybe)

It’s up to you whether you want to try to work with people who are currently renting a home but might someday want to buy. Nurturing those leads can generate revenue down the line, especially if you’re helping those renters understand what they’ll need to buy a house someday and are providing them with actionable advice about how to get there.

Depending on who your audience is, your email marketing might consist of advice or tips, active listings, recent sales, market information, or any number of other items. Your email marketing can be as variable as you are!

How to build an email marketing list

Before you can start sending an email campaign, you’ll need a list of emails to send the message to. As we suggested above, you’ll likely want to create more than one list of emails for the different audiences you hope to reach. It doesn’t make very much sense to send “how to buy a house” emails to current homeowners or active sellers, for example.

Resource download

Many agents use resources on their website, such as a neighborhood guide (for buyers) or an offer to create a comparative market analysis (for sellers) in order to capture valid email addresses that can then be added to lists for campaign purposes.

Capture Leads Pop-ups

A lead capture pop-up encourages site visitors to share contact details like their email address in exchange for an incentive. You can offer the ebook mentioned above or home valuation, house tour....

Usually, pop-up can populate on the screen over your content when a user visits a page on your site or after the visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your website. At Placester, you control how the lead capture pop-up windows behave across your site. You can choose when the pop-up appears, the frequency, and on what page.

Remember ...

Make sure you’re clear when you’re capturing an email address that you want to send the recipient more information about how to accomplish their homeownership (or homeselling) goals. You don’t want to be accused of spamming someone!

Keep track of your email marketing lists in your CRM by staying current with what all your clients are doing and regularly checking up to ensure that you have the most accurate information for all of them.

What should you market via email

Some of us don’t need much prompting to figure out what to say in an email, but for many, it can be a real struggle. How do you know what to send to your email list? What will they be interested in receiving?

Generally speaking, buyers are going to be most interested in tips and advice for buying a house, current listings, and market background. Sellers will want home valuation information and market background. 

Current homeowners want to know how to maintain their house, what’s on-trend in terms of renovations or upgrades … and market background. Renters are most likely to crave information about how to get in financial shape to buy a house (and probably also market background—everyone’s curious about the real estate market!).

How to start your email marketing strategy

The first thing you need to do is segment your clients into the type of email customer you’re trying to reach. Ideally, you’ll already be doing this with your CRM—how else are you going to keep track of when everyone is ready to buy or sell a house?—but if you haven’t done it yet, start by identifying whether your email recipient is most likely a buyer, seller, or current homeowner.

Next, determine exactly what you want to send, and how you want to send it. Are you going to create a newsletter that you send out weekly? Campaigns for first-time buyers or rushed sellers that explain what they need to know? Market news and information?

What you send will dictate how it’s packaged (as a blast or in a drip campaign, typically), how often you interact with your audience, and how you measure your success. If your goal is to land more listing clients, for example, then focusing on market news and list-to-sales-price “wins” you’ve captured for your existing clients could be a good email strategy. On the other hand, if your goal is to reach first-time homebuyers and help them get ready to purchase a house, then a drip campaign explaining down payments and how to save up for one might be a more effective approach.

Examples of real estate emails that work

What kinds of real estate emails get opened by buyers and sellers? Or homeowners? It depends on where your clients are in the process, and how sophisticated your email campaigns become; if you can send people emails that mirror what they’re hoping to learn, you’ll be in amazing shape.

Here are some examples of types of real estate emails that work:

  • Market reports
  • Listed this week
  • Sold this week
  • Seasonal home transaction information:
    - Staging a house for sale
    - Attending open houses
    - Moving with kids in school
  • Event listings
    - Local events: Sports, festivals, food, music, and so on
  • Local real estate news
    - New developments
    - Laws passed
  • Mortgage rate news
    - What does it mean when rates go up or down?
  • Seasonal guides
    - What to do in the spring, summer, fall, winter in your area
  • Date night ideas
  • Home maintenance reminders

If you have a blog, you can repurpose some blog posts as emails, or send out an email to your list every time you publish a new post on your blog.

Measuring email marketing success

Typically, email marketing success is measured through metrics. The open rate tells you how many people opened your email compared to how many received it. It’s usually expressed as a percentage of the total.

The click-through rate tells you how many people clicked on the links in your email, compared to how many received the email. It’s also expressed as a percentage of the total.

In real estate, according to research, the average open rate is about 19%, but the average click-through rate is below 2% (1.77%).

If you can meet or beat industry averages in your email marketing, then you’re doing well.

Email marketing services 

Someone has to write all of these emails, which is where many agents get stuck with email marketing. It’s understandable!

You’ll find that some service providers offer built-in email help (Placester is one of them; we have writers who can help write one-off emails or entire campaigns). Writers are also available on many online platforms that offer freelance help, although you might not find one with a lot of real estate experience and will need to make sure your writer understands the business well enough to pen an email that you feel comfortable sending out.

Software needed for real estate email marketing activities

For email marketing, you’ll need a website (to send your readers to after they open and read your email), and you’ll need an email service that sends the email on your behalf.

There are a number of free and paid email marketing services available. Pricing typically varies depending on the size of your mailing list, but most of the best platforms will give you the ability to segment your email lists, automatically add registrants to different segments and lists, look at analytics, and more. Mailchimp is one of the best-known, but there are dozens out there.

You’ll also want a CRM to help you keep track of your database and ensure that your email lists are updated accordingly when someone moves from buyer to homeowner, for example.

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Email blast for real estate agents

An email “blast” sounds a bit like a party. That’s not always the case, but if you can associate “blast” with “surprise,” then you’ll be able to remember how this type of email differs from a drip campaign (more on that below). 

A blast email is sent one time to an existing list of recipients. Not on the list when the blast is sent? Then you missed it for good, unless someone is kind enough to forward it to you.

If you were a news service, then the email blast would be your “breaking news” option to share timely and relevant information with your audience. It might be mortgage rates going up or down. It might be news about a listing that just sold. Or it might be information about a development that’s just been approved by the city council.

When should you use email blast?

Email blasts are sent to an entire segment of your audience, regardless of where they are in the home purchase or sales process. So you should save blasts for items that are going to be both widely interesting to many of the people in that segment, and timely and interesting enough to warrant an email.

If you hear something about the real estate market and think, “Wild! I can’t wait to tell _____ about that”—it might be a good candidate for an email blast. If the news can wait or is not compelling enough to get someone to open an email, save it for a different form of communication.

Email blast best practices

For your email blasts to be successful, try to follow these guidelines.

  • Personalize them. Use a recipient’s first name in greeting.
  • Be brief but interesting. Have a reason to send, and make it very clear.
  • Consider your timing. Sending a blast at midnight probably doesn’t make as much sense as during lunch hour.
  • Include a call to action, even if it’s just “have questions? Email me!”

What is drip email marketing?

Unlike “blast,” a “drip” email marketing campaign almost sounds like an illness. It’s not! The reference is about a leaky faucet: Those steady drips that land in your sink, regular as clockwork, reliable as the sun rising and setting. That’s what drip marketing is—sending regularly timed “touches” (emails, in this case) over a stretch of time that are designed to lead your readers to a decision point.

How to use drip email marketing

For real estate agents, it makes most sense to use a drip email campaign with an active buyer or an active seller, people who are already likely to be making a decision about working with an agent at some point in the near future. Drip campaigns can work for renters or current homeowners, but those groups are not nearly as likely to be making a decision to hire you (or not).

The idea with a drip campaign is that you’ll capture a buyer or seller at some point before they’re ready to make a purchase decision—to work with a specific agent, for example. By sending them emails in “drips” that correspond to what they’re looking to learn, you can establish yourself as an expert and guide them to work with you, specifically.

Does drip email marketing work?

If you do it correctly, drip email marketing can be pretty successful! According to research, open rates for drip emails are about 80% higher than blast emails, and click-through rates are 30% to 40% higher.

And, drip campaigns can generate up to 50% more sales-ready leads for your business. If you’re diligent about putting the appropriate clients into the appropriate sales funnels, drip campaigns can do a lot of lead nurturing work for you, without you having to lift a finger beyond setting them up and watching them automate.

How to do an email drip campaign

First, you’ll need to know who belongs in that drip campaign. Unlike a blast, your drip campaign isn’t sending the same email to your entire list at once. Instead, it’s sending the first message at a predetermined cadence, followed by the second message at a certain period of time after the first, and so on.

Then, you’ll need to understand when readers are entering your campaign. Are you offering to send them a series of emails that explains how to save up for a down payment? Or what they need to know about staging a house before sale? It should be a topic that they want to learn about enough to open several emails from you about the subject matter—something that matters to them. And you should be capturing them early enough in the process that they haven’t learned everything yet!

Figure out how many emails you want to send in the campaign. Maybe you’re sending one email about home valuation, then following up at a regular cadence (maybe every two months or so) to invite the homeowner to ask you any questions about the market or how their home value has changed, for example. Or maybe you want to set up a very specific number of emails about how to prepare for a home appraisal that entices a seller to work with you.

Finally, you’ll want to understand your call to action for each email and for the campaign as a whole. What do you want your readers to do when they’re finished reading your email? Pick up the phone and call you? Schedule an appointment? Wait quietly for the next email to arrive?

Email drip campaign messaging for real estate

Not sure what kinds of messages you can turn into a drip campaign? Here are some different thoughts for how you can nurture buyers and sellers, depending on how ready they are to engage your services (how “hot” or “cold” of a lead, in other words).

Cold buyer leads will be interested in topics like:

  • How much do I need to save to buy a house?
  • What are the unexpected costs of buying a house?

Hot buyer leads will be interested in topics such as:

  • How to make an offer on a house
  • What are contingencies and how can they be eliminated
  • How to get preapproved for a mortgage loan
  • How to shop for a home online
  • Open house etiquette
  • How to work with a real estate agent

Cold seller leads will be interested in topics like:

  • Home improvement return on investment
  • Home maintenance reminders
  • Design trends
  • Decluttering and cleaning information

Hot seller leads will be interested in topics such as:

  • Staging a home for sale
  • Listing and pricing strategies
  • What appraisers look for when valuing a home
  • How to handle multiple offers

Email marketing can be an extremely powerful way to reach your audience as a real estate agent. By working with your database to segment and refine your messaging to your different clients, you can position yourself as the best possible agent to work with across the board.

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