10 Essential Real Estate Email Marketing Metrics to Track
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
A primary goal for your real estate email marketing strategy should be building your email list and getting valuable messages into leads’ inboxes. To achieve this, you must analyze how successful your campaigns are, determine what you can do to improve them, and implement changes to get better results. In this post, we reveal the specific metrics to monitor, and actionable steps you can take to better your real estate email marketing’s effectiveness.
(Note: Though you can track some of these metrics in your Google Analytics account, additional email marketing software is needed to monitor others. Research different email marketing solutions to discover which can help you track these metrics and others.)
Deliverability and Spam Complaints
Simply put, this is the amount of emails sent that actually make it to recipients’ inboxes. Follow email marketing best practices with your campaign and your email will reach its intended audience without any issues. Failing to do is typically the result of an internet service provider (ISP) or your recipients labeling your messages as spam.
Getting into your real estate leads’ inboxes may seem straightforward, but there are many factors that dictate whether your messages make it to your contacts. Here are common best practices to follow with your email marketing campaigns so you avoid deliverability issues and spam complaints:
- Following CAN-SPAM regulations: This is legislation created by the federal government at the turn of the century to ensure commercial email senders didn’t deceive their recipients. Check out this guide from the Federal Trade Commission to learn what you need to do to comply with CAN-SPAM.
- Send regular email to real addresses: Sending high frequencies of email to numerous recipients, some of whom no longer have valid email addresses, is arguably the most common telltale sign for ISPs that a sender is spamming its list. Avoid doing this at all costs.
- Set up Sender Policy Framework (SPF): This essentially allows the servers for your recipients to discern the reputability of your email address by checking out your website domain and Internet Protocol (IP) address. Giving these servers proof you’re legit can prevent them from blocking your messages.
- Be clear in your subject lines: Spammy or vague language in subject lines can lead to little trust with your email list and, in turn, quite-low open rates. Moreover, ISPs may deem your email misleading and reject it.
Further Reading on Email Deliverability and Spam
- 12 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability — KISSmetrics
- 21 Ways to Improve Email Deliverability — Web Marketing Today
- 5 Tips For The Email Deliverability-Obsessed — Marketing Land
The most common reason email isn’t delivered? It bounces. This occurs when an email send fails due to either temporary server issues — a full inbox, or an auto-reply (like those people set up when they’re out of the office) on the recipient’s end — called a “soft” bounce, or permanent server errors, which is referred to as a “hard” bounce. More often than not, hard bounces occur because a recipient’s email is no longer valid or never existed in the first place.
Nearly two-thirds of people prefer image-heavy email instead of text-heavy email.
In a perfect world, your email bounce rate would be zero, but for just about every professional using email marketing, there are times when messages simply can’t be delivered, so don’t sweat it if soft bounces occur every so often. Continual hard bounces, on the other hand, can lead to bigger problems.
Consistently sending emails that are hard bounced can do damage to your sender reputation and lead to your internet service provider (ISP) blocking your attempts to send email altogether, so this is important to fix, not only to improve your bounce rate, but also to prevent larger issues from occurring.
It’s important to comb over your email list to ensure you’re not sending messages to phantom addresses and that legitimate addresses are spelled correctly. Aside from deleting non-existent contacts from your email list, add addresses that aren’t valid to a “do not mail” list.
Additionally, send emails to leads right after they fill out a form on your website to elect or confirm to receive email from you to ensure their addresses are legitimate. If you discover an address doesn’t work, you can immediately know to remove it from your database.
Further Reading on Email Bounces
- 8 Reasons Why Emails Bounce — LeadGenius
- 5 Quick and Simple Tips to Reduce Email Bounce Rates — Statement Agency
- The Perils of a High Bounce Rate — iContact
Whereas the deliverability rate tracks whether you even made it into your recipients’ inboxes at all, inbox placement rate notes in what specific folder your email lands. It could end up directly in your leads’ main inboxes or in their bulk or junk folders (which isn’t a good sign). As with deliverability, your website domain, status with your ISP, sender reputation, and message content play roles in where your email gets placed. Of these factors, though, one you can mostly control is sender reputation.
Get your Sender Score by visiting senderscore.org to learn what grade level (on a scale of 0-100) you’ve been assigned. Data from email intelligence firm Return Path shows that practically no legitimate email comes from commercial senders with a Sender Score of 71 or less, so improving your score should be a paramount priority.
Once you’ve identified your score, plan out ways you can increase it. To get the best email marketing sender score, focus on the quality of the content of your email so you actually provide clear, consistent value to your recipients, send only to permission-based lists (a.k.a. those who’ve opted in to receive your email), email from the same sender address, and properly structure the HTML of your email.
Regarding the last pointer, don’t worry: You don’t need to code your emails from scratch. Use a real estate email newsletter template that makes it simple to modify your messages and branding.
Further Reading on Inbox Placement
- 5 Factors that Impact Inbox Placement — EmailDelivered
- Email marketing: The unified theory of deliverability — Oracle Responsys Marketing Cloud
Now that we’ve covered how to actually get your real estate email marketing in front of your recipients, it’s time to ensure they actually open your messages. Open rate is generally defined as the number of people who open your email divided by the total number of emails sent (save for those that bounced), multiplied by 100. What you consider a successful open rate will undoubtedly differ from other industries (and even other agents), given that you need to consider characteristics like list size and how long one has been running an email campaign.
It’s vital to segment your email database into multiple lists so you can accurately gauge the types of leads who open your email most and automate your messaging to the same scheduled periods. For instance, test when you send your email for a month or so then pick one specific day and time to regularly send that email type.
Further Reading on Email Opens
- 6 Ways To Improve Your E-mail Open Rates — OPEN Forum
Deleted and Read
Not everyone who opens your emails is actively reading them. Some simply open them for a couple of seconds to see what it’s about. If they deem a message not worthy of their time or simply uninteresting, they immediately click out of and, ultimately, delete it. This quick opening and removal of your email contributes to your email marketing’s delete rate.
Conversely, there are recipients who decide to actually read your email. Those who look over your email even for just 10 seconds or so — and, thus, have at least moderate interest in what you have to say and/or offer — contribute to your email’s read rate.
As with the time on page metric you (hopefully) track for your real estate website, it’s helpful to keep tabs on how long your recipients read your email. The catch is not all email marketing software affords you the chance to gauge this metric. So, you need the right solution to determine who’s actually scrolling through your email and consuming the content and who clicked merely to see what your message was and left.
Further Reading on Email Deletes/Reads
- Email Engagement Metrics: More than Your Typical Analytics — Email on Acid
We’re halfway through this post and only just now getting to what happens when people engage with your content. This underscores the intricacies that go along with creating an effective real estate email marketing strategy.
A high click-through rate means you consistently get recipients to click links that take them to your real estate website. You can certainly link to other online locales, but if you want them to convert (more on that in a minute), it’s imperative to send them to important pages on your site. For instance, recipients who opted to receive listing update emails should get links that lead to featured listings pages.
Link-stuffing will only make your emails look spammy, so link accordingly to the length of the email. If you have just 100 words of copy in an email, for example, don’t add a dozen links to similar pages on your site. Rather, pinpoint a few key pages associated with the email topic you’d like recipients to visit. Each type of email you send should have a core group of pages you want your list members to click through to, so plan out your linking strategy before sending a single email as part of your campaign.
Further Reading on Email Click-throughs
- 5 ways to Increase Your Email Click-Through Rate — GetResponse
- Top 6 Tips to Increase the Click through Rates of Your Marketing Emails — Social Media Today
In February 2015, the average CTR for email sent for the real estate industry was 6.85%.
— Constant Contact
Email marketing for real estate entails different goals than email marketing for ecommerce and general retail companies — primarily regarding what is considered a conversion. A business like Amazon or Wayfair, for instance, may consider a conversion to be someone who clicks on a product in an email and ends up buying that product. The conversions you may want to track include a click in your email that leads to content downloads, form fill-outs, consultation requests, or market analysis report requests.
Determine what qualifies as a conversion at the onset of your real estate email marketing setup so you know exactly what to track from the start. Maybe you want people to download your home buyer’s guide or fill out a request to meet in person. Whatever it is, make sure you can measure it over time.
Further Reading on Email Conversions
- 5 Tactics for Boosting Email Conversion Rate — Monetate
Forwarding and Social Sharing
Just like referral programs help agents get new business from old business, you can get new email marketing subscribers from your current batch. Make it simple for your recipients to share one of your real estate blog posts, listings pages, or other pages on your site. Roughly one in five email marketers includes social sharing buttons in their email, which has led to substantially better click-through rates, among other metrics.
Another way to spark email engagement is to make it easy for subscribers to forward your email to others that may find it just as useful. There are untapped leads who have yet to sign up for your newsletters, digests, and specialized emails, so entice your current subscriber base to get others onboard.
One nifty way to encourage your lead lists to get people they know to sign up for your email marketing is to incentivize such an action. Offer a free $5 Starbucks card or create a detailed housing market report they can receive — any small token that can get you a lead that’s far more valuable than a cup of coffee.
Further Reading on Forwarding/Social Sharing
- What Social Sharing Can Do For Your Email Marketing — Search Engine People
It can be difficult to figure out the right content to send via email and at what frequency, but testing over time will lead you to the light. Gradually, it becomes clearer what times of day are optimal to send messages to leads, what they enjoy and dislike about the content of your communications, and how often they like to get your email in their inbox. If you feel your unsubscribe totals and rates are too high, take a step back and examine the components of your messaging by asking yourself questions like:
- Am I sending email too often? Should I restructure my email marketing calendar?
- Are my emails personalized enough? Do I legitimately try to connect with my leads?
- Is my email marketing responsive? How can I better optimize them for mobile devices?
- Do I vary the content enough? Could I mix in new subject matter for my email?
- Am I sending multiple types of email to those who only opted in to receive one type of email?
Though it may seem counterintuitive to your goals, always include a visible unsubscribe option at the bottom of your emails so it’s simple for your list members to opt out should they choose to. Once recipients unsubscribe, send them one last message: a confirmation email noting they’ll no longer receive your messages and thanking them for subscribing in the first place. Small gestures like this could get them to subscribe again in the future.
Further Reading on Email Unsubscribes
- Why People Unsubscribe From Your Email List — Mashable
- 7 Tips to Improve Your Unsubscribe Process — WhatCounts
At the end of the day, you could have a 90% open rate and 80% CTR (which would be world record-breaking numbers, by the way), but your real estate email marketing strategy won’t be successful if your total opens, click-throughs, and list size aren’t substantial.
Growing your email marketing metrics is a never-ending quest, so set aside time each month to analyze what facets of your email campaign are leading to results and which areas you need to improve, such as getting your leads to convert at a higher clip.
Again, though, it all starts with list growth, so if you don’t have anyone to market to, get back to the basics of your email strategy and find qualified leads who would want regular updates from you about your business, the local market, and homes for sale.
Further Reading on List Growth
- How to Grow Your Email List to 5 Digits and Beyond — KISSmetrics
How do you stay on top of your real estate email marketing strategy? Tell us how you track and adjust your campaigns in the comments section below.
Published on March 18, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.