How to Increase Opens and Clicks for Your Real Estate Email Marketing
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
There’s bad news and great news when it comes to your real estate email marketing campaigns. The bad news is that earning high open and click-through rates won’t happen overnight. The great news is those metrics — along with the number of leads you generate — will continue to rise the more you test and tinker with your email messages. As long as you commit to enhancing your messaging over time, you’ll go from getting read by just a handful of recipients to getting tons of clicks to your website.
Learn what you need to do to gradually improve your email marketing metrics and grow your lead list below.
Why Tracking Opens and Clicks is Paramount
“Why do I need to bother analyzing the email I send my leads? I know they received it — that’s good enough.” If that’s the approach you’ve taken with your real estate email marketing efforts, it’s time to alter it — dramatically. Email is one of many facets in your online marketing strategy, but it’s a crucial one to perfect. More than two-thirds of marketers surveyed by Econsultancy noted they rate email as “good” or “excellent” when it comes to return on investment — the highest percentage for any of the nine marketing activities the consulting firm included in the study — and there are numerous reasons why they think so highly of the medium:
- It’s cost-effective: Whether you use a popular email platform geared for the general professional like MailChimp and Constant Contact or a real estate email marketing platform designed specifically for agents and brokers, the cost of creating email campaigns is minimal in the grand scheme of your overall marketing.
- It’s time-friendly: While the initial setup for email marketing, particularly drip campaigns, can take some time to get going, in the long run, you’ll save hours and hours by having templates you can modify and reuse consistently for the different messages you need to send to clients and home buyer and seller leads.
- It gets results: As long as you stick with your email strategy and adjust it accordingly based on various metrics, especially opens and clicks, those figures will continue to improve in your favor and lead to more website visitors, site activity, and — in the end — leads who turn into clients.
Regardless of what the aforementioned marketers surveyed think about email marketing, they all have one thing in common: They’re at least measuring their email activities to see if it’s a worthwhile tactic — and that’s what you need to do as well.
The Steps You Need to Take to Increase Your Open Rate
Before you can worry about a lack of clicks on website links, videos, social sharing buttons, and other content in your email, you have to ensure your messages actually get opened. As of August 2015, a shade over 22% of real estate agents’ and brokers’ email is opened on average, according to Smart Insights. While that’s right in the middle of the pack compared to a couple other industries, it’s still not where it can be for many real estate pros nationwide. Making improvements to your email campaign management, like the ones below, can boost this figure for your marketing and lead to far more people engaging with your messages.
Avoid ending up in SPAM folders (in other words, don’t send spam-worthy email).
Write 150 words of overly salesy copy. Throw in a random stock image. Add in an unoriginal subject line. Blast to all buyer and seller leads. Each of these four email marketing acts epitomizes laziness and, in turn, won’t lead to a very high open rate. Not only that, though. If you were to enact this poor process for your email marketing campaign strategy, your messages would probably just get lost in the abyss known as the spam folder for most of your recipients.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to develop unique written and visual content that relays your value proposition, promotes your brand, and informs your audience on topics of interest. Start by generating a creative subject line that will appeal to your audience. Then, focus on featuring these elements in an enticing light (e.g. for calls to action to your listings page, use language like “Take a peek at some beautiful homes for sale in [market name here]”) and send the email to the right prospects and leads in your customer relationship management (CRM) database.
The bottom line is this: You can’t afford to skimp on time and effort when it comes to crafting your email — because if you don’t put in the effort and send generic messages, you’ll only end up frustrated by what will assuredly be a dismal deliverability rate.
Analyze which subject lines earn the highest and lowest engagement.
Just as you would when writing your blog posts, hooking your reader right off the bat in your email subject lines is important. Formulaic copy won’t make you stand out in the vast digisphere, especially given that plenty of other agents have already mastered the art of real estate blogging. Just as writing compelling content that grabs your audience’s attention and makes them want to read the rest of your articles is a must, so too is writing a unique, to-the-point subject line that attracts, impresses, and intrigues those who receive your email.
There are multiple routes you can take with the language you use for certain types of email. For instance, if you have a regularly produced email newsletter (perhaps one you send each week to those who subscribe via your website), your best bet is to likely have a consistent title you use for the newsletter (e.g. “[Market name here] Market Update for [Date here]”) so you develop consistency and, thus, your leads know exactly what to expect when they open the message. Similarly, if you send holiday-themed email to prospective buyer and seller clients, use popular phrases associated with the special occasions, or, if you want to be quirky, take advantage of the latest trends and memes and develop some outlandish subject lines, like the ones Vertical Response highlights in this post.
There are lots and lots of subject lines for you to choose from, and not all of them may work wonders for your campaigns and lead to a hefty increase in your open rate (in fact, many will fall flat — that’s the case for any brand’s email strategy), but it’s in the experimentation that you’ll find what works best for your business and how you can duplicate the success of those subject lines down the line.
Determine if your drip email is being sent to the right leads.
This not only refers to ensuring you keep up with where your real estate leads are in the sales cycle (top, middle, and bottom of the funnel) but also making sure the leads on your email marketing list are actually still active. If you have a home seller lead who hasn’t opened one of the couple dozen email newsletters you sent them in the previous six months, for example, that’s a pretty clear indication they should no longer be included in your email database. Sending email to inactive contacts may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that sending messages that continually get hard bounces from recipients’ inboxes can diminish your sender reputation and lead to blocked messages from their Internet Service Providers (ISP), it’s clear that keeping your lists clean and active is imperative.
Also, don’t forget that sending email to leads you earned naturally is the only reasonable play. Buying real estate leads or securing iffy referrals from agents and other contacts you don’t know well is never the right move: In today’s real estate marketing climate, it’s all about organic lead generation and nurturing. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time on old habits that have never really worked for agents.
Examine the time and frequency you send emails to your contact lists.
Anyone who tells you there are exact times, days, and frequencies you should send email is, simply put, delusional. Successful email marketing optimization requires testing, testing, and more testing. There will undoubtedly be some bumps in the digital road with your initial email schedule, but even just a month or so after starting a campaign, you should be able to discern which days of the week, time periods, and frequency levels earn your messages the most opens.
Select different time-based variables for each of your drip campaigns. For instance, you could send email featuring a special home buyer ebook with tips and tricks during midday on a Monday and another email featuring an in-depth guide designed for home sellers at the same time but on a Friday. The variable in this example would be sending email at the beginning of the week versus the end of the week.
The key to truly understanding what changes need to be made and timing and frequency work best is to compare and contrast two similar campaigns or two different emails as part of one campaign with only one variable in play. Conduct enough of these mini experiments and you’ll slowly but surely see a rise in opens.
Not all email should be automated, so send personalized messages manually to individual leads.
Drip campaigns will (or at least should) account for a considerable portion of your entire real estate email marketing efforts, but not all messages can (or should) be automated to your lead lists. Oftentimes, a personal touch is required to resonate with leads. When 80% of marketers agree that dynamic personalization is essential in their email marketing, you know it’s ideal to implement this mindset for real estate — one of the more personal industries there is.
Let’s say you just earned a new lead from your real estate website who wanted to know more about your background as an agent. While you may have an automated drip email that links to your about page on your site intended for certain email lists, the optimal move is to not let this person wait for that email to hit their inbox several days or weeks later, but instead reach out directly with a custom-crafted message that details everything they requested to know. Sure, you can still link to your about page, but this intimate touch with your tailor-made subject line and email copy is far more likely to hit the right note with the lead in question.
How to Bolster Your Real Estate Email Marketing Clicks
Once you execute the aforementioned email marketing tips and tricks to get more opens for your real estate email campaigns, it’s time to focus on bettering your click-through totals — an equally important task, but one that requires a different approach.
Make your email memorable with unique visuals and potent calls to action.
Choice is a funny thing: Many consumers claim they want a lot of it … but when they actually get it, they freeze up and don’t know which choices to make. This reality most definitely translates to email marketing. Instead of including too many calls to action (CTAs) throughout your messages, it’s best to have one, primary CTA that screams out “Click me! I’ll lead you to the info you’re looking for!” Whether this comes in the form of an image or text is up to you, but don’t overdo it with either, as you could end up confusing your recipients.
In addition to using one, stand-out CTA in your real estate agent email, consider embedding video into your messages as well. A custom-made video that briefly explains the value proposition of clicking a link that leads to your website can be more convincing that 50-100 words of copy and/or a static image with a brief CTA. The video marketing agency Wistia noted a startup was able to increase its email click-through rate 300% by incorporating video, while email marketing platform Silverpop notes brands can raise their email open rates by 20% and click-through rates by 2-3 times by using video in their messaging. So while you’ll need to spend some time, energy, and resources to create clips worthy of including in your email campaigns, it’s proven to work wonders for improving clicks for many professionals and brands.
Play around with the amount of body copy you incorporate in your email messages.
The ideal structure for a blog post is to have a catchy headline, succinct-but-appealing copy in the lede (a.k.a. the introductory paragraphs), and one or more headers throughout the post that break the article up into relevant sections. This technique also applies to your real estate agent email marketing. What differs for the two mediums, however, is length.
Brevity is your friend when it comes to most email you send to leads. Be concise with the copy that describes the links you include so you can aptly convince them to click through. As Econsultancy’s Ornaith Killen notes, the specific length is less important when compared to the scannability of your messages, so make your email body copy short and sweet and you’ll enhance your odds of getting leads to click right to your site.
Send different email to members of the same list featuring different real estate website links.
Sometimes, it’s not the link total that affects the success rate of your email, but rather it’s the destination to which you send those who open your messages. As noted, the best email marketing campaigns are the ones that experiment routinely, so test the number of links you include in each campaign to find the sweet spot that works best.
Newsletters and digests typically feature multiple blog posts and links to other pertinent pages falling under the overarching subject of your email, so including a half-dozen links in these messages is perfectly normal. But if you can get away with including twice as many (or more) links to your site and, in turn, strengthen the chances at least one gets clicked, why not do so?
Research from email marketing software firm MailerMailer shows there is a positive correlation between the number of links and click rate for email, so it’s in your best interest to see how many you can get away with including while keeping your click-through totals continually rising.
More and more email is opened on mobile, so make sure your messages are responsive.
Responsive design is no longer a term that’s unfamiliar to the real estate community. In fact, more agents continue to make the switch to responsive real estate websites each day. What a fair number of these industry pros have yet to do, though, is also implement a responsive email marketing strategy.
Data from Litmus and MailChimp paints a pretty clear picture of what gets email clicked, and responsiveness is right atop the list of most important factors for consumers. Given the majority of email is opened on tablets and smartphones if your email isn’t mobile-friendly and provides only the desktop version of your messages across all devices, you’re in trouble.
Before implementing these email marketing best practices for your campaigns, it’s important to know the essential metrics to track. Discover all you need to know about email marketing open rates, deliverability, bounce rate, and other core metrics in our explanatory Academy post.
How has your real estate email marketing strategy performed in recent months? What other aspects of it do you need help with? Tell us in the comments below what you’d like to know more about so you can return to (or start) running successful email marketing campaigns.
Published on October 2, 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.