Most people think of email as the “old-fashioned” way of communicating. I don’t blame them. These days we have so many options for communicating, it’s hard to believe that email is still one of them. For some people it is still their primary form of connecting with people. Take my Grandma for example, the other day she sent me an email telling me to go look at something she had posted on Facebook, and I don’t mean that she sent me a message via the messenger app.
All joking aside, email marketing plays an important role in staying in touch with you consumers. I know this because; 1) I get what feels like a million emails a day from retail stores, hair salons, etc., and 2) At work I send monthly e-newsletters to our clients and have multiple auto-responder campaigns set up (I work in the Real Estate industry).
Benefits of Email Marketing:
- An easy way to keep customers informed: Sending emails consistently allows you to stay in-touch with your consumers and increase top-of-mind awareness.
- Extremely customizable: Emails can be designed to not only perfectly match your brand, but they can also include customer-specific elements like the recipient’s name.
- Drive sales: Most e-commerce business use email marketing to send its subscribers coupons or other promotions. Now that I think about it, a lot of my online purchases usually begin with me receiving an email that informs me about a sale that’s going on.
- It’s Inexpensive: Email marketing platforms usually aren’t too expensive. The one I use at work costs $20 a month and we send our newsletter to about 3,500 recipients, so we spend about $0.57 per email. That is a very small expense, especially if it leads to the sale of a house.
Creating an Email Marketing Plan
The first thing that you will want to do before creating your email is to define your audience. At my job we do this by splitting up our clients and leads into different categories; buyers, sellers, leads, active clients, property owners, etc. In our CRM database we keep record of where the client came from, whether they are a lead from a third-party site like Zillow or subscribed directly to our newsletter from our branded website. Because of the nature of real estate, we are constantly getting news leads and people subscribing to our newsletter. If you are struggling to get more people on your mailing list, read this article from HubSpot that lists 25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List. Some of the suggestions from that article include; encouraging your current subscribers to forward/share your emails, using social media to promote lead generation offers, and adding a call-to-action (CTA) on your website that will entice people to subscribe.
The next thing to do is to determine, gather and create the content that you want to appear in your email. I do this by setting a general theme for the email, for example in September I sent out a “back-to-school” themed e-newsletter that included school advice for parents, students and teachers. Our content list includes;
- Upcoming local events
- Local news, articles or information (we included the Seahawks schedule in our September newsletter)
- An article directly related to real estate
- Featured listings
- Social links and contact information
When creating your content for your emails, keep in mind who your audience is and what they are expecting to receive from you. If you are clothing store, your subscribers will most likely be interested in clothing trends, coupons, store events, new products, etc.
Here are a few tips for creating content.
Make your emails feel exclusive. When someone gives you their email address they are most likely expecting to receive something of value in return. You can make your emails feel exclusive by offering coupons, invites to special sales, etc.
Make your emails useful. When I check my email after an 8 hour workday I sometimes have up to 50 unread emails (I don’t know I subscribed to so many lists), half of them I don’t even read because I know there is nothing that is going to benefit me in them. Make sure that your emails give your readers something that they don’t already have. For example, a few months ago I received an email with a $10 of any service coupon from a hair salon that I use to go to. The email did two things for me. First, it reminded me that I hadn’t had a haircut in a very long time and two, it offered me the chance to get something that I needed at a discounted price. I called and scheduled an appointment the next day.
Humanize your emails. Try to incorporate your voice, tone and humor into your newsletters. This can make your emails enjoyable to read and keep your reader engaged in your email.
It’s an email not a novel. Make it so that your readers can scan your email and still understand the main message.
After you’ve generated the content for your email, the next step is to determine how often you are going to send your emails. You have to determine what frequency works best for your business and your consumers. We send out newsletters on a monthly basis, but we try to line up our newsletters with holidays, seasons or other events (like daylight savings). Figuring out which frequency works best for you may take some time, just remember to keep your frequency consistent with whatever your readers are expecting. If you told them you would send emails on a monthly basis, don’t start sending them daily.
Like any other marketing strategy, you will want to set goals for your newsletters. Are you hoping to increase sales of a specific product? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Email marketing platforms usually have tracking tools integrated in the platform making it easy to see how your email performed. I use a simple platform called MailerLite to send our newsletters, after I send an email it starts reporting how many people opened it, how many unsubscribed, which links people clicks on and how many times, who reported us as spam, how many emails bounced, etc. It also allows us to track the email through our Google Analytics account.
Another element of email marketing is marketing automation. Marketing automation refers to the use of a software that automates repetitive tasks such as emails, social media and other marketing tasks. At work, we use autoresponders to nurture the leads that we get through our website. For example, when a lead signs up for a saved real estate search they automatically receive a welcome email and then get added to a targeted email campaign depending on what type of client they are.
How do you know if you need marketing automation?
Marketing automation is supposed to help simplify the task of keeping in touch with your leads. If you are experiencing a steady influx of leads and can’t keep up with emailing them all on a constant basis, then marketing automation is probably right for you.
In the real estate world, marketing automation is an extremely useful tool. Like I said above, we use autoresponders to keep in touch with leads that we generate through our website. Even though it helps you keep in touch with your leads, it is not a lead generation tool. You should use it to massage the leads that you already have in hopes that they will convert into a customer.
Here are a few platforms that can help streamline your marketing automation.
HubSpot offers all of its services through one system. The system includes everything from blog management, to SEO tools, to automation templates. HubSpot primarily focuses on business to consumer marketing and offers built in CRM. The platform has also been reported as being easier to use if you are new to marketing automation. HubSpot has its own set of analytic tools for tracking your campaigns and reporting.
- Setup Fee: $600-$5000
- Pricing starts at: $200/month
- Targets small and mid-sized businesses and agencies
Marketo allows its clients to purchase any combination of four modules, this allows businesses create a custom solution for their needs. For four modules are; marketing automation, consumer engagement, real-time personalization and marketing management. Marketo has been traditionally associated with larger firms and business to business marketing, because of this their platform tends to require a little more IT knowledge to operate. This platform also offers a more in depth set of analytic tools.
- No setup fee
- Pricing starts at $895/month
- Targets mid-market to enterprise-level B2B & B2C marketers
Pardot separates its products into three different tiers; standard, pardot pro and pardot ultimate. Their software includes; lead nurturing, lead scoring and prospect tracking in all three of its product tiers. It has built-in reports that cover ROI, email analytics, the consumer lifestyle, AdWords campaigns, lead conversion and other metrics. Since this software is owned by Salesforce it has advanced CRM which allows users to have full visibility to lead activity.
- No setup fee
- Pricing starts at $1000/month
- Targets small and mid-sized businesses to enterprise-level B2B organizations
SharpSpring offers different pricing tiers based on how many contacts the company has, which makes it affordable for small businesses. The platform is easy-to-use and does not force you to commit to a long term contract. SharpSpring has built-in and 3rd party CRM which allows you to track your lead activity.
- No setup fee
- Pricing starts at $400/month
- Targets small businesses
Socedo focuses on automated social media lead generation. This software brings social prospects into your sales pipeline and provides social lead performance reports. Some of the features that Socedo offers are; automated engagement, CRM integration, email campaign management, social network search and more.
- No entry level setup fee
- Pricing start at $100/month
- Targets small, medium and large enterprise B2B marketers