We constantly hear chatter about how the newspaper business and print advertising are industries that are slowly dying. The emergence and development of the internet and mobile technology leaves us with the ability to get up-to-the-minute news and information the second it breaks rather than just once a day at your door step or in a coffee shop. But is it really possible that an electronic form of communication could be right behind these dated forms of media in terms of advertising, promotions, and initial contact?
The concept of electronic mail, or e-mail as we know it, was first developed in the early 1970s and has since been transformed into how we now send messages, documents, photos, or even videos. The combination of scanning and e-mailing has virtually left fax machines non-existent and there’s no denying that e-mail still has relevance in both the business world and your personal life. But for marketing purposes, is e-mail really still effective?
I remember receiving endless promotional e-mails from retailers, my favorite sports teams, credit card companies, and yes, even from you real estate agents trying to sell me a home. And while that hasn’t completely stopped, between the increased technology of spam filtering and the rise of social media, I find myself opening very few e-mail marketing messages.
In fact, when was the last time you “signed up” to receive updates or e-mails containing coupons or discounts? In today’s world, it’s more about “following” companies as opposed to signing up to receive information on all the latest trends. If I want to get a jump on a sale or a great deal, I follow all my favorite businesses on Facebook or Twitter. Rarely do I voluntarily sign up to receive promotional e-mails when, instead, all the information I need is just a scroll away on my Facebook News Feed.
So while e-mail marketing may be losing its luster, all still may not be lost for agents still using this medium. Real estate is unique in that there are so many different product types, price ranges, and preferences when shopping for a new home. Are your clients searching for an affordable 1 bedroom condo for $200,000, a single-family home in the suburbs with a large lot and garage space, or a luxury waterfront property worth well over $1 million?
In other words, it’s not just like shopping for a t-shirt online. It’s because of this reason, and perhaps this reason alone, that real estate e-mail marketing may still be stronger than ever. If you have a sophisticated real estate website, you likely have the capability of sending listing e-mail alerts or custom IDX e-mail updates with listings that specifically meet each buyer’s criteria.
When The Gap runs a 20% off sale, that information is useful to everyone shopping at The Gap. If a price drops on a 4 bedroom home and I’m searching for a 2 bedroom apartment or condo, that information really doesn’t apply to me. That’s where custom IDX e-mails come into play. As a real estate agent, if you’re going to send out marketing e-mails, you should always modify each individual message for each individual buyer. Take it from me, the only thing buyers want to see in an e-mail are home listings which meet their needs and budget—that’s all.
Save the market updates and tidbits for your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Buyers really interested in the state of the market or increased interest rates, for example, check reliable websites and publications. Although the information may be the same, the presentation between CNN’s real estate page and your generic, spammy e-mail is really no comparison. E-mail marketing may still be effective in the world of real estate; but unless it’s a customized IDX or a listing update, e-mail marketing is nothing more than a dying newspaper trying to stay afloat. Simply put: if you want to use e-mail marketing, use it in the only way it's going to benefit you and leave the rest to social media.
Joe Heath is a graduate of Indiana University and also holds a Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development from Drexel University. After working as a Market Research Associate and writing published Market Snapshots for Hanley Wood Market Intelligence in Chicago, Joe now works as a Web Marketing Specialist and is a managing partner at Real Estate Web Creation, LLC.