Real Estate Email Marketing
James: Hello. Thank you so much for joining me for the real estate email marketing made easy podcast, brought to you by We Promote Property. I am your host, James Mackay and this is the podcast for real estate agents who want to know all the new trends and tips for real estate email marketing.
I am very excited about today’s show. Today we are going to be joined by Noelle Greenwood. Noelle is going to give some expert tips on email marketing. How to send, how to get your email opened and how to minimise unsubscribes. Email is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a real estate agent.
We are also going to find out about Noelle’s background and discover what makes her an expert. We will get to know her trials and tribulations and we will figure out what not to do, because she has already made the mistakes for us.
Now, as a real estate state agent you should already be sending an email on a regular basis, but stick around because a few small changes could give you some big results; maybe even a referral or listing.
I am excited today to be joined by Noelle. If you don’t know who she is, Noelle is the founder and chief conversion officer for the company called Conversion Green. Strange name, but the company has its focus on helping other companies to get more lead by making adjustments to existing digital property such as websites, e-mails and more. They take your digital property, they go over it, fine tune in it, give it back and it is better. Noelle, welcome to the show!
Noelle: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
James: I tell you what: you have got one amazing business going on here. I have been looking into it and researching it a little bit. It is part science and part creativity right?
Noelle: Yes, absolutely.
What is Conversion Green?
James: So bearing in mind that your audience listening today is real estate agents, picture yourself in an elevator. By the time it gets to the top floor you need to convince an agent in that elevator about what Creation Green does and why it is important to real estate agents. Elevator pitch, GO!
Noelle: I am hoping it is that building in Dubai which has a 154 floors! Okay, so as you, know many businesses, obviously including real estate agents, spend a lot of money attracting visitors to their site. It could be by email, social media or Google advertising. Bus shelter ads, as we know, are a favourite for real estate agents. TV or radio advertisement, as you probably also know, only gain a tiny percentage of traffic on a website and would rarely convert into a customer or a lead.
That’s because those websites are not designed to convert. Now what we do is we analyze your existing marketing channels or the activities that are driving traffic on your website. We then review the diary about what is actually going on when those visitors get to your website. So we figure out where you are leaking prospects, we prophesize about why this is happening and come up with solution to plug those leads. We then test those solutions until we find the best combination of factors that keep people moving through your marketing funnel.
Conversions – Why are they so important?
James: Alright, so basically what you’re saying is that you can take an existing digital asset like my website. You can run tests on it and figure out what needs to be improved to increase conversions.
James: Tell me what a conversion is?
Noelle: Well, a conversion can be many things but ultimately it’s either a lead that comes through website or in some cases it might be a transaction on your website. It is not as relevant for real estate agents but if you ran an e-commerce store then that’s a conversion, is selling that product, but for this field audience it’s mainly getting them to complete the desired action.
James: So it would be fair to say that I can drive traffic to my website – pretending that I am a real estate agent – trying to drive traffic to my website to get someone to fill out an expression of interest to get me to list their property for sale.
Noelle: Yeah, that’s a great example. There are obviously other ways to get people to show interest in a property that is for sale or apply for tenancy in one of your rental properties. A conversion could be getting someone on your e-mail list which is obviously relevant for this discussion.
James: Okay and does it include other digital methods like going on a form or an email list or can it include maybe picking up a phone and calling me?
Noelle: Absolutely, whatever call to action is most relevant to your business and what it is that you are trying to achieve – and if that is getting people on the phone then that’s the conversion.
James: Now most real estate agents in Australia do have websites but what you are saying is just because you got a website doesn’t mean that the person who built it has even tested it. They might have done it because it looks pretty, but what have the looks got to do with it?
Just because a website looks great – it doesn’t mean it’s successful
Noelle: Unfortunately, very little. This is an area that I struggle with because I am part digital data diver and part creative. And I love both those parts but as much as making something look good it has to have a great result at the end of it. Looks don’t convert, pretty websites don’t convert and they aren’t really necessary. Something designed for conversion could look good or could look bad, depending on your audience.
James: But I guess it is a trade off. If you want people to pick up the phone and call you about listing, if you want people to come to an open home and fill in a form then you have got to maybe trade off beautiful design aspects. Is that what you are saying?
Noelle: Not always, it depends on your audience for sure but there might be some elements that you like because of your own personal desire or things you have seen on other websites that look pretty. That doesn’t necessarily mean it works for conversions.
James: So tell me what sort of elements that you would be changing, when you say it does not look pretty – we are talking forms, colours, buttons?
Noelle: Yeah absolutely. So this design, there are design elements and there are copy elements and they are distinct but very inter-related parts of what we do. So, it could be we are looking at the colour of a button or the placement of that button or the words on that button, or the headline that’s drawing people towards clicking that button or submitting that form. The placement of it, if you have got your form right up the top, sometimes it works really well if it is something that doesn’t need a lot of extra research but if people are not likely to fill out that form until they have read more, having it up at the top means that by the time they scroll down and that form is gone from their view.
Therefore, you are not giving them the option right there because that form is all the way at the top of the page. So, placement of your conversions and the thing you are trying to get your people to do, on the site is really relevant.
James: I have spent thousands of dollars on my website. Surely those designer people know what they are doing?
Noelle: They know what they are doing in terms of the design and coding. Coders and creators know that. But what they don’t do typically is follow the data. So, in your website there are a lot of designers who have templates that they use to create the basis of their design for that website and same with developers. Therefore, they are working from a starting base which is similar to the “one size suits all” content
James: So one website might convert really well for one industry and quiet poorly for another.
James: But Noelle this is all very confusing for me. Pretend that I am a real estate agent; how do I get some quick wins with this and what do I need to do?
AB split testing – how this can improve your conversion rate
Noelle: Well the first place to start and the first thing to understand is that making changes based on things that you Google are the best practice conversion strategies are never going to tell you what works and what doesn’t, because the only real way to know for sure whether a change you make has an impact is to test it against the original. So, one thing that we really advocate is what’s called AB split testing.
James: Right, you better talk us through that.
Noelle: So it sounds complex but the concept is pretty simple. It actually applies to websites and email marketing as well. We have ideas about what we think might work. But we can really ever be sure unless we measure those results. So, what AB testing lets us create is two versions of that content or the design.
James: At the same time.
Noelle: Yes, so the original version is A, and then the tweaked version is version B or variation B. Then what we do is we serve that up to have viewers 50/50. So half of our visitors or the recipients of the email get version A and half get version B.
James: How do we do that? Is that automatic software or something?
Noelle: So there is specific software in email marketing; if you have a good email marketing platform, like we have AB testing built-in.
James: Alright we are going to talk about that email platform soon.
Noelle: Yes, in websites you use special software to do it. So actually it is pretty simple. It is like a single line of code that you put in your template and then you can use that software yourself. It is kind of a plug-in and it plays.
Noelle: Simple if you know what you are doing.
James: But…by the sounds of it, AB split testing a website might be a little beyond that range of the average person so we might need a professional such as you or someone else to do on a website?
Noelle: Yeah definitely.
James: It’s more advanced.
James: Alright. Let’s break it back. Would I be correct in saying that you can make some pretty easy changes yourself as a real estate agent without needing expert assistance?
Noelle: Yes, definitely.
James: Can we talk through how we do that?
Noelle: Well yes, the first thing is to really have the platform. I guess that’s the foundation.
James: You mean platform where we send emails from.
Noelle: The email marketing platform.
James: So we are not using Outlook.
Effective and Reliable Email Marketing platforms
Noelle: Outlook is…Outlook is really designed for sending emails from person to person. It is not designed to manage a large amount of marketing campaigns. Although it can do mail merges, lots of people can treat that as spam. So then you don’t actually get into people’s inboxes.
James: So, could you just tell us your favorite email platforms?
James: I use mail chimp.
Noelle: That is really good starting point. Ideally there are good amounts of marketing platforms out there. Many of them are quite sophisticated but ideally what you want is something that can talk in with your website listings. That sounds complicated but it is not so hard these days with open source cloud.
James: Can you just explain what you meant by talk in with your website listings.
Noelle: Yeah so what we want is to have something that integrates effectively. You don’t have to have this but it’s a good functionality to have. But if you are using your email marketing to actually push your property listings out to your relevant database, it is ideal to have an email marketing platform that integrates with the back end of your website so that those listings can be kind of dynamically inserted into those emails so you don’t have to copy and paste whole lot of stuff.
James: As a beginner, I could rip up a mail chimp email and use one of their set templates – because they have templates included – and all that I need to do drop in the photos of the house that I am selling into that and then make a little link back to my website. I can just do that to start with.
Noelle: Yes, that is an excellent starting point. This is where the value of the top stuff that we do comes in. It is easier for you to do it because you don’t have to do that copy and paste and drag and drop and click in you know.
James: Do all the time consuming things.
Noelle: Do all the manual stuff. You can then free up to that by the time you spend on that to actually implement a process, implement a system that helps to make your emails more relevant and more segmented and we will talk about that kind of stuff.
James: Sure. Okay alright so mail chimp allows me to do an AB split test so what you are saying there is that I should have an original version and a varied version which would be my B. What sort of things would change from my original to my variation?
Noelle: Yeah. So I think that in terms of getting the most out of your email marketing there are kind of three things that the average agent can focus on and the first one is segmenting your list audiences and cleaning them up.
James: Tell me what that means.
Relevance is important – Bigger does not mean Better
Noelle: Yeah so I guess everyone thinks that bigger is best and that is not always true but size does matter to an extent. But what’s far more important than size is relevance. So relevance is incredibly important in email marketing. Now your real estate marketing is not relevant if you are sending emails to people who were never interested in the first place.
James: Or they are not longer interested because they have already bought a house.
Noelle: That was my next one.
James: Oh there you go.
Noelle: They are no longer seeking your services. So either they have already sold that place or they have already bought a house or you know they have sold with another agent or they may have sold it with you but they may not sell again for another ten years or they might be interested in a different service. So they may be getting emails about a rental property every week.
Noelle: So that’s where relevance really matters.
Tips and tricks to easily create relevant email lists
James: So that is quite easy if you create separate lists then.
Noelle: Yes, the other thing is are they interested in only one specific thing so you know a lot of real estate agents capture email addresses of open homes and then suddenly you are getting all these emails about all different open homes or different houses that are for sale. But that might be completely different; you might be suddenly getting emails about units as a place to houses or eight bedrooms instead of two and…
James: And the wrong side of town.
Noelle: Yeah exactly. So I guess some of the things that you can set lists by – Here are a few tips:
- Your business is vertical – so whether that is rental versus sales, tenants versus vendors, sellers versus buyers.
- Location – down to the suburb because if people are seeking home in a specific suburb then that really makes a difference
- What they are looking for. So how many bedrooms or bathrooms, whether it is pet friendly, is it a house or unit.
James: It doesn’t need to be difficult does it?
Noelle: No. It means capturing that information and storing it somewhere and making sure that your database is robust enough and broad enough to capture that information. But if you get that information, it is like a gold mine.
James: And I only need to do it once if I segment them properly.
Noelle: Yes, that’s right.
James: And of course we need to know whether they are interesting in buying or otherwise come up with list of potentials.
Noelle: Yeah exactly. So it is about knowing who they are to you. Who they are as a customer to your business especially with real estate agents. There are so many different types of things, it covers different audience profiles such as a buyer, seller and land lord, rental versus sales, it covers quite a lot.
James: Okay so I have set up two email versions to go to my list. Go to my original variation and I have changed a few things such as fonts and pictures and covers and so on, and from here where do I go?
Noelle: The next thing to do is to segment your list, then look at your subject lines to get people to open them.
James: So you set three things that an agent can focus on. What about some more?
Subject lines Compel People to open
Noelle: The second one is really about creating subject lines that compel people to open. If you don’t get people to open up your emails then those I have set them in the first place right. So this again is where context is really important. You should test numerous forms of lists. Some ideas to formalise the subject you want to test out could be a question subject. So that could be something like “does your rental income cover your mortgage?” or “do you dream of a more special home?”
James: And the other goodie that people use is “how much is your house worth?”.
Noelle: Yeah great exactly. That’s a great example. The other one is how to do subject line. So how to decide what rent to charge or how to write your dream home check list. The other is a scarcity subject line and using FOMO -the fear of missing out – in your subject line.
James: It can be fine tuned.
Noelle: Yeah. Then the other is an announcement in the subject line, so that is something like “Introducing the most successful agent in your area: Jeremy James has joined the Place team”. Something like that but that is probably a little long. Another of the announcement would be something like “New android app; always knows the status of your property portfolio”.
James: And that is if you are launching an android app.
Noelle: If you are launching an android app for your agency, for example for your customers who have multiple properties and any property really.
Make sure to Test Everything
James: What about if you are sending a newsletter? Should it be weekly or fortnightly do you think?
Noelle: Well I say test everything. Figure out what your highest open rates are, if you send them more regularly, say if you send every week or so people open them more, if you send them once a fortnight or once a month do people open them more? This is where you have to test and see what’s for your audience.
James: Now when you say testing, is that done all automatically? I use mail chimp so I know you only announce
the product and the other one as you mentioned. But if I use mail chimp it actually says when you set it up, it asks you what industry you are in. So you say real estate, and then it says the average open rate for real estate is, say, 17% and then every time I send an email it would say that this campaign had open rate of 20% or 25%. So it actually tells me exactly how many people have opened it and then how many people have opened in multiple occasions and it shows me their email addresses.
Noelle: Yeah, so using a sophisticated platform is an amazing way you can get out the data that is in there. You have to look forward and you have to analyze it. It has a lot of data that people don’t use.
James: And that would be the case in most of the software platforms.
Noelle: Absolutely the ones that I mentioned, the ones that have capability built in them in terms of their functionality but also in terms of their data and analysis and the insights you can gain from that.
James: So I can easily split test our weekly email or any email and then do another test to see if I am sending weekly what happens or if I send them fortnightly or monthly? So if I send out my new listings newsletter every 2 weeks, I can see exactly how many people opening it, how many people subscribe and so on.
Noelle: Yeah you can also create two lists where you can have segmented and you segment further and you say this 50% percent are going to be on my weekly list and this 50% are going to be on my fortnightly list and you can check the engagement from both those lists. But I see which one has better engagements and has better open rates. So you can see are we are not contacting people enough, which I say probably a real estate does and they are more often contacting people too much and the reality is that we all have inbox fatigue. They call it banner blindness for advertising and it’s what we say email blindness. So, the more you send, often the less you get.
What to Avoid when Email Marketing
James: What do you think real estate agents should avoid? Do you know few things that they should avoid?
Noelle: Sending things that are not relevant to your audience is always going to be an automatic switch off. You know I turned up to an open home look at buying a house and I gave my email to a real estate agent and now I get emailed regularly that I just don’t want and they go to my spam and I have set it up to do that. About rental, about if I rent my property out, I never will go with that agent so now I have a property and even if I had and would have been buying to live in not to have an as an investment.
So they didn’t know enough about me to be able to segment me into a relevant email marketing list. So that’s definitely one and another one is – this is actually the third thing that I was going to mention – was to know what you want to achieve.
Before Writing an email – Make sure it has a Purpose
This is something that a lot of people do wrong in email marketing. They don’t set a clear objective when they first start out. Every email you ever send should have a purpose.
James: That’s very interesting.
Noelle: So, before you send out any email you want to sit down and ask yourself one simple question and that’s: what action do I want the readers of this email to take? Now if you don’t have an action, then you want them to re-think.
James: That’s so simple!
Noelle: It’s so simple but it is always missed.
A Strong Call-to-Action is Key
Noelle: Like people think “okay real estate agents have to send out listings to my homes”. That’s not actually getting them to take an action. So the action could be a simple or indirect like clicking through or reading an article on your blog or it could be something that generates a specific lead like filling out form or requesting a house inspection or registering for next month’s property investment seminar. But either way there is a purpose there.
The purpose is others to have read that content on your blog or to click through and fill out a form. So once you know the purpose of your email then you can design a call to action that fits around it. Not having a call to action is another common mistake. If people don’t know what it is, it’s effectively it’s an image or a button or amount of text that instructs your readers to take a specific action. So it’s literally a call out to your readers to take a desired action.
James: So, “call now for more information”; “fill out this form to get a property proposal”.
Noelle: Yeah, so one that it should never be: “click here” or “just visit us” or something really generic like that. A call to action can really stand out and often it has got to be kind of supporting text that goes with it, to give context. But some examples would be like “download my free e-book” or “register for the seminar now”, “secure my spot”, “request my proposal”.
Use Links to Connect emails to Other forms of Digital Marketing
James: Now that’s good if I can just stop you just there for 2 seconds, that’s called an anchor text isn’t it? If it said text link is supposed to be like a picture button where it says register for seminar now and that is a word is a hot link on the line that is called anchor text. So what you wouldn’t say is “click here to register for…”.
Noelle: Exactly. In the case of the text link, you want that link to be on the words that are called to action. The words that are the actual instruction and although I guess you could say “click here” isn’t an instruction and got a verb in it. It’s not a specific instruction.
James: It is fair to say that we have moved passed needing to say “click” these days. I think most people understand that if it’s a link, a different color text with an underline that’s where you click.
Noelle: Yes internet has matured enough for that.
Noelle: Another example would be where you have got text that goes along with it would be something like to “find out 12 more things to ask your agent”. So if you, for example, if you had your email header, if your subject line might be “15 things to ask the agent who is selling your house”. As you get into the email and you might have the first three on that list and then your call to action could be “read the whole article” or it could be something more contextual that gives more information and it’s more compelling to click or like. “Find out 12 things to ask your agent”. Does that make sense?
Three tips to upgrade your email marketing to the next level
Noelle: Those are really 3 things to focus on I would say for an agent to kind of take your marketing, your email marketing to the next level would be
1: segmenting your list audience and cleaning them up.
2: Subject lines that compel people to open and knowing what you want to achieve from every email and
3: designing call to actions inside the email to drive people towards taking that action.
James: That’s very interesting and it just doesn’t sound like it’s complicated to start.
Noelle: It’s not complicated to start. It definitely requires commitment and especially in the real estate world your day to day activity is spent managing the properties that you have got and keeping your clients happy. Whilst also getting new ones – but there’s a lot going on in actually running your business that it is very easy to just think of or just “oh it’s an email, just tick that thing off at least” and not think about whether it is done properly and really getting the results that you want and that’s the case across all sorts of marketing channels.
People go “okay we will just get ideas to do the ad for us like a raw script and just bang it out”. Right okay we will pay some crew in India to set up some Facebook ads for us and they can do all Google ads where we are at. But I guess really thinking through and looking at your audience, designing ads that speak to that audience and designing the headlines set on your ads similarly to your emails that compel people to click through and that is by the science and art form.
James: So you can start quite easily but if you want to take it a bit further or you don’t have much time then you can come and find professional help to take you to the next level.
Noelle: Exactly to really optimize those email marketing channels.
James: And when you think about it, even though it could be for one extra sale, it’s well and truly covered the cost.
Noelle: In the real estate world? Absolutely. You know your margins are pretty good in this industry so definitely.
James: When we say the margins are really good I think the most important thing is small changes come with extra sales, you know, pretty easily.
James: Now if a real estate agent wants to get more involved in doing this and needs some help, what do you suggest?
Noelle: Well I guess the first step is to just make contact and see how we can have a look at your marketing funnels to see what you are doing, to see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, and create a road map for moving forward and optimizing to get more out of your existing marketing expend.
James: And what’s your company called again?
Noelle: Conversion Green.
James: And also just for the listeners’ benefit what we should make sure people realise is that they can go to the Wepromote.com.au website, go to the podcasts and have a look for Noelle.
James: Noelle from Conversion Green, thanks to talking us today about getting the most out of email marketing for real estate agents and real estate agents thanks for joining us, we will catch you in next week and until then keep on SELLING!