Colorado Real Estate News

HOW TO GET YOUR FIRST REAL ESTATE EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN OFF THE GROUND

Starting any new marketing strategy as a real estate agent can be daunting, and although it’s one of the most successful ways to reach out to and stay in touch with clients, email marketing can appear to be one of the most challenging. It’s almost infinitely easier to just set up a Facebook business profile, invite all your friends to like it, and start posting left and right on it — even if you never get any viable sales that way. It’s unfortunate because email remains one of the most popular ways to communicate today (well above the telephone, and agents still cold-call leads). And if you can write a compelling email, you can generate a lot of business through email marketing.

Every solid email marketing program had to start somewhere, and if you don’t start yours today, then you’ll never know how successful it could have been in five years. Here’s what you have to do to get it all off the ground.

Get a CRM and an email marketing platform

Do you really need a CRM and an email marketing platform to be able to market to clients via email? Well, no — but your efforts are going to be so much more lucrative and effective if you’re tracking what you’re sending, who’s receiving it, and who’s opening it. You’re not going to get very far just using your email host account and a spreadsheet or contacts list.

A CRM will help you organize all of your clients and prospects, whether or not you plan to communicate with them via email, and an email marketing platform will give you the ability to set up drip campaigns for certain types of clients, to determine how many of your recipients opened the email you sent, how many clicked on the links embedded in the email, and who’s unsubscribed from the future email. Ideally, your CRM and email marketing platform will interact seamlessly with each other; you want to be able to look at contact in your CRM and see which emails they’ve been sent, what they’ve opened, and what they’ve clicked, for example. There are tons of options out there in the marketplace, so talking to your broker and trusted real estate agents whom you know to be tech-savvy is a good place to start.

Track down email addresses for your clients and any leads in your pipeline

If you’re a new agent or if you simply haven’t been keeping track of client and lead email addresses, then you will likely have some work ahead of you to get your database set up to where you can even send an email.

If you can delegate this task to an assistant, an intern, or a niece or nephew you’re paying by the hour, that’s great; if you’re going to have to do this lifting yourself, set aside 15 minutes or half an hour every day to go through and fill in your CRM with all your clients’ information until you’re finished. It might take several weeks of half-hour sessions, but if you’re also documenting new clients in your CRM as you go, then this work can’t last forever; sooner or later, you’ll be finished and your database will be pristine and shiny.

Create a way to capture email addresses

Perhaps you’re looking at your list of clients and email addresses in your CRM and feeling a little sad about it. Don’t worry — one big component of email marketing is email capture, which is just another way of saying that you’ll need to come up with some ways to get email addresses into your database. This might sound utterly daunting, but really it’s as simple as figuring out a document or two that prospective clients might find valuable, putting that document together, then offering it to any takers on your website in exchange for an email address. This strategy is known as creating a lead magnet.

Your lead magnet is going to depend heavily on your own niche and the types of clients you’re hoping to pull in. Let’s say that you’d like to land some more listing clients, for example. That’s a good start, but if you can also determine the price range of the homes you’d like to be listing and the neighborhoods where you want to operate, that’s even better. It won’t be very useful for you to create an incredibly popular lead magnet for listing clients all over the country, after all, when what you really want are clients in one very specific market.

For example, instead of creating a guide for how to sell a house fast, create a guide for selling a house fast in your specific market. Or selling a vacation home fast, or an entry-level home, or a condo — you get the idea. Make the guide as valuable as you possibly can. (In fact, for this particular example, making a “how to sell” guide as comprehensive as possible can actually work strongly in your favor … if a would-be FSBO is looking at the guide and thinking that it seems like a ton of work, that’s a good thing for you.)

Place the guide on your website and offer to send it to anybody who provides a valid email address. You can assess whether the address is valid by delivering the guide to the recipient via an emailed link.

If you don’t want to or don’t have the time to go to the trouble of creating a lead magnet, a simple pop-up on your site offering email updates for clients can serve a similar purpose.

Segment your clients

When you have the email addresses, it’s time to figure out which clients are. Your buyer clients aren’t going to appreciate content that you’re sending to homeowners or sellers, and vice versa, so it’s up to you to figure out who’s who and keep track of everybody in your segments. A buyer who successfully purchases a home with you as their agent is going to be a homeowner, so you’ll need to be able to move clients from one segment to another.

It’s quite possible that as your career grows, you may have multiple segments beyond the basics. Single buyers, family homeowners, empty-nester sellers, and so on — you’ll know better than anyone who your clients are and how to craft and deploy solid, useful information that will keep them connected to you.

Research, research, research

Another reason why many agents hesitate to implement an email marketing strategy is that it seems like a lot of work. Someone has to write those emails, and they have to actually be good if you want people to continue subscribing to your missives. Who has time for that?

One of the most successful email formats is an aggregate newsletter, where the sender is pulling together all of the best information on a given topic and delivering it directly to the people who want it most. This means that you don’t necessarily have to be the best, most creative writer or email wizard in the history of the universe — you simply have to be able to read, to research, and to identify stories that would be interested in the different people in your segment groups.

And to be able to do this well, you have to know what’s out there. So spend some time poking around online to see what resources and assets are available for you to share with your clients (with attribution, of course). Don’t forget about social media and platforms like YouTube, which can have a ton of valuable information on them.

This is another task that can be delegated, although many agents who have successful email marketing programs often want to curate the stories they’re sending themselves. You may have a better eye for the types of stories and details that will be the most interesting to your clients, and if the personal touch really helps set your emails aside, it can be well worth the time spent.

Decide what you’re sending to whom — and when

Now that you’ve got a good sense of what’s out there and what might be a good fit for your clients, it’s time to start figuring out the details in your strategy. What do you have to send to buyers? In what order would it make the most sense for them to receive that information? In some ways, the buyer’s journey can be one of the easiest to map out because the stages tend to be fairly similar, and you can adjust and tweak your email campaign to fit what each buyer or group of buyers is doing now or has already done.

Sellers can be a bit trickier, and many agents keep them in the loop by providing up-to-date market statistics and details, guides for cleaning and staging, emailing case studies about pricing and marketing strategies as they pertain to sellers, and more. And homeowners will almost always be interested in new and useful information about the community in which they live, whether it’s a piece about the new park planning happening down at the city council or a rundown of all the summer events happening while the kids are out of school.

Craft your first campaign

You’ve got all the pieces together to create your first email campaign — now all that’s left is to do it! Figure out which campaign you’re going to create first, and then get to work. Remember, this is a process; nobody expects your emails to look exactly the same in three years as they do today. The important thing is to get them out the door so you can start assessing what’s working and what isn’t, then iterating on what works best.

As far as the actual writing goes, be as engaging and conversational as possible, but remember that you’re talking to clients, not your friends on Facebook. A subject line that tells your buyer, seller, or owner clients what’s in it for them if they open the email, a warm greeting, and diving right into the topic can almost never hurt. Don’t forget to sign your name and give your recipients the option to unsubscribe if they’d prefer.

Look at the numbers

Some marketers like to look at email open rate and click-through numbers almost as soon as the email is sent, while others prefer to wait a day or two before giving those numbers their attention. There is no single wrong answer, but if you’re in the group that likes to look immediately, make sure you’re taking time to come back at least 12 to 24 hours later to see how those numbers play out over time.

Tweak and redeploy

The biggest gains in email marketing often come from small tweaks that you can make, and once you’ve got your feet under you in terms of the logistics of curating and sending these emails, you can start to pay attention to those nuances, too. What happens if you send an email in the morning instead of in the afternoon? How about at 10 a.m. or 11 instead of 9 a.m.? Most email marketing platforms will also allow you to A/B test subject lines, which means you can send out the same email with two different subject lines and see which ones get the best open rate. Over time, A/B testing can give you insights into what your clients like and don’t like, so you can align your efforts with their preferences.

Colorado Real Estate News

IS BUYING A HOUSE WORTH IT IF YOU’RE SINGLE?

When you were growing up, there were probably certain milestones that you imagined you would reach in your adult life that would be momentous and important. Falling in love and getting married are on that list of milestones for most people, as is the dream of one day owning your own home.

As the age at which Americans are getting married slowly creeps up, the question has begun to emerge: Is it better to buy a house after you get married, or should you try to get your foot on the property ladder earlier, in your single life? Like so many questions surrounding real estate decisions, there truly is no single correct answer. The best decision for you will depend on your life circumstances, your career, your plans and dreams — and, yes, your love life, too.

Before you decide to buy a home (or decide not to buy a home) as a single person, think about these things and ask yourself how they apply to your life and situation.

How stable is your career?

Like it or not, your financial picture is going to be absolutely critical in your decision — or ability — to purchase a home. This is true for anybody who’s trying to buy a house, but it’s doubly true for single people seeking to buy because you only have one source of income: yourself. You don’t have a spouse with better credit or a higher-paying job to help you out — or even a spouse with a lower-paying job that’s still contributing to the household. This means that your finances, credit, savings, assets and liabilities, and everything else that you have to put together to apply for a mortgage loan should be in a squeaky-clean condition so you can get the best deal possible on a loan.

This isn’t news to most people who are considering buying a house, but what they often fail to consider is the long-term stability and viability of their career. Or they might not even plan on staying in that career for much longer. If your master plan in life is to buy a house and then become an Instagram influencer while renovating it … well, that’s a lovely dream, but it also means that this most likely is not the best time in your life to be considering a major purchase with a loan that you’ll be paying off for well over ten years.

Objectively assessing your own income and earnings — and the probability that your skills will still be in demand in the years to come — is never easy, but think about the alternative. The worst-case scenario is not that you won’t qualify for a mortgage loan; it’s that you will and will use it to buy a house, then lose your job. If you’re working in an industry where the hiring process is long and convoluted, or if there aren’t a lot of alternative employment opportunities near you, then you’ll want to face this worst-case scenario head-on. What would you do if you were to lose your job while you were paying off a mortgage loan? Do you have other skills you could fall back on if that happened?

It may feel morbid to make a plan for how to handle a career tanking that never actually happens, but it’s so much better to be prepared and not need those plans than for life to catch you flat-footed and annihilate your ability to own a home in the near future.

How happy are you in the area?

Let’s say that your finances are in solid order and you know that you have job stability in your area for many, many years to come. Great! Maybe you’re ready to buy a place to live somewhere — the next question is, do you already live in the market where you’ll eventually want to buy?

You won’t be locked into homeownership forever, of course; you can always sell. But if you want to sell your house before you’ve been living there for two years, you will likely have to pay hefty taxes on any profit you make from the sale. So if you don’t think that you’ll be in the same area in two years, it’s probably best to keep saving up your money and wait to buy a house somewhere else.

That two-year window is far from a guarantee, however. Home prices generally rise over time, but that rise consists of pockets of peaks and valleys. If you happen to buy during a peak, two years later could be the midst of a valley, when you’re more likely to lose money — or at least not make as much as you could have on your home sale. Ideally, you’ll want to stay as long as it makes sense for you and your lifestyle, so if you’ve toyed with the idea of moving to a different metro area or an entirely different state, it might be wise to hold off on your home purchase.

Do you have roots here? How strong are they?

It’s not at all uncommon in the modern world for children to move across the country from their parents, siblings, and hometowns, and it’s also not uncommon for life circumstances to emerge that bring people back together. Think about the support network that you have in place nearby — and the support network available to your loved ones who live away from you. And think about what you would do and which options would be available to you if something were to happen to a parent, sibling, or someone else whose safety and health you’d want to prioritize.

Alternatively, you might want to consider how you’d manage if something were to happen that left you incapacitated for a period of time. This could be as simple and impermanent but inconvenient as breaking a leg, or as serious as a newly diagnosed chronic condition. Of course, you don’t want to make major life decisions on a series of what-ifs, but if you already know that you have a family member in poor health and may need to move nearer to them (or move them nearer to you) sooner or later, then you should definitely take that into consideration as you’re determining whether or not to buy a home today.

What does your ideal living situation look like?

Some people enjoy having roommates while others prefer to live all by themselves. And some only want to cohabit with romantic partners or family members. Think about what you want out of an ideal living situation; it might not be possible to achieve immediately, but if you’re going to buy a house, then you should try to get as close to that ideal situation as you possibly can.

The easiest scenario to navigate in many situations is living alone; you just have to determine how much room you need, where and what you can afford to buy, and move forward from there. If you want roommates, things get a bit more complicated. Do you already have those roommates identified, and if so, how long-term are they? If there’s a chance that you may have to look for new roommates while you’re living in your residence, then you should think about the areas that are most attractive to the types of people you’d most like to have as a roommate and target them for your purchase.

How about your love life?

Even if you’re not married or partnered up yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t be at some point in the future. Do you already have a significant other? How serious are things? If it’s possible that you might be moving in together in the next couple of years, then you might want to consider looping them into the decision-making process in your home purchase so that you’re choosing a place that appeals to both of you. On the flip side, don’t let your partner fully dictate your choice; if you’re the person who’s securing and paying the mortgage, then this house needs to work for you first and foremost.

Buying a house when you’re single can be a smart investment if you think through the decision and make sure you’re choosing a home that will work for you for at least a few years. Once you are ready to partner up, you’ll have equity built in your home and can use your first purchase as a foundation for a family home where you’ll live for years to come.