Marketing for Agents: The Ins and Outs of Email Newsletters

Mike Blaney
October 29, 2014

As a method of staying in touch with clients and prospects, e-newsletters can be effective. But if your content isn’t topical, timely and terrific, they can work against you.

Newsletters are an effective marketing tool for keeping your name top of mind with your former and current clients, your sphere of influence and your prospects. They reinforce your brand, deliver your message and demonstrate your expertise — all things that a successful marketer does regularly.

The most effective newsletter is the one you create and email to your clients. You control the content and the editorial feel of it. It is local, personal and applies directly to your clientele. Your engagement should be high, due to the originality.

The alternative is signing up for a monthly, canned newsletter service that you add your name and branding to and is sent by a third party to your mailing list. These typically contain generic information like health tips, recipes and general real estate information. The good news is they get in front of your clients without taking any of your time, but the drawback is they are so generic they may not be read.

MailerMailer, a web-based email list management service for creating and tracking opt-in newsletters and email campaigns, released the results of their analysis of more than 350 million emails sent by 3,200 clients and this is what they found:

  • 32.26 per cent of all opens occur within the first two hours.
  • Sundays and Mondays are the best days to email a newsletter.

The Nielsen Norman Group conducted an email newsletter usability study and published a few interesting results.

“69% of the users indicated they looked forward to receiving a particular newsletter.”

“Users have highly emotional reactions to newsletters. This is in strong contrast to studies of website usability, where users are usually much more oriented towards functionality.”

“The positive emotional aspect of newsletters is that they can create much more of a bond between user and company than a website can. The negative aspect is that usability problems have much stronger impact on the customer relationship than they normally do.”

“Users spend 51 seconds reading the average newsletter. The layout and writing both need superb usability to survive in the high-pressure environment of a crowded inbox.”

“Averaged across the study, newsletters lost 19 per cent of potential subscribers due to usability. People often stay subscribed to newsletters they don’t want (cursing the sender with every new issue that clutters their inbox), so the unsubscribe process is also worth improving.”

“Newsletters need to be smooth and easy: they must be seen to reduce the burdens of modern life. Even if free, the cost in email clutter must be paid for by being helpful and relevant to users – and by communicating these benefits in a few characters in the subject line.”

Five Newsletter Writing Tips to Make Clients Adore You

1.       Make the newsletter about them, not you.  People are not interested in you, they are interested in themselves. If your services are mentioned at all, do it on the basis of how you can help them, how you can meet their needs.

2.       Write articles that are useful, interesting and entertaining. Create articles that make the reader think: I never knew what! Or: What good advice!

3.       Keep up a regular schedule. Relationships aren’t built sporadically; they take regular contact over time. That’s how trust is created. So send your newsletter at least monthly.

4.       Be truthful. Good friends don’t lie. So nor should you in your newsletter. A lie can wreck a relationship.

5.       Be upbeat. Nobody likes a downer. Who wants to form a relationship with someone who’s always bringing bad news? Think of good, upbeat, positive things to put in your newsletter. Then you’ll be a welcome friend.

Great Newsletter Topic Ideas

  • Current market statistics: Number of homes listed for sale, average/median listing and sale price, and average days on the market.
  • Recently sold properties: Buyer and sellers alike enjoy seeing what has recently sold.
  • Editorials: Subscribers welcome columns written by an in-house or industry expert.
  • Case studies: Readers love real-life stories that they can apply to their own business. Case studies provide valuable specifics: How much did it cost? What problems did they encounter? What was the ROI?
  • Photographs: Lots of them. Choose photos that are worth a thousand words.
  • Interview with an expert:   Spend a few minutes talking to an expert and publish valuable information and insights you learned.
  • Advice column:  Write a “Dear Abby” column, with an expert who solves a subscriber’s problem. Use actual questions from subscribers.
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): Answer the key questions you deal with on a daily or weekly basis.
  • How-tos:  Give easy-to-follow instructions for completing a task.
  • Calendar of events: List local events.
  • Testimonials: Share testimonials from customers. Not only will you build business, you’ll help subscribers understand all the ways they might work with you.

Leading Electronic Newsletter Service Providers

These are five popular electronic newsletter services, but you still have to write the actual newsletter. These services provide templates and take care of all of the subscribing and unsubscribing for you.

  • Mailchimp: Free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Aweber: Free up to 500 subscribers
  • Constant Contact: 0-500 contacts $20/mo
  • iContact: Up to 500 subscribers $14 monthly
  • My Emma: Plans starting at $45

The most important aspect of creating and delivering effective real estate newsletters is your commitment to the process. Many real estate agents have great intentions, but fail to execute. Most send out one or two newsletters, then skip a month. Then another month. The next thing you know, you haven’t delivered a newsletter in the last six months. Guess what happens? People forget why they’re even getting your newsletter, so they ignore it. Or unsubscribe. Then you have to rebuild your subscriber base and start all over.

You don’t need a flashy newsletter that rivals what project developers send out. Keep it simple and you’re far more likely to keep doing the work required to deliver a newsletter consistently.

Mike Blaney
Mike Blaney has been providing a wide range of marketing services to REALTORS® for more than 14 years. Limelight Marketing Solutions is a collaboration of enthusiastic marketing professionals that are committed to driving measurable results for REALTORS®. The company offers services including social media marketing, search engine optimization, video marketing and much more.