This is a guest post from our friends over at Piesync.
About the author:
Claudia Martinez Monsanto is a marketing and communications expert. Currently, she helps the PieSync marketing and communications team by creating valuable content, such as blogs, case studies, videos, and graphics. She is also a friendly voice for social media.
Once upon a time, people would go to their nearest real estate agency to find a realtor who might help them find the house of their dreams. Nowadays, the story has changed, you are a real estate agent in the 21st century. Your job is completely different, you have to go online and find your way into the inbox of your potential clients.
What used to be a potential client knocking at your door, is now a lead or prospect opening your email. In 2018, Mailchimp stated that the average open rate for the real estate industry was 19.67%, which is not a bad average, but you can do better.
First, keep in mind that even though the methods have evolved, the bond between a realtor and a client is the same: it’s all about trust. Second, give them exactly what they need, in other words, segment your email lists.
It’s not about sending emails, it’s about offering value
Before you start segmenting, you have to prepare your database. Where is your data? About 93% of homebuyers will research online in sites like Zillow before contacting an agent. Whenever someone fills out a web form for one of your properties, your CRM should provide direct connectivity and store that new lead. Next to that process, your realtors collect valuable information about your leads and prospects on their smartphones, which should also be populating the same CRM.
That CRM will serve to establish an authentic relationship with potential clients. The only way to provide relevant messages is by knowing who they are. Then you can dazzle them with outstanding customer experience.
However, you have to keep in mind the fact that data is not static. The information collected in your CRM is constantly changing and getting richer across the client’s journey. Therefore, data is scattered across different applications. In that scenario... How to maintain and enrich data to offer relevant and up-to-date communication with every interaction?
Aligning your tools
In order to enrich your clients' data, you’ll need to share the information stored in your CRM and your other business tools. Those other platforms can be marketing automation apps, billing and/or accountancy software, transaction management platforms like dotloop, and basically any other tool you are using to collect your client’s information during their journey.
In some occasions, you’ll want to have some information from your CRM available on your other business tools. And much more often, you’ll want to have the information from your other platforms inside your Real Estate CRM. Depending on your business needs, you can use native integrations or third-party solutions and obtain a single source of truth. That means a complete 360-degree view of your clients.
Integration solutions are necessary for almost every real estate business. Once you have that covered, you should have all the quality information you need to actually locate each person on the right list or segment.
Segmenting: Defining your strategy
Whether you want to optimize your existing segmentation or start segmenting your database, you will need to establish goals and an action plan. Do you want more prospects? Are you trying to reach out to past clients? Is there a certain target within the market you want to reach?
There are probably as many valid ways to segmenting contacts as there are agents. A segment can be basically any subset of contacts within your database. Realtor Jeff Miller, selected big categories based on interests such as Retirement House or Growing Families, next to more specific groups like Inheritance House, Military Relocation or Luxury Buyer.
His segmentation enables him to send out targeted messages that will translate in better Open Rates. Keep in mind that people open an email when it has something important, interesting, entertaining, or personal. Even better if it has all that.
“Before you could print 10,000 copies of a generic flyer with some content about your business and put it in peoples mailboxes and it worked. Now you have to segment. You have to reach individuals,” says Jeff Miller.
Here are some basic characteristics that can help you define your real estate segments:
- Demographic: Income, Religion, Family size, Occupation, Gender, Race, Generation, etc.
- Geographic: School district, Neighborhood, Employer, City, etc.
- Psychographic: Pet owners, Lifestyle seekers, Friends/family in the neighborhood, etc.
Groups of contacts you could create based on these characteristics are for instance:
- First-time homebuyers
- Luxury buyers/sellers
- Big Families
- Second-house buyers
Most of the previous attributes are useful for targeted campaigns. But you could also organize your contacts according to your lead score, lifecycle state or source of lead. Keller Williams Agent, Alberto Vazquez created a structure with over 20 groups of contacts according to the type of contact, interests and source of the lead. His goal is to provide timely and relevant communications across the buying/selling process.
Segmentation in action
Vazquez detected the importance of personalization and face-to-face interaction. That’s why one of his first touchpoints is a welcome video via BombBomb where he introduces himself. But it’s not just a generic video, he has different workflows for each one of his segments.
Segmentation increased his open rates exponentially. “We want people to get to know us without being intrusive. That’s why we need to make sure our content is informative and relevant. But not every person in our database has the same interests, that’s the importance of segmentation,” says Alberto.
To make sure his leads and prospects are in the right segment, he has Follow Up Boss working together with BombBomb’s email lists.
This structure is based on the fact that most of Alberto’s potential clients are coming via real estate websites. But for Jeff Miller segmentation needs an extra step. His first touchpoint usually happens through a call center. Whenever he has a new contact, he adds a tag with the segment to which this person belongs to according to their interests. Then he’ll use these tags to define his email lists.
The success of their Email Marketing Campaigns is due to the fact that they have identified what moves each one of their customer segments. “When you hit their sensible buttons their behavior is completely different. These become emails that they actually want to get.”
Let’s see some numbers
According to Mailchimp, the Open Rate of segmented campaigns is 14.31% higher than non-segmented ones. This research also determined that people clicked 100.95% more on segmented emails. So this is definitely the way to go if you want to boost user engagement as well.
Real Estate Targeted Email Campaigns
With your CRM in place and your email lists properly segmented, it's time to create your email campaigns. In Real Estate, drip emails are typically used. You can send out an initial email introducing the agent, followed by other communications with information about the neighborhood, new listings, or any other detected interest of that specific email list you segmented. Newsletters with a mix of new properties and general information about the industry and/or the brand are also considered a good practice.
Overall, there are some elements that could help you create a successful real estate targeted campaign:
- Make it personal: your CRM provides you with demographics and contact information, use that data to sell to the individuals behind it. The salutation should always contain their first name and as much personalized data possible.
- Make it entertaining: Videos and pictures in good quality are very welcome in real estate emails. Give an original approach to your emails, something that shows an authentic part of you. It could be sharing information about local events or even your review of a restaurant in the neighboorhood.
- Make your former clients part of it: Reach out to your former clients and ask them about their experience with you. Their referrals or testimonials might help you establish a stronger bond with new leads and prospects. Additionally, it's a nice way to stay in touch with your clients after the sale.
- Make it actionable: Include Calls-to-action. Make sure they can click on your email and have easy access to further information, schedule a call or at least connect with you through social media.
Always keep in mind the specific segment you are targeting. Especially when it comes to the content and language you use.
It’s easier said than done? Let’s see an example of an ideal introduction email sent out to a first-time homebuyer searching for houses in Miami. This person filled out a web form on a realtor’s website to get more information.
Subject: You are one step closer to buying your ideal home
Thank you for reaching out! The fact that you are trusting us to help you find your first home means a lot to us.
As a Miami native, I know how challenging it is to find that one house that feels like home. Rest assured you are in good hands, I've been helping people finding homes for over 14 years and I'm sure your dream house is out there waiting for you. I already have some possible houses you might want to visit. Click here to book a call with me and I'll tell you all about it.
Meanwhile, I'm adding a video of Abigael's experience buying her first home. She is one of my former clients and recently shared her experience with me.
Welcome aboard! Drop me a line if there's anything else I can do for you.
<Signature, headshot, Phone number and Email Address. >
Test & Track
Your email campaign is almost ready to go, but before you click that “send” button, you have to make sure you have A/B tests in progress and you are able to track the results.
Most email marketing tools have an A/B test feature, they basically allow you to send “version A” of your email to half of your list and “version B” to the other half. Make sure that you can later determine what worked better in one version. If you make too many changes, you won’t know what was that one thing that made one email more effective than the other one.
Tracking is mandatory to know what’s actually working and what could do better. Let’s see some of the metrics you have to keep an eye on:
- Open Rate: In the unlikely event that your open rate is bad, even after you created an awesome targeted campaign and sent it to a very well-defined segment, you might want to check your subject line and your pre-header.
- Click Rate: It usually indicates the engagement of your recipients. If it goes down, revise your segmentation again and ask yourself: Is the content of this email really relevant for this group of people?
- Unsubscribers: If you notice this number is too high you might want to make sure your subscribers consented to the type of email marketing communications you are sending them.
Clients knock your door less and less. But the digital approach to the real estate industry can bring you a lot closer to your potential clients. Defining your segments according to attributes covered here. Can help you create relevant content and reach out the right people with it. That will ultimately translate in better Open Rates and more engagement.
While setting up your outstanding email marketing campaigns, remember to keep in mind who your customer is and what he/she needs. Buying or selling a house is usually an emotional experience. The sales process is different for everyone. So why not offer a unique experience to everyone?