If you’re a tech-savvy real estate agent, you know that email marketing is the most effective way to acquire more leads. In fact, research has found that it’s nearly 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.
On average, consumers use email six hours per day, and an average office worker checks their email 30 times per hour. But consumers are discerning about where they spend their attention. You have just 8 seconds to hook them, so you better impress.
Your email subscribers want content that helps them with their problems, or helps them reach a goal. And in real estate, that goal is to make one of the biggest, most important purchases of their life. Nurture your prospects with high-value email content and when the time comes, your agency or team will be the natural choice.
Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear. The goal with email drip campaigns for inbound leads is to steadily and consistently help the potential buyer or seller make the right decisions in their real estate journey, through a series of automated emails.
Most agents blast the latest listings to everyone on their subscriber list. But for the majority of seller leads, these emails are completely irrelevant. Among other things, this guide will show you simple ways to segment your list and keep the conversation relevant for your prospects.
Because if there’s one rule for winning with email it’s this…
Relevance = Revenue.
Take your time and always, ALWAYS offer something of value — going for the jugular every time you hit send is a recipe for failure.
Got it? Great! Now let’s dig deeper into what makes an awesome real estate drip campaign.
Drip campaigns are designed with the customer journey in mind and are often triggered by events, such as a lead coming in from Zillow, website home search, etc. But they’re also great for staying in touch with non-responsive leads.
Before setting up a drip email campaign, you’ll want to think about where the lead came from, and what they’re looking for, so you can tailor your email content accordingly. (Because we all know what happens to emails that aren’t helpful or relevant, right?)
If you’re just getting started with drip email campaigns, go ahead and sort your list by buyer, seller and, if you have them, past clients/non-responsive leads. It’ll be way easier to make each one a slam dunk.
Here’s an excellent list of relevant drip campaign content ideas from Vanessa Rombaut, Digital Communications Marketer at PieSync.
Past Clients/Non-responsive Leads
There are a millions ways to design, format and sexify your email drips, but most of that fluff stuff isn’t really necessary.
Research shows that simple, plain-text emails work best. Here are the must-have elements to include in each and every email in your drip campaign:
Credible From Line – use a name (most likely your own) that signals trust. Most spam comes from businesses, brand names or awkward, untrustworthy sources. Keep your from line simple and direct to avoid spam filters — for example, ‘Joe Smith’ if you’re already pretty well-known in your market or ‘Joe Smith at Legacy Real Estate’ if your recipients won’t immediately recognize your name.
Irresistible Subject Line – the subject line is the #1 factor as to whether or not your emails will actually get open and read. And you don’t have to copy what your competitors are doing. Keep it friendly, conversational and intriguing. (More on this below!)
Interesting Angle – tell your prospects something they didn’t know before. You’ll be surprised how things that seem obvious to you because of your specialized knowledge, could be valuable inside info for your prospects.
Tangible Benefits – make sure your emails offer value to your prospects and former customers. Whether it’s offering them resources or how-tos, your reader should walk away with something new.
Mobile Ready – 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and it’s imperative that your emails are mobile-friendly. Most email marketing platforms allow you to test your email on mobile. Make sure it looks good and is easy to read.
Compelling Call to Action (CTA) – you’re readers want you to tell them what to do next, even if that’s just reply with a question, register for an open house, or look out for your next email.
Check out this campaign from Montreal-based Agents Team Broady:
This email is a great example of useful, interesting content that is of direct interest to homeowners in their area. By compiling this data for their audience and layering in their expertise as local market specialists, they’re adding excellent value.
When you invest a little time in great email content, you can easily leverage that content into other marketing assets. For example, Team Broady also uses this data in its direct mail campaigns to generate more seller interest, yielding fantastic results in seller lead gen and conversion.
Given the insane amounts of time we all spend in our inboxes, email consumers can recognize stale drip content in a blink. If you’ve tried and “failed” at email marketing, or if you’ve recently seen a dip in your open or click-through rates, it’s probably time to step up your game.
Here are some tried and tested tips to help you revamp your drip campaigns and start seeing some action from your subscriber list.
Imagine you have just 15 seconds of your recipients undivided attention. This is not the time to ramble on about your resume.
Instead try asking a leading question like, “Hey, Al is your house still on the market?”
You can even something slightly edgy like, “Do you really not want me as your Realtor? What did I do? Reply and let me know.”
Subject lines have one job, and one job only: Get your prospect to OPEN.
There’s a TON of research and resources on the art and science of subject lines. But don’t worry. You don’t need a PhD in subject line poetry in order to get those killer open rates. Focus on these fundamentals and you’ll have no problem catching your reader’s eye.
Subject lines MUST be interesting in order to stand out.
Draw your reader in by promising to deliver something interesting, valuable or entertaining. And make sure you ALWAYS deliver on that promise. (Bait and switch emails are the fastest way to lose subscribers — plus, they’re bad karma.)
Here’s a quick example:
Learn the NUMBER ONE mistake first-time Phoenix homebuyers make
The NUMBER ONE mistake first-time homebuyers make is a low down payment
The first email gets the reader ready to read and absorb the info you’re sending, versus the second email which gives it all away. With the second subject line, you’re essentially cheating the reader of all the good stuff in the body of your email, like how much of a down payment they should have, how to find the best mortgage rates and of course, how YOU can help them get the most out of this incredibly important purchase.
Peaking your reader’s curiosity is not only great for your open rates, it’s also the best way to teach them something valuable that will help them in their real estate journey. Keep your subject lines kosher and creative, and you’ll see a major uptick in opens.
The average subject line length is 35 to 45 characters. And in order to really stand out, you want to hit subjects lines that are noticeably longer or shorter than what’s already in your prospect’s inbox.
Try alternating between short and long subject lines to see which ones get the highest number of opens.
The best time to connect with a prospect is within the first 5 min. of them engaging with you. The SECOND best time to connect, is when they’re actively interacting with your content or brand. Follow Up Boss send you a desktop notification when your prospects are opening your emails so you always know when to reach out.
If you’re an English major, I’ve got bad news — perfect punctuation has no place in an email subject line.
In fact, subject lines with the highest open rates are those that are written informally, as if they were coming from a friend. Think about it, which email would you rather open?
The Best Way to Increase the Value of Your Home
Here’s how to get top dollar for your home
The second one just feels better, right?
Now, this doesn’t mean you should throw all grammar out the window. But you should think about how the subject line would look if you were sending the email to a friend, if you want to make it as easy as possible for your reader to open.
Trust me, if you do this you can drastically reduce your number of drips — 12 remarkable drips can get you a lot further than 30 stale drips.
Danielle is our Customer Success guru here at Follow Up Boss, and a firm proponent for Inbox 0. But she does have another inbox that has about 12,000 unopened drip emails. (Shhh, don’t tell Dan.)
“I do go in there and open a few from time to time. In fact, there are some emails I remember for years!”, she says.
Here are some of the things these unforgettable emails all had in common:
If your drips are feeling a little stale, Danielle recommends going through the list of people you want to put on an extended drip and picking 100 names to send a more personal email to, such as a comment that traces back to your original conversation, a check back to see how their move went, or just a note reminiscing on the excellent latte you had when you met them.
Break it down to a few names per day or week so that reaching 100 doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
Then sit back and watch the responses fly in.
Pro Tip: For a super fast way to get all your contacts into your favorite email marketing (including yours truly), take a look at PieSync. PieSync seamlessly syncs your contacts so you never have to deal with import/export operations or manual data entry.
Remember when we said Relevance = Revenue?
We meant it. Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
But great segmentation is NOT about sending a drip for holidays and birthdays. (In fact, most people are in auto-delete mode around these times.)
You want to be the Realtor who stands out, so stay away from email-heavy dates and focus on relevant content.
Position your earliest points of content around getting to know your prospect and you’ll be able to build a sharp-shooting drip campaign that hits way more bullseyes for your real estate business. Every time you get a reply, consider triggering a new, or more targeted drip campaign.
If you need more help getting started with segmentation, or want to figure out how to choose your marketing channels (text, email or phone) check out Dave’s post on How To Create An Integrated Marketing Communications Plan.
Your first cold email to your prospect is THE golden opportunity to get the info you need to deliver an awesomely relevant drip campaign.
Here are a few cold email templates, organized by lead source, to get you started.
Leads who find you via your home search website are usually way earlier in the buying cycle than someone who requests information on a specific property through a portal like Zillow or Realtor.com. For these leads, the purpose of the cold email is to gently warm them up by asking a couple simple questions about what they’re looking for. In Follow Up Boss, you can easily insert templates with a single click of the mouse. You can also modify directly in your website’s backend to set up relevant searches and listing notifications as each new lead comes in.
Subject: Nice to e-meet you
Glad you found me!
Can you tell me a little more about what you’re looking for? When are you planning to purchase your new home?
(Psst, did you know that using the word “video” in your subject line can boost open rates by 19% and clickthrough rates by 65%? Use our BombBomb integration to warm up those leads with a personal video!)
Portal leads are great because they give you a deeper look into what your prospects want. Search details like type of property, price range, neighborhood, etc. can be a huge help in sending personalized emails that prompt an immediate response. In Follow Up Boss, you can see all the key info at a glance from the Contact Screen. For these warmer leads, you’ll always want to strike while the iron is hot and ask for that initial phone call right off the bat.
Subject: Let’s connect
Thanks for the inquiry! I’m free now. When’s a good time to chat?
And here’s a bonus cold email to use if you can’t catch them on the phone.
Subject: Sorry I missed you
Sorry I missed you yesterday!
Did you still want to see the home at 555 Main Dr.? (The ensuite bathroom is even better in real life!)
I just had an appt open up for tomorrow afternoon if you’re free.
The surest way to get seller leads to unsubscribe from your drip campaign is to send them irrelevant buyer content like listings, etc. Most CRMs make it a breeze to segment out the sellers. And if you’re struggling to come up with seller-focused info for your drip emails, try adding a little extra value in the P.S. line.
Subject: How much is your home worth?
Are you still interested in knowing how much your home is worth?
I think you’ll be surprised what I uncovered in my market analysis. Want to grab a coffee and walk through it?
How’s Tuesday afternoon?
P.S. Getting homes sold above asking price is kinda my superpower. Wanna see how I do it? Grab my free guide on How to Get Max ROI out of Your Houston Home.
If you’re running a blog, opt-in or any other content marketing, chances are you’ve got some stellar email opportunities hidden in plain sight. Take a close look at your published content and make sure you’re asking for your prospect’s email address wherever you can (as long as it feels natural, not forced). Then create a drip sequence (or Action Plan in FUB) relevant to that specific prospect.
Subject: Good call.
Thanks for downloading my First Time Homebuyer’s Guide!
Most new buyers rush into a purchase and end up overpaying. But not you.
Can you tell me a little more about what you’re looking for? When are you planning to purchase your new home?
Don’t throw out your Facebook ad budget just yet. Your digital marketing channels are the other key areas where you can easily optimize lead ROI through cold email segmentation. Used in conjunction with a high-converting landing page, you can absolutely bring in high quality leads that are ready to engage. As usual, the key is to make it relevant. For example, if you’re running a retargeting ad for your network of relocation clients and someone opts-in to your landing page offer, this first email can be a great way to take the convo to the next level.
Subject: Relocating is tough
Thanks for downloading my Ultimate NYC Relocation Guide!
I’m here to take the headache out moving to the Big Apple.
Can you tell me a little more about what you’re looking for? When are you planning to make the big move?
As with most things, consistency is crucial to a winning drip email campaign. You need to show your prospects that rain or shine, you’ll be there in their inbox, bringing them them awesome info that will help them get the most out of their real estate experience.
And in order to stay consistent, you need a simple system for setting up and automating your drip campaign. Every CRM has a host of features to help you rock your drip email campaign. In Follow Up Boss, we use a simple bloat-free system to help you automate long-term email sequences, without ever losing track of a single lead.
Here’s how we do it.
Step 1: From your Follow Up Boss dashboard go to Admin, then Lead Flow.
Step 2: Assign a lead to an agent or team.
(Got a group of agents you want to assign them to? Choose the relevant group to assign leads to. Follow Up Boss automatically and evenly distributes leads via Round Robin.)
Step 3: Trigger an Action Plan (our awesomely practical term for ‘drip email campaign’) to set your leads up on an automatic follow up sequence, depending on where they came from.
For example, if you’re sourcing portal leads from Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc., the action plan will trigger an instant text. (Btw, this text alone is going to get you a 50-70% response rate on ALL your portal leads.)
NB: In the off chance they don’t reply to your autotext, Follow Up Boss will send them an automated drip campaign on the agent’s behalf. If a lead replies to any of those emails or text messages, Follow Up Boss will automatically pause the remaining emails in the sequence so they don’t end up getting a weird or embarrassing message. Now your agents never have to worry about updating the system every time a lead engages, even if they get a reply when they’re out in the field.
Step 4: Create an action plan for website leads using the Buyer Engagement campaign that’s already set up inside Follow Up Boss. Your website will send your Welcome Email with the login info, etc. and Follow Up Boss takes care of the rest, using an automatic drip campaign that goes the extra mile to engage the lead with regular check-ins.
You can always customize any part of this Action Plan. But we recommend giving the built-in Buyer Engagement campaign a shot. It’s been tested with a ton of our clients in many different markets — and it works.
You can repeat this step to easy create an Action Plan for any segment of your list, including Seller Leads, FSBOs, Expireds, etc.
Step 5: Make sure you always get the right lead to the right agent with Advanced Lead Flow Settings. Click on Advanced Settings and use tags to distribute leads by zip code, town name or price point to sending the highest value inquiries to your most experienced agents.
You can also build a rule to encompass all of these advanced settings. For example, you might want all leads that come in from zip code 90210 looking for homes over $2 million to go to a particular agent and the rest of the leads to be distributed to different agents.
Last, but DEFINITELY not least, there are a million star-studded ways to engage your leads through a standout drip email campaign, but you MUST make sure you don’t fall into the trap of relying on your drip sequence to seal the deal.
No matter how many shiny new automation tools hit the market, real estate is and always will be, a client-focused business. Top-producing agents are the ones who invest in those relationships and use automation to expand and enhance the level of personal attention they deliver.
And we’re here to make it easy. Follow Up Boss lets you track email opens, clicks and replies — and gives you total access to our high-converting drip campaign library — all with one clean and simple system.
Brittany Ryan is one of the brilliantly gifted content contributors at Follow Up Boss.