There isn’t a week that goes by that an agent tells me that they have decided to keep in touch with their past clients and sphere database primarily by an email newsletter. That email may be created by their company or it may be custom-created in MailChimp or Constant Contact, but the more important issue is that they have decided NOT to mail.
The reasons they give for making this change are predictable:
1. It’s cheap or free.
2. It’s easy. (Especially if their company puts it together or it is done automatically.)
3. It may be “hands off.”
4. Some of the content is better-delivered and received in an e-format.
5. They say that their clients prefer an enewsletter.
While I agree that some content is absolutely better-delivered and received in an e-format (more on that below), I will say that reasons 1-3 should be thrown out the window. Easy and generic is NOT a substitute for your voice. And unless you have taken a poll of all your clients and they all opted in to an enewsletter instead of print, then option #5 just doesn’t hold water.
Now, I am not saying you need to get rid of your enewsletter. In fact, it can be a strong component of your client connection plan! Let’s start by looking at different types of content that is great for an enewsletter format:
• Commentary on online articles with links to those original articles
• Listings with links to online info
• Some action you want the recipient to take online such as filling out a survey or form
• Invitations to events with RSVPs online
• Information on online MLS information that requires the ability to browse in an online format (for example, some companies have a neighborhood market summary that is sent out monthly)
I like that when an email is sent out, it’s effectiveness can be tracked. You can get a sense of what resonates with people and you can make adjustments.
While enewsletters are indeed good for sending certain types of content, there are a number of challenges with only sending out an email newsletter:
• SPAM – Here is a fact that might surprise you. According to Statista, billions of emails are sent every day and SPAM makes up 57% of all email. SPAM filters have to be robust in order to block nefarious emails from getting through and unfortunately marketing emails are mistaken for SPAM all the time. You may think that you are sending out 100 emails, but how many of those ACTUALLY wind up in the inbox?
• Competition – Today’s inbox is work. The average worker receives well over 100 emails a day, requiring us to prioritize our inboxes constantly. How many of you begin your day with deleting as many marketing emails as possible? Unfortunately, that is most of us. Unless you can make your email newsletter so compelling it makes it through the first round of deletion, you are spending a lot of time creating something that will actually be seen by fewer and fewer people.
• Less Sticking Power – According to MailChimp, real estate industry emails have an average open rate of 19.67% and a click rate of only 1.8%. That means if you sent out 100 emails, only 1.8% of people will click on a link. Compare that to all the people who will open your mail.
Because of these facts I do have concerns about agents who are opting to only do an enewsletter. I am also concerned that these numbers may get even worse in the coming years as the number of emails generated worldwide every day is expected to rise.
Let’s go back to print marketing. Here are some print marketing facts compiled by Accudata that should have you rethinking about the role physical mail in your marketing plan:
• 56% of all consumers trust print more than any other ad they see (printinthemix.com)
• 90% of Millennials think direct mail is reliable (yes folks, Millennials) (Pitney Bowes)
• 98% of consumers open their mail daily – forming a kinesthetic relationship to the piece you are sending out. Compare that to the click that is required for deleting or opening an email.
Remember, mail is tangible. It has a shelf-life. Furthermore, when information taps into to multiple senses, it is more likely to be remembered. With email, you only have visual (unless of course you have added video). But with print, you are adding at least another layer (touch) but you also have a different visual experience – one in which the paper can be turned over and viewed at different angles.
There are so many print marketing success stories I have heard over the years. Stories of agents arriving at a home to do a listing presentation and the seller pulls out a file folder full of past mailings. Stories of agents being able to find a very specific home for a buyer due to their mailing efforts. Three listing presentations that were a result of a single mailing to 100 people. I can go on and on about the power of mail!
“But Denise, I have 600 people in my database. I can’t afford to mail to that many people.”
OK, fair point. I agree that if you are concerned about your budget, you may want to take a look at the quality of your database. If I were selling real estate and I was concerned about a marketing budget, I might decide to only mail to certain folks, but then make sure I sent my email newsletter to my whole database. How do you determine quality? Here is how I would do it:
• Past Clients – Past clients always stay on the list unless you don’t want to work with them again.
• Potential Clients – These are folks who have indicated they might do business with you in the next year or so. They stay on the list.
• Referrers – If you have received a referral from someone, keep them on the list.
Then it is just a matter of determining who else is worth the monthly investment to keep on your list. Community associates? People you met at an open house five years ago? Friends and family members? Lenders? I like to use this metric to determine whether they stay on your direct mail list or not: Are they worth spending $18 a year to market to? If not, convert them to your enewsletter list for now, but don’t be cheap. You should be mailing to at least 100 people in your database every month.
Remember, $18 a year to market to say, an average of 250 people (I would say that is the average number of people in typical database of an agent we coach) is $4500. That isn’t much when you consider the amount that agents are spending to market to people they don’t know or generate online leads.
In my experience, the most effective communication plans are multi-faceted. Print mail combined with email marketing combined with social media – text, graphics, and video. The goal is to reach more people in the way they want to be reached with the information they want to read/hear/view. So don’t limit yourself to one type of communicating. Instead, create a simple-to-follow system that incorporates physical information and online information!