Real estate is a competitive space with a very specific marketing challenge—the one-on-one time real estate agents get with customers comes (at best) once every few years when people need to buy or sell a home. For many buyers, their relationship with their agent ends after closing.
How do real estate agents stay top-of-mind?
This is where investing in an email newsletter makes sense. Granted, we here at home-dev.rasa.io are super into email newsletters, and work hard to make them smarter and better. But, done thoughtfully, newsletters are a great fit for real estate and other industries where keeping touch with customers is a priority despite its challenges. Hear us out.
Why should real estate agents invest in an email newsletter?
The world is increasingly digital and mobile, which means that old-school direct mail just doesn’t pack as much of a punch as it used to. Having an online presence is vital. Most businesses start with social media because it’s easy to set up, but it’s tough to rise above the noise and connect with people in a direct way on those platforms. At the end of the day, your followers belong to Facebook, Instagram or whatever platform you happen to be using, not your brand.
Email newsletters offer an affordable alternative. Email newsletters are designed to deliver useful information directly to your audience. Most everyone has an email address these days (just over 4 billion of us worldwide, if you’re counting). You need an email to log into a social media account, not the other way around. Your email list belongs to you. You built it. It’s yours. Another plus: Email is easy to check on-the-go, using a mobile device. If the goal is to maintain a direct conversation with your audience across devices, email remains one of the more effective tools out there.
But why invest in an email newsletter? Isn’t email more 2000 than 2020? A solid 93% of real estate agents still say they prefer email when it comes to talking to clients, according to a 2018 National Association of Realtors study. And email newsletters are evolving. That’s because technology, ranging from simple GIFs to artificial intelligence (like what we do here at home-dev.rasa.io), is making it easier to build smarter, more personalized email newsletters. More personalized means more meaningful.
How does a real estate agent start an email newsletter?
If you already have an email list of customers, congrats! You have a built-in audience who wouldn’t mind hearing from you. If you don’t, getting started is as simple as asking. Ask new and existing customers if you could email them a weekly newsletter with useful information related to the local real estate market. Not sales pitches or promos, but articles, videos and other content that you think they would find useful.
That last part is key. Real estate agents are sellers. It’s in your DNA. But your email newsletter shouldn’t be about making sales. An email newsletter should be about building a relationship with people, people who may eventually want to buy a home as well as people who aren’t looking to buy and perhaps won’t be for a long while.
We don’t have to tell you that investing in building relationships, whether in-person or with a newsletter, is key to unlocking long-term success. Those people who aren’t buying right now? They have children or friends who might be. You want your name (or perhaps a link to your newsletter) to come up when those children or friends ask for a recommendation on a real estate agent.
To that end, grow your email list by asking your existing subscribers to share the newsletter with friends and family if they find it useful. Send out surveys asking subscribers what topics they want to know more about. Also, add a newsletter signup feature on your website and bring along a tablet and build newsletter signups into the welcome process at open houses, first-time homebuyers seminars and other in-person events.
What should real estate agents talk about in an email newsletter?
Don’t underestimate the treasure trove of knowledge you bring to the table as a real estate agent. A big part of selling homes is keeping tabs on housing trends at the national, state, local and neighborhood levels. Your audience wants to know about some of those trends as well. Make it a point to share insider information, without going too far into the weeds.
Take a breath. That doesn’t mean that you need to sit down and start typing out dozens of blog posts explaining tough topics. Much of the content you’re looking for is already online, but your audience may not be seeing it. It’s up to you to share it with them, and an email newsletter is an effective way to do that.
In your reading and research, look out for articles, videos and other content that do a good job at explaining big-picture trends or key real estate topics as you’re doing your regular industry reading. (This process, by the way, is called curation and it’s crucial. Check out our content curation guide to help you get started curating quality content the right way.)
Many real estate agents already send emails that highlight their current listings or feature interesting homes on the market. Your email newsletter is an opportunity to do something different. Focus on sharing information about the news and topics people care about when buying or selling a home. For example, details on schools, restaurants and events in their neighborhood. Or what buying a home means for their financial future, both near- and long-term. Or the right time to renovate a kitchen.
Here’s a list of topics to consider as you think about building out your email newsletter.
- Mortgage basics. Most Americans are clueless when it comes to lending requirements and what they entail. That knowledge gap has real consequences; people receive the wrong loan product or some—including young adults—may opt out of buying altogether. (Only 37.3% of homeowners were under age 35 to start 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) A newsletter is a great place to share articles about loans and financing, as well as any tips or guides you’ve developed on your own.
- Home improvement tips. Remember, the goal with email newsletters is to provide useful information and even to entertain your audience. Sharing home improvement content offers you a wealth of options, from tips for fixing a leaky faucet to gardening inspiration to advice from a leading interior decorator. Send themed newsletters that help your audience prepare for seasonal weather. Share before and after photos from remodels. There are a lot of options here.
- Food news. Few topics bring people together like food. Use your email newsletter to share articles about the local food scene, including eating guides and new restaurant openings in the neighborhoods where you have listings. Many cities have multiple blogs committed to posting about local restaurants, for example, Eater, which publishes guides, articles and other food-related content for 25 different major cities, such as Miami, Chicago and Montreal.
- Local headlines. Use your email newsletter to plug folks into local updates on local government, business, zoning ordinances and other topics that affect homeowners. The benefit is two-fold: Your client (or potential client) is excited about their area and you are positioned as an expert with a pulse on the local market.
- Social calendar. You can also use your email newsletter to share a calendar of fun local events, including farmer’s markets, festivals, block parties and outdoor concerts. This gives your audience something to look forward to when they open your emails, and, like sharing news, positions you as a local expert.
- School scoop. Learning more about local schools is a top priority for many buyers. Use an email newsletter to share updates on local primary, middle and secondary schools, highlight local teachers or class projects, and share education news headlines that affect the neighborhoods you work in.
- Health and recreation. Share news about local 5Ks, fundraisers and blood drives, in addition to details on local recreation, whether that be a list of the best parks in the city, nearby hiking trails or a map of local bicycle paths.
- Financial planning. For many people, buying a home is the biggest financial decision of their lifetime. Use the trust you’ve gained through the home-buying experience to connect your audience to resources for long-term financial planning, including options like refinancing.
Where do real estate agents find content for their email newsletters?
The best email newsletters offer a mix of original content and external content. The latter is known as “curated content” in the online marketing world. A good guideline? For every 10 pieces of content shared (i.e. articles, videos, social media posts, etc.), shoot for five curated pieces, three original pieces and two pieces that share something personal about your business.
Where can you find curated content? First, think of where you read about industry news. That can include sources like:
- The National Association of Realtors, which has a range of topic-specific blogs and podcasts;
- Consumer-oriented blogs like those from Zillow, Trulia and other real estate database websites;
- Trade magazines, like Builder and Developer Magazine;
- Industry newsletters; and
- Social media posts from industry leaders.
Next, think about what sources that specialize in offering news and information on the non-industry topics you want to cover. Those can include:
- Local news websites;
- Neighborhood groups and forums;
- Food news websites, like Eater; and
- Home and garden blogs and social media feeds, like those listed in this Zumper roundup.
Where can I learn more about crafting email newsletters?
With a thoughtful approach, email newsletters are an effective way to connect with your clients on a regular basis outside the context of a sale. It’s about holding a conversation.
Want to learn more about how to craft successful email newsletters? Our Pushing Send blog has a whole section on email newsletters for you to peruse.
We also suggest taking a look at this Placester roundup of real estate email newsletter ideas with real-life examples from others in the industry.
Last, for a deeper dive into the fundamentals of curating content, check out our guide on content curation.