The following is an excerpt from the new edition of the firsttuesday Career Manual, a best practices guide to help new real estate licensees establish their personal brands and boost income.

Maintaining your client base of past acquaintances and reaching out to all the prospects in your FARM is essential to grow your business. Email marketing is a practical way to nurture that growth — all from the comfort of your office or home.

Read on to create successful email marketing campaigns and expand your use of digital resources.

Step 1: Choose an email campaign program

Most standard email providers do not have the capacity to deliver mass emails – this requires a special program. Multiple emailing services and programs exist to facilitate your mass email marketing, such as:

  • MailChimp;
  • Constant Contact;
  • MailerMailer;
  • Thunder Mailer;
  • SendBlaster; and
  • StreamSend.

Program types and payment plans vary by provider. Some programs are downloadable for a one-time fee but require more time to personalize the setup and put it into action. Most offer mailing service plans with a monthly or annual fee based on the number of emails you send to recipients — your target audience of names and email addresses.

Your email program selection for delivering your emails depends on your marketing needs. Consider the number of individuals you are targeting, the frequency you intend to send emails and what type of program features you want.

For example, some programs offer pre-made email design templates, or the ability to keep an individualized profile of each client to help you identify which emails to send.

Step 2: Harvest client information and create lists

Client contact information is the basic data you need to develop and grow a long-term email marketing campaign — and your business success. When you do not advertise, people either do not know about you or forget you, or they do not recall or know the services you now offer. The result: they do not contact you or refer others to you.

To gather data, request contact information from all past or potential clients you have contact with, called harvesting data. Make gathering critical information a routine daily practice – with everyone who might have need for your services – to provide a steady stream of additional email addresses, weekly all year.

The methods you engage in to harvest client email addresses are:

  • provide a way for your website visitors to subscribe to your emails when they are on your site or your social media accounts;
  • request potential clients to fill out a form during open houses and other points of contact;
  • advertise your email newsletter and address in the marketing material you hand out; and
  • ask existing clients for referrals of family and friends.

When gathering contact information, also collect information about a client’s homeownership status, family (i.e. whether they are single, married or have children), occupation, education, investments, and civic affiliations. Ask for any other criteria that may be useful for creating email lists tailored to your specific interests and local demographics (population’s age, income, education). Remember, people generally love to talk about themselves, so start by asking about their family.

For examples of collected data in motion, a client who has school-aged children is more likely to be interested in listings near top rated schools. First-time homebuyers are inclined to open emails about home maintenance and management tips.

You may also want to divide emails into separate databases by categorizing them as prior, existing, and potential new clients. You need to consider targeting them with different email content to offer a more personalized polish.

Categorize each newly acquired email address under the email lists relevant to them to ensure they receive only the content they relate to.

Ethical data collection and email marketing

Successfully building your contact list is more than just a matter of reaching as many people as possible — it’s about knowing your audience, dividing them into categories and marketing respectfully.

Avoid spamming your clients by sending excessive or unsolicited emails.

Anti-spam laws regulate online users with websites like yours to protect consumers from abuses and set an appropriate playing field of rules for your conduct. These rules:

  • prohibit use of false or misleading information in the subject line, sender field or header;
  • require you to provide a way for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails or request removal from your mailing list;
  • prohibit you from knowingly sending additional emails to a recipient more than ten business days after you have received their unsubscribe request; and
  • require you to provide a valid physical postal address in the email.

Further, only send to clients whose email addresses you have collected when you asked for it. Recipients who consent by giving you their address on your request are more likely to read your emails.

Anti-spam laws prohibit some methods of harvesting email addresses, as you may not:

  • obtain email addresses from a website or service that claims it does not sell or share email addresses to third parties (e.g., by purchasing an email address list from them); and
  • use an automated system to generate potential email addresses by creating random combinations of names, letters, or numbers.

Rather than purchasing email address lists, focus on routinely requesting email addresses from existing and potential clients. Market your real estate services through online platforms like social media accounts, possibly even Google search pay-per-client (PPC) arrangements, to attract clients to your brand and introduce them to your emails.

Your goal is to create and maintain a viable contact list that will yield more business and enhance your client relationships. This is best accomplished through focused, courteous marketing — not aimless, all-purpose spam emails.

Step 3: Narrow your content

Once you have a list of email contacts, create campaign lists, each list comprising a separate category of clients for receiving the different types of email content you will send to them.

The list of emails and information you send depends on your client base and grows as you collect more email addresses.

Popular ideas about different content for your categories of real estate marketing emails include:

  • advertising listings of properties;
  • solicitations to new potential clients;
  • upcoming events and open houses;
  • real estate news and market trends;
  • home maintenance and finance tips;
  • emails related to a client’s transactions, such as reminders and follow-ups; and
  • seasonal and holiday messages.

Consider blasting pre-designed flyers regarding various homeowner and real estate topics. Or obtain content presenting frequently asked questions many clients have and the answers to them — your helpful flyers will identify you as a dependable source of real estate-related information.

Editor’s note —All firsttuesday marketing materials are available free of charge on our FARM Letters page. 

You may also use your emails to share content you have posted on your own real estate blog or use diverse online real estate news sources by forwarding their information or linking to their articles.

A simple rule: when deciding on content to send to clients, opt for material that is useful to clients and might pique their interest. Focusing on local real estate information and trends is one way to keep readers interested in receiving your emails.

Further, even short messages and updates about your business are useful. The contact keeps your brand top-of-the-mind for your clients, pointing out that you continue to be active as an agent and the type of transactions you are arranging – and they will be more inclined to turn to you when they decide to buy or sell.

Step 4: Design your email

To reach out to your clients, create a design to use as your email template. Many marketing and email campaign programs offer ready-to-use formats you can choose from.

When selecting a design, consider the content of the email you are sending and choose a design appropriate for each type of email.

For example, a marketing email promoting your listings is best delivered using a clean, simple template with a modest color scheme. This maintains your professionalism and makes it easier for clients to glean the important information they need.

When you send reminders and seasonal emails to keep in touch with past clients, consider indulging your creative side and playing with some color – an embellished template with more playful themes may spark your readers’ interest and match the casual tone of the email.

Smart design for better reading

An important aspect of designing marketing emails is ensuring your template is user-friendly and readable. Start your design with a catchy but simple subject line to call attention to your email.

To streamline the appearance of your emails, limit the number of different fonts and font sizes. Aim to include only legible, standard fonts that will display properly on all computer platforms and browsers.

When your template embraces a more colorful design scheme, avoid overusing bright colors or overwhelming readers with too many colors at once – both may render your email unreadable. Here, less is always more.

Consider the nature of the content in each email when determining whether you want to employ a single-column template or a multi-column design. An email containing multiple photos and listings will benefit from a multi-column design. It allows readers to see more information at once. Simple announcements or updates are more suitable for single-column designs.

Regardless of the layout you select, reduce the amount of text to keep your email content concise and simple. Focus on refining the words in your titles and subtitles so they quickly convey the purpose of your email or a webpage you are asking them to visit. Avoid excessive and repetitive wording. A three-second scan of your copy by a reader needs to tell them what it is about and when relevant, whether they need to read the entire content of your email.

Today, checking emails and news on mobile devices is common practice. Thus, it is crucial that your email design is crisp and readable on a mobile device. When you browse templates, look for “mobile-friendly” or “responsive” designs. These will automatically resize your copy to fit the smaller screens on mobile devices making it an easier read for your clients.

Step 5: Create a schedule and start tracking results

Maintaining a drip campaign – automated emails sent on a regular schedule – is an efficient way to keep in touch with your clients. You can schedule and theme some email campaigns for specific dates and seasons, while ensuring you send others on a recurring basis. You might produce an email that you send only once. Your email campaign schedule is entirely up to you. You should adjust it based on the content of each email you send and the feedback you receive.

In addition to scheduling, tracking how your clients interact with your emails helps you improve your marketing, and in turn your business activity. Most providers of email programs offer a way to track subscriptions to your email letter, as well as when recipients open your emails and how often readers click on a link you have sent them.

Stay on top of scheduling and tracking to adjust the type of content you send or how often you schedule emails. You will soon learn what types of content are more popular among your clients which enables you to maximize your use of email marketing.