There’s no place like home, and no one knows this better than a real estate agent. Real estate agents have the major task of helping buyers select a space that feels comfortable, safe, and that they will be proud to call home. Additionally, you have to set yourself apart from the competition by creating a familiar and trustworthy brand. 

To achieve this, you must build a reputation as both professional and personal. You have to be someone full of knowledge about the housing market and the ins and outs of neighborhood amenities, as well as someone who understands the sensitivities of your clients. Part of what helps build your reputation is how you market yourself. 

To start, think about the challenges you face in your industry: 

Client acquisition and retention: Building your client base is paramount to your success as a real estate agent. Retaining prospects is a testament to your ability to keep your brand familiar and viewed as a source of expertise. Email marketing, along with other marketing channels like social media and SMS text messaging, will help you establish your credibility and remind your clients that you are ready whenever they are. 

Competition: Separating yourself from other agents in your area is a major task, but your ability to market yourself well will help cut down on the time you spend seeking out clients. With a solid brand, your prospects will find you. 

Does email marketing work for real estate agents?

Email is one of the most common methods of business-to-consumer (B2C) communication. It’s versatile in its ability to feel both professional and intimate, helping business owners forge meaningful connections with their audience while cutting down on the time it takes to make individual calls. Because of this, email marketing is an excellent channel for real estate agents to communicate with prospects and reinforce their brand. 

Take the National Association of REALTORSⓇ. The research they have compiled indicates that 95% of REALTORS® use email daily, and 57% use social media apps daily. The association also found that 93% of members preferred text messaging while 89% have a preference for email when communicating with their clients.

Top Lead-Generating Tech Tools from National Association of REALTORS
Using an email marketing tool accounts for 21% of the National Association of Realtors lead generation. Source: National Association of REALTORSⓇ

Email marketing tools for real estate agents

While free email tools like Gmail and Yahoo are great for personal and professional communication, their ability to handle real estate email campaigns is limited in terms of: 

  • Customization options
  • Large list deliverability
  • Automation and segmentation features
  • Tracking and analytics
  • Compliance standards

Email marketing platforms offer tools to help users reach and delight a consumer audience. Features that set email service providers apart from search engine-enabled email include: 

  • List segmentation
  • Email templates
  • Dynamic content
  • Workflow automation
  • Reporting
  • Software integrations 

Why use email marketing in real estate?

Developing a real estate email marketing strategy will allow your business to build up your contact list, increase brand awareness, and convert prospects into customers. Email marketing benefits include: 

Universality

While there are still social media holdouts and people who prefer a phone call to text, email is pretty universal. People wake up and start scrolling their inbox with a cup of coffee to check in on the news, professional updates, and deals from businesses. What’s more, email requires subscribers to opt-in to receive communications from your business, ensuring you have access to an offline, engaged list of contacts.

Relationship building and lead nurturing

Use email marketing as an avenue to build the story of your business and to invite subscribers into that story. Consider automating a welcome series to introduce your business and the services you offer to new subscribers. Showcase listings, detail open house information, and provide high-value content like neighborhood guides and moving tips to instill trust, prove expertise, and drive action amongst prospective clients. 

Cost-effective

Marketing budgets are usually the first place business owners look to cut costs, especially for small businesses. You want to be creative but also invest your time and money into a strategy that will pay you back in the long run. Email is one of the most cost-effective options for business communication, with a return on investment (ROI) of $36 for every $1 spent

Personalization

Buying or selling a home is a personal process filled with strong emotions like stress and excitement. Use your email campaigns to help soothe anxiety areas with reassurance and knowledge and spark excitement for a new adventure. Personalize email content with dynamic fields that auto-populate with subscribers’ names. Set action triggers to send emails based on subscriber behavior, like event registration and viewing a listing, so your customer journey feels relevant to individual subscribers. 

User-friendly 

Email marketing is user-friendly for businesses and consumers, from backend production to forward-facing messages. Use pre-designed email templates or create a custom design, easily add buttons and links to direct readers to your website and event sign-ups, and segment your lists to maintain your contacts and keep content relevant. 

Measurable results

By using an email service provider (ESP) and their reporting tools, you’ll gain valuable insights about how your target audience engages with your content. It could be that a particular portion of your audience frequently engages with listings, meaning they are actively looking for a home. In contrast, other audience members might pay more attention to newsletter content because they want to keep your business in mind for the future. Tracking audience engagement will help you better target your content and cut down on unsubscribe rates.

Automation and efficiency

Automate the emails you send regularly to maintain efficiency within your business and consistency with your audience. Schedule and set trigger actions for event confirmations, thank yous, surveys, and other relevant content. Use automation to keep subscribers informed and to help you take time back in your schedule. 

Lifecycle of a real estate email marketing campaign

To help you understand how email marketing will benefit your business, first, you must understand the lifecycle of an email campaign. From building your list to pressing send to setting up email automation, this is everything you need to know: 

Build and grow email lists

Before you can start sending emails, you have to build a list of interested subscribers. Embed a sign-up form onto your website and/or craft a landing page to capture email addresses and other important information like family size, price range, location, etc. 

Share links to your email sign-up form on social media and consider offering incentives like educational material or exclusive deals. 

Tip: You want your subscribers to be excited to receive your content and you want to make sure you stay in compliance with federal standards; this means you shouldn’t buy an email list. Encourage people to opt-in to your email list so you know you are emailing people who want to hear from you. 

example sign-up form made with Constant Contact
You can capture email addresses and other information with a sign-up landing page that can be shared via social media, QR code, and other methods. Image Source: Constant Contact

Email creation

Decide on a goal for your email campaign. Are you trying to encourage subscribers to attend an event? Look at a listing? Download a neighborhood guide? Ensure your email’s goal is apparent by crafting a clear call to action (CTA) that directs the reader toward the goal’s completion. Make sure your emails reflect your brand image by keeping colors, logo, voice, and tone consistent throughout. 

Email automation

Being a real estate agent means you have little time to spare. Email automation can help you save time by cutting down on manual sending. As you begin to test the waters with automating your real estate email marketing efforts, consider creating a trigger to send a welcome email when someone subscribes to your email list or a confirmation email when someone signs up for an event. 

Email metrics and reporting

Once you start sending emails, check your reporting dashboard to see how effective your content is with your audience. Check click-through rates and heat map data to see what content drives engagement within your emails. Is it links to listings? Images of homes? Registrations? Take notice of open rates to understand if your subject lines are encouraging opens; just remember that open rates by themselves don’t prove email success, but they can help you understand what drives engagement in the inbox. Pay attention to unsubscribe rates to see where readers are dropping off and how you can craft better content for future campaigns. 

Tech update: Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, announced in September 2021, prevents marketers from seeing email opens via tracking pixels from users who have enabled the protection accessing on their Apple device. There are similar options available through extensions via Chrome and Firefox. 

Also note that emails sent to Gmail accounts have their images hosted through Gmail’s proxy server, meaning that subscribers who have decided to maintain their own authorization for image display might decide against opening emails, skewing open rates. 

Email optimization

Use the information you gather about your audience and their engagement with your email content to optimize future campaigns. For example, if you start to see an uncommonly low open rate, consider running a subject line A/B test. If you want to increase click-throughs, refer to heat map data to help you plan out email layouts and content. 

Email marketing strategies

Use the following strategies to help you build an effective email marketing plan:

Segmentation

Segmentation is the process of separating your contact list into smaller groups to better target your content. Segmentation can be based on audience demographic information, behaviors, and other criteria like email type. To help you segment your contacts, consider creating a landing page or sign-up form that collects data on the following: 

  • Prospects
  • Sellers 
  • First-time buyers
  • Families
  • Newlyweds and couples
  • Referrals

Drip campaigns

A drip campaign refers to a series of emails and actions aimed at a particular goal, for example, a lead nurturing campaign where you’re attempting to nurture prospects into customers. Your drip campaign might look like this: welcome email > subscriber selects listing > action triggers to send a neighborhood guide featuring the home in the listing. 

Testimonials and success stories

Positive reviews from previous clients can go a long way to establish trust among new clients and lend credibility to your business. Show off the success of your buyers and sellers by sending emails featuring testimonials. Let subscribers know when a couple is thrilled about the Tudor-style house they bought last month, and tell readers how much money a seller was able to get from working with you. Past success drives future success. 

Types of emails to send

The following are types of emails you can send to nurture leads and grow your business: 

Welcome emails 

Introduce your business to potential buyers and sellers through a welcome email. Let subscribers know about the content they can expect to receive from you in the future, and consider turning a one-off email into a series to encourage subscribers to take desired actions.

Showcase property listings

It’s likely that your main source of content will be property listings. Craft email content that gives subscribers the need-to-know information (think location, imagery, and price) and encourages them to click through to learn more. 

Example of one of Constant Contact's real estate templates
Constant Contact’s real estate templates include real estate property spotlights, newsletters, and more. Image Source: Constant Contact

Newsletter

Email newsletters allow you to get personal with your subscribers. Give them recent updates about your business, let them get to know you or fellow real estate professionals you’re associated with, and show off your expertise by informing readers about current trends.  

Events 

Open houses, mixers, neighborhood tours — use email to send invitations and confirmations about upcoming events. 

Follow-up emails 

Let subscribers know what they missed by sending event recaps. Request referrals from past clients. Use email to keep communication lines open and consistent with your subscribers. 

Seasonal greetings and special occasions

Send messages celebrating holidays, occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, and the changing of the seasons. Include information about special events, moving tips to help subscribers prepare to make the change in all kinds of weather, and season-centric promotions. 

Exclusive offers and deals 

Announce exclusive offers and special deals by sending targeted email campaigns. Use subscriber data to segment emails by user behavior (ex: viewing a listing) and demographic information like location, age, and marital status. 

Neighborhood guides 

People searching for their new home want to know about the surrounding area. Remember the phrase “location is everything” — while it might be a bit hyperbolic, it still rings true to the fact that location is a big factor in determining where a potential buyer wants to live. 

  • Schools and educational institutions
  • Grocery stores and restaurants
  • Recreational facilities 
  • Healthcare
  • Infrastructure
  • Public Transportation
  • Art/culture

Learning the lingo 

As you begin to build email marketing campaigns, here’s the vocabulary you need to know: 

Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link in your email campaign. Indicates how effective your email is at directing subscribers to take a desired action.

Open rate: The percentage of subscribers who opened your email. Indicates the effectiveness of your subject line. 

Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that never made it to the inbox. Indicates a deliverability issue. 

Opt-in: Opting-in is the process of an interested party choosing to become a subscriber by signing up for your email list. 

Opt-out (unsubscribe): When a subscriber decides they no longer want to receive your marketing emails, they may opt-out, also known as an unsubscribe. Track unsubscribe rates to help you understand what content isn’t resonating with your subscribers so you can improve future email campaigns. 

Automated email: Automated emails are sent in response to a specific action trigger. Action triggers could be anything from a subscriber’s birthdate to a subscriber’s interaction with a particular piece of content. 

Landing page: A landing page is a dedicated web page that serves to collect information from people directed there from a link on your social media or elsewhere on the web. Landing pages commonly describe a business’s email marketing intention before requesting information.

Call-to-action (CTA): A call to action (CTA) is a line of text that instructs the reader to take a specific action. This could be a phrase attached to a button like “RSVP” or hyperlinked text like “click here.” 

List building: An effort to expand your list of subscribers through strategic methods like offering incentives (think discounts and sale codes), high-value content, and promoting your list on marketing channels like social media and your website. 

Spam score: The rating given to an email campaign based on factors that might trigger spam filters, such as misspellings and excessive punctuation. 

Sender reputation: Your business’s email marketing credibility — based on what subscribers know from your email marketing campaigns. Sender reputation is based on criteria such as spam score, complaints, and unsubscribes. 

Additional Email Marketing Resources for Realtors

Listen: Be a Marketer podcast with Zero to Diamond’s Ricky Carruth

Use the following articles to help you build your marketing strategy. 

Email marketing tips for real estate agents:

Social media marketing for real estate agents:

Paid search marketing strategies for real estate agents:

Seasonal Real Estate Marketing Strategies:

Marketing strategies for real estate agents:

Launch your first campaign

Take the first step in expanding your marketing efforts by implementing email. To start, check out our email marketing tools and education materials to help you make the most of your small business. Want to further your efforts? Tap into social media and SMS to reach new prospects and diversify your brand.