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January 30, 2007

10 Tips to Creating an e-mail Strategy

For many people, e-mail has become the communication vehicle of choice. There is an entire generation of buyers and sellers who prefer e-mail to voicemail.

E-mail is the first place most people go when they get online, and it is incumbent on those who expect to harness the marketing power of the Internet to become an “e-mail powerhouse.” What good is it to generate Internet leads if you fail to act upon them? E-mail is the tool that helps you turn leads into sales.

Today’s real estate professional must, in addition to creating a Web Site Marketing Strategy, create an e-mail Marketing Strategy. The following ten tips will move you down the path to more effective online client communication:

1. Purchase Your own Domain.
 
Any of the following can work for you:
You.com
YourName.com
YourTeam.com
YourSlogan.com
FirstNameLastNameREALTOR.com
(The Internet is not case sensitive for e-mail addresses and website addresses, so the use of upper and lower case in the above examples is done for clarity).

2. Use your own domain in BOTH your e-mail address and your website address (URL). Remember, “your e-mail address is an asset of your business, one you invest in every day.” Make sure you have a “permanent e-mail address,” one that doesn’t change even when you switch ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

3. Use the signature feature in your e-mail software and include:

a. Name and designations (like e-PRO, CRS, ABR)
b. Website address (be sure to include the HTTP:// prefix, creating an embedded link in plain text e-mail)
c. E-mail address (include the mailto: prefix with no space, creating an embedded link in plain text e-mail)
d. Phone number and Fax number
e. Your city or town for possible referrals
Remember, the signature feature is also a handy way to send pre-written responses.
f. License status and/or broker if required by your licensing jurisdiction

4. Use “Unlimited e-mail addresses."  Remember that e-mail addresses are unique identifiers. The unlimited e-mail address feature offered by your e-mail host allows Anything at your Domain to be sent to you.
When at a listing appointment, inform the seller that the e-mail address you will be using for their property will be the address of the property @ Your Domain (123RiverStreet@YourName.com)

When advertising, use the name of the publication@YourName.com which will allow you to track ad response.

Examples:

When running ads in the following, use the following e-mail addresses.
Homes and Land Magazine – HomesAndLand@YourName.com
Harmon Homes – HarmonHomes@YourName.com
REALTOR.com – REALTOR.com@YourName.com

5. Make sure you are using a return e-mail address in your client-side e-mail software (Outlook Express, Outlook, etc.) that reflects your domain and not the domain of your ISP.

6. Learn more about autoresponders, how they can be used with your domain, and how they will provide instant feedback to interested parties while, at the same time, sending you the e-mail addresses of the interested parties.

7. Build your e-mail address book.  Ask everyone you meet at their e-mail address. Ask for e-mail addresses in all your correspondence, at open houses, on your voicemail message everywhere you can think of. To market electronically, you will need to capture e-mail addresses. In addition to asking for an e-mail address, ask your customers and clients for the best way to reach them.

8. Understand that it is in your best interest for everyone to have a "permanent e-mail address." That way your e-mail address book will always be up to date. Explain to your business customers that an e-mail address is “an asset of their business” in the event they do not have a permanent e-mail address.

9. Make sure your spell check is on when composing an e-mail. Remember, "every piece of e-mail is a marketing piece." You only have one chance to make a first impression.

10. Return e-mail promptly. Often those interested in your services are interested in an immediate response - they may have seen your listing online and would like to see the property right away. For that reason, you will want to be online whenever you are in the office, at home, or even on the road. Checking your e-mail at least as often as you check your voicemail is at the heart of being a new real estate professional. Those who are e-mailing you are often times computer professionals who receive and send e-mail throughout the day.  If you delay in getting back to them, you may miss an opportunity. Remember: The first reply usually wins the contract. Imagine that you are one of several professionals getting requests for information from a single prospect. First to respond has the advantage.

(Saul Klein is CEO of Real Estate Electronic Publishing Company, home of RealTown.)

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