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The dos and don’ts of email marketing

Given that ‘UK buyers are the most digitally active home hunters’, with HSBC’s Beyond the Bricks report stating that 90% of Brits research properties online, it’s no longer a question of whether your agency should buy into digital marketing but what that marketing strategy looks like.

What content are you sending to your contacts? Are your messages resonating with your audience? And what return on investment are you seeing?

These are just some of the questions that you need to consider if you want to maintain your competitive edge in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

With pressures from online agents, a stagnant market and upcoming regulation changes, now’s the time to connect with your customers to generate repeat business opportunities, referrals and – ultimately – more revenue.

What are the benefits of email marketing?

In a digital age where we expect everything to be available at the touch of a button, 35-50% of sales go to the business that makes contact first.

Yet many organisations are unable to meet this demand, taking 42 hours on average to respond with 23% of companies failing to reply at all, according to Harvard Business Review.

Email marketing and automation offer busy estate and letting agents a way to streamline the customer journey, providing additional touch points that will nurture a lead until they’re ready to talk.

Today’s consumers are never too far from a device, checking their email inboxes approximately 20 times per day, so you have the means to reach them anytime, anywhere.

Why do I need to nurture my contacts if they’ve done business with me before?

It’s not enough to assume that your history with your customers will guarantee that they’ll pick you to sell or let their home in the future.

As studies have shown, Brits will see three agents on average, with 79% receiving at least two valuations before instructing someone.

So, whether their next move is in one year or 20, you want your customers to think of your agency first every time, and this means keeping that relationship going.

Eight out of ten consumers are happy to refer a business that they’ve had a positive experience with, but only three will do so of their own volition.

Agents need to provide a post-purchase journey that nurtures their customers after completion to see high referral numbers.

Content

Content for content’s sake has the potential to do more harm than good, so you need to make sure that what you’re saying is of genuine value to the consumer.

Customers (82%) feel disappointed with brands that take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which is why we recommend a marketing strategy that targets specific groups, such as: buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.

For instance, a first-time buyer wouldn’t be interested in your landlord information, but if you were able to gain insight into their customer journey, you could use niche content to effectively influence their decision making.

By meeting their needs with the right message, at the right time, you’ll demonstrate your agency’s value and increase your conversion rates.

But what content can an agent provide to demonstrate that they are the go-to agent in their local area?

Content topics: From pre-enquiry to post-completion, there’s an unlimited range of topics that you could cover, including: market condition updates, how to guides, home improvement articles, information on your additional services, and updates from your agency.

Your team possess an extensive knowledge of the property industry, while your customers – in most cases – will have a more limited understanding of the buying, selling, letting and renting processes.

So, while you might think that you have very little to contribute in terms of content marketing, you actually have a lot of valuable experience to share.

Subject lines: A recent study found that 64% of emails are opened based on the subject line, so you can see just how much potential there is to grab your readers’ attention.

To increase interest, try leading with the key hook from your message. While certain campaigns will require a more practical teaser line – especially with transactional communications – you needn’t be afraid to mix things up for others.

We’ve found that lines like: ‘Did you know that property prices in…’ and ‘We’ve got the perfect property for you’ tend to perform well, so the more out of the box the better.

For those looking to maximise their results, A/B testing can be highly effective as you can trial different lines with a small sample of your database. After that, you can then see which performed better for your full email send.

Design

Attention spans have never been lower, with it taking just eight seconds for someone’s concentration to slip, on average, and 81% of website visitors skim reading content.

As such, it’s crucial that your emails are as visually engaging as they are newsworthy.

Images: While many marketing novices will focus on finding the perfect image, very few will consider its placement within an email.

As well as being visually appealing, email banners and pictures balance your text-to-image ratio, meaning that you’ll reduce the chances of your email being flagged as spam.

However, as with your content, your images must serve a purpose and relate to the message. It’s also important that they don’t negatively affect your contacts’ reading experience by causing them to stop.

Call-to-actions (CTAs): Without appropriate call-to-actions, such as ‘contact us’ or ‘request an appraisal’, your messages will have next to no effect on your customers.

As standard practice, we embed CTAs in our customers’ email headers, ensuring that each send will produce maximum results by driving attention to various parts of an agent’s website.

We’d also suggest using at least two CTAs within an email, with one placed above the fold – i.e. in the top half of an email – and the other below it.

Optimisation: We’ve all had experiences with emails and webpages that don’t load correctly, and it can be frustrating, but did you know that 53% of mobile users will abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load?

Having an online presence is a necessity when dealing with digital consumers, but if the user experience you’re offering isn’t fully-optimised across all devices, then you’ll end up with more frustrated customers than satisfied ones.

With email marketing, this means that your message is responsive and will automatically alter its structure to the screen width dimensions.

Colours and font: To improve readability of your messages, there are a number of simple tricks that you can employ, such as using a dark grey for text instead of jet-black.

This simple colour change has been proven to make content easier to read, whilst looking more modern and professional.

Another factor that will alter your email’s presentation is typeface. It’s important to remain consistent and on-brand, as you’ll pull focus from your message by mixing fonts or making it too small or difficult to read.

For information on colour palettes and complimentary pairing, we would suggest reading this blog from Shutterstock.

Whitespace: Essentially, whitespace refers to the padding around your text and images, and it can be any colour or even a background image.

Again, it’s best to keep the presentation of your email simple and avoid having bulky sections of text, which can be achieved with line spacing.

The GDPR

Even now, three months after the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), there are some business owners who are still trying to wrap their head around the new regulation.

The GDPR does change how your agency can interact with its customers – and store their personal data – but it will only become a barrier to business if left unchecked.
Whether you go down the route of Consent or Legitimate Interests, you need to make sure that your customers are informed and happy to receive communications from you before you market your properties or additional services to them.

*Charlotte Lambert is a Marketing Executive at BriefYourMarket.com

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