Get Prospects to Open Your E-mails

Don't get lost in the shuffle; make your e-mail messages stand out.

March 1, 2002

E-mail is the greatest low-cost farming tool ever--if you can get prospects to open your e-mails.

Thanks to an increasing number of spam, joke, and virus-laden messages, many recipients hit the delete key as quickly as it takes them to read the subject line. What does this tell you? How you send your e-mail message is critical to whether it gets opened or not.

When your recipients open their e-mail browsers, your name and subject line, and perhaps the date and file size of your e-mail, are all the recipient will see. Can you convey your message’s importance with just your name and a subject line?

Yes! Here's how:

Make sure your e-mail program sends your e-mail out with your full name.

Obvious? Not really. Many times, salespeople get pre-configured e-mail as part of their benefits from the broker. If everyone in your company gets "first initial, last name," as an address, then you will, too. But will your new prospects really know who "bevans" is?

You may know your e-mail address, but not know how your e-mail appears to recipients. To check, send an e-mail to yourself. If your full name doesn't appear, simply go to your toolbox link and look for user configuration. Usually, the first page you see will show you how your e-mail appears to others. Change it to your full name, add a comma and the word REALTOR™, if applicable, and possibly your designations. Then close.

Why your full name? It's a business tool. People are more likely to open e-mails from people whom they know and whom provide the most disclosure. If you use your first name only, your e-mail may get deleted with all the spam. Spammers typically use popular names so that you will be tricked into opening the message. Everyone knows a Linda or a John, so if you have a popular name, be sure that your recipients know which John or Linda you are.

Some salespeople prefer to put their brand in the user configuration. It's great that you are "Bestbroker," or "Realestategenius," but again, your goal is to get your e-mail opened. If your recipient doesn't know your brand, he or she could easily hit the delete key before opening your message, especially if you are sending information that isn't expected.

Branding is put to much better use in your signature line, which more closely approximates your business card (phone numbers, e-mail address, office address, and newsletter link.)

Keep subject lines short and sweet.

"Many e-mail browsers don't give a lot of room, so your subject line may get cut off, " says Kate Kemp, product manager for Realty Times. "Let's say you want your subject line to read: 'Open this up for the best newsletter ever created!' What actually gets delivered, may be only 'Open this...'"

Make the subject line intriguing.

Think of your subject line as a headline - you want to grab readers' attention. Let's say you are sending a newsletter via e-mail. Will recipients open your newsletter if all you put in the subject line is "Newsletter?"

"Don't ever call your newsletter what it is--call it what it does instead," advises Kemp. "Even something as short as 'Market Update,' 'Recent News,' or 'Market Trends' works."

Make sure subject lines relate to your topic.

Nothing is more confusing to recipients than an e-mail with a subject line that suggests one topic, but a body that is about something else. It doesn't do much for your image as a detail-oriented person to have these out of sync.

Keep urgency in mind. Don't give false urgency to e-mails which clearly are not. You will leave your recipient feeling manipulated. Use red exclamation points (see your e-mail toolbox) sparingly.

If you have a contract signed, say so! A "Contract signed!" is "Good news!" but which would your prospect rather see in the subject line? Also, will you be able to remember what "Good news" was a week, month, year from now? Having a well defined subject line also makes it easier for you to archive this important communication in your customer's file. You do keep records of all correspondence with regards to all transactions, don't you?

Beware the reply button.

It's easy to hit "Reply" without changing the subject, but you don't want your recipient to think this is a second delivery of the same message. Changing the subject line will prevent any misunderstandings, even if you add a Roman numeral two, or add "Part Deux," or add something that indicates a difference from the previous message.

Is your recipient expecting an e-mail from you?

Telling your recipient that information is coming via e-mail is half the battle. So is follow-up. If the e-mail is mission-critical, a phone call to make sure it was received is certainly in order. This is especially important when working with people who may not check their e-mail as often as you do.

Get the right e-mail address from the getgo.

Many people have more than one e-mail account and will instinctively give you their "Hotmail" or "AOL" addresses, especially if they are seeking more information from you on the Web. These "play" accounts allow online prospects to remain somewhat anonymous, making it more difficult for you to make a connection.

Even if you have someone under contract, he or she may prefer to give you their "play" e-mail address over their business e-mail address, as they may feel that shopping for real estate is personal business.

Ask for business e-mail addresses whenever possible. Most low-cost or free accounts limit file sizes and often fail to forward e-mails when their servers are at full capacity. When you explain that their service may limit your ability to send them new listings, for example, they may give you their business e-mail instead.

While nothing is guaranteed, if you follow these suggestions, you will have a much better chance that your e-mails will be opened.

(c) Copyright 2002 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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