How to Write E-mail Worth Reading

Are your marketing messages going straight into spam folders? Here’s how to get people to pay attention.

May 9, 2013

E-mail inboxes today are flooded. The messages you send to clients are competing with everything from bank statements to notes from children’s teachers to Gap shopping newsletters. How do you get people to open what you send, and even more critically, to pay attention to what you write?

Here are four strategies to help ensure your e-mails are opened and read and that you convey effective messages to your recipients.

1. Use Clarity in the Subject Line

To get people to notice your message, focus on the subject line. Make sure it’s specific, says Dmitri Leonov, vice president of growth with SaneBox, an e-mail management system. Don’t just write “Hi.” If possible, write your entire message in the subject line with the acronym EOM-—end of message. It could be as simple as “I’ll see you at the office tomorrow at 2 p.m. (eom).” “This is going to save you a ton of time, and your clients will prioritize your e-mail above everything else in their inbox,” -Leonov says.

For e-newsletters and other mass mailings, MailChimp, an e-newsletter campaign service, offers a feature that allows you to analyze the effectiveness of subject line keywords. You can search for specific language and MailChimp will tell you the open rates other e-newsletter campaigns have had using the same words. According to MailChimp’s analysis of open rates for more than 200 million e-mails, here are three words or phrases to avoid in your subject line to keep from triggering spam filters: help, percent off, and reminder.

2. Keep It Short

If an e-mail is very long, don’t expect a client to absorb or respond to every point you are making. It’s easy for clients to miss details embedded in multiple paragraphs and they may never even make it to the end of the message, Leonov explains. And let’s face it: Not everyone is an excellent writer, which can lead to confusion over meaning. Try bolding key words or information in the body of your message, or use condensed, bulleted lists.

3. Make Messages Worth Seeing

Consider video e-mail. Creating a simple, short video (under a minute) may help you make a more personal connection, such as with a business introduction or while explaining details of an upcoming closing. In the case of the latter, it’s still important to follow up with written documentation as back-up. Anand Patel, broker-owner of Pangea Realty Group in Tampa, Fla., finds BombBomb, a video e-mail marketing platform, to be very effective. “It helps with building relationships with first-time buyers and following up with people I meet at conferences,” he says.

Here’s how it works: First, you record a video message via smartphone, webcam, or camera; then upload your file to the BombBomb platform. You can customize the video messages with your own branding and include a short written message. The built-in analytics feature allows you to see who opened your e-mail, clicked on links, and watched your video. Or you can schedule drip campaigns to send an automated series of e-mails at scheduled times. Pricing starts at $29 per month for up to 500 sent videos.

When working with clients, Patel will send them a link to an MLS search along with a video in which he explains the listings within the link. It puts clients at ease about the buying process, but it also gives Patel a chance to see when they open the e-mail and how often and what links they click on.

To help his agents communicate more regularly with their spheres, he has suggested another vendor, Happy Grasshopper, an e-marketing service that produces short, creative, marketing messages that agents can use as is or adapt. The basic plan starts at $19 per month for up to 500 contacts.

4. Set Reminders

Real estate practitioners send time-sensitive e-mails regularly. But it can be stressful to keep track of when important follow-up is needed. While calendar reminders on your devices help, SaneBox has a “remind me” feature, which sends a notification when your e-mail was not replied to by a designated time. “It will help you hate your e-mail less,” Leonov said.