Tips for Successful E-mails

E-mail is a very effective way to generate new business and stay in touch with past clients. It's more affordable than direct mail or print ads, easily measurable, flexible and is the preferred method of communication by many. Many appraisers use e-mail in all three phases in the transaction—to cultivate prospects into clients, for transaction information such as updates, and after the appraisal to generate referrals and repeat business. These types of e-mails are great for building long-term, profitable relationships.

But it can be tough to know where to start. Our XSellerate marketing product is an excellent way to take a lot of pain out of e-mail marketing. And even if you don't use XSellerate, there are few common tips that will give you a jumpstart:

1. Pick an intriguing subject line.
This is the most important ingredient for an effective e-mail. After all, your e-mail's message can land a ton of leads, but not if no one opens it. A compelling subject line is vital. Think about what kind of e-mails you open. Then, come up with a few subjects and send yourself e-mails with those subjects to help you choose. You certainly don't have to do this exercise with every e-mail but it's good every now and again.

2. Your messages don't always have to sell.
It's tempting to plaster every e-mail with "call me to schedule your appraisal," but those aren't always the e-mails that get the best response. Take this Marketing Insider for example - our primary goal isn't to get you to buy software as a result of reading the stories. It's to build rapport and give you information to help your business now. Consequently, it's one of our most popular marketing methods. You can do the same thing using your expertise. Tell people what local market conditions are, the best home improvements for the buck, weaknesses in AVM methodologies, etc.

3. Be yourself - write like you talk.
Which are you most likely to read: "I would very much appreciate the time to meet with you to discuss your appraisal needs." or "I'd love to visit with you about appraisals?" People glaze over when sentences are too wordy or proper. They want personable. You're probably a very articulate, warm and professional person. Make sure that comes across in your e-mails.

4. Keep a good list.
There are a couple of ways to get a list: 1. Use your contact list of prospects, past clients and current clients. 2. Buy a list from a reputable list broker. They're inexpensive, but do a little homework first. I recommend checking into InfoUSA.com. Two words of caution—when using purchased lists, your effectiveness won't be as high as your organic lists because these people haven't shown interest in your services. Also, limit the number of people you send a single campaign to at a few hundred. 3. Generate leads from your XSite to market to. An easy way to do this is to add lead capture forms to your site. When someone wants more information, they'll give you their e-mail address.

5. Choose subjects that aren't well known.
If your content isn't interesting and different, people won't care to read it. For informational e-mails, try subjects that you know very well like neighborhood valuation trends, secrets to increasing your home's value, and common myths. Also ask yourself what questions homeowners, real estate agents, and LOs often ask you. That's a good place to start with choosing subject matter.

6. Give people "remove" options.
While it would be wonderful if everyone appreciated your e-mails, it's not reality. Giving them a method to unsubscribe - whether it's a link or reply instructions - will keep from upsetting recipients and keep your list clean while staying compliant with e-mail regulations.

7. Stay in constant touch, but don't overdo it.
Very few appraisers stay in touch like they should after they deliver their report. But there is "too much of a good thing" when it comes to e-mails. Sending too many wears your recipients out, waters down your messages and increases your chance of getting in trouble with ISPs. If you notice that you're starting to get less response or higher remove requests, you could be sending too much.

8. Direct people to your website.
Your XSite is an excellent source of up-to-date information about appraising and home valuation. So make sure people know that. It's especially important in today's age when many would rather find information for themselves than call around. One incredible asset for your website is a blog. When you start a blog (included with your XSite), you'll get a jump on search engine rankings and people will visit often to hear what you have to say.

9. Automate your work.
"Drip marketing" is a fancy way to describe ongoing, scheduled e-mails. XSellerate allows you to set up campaigns spanning months at once - in just minutes. For example, to set up non-lender work down the road, you can set up your contact group of first time homeowners with a home improvement series that sends them seasonal tips as time passes. Mixed into the tips you can include messages such as "Please tell your friends about me". This is a quick way to make sure that you won't forget to stay on top of sending the e-mails out.

10. Follow CAN-SPAM regulations
CAN-SPAM is federal regulations on e-mail. (Required reading: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm) It's purpose is to keep consumers from getting bombarded with unwelcome and deceitful e-mail. There are a few main parts you should be aware of: Give people an unsubscribe mechanism and honor those requests within 10 days, make sure the subject line matches the body and you have to include your physical address with CAN-SPAM verbiage in the e-mail. And, we've setup the XSellerate's pre-written content to be CAN-SPAM compliant. It's important to note that CAN-SPAM does not say that you have to use an "opt-in" list and CAN-SPAM rules aren't applicable for transactional messages. Some states are also regulated by anti-spam laws so you'll want to check your local laws.

11. Have a mix of text-only and graphic e-mails
To keep it interesting and personal, make sure that you're not just sending text or graphic e-mails. Our XSellerate library has both. Even seemingly "ugly" text messages can get a surprisingly good response.

12. Proofread for typos and grammatical problems.
Make sure you do a good once over before sending your e-mails since typos and grammar issues can damage your credibility. With e-mails you do have some creative license not to be grammatically correct, but typos and obvious writing problems should be avoided.

13. Include a call to action.
Most e-mails need a link or phone number to learn more or set up an appointment. Since the e-mails are an extension of your website, it only makes sense that they'd direct visitors to your site. Once there, they're more likely to turn into clients or new deals. So, don't forget your "click here to learn more" links and "call me today" statements.

14. Keep track of results.
After you send out a message, you'll want to check the open rates (how many people looked at the e-mail), click rates (how many people clicked on the e-mail) and unsubscribes. The open rates are a great indication of how effective your subject line is. Meanwhile, the click rates are a gauge of how much people appreciated your e-mail content. Finally, unsubscribes tell you if people thought your message was spam. XSellerate makes it extremely simple to keep your finger on the pulse. It will tell you these things and more, such as who opened your message. That's a way to know what people are interested in.

15. Have fun with it!
This seems like a lot to remember, but it's really not. Once you get going with e-mails, you'll be a pro in no time. And you'll start hearing about them from your clients. Hopefully they'll forward them to their friends too. Plus, if used correctly, the information you provide via e-mail will make your transactions smoother and less tedious so that you can focus on making deals - not answering basic questions or selling yourself.