Our company has been in the real estate newsletter business for nearly two decades, and we know anecdotally that real estate newsletters work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of hard data to back that up, and here’s why:
When we’ve attempted to survey our newsletter subscribers for quantitative data, we haven’t been able to control for all the many variables in results, including how well liked one agent might be over another, how much of a strategy goes into one newsletter program over another, how many newsletters are mailed vs. emailed, what kind of content goes into one newsletter vs. another, and so on.
Still we have been able to glean some data over the years, and as part of our quarterly planning meeting for Fast Newsletters, we reviewed that data to see if we could recommend a newsletter strategy that would increase an agent’s newsletter ROI. Here’s what we found:
How to Increase the ROI of Real Estate Newsletters
One way to increase ROI is simply to stay the course. The longer an agent sends newsletters, the higher his/her ROI for the same number of recipients. Stands to reason, right?
But the key to a faster and larger increase in ROI seems to be employing an active newsletter strategy. Our admittedly non-standardized data shows us that agents who employ a “set and forget” newsletter strategy get the worst ROI [less than $1.20 for every $1 spent annually]. While agents who employ an active newsletter program have much higher ROI [greater than $13 returned for every $1 spent annually].
Active Newsletter Strategies
I asked some of those high ROI agents to describe their newsletter programs. Here are 7 themes that emerged:
1. Use printed/paper newsletters more than email newsletters. It seems that the majority of high-ROI newsletter programs rely more on hard-copy newsletters than on email newsletters. For more about when you it’s a greater or lesser benefit to use email newsletters see Print Newsletter or Email Newsletter – What Should You Use?
2. Call behind high-value prospects. For instance, a high-value list might be 25 people, so you’d make 25 calls each month or every other month. Too much? Not according to top producers.
3. Create or attend events and hand out newsletters at each event as a conversation tool. Discuss the newsletter with people before handing it to them, rather than just handing it out like a flyer. Open houses, networking lunches, garage sales, community meetings, local street fairs, and so on can be opportunities to hand out and discuss newsletters. When the conversation seems productive, invite them to join your mailing list and take down their information.
4. Highlight local businesses in your newsletter. Don’t simply advertise, but make a personal review of the business, talking about your experience. This creates both community and loyalty. Agents using this approach strategically will then maintain an active referral relationship with each business. Some agents create an entire business-building strategy around local business relationships, including putting discount coupons in their newsletters, selling advertising, and creating “membership clubs.”
5. If you’re going to farm with your newsletters, also knock on doors. By meeting people face-to-face, high-powered farming agents become real to their community, rather than just being another piece of junk on their doorstep. They put something related to the neighborhood in each newsletter, so that they can use that as a discussion point if someone seems interested in talking further. However, it doesn’t seem to matter what the information is…a piece of real estate data, an article from the newspaper, a community profile, etc. See 5 Ways to Geographically Farm a Neighborhood with Real Estate Newsletters for more ideas.
6. Double up on content. Some high-ROI agents will send a friendly paper newsletter in the mail, then follow up with a more real estate-newsey “Digest” or special coupon offer by email. The theory seems to be that people are more interested in getting hard information by email, but being entertained by reading a hard copy…possibly in the “reading room” (the loo). Some agents reverse this and email their newsletter while snail-mailing a postcard with real estate information.
7. Create interaction. The best newsletters seem to have some way of creating interaction, whether that’s using a contest, highlighting people in the community, offering incentives for people to contact the agent (direct response), or driving people to the agent’s website to complete an action (enter a contest, play a game, search properties, etc.).
What You Should Do
Whether you have a newsletter now or are planning to start a newsletter, your first step is to decide your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your newsletters? Be specific. Is it to drive people to your website? To create referrals from business relationships? To generate referrals from a farm? To generate repeat business from high-value contacts and clients? For each goal, make sure your newsletter strategy is on-track to help you achieve that goal.
By the Way…Content Doesn’t Matter as Much as Contact
The newsletters we’ve seen at the higher ROI levels vary so widely that there are almost no commonalities. We’ve seen comical newsletters, high-production newsletters, and home-made newsletters with no visual appeal. We’ve read content that is all about real estate, content that’s nothing about real estate, and content that is a mix. We’ve noticed that most readers (regardless of income) seem to appreciate content that’s fun and quick to read — even a little cheesy — over real estate statistics and articles.
Perhaps the most important part of a newsletter program is that it’s automatic, consistent, and quick…mainly so that it gets done! Many of the low ROI group admit that they sometimes forget to send their newsletters. So whatever you do…in real estate as in life…do it well and consistently.