The human advantage of email marketing for real estate agents

being human feelings Sep 01, 2018

Last fall, I participated in a digital marketing workshop for small business owners and nonprofits.

Here’s how it worked: attendees were able to sign up for one-hour consultations with experts in a variety of disciplines. I was prepared to field questions and facilitate discussions about email, automation, and content. But I wasn’t prepared for what they really wanted to talk about:

Their feelings.

Six of the seven attendees I met with spoke at length about what kept them up at night. 

They felt:

  • Overwhelmed with things to do
  • Unsure about what works and where to focus their spending
  • Frustrated with how rapidly things change
  • Anxious because they can’t keep up with their peers
  • Stressed because they didn't know how they’d do more

Can you relate?

Email marketing can help decrease your negative emotions, increase your confidence, and make your business sustainable—no matter what's happening in the real estate market. And it does so by helping you feel, act, and be human: your true competitive advantage as an agent.

Email marketing helps you feel human

I'm not gonna lie. I love email marketing because it's so emotionally grounding. It provides a stable foundation for your marketing program and it helps you feel human in the best ways possible. Here's how.

It's simple

You know how to use email and so do your clients, leads, and peers. There are no algorithms to worry about and no new skills required to stress over—you'll never be frustrated by constant change or overwhelmed with things to do. When it comes to platform mastery, you've got this.

It's affordable

Email Service Providers (ESPs) like MailChimp, Drip, and Campaign Monitor offer free and low-cost monthly plans (all less than $50 for 2500 subscribers). These plans include signup forms, mobile-friendly templates, automations, customer support, and more. 

It's effective

Uncertainty sucks. And that's another way email marketing helps you feel human. It gives you confidence because it works!

  • Delivers a strong return on investment: For every dollar you spend, you can expect an average $44 return.
  • Converts more prospects to clients: Email marketing is permission-based, and a warm audience is more likely to convert than a cold one.
  • Improves other marketing efforts: Use your email list to increase your social followers, find more leads, serve more targeted ads, and improve your messaging.
  • Seen by more people. There’s a big difference between 2,000 email subscribers and 2,000 Facebook fans. According to research by Forrester, 90% of your email subscribers see your email campaigns, while only 2% of your fans see your Facebook posts.
  • Preferred communication channel. People of all ages prefer to receive marketing via email (yes, even Millennials). And 77% prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email (versus direct mail, text, phone, or social media).

It's yours!

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say buying a home has advantages over renting. Because ownership and assets lay the foundation for better opportunities and a brighter future.

But these advantages don’t exclusively apply to home ownership—they also apply to marketing!

Most marketing channels are like landlords. The fan base you grow and the reach you rely on do not belong to you. You’re building your business on someone else’s property. Like renting a house, the rules and rent of marketing can change anytime, you can get priced out, and you can even be evicted and have nothing to show for your investment!

However, email marketing is a lot like a starter home. It provides a stable and secure foundation for your real estate practice because it’s an asset that grows in value over time.

Your email list belongs to you, meaning you have direct access to all of your subscribers 24/7/365. More importantly, you have permission to contact them using the communication channel preferred by people of all ages—making it easier to drive conversions and win referrals.

Ownership makes email marketing a smart investment. But with a median ROI of 122%—over four times higher than other marketing channels including social media, direct mail, and paid search—it’s also incredibly effective.

Email marketing helps you act human

Email marketing mimics how we communicate in real life: one-to-one, small group, and large groups. And we're able to do that by using segmentation, personalization, and automation.


Think about segmentation in terms of groups. It’s all about splitting your email list into smaller segments. And the benefit of smaller segments is the ability to be more relevant. Because your subscribers aren’t all the same.

Some common ways we segment subscribers are by:

  • Demographics: age, gender, job title.
  • Engagement: active and inactive subscribers.
  • Interest: products, services, information.


Think about personalization in terms of data. Personalization uses subscriber data to make email content feel tailor-made for the individual.

Some common ways we use data to personalize email:

  • Name: Personalize the to field, subject line, and copy with the recipient's name.
  • Subject line: Personalize with the address of an open house the subscriber attended, a neighborhood she's interested in, or topic she wants to learn more about.
  • Social media: Include relevant channels for individual subscribers.


Think about automation in terms of rules. Marketing automation is software that automates repetitive tasks—like sending emails! MailChimp calls it a second brain to help you run your business because it mostly runs in the background. And you create rules (triggers and conditions) to make them work.

Some popular real estate automations are:

Drip campaigns

A drip campaign is an automated and personalized email or email series you send to a segment of your contact list.

The goal of a drip campaign is to determine the needs of your subscribers so you can nurture the relationships. If you don’t know what matters to your subscribers, it’s more challenging to share information they find useful.

Examples of drip marketing include welcome, top-of-mind, and re-engagement campaigns.

Nurture campaigns

A nurture campaign is an automated and personalized email or email series you send based on subscriber behavior.

The goal of a nurture campaign is to build relationships with subscribers by delivering timely and relevant information throughout their buying journey.

Examples of nurture marketing include sending a follow-up email series after a subscriber downloads a lead magnet, or when a lead selects topics in your preference center he or she is interested in learning more about.

Email marketing helps you be human

Most real estate agents I speak with about email marketing—automation, in particular—are concerned about sounding robotic. But they are also reluctant to sound human. 

Because being human isn’t easy.

It’s much easier to adopt a buttoned-up, canned personality instead of being yourself. But embracing our soft skills is great for building and nurturing relationships, and the perfect way to create exceptional email experiences.

  • Being likable builds trust. People say YES to people they like. 
  • Being vulnerable makes us relatable. People like people who are similar to them.
  • Being compassionate motivates us to find out customers’ pain points and find solutions that relieve their suffering. Solving problems is how we sell real estate.
  • Being ourselves creates more meaningful connections. Because it’s genuine and unforgettable.

The human angle

Humanize your email marketing with a little help from your soft skills. Here's how.

Be approachable

  • Use your name and email in the sender field.
  • Add your photo (smiling, open posture, eye contact), contact details, and signature.
  • Be conversational. Use informal language
  • Be positive.

Cultivate a sense of belonging

  • Make subscribers feel included, special, and important
  • Give them a say and always ask questions! Listen to their input. Recognize their strengths, and find ways to strengthen their weaknesses

Practice kindness

Be present, conscientiously observe, genuinely try to understand pain points, and find a way to help. Empathize, show compassion, be generous, and sincere.

Be transparent

Don't be afraid to admit mistakes and share your challenges.

The future is human

“In a world where technological change is constant and unpredictable, those organizations that make the fullest use of uniquely human skills will win. These skills will be used in collaboration with both other humans and AI-fueled software and hardware tools. The degree of humanness an organization possesses will become a competitive advantage.”  - Digitalist Magazine

You may have heard that technology is the future of real estate, but I believe it's all about being human. And there's no better way to feel, act, and be human than email marketing.



Learn how email marketing can lessen your anxiety, increase your confidence, and make your business sustainable no matter what’s happening with the real estate market.