Starting A Real Estate Blog? Grab That Email Database, Let's Get You Read

Man_In_A_Canyon_Alone

When I started the Real Estate Tomato, in June of 2006,
I had one reader, me.

Before the first month was over, I was averaging 30 unique visitors a day.
Within 2 months it was 135 unique visitors a day.

How did we get out of the gates so quickly?

We did it in part, with an old friend: The Email Database.

To make a business blog a successful marketing strategy, you need to have an audience of potential clients.

Having been a consultant for online real estate marketing for 6 years before starting the Tomato, I had a mighty database of real estate agents, lenders, industry professionals and friends.  If I was going to regularly write articles about leveraging the internet as a marketing tool for real estate, then this was the audience I would want to be paying attention.

So I shoved it down their throat.

Well, not exactly.

Email Marketing For Bloggers

My strategy was to comb through my list of about 1500 names and whittle it down to around 300 or so that would not mind that I started sending them articles I had recently written.  I chose friends, newer clients, and clients with whom I had worked very closely with.  I left out older clients (both in age and date acquired), acquaintances and those names I couldn’t put a memory to.

Once I had this list of choice contacts, I sent them an email announcing the launch of my brand new, curiously named, real estate marketing blog.  In that email I informed them that I had taken the liberty to subscribe them to a bi-weekly (2x a month) email blast of the articles that I publish each month.  I made it clear that they had been hand chosen based on our relationship, and my understanding that they would appreciate my efforts to educate them on the art of internet marketing.  I also explained that they could easily unsubscribe from this free service by either contacting me directly, or clicking an unsubscribe link at the bottom of this and all future email blasts.

No one unsubscribed from the first email.

To make a business blog a successful marketing strategy, you need to have an audience of potential clients.

I scheduled the first email blast to go out after my first week of posting to the Tomato.  The email that went out was branded with the Real Estate Tomato logo and included 3 parts.

1. An Introduction to the Email Blast.  This reminded them of my good intentions with the blast, and described what followed.
2. Headlines and short Excerpts of the posts that has been published to the Tomato earlier that week.
3. A Reminder that this is a Free Service that they could either Unsubscribe from with one click, or actually Subscribe to the Instant Feed that would have them access to new articles as soon as I pressed ‘publish’.

I was able to track the effectiveness of these blasts and observed:

1. I was losing about 5 subscribers every 2 weeks.
2. 20–25% of the subscribers were clicking through to the articles mentioned in the email blast.
3. Many were coming back for visits between email blasts.

After 18 months, this database has been “readjusted” to 171 subscribers. A little more than half are left from the original list.  No one has unsubscribed over the last 7 months, and the click-through rate is a steady 22%.  That works out to only about 75 visits a month from my original friends and clients email list…which may seem less than significant, but I know better.

45 people from that original database chose to receive the Real Estate Tomato articles instantly by unsubscriubing from the bi-weekly blast and subscribing to the Instant Feed.

What originally started out as an effort to gain some readership, participation and feedback on my new blog has now had an entirely different, beneficial consequence: Branding. Branding is the art of getting in front of eyeballs with the intention of making a lasting impression and establishing a connection to a product/service.  216 (171 + 45) of my friends and past clients (pre-Tomato) know exactly what I do for a living, who it affects, and how to take advantage of it.  This has lead to countless referrals, new clients, and even inspired some older clients to jump on the blogging train.

Today’s real estate agents are notorious for maintaining huge email databases.  I have clients that have lists into the several thousands.  Setting up, operating and analyzing the exact tools I have used to kick start my blog’s readership are not only easy, they are absolutely free.

Zookoda: “Zookoda is an email marketing application designed specifically for bloggers.”

…and another option:

Feedblitz: “The Next Generation of Email Newsletter”

feedblitzSo, if you are are just starting a blog, or you have yet to leverage your email database with a blog blast newsletter, I highly recommend using Zookoda and/or Feedblitz to build a target audience of established fans.

PLEASE NOTE: Abuse of this tool by spamming lists of unsuspecting recipients will cause both you and these services harm.  These applications are designed to be Permission Based Marketing Tools.  My efforts to notify a handpicked audience of my intentions, and their subscribing options may to some still seem like it toes the line of spamming.  I made a great effort to only include people that I knew would not consider my new marketing effort as unwanted or intrusive.  I advise you to be just as selective.  Being labeled a spammer can undo all your efforts, regardless of the intentions.