25 June 2009

The Future of Real Estate Email Marketing

As we are coming down the final stretch for launching our direct marketing tool using the Meredith Corporation subscriber database I have been entrenched in the concept of putting the right message, in front of the right consumer, at the right time, to get the desired response.  So it would be fitting that I actually saw a real world example of this last week from Amazon.com.

I was shopping for a new TV over the weekend on Amazon.com, Samsung and Sony LCD TVs to be exact, and I just wasn’t convinced to buy it on the spot as every purchase needs to be considered after buying a house less than 6 months ago.  Let me preface this story by saying that I am an avid shopper of Amazon.com so they have my email address and I have opted in to receive marketing communications.

So on Monday morning I check my email and there is a message from Amazon.com with the subject line “Sony Two-Day Sale in Televisions & Video.”  I obviously opened the message so Amazon NOW knows I am seriously interested in buying a TV.  I was mildly impressed and sort of chalked it up to mere coincidence.  Then this morning I have a NEW email from Amazon with the subject line of “Up to $300 Off Select Samsung HDTVs.”  So now I know it’s not a coincidence as I have received 2 separate promotional emails for both TVs I viewed on the site days earlier.  My conclusion is that Amazon is using browsing behavior to enable micro-targeting in their email marketing program.  This is a concept that has been floating around for almost 10 years, but this is truly the first time I had seen it executed so flawlessly.

Why do I bring this up on a real estate blog?  Because the application for real estate web sites is 100{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} translatable.  Today a perspective home buyer can sign up for push emails based upon predefined criteria, such as city, beds, baths, price ,etc.  Now that is good but what would be better is if your analytics solution (Omniture, Google Analytics, etc.) that tracks browsing behavior was tied into an email marketing platform.  For example, if you viewed an article on gourmet kitchens on bhgrealestate.com and then ran a property search in Franklin Lakes, NJ we could automate the email system to send you a message when a price drop occurred on a property in Franklin Lakes that has the keywords of gourmet kitchen in the description.  This could obviously be taken to the next level and factor in a relational model to suggest alternatives to the location based upon city attributes similar to Franklin Lakes, for example Ridgewood.  To me this is Pandora Radio meets Real Estate email marketing.

Ultimately this is all enabled by connecting the right email solution, analytics package and data tagging.  The goal being more leads which should result in more transactions.

The only thing left for Amazon to do is figure out how to convince my wife that we need 1080P!

6 thoughts on “The Future of Real Estate Email Marketing

  1. If you want a GREAT excuse to get 1080p buy something like the Planet Earth series in HD. A documentary to show the kids in HD is like the best excuse to keep a wife from getting angry.

  2. I am not sure that we will as we have a very different philosophy about listings than other brand web sites. Ultimately we divert a lot of property search traffic to our affiliates and thus would not be able to follow them viewng proprty details pages on bhgrealestate.com. I merely wanted to put the concept out there as web real estate marketing can learn a ton from seasoned pros like Amazon.

  3. How about campaign-tagging your outbound emails to include a user ID (perhaps using utm_source?) and use the utm_content for the content of the thing they clicked on (city, beds, price etc)?

    Then have Google Analytics automatically email the campaign report to your database, which would scrub through it for the user IDs and the utm_content field and update your customer records accordingly.

    You could likely do this more neatly with something like Omniture. But what you’re describing isn’t terribly complicated from a technical standpoint. The larger challenge would likely be cultural: Getting the outbound campaign people to incorporate your research methods into their process (aka: use the right tagging).

    Research on your audience segment that has already been engaged enough to sign up for your emails is a great idea.

  4. That really is quite brilliant. It really should not be that difficult to incorporate into something like a market snapshot program or a pre-written community writeup as well. The potential interactivity on something like this could have massive implications for the transparent real estate agent who wishes to engage and empower the buyer or seller.

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