Thanks to today’s Web-centric technologies, newspapers are all going online. The New York Times? Already online. Houston Chronicle? Already online. Nowadays, you’ll be hard put finding a newspaper that doesn’t have an online alter ego. “Onlineness” is that pervasive—and that necessary, given the spoiling that speed-of-light social-media communication has done to you and me.
Marketing strategies are keeping up to snuff. The newsletter, long the inexpensive go-to marketing collateral of professional marketers and real estate agents, is getting an upgrade, too. Enter Real Estate Marketing 2.0, enter the e-newsletter.
Why an e-newsletter for real estate marketing?
Why is CNN online? Why is NBC online? The reasons are the same: speed, reach, high impact, cost-effectiveness. An e-newsletter isn’t your grandfather’s paper newsletter, although it still informs, entertains, and gets handed out for free. Supercharged by the new technologies, an e-newsletter is much more.
Whereas a paper newsletter has to sit on a desk (or inside a real estate agent’s hand-out bag) and wait a long (really long) time for someone to pick it up, an e-newsletter delivered via email, arrives at the target audience’s desk within seconds of its release by the publisher. Because of its zippy delivery, an e-newsletter will always have a longer shelf life than its paper counterpart. That’s a marketing bonus.
The same technology that gives the e-newsletter fast delivery times also gives it extraordinary reach. You need to distribute your newsletter to a hundred? A thousand? A million? No problem. It’s all the same if you’re delivering an e-newsletter via email. On the other hand, that would be difficult (logistically) to near impossible (realistically) if you had a paper newsletter to distribute.
And thanks to sophisticated design tools such as Photoshop and InDesign, all this is delivered in a format that’s far more engaging and impactful than what you can usually find in a paper newsletter, which usually has to scrimp on whiz-bang visuals because of budget considerations.
Now talking about budgets, an e-newsletter is virtually costless compared with a paper newsletter because you don’t have to spend for any costly print run (there’s none), for direct mail (email is free), for newsletter holders (you don’t need them), and for extra hands (all you need is your index finger) to help you hand them out.
So how do you make an e-newsletter?
Despite the enabling technologies that have put “easy” in newsletter publishing, it still takes some doing creating one. Some basic things to keep in mind:
Write friendly. Remember that you’re writing stuff for a newsletter not a newspaper. There’s a big difference in style, but fortunately, that difference can easily be described in one word: friendly. Assume a friendly voice when you write. Write like you were having a conversation with your reader, advises Julia Gulevich of glocksoft.com, a software company that has used marketing newsletters for years. But don’t be so friendly that you start sounding like you were selling something. A newsletter, says Gulevich, should not sound and look like an advertisement.
Write to inform not bore. Don’t be a bore even if your material is boring, especially when you’re writing long copy. Here, writing friendly is a big leg-up, as is writing concisely. Bear in mind that most readers scan emails not read them. So help them along by summarizing your most important points (why your product is a big deal, for instance) and putting them in bullets. To ensure that you’re not being boring while you’re informing, always choose topics that are relevant to your readers.
Please with the layout, please. Provide a layout to please, not to be marveled at. In other words, Photoshop jocks get the boot for this job. Oh, you’ll need Photoshop (and InDesign, too) for sure. But a sensible artistic sense is really what you want for the job because that ensures a layout that gets (not grabs) attention to your page without shanghaiing attention from your copy and message. Go simple, but not spare (and certainly not plain). Think National Geographic layout; take out the photo spreads and you get a great template for a good-looking newsletter.
Head for the headlines. Create curiosity in your readers by making your email-message subject line (and the titles of your articles) exciting. Again, remember that your readers skip-read and will readily drop an article if it doesn’t pique their interest right away. To do this, Brian Clark, Copyblogger Media CEO, suggests making your subject line (or article titles) unique, urgent, ultra-specific, and useful; something like “10 Hot Tips for Cool Summers.”
Link. Of course, don’t forget to provide links to your website. If possible, place them at the beginning, middle, and end of the e-newsletter. Plus contact information, of course.
And who should receive the e-newsletter?
Don’t dive headlong into creating your e-newsletter. All that effort might only go to waste if you create the e-newsletter for the wrong target audience. Always identify your audience first so you can target it accurately.
It helps a lot if you have correctly identified your goals. Do you want to enhance brand equity? Then concentrate on the authority and quality of your e-newsletter content. Do you want to boost sales? Then highlight product differentiators (why your products are better than the competition’s); discounts, bonuses, offers (if any); and your call to action.
At 360training.com, we provide other practical pointers for real estate professionals in today’s new marketing environment via its online real estate continuing education and other courses.