New Version 2.0 = Powerful Prospecting

New Version of HomeActions 2 Point 0 Equals Powerful ProspectingHomeActions has enhanced its powerful e-prospecting platform to give you 200+ new articles targeting the most common real estate niches as well as automatic article trigger alerts that tell you when a client is poised to enter the real estate market.

Agents can set article triggers so they’re automatically alerted in real time when a viewer clicks on featured listings, virtual tours, open houses or one of the content library articles created by HomeActions.

“These new additions to the professionally written HomeActions content provided in every edition will bring users more listings, buyers and sales,” said CEO Barry Friedman. HomeActions professionally written content has some of the highest open rates in the industry along with low unsubscribe rates.

The new Content Library articles can appear in any order and you can add your own local content to feature their open houses, listings, video tours, blog posts and commentaries.

Trigger and Target article topics include:

  • Home Buying
  • Home Selling
  • Vacation Home Buying
  • Vacation Home Selling
  • Investment Real Estate
  • Luxury
  • First-time Home-buyers
  • Condos and Co-ops
  • Shore Homes
  • Urban
  • 55+ Communities
  • Investment Property Management

Additional Enhancements Include:

  • Redesigned User Interface to work across more devices including iPads and Android tablets.
  • Added search menu to article list page to make content easier to find.
  • New dashboard layout with detailed summary graphs and faster access to data.
  • Simplified scheduling of articles – now schedule on same page.
  • Ability to quickly filter and sort member list.
  • Improved sorting when reviewing your uploaded members in spreadsheets.
  • Improved layout of images makes it easy to find that perfect image.
  • Completely redesigned images and banners modules to make additions easy.
  • More filtering options for images and banners to make easier to find the image you want.
  • Simplified the navigation by combining like items into singular menus.
  • Redesigned the Newsletter Settings module to make it more user friendly.

Improving Your Open And Click Rates

Improving Your Open And Click RatesWhat Are Open And Click Rates?

The open rate is a percentage that tells you how many successfully delivered newsletters were opened by subscribers. The click rate is a percentage that tells you how many successfully delivered newsletters registered at least one click.

Why Open And Clicks Are Important

Open and click rates can give you a good idea of how your newsletters are performing with a particular list. If an open rate is strong, it usually means your subject lines resonate with your audience. If your click rates are good, the message content is relevant to subscribers who open the newsletter. So, how do you know if your rates are good?

According to a leading email delivery source, the average open rate for the Real Estate industry is 22%. The average HomeActions subscriber far surpass this rate with an average open rate of 30%. (based on 3 million e-newsletters sent per month). HomeActions knows Content is King.

How To Improve Open Rates

A low open rate generally indicates:

  • Your subject line is not relevant or interesting enough.
  • Your member list is outdated or contains a wide variety of subscribers unrelated to your target.
  • You may be sending too many or too few campaigns​.

Test Your Subject Line

The best way to know what resonates with your subscribers is to try different things. An effective subject line clearly describes what’s inside your campaign, but you’ll want to test a few variations to find out what works best for your list.

Draft two subject lines that differ slightly, for example, “News you can Use for {date}” and “Homeowner Tips for {date}”. We recommend only testing one variable at a time, in this case the subject line, so that your report data is clearly linked to just one change. Then send out your newsletter one time using that subject line, then the next launch, choose the other. Then compare what subject line delivered better open rates. Keep testing/modifying to your get the results expected.

How To Improve Click Rates

Your click rate essentially tells you how many of your subscribers find your newsletter content useful. To improve your click rate, you’ll need to create content that’s useful to more subscribers. Try these suggestions:

  • Embed more links – your newsletter offers 6 personal + 3 social media links, use them all.
  • Insert a Banner from our Library then embed the URL link to take your reader to an interesting site (example-“What’s Your Home Worth?)
  • Include articles on your Open Houses and New Listings – then set a Real-Time Alert to get warms leads right to your Inbox.

How to Write About Politics Without Getting Blasted

How to Write About Politics Without Getting BlastedAs a Realtor, your job is to interpret the real estate market for clients. Should your interpretation include commenting on politicians’ attempts to influence and regulate homeownership? Or should you just keep your mouth shut and hope your clients’ political yard signs aren’t blocking your for sale sign?

I believe that when you do it right, talking about politics can position you as an informative commentator. Done wrong, it can alienate your client base.

Here’s a simple two-question test that tells you which political issues will help improve your reputation and which will cost you customers:

1. Does the issue influence my clients’ home value or their ability to buy or sell property?

2. Is NAR’s position on the issue one that benefits my clients, too?

If you answer “no” to ether question, it’s not a good issue for your communications with homeowners. An issue is only appropriate to discuss with clients if it’s directly related to real estate. When an issue benefits Realtors but not homeowners, you’re wise to avoid the topic, too.

If you can answer “yes” to both those questions, the political issue is one you should be talking about to your client base. It benefits them to know about it and it benefits your industry as well.

Political Topics Garner Clicks

That was the case with one of the most-read articles among the nearly 3 million newsletters HomeActions sent out last month. House Democrat Wants Big Changes In Credit Reporting explored changes in credit reporting proposed by California’s Rep. Maxine Waters. If it passes, the bill would likely make it easier to get a home loan, creating more potential homebuyers. That’s a win for homebuyers, home sellers and Realtors.

The key to covering politics without offending anyone is to write about the bill rather than partisan politics. You’ll know you’ve done a good job at that when you get comments back from people who agree and from people who disagree with the proposal, but no comments from people criticizing you for supporting or opposing the bill.

You’ll Get Comments

Here are some examples – real comments from viewers who had something to say about Maxine Waters’ attempts to change the way credit reporting works:

There were homeowners who applauded the bill: Current system is unfair to all citizens! What she is proposing is very fair, because items in the Credit Bureaus are one person’s opinion, not the truth!!

There were homeowners who think it’s a bad bill: She basically wants to hide bad credit. Did we not learn from the 2008 meltdown? We should not lend to those who can’t or won’t make the payments!!!

And there were people who think there are more adept politicians than Rep. Waters: Maxine Waters is an idiot… and would put us back in recession to get reelected.

But the most telling comment (and the one you want to see come back to you when you write about political issues) is this one: Thank you for gathering this information for us.

While thousands of homeowners read that feature, not a single comment came back criticizing our Realtor clients for supporting or opposing the Waters bill. Because the coverage did neither. It simply outlined what Rep. Waters wants to do to change credit reporting.

When you write about politics, you’ll almost always get people fired up. The key is getting them fired up about the issue (or the politician) rather than fired up about your personal political views. Stick to the facts and let your clients form their own opinions and you’ll always be seen as an expert in all things home-ownership.

Be The Expert Who Saves Homeowners Money

Be The Expert Who Saves Homeowners MoneySince everyone likes to save money, sharing HomeActions articles about reducing homeowners’ ongoing costs is a great way to make your clients keep opening your emails.

The proof is in last month’s article click rates. The most popular article, Will Shutting Vents Cut Your Energy Bill? explained why shutting too many vents can cause problems in your HVAC.

The article worked because it delivered an “ah ha!” moment to viewers who thought they were saving money by closing off HVAC vents in their home.

You wouldn’t expect an energy-efficiency story to be contentious, but this one was. One viewer suggested the article was funded by oil companies. Ironically, there was also an email from a viewer with an oil company email address arguing that shutting vents couldn’t possibly harm the HVAC.

A few days later, a viewer wrote one of our Realtor clients and said the article was spot on. He’d had to pay $6,000 to remediate mold caused by shutting off about half the vents in a home.

You Have Backup

Things that influence a homeowner’s wallet will engage them. Another very popular story in August looked at changes coming to the FICO score this fall. FICO Changes Score Calculations: Will Your Score Rise? highlighted what’s changing in FICO, when those changes will happen and why mortgage credit likely won’t be immediately affected.

Explaining the details of the change (and the likely influence on how much homeowners have to pay for credit) positioned you as an expert in consumer credit.

Any time you explain something complicated, people are going to have questions. When that happens to you, I’m here to back you up.

You can send question to me at editor@homeactions.net and I’ll draft a response for you to send to the client.

-Dona DeZube is Chief Content Officer for HomeActions.

Do You Need to Worry About the Zillow Trulia Merger?

If Zillow does manage to close its acquisition of Trulia, the combined entity will be spending millions to compete with you for consumer mind-share.

The two real estate websites share a common goal – using your listing and real estate articles to gather consumer leads and then selling those leads back to you.

If you don’t want to buy back your own leads, you have to beat Zillia at its own game.

Agents and brokers already have the tools to win the game. You likely have a sizable sphere of influence because you worked hard to build a customer network. You have clients’ contact information. And you know more about the local real estate market than Zillia’s entire editorial staff.

I know this is true because HomeActions thousands of clients have enrolled 1.4 million of their homeowners and prospects into our database. Every two weeks, we’re sending a relationship-building newsletter that builds a defensible pipeline full of past clients and prospects.

By sending out regular, relevant content, HomeActions clients are nurturing, growing and insulating their most valuable asset: Their database!

The acquisition should be a wake-up call for agents and brokers who aren’t leveraging the contact information they collect — other than storing it on their smart phones and in their email, social media and MLS accounts.

You have to defend your customers by moving that contact information into one spot and then nurturing those relationships. We know a lot of folks have trouble with this task. Many of our clients have us do this for them instead of doing it themselves (although a cynic would argue that they let us do it because we don’t charge for that service).

While we help with this process, you never relinquish control over your contacts and we promise never to contact them or sell to them. If you have a company help you manage your contacts and marketing communications, be sure you’re not turning over control of your contacts in the process.

Real estate is a relationship business. It always has been and we don’t think that axiom is going anywhere. The brokers and agents we work with agree that 95 percent of everyone they know will not be on their websites this year. Why? So few are engaged in a real estate transaction.

Homeownership, yes. Buying or selling a home, not so much or so often.

Zillia’s potential as an aggregator of consumer allegiance can chip away at your “relationship” capital only if you fail to stay in touch.

Delivering a steady stream of homeownership-related information portrays you as a trusted adviser, (and a live one at that) and regardless of where they see listings, your clients will think of you first when they’re ready to buy or sell a home.

Prospecting: 9 Reasons Your Efforts Aren’t Working

9 Reasons Your Prospecting Efforts Aren’t WorkingA year-round steady flow of customers is the Holy Grail of real estate. Without it, you end up staggering from deal to deal praying you’re going to meet your monthly goals.

Is your business where you want it to be?

These are nine reasons why prospecting may not be working for you:

1. You think prospecting is something you’re supposed to do when you don’t have listings to sell or buyers to show homes to.

Prospecting isn’t something that takes time away from listing and selling, it’s what you have to do to get listings and showings. Skimp on marketing and you won’t have a pipeline of deals to work on next month.

Marketing should go out consistently and automatically.

2. Failure to properly identify prospects.

10 percent of your contacts are actively selling or buying. 90 percent are still prospects because they may know someone who’s looking to buy or sell.

Stay in front of your former clients. Make it easy for them to find you when they’re ready to do another real estate transaction.

3. Boring them with advice about buying and selling homes.

Unless your marketing is going directly to potential first-time home-buyers, stay away from sharing home buying advice. The 90 percent of your client base that isn’t actively involved in a transaction doesn’t need home selling and home buying tips.

Compelling content speaks to homeowners.

4. Not prospecting enough.

How much contact is too much? We know from our customer-focus research on email marketing that once a month is not enough and once a week is too much.

Once every two weeks is enough to keep you top-of-mind without being annoying.

5. Marketing via snail mail.

The Internet, not the mailbox, is the starting point for today’s home shoppers. Using snail-mail makes you look old-school.

Reach prospects where they are with online communication via newsletters, emails, web links and webinars.

6. Networking only in the virtual world and not in the real world.

It’s important to take every opportunity to network in person.

Go to Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, do a booth at local fairs and festivals and teach an adult education class for first-time home-buyers or investors.

7. Keeping your business cards in your pocket or your desk drawer.

If you’re not giving away 100 business cards a week, you’re not working hard enough on prospecting. When you give people your card, they often give you theirs and it’s going to have an email address on it. When you exchange cards, mention that you have a newsletter about home ownership that you’ll send them.

8. Thinking a lead service or a free email marketing newsletter will do it all for you.

A lead service or a free email marketing newsletter won’t do all your prospecting for you. Any number of services sell lead information about expired listings, people who’ve inquired about foreclosures or online home shoppers.

Those lists can be out of date, of questionable quality, and in the case of email newsletters from places like Lowe’s, available to every agent in America.

To differentiate yourself, you need exclusive marketing lists and quality newsletter content.

9. Taking shortcuts to build your contact database.

The best email contacts are the ones you gather yourself one potential client at a time.

Building year-round deal flow doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take consistent effort. To fill your deal pipeline:

  • Build a database filled with people who know you.
  • Form partnerships with companies who can help you share exclusive content that highlights your real estate expertise.
  • Get out in the community to raise your visibility.

Lee Sowers, Sales and Marketing SVP of HomeActions, helps Realtors® enhance their prospecting and build relationships to increase sales. Sowers knows what it takes to successfully market to commercial and residential real estate customers.

HomeActions e-Newsletter Reaches More Than 1.1 Million Consumers

Real estate agents send the HomeActions e-newsletter twice a month to consumers within their sphere of influence to keep themselves top-of-mind when customers are ready to buy or sell a home.

“Agents find the HomeActions e-newsletter easy to use because it doesn’t require technical skills to get it set up and mailed out,” says HomeActions CEO Barry Friedman. “We upload email lists, write engaging news that homeowners can use and automatically mail an e-newsletter every two weeks, sending 2.2 million e-newsletters monthly.”

The e-newsletter positions the real estate agent as a genuine expert in:

  • Maximizing home value
  • Local real estate conditions
  • Homeowner advocacy

HomeActions’ clients are also able to customize the top article space in each issue to highlight local market news and observations, further building their credibility and highlighting their industry experience.

The e-newsletter’s flexible design options let Realtors® match the colors, graphics, logos and photographs of their independent or franchise brand.

While the e-newsletter is reaching more than 1.1 million unique consumers, exclusivity agreements prevent more than one agent from emailing the same customer.

The engaging HomeActions content focuses on maximizing home value, including home improvements and maintenance, consumer finance, taxes, insurance, décor, safety, community living issues and green living.

To maximize their visibility, agents can post the newsletter’s articles to social media sites with a single click.

Reporting analytics show how many e-newsletters are sent, who opened the issue, which articles they clicked on and when articles were read.

About HomeActions

HomeActions provides Realtors® a complete e-prospecting system to generate repeat and referral business, creating more listings, buyers and sales. The HomeActions system electronically delivers current, engaging e-newsletter content of interest to all homeowners, not just those actively buying or selling a home.