Making the Most of Email and Microsoft Outlook
Posted on November 29, 2012 by Mark Porter
There are so many tools promoted to us as REALTORS® every day, and it can be tough deciding where to invest your money and get the most bang for your buck. I really like Microsoft Outlook. When used effectively, it can be an all-in-one tool for contact management, email marketing and action plans—all with little investment.
With 90% of agents utilizing email as the primary form of communication, it remains one of the leading ways for you to define your brand. Consequently, it’s important to ask yourself, “Whose website are you advertising with your email address?” Hopefully, you can say your own website. But the reality is a large number of agents are actually utilizing third-party email addresses provided by Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. That’s great advertising for these companies, but it’s actually hindering your own marketing efforts. Not only does it appear unprofessional to your customers, but it’s also a missed opportunity for free advertising and consistent branding. By purchasing your own personalized domain name and forwarding all of your old email addresses to your new account, you will create consistent branding that ensures your customers always have the ability to reach you regardless of franchise changes or moves.
In fact, I recommend creating a few domain names: one that is your own name and promotes your branding efforts (e.g. MarkPorterREALTOR.com) and another domain that is search-engine friendly (e.g. MarkSellsDallasRealEstate.com). The first address makes it easy for customers who are already familiar with you to find you, whereas the second will help attract new customers who may be using the internet to find city real estate information. You still only want to have one website and one primary email address under the domain that promotes your branding. The second search-engine friendly domain will automatically re-direct to your primary address.
Another factor to keep in mind when using third-party email addresses is storage limitations. It is well accepted that we must keep records for seven years, which can become impossible to do when using webmail services with limited data storage capabilities. Using Outlook with larger storage capabilities and easier archiving features is a great solution.
Statistics show that the largest number of referrals come from the people you already know (e.g. friends, family and neighbors). Hence, the reason contact management is so critical for your business. The contact management solutions offered by Outlook are extremely efficient. Features include the ability to:
- Categorize your contacts
- Search and filter contacts
- Import and export contact lists
- Share contacts with v-cards
- Synchronize your contacts (and your email messages) with your mobile device
Beyond that, managing messages for specific contacts or groups, scheduling meetings with your contacts, and creating tasks and to-do items for your contacts will help keep you organized and efficient. Managing your contacts with such versatility from the very place you handle the majority of your communications really makes Outlook the ultimate productivity tool for your business.
Once you create the organization and structure with your contacts, it is easy to implement a solid email marketing campaign directly from Outlook. One of the most powerful tools offered by Microsoft Outlook is the ability to send personalized mass emails to specific contact categories. This offers the flexibility to create specific messages for past clients and completely different messages for potential or existing clients. Furthermore, Microsoft offers thousands of free templates, including real-estate-specific templates, for newsletters, flyers, brochures and more, all of which can be customized for your business and sent out as your mass email. Using the tools offered by Microsoft makes it easy to create an email marketing campaign that will provide consistent advertising and branding for your business.
You can take Microsoft Outlook to an even higher level of efficiency for your business with real-estate-specific add-ons like www.RealESeller.com. These add-ons are designed specifically for real estate businesses, so you’ll have tools such as the ability to develop and apply action plans for all types of checklists (listing to accepted offer, accepted offer to close, FSBOs, expireds, waiting to buy, waiting to sell). There are also tools to help you manage your email campaigns, delegate assignments to your assistant or staff, create activity reports and more. A great advantage to these types of add-ons is once you purchase the software, there are no monthly fees. It’s a one-time investment that will go a long way in your everyday marketing efforts and peace of mind.
Microsoft Outlook has the potential to be a powerful tool for your email, sales and overall marketing efforts. Invest the time and learn to use Microsoft Outlook to its fullest potential, and you’ll enjoy a great return for your time and money.
Marketers choose email for a variety of reasons. Here are three:
- It’s more measurable.Opens and clicks can be tracked, and emails can be split-tested for effectiveness.
- Consumers prefer it.Emails I the preferred method of commercial communication by 74% of all online adults.
- It gets better response rates. The average direct mail campaign gets a 1-2% response rate, while the average email marketing campaign gets a 20-30% open rate.
Source: Constant Contact