I felt compelled to write this post since I have been getting SO much SPAM from real estate agents and brokers here in Georgia.
A long time ago, I used to work in the Abuse department at a large ISP, so maybe I am a little over sensitive about this, but then again, maybe the advice I am about impart can really help someone trying to do a legitimate email campaign.
I am a licensed real estate agent, and a member of the Dekalb Board of Realtors. Somewhere, someone sold their list of members to “advertisers.” I have two email addresses that I have used for real estate and either the Board of Realtors or the MLS service I subscribe to sold the list of members.
I used to take a great offensive to all the SPAM I got to my email addresses; flyers, listings, etc, that I used for my real estate endeavors. My sister-in-law is my broker and she said, “That’s just the way it is.” So I didn’t give it much thought, beyond making the email as SPAM.
But then I started to think about it, and as usual, that’s the problem.
I run my own mail server and I was getting tired of the SPAM that was coming into it that were “real estate flyers.” so I decided to explicitly put these jokers in a blacklist. I’ll name the domains I am blocking here:
# Real Estate Spam
amillinois.com 554 Spam not tolerated here
sellflyer.com 554 Spam not tolerated here
amgeorgia.com 554 Spam not tolerated here
sendflyerstation.com 554 Spam not tolerated here
I am running postfix so if you are familiar with it, this is the structure of the blocklist.
So, the majority of SPAM I am getting is from these domains. If you go to each domain’s website, you will see that they do not appear to be legitimate websites. Either the main page is not set up or requires a username/password to view the root documents. Legitimate emailers don’t have anything to hide.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t fault the agents sending this out. Rather I blame the so-called emailers for this. It is clear, that the real estate agents that employ these bozos are either inexperienced in email marketing or lured in by there prices. I have NO DOUBT that these agents are good people with the best intentions and that these so-called email marketeers are misguiding them.
These email marketeers do include a list to unsubscribe from, but bases on their unaccessable websites, I simply don’t trust them. I am worried that if I click on the link to unsubscribe, I am only confirming my email address for more spam. I think of these guys as fly-by-night and it makes me nervous.
So by being “internet-savvy” and a real estate professional, I offer these suggestions to be an effective and Internet friendly email marketeers:
- DO NOT let someone send emails out on your behalf. Make the effort and do it for yourself so you completely understand how the whole process works.
- Do your homework. If you are thinking of working with an email marketeer, make sure they are on the up-n-up. A quick Google search can give you a lot of info. Be sure to check Google Groups to see if the outfit you want to work with is in the net-abuse group. If they are, move on.
- Just because people are a member of an MLS listing service or a Realtor Board, they may not want to see your listings for a 2BR/1BA condo on the other side of town. Doesn’t it make sense that a real estate professional will already have access to the MLS listing service? Why send them SPAM?
- Do your homework, part II. Make sure the email marketeer is legit. By offering an unsubscribe list, will that user be really unsubscribed? Or will that user just verify their email address for more Viagra and Xanax SPAM.
- Be smart about who you are sending emails to. Are you simply just blasting your email to everyone? If you have a listing on the NW side of town, how about just blast your listing (via email) to those agents only in the NW? Does your email marketeer allow you to send to a subset of customers based on location if known?
My gut tells me that everyone is fed up with this and simply marking this sort of email as SPAM, and thus it just sort of disappears into their SPAM folder. But how effective is that? Are your readers just marking your emails as SPAM? That’s bad, right? Does your email marketeer have some way for you to gauge the return on investment for your email campaign? If not, you need to find someone who does.
With Craigslist, a free service, how can you determine how effective your email campaign is? Craigslist is FREE and people GO there to view the postings. As an effective real estate agent, you might want to post to Craiglist AND do an email campaign. How do you do it?
I think you have to use a legitmate email marketeer that gives you the tools that you need to measure your potential success, and allows you to be a good internet citizen.
I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting the MailChimp guys and i was floored by their technology, but also the length they went to, to make sure their clients are good Internet citizens. I like these guys and their tech is top notch. At my son’s school, they use Constant Contact as the email method of communication. While I really like the MailChimp guys, my personal experience says that both of these providers are on the up and up.
If you are really in the dark about this, contact me and I’d be happy to consult for you. At the very least, I can point you in the right direction towards getting the best ROI on your LEGITIMATE email campaign. Just don’t buy into these emails that claim a massive amount of coverage. The best you’ll do is have your email address added to the clients’ SPAM rules.
There is no question that an email campaign can be effective, but if you take the extra steps I mentioned here, you be ahead of 80% of the competition.
With more and more buyers going online to research, the client is going to be more and more Internet savvy. Any agent that can “speak their language” and embrace the future will be ahead of those agents who are trying to catch up.
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Thanks for this.
I hate spam, well, I mean, don’t we all? But you’ve done more than complain, you’ve given some alternatives and ideas and you’ve personally offered to help! Very nice.
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Fabulous post. I have been (as a loan officer) guilty in my inexperienced (but shoulda known better) days of spamming. The basic gist was that i got to 600k agents.
I probably got to 40k agents…in their spam folders, if they looked.
And I did get deals, but it was a grind of unsubscribes and anger.
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Mailchimp does look really cool. I looked at what they are doing. That seems like it would be an exciting place to work. Great location. Cool how non-profits get the special rate. Email marketing brings crappy digital camera promos to mind but these guys seem to be doing a way better job for their clients.
ahh.. I like your ideas on getting rid of the spam!
For those who want to know how do it the right way, I thought I’d post a link to Jeanne Jenning’s book The Email Marketing Kit over at SitePoint.
Thanks for the comment. You know, I know that there are a lot of hungry agents and brokers out there. Thankful, as a licensed agent, I got some other things I can fall back on, but the amount of emails in my Spam folder that are related to (Nice 3Bd/2BA in XXXXXX) is really frustrating. No doubt, that these agents, hungry in this down market are trying anything to drum up some business, and there are people preying upon them, (I get the solicitations, too).
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