E-marketing: The Do’s, Don’ts and Don’t EVERS

by Chicago Agent


Barbara Kleban works in online marketing, social media, branding and transition for the North Shore Region of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Chicago.

By Barbara Kleban

It seems as though the hot topic among Realtors of late is e-marketing. To text or not to text? To email a newsletter or skip it and go to the Bears game (sigh)? Today’s marketing has so many quandaries. But seriously, if you are ignoring e-marketing, you are missing the boat big time!

I’ve heard common objections such as, “No one reads emails from Realtors,” “ I don’t have time,” and my favorite: “I never read emails anyone sends me.”  Tip – do not say this to your managing broker. First let me say, when I write personalized emails to clients, I know they read them because they write back. With the exception of a select few consumers who don’t use email, the majority do read their emails. Second, if you have time to get a coffee or go shoe shopping, then you have time to set up an auto-newsletter. Lastly, if you don’t email, see me after class; we need to have a serious talk.

How to Get Started: LISTS, LISTS, LISTS

You MUST have a contact list. It must be updated regularly. If this is a struggle for you, like it is for me, hire a student or someone looking for part-time work and pay them $10/hr to help organize your contacts for you in a CSV (excel) file. This is the most universal form that works in most CRM email programs. I would suggest you format it as such: First Name, Last Name, Email, Phone, Important Dates (such as birthday, anniversary, etc.). Once you have everyone from your past, get into a regular habit of putting each new person you meet into your list.

Always ask yourself, “How can I expand my list?” Places to look for new contacts might be associations you belong to; colleagues; friends of friends; mom’s clubs; people you meet and connect with on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn; open houses and networking events. The list goes on and on.  Set a goal: how many people are on your list now and how many could you have by Oct. 1? How about Dec. 1?

Where Do the Lists Go?

There are a number of popular online platforms that allow you (or your fantastic assistant) to upload your newly finished list and either set up autopilot, auto content, newsletters and cards, or work within templates to design your own content. Therefore, if you are the agent who has the time objection, you could once a year “set it and forget it,” as they say. Or if you are the “Drinking the Kool-Aid” marketing- believer type, then you can spend anywhere from one day a year setting all of your custom options or one day a month scheduling delivery of time-pertinent content.

Coldwell Banker recently began using New Panda for e-newsletters, cards, stationery and social media content updating. There is also Top Producer, which has been around for many years, and I hear a lot of positive feedback about it. Constant Contact is another one, but in general I advise when purchasing a CRM for email, be sure it’s cost competitive, easy to input your contacts, easy to change the designs and add your own contacts. If possible, talk to the Realtors you know who use it and find out what they like or dislike about the product to determine if it works for your purposes.

Content Do’s, Don’ts, and Don’t Evers


Keep it familiar – If writing your own content, write as though you are writing to your best friend.

Keep it simple – Short, sweet and peppered with pics!

Have a call to action – Ask them to do something. Send to a friend, follow your blog, join your Facebook page, suggest topics for next time, ask questions.

Pass it on! – Suggest to friends.

Be strategic- Who are you sending to? Organize your lists so that your topics can be appropriate and interesting to your different demographics of clients.

Be relevant -Tap into current events and pop culture. Build multiple versions ahead of key events: in the same way that shirts are made ahead of the Super Bowl declaring each team the champion, you can design two versions of an email to respond quickly to the outcome of major events. Track what’s trending on Twitter and build at least one piece of your next newsletter on one of those subjects.


Write boring subject lines – You want engaging headlines. Half of the reason people open an email is who it’s from, half is what the subject line says.

Ignore feedback – Be sure to look at your reporting. If no one opened your last email try a new subject line.

Have no purpose – Always have a plan. Be informative and interesting. Give tips, market reports, news, referral enticement and always add value.

Don’t Ever….No Really, NEVER

Violate CANSPAM! – If doing it all on your own, do not forget to read the CANSPAM act and specifically the six paramount features below. If working with a platform, be sure they are monitoring these requirements for you in what you send out.

1. The email message must not have misleading of falsified header information.

2. The message must not have a misleading subject line.

3. The message must come from a functioning return email address.

4. Senders must remove all unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.

5. Commercial email must display the physical postal address of the sender.

6. Any unsolicited emails must clearly identify that it’s an advertising message, and contain a prominent notice that gives the recipient the opportunity to decline further emails from you.

For more online resource tips, visit my Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube page.

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  • Craig Hogan says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for the great article.

  • Barbara Kleban says:

    You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!

  • Pam Laukkanen says:

    I liked your article. Lots of good thoughts, and your presentation of them is well done! Thanks for sharing.

  • Matthew C. says:

    Great article, Barbara. I agree with all the points you bring up. An auto-newsletter is so easy to set-up with a good CRM system and can actually generate a lot of new business. Yet many Realtors still are not sending one, which is very unfortunate… !

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