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Commentary by Margaret Kelly

RISMEDIA, March 12, 2008-With declining home sales and tighter budgets, a strong return on investment is more important than ever. E-mail marketing can be a great way to improve your ROI because much of your investment involves spending extra time, not hard cash.

E-mail marketing can be highly effective-and profitable. It can also be futile and annoying. It’s all in the execution.

The No. 1 goal of e-mail marketing should be to attract potential customers, not convert or sell them. If you try to sell through e-mail, you risk being perceived as a spammer. Instead, you should entice e-mail recipients by giving them something they want: a tool, new information or something they requested.kelly_margaret.jpg

To get the best results, target inactive prospects in addition to your current leads. These people were interested enough to inquire about your services-you may be able to pique their curiosity with your e-mail campaign.

Here are six ideas to help you create an effective campaign:

1. Don’t start your e-mail campaign using e-mail. Attract prospects through traditional marketing techniques and encourage them to opt in to your campaign. You can do this in person or through your website. Be sure to include an opt-out option in every e-mail.
2. Use the same sender address starting on day one. Your e-mails need instant recognition, and the “From” line is the easiest way to do this.
3. Create subject lines that are short, but precise. Tell readers what they can expect to see in the message.
4. Personalize the experience. A subject line that says, “Karen, here are houses that meet your criteria,” will be opened more often than one that reads, “Houses that meet your criteria.”
5. Keep your message short. If you offer an in-depth newsletter, tease it with a short description and then link to your website where the information is housed.
6. Make sure your messages are professional and grammatically correct. Don’t be afraid to ask for editing help. Also, avoid using all caps and don’t attach stationary backgrounds.

E-mail marketing can build relationships, grow your business and improve your bottom line. You can win credibility and respect. Invest in a smart e-mail marketing campaign and enjoy the strong ROI that follows.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International.

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