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The world is a vastly different place compared to what it was just a decade ago. LeBron James was still struggling to get past the Celtics, The Black Eyed Peas were winning music awards and Facebook was just starting to emerge as the cool new place to hang out online.

What followed was the introduction of Facebook’s advanced ad-targeting system, which created an entirely new industry of specialist social media agencies and a talent market full of social media “gurus” and “ninjas.” Businesses and media outlets were quick to jump onboard, embracing this new “blue-lit” world while simultaneously exclaiming that email and other marketing channels were dead.

Email became somewhat forgotten and underutilized by many businesses, but those that stuck around saw great success.

Ten years on and there’s been a resurgence in the use of email amid extensive research that validates it as delivering the best ROI. It’s 40 times more effective than social at acquiring customers (McKinsey) and has an average ROI of 3,800 percent (DMA).

Depending on the platform you’re using, you can automate end-to-end customer journeys, tailor content specific to each prospect and make them far more engaging than just words in a browser. Through it all, email has remained a tried-and-true method of communicating to your customers—and it’s here to stay.

In industries such as real estate, where the market is extremely competitive and purchasing decisions are highly involved, the need for personal and targeted communication has never been more apparent. You can’t simply rely on e-commerce tactics like social media ads, because while they’re useful and do provide leads, they can’t match the value of emails from both an ROI and customer experience standpoint. There’s no one-size-fits-all in email, but that’s the beauty of it. The more personal you get, the more engaging your message becomes.

Email, when used correctly, can be an agent’s best asset. It has surpassed the large majority of other digital marketing channels, and here’s how.

Data
Behavioral data based on email interactions is the new frontier in real estate (and many other industries). Historical data, such as that held in CRM systems, is not an indicator of future activity. Data that reflects the behavior of a prospect and what they’re currently interested in is the eureka moment in real estate. The agent with “first-data” insight into their sphere’s behavior and intentions has a distinct advantage over the agent that relies on programmatic and periodic engagement.

Nurture
Automated drip campaigns along with dynamic personalization means agents can continuously build, nurture and maintain relationships while greatly amplifying their sphere of prospects. This means agents are more efficient with their time and are only dealing with prospects that display behavior consistent with an immediate/upcoming property transaction.

Agent to Agent
Advertising properties to potential buyers is important, but it’s limited to those in your sphere. Email gives you a direct and immediate line of communication to all buying agents, meaning you’ll find yourself in front of multiple spheres.

Recruitment and Retention
Real estate isn’t just a competitive market when it comes to buying and selling property. The talent marketplace is full of mobile agents that are happy to move to greener or more productive pastures. This means that to retain the best, brokerages need to ensure their agents and brokers have access to the best tools.

A robust digital marketing mix is important for gaining a competitive advantage, but not all channels are created equal. You must re-evaluate old strategies, look at what you’re currently doing, be informed on industry trends and ensure you always optimize to maximize positive business outcomes.

Mike Feller is the chief revenue officer of ActivePipe, a marketing automation platform built specifically for the real estate industry. For more information, please visit activepipe.com.

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