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Outlook Letters

From time to time I think that we forget, in RE.net, that there are some old ideas that may help some of the newer readers.


Do it Yourself E-mail Campaigns

I am forever trying to find low cost ways to help agents get the job done. Lots of folks spend countless dollars on e-mail newsletters and automated e-mail systems. First, let me invoke opinion here – no one wants to be on your e-mail campaign list. They want information and yes, you need to remain relevant and in touch. So, don’t wast your money on canned e-mail letter campaigns.

Find a pace and pattern that fits you. Yes, you’ll find yourself sending the same e-mails over and over again, and here is a way to save some time and effort.

E-mail Signature’s to the Rescue

I am basing this on Outlook, but the pattern is similar for Mozilla’s Thunderbird. If you don’t have Outlook, you can get Thunderbird for free.

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This is going to be a quick tutorial on using e-mail signatures as routine responses to your clients and customers.

First open up Microsoft Outlook, and go to “Tools” and then “Options”:


mr_toolsoptions


Once you’re opened up “Options”, click the “Mail Format” tab and “Signatures” down toward the bottom of the window.


mr_createsignature


Once the window is open, you can see a list of your current saved signatures. Most people only have their master signature. You can see that I have several, including one titled “Affordable Weblead Response.” (This was back when I referred to potential clients, as “leads”) Below you can see a typical response that was sent when consumers would request additional information about “affordable housing.” I sent it so often that I simply created a signature file.


mr-signaturelist


Each time that I received a request for workforce housing, I opened a new e-mail, I can click on the “Insert” tab and then select the “Signature” button. A pop-up list will appear and you can then insert your e-mail response. Note: If you have a signature that automatically populates when you open a new e-mail, it will still be there and will be below the signature file that you enter.

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mr_emailformat


Now that your response has been entered, make sure that you go back and tailor it to the client’s actual request. I’ve found that adding “Mr. or Ms.” and their last name has been a good way to start off. Potential clients don’t wish to be treated with a canned response. They want to know you’re real.

This is particularly good if you create HTML based e-mails that have links to resources, and maybe contact information for a few lenders. I’ve created signatures for each listing, with photos and links to YouTube videos of the house. Therefore, each time you get an online inquiry about your listing, you can automatically send the e-mail AND CALL THEM. Let them know that you’ve sent the information they requested and you wanted to follow up and see what additional information they would like.

I would also recommend that you not deliver your entire buyer or seller interview without speaking with the clients and getting permission to send such requests to them. The ultimate point is to get a personal meeting as soon as possible. This technique is especially good for providing routine information to clients after the meeting.

Once you’ve got your list of signatures setup, you should setup dates, from the point of initial contact, in which to deliver phone calls and e-mails in alternate patterns, and make those plans on your calendar, with reminders.

Numbers tell us that internet contacts need to be incubated for between 9 and 12 months. So, set down and write out a plan to keep in contact with personal relevant information. Most of these potential clients have tons of agents possible sending them stuff. The competition tends to fade away after the first 30 days or so.

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Hope this is useful for you!

Good Luck!

Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jay McGillicuddy

    May 25, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I found it useful and appreciate the reminder, I use signatures but I usually have to copy and paste from a word document for my web leads. Didn’t dawn on me to use my Outlook signature file to do it.

  2. Barry Cunningham

    May 25, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Setting up your own email server isn’t that expensive at all and then you can create your own templates. One investment..have it forever.

  3. Tyler, The Wealth Creation Guy

    May 25, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Matt,

    Great suggestion. Just like Jay, I had never considered using the signature to automate the whole process. Cool stuff!

    Tyler

  4. Bill Lublin

    May 25, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Matthew – With all the work that went into this post, I’ll give you a pass for your other post
    Why? that was so short and effective, I wanted to cry for not having thought of it!
    Great idea and a reminder that keepin’ it simple is still a great way to go!

  5. Frank Jewett

    May 26, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Matthew, I have a technical question. When I use signatures for HTML based e-mails, Outlook always inserts a few blank lines at the top of the message. Is there any way to change that so that the top of the signature (an HTML newsletter, for example) appears at the top of the message?

  6. Vicki Moore

    May 26, 2008 at 12:58 am

    I use the signature function for directions to my office. There’s all sorts of things you can use it for.

  7. Missy Caulk

    May 26, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Matthew, I have so many signatures for different responses to people, which web site they came from depends on which response. I use the advance feature to get the html in.

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    May 26, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Frank,

    I (like Missy mentioned) click on advance and use Word for those that require HTML modifications. I know the problem you encountered, but only faced it in Outlook 2003. In the 2007 version it hasn’t been an issue.

    The biggest Issue I ran into, was that a surprising number of people still receive e-mail in plain text, which now becomes an issue of attachments and firewalls seeing anything with more than “X” number of attachments as spam or malicious e-mails.

  9. Kelley Koehler

    May 26, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Matthew – that’s a sweet idea.

    Just a perspective on the plain text vs HTML issue – I’m one of those people who only sends and receives in plain text. I only receive in plain text as a security measure – I can see details of links, and only download attachements or photos if I elect to, which helps me stay less visible if people are tracking whether I open a message or not. I can elect to show the message as HTML if I want to, if I believe it is safe or don’t care if they track my actions.

    Given my reasons for only receiving in plain text, I return the favor and only send plain text.

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