Can Email Work for the Commercial Real Estate Industry?

It’s true, email is failing the commercial real estate industry. It’s no wonder, really: email is a chore, and it’s hard to find the time to sort through one’s entire inbox. This is especially true for a busy commercial real estate broker, the kind that only sits down on Saturday morning.

According to MailChimp, commercial and residential real estate emails only have a 19.67% open rate, while the average across industries is 20.81%. Even worse, their click through rate is just 1.8%, which is pitiful compared to the overall average of 2.43%.

So what’s the deal? One reason for the low click rate could be brokers’ inclination to pick up the phone and call instead of clicking through to a microsite or a video tour. Or it could be that there are simply too many of them, and that they’re usually uninteresting. Which leaves us with two questions: is there a way to make email work for the commercial real estate industry? And if we abandon email, what should we do instead?


Get Them Involved

A proactive audience can spell the difference between a successful email campaign and a flop. If you can get people to opt in to your emails, you’re already well ahead of the curve. When people are asking to be emailed, they’re much more receptive. Make sure you have an obvious and compelling email sign-up form on the property’s site or landing page.


Make Them Chuckle

The best way to take your business seriously is to have a little fun. From our many years of experience with brokers, we know they love two things: a good deal, and a good joke. A subject line like “Space Available at a World-Class Property” will probably get lost in an overflowing inbox, but a clever bit of copy has a good chance of catching their eye. They might even open it to get the punchline.


Land on their desk before you land in their inbox

In an increasingly digital world, even something as simple as print can grab people’s attention. Create a unique piece to send out to people—maybe it’s over-sized, oddly but specifically shaped, see-through, holographic, metallic, or scratch-and-sniff. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something they can’t ignore. Then, when you send them an email later that week, they’ll recognize and remember you.


If all else fails, get in their face

Use email as a follow-up to a grand gesture or some kind of wild guerilla marketing effort. Think “person dancing around in a sandwich board”. Think “huge graffiti mural”. Just don’t think “email”.


Despite the low open and click rates, email does have a very high ROI across industries. Learn how email can actually be helpful and see some great examples in our post Email is Still Powerful (Even if the Technology is Not).