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This article was published on: 07/01/2007

TECH@WORK: E-marketing

E-mail or Blog?

Choose what works best for your prospects.

BY JIM KIMMONS

With information at our fingertips, it’s imperative for most of us to feel comfortable with electronic marketing tools. But what’s the best way to market yourself electronically? Will e-mail or blogging work best for holding on to prospects and convincing them to do business with you?

E-mail has a lot of positives. There’s no doubt that most consumers, as well as most real estate practitioners, are much more familiar and comfortable with e-mail than other electronic communication options. A 2005 survey by Forrester Research found that only 2 percent of adults knowingly used an RSS (really simple syndication) reader or subscribed to blog content.

Another advantage of e-mail is that there are many products and services to help you create e-mail marketing campaigns and e-newsletters and deliver images and HTML-formatted pages easily. Programs such as GetResponse (www.getresponse.com)and InterSend (www.intersend.com) allow you to create your own campaigns for less than $30 a month.

Unfortunately, spammers’ abuse of the e-mail system has diminished its value as a marketing tool. Even as you abide by the federal CAN-SPAM Act, you still have to get by the many spam filters out there. Very few e-mail systems let senders know that an e-mail was blocked, and many e-mail users don’t know how to view blocked e-mail. Even if it does get delivered, your message stands a good chance of being deleted as unwanted e-mail.

With spam working against you, a Web log, commonly called a blog, might give you a leg up in working with prospects. On the positive side, you’re not pushing your information at your targeted audience; you’re pulling them to you with content they find interesting and of value. A blog also makes it easier for you to deliver richer, larger content, such as videos and graphic reports, without the need for big e-mail attachments that get blocked as spam or annoy a prospect with long downloads.

Another plus for blogs is the longevity of your content. It’s there, categorized and available, for as long as you want. Suppose you post quarterly sold statistics for your area. Because postings remain available, you make it possible for visitors to do a trend analysis of prices.

A blog is also a great tool in your efforts to attract unknown prospects.

Good blog content often gets very high placement on specific content searches. You can enhance this effect by reviewing the search terms that brought prospects to your site and using more of them in your blog. TypePad (www.typepad.com),my blogging host, allows me to see the search words that have led visitors to my blog. I’ve learned some of the best terms for me are specific subdivision names and concrete information, such as “well depth in Taos, N.M.” It’s not just “YourTown real estate” that people are searching for.

The downside of blogging for many is the time and dedication it takes. You should post frequently — at least once a week and preferably more often. Another drawback is that blog visitors don’t have to share their e-mail or contact information with you. Services such as FeedBurner
(www.feedburner.com)will tell you how many subscribers you have, but you still don’t know who they are.

Some blogging platforms, such as those hosted by search engine companies, are free. But you get more flexibility in style and layout from paid platforms. TypePad costs $49.50 a year for one author to write one blog.

So, e-mail or blog? The best answer is both.

Offer both by linking all your marketing communications. For example, an RSS feed, provided by most blog platforms and FeedBurner, allows visitors to subscribe to and receive your posts when they’re published. Meanwhile, offer an e-mail subscription to visitors who don’t use an RSS reader.

The bottom line: Familiarity with all the new marketing technology will ensure that whichever way consumers turn, you’re one step ahead.

Kimmons, ABRŽ, e-PROŽ, is a real estate broker and technology consultant with Gallery Realty of Taos in Taos, N.M. He’s the real estate business writer for About.com
(http://realestate.about.com/od/technologyforrealestate).You can reach him at 866/503-2260 or via his blog.

MORE ONLINE

Blogging for Profit

Field Guide to Reducing Spam E-mail

e-PRO certification


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