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Research by the Direct Marketing Association shows that 66% of customers have made a purchase online as a result of a marketing newsletter. Kissmetrics says that e-mail reaches a much bigger audience than Facebook and Twitter together.
So today, we’re going to be talking about the home inspection newsletter.
Research shows that 66% of customers have made a purchase online as a result of a marketing newsletter.
Kissmetrics says that e-mail has three times as many users as Facebook and Twitter combined. Around 1,500 to 1,800 people follow The Savvy Inspector, but our e-mail list for prospects (not including clients) is well over 3,000, so that metric is true for us as well. Coach William also has a pretty big e-mail list. “We’ve even downsized it a couple times, just to keep spam down. It’s a huge part of our previous client marketing.”
One statistic I found interesting is that 40% of business-to-business marketing professionals stated that the leads generated by e-mail marketing are high-quality. When we do an effective e-mail marketing campaign, good things happen to our business.
Coach William agrees, “especially if you’re dealing with previous clients, because the newsletter touches all of them. You’ve already established a relationship with those folks, so they’re more apt to open your e-mail. This is just a great way to capitalize on that connection.”
ExactTarget says that the average return on investment of e-mail marketing is $44.25 for every buck spent. Wow! We haven’t measured it, but if that’s true, that would be awesome.
ExactTarget says that the average return on investment of e-mail marketing is $44.25 for every buck spent. Wow!
The final reason you should do an e-mail newsletter is that seven in ten people say they used a coupon or discount in the marketing e-mail. That was the Blue Kangaroo study.
Coach William adds, “Somewhere there were statistics showing that people like to get an e-mail and respond through that or get something in the physical mail and respond online. That’s the preferred method for people sometimes. I think that, whatever your e-mail message is, you need to have a call to action within it, so that they do go to the Internet or however you want them to respond.”
Too Many E-Mails?
ExactTarget also said that 27% of consumers were more likely to say their favorite companies should invest in more e-mails.
A lot of people say, “I get too many e-mails.” I certainly do, but I always stop and read e-mails from companies that I really like.
“A lot of it has to do with the message you’re sending,” Coach William says. “It’s got to get noticed and then be intriguing enough so people open it up and read it.”
A lot of companies have something interesting that I want to see. I get that material, but the follow-up e-mails aren’t that good, so I end up unsubscribing. Those that I have a real interest in, I continue to read their e-mails each and every week.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you. If you send out a newsletter, and it’s a bunch of junk—not actionable content, not even interesting content—that’s counter-productive.
Coach William agrees. “They’re going to unsubscribe.”
Coupons and Discounts
The other day, one of my favorite companies sent a newsletter and offered a promo code for 15% off. I didn’t need anything, but I said, “I’m just going to go look around.” I ended up buying something. Wow, that really got me! They wouldn’t have had that sale without it.
Seven in ten people say they used a coupon or discount in the marketing e-mail. I want you to keep that in mind because that’s a powerful statistic. If you have an e-mail list and seven of ten folks you’re sending it to buy something from you, that’s a pretty powerful thing.
If you have an e-mail list and seven of ten folks you’re sending it to buy something from you, that’s a pretty powerful thing.
We tested that in Coach William’s office with prior clients, people who got a home inspection but didn’t purchase a radon test. He’s in a very high radon area.
Coach William describes it. “We track everything, so we were able to pull the last six months’ worth of home inspections without a radon test. We solicited them through e-mail and some other follow-ups as well, pitching them to do radon. We did nail it down to our hottest zone in the area, where radon is the most prevalent because that made the most sense. We got a return on that.
“No offer, no sell. I don’t think we got seven out of ten out of it, but it only takes one to pay for the whole campaign. E-mail’s cheap and I’m cheap. It worked really well.
“It is a golden opportunity. The market is facing a little bit of a housing shortage. If that continues, that will make these avenues much more important, to keep our numbers up.”
The Three Main Purposes of a Newsletter
I think a newsletter has to do three things.
First, it has to increase brand awareness of you and your firm. The home inspection schools are pumping out tons of new home inspectors, and we’re plagued with an inventory shortage across the country, so you want agents and clients in your area to be aware of your brand. We’re not big on running a blimp over a football stadium, but we’re doing brand awareness in other ways, and the newsletter really helps.
A newsletter has to do three things: It has to increase brand awareness of you and your firm, generates leads, and keep you in touch with your previous clients.
Using digital stationery, you get a lot of clicks on links that you wouldn’t otherwise. “Coach William says, “Everybody on our staff has digital stationery. Why have any correspondence with anybody and not drive the brand home? Anytime they see that color combination at this point, it’s bound to trigger them: That’s us. They see it so often. Even in newsletters, having that branded stationery is very important.
“When we first joined The Savvy, you made it clear that we are not about building brands per se. To brand like Nike or Coke, you’re going to spend big money. But through e-mail marketing, any marketing that we do, we have that branding stapled on it. When you say brand, it gives people the idea that you’re established, you’ve got credentials behind you, and you’re not just a fly-by-night. It does add credibility.”
The second reason to have a newsletter is to generate leads from real estate agents and others. We have a client who posted a note on TSI Engage, The Savvy Inspector’s private Facebook page for members. We had just sent a newsletter out on her behalf, and three agents had e-mailed her, loving the article in it. That’s a way to generate leads.
The third reason is to keep you in touch with your previous clients. They’re not going to buy another house for three to five years, under normal circumstances, but the branded newsletter can help them remain a brand fan.
Coach William sees more in it than that. “Every prior client has their own circle of influence, people they’re in contact with. Chances are, somebody within their circle is looking to purchase a home or getting ready to list a home, and there’s another opportunity. They’re getting their hair done, they’re sitting at the barbershop, and somebody says, ‘My son-in-law’s looking for a house,’ and the next thing you know your name gets dropped.
Every prior client has their own circle of influence. Chances are, somebody within their circle is looking to purchase a home or getting ready to list a home.
“We’re talking about purchase inspections, here but pre-listing comes off hotter and hotter all the time. The opportunities are there, but they’re never going to mention you if you’re not on the tip of their tongue.
“We send nice articles, and I do get feedback from agents who say, ‘Can I repost this? Can I put this on my Facebook?’ The newsletters do get read.”
The Top Ten Reasons to Have a Newsletter
Newsletters create a more personal and intimate connection with your prospects, clients, and referral sources. It’s not just a quick, “We have an opening Tuesday at 2:00.” You’re providing actionable content, great information that they need. That continues to build “know me, like me, trust me.”
Newsletters create a more personal and intimate connection with your prospects, clients, and referral sources.
Newsletters keep you in front of your target market until they’re ready to buy. Not every real estate agent has a referral to give you now, so you stay in touch with them. They continue to think, “This is a great company,” and when they have a referral, they’ll give it to you.
Newsletters ensure that people don’t forget about you. We had a carpet cleaner at our house in Naples, Florida, and he did a great job. He had a process that was second to none, but he didn’t stay in touch with us with a newsletter. Think about it: If you’re a carpet cleaner, how many cool things could you share with your previous clients? How to get stains out, what if you got a wine stain… Because he didn’t stay in touch, we couldn’t find him again. We had to pick somebody else, and their process wasn’t as good.
Newsletters ensure that people don’t forget about you.
In the home inspection industry, your prior clients already know that you’re the expert. They chose you. They saw how great you were, and you’ve already “built know me, like me, trust me” with them. Think of your prior clients as an ATM. When you stay in touch with them, they continue to refer business to you. Not staying in touch with them is a lost opportunity.
Coach William agrees. “When they get ready to do something again, they’re not going to remember who you were.”
Newsletters give you a platform to display your expertise on a deeper level. If you send a one-off e-mail, I don’t think that’s as good. In a newsletter, you can really get in-depth on a topic. We can teach you how to set your newsletters up. Newsletters allow you to display that you’re the obvious expert. When you’re doing that for your clients and agents, and when your other home inspection competitors aren’t doing it, it sets you apart.
Newsletters give you a platform to display your expertise on a deeper level.
Newsletters help generate customer loyalty. Don’t think that the real estate agents aren’t one of your customers. They are. I know our fiduciary responsibility is to the client. We would never compromise an inspection, but the loyal referral sources that give us home inspections day in and day out are clearly one of our external customers.
Coach William adds, “As you said, this morning one of our Savvy members had three hits off of her first newsletter. I still get them today, and ours have been going out for years. Agents message me, ‘Can I share this on my Facebook page? Can I forward this?’ I say, ‘Absolutely because it’s great information.’ Some of them hit home—say if it’s a home maintenance tip and that’s a project they’re involved in. You’d be surprised how often you touch base with somebody and it hits home for them.”
Business owners spent billions of dollars to drive brand fans, prior clients, and others to Facebook. That’s how Facebook grew. But now Facebook, through their new algorithm, is showing your material to only a fraction of the people you brought there.
That’s infuriating. They ask us to bring our visitors over to Facebook so that we can market to them, and once we’ve got them there, they’re not going to show our content to the people we brought unless we pay extra. Coach William puts in, “It’s basically another paid advertisement place now.”
With newsletters, you own your e-mail list. You’re subject only to yourself. You can develop your newsletter, you can e-mail it to your prior clients and agents, you can use it for prospecting, and you can have a sign-up for the newsletter on your blog.
Newsletter lists are one of the biggest assets your company can have. If you have a very effective newsletter, it makes your business worth more. It generates leads, stays in touch with prior clients, and promotes your brand. It’s a big asset to your company.
Newsletter lists are one of the biggest assets your company can have.
Newsletters give you the opportunity to know and understand your customers. The feedback is the most important thing in this. The agents say, “Wow, I really loved that,” or “This really worked for me,” or “This didn’t work so well.” You can also see how many opened the newsletter, how many read it—all the stats on it. If two went out, and one got good results and the other got okay results, then you’d want to get more content of the type that got good stats. You get an opportunity to understand what your customers want from you. That’s a big thing.
Newsletters give you the opportunity to know and understand your customers.
Newsletters save you money by nurturing existing leads and allowing you to market to existing clients. You can use newsletters on prospects, too. If you’ve got a Keller-Williams office you’re doing some business with, and you’ve identified seven or eight other people, you could offer them your newsletter to start to build a relationship.
Newsletters let you tailor your offerings to your ideal customer, by tapping into what they want from you. If you’re going to use a newsletter, you should be able to put in some kind of promotion, but it should be very subtle and not a big push. You’ll see newsletters that have all those ads in the right hand column. That’s a turnoff.
“If you’re going to have something like that,” Coach William advises, “it ought to be an ad that clicks right back to your website, for whatever it is that you might be promoting. But most folks probably unsubscribe from that kind of stuff.”
They do, and that’s sad. You worked so hard to get them there. We can teach you about list segmentation, so if they unsubscribe from your newsletter, they haven’t unsubscribed from your company’s communications entirely.
Extending Your Reach, in Good Times and Bad
Right now, with the housing shortage, almost all home inspectors need to extend their reach. But there are other reasons to do it.
We’ve been looking around for a new home in the South Florida area, and during that time, interest rates have crept up. When we started looking, they were 3.88%; today I saw that they were 4.1%. That might not seem a big thing, but by the end of the year, they could be double what they were. They could be up to 8%. A lot of younger buyers don’t understand that 7% or 8% was the norm.
Think about your house payment. If you buy a home at 8% instead of at 4%, the payment is much higher. With increased interest rates and a housing shortage, every home inspector should be thinking about a way to get in front of more agents and prior clients. It could be a real issue by the end of the year.
Coach William’s situation has another wrinkle. “We are in growth mode,” he says, “so we are in the process of hiring inside office help so that we can expand. The girl who’s been doing most of our scheduling wants to take over her own marketing area, which we need, so we’re trying to make that happen.
“Then we got hit with this possible housing shortage, and it’s a threat, so Sherri and I have been discussing whether we should continue with this. I say, ‘Absolutely,’ because it’s more important than ever that we extend our reach and allow our former scheduler to market in other directions. It’s a risk, but it’s also an investment. If this housing shortage does become a hardship, it will help us extend our reach to try and keep that schedule full.
If this housing shortage does become a hardship, it will help us extend our reach to try and keep that schedule full.
“If it doesn’t, if we’re able to get back to normal, we’ll be all the stronger. I don’t want people thinking, ‘Oh no, there’s going to be a housing shortage! I need to start pulling back on marketing and save a dime.’ You need to save, but marketing is not the place to cut right now. If anything, that’s where you need to be building.”
Let’s take 2007 and 2008 as an example. A huge portion of the home inspection industry went out of business then. But our clients at The Savvy Inspector continued to extend their reach and gobbled up that market share. Many of them turned from one-man shops into multi-inspector firms, during the recession and right after it, by extending their reach.
Don’t cut back on marketing. Make sure that you’re getting a positive return on investment for everything you do, but crank it up. There are other things you can cut—eating out, a bunch of other things—but the marketing needs to be effective and it needs to really go.
Begin with the End in Mind
The most important phrase I teach is, “He who implements wins.” Probably the second most important phrase I teach is, “Begin with the end in mind.”
Begin with the end in mind.
“It takes a minute for it to sink in,” Coach William says, “especially if you want to think that way with every move that you make. It’s critical.”
He adds, “Several Savvy members are reading the book The E-Myth Revisited. It’s about how we all start out as technicians, but it takes a whole different mindset to run a business. It’s a perspective that I think everybody needs to awaken to. Does everybody want to be a multi-inspector firm? No, but even if you’re a one-man shop, it’s still a business and it needs to be run that way. If you don’t think about that from the get-go, you find yourself jumping a lot of hurdles.”
You become a fireman, putting out fires all the time. You’re reactive instead of proactive. We have a lot of one-man shops that are super-professional. They have no intention of ever becoming multi-inspector firms, but they have systems and they’re polished. One in Coach William’s market has really got great systems. He’s hugely successful as a one-man shop and doesn’t want employees. No matter what the end is, you need to begin with it in mind. Determine where you want to end up. Describe success.
Determine where you want to end up. Describe success.
When you begin with the end in mind, you don’t stumble and fall along the way. You think through the whole process. Before you begin a newsletter, ask yourself: What’s the primary purpose of the newsletter?
“Don’t do something because you can do it,” Coach William advises. “Why are you doing it? What do you expect to get out of it?”
What Are the Ends for Your Newsletter?
Your primary purpose for a newsletter is threefold: brand awareness, lead generation and keeping in touch with prior clients. But there are always latent or secondary purposes.
What about making meaningful offers? January is National Radon Awareness Month, so in your December newsletter, you might want to plant a little seed. “Wouldn’t you want a radon test with your home inspection? You might be putting yourself and your family at risk. By the way, January is National Radon Awareness Month, and we’re having a great sale on radon testing. Use this promo code.” That’s all nice and friendly. There’s no sales pitch.
Maybe your secondary purpose is to increase sales. You could put, “Did you know that we have a frequent referrer program?”
“That’s what we do,” Coach William says. “We’ve still got it in the header on ours, so they can click through to our website and read up about it. Previous clients need a little hint.
“You don’t want to be a big salesperson. It’s more of an informational deal. It’s what’s in it for them. They click on that and, next thing you know, you’ve either got a referral or you’re upselling them to radon or something.
“No offer, no sell. So if you’re going to be putting it out there, you might as well have some sort of offer in it.”
You could also introduce a new product or service in your newsletter.
Ways and Means for Your Newsletter
One of the things you’ve got to know is, who is your target audience? The information that you would send to realtors is probably very different from the information that you would send to prior clients.
Who is your target audience? The information that you would send to realtors is probably very different from the information that you would send to prior clients.
Realtors are interested in things like growing their business, office organization, how to use social media, or lead generation strategies. Your prior clients aren’t interested in any of that. They’re interested in home maintenance, the trend in products, or how to be more energy-efficient. What you send them is very different, so you have to understand your target audience.
We’ve been having a discussion about how to market to millennials. A good friend of mine who works with a lot of millennials was talking about some differences between marketing to them and marketing to baby boomers. You really do need to narrow it down to who your audience is.
How frequently do you want to send the newsletter? You’ve got to think through that. Everybody’s e-mail box is pretty full. I don’t think you want to bombard them with too much extra information.
How much will the newsletter cost? How much can you afford? Let’s say you had three years of prior clients and a lot of prospective realtors. You’ve got a lot of realtors giving you business now. I would probably send it to the people who have used you most frequently. Start there, and as your budget grows, then work backward.
Who will design and edit the newsletter? Who will write the articles? When I owned Southern Home Inspection Services, I wrote the newsletters myself. Do you know what a big pain in the butt that was—to make sure it went out at a certain time and had the right content? To research it and write it and have the staff edit it? It was a nightmare.
Who will design and edit the newsletter? Who will write the articles?
Coach William doesn’t write his own newsletters. “Heck no. There’s no way. Trying to come up with good content—I’d be busted for plagiarizing very quickly.”
What’s the highest use of your time or your staff’s time? Is it writing newsletters or is it doing things that bring business into your firm?
How will you distribute the newsletter to your audience? A lot of people in the past would distribute through the ISM. That isn’t possible any longer. A lot of broadcast e-mail services are very selective because of the spam cops. You’re not going to distribute it through g-mail. So how are you going to get that newsletter to your target audience?
How will you know if you’ve been successful? When you’re done, what does “done” look like?
How will you know if you’ve been successful?
I think if you ask yourself these questions and answer them, you’d have a pretty good process. You would know how you’re going to get to where you want to get pretty successfully.
Coach William says he gets there “by subbing it out. There’s no way that I would try to write it and then see that it gets out and all.”
The Savvy Inspector Newsletter Advantage
Coach William says, “The number one thing with Savvy’s services is that everything is tracked. You get a report, so it’s not guesswork. You get the results that show it’s working or it’s not working. You can pull the plug on it if you’re not happy with it or build upon it if it’s doing well.”
Everything is tracked. You get a report. You can pull the plug on it if you’re not happy with it or build upon it if it’s doing well.
The Savvy Inspector tracks every aspect of it. Subject lines and open rates, how much engagement you get, are the same people opening it month after month—there are so many things that you can look at. This is The Savvy Inspector approach. We segment the newsletters—one for your clients and one for agents. The content is very different.
The Savvy does two things. First, we do a home inspection tip of the month, about a variety of things. It could be about maintaining your house. We could do a whole thing on, “If you’ve got concrete that’s cracked before it gets displaced, you should use caulk.” We give them a single article each month, written by our writers. Our staff researches what’s coming up, and we try to be current and relevant all the time.
Second, we provide a newsletter specifically geared for prior clients. That’s very important. We ask, “What is it they want to learn about?” Then we share the information with them. Your prior clients get two quality touchpoints every month. Our clients love it.
Coach William notes that the newsletter content is seasonal. “In the fall, we start talking about frozen pipes and insulation factors and those kinds of things. Then, as we’re rolling into spring, we start talking about lawn care and those kinds of topics.”
That’s intentional. Months ahead in our content production schedule, we think about what would be relevant during June, July, August… Maybe it’s time to plant trees; we research that. We find out when the best time is, or the greatest chances for success with new trees and shrubs, which ones give you the most privacy, all kinds of things. We’re seasonal, no question about it.
We provide our prospects and our existing referral sources with the home inspection tip of the month because they own homes too. But if we stopped there, we would be remiss. We’ve developed a newsletter geared specifically to agents. We talk about ways to grow their businesses, and unique approaches to office organization. We talk about a variety of things that they would be interested in as a small business owner.
Coach William puts in, “We get great feedback all the time from our real estate agents about this.”
The realtor marketing tips are pieces about real estate marketing—lead generation strategies to make sure that they grow their businesses. We do this not only do we love our agents, but because if they grow their businesses, we’ll have more inspections to do.
I have a friend who has eczema. Eczema’s a skin rash. It itches, it gets red, and it’s really irritating. He lives in California and I saw an article in the Atlanta paper about a homeopathic remedy that really works. I sent it to my friend. I didn’t write the article, but who do you think got the credit for it, the newspaper or me? When Coach William sends effective marketing tips to his real estate agents, his relationship with them moves from vendor to consultant. That’s a very powerful thing.
When Coach William sends effective marketing tips to his real estate agents, his relationship with them moves from vendor to consultant.
A lot of other home inspectors are trying to get our real estate agents. “Especially now,” Coach William says. “I’ve got three new inspectors waiting to take the national exam, and I can’t get them in until the end of April. They’re booked up to the max, and we’ve already been inundated with a lot of new inspectors, so we’ve got to find ways to differentiate ourselves. This is a great way to do it.
“Marketing tips—that’s where I get most of the great feedback from agents. They e-mail me back or pick up the phone and talk to me about it—”Love that article!”—as if I’d thought it all up. You look like the obvious expert because you’re the one who put it out there. I think it speaks volumes for you to have this information. Good content—that’s the trick.”
Agents get inundated with e-mails too, but they always open our e-mails. We set it up so that the e-mails come from our clients, like Coach William. They don’t come from The Savvy.
The home inspection tip goes out on the fifth of the month, the newsletter goes out on the twentieth, and in the intervening weeks, the realtor marketing tips go out, two of those a month. So you have a quality touchpoint each week for those agents, and you know what they’re saying? “Every time I read it, it’s actionable content. I can use something from it.”
That’s why we get high open rates. We get feedback because we’re not sending them junk. It’s not about us, it’s about them. How can we help them? It positions you as the obvious expert for both the clients and agents, and it definitely builds “know me, like me, trust me.”
We get high open rates. We get feedback because we’re not sending them junk. It’s not about us, it’s about them. How can we help them?
A newsletter, done right, is very effective. Coach Williams doesn’t have to lift a finger. “It’s another system that makes the company worth more if you ever go to sell or have people invest. They can see that systems are in place to keep generating leads, so it’s not about me. The company is set up as its own entity.”
What if another inspector in your area is also a Savvy member, and he’s already doing these newsletters? We recognize that if your agents are getting the same newsletter from four or five home inspectors, it wouldn’t look too good, so our writers produce multiple versions of the agent newsletter.
We also do multiple versions of the home inspection tips, the custom newsletter, and the realtor marketing tips. (Your prior clients are your prior clients. Generally, you won’t have the same prior clients as someone else, so we don’t have to worry about prior-client newsletters.)
Our writers produce multiple versions of the agent newsletter, the home inspection tips, the custom newsletter, and the realtor marketing tips.
Coach William thinks that newsletters are “something that you need to add to your arsenal. I’m Mr. Tightwad, so when I was first approached about it, I was hesitant. But we rolled the dice to see what would happen, and we never stopped. I highly recommend you give it a shot. You can try it, and if it doesn’t work, you can drop it at any time.”
It’s totally affordable, and the return on investment is tremendous. Clients who sign up with us never cancel, because they get such great feedback.
They’re building a brand, they’re generating leads, and they’re staying in front of their prior clients. It’s a good thing.
There will be more information about the newsletter under this video on a mind map. If you’re going to do it yourself, God bless you. Again, look at the beginning with the end in mind. If you ask yourself the right questions and answer them, you’ll be on the right path.
If you ask yourself the right questions and answer them, you’ll be on the right path.