Why I Hate Email CRE Marketing and Why it Won’t Stop

by CoyDavidson on March 3, 2013

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You’ve Got Mail

I have been on a bit of a rant lately on Twitter about the volume of unsolicited commercial real estate property emails that arrive in my inbox every day. Some are the old fashion email with the PDF flyer attached and more recently there has been a proliferation in use of email marketing software. I get about 800-1,000 emails per typical business day. Roughly 50% of the email is property marketing. Sometimes they come in as rapidly as every 30 seconds. I get them from every brokerage firm in Houston big and small and unfortunately many outside of Houston.

Here is the thing, maybe I am different than most, but I look at or open none of it, zero, nada, zilch! I don’t want to wade through hundreds of messages to see if their is a property that fits a space or property requirement that I am currently working on. I am going to go log-in to CoStar, LoopNet or in the future perhaps one of the new start-ups to search for property that fits my criteria, like location maybe, property type? I am not interested in strip centers for lease in Nebraska or an apartment investment deal in Florida. I routinely unsubscribe to these email broadcasts, but they just keep coming. I want property flyers, brochures and floor plans via email that I have requested because I have already determined or suspect the property is a potential fit for one of my clients.

I had a conversation with a building owner just the other day about this subject and believe me they want you to email broadcast their property information, because they perceive it as effective. Certainly, if the building owners want their brokers to to do this, they will comply. The mentality seems to be, the more people you can send it to and the more often you do it, all the better.

There is a quote in Bit Rebels discussing the infographic below in an recent article, “When you start to fiddle around with the numbers, as most marketers do, you quickly realize that for each dollar invested in email marketing, the return is more than twice as much as any other online interaction service.”

This is inherently the problem in that in terms of digital marketing, email is considered more effective, so CRE is not going to stop anytime soon. At the end of the day, I want to communicate with email not be marketed to. I suspect I can tighten up my filters on my email clients, but I still don’t want to discover or search property via my email inbox. So it is fact, email is the most effective form of digital marketing, but it is also clogging up our inbox. There was a time when the emails were less abundant that a property email would catch my eye. Now it is just a huge nuisance.

  • Good stuff, Coy. I agree that, ROI aside, there has to be a better way. What would be a more responsible and effective way to push new property listings to the brokerage community? How would Seth deliver CRE? 😉
    In our creGROW family of websites, we give each client the ability to offer new listings as part of a separate RSS feed subscription. While it hasn’t replaced each client’s property-specific email marketing practices, it has at least offered a choice to those recipients who prefer subscribing/receiving listing information via RSS reader. Still, the majority of the CRE community does not consume news in that way.

  • Coy – I think you nailed it when you said that property owners perceive that there is value. I also have advisors within Sperry Van Ness that have institutional clients that like receiving these emails. I don’t think these will stop. If you figure out how to weed them out better, please let me know as I would love to not deal with them as well.

  • Debbie Colangelo

    I believe much of the problem is a result of property owners and brokers unwilling to spend a few dollars for creative and effective marketing strategies. Email is free…and, therefore, King.

  • Allen Buchanan

    Direct mail, especially lumpy mail (mail that is not standard), has become effective again. I send out a direct mail piece at least once a month with great results. I agree with you, email marketing of properties is too saturated.

  • I think the CRE industry is about to smash headlong into a wall of IT fury from the sheer amount of cold lists being distributed. In doing this what’s happening is we’re downgrading our own sender reputations as well of that of our email marketing platforms. It won’t be long now till this method just. stops… working.

    Then what’s left? Well, after the sheer panic subsides we’ll get back to business and focus on what’s important, relationships. Stop waving your arms and throwing flyers up in the air and instead calm down and ask a question, start a conversation, be a sales person again. There’s no more time for the “I don’t have time to” excuse.

  • I think this stems from fear that a listing will go unnoticed. But as you point out, these emails make no effort to be of use to the reader… I get listings sent to me for San Diego, but I need an office in Vancouver.

    The web gives us so many opportunities to be more precise. I’m biased but I believe that the new startups coming online will give marketers a clear way to reach the people who are in the market for exactly what is being promoted. Email will always be a big part of marketing, but email can be a lot smarter.

  • Pingback: Can video kill the email star? | The CRE App Review()

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