There are more bloggers in real estate than nearly any other industry, with the possible exception of high tech. With all of these property gurus endlessly expounding on the latest hot tip to get droves of buyers flocking to your listings it is easy to take their recommendations at face value and follow them to improve your own real estate marketing. Although the success rate of some of these suggestions is questionable, there are some tips that instead of improving your promotions will actually land you in considerable trouble. For instance, gathering emails of real estate prospects on classified sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji and placing them on your database without obtaining their explicit permission.
Get Hundreds or Thousands or Zillions of Email Addresses
The tips usually begin with a review of the reasons why sellers go the FSBO route in the first place, which is to save hefty commissions by cutting the real estate agent out of the deal. Right away that approach triggers indignity in the agent who is reading the blog, as this online form of FSBO is threatening their very livelihood. Thus “softened up,” the blogger generally proceeds to explain the “foolproof secret way to get hundreds/thousands/zillions of FSBO email addresses.”
Sneaky Tactics Trick the Mark into Replying & Revealing Their Email Address
They explain that the major classified sites shelter the poster’s private email address. Craigslist provides an alias that forwards incoming emails without revealing the address they’re going to, while Kijiji offers similar functionality in a reply form in the right hand sidebar. They instruct you to read an FSBO posting on one of these sites and send a message specifically designed to obtain a reply, using various sneaky tactics such as asking where they plan to move to, or how long they’ve had their property for sale. Once the mark replies, the actual email address is there in the From Line and is thus ripe for the plucking and subsequent spamming.
“Prior Proof of Contact” Is Balderdash
The bloggers often argue that the act of replying to your Craigslist/Kijiji enquiry represents “prior proof of contact” and that therefore your email service provider (ESP) or internet service provider (ISP) cannot block you because you are not violating standard industry practices. Should either your ESP or ISP accuse you of spamming, all you need to do is to forward them the FSBO’s email as proof that you had a “pre-existing business relationship.” Most of these real estate bloggers should follow up this statement with an offer to buy a slightly used bridge in a New York borough or some really dry swampland in the Everglades, as those offerings are of equal validity. Obtaining an FSBO reply and snatching the email address to place on an email subscription list without the prospect’s prior formal recorded permission is spamming. Period. No excuses, no explanations and no blogger fantasies allowed.
Land on an ISP Blacklist & Your Email Marketing Is Over
Permission email marketing is formal consent to receive marketing missives. Single opt-in and double opt-in are essentially the only truly valid forms of permission as acknowledged by US federal CAN-SPAM legislation. Trying to do an end run around these legislative regulations and email industry standards will get your domain name and IP placed on a blacklist. Once you’re on that list you can pretty well forget sending any emails at all, even to your grandma to ask her for her special meatloaf recipe.
The last thing you want to do in your online real estate marketing is to be accused of being an email harvester, as it could handicap your entire business. Even if you do manage to skirt the blacklist, so many of the sellers you’ve targeted will plunk your emails into Junk Folders that soon you’ll find it easier to win lotteries than land in inboxes. Playing the game by the rules and ignoring the allure of the spam approaches is the only reputable, respectable and effective way to run a real estate email marketing campaign.