Timing is everything.
It’s a phrase we often hear describing comedy, internet startups and relationships. Today, we’re starting to hear it more and more about effective internet lead follow up. But opinions on exactly what timely follow up varies depending on which blog or post you read. We all agree that sending an email in a timely manner is important. However, simply sending the email isn’t the goal though we often act as though it is. The real goal is to get the email read by the consumer. In the midst of all the new technology and follow up systems, one thing has become pretty clear: Sending emails is easy, but getting them read is very difficult. In the interest of getting emails actually read, home builders have started to focus on sending the emails in a timely manner to get home shoppers to open emails. Over the course of my home builder marketing career, I’ve seen “response times” (ie, how quickly a builder responds to a shopper after they receive the shopper’s information) range from 24 hours all the way down to 15 minutes. What I’ve discovered is that when it comes to open rates, there isn’t much difference between responding in 15 minutes or responding the next morning. If you want to get your email opened, you need to respond to the shopper while they’re on the internet- not after they’ve moved on to something else!
Ad agencies, marketing companies, developers, builders, onsite sales representatives, online sales counselors, real estate brokers and agents send millions of emails to home shoppers every single day. One thing home shoppers have gotten really good at is ignoring builder emails.
There’s only one way to guarantee sky high open rates with your emails: send them at the micro-moment the shopper demonstrates intent. Any strategy but this is a veiled attempt to get the home shopper on your schedule rather than you getting on theirs. The beauty of today’s technology is that this is actually possible! We all can know the exact second a shopper is interested in learning about our product.
In the new home industry, the average time that a new home shopper spends on new home website is less than five minutes. This is an important number because it represents a micro moment of intent on the part of the shopper and a massive opportunity for the seller. It is during this time that a shopper is looking for, obtaining and consuming information that is critical to them at that moment. Shoppers have decided when they are going to spend learning about new homes. In 15 minutes, they’ll be on to something else. In 24 hours they’re miles away from this critical moment. Think of your internet behavior. Do you stop in the midst of what you’re currently doing to revisit something you stopped doing 30 minutes ago? The answer for most of us is “no”. Now, think about when your emails arrive in a shopper’s inbox. Do they arrive long after the shopper has stopped looking at new homes? In essence, your email is trying to get them re-interested in a topic they recently left. Open rates often prove this. Email open rates delivered to shoppers 15 minutes after a search session ended are only minimally higher than those emails delivered 24 hours after a user’s session ended. Why? Intent. The shopper is no longer demonstrating intent for you product; they’re demonstrating intent for something else! Google has stated that intent is more important than demographics when it comes to email marketing and internet behavior.
We’ve seen open rates in the 40%-50% range for emails that we deliver to shoppers while they are on our website. Conversely, for email delivered at any other time, whether it is 15 minutes after the user session or 5 days after the session, are far lower and nearly identical.
If you’re looking to get your emails read by the shopper, WHEN you send them is more important than any other factor, and this includes subject line, content, pictures, attachments or content. Find ways to deliver your emails to shoppers at the exact moments that they are shopping on your website, and your open rates will skyrocket because now, you’re on the home shopper’s schedule!