The Unsubscribe Notification: A Sign of Business Health in Real Estate

consumer psychology, database health, database marketing, email marketing, email nurturing, KIT, real estate agent success, real estate best practices, sphere of influence, unsubscribe

It's a Relationship Business, So Don't Take it Personally. What???

Real estate is a relationship business, we meet people, build relationships and gain their trust to help them in the largest purchase of most people's lives.  When we get an unsubscribe notification we see that as a rejection of us personally, rather than what it more likely means.  

Why do so many of us feel that way?  Because we want to be liked, we want to be popular, it is a basic human need to belong to a group, nothing about it is abnormal.  People may protest stating they don’t care whether people like them, or what others think of them, but I bet when they are alone they will ruminate on the unsubscribes that they receive.


It's only an unsubscribe, not a valuation of you or your business.

A lot of agents take an unsubscribe personally, I know I have.  It hurts our feelings, we feel rejected, and we place far too much value on the negatives that we believe that unsubscribe represents.  The reality is there are many positives we should gain from an unsubscribe, under specific circumstances.

If you look at it in the most simplest way, there are three categories that most unsubscribes fall into:

3 Categories of Unsubscription Actions

  1. Old Contact/Stale Database:  If you had an old dormant database that you just decided to re-engage, it can result in disaster if you don’t focus on special introductory messaging known as “re-engagement” messages.  People who suddenly hear from you after a long time of silence might think you had your email “hacked” and ignore, or unsubscribe from your messaging.
  2. Improperly categorized/segmented database.  If you are sending friendly and fun friend messages to a prospective seller, that will likely result in an unsubscribe.  Nothing is more off putting than receiving emails that are far too informal for the established relationship (or lack of relationship).
  3. Need has been met.  There is always going to be a segment who no longer needs your services, they may have met another real estate agent or bought a FSBO, or got their own real estate license, you never know and that is ok.

What's the common denominator?

The common factor about all of the above categories of un-subscriptions is that they are indicative of a healthy, and responsive, database.  Two of the three are definitely preventable to some extent if you have a provider who can segment your list for you, that is well worth the investment in time and money - the return can be significant and repetitive.

I get it - I really do, I’ve been there, I have used a number of different email marketing platforms and providers with a variety of drip campaigns.  Just like you, I too am a REALTOR® and have been in the industry for long enough, and also have a background consumer psychology.  People frequently determine their self-worth and value based on the feedback we get from others. When we are rejected in business, especially when we think things are going well or people we "connected" with reject us, we fixate on this. It's just human nature. 

No matter how confident a person is, no matter what a strong front we may present to others, a human being with normal mental health will feel some sense of rejection when they receive an unsubscribe.  It is no different than when we are ghosted by clients.  I have always told the new agents I train that if a client stops calling them back it means they are working with another agent—which is usually the case. People fear confrontations generally, so it's easier to sulk away than to be straightforward and honest. We could get into the kind of relationships they had with their parents in infancy and early childhood, but this isn't the time to get into attachment theory, but it certainly can be relevant.


You can't be the right agent for everyone. Recognize and refer.

A key point I make sure I tell all my clients, and teach to the new agents I train, is that you can’t be the right real estate agent for everyone.  Recognize that sometimes we won’t click with someone at no fault of our own.  I often find that the people I don’t feel the connection with are the people I am most like, and that doesn’t work well.  A line I have used with nearly every client I have worked with is to say “I might not be the right agent for you, and that’s ok, if you don’t feel I can help you, I would be happy to find another agent who can better meet your expectations and needs.”  It is a great way to at least refer those clients to someone else, at least you get a referral fee right?

The point of this all is that unsubscribing is a normal part of life for a real estate agent with an email marketing provider and a database.  It doesn’t say anything about our value as a real estate agent, or a person, but more about the needs of the consumer we are trying to build, or maintain, a relationship with.  There are some key points to consider when we look at an unsubscribe rate in relation to an email marketing campaign. 

Here are 5 tips to consider when reviewing, and trying to understand, your database unsubscribe rate:

  1. Start, and grow a healthy list, or database, from the start
    (Grow a healthy list from the start)  - this means you start off with quality contacts in your database, you personal contacts, plus people you meet in various places throughout your career.  
    Ways: open houses, collecting biz cards, attending community events, school events, volunteering, and networking opportunities.
  2. Use an automated drip campaign for long-term brand engagement.
    You are a brand, just like any other business, and how you present yourself is important. Consistency and messaging matter.  Think about the purpose of your communication and the audience you are trying to reach.  Messaging will be different for past clients, open house attendees, friends/contacts, vendors you work with, other agents, and potential buyers or Sellers (leads).  Want to learn more? Check out our other content for a lot of ideas on how to organize and make the most of your database.
  3. Divide and conquer your database.
    By segmenting your database, and therefore audience you are better able to send email messaging that will be relevant to that segment or demographic.  People will unsubscribe if they find no value in your messages, or communication.  Who needs more spam mail? 
  4. Got re-engagement?
     Once in a while, no matter how long you have been communicating, or nurturing a contact, it is worthwhile to send a message that is more personalized, a really quality email marketing provider will have such emails available in their content strategy.  

    These special emails are for “re-engagement” meaning to connect at a more casual and personal level, just a short to the point “How are you?  Do you need anything?  I am here if you need anything or have any questions” type of messaging (re-engage your audience to maintain list hygiene).  These type of messages elicit the highest response/reply rate because people can quickly say “Thanks, I am good.  I will keep that in mind/keep you in mind” as a reply.  
  5. People behave like people.
    Sometimes people will unsubscribe, or stop opening, or an email address will bounce - that’s ok, that kind of churn is a normal part of the process and a sign of a healthy database.  Just move on, or find two new contacts to replace the one that left.  (Remember, some list churn is normal and healthy).

Now, you're ready. The next time you receive an unsubscribe notification, stop—breathe—don't freak out—try to  understand that it means a lot of different things. None of those reflect on you as a person, or professional, just the specific needs of that individual, at that moment in time.  Just keep on emailing, and I guarantee you will be happy with the results!

Want to make sure your Database is healthy and STAYS healthy

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