IDX email alerts are pretty amazing.inbox with new listings

Home buyers want updates on the latest listings and real estate agents want to stay in touch with buyers on a regular basis.  The solution is simple: IDX email alerts.

Buyers see the value in getting access to the latest listings, so by offering updates via email, agents have an easy solution for staying in touch with their leads (ie: home buyers).

Best of all, IDX email alerts are fully automated.  As soon a buyer registers on your site and saves a property search, we’ll send them email alerts with any new listings that match their search.

Why IDX email alerts are (extra) important

Chances are, all the leads who signed up on your site were forced to do so.  Users either ran out of “free” searches or listing views and had to signup to continue, or they otherwise tried to access a feature that forced them to register (such as saving a property).

Either way, most leads were forced to give up their name and email and create an account.

registration prompt

Email – in particular listings via email – provide a great way to let your clients know you are awesome (and so is your IDX).  Listing updates keep your name on a client’s mind as they look for their home, and over time, the value of these emails can help clients forget they had been forced to register.

What we include in our IDX email alerts

thumbnail IDX alert emailOur listing alert emails have evolved over time, so here’s a list of the features that we’re currently packing into these emails, plus some tips for optimizing your IDX account.

[These features are part of dsSearchAgent Pro, our mapping IDX search product.  If you don’t already have dsSearchAgent Pro, you can learn more here, or try any of these features by getting a free trial account here.]

1. Saved search in subject line

When buyers save a search on your IDX, they are prompted to give the search a name.  Hopefully, they use something descriptive like “Irvine in our budget” or “Next to schools we like”, as we’ll use this in the subject line of their listing alerts.

Here’s the format we use:
“Your __saved search name__ Updates for __today’s date__”

If your clients are doing a bad job naming their searches, you may want to login to their account and rename their search(es) for them.

2. Our default header

By default, all your IDX emails will display a basic header with your logo, name, and contact information.  It can be a bit large and repetitive for users to see this same info in every email, so you’ll probably want to disable this header and create your own (discussed in detail below).

idx email header

3. Your custom content

We offer the ability to add your own custom links, images, text or any other HTML to your IDX emails.  If you take advantage of this option, your content will appear here.

4. Unsubscribe link

Before we get to the listings, we offer users a quick, one-click unsubscribe option.

It’s federal law that we include this option somewhere in the email; but we’ve specifically placed it above the listing data to address MLS IDX policies and to ensure agents are not spamming users.  One bad apple spamming contacts would affect all of our agents, so we make sure it’s easy for anyone to unsubscribe.

Adding your own custom content (including links to your site and images) can help de-emphasize the unsubscribe link if it’s a concern for you.

5. Listing heading

Above the list of properties is a heading that incorporates the name of the saved search.

Here’s the format:
__SAVED SEARCH NAME__ NEW AND UPDATED LISTINGS”

6. IDX listings

Each email contains up to 35 listings.  This include both listings that are recently added as “Active” in the IDX feed, as well as existing listings that had a price change, new photos added, or had other fields (such as description) edited or added.

We include the price, full street address, MLS number, beds, baths, sq ft, and the primary photo for each listing.  We also include the listing source information, where required by your MLS.

sample IDX listings from email

Buyers can click on any of the listing details or on the Details button to open the listing in full detail on your website.  If a buyer clicks on a listing from their mobile phone, they will view the listing on the mobile version of dsSearchAgent IDX.

7. Listing tags

listing tagsEarlier this year we added colored tags to help buyers identify listings in each email.

Here are the tags we include:

  • NEW (teal colored)
  • PRICE REDUCED (green)
  • PRICE INCREASED (red)

Some listings may have more than one tag, and others may have no tags at all.

Some additional notes:

  • We only send an email (daily or weekly) if there is at least 1 new listing or 1 updated listing in our IDX feed that matches one of their saved searches.  If there are no matches on a given day/week, your visitor will not receive an email that day/week.
  • Listings are sorted with the newest listing data on top.  This includes both new listings and recently updated listings.
  • Each email includes 35 listings max.  If there are more than 35 matching listings on a particular day, only the top 35 will appear in the email.
  • A visitor must save a search in order to get listing updates.
  • Visitors get a separate email daily (or weekly) for each search they save.

Optimizing your IDX emails

pimpHere’s what you can do.  First off, pimp out your IDX welcome email.

As soon as someone registers on your site, we send them a “welcome email” to confirm their sign up.

By default, this welcome email is very basic.  The subject line is “Welcome to dsSearchAgent” and inside it has your name, contact info, a link to your site, and the words “Welcome to dsSearchAgent, we hope that you find the home of your dreams”.  It also includes a link to unsubscribe.

This initial email is the first point of contact most agents have with any lead from their real estate website.  It’s fundamental that you customize your IDX welcome email to make a lasting first impression on potential clients.

1. Customize your IDX welcome email subject line.

Remember: clients may not check their email for hours or even days after they visited your site, and (gasp!) your site may not be the only place they registered, so consider these factors when creating your subject line:

  • make your subject line eye-catching without being spammy
  • make it clear they opted for/requested your email
  • explain content, purpose, and value
  • buyers may not be familiar with the terms “IDX” or “MLS”

MailChimp has a great post on successful subject lines, as well as free tool you can use to research subject lines for your IDX emails.  (You’ll need a free MailChimp account in order to use their tool.)

2. Customize your IDX welcome emails.

“Wow” your site leads with your welcome email.  Your contact info alone won’t do it.

Now’s the time to differentiate your site and IDX from the competition.  Most potential home buyers who register are only researching homes, so show off your site’s bells and whistles and demonstrate the value that you can offer them at this stage.

Some ideas to incorporate into your welcome email:

  • encourage users to save a search (or two or three)*
  • a link to your IDX login page
  • links back to your basic home search
  • links to any custom search pages
  • stats on how many homes your site offers
  • stats on how often you update your listings
  • tips on how to search/use features
  • list of areas of specialty
  • links to neighborhood pages
  • details on mobile IDX option
  • details on email alerts or other IDX features

*Users will only get listing alert emails if they save a search — so this tip is very important!

As always, try to avoid industry lingo your buyers may be unfamiliar with (including the terms IDX or MLS).  In fact, some agents use this as an opportunity to educate buyers, like this:

“…you now have access to the Milwaukee MLS.  MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, and it’s the official database used for all listings for sale in our area.  This means you can log in and see the same homes for sale, rentals, and other listings that normally only licensed REALTORS can access — that’s over 23,000 listings!”

Ultimately, you want anyone reading this email to see all the benefits your site offers, and know they now have exclusive access to MLS listing data because they registered on your site.  Plus, by emphasizing the perks you provide with their new account, users can feel empowered in their decision to register.

3. Customize your IDX alert emails

Some buyers are going to get your IDX alerts every day.  Others less often.  It’s important that you customize these emails so buyers know why they are receiving the emails, why certain listings are included or excluded, and that this awesome service is provided by you!

Our IDX alert emails include both new and updated listings.  It may be worthwhile to explain the difference to buyers and encourage them to contact you with any questions, particularly if they notice price drops or other changes on listings they are interested in.

Here’s more ideas to consider for your alerts:

  • explain new vs. updated listings
  • encourage buyers to use phone, or email if questions on any listing
  • include link to perform new searches
  • include links to commonly-saved searches (foreclosures, open houses…)
  • offer ideas for additional saved searches
  • let buyers know they can edit their saved searches
  • include link to login to their profile
  • encourage buyers to refine/expand their saved searches
  • encourage buyers to “Favorite” listings they like
  • let buyers know you offer daily or weekly options

Similar to your welcome email, you want buyers to see the value in the listing alerts and not simply write them off as spam.

Encourage further IDX engagement through search refinement and favoriting listings to ensure buyers are only getting listings they care about while offering friendly help via phone, or email so buyers know where to turn when they are ready for the next step.

4. Disable the default email header

By default, we include a big header with your contact info at the top of all your IDX emails.

This header pulls your agent photo, company name, and other info from the Agent Info tab of your IDX Options.  It provides basic branding and gives buyers an easy way to contact you, but it’s not the most personal greeting for your emails.

By disabling our default header, you have the opportunity to create your own fully-branded email header.  Use a custom-sized logo, get rid of unnecessary contact info, and otherwise create an email tailored for your buyers.

If you disable the standard header, be sure to incorporate your branding and opportunities to contact you into the “body” of the email, as shown below:

idx email editor with logo

Additional ideas for your email headers:

  • logo that links to your homepage
  • buttons or links to your site and/or search page
  • link to call/email options or contact page
  • slogan or catchphrase
  • links to social media pages
  • paste in HTML code from existing email header

How to make changes to your IDX emails

To make changes to your IDX email headers, content or subject lines, log in to IDX Options area of your Control Panel here and click the Emails tab.

Edit your email headers

You can enable or disable the default email headers by checking the “Show Header…” checkboxes.  In the example below, the initial “welcome” email will show the standard contact-info header, but the daily/weekly listing alert emails will not show the standard header.

Edit your email subject lines

The subject line for the listing alert email is auto-generated from the saved search name and cannot be edited.

However, to make changes the subject line for your welcome email, scroll down to the Welcome Email Subject box to add your own custom message.  If this box is left blank, we’ll use our standard subject line: “Welcome to dsSearchAgent”.

Customize the content of the emails

We offer a full WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor in your admin to make it easy to make changes to your IDX emails.  You can add your logo and photo, use custom fonts and styles, or even paste in your own HTML code.

If you have not disabled our default email header, any text, images, links, or code you add will appear below your contact info, as shown below:

idx email screenshot with custom content placement

To make changes to your welcome email, log in to IDX Options area of your Control Panel here and click the Emails tab.  You’ll find the WYSIWYG editor below the heading Welcome Email Body, as shown below:

You can make changes to your listing alert emails a bit further down the page below the Result Email Body header.

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Ok, that should prove it.  Call ‘em “new listing alerts”, “IDX emails”, or whatever-you-like, automated emails sent to your clients with new listings are fantastic.

Buyers want up-to-the-minute access to new listings, and you have the IDX that makes it easy.  Go forth and be awesome.