On a regular basis, readers write to ask what software I use for the distribution of my Tips & Tricks newsletters, and I'm happy to answer that the program I use is called WorldMerge, from Colorado Software.

The primary value to using WorldMerge is that it will create personalized mailings to any list of e-mail addresses, and will send hundred of them an hour, even on a standard dial-up Internet connection.

This means that each individual receives a personalized copy of any message you send, and the message will be delivered exclusively to their e-mail account, eliminating the inclusion of other recipient's addresses.

While many contact managers can perform similar functions, they tend to be best suited for rather small mail-merge projects, whereas WorldMerge can easily handle mail jobs that contain thousand of addresses.

I've been an avid fan of WorldMerge almost as long as I've been on the Internet, and it keeps getting better with each new version. The current release is version 4, which adds considerable functionality to an already outstanding program.

Mass e-mailing projects can now be created from many address formats including those used by Outlook, Eudora and Windows Addressing. Alternatively, if your client's addresses reside in a contact manager, then you can simply export them to a standard data format such as Excel spreadsheets or delimited text files.

The latest version also includes such features as spell checking and can send e-mail in either plain text or HTML. Additionally, the software now includes the ability to quickly re-send any messages that failed on the first attempt.

WorldMerge costs just $49 and is definitely in the top-ten list of best tech values. As someone who sends well over 100,000 e-mails a year, I can't imagine using anything else and am constantly amazed by how much time and money it saves me.

However powerful the software may be, you much resist the urge to send junk email solicitations or to constantly email new listing notices to everyone you know. This will not enhance your reputation or be perceived as customer service. Instead, overuse and inappropriate use of such marketing tools will make it very likely that recipients will soon begin to discard your email messages, viewing them a nothing more than a nuisance.

On the other hand, a newsletter that includes market updates, financing information and homeownership tips will generally be appreciated, and will also be perceived as a valuable professional service.

Just as with paper-based newsletters, you're not really trying to sell listings, but instead are working to create "name recognition" within your marketplace; while positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and trustworthy professional at the same time. The end result of this effort is that hopefully your name will be one the first that comes to the prospect's mind when they realize that they need the assistance of a real estate professional.

As implementing an email-based newsletter can be overwhelming, here are a few tips to get you started.

Start small, and build from there. Don't worry if you've only got 75 email addresses for past customers and clients. All newsletters start small

Ask for email addresses whenever you get someone's business card

Include a column for email addresses in your Open House sign-in registry

Offer free information by email in all of your existing print advertisements

Send a personal note to all of the contacts in your current contact management database asking each person to send you their email address

Create a sign-up form for your real estate newsletter and place it on your existing website

Realize that as long as the focus of your email-based newsletter is on providing solid consumer information, interested members of the public will want to read it. Alternatively, if your newsletter only contains sales pitches and personal promotion, few will be interested.


Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale