As a real estate agent, you've no doubt heard the Internet is rapidly changing your business model. In the old days, you used to have to pay for advertisements, whereas now you can show off your expertise for free - although you can still pay for advertisements if you wish.

Likewise, email has long found itself in a tricky spot because some, like contributing editor John Brandon, believe a new form of online communication will replace email by 2020. No one knows what that type of communication will replace be, and until then - if it ever happens - email will still be heavily utilized by all sectors of the world.

Today's population knows email as a service offered by popular Internet giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo. Email is essential for work-related functions, and most importantly, searching for homes currently on the market. You also likely have a personal email account for everything else - online coupons, job applications and loads of spam.

This may pose a slight issue for real estate agents. Emails are still an effective way to relay information, but how? When users are only looking at and responding to priority messages, everything else may be glanced over. One effective way to grab the attention of prospective homebuyers: newsletters. Before you go out and create a generic newsletter, you need to create some engaging ideas so your next email isn't immediately sent to the virtual trash bin.

Why an email newsletter?

Like its paper counterpart, an email newsletter is a message sent to subscribers on varying schedules. Some companies choose to send monthly messages, whereas others may send out daily newsletters. It's up to you as the real estate broker to decide how often to email subscribers. Keep in mind that too many messages may lead your newsletters being filtered out. The content in these emails will vary, as should yours. Deciding on that content, however, is what may set your newsletter apart from the competition.

Don't let anyone persuade you that this form of communication is no longer used. David Carr, the late media columnist at The New York Times, wrote in June 2014 about newsletters, "Email newsletters, an old-school artifact of the web that was supposed to die along with dial-up connections, are not only still around, but very much on the march."

As such, you should vary the content within your messages. According to real estate website, Placester, these ideas, if executed properly, will lead to greater email open rates and help you find and connect with leads.

Be the news

Not every homebuyer is going to know the latest happenings of the housing market. This is where your newsletter can fill in the gaps. By sending out emails containing housing, mortgage and financing news, you are not only showing off your knowledge of the industry, but you're also providing help to prospective homebuyers. Some topics may include looking at the latest government programs designed to help homebuyers purchase a house. You can then relate this news to your local audience and how it particularly affects them.

Other in-depth topics you may want to write about may include:

  • Home sale reports
  • Consumer sentiment surveys
  • Monthly unemployment and income reports

Go evergreen

No, evergreen content is not green. This type of content, like the plant it's named for, are useful year-round. Evergreen material should have a more "bloggy" tone that talks directly to potential leads. Some topic ideas you may want to write about are tips for first time homebuyers and advice pieces.

Homeownership projects and general tips can also be classified as evergreen. You may find topic inspiration from the weather. For instance, you can write about a remodeling project that can be done in the summer, or how to winter-proof your garage. You may also want to write a series of posts about home inspection and what homebuyers should look out for.

How about some lists?

If there is one Internet trend that will remain popular, it's lists. Everyone loves lists and you should too. Example list topics could be:

  • 5 things to look out for as a first time homebuyer
  • The 7 best neighborhoods for a young family
  • The best 10 cities for homeowners

Lists are easier to create and present information in a clear manner, as information is typically short and concise. Better yet, you can utilize lists with embedded photographs to further enrich your newsletter content. Lists are an exceptional way to get readers to, at the very least, skim over the main points.

No matter what type of content route you choose to pursue, you should strive to find an even balance in your newsletters between national news and the local market. Talk about your area in greater detail, as you are trying to generate leads. Potential homebuyers won't seek you out if you're talking about housing markets across the country.