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Today I want to tell you about the email that we launched when I was at HotPads that outperformed our expectations, and it’s something that most companies out there should do. I can’t wait to do it on Credo someday when I have the right data in place (more on that some other time) because I know that it drives leads like crazy and when you drive leads you drive revenue.

Those of you who know me know that I hate articles like “7 Tips That…” or clickbait titles like “The One Tip That ….. You Won’t Believe It!” that don’t deliver on their promises. The engagement sucks, people get angry at your brand, and you hurt your business.

So you know that if I am writing this post, I really mean it. I genuinely believe that this email can grow your business exponentially.

I call this email:

The Unavailable Content Email

In a business like apartment rentals (or ecommerce) you have items coming and going all the time. We’d get thousands of new rentals on HotPads every day, and thousands more would be removed because they had found a tenant and were no longer available. That’s great for that specific person who found a place, but what about the other people who inquired on the place and never heard back, yet they are still looking for a place to live?

I realized that these people needed help. They had no idea when that property went off the market and they kept following up incessantly with the property manager, which left them feeling defeated and the property manager annoyed.

So we launched an email that we called Property Taken, which looks like this:


The logic was pretty simple. We already stored the email address and first/last names of the people inquiring on a listing. Now, when that listing went off the market, we sent them this email as soon as possible with a few recommended (no more than 10, I believe) properties that they should check out instead, based roughly on the attributes of the place they had previously inquired on.

Within three (3) months, this was our third biggest email and our highest converting email by far. We literally drove tens of thousands of more leads from implementing just this one email. It had a bigger impact than almost anything else we did on the email front there.

This email is very similar to the abandoned shopping cart email, which according to Shopify is opened 50% of the time and converts around 33%! That’s huge! And this email, predicting when your customer needs to know something and then delivering it to them, will help them out even more.

Here are some companies I’d love to see implement it:

  • AirBNB. Email me when I’ve been looking for specific dates for a trip and saved some places, but they’re booked up.
  • Amazon. Email me when something on my Wish List goes out of stock (or comes in stock if it was out of stock!)
  • Moz. Email me straight away when my crawl errors spike!

What do you think? Could you implement this email and grow your business? I’d love to hear what you’ve done and seen, or what you are going to do!

Want to know why I’m writing about email marketing. Keep an eye on the Credo twitter account and you’ll find out soon enough.



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6 thoughts on “The Marketing Email You Are Not Sending But Should Be”

  1. Great idea! So much focus in ‘transactional’ emails is focused on an literal purchase transaction. An email like the one in your Hot Pads example has huge potential for driving folks from a shopping/educational stage to purchase stage by adding the “other options” value add.

    And from the consumer side, it feels like you’re helping me, not pushing me.

  2. I think another thing that makes this effective is that it creates FOMO. If you missed out on the last property, you’re likely to move faster if you’re interested in any of the alternatives so that it doesn’t happen again.

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