Zillow Email Review: Could This Nurturing Email Be More Effective?


Zillow Email Grade: [C]

Subject Line


Preview Pane


Eye Path


Clarity of Message


Call to Action






Sense of Urgency*

Email grades are based on a 5-point scale: A = 5, B = 4, C = 3, D = 2, F = 1
*Not applicable.

October 4, 2016

Organization Overview

Founded in 2006, Zillow is an online real estate and rental company that is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. According to the company’s website, Zillow “serves the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home,” including buying, selling, financing, and remodeling. Zillow’s database has information on more than 110 million homes in the United States: homes for sale, homes for rent, and homes not on the market, as well as estimates of their value. Plus, Zillow has more than 24 real estate apps that can be used across major platforms.

Subject Line and Preview Pane Are Missing Some Valuable Information

This nurturing email was sent to someone who had signed up to receive emails from the online real estate company Zillow. The subject line — “DIY Projects (You Can Actually Do)” — effectively catches the eye and imagination of subscribers as they scroll through their inboxes. After all, who isn’t interested in seeing some easy, DIY projects?

The parentheses also add a nice touch, helping the subject line stand out in the inbox. But it’s not until subscribers open the email that they see that the DIY projects are actually demonstrated on videos. Letting subscribers know up front about the video content in the subject line would likely increase engagement and drive more opens.

Similarly, there’s little indication in the preview pane without images that there are DIY-project videos. If recipients don’t download images, the copy on the call-to-action button (“Subscribe for more videos”) is the only hint that the links in the email lead to videos. Again, letting recipients know in the preview pane without images that the email content includes videos would help pique interest and encourage them to download images.

Strong and Simple Eye Path, But Message Is Unclear

The eye path is strong, leading from a positive and motivational headline (“You Can Do This”) to the video image with a large and obvious “play” arrow. Featuring the same bright blue as the Zillow logo in the header, the primary call-to-action button is centered and effectively draws the attention of recipients.

The message, however, is not clearly communicated in this email. Each of the three links leads to three different videos for DIY projects. But recipients don’t know this until they click through because there’s no indication that videos are associated with the links. At FulcrumTech, we’ve found that video content in emails can significantly increase conversion rates — by as much as 2.5 times! So when an email has valuable video content, it should be well promoted.

Although the primary call to action is prominent in the design, the copy — “Subscribe for more videos” — could be more compelling and show value. (Clicking the call-to-action button takes subscribers to a Zillow/YouTube landing page where they are asked to confirm their “Channel Subscription” to Zillow.)

Good Offer, But Video Content Needs to Be Better Promoted

The offer is good: free DIY tips about must-have power tools for homeowners, stocking a toolbox, as well as how to install a thermostat and a deadbolt lock. Nurturing emails that give away such useful and insightful information are a great way for companies to stay top of mind and build trust with subscribers until they are ready to purchase. By more clearly representing the value of the email contents (e.g., videos of DIY home projects) — from the subject line, to the preview pane, to the email copy and calls to action — this email likely would have garnered more opens and clicks. Plus, higher list engagement can also have a positive impact on email deliverability.

Disclaimer: FulcrumTech does not have access to the performance data relating to this promotional email, so any tests performed on this email can’t be reflected in FulcrumTech’s commentary.

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