How A Pair of Local Realtors Used Email Marketing to Get Customer Inquiries Online During the COVID-19 Crisis

Monica Corman and Mandy Montoya make up this dynamic duo of highly effective and experienced Compass real estate agents. With over 20 years of experience selling homes in the affluent neighborhoods around Stanford, they successfully acquired and retained a large number of clients through a diverse marketing mix of print and digital channels, including in Embarcadero Media's award-winning print papers and community websites. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit and the shelter-in-place was instituted, they knew their marketing strategy would need to shift in order to stay top-of-mind with locals.

A New Look At Branding and Digital Marketing


Corman and Montoya had a few goals when building their advertising strategy:

1. With growing concern about the real estate market, they would need to create new messaging and target new channels to focus on branding themselves as experts in understanding the changing market.
2. Their business has always been based on building relationships with locals, very frequently through face-to-face interactions, so they wanted to make this same connection online.
3. They wanted to focus on hyper-local targeting with Embarcadero's most engaged readers.
4. They wanted to make sure their ads ran frequently, keeping budget in mind, so they could stay in front of the public. This ensures when a reader is ready to work with them, they will remember their ads.

"Nothing else feels as hyper-local as Embarcadero."
- Mandy Montoya


Erica Galles, Compass Real Estate Agent and member of the Corman/Montoya team, said "Tom Zahiralis [the VP of Sales at Embarcadero Media] was instrumental in helping us navigate moving into Express ads." In understanding their goals, he was able to recommend testing some ads in Express, the daily news digest that is emailed to up to 37,000 opt-in subscribers, for the following reasons:

These subscribers have specifically asked to receive Embarcadero Media's publications on a regular basis. This is about as targeted as advertising can be when it comes to reaching hyper-local audiences.

With an open rate of over 50%, Express reaches thousands of locals' inboxes to heighten Corman and Montoya's brand recognition in the community.

Exclusive ad placements mean all eyes will be on their ad. This helps make up for the loss of in-person networking opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis and gives them constant new opportunities to introduce themselves to new buyers and sellers.

Express is cost-effective, which gives them the opportunity to schedule continuous ads so they are more likely to reach the right reader at the right time.


The team decided to link their digital ads to their online form on their website where locals can inquire about working with them. Before implementing Express ads, the team had only seen a couple inquiries come in over the last few years. After six weeks of advertising in Express, they were seeing multiple inquiries per week. In addition to new clientele, they feel like they've been able to maintain a large presence in the community, even while everyone is sheltering at home.

Can digital marketing grow your business too?

Future Plans

The Corman and Montoya team say, yes: "There are so many benefits to digital marketing. It's cost effective, we can target more specifically and it is, to some extent, measurable." Even once the shelter-in-place is lifted and we find our new normal, their team advises, "we all have to be very flexible and adjust to where people are and how they're living their lives differently. There's no magic bullet so we always want to be in front of people in every place that they access information [online and in print]. One size does not fit all and people access information in a variety of ways. We want to cast as wide a net as possible and local papers are really important."