#1 RULE: Have a Strategy for Your Campaign
Decide what your end goal is before developing your e-marketing strategy. Design your program so it works as a system, with more and more information in the emails (since the prospect needs more and more information as she becomes more interested in the apartment). Start your e-marketing program with an Autoresponder. And make sure the Autoresponder has useful information in the email too (vs. Thank you for contacting us, we’ll contact you shortly). An Autoresponder is an automatic reply your web designer can set up — kind of like an Out Of Office automatic reply.
Things to include in the Autoresponder
- general info that pre-qualifies the prospect
- names and contact information for leasing team
- hours and directions to the property
- the property’s USP (unique sales position — what’s best about your community)
- two or three moving tips
- coupon for lunch or coffee at a neighborhood shop (this can wait for the second contact too)
General Time Frame For E-marketing Campaign
- Autoresponder (instantly after prospect emails community)
- Personal response from leasing consultant (hopefully within a few hours)
- Develop relationship
a) send three emails a month until apartment is leased (or you find out she leased elsewhere)
b) include helpful information about the community and city as well.
WC Smith in Washington, D.C. has had great luck with their response rate when asking this question in the Email: “Can you tell me what you must have in your apartment community?” UDR engages prospects 10 months after initial contact with a “Remember Us?” email. One company found that if a prospect opens two or more emails she is more likely to lease.
Many VPs in Property Management use a “dynamic” email template where only a portion of the email can be customized by the onsite manager. The marketing directors work with the onsite manager as what local information to include in the changeable portion of the template. Your web folks can set this up.
One company has standard templates for:
- construction notices at the property
- resident events
- welcome resident email.
Managers just plug in the specific information needed and they are done!
Tracy Atkinson at Goodman Real Estate in Seattle uses email marketing to draw residents to events. Their main focus for resident events is to partner with local businesses (for example, local artists) and draw folks to their community for the event. Their last event was a blood drive and they gave away a Kindle (and collected contact information for people who attended the event and entered the drawing). Holli Beckman, The VP of Marketing for WC Smith, has an effective e-campaign in place where the emails point prospects to her blog. The blog keeps folks interested and engaged with the company. This converts to leases. One apartment community hosted an effective “win a Schwinn” promotion. The main goal was to capture email addresses from prospects. Prospects entered the contest via an iPad and the email addresses were linked to be automatically imported to MailChimp (an e-Marketing program). Naturally make sure you contact your prospects and residents in their preferred means of communication. Should you contact residents via text or email? One company surveyed residents and only 3 of 800 residents wanted notification via text. Survey your residents to see what method they would prefer.