By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor
Littleton, Colo.—A recent On-Site-sponsored study released in a D2 Demand Solutions (D2) white paper suggests that multifamily operators on the regional and national level may be missing out on email marketing opportunities.
The study surveyed online responses from 31 different communities with “an equal distribution of geographical locations,” with players that included public, private national and regional owners, operators and management companies. The study was conducted between May 7, 2014 and May 16, 2014, when researchers made contact with properties via the community sites requesting information about a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment and, if required, asked for a move-in date at the end of May 2014, as well as a 12-month lease. Phone numbers were not included in the submission in order to be able to gauge how the companies responded to email leads.
“The short answer is: yes, multifamily is missing out,” says Donald Davidoff, president of D2 who co-authored the white paper. “But there’s obviously some sub-text to that answer that savvy marketers will want to understand.”
The study had an immense focus on the use of “drip campaigns,” which is when a company has an automated response system that sends pre-written emails to customers over set a period of time.
The study found that more than half—52 percent—of management companies had no drip campaign at all and that only about 20 percent have drip campaigns. Of that 19.4 percent, only 3.2 percent had “what appeared to us to be a regular campaign of relevant information,” and 6.5 percent sent “multiple, identical emails as their drip campaign,” according to the paper.
“We weren’t surprised to see a variety of tactics at play,” says Joanne Chapman-Reps, a partner at D2 and co-author of the study. “We saw a mix of responses from communities—automated and personal, template and not. A majority of leads got at least an initial response—84 percent in our study. However, we did find it interesting that 16 percent of internet leads received no response whatsoever.”
The study also noted what was seen after submitting a request, response times and types of responses received. At least 81 percent of the post-submission pages showed a “thank you” message and included links to the online lease, phone contact numbers and were personalized with the submitting person’s name; 16 percent of the sites displayed an error message; and 3 percent displayed a blank page.
For response times, more than 60 percent of the communities responded the same day. Next-day and no replies were at 16.1 percent, respectively, while 6.5 percent of the communities responded within three to four days.
“As a company that is focused on the entire listing-to-lease value chain, we know it’s very important for multifamily operators to maximize the return from the leads they generate,” says Monte Jones, president of the study’s sponsor, On-Site, which specializes in online leasing technology. “We’re constantly investing in research to improve the user experience of apartment leasing. It sounds trite to say that it costs so much more to generate an initial lead that to nurture it, but this study shows how many well-regarded operators really aren’t using a tool as well-established as email re-marketing campaigns to nurture their leads. This represents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to get significantly more value from their website, ILS listings and the like.”
The full white paper, which includes a list of operators of the communities contacted for the study, is available on the D2 Demand Solutions website.