Mark Juleen
Social media may have recently surpassed email in terms of total share of our time spent online, but email is still an incredibly effective way to reach your audience (and email is still the most popular online activity on smartphones).

With that in mind, we asked Mark Juleen and DJ Waldow to help us understand how to get more out of our email marketing efforts. Mark (known to some as the Apartment Nerd) is the Director of Marketing for JC Hart Communities in Indianapolis, and DJ is the Director of Community at email service provider Blue Sky Factory.

They’re certainly not the only ones with something to say about the topic … it was exciting to see a number of faces – new and old – jump into the conversation to share their tips and ideas.

Here are the highlights from the discussion:

Why do I need to incorporate email into my marketing strategy? Aren’t the autoresponders to prospects enough?

  • Jonathan Saar: autoresponders are not personal … you are in fact emailing people.
  • Charity Hisle: Integrate, Integrate, Integrate! Tactics should work together to be effective.
  • Heather Blume: Auto responders are never enough. They’re canned, impersonal, and often get filtered out by SPAM filters. Keep it human.
  • Courtney Anderson: Auto responders are some of the most interacted with emails because they are real time – positively impacting deliverability.
  • Erica Campbell: Auto responders can b effective if they r done correctly like using personalization & dynamic content to meet their needs.
  • DJ Waldow: Why Email Marketing? Easy. According to the DMA it had a $43.62 ROI in 2009 (assuming you do it correctly)
  • Courtney Anderson: The more interaction recipients have w/the email the more favorable the ISPs rate your IP reputation.
  • Kim Cory: Auto responders are usefull and effective for certain situations. Better than no email at all, but has 2 be custom
  • Kim Cory: If U send junk, that’s exactly where it will go! Don’t get lost with the other 100’s of emails your customers get daily. B unique.
  • Michael Pickens: We send out autoresponder but require the properties to give a personal response within 2 hours.

Typical emails might be an auto-responder, then a custom response. How else can we use email to reach our audience?

  • Courtney Anderson: Interaction based emails, welcome emails, drip campaigns, surveys, many more.
  • Jonathan Saar: Newsletters for residents and non
  • Kim Cory: We use email for surveys, resident alerts, announcements, holiday greetings, newsletters, promotions, list is endless.
  • Meg Fowler: Most marketers treat people like opens, not readers. Content strategy exists beyond the blog.
  • Erica Campbell: Email plays a huge role in multichannel marketing – other channels drive before the inbox and after the inbox.
  • DJ Waldow: Send updates about cool new apts in their area. Targeted FTW.
  • Laurel Zacher: Love email to drive new visitors to our site/fb/videos (from my sig). i just wish I could better quantify it!
  • Mark Juleen: We do surveys, monthly news, notifications, introductions to social, etc. and more to come.
  • Meg Fowler: How about emails with neighborhood profiles — links to amenities, stories of happy residents… along with rentals.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: Email is a great communication tool with residents. Not as invasive as text. I still wouldn’t like to get text from my community.
  • Erica Campbell: Email is great 4 viral marktg, promoting sweepstakes/contests, internal cross promotion, affiliate program referrals.
  • DJ Waldow: Consider pics and video when sending email to apartment folks. Keep it real, human, interactive.
  • Meg Fowler: Don’t forget to link to social properties. you could even have “apartment love stories” of folks who found a great place.
  • Meg Fowler: I also love the idea of checklists on how to assess an apt, how to set a housing budget, how to work out a lease…

What are some of the best ways to capture emails? (Online or offline)

  • Duncan Alney: Email and SMS/text should both be opt-in with value added content.
  • Meredith Mobley: SMS email capture is a good one.
  • Gillian Luce: Homepage sign-up is a good one!
  • Erica Campbell: Offline list growth printed materials, direct mktg, in-store display, CS/IT, reg, call center/outbound, tradeshow.
  • Charity Hisle: How about capturing emails thru Facebook apps for those that want to learn more about your community?
  • Joe Foster: Mailing list sign-ups at community events. Great for refreshing your resident list and scooping renters.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: Offline … we’ve been doing door hangers with tear-off tabs to submit emails to win prizes like ipads & TVs.
  • Erica Campbell: I saw a newsletter sign up for weight watchers on the box of their microwave meal- pretty neat.
  • Courtney Anderson: If I am in need of an apartment accepting my large dog, an email with properties that do is a great idea.
  • Meg Fowler: As far as capturing opt-ins, I’m a big fan of eBook offers — give content sample to assure value.
  • Sue Anne Reed: Apartment decorating on a budget would be a great ebook / lead generation campaign for multi-family.
  • Sue Anne Reed: As someone who just recently moved, I think you should put a 9 or 10-month trigger on prospects.
  • Courtney Anderson: Be compliant with CAN SPAM such as link to unsubscribe, physical mailing address, etc.

We mentioned timeliness earlier. Successful email campaigns are both timely & valuable. How do you ensure timeliness?

  • Pick your days carefully. Don’t send out an email campaign late in the day- be aware of when your audience will view it.
  • Charity Hisle: Email to Poll their move-in experience, Check-in again monthly.
  • DJ Waldow: Capture “what is your timeframe for new apartment” info on email capture. Use to send timely emails.
  • Resite Online: We find that our marketing emails get better response when sent in the middle of the week. We are B2B though. Know your audience.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: Traditionally Tues & Wed are best email days. Then after 9:30 But before Noon. Before 9, people get delete happy with morning email.
  • Mark Juleen: Automate what you can. We often leave too much responsibility to a human scheduling an activity.
  • Laurel Zacher: I think we can all learn from the ILS’ outreach emails: useful content about process during search, recontact 9 mo later.

Is your email social? What are some ways you can integrate it with the rest of your marcomm efforts?

  • Erica Campbell: Decorating tips, integration w groupon, coupons, partnership deals w local bars ect r effective retention based emails.
  • Mike Whaling: Once you have the email, use tools like Flowtown, Blue Sky Factory or MailChimp to see where else your audience is online.
  • Resite Online: Include links to your social networks in your emails. You could even give them a taste by including your latest feeds.
  • Erica Campbell: Take the HTML version and copy it into your FBML on your FB profile and create a monthly message tab.
  • Mark Juleen: Email strategy needs to integrate w/ your social, or your social and/or email will only get you so far. LINK, SHARE, SYNDICATE.
  • Meg Fowler: Email only as social as YOU are — if you’re just broadcasting, it’ll read that way. if you’re starting a convo, it’ll ring true.

What metrics are you using to evaluate your results?

  • Courtney Anderson: Standard ones, open rate, click thru rate.
  • A/B testing is a great way to see what worked best.
  • Courtney Anderson: Leads per email sent, lead per email open help gauge performance ie bottom line indicators.
  • Erica Campbell: For an ILS- guest card submissions, CTR, unique clicks, open rate, opens, % of traffic to overall site traffic.
  • Charity Hisle: Subscription counts, web visits, email referral counts are all good metrics.
  • DJ Waldow: Opens are a start, click-throughs better, conversions WIN.
  • DJ Waldow: Shares/fwds create more eyeballs which increase opens and potential clicks & conversions. Double win.

Videos responses from Mark Juleen:

More resources:

How are you using email as part of your marketing and communication mix? What is working well for you? What gives you the most trouble? Share what you’re doing … tell us about your experience with email marketing in the comments!

This week’s chat included 404 tweets from 56 different contributors.