The company's most valuable customers are, not surprisingly, management companies that have multiple listings open at once and provide repeat business revenue. To keep in touch with this important segment as well as others, Rentals.com uses a dedicated sales force and an e-mail marketing program. Until about a year ago, the company also used a homegrown triggered marketing program to remind people that their rental listings were about to expire, said Steven Chung, Rentals.com's marketing manager. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that successful, he said.
“From a marketing perspective, we didn't have a lot of ability to make changes [to the messaging] or market to someone one-on-one based on those triggers,” he said. “We couldn't track messages from an e-mail perspective in terms of opens or clicks. There was no integration with our overall marketing program at all.”
Looking for a way to change this as well as boost its overall e-mail marketing efforts, the company last summer started working with e-mail marketing solutions provider e-Dialog, putting into place a new, triggered e-mail marketing strategy that would automatically reach out to owners whose listings were about to expire.
The new program provides three “touches” for each expiring listing. The first, a simple reminder to let property managers know that their listing is about to expire, goes out three days before the listing expires. Because management company customers might have hundreds of listings at any given time, the e-mail includes the ad number, address and expiration date, as well as a one-click “Renew Now” button that takes the listing and drops it into a shopping cart, to reduce the number of abandonment opportunities.
The second touch goes out on the day the listing expires, adding an element of urgency, Chung said. The third goes out once the listing has expired. “We let them know it's expired and give them a discount and promo code that's specific to that customer,” Chung said. “It's a 20% discount.”
Going forward, Chung plans on adding a fourth touch—an expiration survey—to the mix, he said. This will help Rentals.com tailor future marketing and product offerings. “We'll be able to ask them if they rented their property, what their experience was with Rentals.com and give them one last opportunity to renew,” he said.
Since implementing the three-step triggered program, Rentals.com has seen up to a 25% increase in its conversion rate over its previous, homegrown triggering. Even more significant, revenue from triggered renewals is up 200%.
“It's definitely due to the ease and simplicity of the triggered e-mail marketing,” Chung said. “We've got everything laid out—all the prospect's expiring properties in one place—so they can renew one, or two, or four or all of them in one or two clicks. Yes, in many of the cases these people would have renewed anyway, but the triggered messages make it easier for them.”