The Art of Using Email Campaigns for Apartment Lease Renewal7 min read
Automated email campaigns for lease renewal can help property managers and leasing agents convince tenants to re-sign. However, the email should be less of a mass, boilerplate message, and rather should capture information and inspire engagement to make the renewal process even easier.
For most property managers, the end goal to any form of marketing is likely a signed lease. But once you’ve taken someone who’s a curious, potential lead and transformed them into a happy tenant, the sales cycle isn’t suddenly over. That lease will eventually expire, and if you’re not actively working to keep that unit filled, you could be staring down the barrel of a whole host of vacancies.
While apartment renewals are currently at an all-time high of 55.1%, property managers must continue to nurture their tenants. Automated email campaigns for lease renewal can engage your tenants, encourage interaction and, hopefully, secure another year of rent payments.
When to Send Automated Email Campaigns
You’ve probably used email before, perhaps to let tenants know about upcoming work around the property or as a gentle reminder to pick up after their pets. In fact, these may even be automated with one-touch send functionality. However, a discussion about lease renewal may require a bit more finesse than a blanket statement delivered in a mass email.
In keeping in line with your website’s interactive feel, it best to view an email campaign for lease renewal as the beginning of a discussion. Katrina Greene, the Senior Property Manager of Sheehan Properties in Indianapolis; Columbus, Indiana; and Louisville, Kentucky, first sends an email 120 days prior to the renewal date.
Instead of coming straight out and asking for the renewal, Greene says she prefers to simply send an interactive survey. This, she says, can help get the ball rolling on a potential re-signing.
“That’s our first signal from them on how we’re doing and what kind of aggression we have to take to get that person to renew,” she explains. “It also tells us what their plans are for the future. Sometimes we’ll find out that they already know they’re going to have a job transfer or that they are planning to buy a house or actively looking for a house. It’s a two-fold approach, because it gives us an idea of what we can expect in turnover that month, but it also indicates what the likelihood is that we can get this person to resign. If we can’t get them for a full renewal, it also tells us what’s the likelihood we can get them for at least a couple months more.”
Make Email Campaigns for Lease Renewal Personalized
Once Greene receives the completed survey, she and her team of leasing agents use the information to restart the signing process, similarly to how they did when the tenant first visited their site. Interactivity – even within your automated emails – will continue to build quality into the lead by providing you with engaged feedback that can help to determine sales techniques. But are these tenants the same as a new lead who hasn’t yet moved into your community?
Beth Roberts, Property Manager for Englert Management Corporation, says that though there are similarities, the approaches are still different. “We strive for a high level of customer service regardless of who it is,” she says. “But the interactions are different for a tenant than a potential lead. If I’m going to use email, I want to be more personal. We know more about the tenants, so it’s easier to get them to come in to the office and talk to us.”
“We strive for a high level of customer service regardless of who it is.”
— Beth Roberts, Property Manager
Greene mirrors these sentiments, explaining how you can use not only the results of the survey, but their current living situation as leverage. “If we’ve already done our job, we’ve been selling them every day of their tenancy, so it’s more of a review of what we did and what we accomplished.”
“We have a bit of an upper hand when it comes to people already living onsite,” Greene says. “It’s easier to convince someone to stay by selling them on their great year here. You can show them this is what they’ve been able to participate in, or show them how you brought them value, or even what we do that competing properties don’t do. It’s different than selling people something they think they’re going to get. If we’ve already done our job, we’ve been selling them every day of their tenancy, so it’s more of a review of what we did and what we accomplished, more so than on a prospect where you’re just trying to convince them to pull the trigger and come to you even though they really don’t know what it’s going to be like.”
Don’t Overuse Email Campaigns for Lease Renewal
If you’ve ever signed up for a rewards program at a clothing store, you’ve probably had some experience with being over-emailed. Communications via email can be a convenient and efficient way to stay in touch with a customer, but it can become easy for consumers to stop paying attention when there’s an avalanche of updates in their inbox.
The same can be said for interacting with tenants. If you’re planning on using automated emails for a lease renewal campaign, you may want to rethink how you’re using email on a larger level. Roberts says that while they do use emails for occasional updates, they’ve found that, “the more we use it, the more likely someone is to ignore it.” Greene feels the same way, and thinks critically about which communication techniques work best for specific messaging.
“I think there’s definitely such a thing as too many emails,” Greene says. “If we’re not always offering valuable information that’s pertinent to them, they’re going to make an assumption about what’s coming in to their inbox and stop looking at our emails altogether. We operate on a less is more model, and then use other platforms to connect. I think if you’re relying on any one platform with any given customer, it will lose its effectiveness. The automated emails are best for specific lease renewal reminders.”
To that end, after you’ve set up your automated lease renewal campaign with an interactive survey, you can follow up periodically leading up to a tenant’s renewal deadline with emails reminding them about what they need to do to re-sign, and by when.
Automated emails for lease renewal can be an easy way to begin the conversation with a tenant about resigning their lease. Though there may be different variables at play, your tenants are still leads who need to be engaged with your product to sign their name to a dotted line again.
If you choose to utilize automated email campaigns for lease renewal, your communications work best when they capture vital lead information and prepare both you and your staff for the continuing sales cycle.