Text Your Residents. They Will Listen.

by Katie Sloan

Here ares some best practices for using mobile marketing to your residents.

If you really want to know the best practices for using text messaging as a way to market and communicate, then you need to think first and foremost it’s about your residents! When you make it about them by offering incentives or announcements that they will benefit from or by passing along useful information to them is when you will have a successful mobile texting campaign. Too many attempts are wrapped up in the concept that texting is only about one-to-one conversations, but many industries, specifically retail, have gained raving fans from texting campaigns that lack any resemblance to conversations. Forward-thinking companies and communities are getting with the times by using or considering texting programs to reach their residents.

For our mobile club (the list of residents that participates in our text program), I have observed and used mobile marketing trends prevalent outside of our industry that I know are already successful with our residents. The purpose for our mobile club is to communicate immediately about information, deals, promotions, social events, or emergencies that apply to the residents. If we exclusively used the club for rent reminders or internal marketing, I am sure we would have more of our mobile club users opting out or we would not gain any new members into the club. When talking with our residents about event announcements or community news, we often hear, ‘I wish you had texted me the details…I rarely check my email anymore’. With the constant flood of junk/spam email being sent to consumers today, we knew our emails were being lost or not even opened. With an open rate of less than 15 percent on emails, I decided to incorporate texting as a method to communicate with our residents. It doesn’t matter what age group or demographic resides at your community, because just about every age group is obsessed with texting…even the senior boomers. The reality is texting has become the dominant method of communication for all ages and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.

The biggest benefits we have found from our mobile club program include the ease of sending mass messages to our fans, the reduced cost in printing/payroll to distribute flyers and, most importantly, eliminating the time delay in sending and receiving information to our residents. I have partnered with a tech savvy ILS (ForRent Media Solutions) to develop a customized program to help with automated and blast announcements via text. When we announced our mobile club program to our residents in August 2010, we had 88 out of 2,000 residents sign up with very little marketing. Now we have had an ongoing marketing campaign through signage, the web, Facebook and a newsletter to encourage residents to join in. In the past year, we went from 88 members to more than 500 members. The numbers continue to grow monthly.

The important question to ask before embarking upon a texting program is what kind of information will I be sharing and do they want to hear about it? Start with these steps, and, soon you will have raving fans beyond Facebook. Finally these texting programs are very affordable. I have looked around at platforms available and I have found many offer a valuable product for approximately $100-$200 per month. The experience is worth the cost.

— Kim Cory is Sales & Marketing Director with University Village Apartments.

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