E-Mail Speeds Sales of Upscale Condos

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A realty company in Portland, OR, sold $100 million worth of condominium units in less than a week, thanks to qualified leads and an organized e-mail marketing campaign.

A few months ago, executives at Realty Trust Group, the agency for The John Ross, a 31-story luxury tower in the South Waterfront district of Portland, began looking for ways to boost interest in the still-unbuilt tower without "opening the doors and having complete chaos," said Patrick Clark, principal of project marketing and sales at Realty Trust.

They knew there would be interest in the fast-growing urban "River Blocks" area near downtown and in the planned tower, which was designed for executives and empty nesters older than 35. Though prices on some of the apartments ranged from $800,000 to $4 million, others were much more reasonably priced at $200,000 to $345,000.

Realty Trust began collecting names of Portland-area residents who might be interested in the waterfront area when it started selling units in another tower, The Meriwether, late last year. The company built a list of 1,800 qualified leads: people who did not buy at The Meriwether because of its units' high price range but who were interested in the area.

When the agency was ready to sell in South Waterfront this summer, it contacted those 1,800 people via a campaign developed by e-mail marketing firm eROI, Portland, asking whether they wanted information on The John Ross.

Using an artist's rendering of the tower and other graphics, the e-mails had an "exclusive" feel and introduced them to "The John Ross lifestyle," said eROI president Ryan Buchanan.

"The primary objective was to utilize the right mix of imagery and messaging to slowly reveal The John Ross as an exclusive offer to its recipients and urge them to get in early by indicating there was a limited amount of time to secure their place," Buchanan said.

Subsequent e-mails included a private announcement of the tower's Web site launch as well as an invitation to set an appointment. Half of the 1,800 leads asked for more information, and 450 of those wanted to schedule an appointment. Within five days after The John Ross sale started in July, Realty Trust sold more than 80 percent of the 286 units, worth $100 million.

"The surprising thing for us was that we sold a large number of units at higher price points in the first week," Clark said. "After the fifth day, we had to cancel appointments. Our remaining inventory price points were $800,000 and above."

The campaign helped Realty Trust conduct a more organized sale by engaging potential buyers and creating interest in the property, Clark said.

The proportion of people who read the e-mails ranged from 50 percent to 84 percent, versus average e-mail read rates of about 25 percent, Buchanan said. Click-through rates ranged from 20 to 50 percent, compared with the industry average of 5 percent.

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