Email lead exhaustion: Do we really need them all?

If you told me that I could only have 3% of THIS pizza, I’d be pretty mad. This looks yummy.

3% of anything isn’t much. If you handed me a pizza, and only let me have 3% of it, I’d be upset and still hungry. If I only allowed you to read 3% of this post, you would’ve finished it a sentence ago. Yet, considering that less than 3 percent of emailers sign a lease, leasing agents have to spend countless hours wasting 97% of their time working them.

I suppose, before I boo-hoo about the trials and tribulations of working our email leads, I should mention that, at times, converting any type of lead can be a drag. People don’t call back, they tell you on a tour how beautiful the apartment is and then you never hear from them again. So why create a blog post analyzing how bad email leads are? Couldn’t I just make a post about all leads in general and call it a day?

Email leads, though, have fundamental flaws that other lead types don’t have. They are too easy. It only takes someone seconds to fire off 5 or 6 “cold call” emails. Most emails leads are from prospects who are too early in their sales process to commit. Add to that, there’s a less than 30% chance that someone will open a response email from you at all, and you can see why we end up with too many, and what you get, isn’t very effective.

Yawn

A survey last year from Harvard business review, said that “firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.” So maybe emailing faster is the solution to our email problem?! The trouble is, we don’t have a staff of people just milling about waiting for their inbox notifications to go off. Hiring someone just to sit there and handle leads on site doesn’t seem very practical does it? There must be a better way to try to trim these massive email lists down, without sacrificing those valuable conversions… right?

Maybe. Some companies I’ve spoken to, knowing that email leads are voluminous, cumbersome, and barely convert, have decided to regain some of the lost time. Rather than allow people to email you at all, they chose to move prospects to channels that convert better. They’ve removed their email addresses from the ILS’s and tried to reroute prospects to their website. They’ve made their phone number front and center to try to force the phone call. Some have even taken it a step further, and have all email leads forwarded to a central email address, where an auto reply or survey is sent out, with the property’s contact information. Peggy Hale, from Morgan Properties, reported that their email leads went down 79% while increasing their appointments by more than 10%. Less time is now being spent on unqualified leads.

Sure, you might lose some people who aren’t interested in calling, but you’ll force people to give you more of a commitment, and since they’ll be contacting you on better channels, your conversions should go up. Plus as a bonus, you’ll free your agents up from working these things, and allow them to lease smarter. Sound crazy? What do you think?

* Yawn image courtesy of Flickr.

Originally published on NAA’s blog.

About the author

bsitko
  • Hey Bill,
    In light of Morgans success, or apparent success, it seems as though we should be focused on the prospect. What is the prospects preferred way to communicate, as opposed to what is most efficient for our site staff. That said, the site staff only has so much time, however I would always rather them be communicating with someone, via Twitter, Facebook, Text, Email or Phone even if it isn’t converted than some of the other really dumb things we require the site folks to do that waste so much of their time.

    Again, I know others have narrowed the communication channels with success. So, whatever works is what one should do, but cutting back on electronic communication in the digital world we live in seems very strange to me.

    • As with most of my posts, Eric, I just try to generate conversation. This certainly is an interesting way to deal with email leads, which most of us know, aren’t as effective as any other. I agree that it isn’t for everyone. Many people DO want to communicate this way and this approach seems harsh in light of that but boy do our agents waste a ton of time out there working these things which, most of the time, amount to zippo. Do you think there’s a middle ground perhaps?

  • I completely agree with Eric on this one — it makes zero sense to limit the ways a prospect can communicate with you, especially as ILSs are reporting that they’re seeing an increase in email leads.

    There’s no doubt that a lot of the emails that come in aren’t going to be great leads, but that just means we need to do a better job of qualifying them. I know at least two companies that are automating lead nurturing programs to “pre-qualify” their email leads … a well-crafted auto-responder can do wonders to let your prospects do the work of telling you who deserves your attention first. Let’s use the technology to make us smarter, not busier.

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