Before starting a registrations-of-interest campaign, outline clear goals: Peter Chittenden

Peter ChittendenApril 16, 20120 min read

Given the spread of ROI (registration of interest) marketing campaigns, I think it is important to look at the key setting in greater detail. First up, before starting any ROI campaign it is important to have clear goals and expectations to make sure the idea fits the market circumstances.

The key expectations that need to be agreed would always include clear targeting – otherwise the process will lack focus – such as:

  • Launch day sales target by number, percentage and total value
  • Number of paid expressions of interest (EOI) to convert to sales
  • Number of required ROI enquiries to convert to EOI requirement
  • Number of individuals contacted about the project through all the various mediums to reach the ROI target
  • The marketing mediums identified and what volumes of enquiries they will bring

This is not a process of testing the waters, because once you enter the market there needs to be clear intentions to engage the market in a defined sales path.

They key aim will be to build a quality database. This outcome will and can not only rely upon the raw volume of respondents. In today’s market there could well be a hurdle, as securing a strong response is never certain. Quality registrations will only result if the entire process is well managed every step of the way – if a medium is bringing in low-quality leads changes to the marketing message, sales conversation or marketing spend needs to happen and quickly, to ensure the project stays on track to its required numbers.

Access raw numbers with care

Care must be taken in the collection and use of data; simply collecting a great deal of useless information is a waste of time and could well backfire by creating foolish expectations. It is easy for anyone to fill in an email form and these forms can look good on paper but unless there is a qualifying process behind them they may be of little even negative value to the sales process.

Subsequently as the process moves to the point of commitment a poorly qualified database will soon reveal flaws if few sales are converted, or a poorly supported launch takes place. However, if the ROI campaign targets the desired markets then the campaign will secure solid results.

One result of a successful campaign will be the ability to build prices, where prices can be increased, if the demand in these early stages is solid. This is not to suggest that prices can or should be over-heated as a result of early interest, but this is the ideal time to keep prices under review and in line with buyer demand.

A good result from an ROI campaign will assist to leverage higher sales rates early in the development cycle and this solid demand will underpin prices as the project moves forward.

This will also be a positive when dealing with finance from any perspective given how lenders can be in meeting today’s lending criteria.

Against this background of possible results it is easy to see why ROI campaigns are popular. However despite all of the positives, ROI campaigns are not, as has already been suggested, automatically suitable for all developments and they can and have failed. Why this usually happens is because the raw data collected is not sourced from well-targeted activity, thoroughly checked, qualified and managed throughout the entire campaign leading up to launch – you only get one chance.

The qualifying process is essential; it’s the foundation to the entire campaign. The time and resources to do this always needs to be factored into the ROI campaign through an experienced project sales and marketing team who understand the importance of providing detailed and accurate reporting.

Even where existing databases are used do not take for granted that these lists are current, always ask the question. A quality database is built upon constant quality engagement. Otherwise this data, so important to the ROI process, is suspect.

The buyer’s perspective

This brings us to the buyer’s perspective. In any ROI campaign the client’s outcome and involvement must always be a central consideration, so again we are back looking at the quality of data.

Genuine and qualified targets secured during an ROI campaign will naturally have their own expectations and they will have been driven by varied intentions and motivations.

This is not a lottery process and must be well managed. It’s an essential part of one of my re-occurring themes – that is the quality of the buyer’s experience at every stage sales path.

Above all when any consumer registers they must receive a response, immediately (even if automated although this is not ideal) but always within 24 to 36 hours, and that response needs to be of value adding to the level of information the person may already have about the project. Many campaigns still manage to get this simple step wrong or simply rely upon an automated process and leave it there. That’s not good enough!

Consumers who respond to an ROI campaign do so for a reason, and if that is not respected it can damage the project and the developer’s brand. If a consumer goes to the extent of giving over personal information this must be acted upon.

The collection of personal data is an increasingly sensitive area, and even with the backing of privacy legislation there is a need to respect the process.

All of the data collected must be used as constructively as possible. If the data is well structured it also helps qualify and establish valuable demographic information. As a possible starting point even the most basic market profile can be built up, simply by the accurate collection of postcode details as a minimum.

Because of the structure and nature of the marketing, ROI campaigns are frequently most appealing to apartment buyers. This is due mainly to the frequently longer lead times and in some markets very long lead times of one, two or more years before completion.

With such long-term plans, for the developer there is an obvious benefit in securing early sales and many buyers also see these timeframes as an ideal way to manage their aspirations, finances and their varied and changing needs.

The targeted use of ROI campaigns can, when correctly executed, help lock in the benefits for buyers and developers alike.

Timing is an important element

ROI campaigns will almost always be managed over shorter periods of time from six weeks to possibly several months. However beyond two or three months ROI campaigns are usually not that affective because the reasonable expectation of a benefit to the buyer is always diminished by time.

If the campaign is in the market for a protracted time it reduces the urgency. The implied advantages evaporate and the target market will stop seeing the opportunity to register as being of any value to them.

In some markets potential buyers might not only be time driven, they may be happy to register their details and then wait for the product to be on-sale. However the time scales involved and release of information needs to be carefully managed, otherwise consumers will lose interest in the project.

Even when the buyers are not in a hurry, the life of the campaign must still be for a limited time. The advantage of being early into the project will always remain a key attraction to buyers.

Even if some buyers might have been looking around the market before they register, once the ROI campaign is over those who register must be kept up-dated. If a project is being developed over a long period there must be a strategy to keep in touch with anyone who does register on a very regular basis. But this contact needs balance; not too much contact to be harassing and avoiding long periods of no contact.

Given that the main aim of the ROI campaign is, at least in the short-term, to create a qualified and ‘ready-to- buy’ database. Ideally ahead of any formal release or mainstream marketing those who can should be moved to a level of commitment and where possible move to exchange contracts.

ROI campaigns have become very popular and it is important that this step in the project marketing mix be thoroughly managed. The next part of this post will look in detail at the content and planning of ROI campaigns. This will include how the varied steps can be managed and how different creative solutions can be used from private client or whisper campaigns to an open market approach.

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International





Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.
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