In its blog post, “10 Eye-Opening Email Marketing Stats You Need to Know,” Constant Contact estimates that for every $1 spent on email marketing, companies can expect an average return of $38. Furthermore, the company reports that 80 percent of professionals said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention.
For vacation rental managers, the implications of this data are huge. Email marketing affords a can’t-miss opportunity to maximize limited budgets for big returns, and industry discussions on guest bookings solidly reinforce this.
But what about marketing to owners? If a property manager isn’t acquiring and retaining owners, this highly competitive industry will swallow it whole.
Enter: the email newsletter. Done well, newsletters to owners can perform a key function in owner recruitment and retention marketing plans. The countless tech and software options available today make creating a successful newsletter program more accessible than ever. There’s no time like the present to add one to your toolbox or refresh your newsletter if it’s been around for a while.
For content planning, inbound marketing leader HubSpot recommends 90 percent educational and 10 percent promotional content, but I think this leaves out an important category for property managers: emotional content. Owning a vacation rental home is in many ways a highly personal and emotional experience, and newsletters can be a meaningful link between owners, their homes, and the destination they love. As such, a content balance I like to aim for is around 80 percent educational, 10 percent emotional, and 10 percent promotional.
Go-to sources for ideas across these categories include owner needs, the local market, and relevant industry news. Infuse your unique property management expertise into articles that answer owner questions and help them make the best decisions for their homes, and you’ll create a newsletter that will keep them coming back for more. Consider including the following sections in each issue:
- Internal and External Policy Updates
Owners need to be kept in the loop on internal changes such as new lease terms or changing program requirements, and newsletters provide a quick and easy way to communicate these things en masse. They’re also a great tool for delivering consistent messaging around external policy information from local regulations to HomeAway rule updates to GDPR. Leading educational discussions about heavy and complex subjects like these can position a company as the go-to source in its market.
- New Program or Product Announcements
When rolling out a new product to owners, a newsletter announcement supports the overall product launch campaign without being too hard of a sell. Use this touchpoint as a sneak peek or an invitation to get more information and ultimately take the desired action of signing up or making a purchase.
- Market Snapshots
Owners appreciate transparent discussions about their company’s booking patterns and take interest in larger trends. This is a good opportunity for a property manager to highlight where it’s beating the competition and where performance could be improved. Owners understand that a company may not always be ahead of the game every month or quarter, so directness and honesty with what’s being done to adjust course inspires owners’ trust.
For the things owners should or must do throughout the year, draw attention to reminders in the form of a checklist. For example:
- Time to schedule your 2018 deck inspection! Contact us for recommended inspectors.
- Internet service documents are now due. Please sign and return yours within fifteen days.
- Please RSVP to the Summer Brunch Bonanza by May 31 to reserve your spot. We’d love to see you!
A brief to-do list simplifies the message and visually reinforces the idea actions required.
- Upgrade Advice
Homes need smart upgrades over time to stay competitive with their neighbors. Newsletters let property managers provide bite-size tips at regular intervals to keep these updates top of mind without becoming overwhelming. They can include product suggestions, décor dos and don’ts, project ideas for when to DIY and when to hire a pro, recommended contractor contact lists, and other helpful guidance.
- Staff Picks
Readers love inside scoops, so invite owners to live like a local when they’re in town and include area favorites handpicked by staff. Share things like must-try activities, best regional specialty cuisine, or secret spots they may not yet have discovered.
- Company Events, Profiles, and Behind-the-Scenes Looks
With so much owner–manager interaction now happening over phone, email, and text, property managers can quickly lose the human element. Remind owners about all the hard work that goes into caring for their homes. Snapshot company events, profile staff, or go behind the scenes to showcase the work that the public doesn’t usually see, like laundry production.
- Celebrations Inside and Outside the Office
Taking time to express pride in a team member’s accomplishments invites owners to share in that company pride. Share accolades for staff earning a job-related certification, reaching a significant milestone, getting married, having a baby, or achieving a big personal goal like running a first marathon. Property managers can celebrate owners here, too! Consider short blurbs welcoming new owners to the program or shout-outs to owners who recently closed on another vacation home.
Pro Tip: Consider investing in a printed newsletter. At VRM Intel, we have found that printed materials are stickier than you might think.
Once you’ve found the right content balance, keep the overall topic areas relatively consistent and make sure each newsletter is delivered punctually on a set schedule so owners know what to expect and when they’ll get it. Mix up how information is formatted to keep it fresh and engaging. Not every article has to be a several-paragraph write-up; try lists, Q&A-style interviews, guides, photo feature stories, and charts or graphs. For more ideas on crafting your VR newsletter, check out the helpful resources from the email marketing pros at HubSpot, MailChimp, and Constant Contact.