Tridel makes sense of e-mail with on-demand sales suite

The condominium market in Toronto is booming, and developer Tridel decided two years ago it needed to revamp its marketing and sales program to remain a market leader.

The company was already a strong user of technology. It was one of the first developers to launch a Web site, and Stacey Fruitman, Tridel’s director of corporate marketing, said the company had been using a batch e-mailing program for a number of years. Real estate portals like New Homes and Condos were also a strong source of leads, but Fruitman said there was a problem.

“We didn’t know how qualified (the leads) were, we were just forwarding them all to the sales centres and leaving it up to them,” said Fruitman.

Tridel has as many as 10 sales centres across the city and each would respond ad-hoc to the lead; there was no common e-mail template or consistency of messaging and branding across the company. “I felt we could add value by giving our busy sales reps a more [template-driven] approach,” said Fruitman.

As well, Fruitman said the system led to a lot of duplication. Tridel might have as many as 20 active properties at a given time. If a person clicks on the portal for properties in central and southern Mississauga, Ont. they’re interested in, that might mean e-mails for a number of different properties all being forwarded to different sales centres, which would each respond independently.

“We didn’t want to be bombarding the end consumer; that would be a turn-off,” said Fruitman. “We knew we had to centralize it, and have one communication to the prospect.”

Tridel was already working with Toronto-based Eloqua for its bulk e-mailing, and Fruitman said it made sense to turn to Eloqua’s Conversion Suite for its e-marketing tool. An on-demand application, the Conversion Suite integrates e-mail marketing and direct mail, Web site marketing, lead generation and sales force automation. Tridel went live with the product in October 2004.

“I felt they understood what our needs were, and it didn’t make sense for me to look elsewhere because they already had it,” said Fruitman.

For Tridel, the system categorizes and pulls together the multiple e-mails from each person into one profile that lets the company see all their interests. A new staff position, the online sales coordinator, creates a single personalized e-mail for each person, based on their preferences and personal history, suggesting a few possible locations and floor plans.

“You can do a lot of automation but I still really feel like you need the personal touch,” said Fruitman. “[Our sales team] felt the leads they did receive after we implemented the new system were much more qualified.”

Eloqua’s CEO Mark Organ said real estate is an important vertical for the company, and even in the U.S., real estate developers are impressed when they mention that Tridel is a customer.

“Tridel is one of the most innovative companies I’ve seen in this space,” said Organ.

While some of Eloqua’s customers are larger companies like Nokia, Organ said the company’s main focus is on the mid-market. Companies that are early adopters are often customers in industries willing to try new ideas in marketing.

He added that Eloqua is also making inroads into the Web-based finance and day-trading space, and with business services companies like Forrester Research.

“This is an area we’re investing pretty heavily in, as we feel it’s a bridge to the mainstream market of manufacturers and traditional financial services companies,” said Organ.

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