3 Ways to Increase Occupancy in Your Apartments6 min read
Keeping occupancy up at your multifamily communities means getting in front of potential renters where they’re searching for available apartments and spending the majority of their time: online.
Carefully studying the consumer journey and gathering prospect data along the way gives your property several advantages when it comes to attracting and retaining renters.
“The internet is still the No. 1 tool for properties, and it’s just a matter of where they find it or how they’re finding it,” says Corey Egan, LeasingKC Co-Founder and Director of Client Success. “They have to make sure their own property websites are up to pace with the competition. Make sure all of the information is there and up to date … you have video content, and a really solid SEO strategy.
“We’re forever trying to figure out where everybody’s spending their time every day,” he says. “It turns out a lot of people are spending most of their time on their phones and they’re on all of these social media platforms, so those are just other ways to get in front of a potential lead.”
Collecting data at those various touchpoints as prospects shop around helps you optimize your digital marketing to better target the right renters, tailor the leasing experience for prospects, and improve the lead nurturing process. All three lead to increased occupancy over time.
“Evaluate the data to drive your decision-making,” Egan says. “It’s very valuable for apartment communities to use that data to see who their renter is and where they fit, and then create a more focused marketing strategy to reach those people.”
1. Make Data-Driven Decisions to Improve Occupancy
For Caroline Gould, V.P. of Marketing & Branding at Fore Property, one of the country’s top 20 largest multifamily developers, the property website and data analytics rank as the most valuable tools to target and convert the perfect renters for a particular property.
Gould runs daily Google Analytics reports to keep tabs on each property’s performance and look for ways to improve digital marketing results. She checks which referral sites send the most traffic to the property websites, views bounce rates for digital ad campaigns and tracks how Fore Property ranks for certain keywords in each market to evaluate her team’s SEO efforts in increasing search engine rankings.
“The website, the digital presence just has such an enormous importance,” Gould says. “Historically in property management, a lot of things were assessed anecdotally. While I agree there’s no replacement for on-site observations via a property manager and leasing team — those insights are really valuable — but the data is available for us to get away from the anecdotal.”
2. Improve Lead Nurture to Increase Leases
Set up your property website and lead nurturing process to give prospective renters everything they seek during their apartment search. With AI technology, you can transform your website into a digital leasing agent that leads prospects along the leasing journey with helpful guidance and personalizes the information they receive by collecting their data.
Live video tours offered on your website help to bring awareness to what your community offers without ever having the rental prospect step foot on your property, saving them valuable time. You can drive real-time conversations through FaceTime, Skype or your virtual tour partner, like Realync.
“The internet changed the leasing experience because people can go online and learn everything they pretty much need to know about the property before they even see it in person,” says Michael Norris, Chief Marketing Officer at Youtech, a full-service digital marketing and advertising agency. “And, they’re going to be researching your competitors in the meantime and comparing pricing, walkability, amenities and features — all of that.”
Give prospects valuable information on the property website by offering interactive experiences, such as a neighborhood tour that highlights places most important to them and a floorplan assessment to help them pick the best apartment layout for them. As they engage with your website, collect valuable lead data to make converting the lease a little easier for your on-site leasing team when following up.
“It’s just good to know what they’re looking for,” Egan says. “It potentially saves everyone a lot of time. The technology drives the information to those people, and that’s important because everybody feels more comfortable when they have an idea of the other person rather than just a complete cold call. It’s more of a meaningful conversation and builds a relationship.”
3. Focus Leasing Agents with Marketing Automation
Funnel all of that online consumer behavior data and digital profiles into a CRM system that can sort leads by how soon prospects plan to sign a lease and how good a fit they are for that property. Let your leasing agents focus on the highest-priority leads, and employ automated marketing to nurture the remaining prospects until they indicate they’re closer to making a decision on where to live.
Automated emails and texts backed by AI technology draw in important details from the CRM database to personalize and time the messages, giving prospects the VIP feeling and building brand trust, while also delivering incentives to return to the website to continue their research or schedule a tour using an automated scheduling tool.
“Getting all of that information into your CRM and then into an automation system is important because it’ll allow you to follow up in both a time-efficient way for you and an effective, personalized way for your potential customers,” Norris says.
Ultimately, in whatever form of technology it takes, your hope of increasing occupancy rests on your ability to collect data and turn it into actionable insights. Those consumer insights serve as the foundation of your digital marketing, precipitating positive growth in both new leases and resident retention rates.
“Whether you’re managing a stock or you’re managing a property, it’s essentially the same goal. You want to increase the value of that asset,” Egan says. “Ensuring you have a solid foundation and a solid message in your marketing is a good place to start. Marketing is what drives everything else.
“It’s going to drive the leasing process, and that is going to drive the prospects you’re attracting and the residents you’re renting to, and then the residents equal basically everything to the property,” he says. “Once they’re in there, you want to encourage them to stay, you want them to be pleased, and that’s up to you. If you have a mixed marketing message or you’re attracting the wrong people, they might not be a good fit for your community and that’s when all of the headaches start.”