Fear of making a misstep is common in many industries, and the multifamily rental space is no different. However, embracing digital marketing strategies, from investing in innovative tools to trying out new techniques, will only generate better quality leads and help you increase revenue. It’s no secret that the world of digital marketing rapidly changes. There are always new tools, new methods and new techniques for getting the most out of your online interactions with consumers looking to find their next rental.
With all of that in mind, it’s understandable for a property manager to be intimidated or overwhelmed by an ever-changing digital world. In order to compete in today’s market with other properties, you’ll need to embrace new digital marketing ideas. After all, it’s better to try and see what works best for your property, than to continue to not try anything at all and let your competitors gain the advantage.
The Only Constant is Change
It’s already expected for your apartment communities to have an online presence. Whether it’s your own website or on different social media platforms, customers want to research and engage with you independently on their own time. The catch is that other multifamily property companies are doing the same thing and are trying new ways to interact with prospects online. The challenge then becomes how to maximize those interactions and get the most out of your online presence as possible.
Jeannette Cox, who sits on the Board of Directors for the National Apartment Association, says digital marketing success comes from understanding how the consumer wants to shop and giving them features that will encourage them to remain focused on your brand.
“With people doing so much more online and wanting less verbal communication, the more tools that a marketing company has online to help customers visualize and go through the experience independently, means they have people stay on those sites longer,” says Cox, who’s also the Vice President for Oddo Development in Kansas City, Kansas. “I think any time you can use interactive tools like room planners and 3D tours, it’s realizing what consumers are wanting. We do still feel like it’s the leasing agent that makes the deal, but we can see that these tools are what bringing people in. We’re finding that almost everyone in the office or coming in for a tour has spent quite a bit of time on the site beforehand.”
Better Leads, Better Conversion
One of best aspects of working in a rapidly changing digital space is the sheer amount of opportunities available to a property manager. Advances in technology and software today can help improve property websites so that they’re more engaging, providing you with more leads that are also better quality. Your multifamily marketing strategy needs to include the tools on your website. After all, these tools are marketing tools.
Technology like PERQ’s which is powered by AI technology can help guide visitors on your website so they’re getting a more personalized shopping experience. Interactive quizzes or assessments on your website can help potential renters find out more about what they want out of an apartment as well as understanding budget and what a complete monthly payment in your community looks like with rent and utilities.
Simultaneously those visitors are revealing more information about themselves that leasing agents can then use to help them follow up with the lead. With a natural language, textable chatbot like the one offered through PERQ, prospects can easily get support and answers to their questions 24/7.
The conversations prospects have with the chatbot are saved and able to be viewed by the leasing team so they can come into the initial conversation already knowing what the prospect has talked about with the bot. No need for repeating the same questions, leasing teams can get straight to what the prospect is there for. Shoppers should also be able to unlock special rates and discounts by offering up key bits of contact details, making those call-to-actions a bit softer.
But even further than that, these tools can give you a keener understanding of your position as a company and as a brand. Jeannette Cox explains that online innovation is best harnessed by focusing on both single lead generation and broader, creative marketing ideas and trends.
“Our tools do a pretty good job of giving some transparency on customer info,” she says. “We can look and say ‘okay, this contact came to us through this channel, these are the parts of the site they took most interest in, this is their contact information, this is how long they were on the site.’ But also, we can take a look at larger data points like our bounce rate or lead conversion. The details on reporting are really extensive, so we can look at individual customer data or on a larger scale across trends to understand the performance of our branding and what opportunities we have.”
According to Cox, brand recognition is unquestionably the name of the game. “You can’t be sure where people will find you, whether it’s on a third-party site or social media or directly on your page. The more accurately your brand is represented, the higher lead generation you’ll have.”
A Farewell to Fear
If your company has experienced even moderate success over several quarters or fiscal years, it can be quite easy to become complacent. You may find yourself wondering, “Why should I change things up if I’m doing okay?”
The fact of the matter is that your competition may already be implementing these types of innovative marketing tools, and in doing so, changing the landscape without you even knowing it.
Turning away from attempting new strategies is another way of letting fear control your business, and your customers may find themselves gravitating toward websites that are more engaging. In Cox’s mind, it’s not about the way you like to do things, but rather about listening to what the customer wants.
“I think people are afraid of change. For some who have been in the business a while – even industry leaders – they have been successful at this prior to the focus on online marketing. They’re used to the traditional practice of selling over the phone, but newer generations don’t shop that way. There may be a bit of ‘I don’t know what that [technology] is,’ but the customers are ready to use it.”