Virtual leasing became essential in order to actually get leases signed during the pandemic, and the multifamily industry had no choice but to adapt and change to meet demand. The concept of marketing intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (AI) leasing assistants and machine learning may sound complicated when it comes to running your multifamily website, but it’s the advanced technology and automation that makes closing a deal on a lease more efficient than ever before.
AI for multifamily websites comes in various technologies for multifamily. There are AI chatbots, AI leasing assistants and other forms of AI technology available in the market. But not all AI is created equal, and they often serve different purposes.
USING AI TO SAVE TIME FOR ONSITE TEAMS
Covid changed a lot in the rental market. Not only did more people begin moving, more people also became comfortable with buying everything from groceries to cars and houses online. Renting behavior changed and multifamily responded by employing chatbots to pick up the volume of frequently asked questions and, in some cases, automate the scheduling of tours.
Not all chatbots are AI powered. Some are rule based. Rule based refers to a chatbot that steps you through the logic of the questions it can answer. If the chatbot doesn’t allow you to ask questions, but rather prompts you to select from topics, then it is a rule based chatbot. Natural language processing (NLP) is another type of AI used in chatbots. NLP chatbots allow for prospective renters to ask questions like they would ask a person. NLP is smart, and even when the same question is worded in different ways, it can ascertain the meaning and answer the questions. Generally speaking, NLP chatbots provide prospective renters with a better experience because they can ask, and get answers to, any question they have.
The use of chatbots has helped ease the pain for overworked and thin onsite teams, but it did not address the changes in buying behavior that have been seen in the multifamily rental market.
KEEP LEADS MORE ENGAGED TO CONVERT BETTER
Study after study shows renters are beginning to look for properties earlier and doing more online research than ever before they move. Their expectations for website experiences are high because they are shaped by all the interactions, they have with consumer brands’ websites.
Some leasing AI for multifamily helps to solve for this. In the case of PERQ, we’ve augmented our chatbot tools on web, SMS and email with 2 very important pieces to the customer journey: interactive onsite experiences and personalized nurture. We recognize that static websites that aren’t interactive simply aren’t enough for today’s renters.
Today’s renters want to explore and research and engage. And, at the same time they’ve come to expect more from multifamily in terms of how we reach out to them. They don’t want 300 emails that ask them if they want a tour. They expect a seamless experience that’s relevant to them, in all the channels they interact with a brand.
A renter’s online journey often takes place over several weeks to months and on different devices. PERQ research shows the more experiences a prospect interacts with on a website, the more likely they are to convert.
Keeping rental prospects engaged with multiple experiences on the website makes a difference in signing more leases versus losing an online visitor to a competitor, says Caleb Bartlett, digital sales and media manager at Nolan Real Estate. “We have increased the likelihood of them taking that next step in the sales cycle.”
To keep you in the know about a prospective renter’s engagement with your property, PERQ’s Leasing AI collects a consumer’s information as they engage with interactive web experiences on your property website or on an internet listing service. We house that information to be passed along to onsite teams and we also use it to personalize their digital interactions and deliver content tailored just for them to them via their preferred channels.
Outbound communications to prospective renters that aren’t yet ready to engage with onsite teams is a growing practice with multifamily PMCs. Doing this and doing it well leads to higher conversion to tour and lease, and ultimately lower costs per lead and lease. Not all AI leasing technologies do this kind of nurture outreach.
Several do “follow up,” which is static outreach where everyone gets the same messages. But, today, multifamily PMCs can do better. Technologies like PERQ, that capture renter preferences, can personalize this outreach and time it in ways that it keeps properties top of mind at all the right times. This personalized nurture approach outperforms basic follow up.
COMBINE AI WITH MACHINE LEARNING
While the terms AI and machine learning are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. AI involves technology that carry out tasks based on smart algorithms. Machine learning refers to the ability of machines to receive data and learn for themselves, then change algorithms based on the processed information.
Combining advanced technologies like AI and machine learning is considered a best practice for leveraging technology for automation. In the case of leasing AI, technology can automate much of the sales process for property management companies and delivers predictive analysis to help create a comprehensive marketing strategy based on actionable insights. Leasing AI that employs machine learning can respond to real-time consumer data collected and do things like learn to answer more and differently worded questions.
A multifamily lead management platform powered with an AI decisioning engine, like PERQ’s, not only collects better consumer data and automates lead nurturing for all of the leads in your funnel, it also hands off agent ready leads exactly when they are ready to speak to a leasing specialist. PERQ’s AI lead management platform handles the lower intent leads on its own using natural language processing chatbot in combination with automated lead nurturing outreach, so the onsite team can focus solely on the agent ready leads who are ready to speak with you.
Richard Bullen, Property Manager of Grand Villas Apartments in Katy, Texas, says the data collected by PERQ on his multifamily property’s website gives his leasing agents information on a prospective renter’s preferred contact method, move-in time frame, budget needs and pre-qualification status.
“It helps tremendously,” Bullen says. “It allows us to get a better sense of what they are looking for before we even make contact. And when we do make contact, we are able to specialize and pitch to them more effectively. It eliminates a lot of back-and-forth.”
When considering AI leasing technologies, it is important to understand the differences. There are questions to ask yourself as you consider the options, including:
- Am I looking to save time or increase conversions? If I just want to save time, maybe an AI chatbot is enough.
- Do I want to provide my customers with the option to ask any question they have, or do I think they will tolerate a prompted approach?
- Would I like my AI chatbot to learn and improve over time?
- Does my website need more engaging experiences on it?
- Would I benefit from understanding the preferences of prospective renters?
- Would I like the AI technology to handle outreach to prospective renters that aren’t ready to speak to our team yet?
- Am I looking to maximize conversions by nurturing the prospects? If yes, you’ll want to look for an AI leasing technology with personalized nurture outreach capabilities.