Peer Insights: Blending Automation and Human Touchpoints to Enhance the Rental Experience
Each month, we continue to host multifamily industry leaders in our “Sofa Seminar” series, gleaning from their experiences and success in multifamily marketing. In this month’s seminar, we learned how two seasoned multifamily marketers are using AI to enhance the rental experience, generate high-intent leads, and ease the load on leasing agents so they can focus on higher-impact work.
Joining us this month are:
- Lindsey Kuhn, CMO at The Champion Companies, an Ohio-based multifamily real estate firm that owns and manages nearly 5,000 apartments
- Liz Bogue, Director of Marketing at Bonaventure, a property management firm managing nearly 5,900 apartments across 29 communities in South Carolina and Virginia
Below you’ll find a sampling of topics covered in our discussion, which dove into the what, why and how Lindsey and Liz balance AI and human strengths in their marketing programs.
As you’re well aware, renter perceptions and decision-making have changed dramatically. “Renters are now renting by choice. They’re staying longer. They’re more demanding,” says Lindsey. Catering to those needs means onsite teams are taking on more responsibilities. “Any chance we can offer our agents or residents technology to make their lives better, that has been met with open arms,” she adds.
Lindsey also notes that renters are touring fewer properties and even renting sight-unseen. She reasons that those behaviors are natural outgrowths of renters doing more online research and narrowing their choices before they engage leasing agents. That makes it vital for property websites to inspire trust and deliver support without requiring prospects to call an agent each time they have a question.
To improve website experiences leading to conversions, Lindsey advises studying your renters’ journey. “Start with the basics, look at your analytics. Where are people coming from? What pages are they interacting with? Ask prospective renters about their shopping experience, if you can,” she explains. Once you understand what prospects are going through and the touchpoints in their search, use technology to make that journey easier.
Liz agrees with that approach, adding that visitors spend considerably more time on the property websites she manages after her team added an AI chatbot. “Prospective renters want instant gratification. We’re seeing data that they’re interacting with the bot longer. They’re scheduling tours. They’re asking a lot of questions and those questions are being answered. In the last three months, our AI chatbot was able to answer 93% of prospect questions, which is very impressive,” she shares.
If someone visits your property website, it’s safe to conclude they’re looking for an apartment. Given how much effort and dollars you’ve invested in getting these prospects there, you need to know who they are. The only way to do that is to provide conversion tools.
Once you identify who your visitors are, lead nurture automations can take over to (a) deliver high-intent leads to leasing agents, and (b) nurture lower-priority leads, warming them up, capturing intel and nudging them closer to a “yes” — at which point agents step in. Having those automations in place has been a tremendous time-saver so agents can deliver superior customer service without getting bogged down by unqualified leads, says Liz.
Both Liz and Lindsey have well-defined processes for testing new technologies and capturing feedback from leasing agents before they fully deploy new systems. This not only ensures the technology investment will product results, but it also helps them secure buy-in from end users. To that end, both of our guest speakers follow a 90-day-minimum testing period, and have specific ideas about the properties they select to test new technologies,. (Watch the discussion below for details!)
During each seminar, we ask attendees to share their own marketing practices. Here’s what they told us in flash polls:
- 25% personalize marketing messages with basic info like names or job titles
- 75% personalize marketing messages with information that best suits the prospect (e.g., tour info, names, family info, move-in timelines or other criteria).
- 75% currently track attribution for their lead sources. 25% aren’t sure.
Altogether, most attendees seem to prioritize source attribution and personalization in some capacity.
Finally, our guest speakers expanded on other key aspects of multifamily marketing performance, including:
- Balancing AI automations with human touchpoints
- Testing and training team members on new technology
- Tripling visitor time spent on property websites to increase conversions
- Managing lead source performance (using source attributions to discern what to change, prioritize, where to increase or reduce spend)
- Lessons learned and what they’d do differently knowing what they know today
We invite you to watch the full discussion below and here’s to a profitable 3rd quarter.